STAPLE, "anciently written estaple, cometh," says Lord Coke, " of the French word estape, which signifies a mart or market." It appears to have been used to indicate those marts both in this country and at Bruges, Antwerp, Calais, &c., on the Continent, where the principal pro ducts of a country were sold. Probably in the first instance these were held at such places as possessed some conve nience of situation for the purpose. After wards they appear to have been confirmed, or others appointed for the purpose by the authorities of the country. In Eng land this was done by the king (2 Edw. III. c. 9). All merchandise sold for the purpose of exportation was compelled either to be sold at the staple, or after wards brought there before exportation. This was done with the double view of accommodating the foreign mer chants and also enabling the duties on exportation to be more conveniently and certainly collected. Afterwards the word staple was applied to the merchandise itself which was sold at the staple. The staple merchandise of England at these early times, when little manufacture was carried on here, is said by Lord Coke to have been wool, woolfella or sheepskins, leather, lead, and tin. Incident to the staple was a court called "the court of the mayor of the staple." This court was held for the convenience of the mer chants, both native and foreign, attending the staple. It was of great antiquity ; the date of its commencement does not appear to have been certainly known. Many early enactments exist regulating the proceedings at the staple and the court held there. Most of these were passed during the reigns of the two Ed wards, the first and third of that name. These kings appear to have been ex tremely anxious to facilitate and encour age foreign commerce in this kingdom ; and by these statutes great immunities and privileges are given, especially to foreign, but also to native merchants attending the staple. The first enactment of importance is called the Statute of Merchants, or the Statute of Acton-Burnel, and was passed in the 11th year of Edw. I., A.D. 1283. [BuitNEL, ACTON, STA TUTE or.] The statute passed in the 27th year of Edw. III. cap. 2, is entitled
the Statute of Staple. One object of it was to remove the staple, previously held at Calais, to various towns in England, Pales, and Ireland, which are appointed by the statute. The statute directed pro ceedings similar to those prescribed for obtaining a Statute Merchant by means of a sealed recognizance, in consequence of which execution might be obtained against the lands and tenements of the debtor in the same manner as under a Statute Merchant.
A variety of other statutes were passed in the same and succeeding reigns, in some respects confirming, in others alter ing the provisions of the leading statute. As commerce became more extended, the staples appear to have fallen into disuse. Lord Coke, a great worshipper of anti quity, complains that in his time the sta ple had become a shadow ; we have only now, he says, stapulam umbratilem, whereas formerly it was said that wealth &Rowed the staple. The practice how ever of taking recognizances by statute staple, from the many advantages attend ing them, long continued. (11 Edw. I.; 27 Edw. III. caps. 1, 8, to 6, 8, 9; 2 inst., 322; COM. Dig., tit. Stat. Staple; 2 Saund. by Wm., 69; Reeves, Hist.
Law, v. 2, pp. 161, 393.) TAR-CHAMBER. The Star-Cham ber is said to have been in early times one of the apartments of the king's palace at Westminster which was used for the despatch of public business. The Painted Chamber, the White Chamber, and the Chambre Markolph were oejupied by the triers and receivers of petitions, and the king's council held its sittings in the Ca mera Stellate, or Chambre des Estoylles, which was so called probably from some remarkable feature in its architecture or embellishment. Whatever may be the etymology of the term, there can be little doubt that the court of Star-Chamber derived its name from the place in which it was holden. "The lords sitting in the Star-Chamber" is used as a well known phrase in records of the time of Edward III., and the name became per manently attached to the jurisdiction, and moths wd long after the local situation of the court was changed.