A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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Town Records, p. 29. The Earls and the Third Penny, p. 30. Town Charters, p. 31. Arms, Seal and Regalia, p. 34. Firma Burgi, p. 35. Bailiffs, p. 36. Mayors and Aldermen, p. 38. Common Council, p. 44. Freemen, p. 46. Town Assembly or Common Hall, p. 49. Town Courts, p. 51. Justices of the Peace, p. 55. Town Clerk, p. 56. Coroners, p. 58. Recorder, p. 58. High Steward, p. 59. Town Waits, p. 60. Treasurers and Town Revenues, p. 62.
The records in which the development of the constitution of the Borough of Cambridge can be traced are not all in the keeping of the Corporation. The Cross Book (cited by that name from 1545), (fn. 1) the compilation of which began about 1426, is at the Guildhall and contains ordinances of dates from 1328 to 1427, transcripts of the town charters and evidences and miscellaneous memoranda of varying importance from 1460 to 1728. A volume referred to in the Treasurer's Roll for 1503–4 (fn. 2) as the Black Book, now lost, may have been used by Thomas Metcalfe, Mayor 1592–3. Metcalfe's book of transcripts, preserved at Downing College, (fn. 3) was used by Cooper to supply details omitted from the Cross Book for his Annals. Two later collections of Borough legislation are extant; the Book of Orders drawn up in the mayoralty of Thomas French (1608–9), (fn. 4) an official record of the town ordinances operative at that date, and a later revision dated 20 April 1686, superseding the book of 1609. (fn. 5) A transcript of this is in the Bowtell Collection at Downing College, having been given to Bowtell by James Day who was town clerk from 1756 to 1788. It contains supplementary orders and notes up to 1788. In the Bowtell Collection also is the Wickstede Manuscript, consisting of notes made by John Wickstede (1563–1647), Mayor of Cambridge 1613–14, and attorney in the town court. It contains transcripts of town ordinances, deeds and lawsuits of the period 1573–1630. (fn. 6) Orders after 1686 are also to be found in the Common Day Book, a most valuable series of records of the proceedings of the Town Assembly. When Cooper was compiling his Annals the first volume began in 1544 and probably extended to 1582, but when H. T. Riley saw the Corporation records in 1870, the folios before 1564 and after 1577 had disappeared. (fn. 7) The volume covering the years 1582–1610 was probably lost by 1715; (fn. 8) but from 1610 the series is unbroken down to 1835. Cooper has drawn upon it extensively but by no means exhaustively; it is the richest source for Corporation history in the period it covers.
The original charters from 1207 are in the City archives and have been admirably edited. (fn. 9) Records of the town courts survive from the 13th-16th and 18th centuries, including a perfect roll for the year 1294–5. (fn. 10) There is also a series of fines levied in the town court from 1323 to 1393. These are supplemented by numerous deeds, witnessed in the town court from the early 13th century onward, preserved at Corpus, Jesus, St. John's, Peterhouse, and Trinity Colleges. Of these the Jesus deeds have been calendared. (fn. 11)
The financial records are the most remarkable. Only a few fragments of the Mayors' and Bailiffs' accounts survive at the Guildhall and in the Bowtell Collection, (fn. 12) but a long series of Treasurers' Rolls has narrowly escaped destruction. An isolated account for 1347, and a number of rolls for the period 1422–1514, together with an unbroken series from 1787 to 1835, are in the City archives; a series, running with interruptions from 1515 to 1787, is at Downing College in the Bowtell Collection, bound up under the title Libri Rationales. (fn. 13) Cooper has drawn upon them in his Annals, but very selectively. Hagable rent rolls for 1483, 1491, 1493, and 1524 are at the Guildhall, and have been printed in part, and there are subsidy rolls for 1513–17. (fn. 14) The series of Lease Books, from 1558 on, gives details of town property, and there are Inclosure awards for 1804 and 1811. There are minutes of the paving, cleansing, and lighting commissioners, set up by the Act of 1788, for the years 1788–1837. (fn. 15)
The Earls and the Third Penny
While there is no evidence that Cambridge was ever a mediatized borough, the earldom of Cambridge seems to have been regarded as an appendage to that of Huntingdon from 1050 to 1237, (fn. 16) and with the earldom went certain rights, and probably certain lands in the Borough. These rights, presumably exercised by Waltheof's widow Judith in 1086, (fn. 17) were transmitted by her daughter Maud successively to her first husband, Simon de St. Liz I (1090), her second husband, David I of Scotland (1113); her sons, Henry of Scotland (1136) and Simon de St. Liz II (1146); her grandsons, Malcolm IV (1157), William the Lion (1165), Simon de St. Liz III (1174), and David of Scotland (1185); and her great grandson, John the Scot (1219), with whose death in 1237 the earldom became extinct, and the lands of the Honour of Huntingdon were divided among the three co-heiresses. (fn. 18) The connexion of the line with Cambridge is indicated when David I is pardoned 13s. of the aid of the Borough in 1129, (fn. 19) and more specifically when the second David is found in possession of the earl's third penny. The original charter is extant by which he granted £5 of it to Richard fitz William (1185–1201); (fn. 20) the other moiety was granted to another dependant, Simon de St. Liz, probably descended from an illegitimate son of a St. Liz earl. (fn. 21) These moieties, regranted to various recipients, were in 1279 payable to Cauldwell Priory (Beds.) (£8 10s.), Kenilworth Priory (Warws.) (20s.) and Barnwell Priory (10s.). (fn. 22) The town had bought out all these grantees by the Reformation, Kenilworth in 1527, Cauldwell in 1530, Barnwell at some unknown date. (fn. 23)
That, in spite of the silence of Domesday, the early earls held land in the Borough seems certain not only from their being chargeable to the town aid but from the gift to Barnwell Priory of 2 acres of land between St. Giles Church and the river by the Countess Maud in 1092, (fn. 24) and the gift to the nuns of St. Radegund of 10 acres of land near Greencroft by King Malcolm IV. (fn. 25) In 1209 it is specifically stated that Earl David has 40 librates of land in Cambridge, (fn. 26) and the half fee in Cambridge held by Leonius Dunning of Isabel de Brus in 1242, as of the Honour of Huntingdon, (fn. 27) almost certainly represents a portion of the original holding of the earls. (fn. 28)
When, in 1340, Edward III created William of Juliers Earl of Cambridge, granting him the castle and the revenues of the town of Cambridge (then held in dower by the king's mother Isabel) and £20 a year out of the issues of the county, (fn. 29) it had become distinct from the earldom of Huntingdon, and when revived again in 1362 in favour of Edmund of Langley it was once more subordinated to another title, that of York. (fn. 30) Ill luck seemed to haunt the title; after the execution of Edmund's son for treason and the death of his grandson at Wakefield, it merged in the Crown, to be revived four times between 1661 and 1677 in favour of four infant sons of James Duke of York, all of whom died under the age of four. (fn. 31)
It was not from earls but from kings that the Borough secured its chartered liberties. The first charter, granted by Henry I between 1120 and 1131, giving the town the monopoly of waterborne traffic and hithe tolls, (fn. 32) also recognized the Borough court. The next step was to secure the right to collect the revenue due to the Crown. By 1185 the burgesses were ready to offer 300 marks of silver and one of gold to have their town at farm 'so that the sheriff might not meddle therewith', (fn. 33) and Henry's writ of 1185–6 granted the town to the burgesses at the customary rate, answering for it themselves at the Exchequer. (fn. 34) However, when Henry II died in 1189 they had paid no farm at all and were still owing £70 of the fine. (fn. 35) The grant, which had been made by writ, not charter, was not perpetual, and Richard resumed it, winding up the account at some sacrifice to himself. (fn. 36) By 1199 the burgesses were prepared to try again in spite of the heavy tallages recently levied; they offered 250 marks to have their farm with such liberties as other towns had. (fn. 37) What these were appears in John's charter of 1201, (fn. 38) which recognized their established customs and tenures, confirmed the competence of their court, exempted the burgesses from the duellum, allowing them to use traditional methods of defence in pleas of the Crown. Their guild merchant was confirmed, with the right to withernam. Their Rogationtide fair was secured to them; and they were declared free of the sheriff's exactions such as scot ale. The farm is not mentioned, but the Pipe Rolls show that they were paying it. (fn. 39) In 1207 they offered a further payment to have their farm in perpetuity, (fn. 40) and John's second charter (fn. 41) granted the town to the burgesses in fee farm, adding £20 by tale to the 'old farm' of £40 blanch, and specifically giving them the right to appoint their own reeve who would be accepted as their agent at the Exchequer. In 1227 two charters from Henry III confirmed John's grants, (fn. 42) and in 1256, besides a short charter granting a limited exemption from withernam, (fn. 43) the burgesses obtained the all-important grant of return of writs, jurisdiction over pleas of replevin, and the right to elect their own coroners. This gave them an independence of the sheriff in administration equivalent to that which they had secured in finance in 1207. (fn. 44) Well before this date Cambridge itself had added to the officially recognized reeves or bailiffs a Mayor, who embodied the communal consciousness that was both cause and effect of its public responsibilities and privileges. Though addressed in a royal writ of 1231, (fn. 45) it was not until 1382 that the Mayor was named in a town charter.
The charter of 1268, though granted for the advantage of the University, has to be noted for its lasting effect on Borough institutions. It was modelled on the charter to Oxford in 1255, and provided that there should be two aldermen with four associated burgesses to assist the Mayor and bailiffs in keeping the peace, who were to be sworn to the office, and two men in each parish sworn to search periodically for suspicious strangers. It also forbade regrating, and provided for the holding of the assize of bread and ale twice a year, the Chancellor of the University or his deputy being present. (fn. 46) The two aldermen and their assessors, later called councillors, were elected annually from this time onwards along with the Mayor and bailiffs.
The charters of 1280, of 1313, and of 1377 (fn. 47) did little but confirm previous grants. The charter of 1382 'records not an increase but a diminution of the liberties that the community had enjoyed'. In 1381 the liberties of the Borough had been forfeited for its participation in the Peasants' Revolt, and when, after submission, a new grant was made to the Mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses, the fee farm was raised from 101 to 105 marks, and the supervision of baking and brewing, of weights and measures, of forestalling and regrating and of the sale of food was taken from the town and given to the University. (fn. 48) Loss of jurisdiction meant loss of revenue, and in 1385 the Borough received a compassionate grant of the profits of justice arising from the fines and forfeitures imposed in the king's courts by his justices upon dwellers in the town, with the right to collect them by its own agents. (fn. 49) A subsequent grant in 1394 provided a simple procedure for proving that no University privileges were infringed in levying these profits. (fn. 50) The charters of 1405, 1419, 1424, and 1437 merely confirmed previous grants, (fn. 51) but in 1446 Henry VI, as we have seen, (fn. 52) granted a reduction of the town's assessment to the 10th and 15th which was confirmed by Edward IV in 1465. (fn. 53)
The culmination of the Borough's evolution came about, almost accidentally, in 1530. In 1529 the Mayor and bailiffs of Cambridge appeared in the court of King's Bench to assert their claim to the goods of a man who had committed a felony in Trumpington Street in 1527 and fled. (fn. 54) Their claim was based on the grant of 1385, backed up by the plea that 'The town of Cambridge is an ancient borough, and one of the most ancient boroughs of this realm of England and from time immemorial the said borough and town have been one body and one commonalty incorporate in itself, as well of the burgesses of the said borough and town as of one Mayor and four bailiffs by the said burgesses elected each year on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel.' (fn. 55) They added that from time out of mind the Mayor, bailiff, and burgesses had sued and been sued in the courts, and had been capable of purchasing and holding lands and liberties. The Crown demurred, but the court found for the town, thus recognizing Cambridge as a corporate Borough by prescription, and the exemplification of the judgement is preserved with the royal charters in the City archives. (fn. 56) The exemplification of 1548, recording the recognition by the King's Bench, sitting at Cambridge in 1383, of the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the town courts, is discussed below; it adds no new liberties. (fn. 57) Elizabeth I's one charter, of 1589, (fn. 58) securing the town's rights over Sturbridge Fair, was intended to end disputes between town and University, but could hardly do so while the University retained its jurisdiction over victuals, weights, and measures.
In 1605 the Borough obtained a charter from James I formally creating a corporation, which should be capable of holding property, of suing and being sued, of using a common seal, of making by-laws and of acquiring lands in mortmain to the value of £60 a year. The most interesting provision is that the by-laws must have the consent of the burgesses or the greater part of them, the Mayor in office being one. (fn. 59) But neither aldermen nor common council were mentioned; it is the barest sketch of a constitution. In 1616 when the burgesses petitioned for a charter granting Cambridge the title of city, they desired 'that in the Charter all the offices and officers of the Citty may be expressed', but nothing came of it. (fn. 60) In 1626 a Quo Warranto brought against the Mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses to know by what title they claimed their liberties led them to apply for a renewal of the town charter, (fn. 61) and in 1632 they obtained what came to be known as 'the governing charter', for under it Cambridge was to be administered until the days of municipal reform. (fn. 62) Elastic as it was to prove under the strains and stresses of the late 18th century, the charter goes into fuller details than any previous grant. To the statements about incorporation, repeated once more, it adds the provision that there are to be 12 aldermen and 24 common councillors, (fn. 63) without defining methods of election or selection, nor are the methods of acquiring freemanship defined, though a seven years' apprenticeship is prescribed for the practice of any craft in the Borough. (fn. 64) Legislation is to be in an assembly publicly summoned by the Mayor for that purpose; (fn. 65) and he is empowered to appoint a deputy-mayor. (fn. 66) The two town treasurers, now first mentioned in a charter, though known to exist in Cambridge as far back as 1347, (fn. 67) may sue in the town court for money penalties incurred by those who infringe the by-laws. (fn. 68) Finally the Corporation is given the right to levy rates for 'works necessary for the public and common good' not only upon burgesses but upon inhabitants not being members of the University and to compel payment by process in the courts. (fn. 69)
Arms, Seal and Regalia
As early as 1270 the common seal of the burgesses is said to have been affixed to a chirograph, (fn. 70) but in 1352 it was the seal of the mayoralty which the Mayor affixed to a deed at the request of the aldermen and brethren of St. Mary's guild. The deed is still preserved at Corpus Christi College. This seal is 1½ inches in diameter. It shows an embattled bridge of four round arches over a river. In the middle of the bridge is a gateway tower surrounded by an object which might be a crocketed spire. On either side of the tower is a shield bearing the lions of England and supported by a lion. The legend is s'illum majoritatis ville c. (fn. 71) In 1381, when the representatives of the Borough appeared in Parliament to answer for its misconduct in the Rising, they declared the town had still no common seal, (fn. 72) but eight years later the town was ordered to give full power to the Mayor and bailiffs under its common seal to answer for them to the charges of the University. (fn. 73) In 1423 the Four and Twenty ordained that there should be a common seal with which all leases by the commonalty should be sealed. (fn. 74) An impression of this seal is extant for the year 1434, (fn. 75) whilst two fragments of it are preserved in the City archives. (fn. 76) This seal, 15/8 inches in diameter, showed an embattled bridge of four complete and two incomplete arches, with thereon an escutcheon of the arms of England and France quarterly, supported by two angels kneeling. The legend was s. communitatis ville cantebrigie. This seal was probably used until 1575 when a grant of arms to the Borough made it obsolete. (fn. 77)
Arms, gules a gold arched bridge with three towers, above it a fleur-de-lis or between two roses argent, and in base barry wavy silver and azure, and thereon three ships sable, each with one mast and the sail furled.
The ships are supposed to refer to the riverborne traffic of Cambridge, and the crest, more like a castle than a bridge, suggests Cambridge castle on the hill above the bridge. (fn. 78)
The new seal incorporated these arms, the supporting angels being replaced by seahorses, and the legend was sigillum communitatis villae cantabrigiae. A new seal in silver was presented to the town by the High Steward in 1736, and the old one was broken, but the design of 1575 is still preserved. (fn. 79) Meanwhile a second seal of the mayoralty dating from 1471 is known. This shows a level bridge of four arches over a river and thereon an escutcheon of France ancient and England quarterly supported by two lions. The legend was sigillum majoritatis ville . . . t. The present arms without helm, crest, or supporters, were used on an oval seal of the 17th century, 15/8×17/16 inches, with the legend seal of the mayoralty of the borough of cambridge. (fn. 80)
Most of the plate belonging to the Borough of Cambridge was sold or lost after 1835, and in 1956 the regalia apart from the maces and mayoral chains comprised a silver tankard with lid, coffee pot, stoup, and four salt cellars. The Great Mace in silver gilt dates from the reign of Queen Anne. It is 53½ inches long, and weighs 155 ounces. It was presented by Samuel Shepheard of Exning, M.P. for the Borough. Four smaller maces, made in 1723–4, were presented by Thomas Bacon, M.P. They are each 42 inches long, and weigh between 85 and 90 ounces. Finally there is a serjeant's mace of copper gilt, dating from the reign of Charles I. The Great Mace has a rest weighing 25 ounces, and the serjeant's mace a carved oak rest presented in 1903. The Mayor's chain dates from 1890, and that of the Mayoress from 1911. (fn. 81)
The farm of the Borough was probably £30 at the time of Domesday. In 1185, when Henry II granted the town to the burgesses, the ancient farm was £40, blanch (£42) to which he added £20 by tale. (fn. 82) This was the rate at which John granted it in perpetuity in 1207. (fn. 83) The Exchequer records show the burgesses regularly accounting for £62 but in 1279 they say that they are also paying a new increment of £5 and several farms for houses. (fn. 84) In the petition presented in Parliament in 1330, complaining that the market tolls on which they principally rely for the payment of the farm have been reduced in value by grants of exemption to the country lords and their tenants, the burgesses did not mention the increment. (fn. 85) When, however, the farm was assigned in dower to Queen Isabel next year it was stated to amount to £67 9s. 10d. made up of ancient farm, increment and five small farms. (fn. 86) When actually granted to her in March 1332 it was stated to be £67 19s. 10d. (fn. 87) and that was the sum for which the bailiffs accounted until the Peasants' Revolt. (fn. 88) After that it was raised to £70. (fn. 89)
The burgesses' complaint in 1383 that the loss of the profitable assizes of bread and measures made the farm unendurably heavy led not to its reduction but to the grant of royal profits of justice. (fn. 90) Renewed complaints in the 15th century finally elicited a reduction of the farm by £10 in 1483, but Richard III's concession was revoked by Henry VII in 1485. (fn. 91)
There were occasional temporary grants from the farm of the Borough, (fn. 92) but from 1235, when Henry III assigned it to his bride in case his mother should outlive him, it was customarily part of the queen's dower. It was so held by Eleanor of Provence after her husband's death, by Margaret, Edward I's second wife, by Isabel, wife of Edward II, from 1331, and by Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV, from 1466. (fn. 93) In 1562 it was appropriated by Elizabeth I to the expenses of the household. (fn. 94) In 1655 the Corporation bought up the fee farm for £665, £300 of which was borrowed from one alderman. (fn. 95)
In 1660, however, they conveyed it once more to the Crown, (fn. 96) and it was assigned to Catherine of Braganza as part of her jointure. In 1671 the reversion of it was purchased by Sir George Downing (fn. 97) and it is now paid to Downing College.
The charter of 1207 empowered the burgesses to choose their own reeve (prepositus), but the first official communications were directed to more than one official. From 1212 to 1224 writs were addressed to 'our reeves' or, from 1215, 'our bailiffs' of Cambridge. (fn. 98) The bailiffs are thus older than the Mayor, first named in 1231, and as far back as a number is traceable, they number four, a peculiarity Cambridge shares with Norwich where, however, no Mayor appeared until 1404. (fn. 99) From an early date the names of the bailiffs may be learnt from the deeds published in the town court which they witness along with the Mayor, (fn. 100) and both the Exchequer records and the lists compiled by Mason and Cole show that in the 13th and 14th centuries bailiffs, like Mayors, very commonly served the office several times, (fn. 101) and that a fair proportion of them became Mayors later. Between 1270 and 1377, 19 of the 37 Mayors had been bailiffs first, (fn. 102) but as the 14th century advanced, the office of bailiff came to be held by less wealthy and important men than those who reached the mayoralty. The bailiffs were elected annually on the same day as the Mayor. (fn. 103)
At Norwich the four bailiffs were from the first responsible each for one of the four leets of the town. (fn. 104) In Cambridge evidence of a similar system only appears towards the end of the 14th century. The ordinances of 1419 that none should be bailiff outside the ward in which he resided (fn. 105) indicates that by then the office was territorialized, as is suggested by the annotations on the roll of the town court of 1389–90. The four sets of initials entered against the different pleas suggest that the execution of judgement is distributed locally among the four bailiffs. (fn. 106) The accounts of 1510 show unequivocally that each has as his bailiwick one of the four wards, Bridge Ward, Market Ward, High Ward, and Mill Ward, for which he accounts. (fn. 107) The orders for the election of the bailiffs in 1566 prescribe a routine for service; men are to proceed from the treasurership to the bailiwick of the Mills, the High Ward, the Market and the Bridge in that order. (fn. 108) In 1622 it was decided to reduce the number of the bailiffs to three, the duties and perquisites of the bailiffs of the Mills being distributed among the other three. (fn. 109) The charter of 1632 does not specify the number of bailiffs, but by 1662 there were again four. (fn. 110)
The primary responsibility of the bailiffs was for the payment of the fee farm at the Exchequer and of the third penny to its beneficiaries, a responsibility shared by town ordinance with the Mayor from 1459 at least. (fn. 111) The revenues available for this were the profits of the town courts, the mill and market tolls, and the hagable rents. Accounts of the Mayor and bailiffs for 1510–11 and 1523–4 show that the four bailiffs collected the dues from their four wards, (fn. 112) and that the accounts were balanced at financial sessions called ports, (fn. 113) at intervals ranging from six to twelve weeks. (fn. 114) The order book of 1609–11 lays down that 'in consideracion of much slackness . . . used of late by the Maior and Bailiffs of this town in making and keeping their last port after their yere expired, from henceforth the Bayliffs for the tyme being shall yerely justly and truly make their last port and accompt of all somes of money and other thyngs remayning in their hands towards the payment of the fee farme of the towne before the Maior last before . . . at any time within one whole week between Michaelmas and Christmas at the appointment of the said Maior, he to give warning four days before'. (fn. 115)
Besides their external obligations, the bailiffs' financial liabilities included payments to the Mayor and to the Recorder, presents and fees to the justices of the peace, and the entertainment of both townsmen and visitors at dinners at election time in August, at the swearing in at Michaelmas, and in fair times. (fn. 116) The provision of 1600 that they might not let their bailiwicks or the profits of them to farm (fn. 117) indicates that a profit could be made on the office, in spite of the fact that their expenses for hospitality were estimated at £60 in 1622. (fn. 118) This is borne out by an incident of the year 1605. Thomas Thompson, one of the four bailiffs, was removed from his office at a Common Day on 17 October; according to the official return of the Mayor, because he had assaulted another bailiff who was keeper of the Tolbooth, ousted him from his custody for a week, and refused, after four summons, to appear in court or Common Day to answer to the charges brought against him. According to Thompson's own account, the Mayor had a private quarrel with him and maliciously sought to prevent him from prosecuting a plea of debt in King's Bench. The writ of mandamus for Thompson's reinstatement, tested 30 January 1606, refers explicitly to the 'large fees, wages, rewards, rents, tolls and other emoluments pertaining to the office'. (fn. 119)
The bailiffs presided with the Mayor at the town courts and, as we saw, witnessed transactions in them from 1256 onwards; they had to serve the writs passed on to them by the sheriff, (fn. 120) they levied the money penalties imposed in the courts, and they shared the responsibility for keeping the peace. In 1566 the status of the treasurer had been below that of the bailiffs, but as the importance of the town courts and of the revenues for which they were responsible dwindled the importance of the bailiffs also lessened, and as we have seen, the office ceased to be a coveted one. Instead of serving, men fined 'to pass the offices' of treasurer and bailiff, in order to become eligible for the common council and the bench. By 1833 the bailiffs' functions had become very limited. They attended all corporate meetings, and two had to be present at the sittings of the town court, but they took no part in the proceedings. The treasurer had taken over their financial responsibilities since 1795. Their connexion with the wards had ceased, as well as their duty of enforcing the peace. (fn. 121) They were still elected annually, only resident burgesses being eligible, and they usually served for four years. 'Persons to whom the salary (£6 a year) is an object, and who solicit the office, are elected.' (fn. 122) Today four of the town councillors are elected bailiffs and take precedence after councillors who are exMayors and before councillors who are ex-bailiffs. Their duties are honorary, but the fact that in a procession they precede the Mayor can be regarded as a symbolic survival of their historic priority.
Mayors and Aldermen
Some would identify the prepositus whom the burgesses were in 1207 empowered to elect, and also the prepositus who witnesses various early town deeds, as the emergent Mayor. The first dated use of the term Mayor is in the writ of 1231 addressed to the Mayor and bailiffs of Cambridge concerning scholars' lodgings; (fn. 123) the first attribution of the name to a particular man is to Hervey fitz Eustace, who flourished about 1200 to 1240, and owned the manor-house now known as the School of Pythagoras. (fn. 124) He witnessed an undated deed at St. John's College as Dominus Herveus Maior; (fn. 125) and in another St. John's deed and in several at Jesus College he witnessed as Hervey the alderman (fn. 126) (presumably as head of the guild merchant authorized by the charter of 1201). The fact that in some deeds he took precedence of another witness described as prepositus is attributed to his undoubted wealth or knightly standing by Sir John Milner Gray, (fn. 127) but it is possible that here as elsewhere the Mayor, embodying a new civic consciousness, is from the first distinct from the ancient royal official who links the Borough with the royal treasury. (fn. 128) The title alderman does not recur in this connexion, probably because the guild merchant fades out; after 1288 the alderman is a town official who assists the Mayor. (fn. 129) But as the term prepositus drops out of use the term maior ballivus or capitalis ballivus is applied by the central government to persons whom the burgesses of Cambridge knew as their Mayor, (fn. 130) and the list of bailiffs answering for Cambridge at the Exchequer from 1250 onwards (fn. 131) certainly includes some active Mayors as late as the reign of Edward II, (fn. 132) though it is by no means identical with the list of Mayors as far as that has been ascertained. The 'bailiff of the liberty of Cambridge' to whom in 1340 the sheriff passed on the justices' orders to arrest was the Mayor. (fn. 133)
In spite of the labours of many scholars and the wealth of material in the deeds witnessed before the Mayors and bailiffs and now preserved in college archives, no precise list of early Mayors can as yet be drawn up. Maitland's tentative list (fn. 134) has been revised and amplified by Milner Gray, (fn. 135) and some further corrections should be made. Hervey fitz Eustace was dead by 1240; both Richard Crocheman and Robert Seman held the office of prepositus in his lifetime. (fn. 136) Roger de Wykes between 1256 and 1260 and perhaps in 1271, and Robert of St. Edmund (1258) were certainly Mayors, (fn. 137) but that the position was still only of local significance is indicated by the fact that the eyre roll of 1261 names four 'chief bailiffs' but no Mayor. (fn. 138) The eyre roll of 1272 (fn. 139) gives the names of five men who were Mayors between 1261 and 1272: Roger de Wykes; Richard Lawrence or Lorens, who was Mayor in 1263 and 1269–70 and probably at intervening dates; (fn. 140) John le Rus, of the important family that lived just outside Trumpington Gate, (fn. 141) Mayor not later than 1269; John Martyn, Mayor in 1270–1, and frequently between 1272 and 1278; (fn. 142) and William Tuillet (or Toylet), whose name comes first on the eyre roll of 1286, which lists the five Mayors who had held office since the eyre of 1272. (fn. 143)
William Tuillet has not been noted hitherto. He was dead by 1279, when the survey reports his purchases of land in the Cambridge fields from seven different holders, and the house in All Saints parish inherited by his son Henry, town bailiff and hundred juror. His other son, Robert, held land in Barnwell of the canons and was bailiff in 1283 and Mayor 1293. His daughter Avice married John Martyn the Mayor. (fn. 144) Bartholomew Goggyng, Mayor 1272–4, had five houses and 22 acres of land, and was the grandson of the notable Hervey the clerk who became a canon of Barnwell. His sister Mariota married Nicholas Childman, 'chief Bailiff' in 1260. (fn. 145) William Elyot, Mayor in 1274 and probably 1275, is inconspicuous. (fn. 146) Three at least of John Martin's possible fifteen mayoralties fall in this period; and John Butt was holding the office for at least the sixth time when the justices arrived in 1286, and was to serve four times more before his death in c. 1298. (fn. 147)
From the 1279 survey, supplemented by feet of fines and other records, it is possible, as Maitland and Gray have shown, (fn. 148) to get a very clear picture of the typical Cambridge Mayor of the late 13th century. He belonged to one of a group of families closely linked by intermarriage, taking full advantage of the burgage tenure that permitted easy sale and purchase of land; building up estates that might soon disintegrate by improvidence or borrowing. (fn. 149) He was very generally a member of St. Mary's guild. (fn. 150) Not infrequently he had land in the county as well as the Borough. (fn. 151) The same surnames recur as office holders for a generation or two; then fresh names appear. There was always room for the newcomer who could pay his way into the governing ring.
The 13th-century pattern persisted through the succeeding centuries. Of the 58 men who were Mayors between 1300 and 1500, 37 had served as bailiffs once or more often, and an equal number had represented the town in Parliament. The two last ex-bailiffs to become Mayor were William Bright in 1571 and John Jenkinson in 1601. (fn. 152) As the practice of dispensing burgesses from serving the lower offices for a fine became established and freedoms were bestowed on non-residents it became possible for the country gentry to exercise more influence in the Borough, but this seldom affected the choice of Mayor. (fn. 153) Roger of Harleston, Mayor 1356–8, whose extensive holdings in the town fields (fn. 154) were supplemented by estates at Milton, Haslingfield, Cottenham, and Denny and who represented the county in Parliament three times, a newcomer to the Borough and possibly a land speculator, is not a typical Mayor of Cambridge. (fn. 155) As a rule, besides holding lands in the common fields the Mayor practised a trade; fishmongers, drapers, grocers, goldsmiths, innholders, wax chandlers, smiths, butchers, bakers, brewers, tanners, skinners, all held the office. Some are described as clerks, and may well have been members of the University, like Robert Brigham, Mayor 1348–50, and John Bilney, Mayor five times between 1406 and 1427. John Edmunds, Mayor 1586–7, was the son of a Master of Peterhouse. (fn. 156) Some studied law and became town attorneys like Wickstede, Mayor 1613–14, and his son-in-law Spalding, Mayor in 1630, 1655, and 1662. Many, besides promoting 'the wealth, relief, profit, and countenance of the town' (fn. 157) in their lifetime, made gifts to the town in their wills. (fn. 158)
These substantial burgesses, it would seem, held office for several years in succession or turn and turn about. Between 1286 and 1299 there were six Mayors, (fn. 159) including John Butt and John Martyn. The same pattern of office-holding continues to the end of the 15th century and the surnames recur; John Dunning, seven times Mayor between 1296 and 1309; Richard Tuylet, six times Mayor between 1337 and 1346, a succession of Morices, whose ancestors can be found in the 1279 survey, held office between 1314 and 1374, and successive generations of Brighams and Hessewells were Mayors in the 15th century. Richard Maisterman, imposed on Cambridge by the central government after the upheaval of 1381, held office continuously to 1387; after that it was usual for the Mayor to serve for two successive years but not longer. That the office entailed heavy expenses appears from the deed executed on the election of John Hessewell in 1490, discharging him from all future service as Mayor on his undertaking to serve if re-elected until Michaelmas 1492. (fn. 160) After 1500 it was the normal practice to elect a new Mayor each year; and in 1568 it was ordained that none should be elected who had held the office within six years preceding; (fn. 161) an ordinance that, though not strictly observed, was not rescinded until 1782. (fn. 162)
The earliest record of a Mayor's election is endorsed on the roll of the town court for 1295; (fn. 163) it took place on 9 September, the morrow of the Nativity of the Virgin, and in 1383 the burgesses declared that they had elected their reeve and bailiffs on that day since 1207. (fn. 164) In 1507 it was advanced to 16 August, the morrow of the Assumption, because of Sturbridge Fair, 'the busy time of all the burgesses', (fn. 165) and so it continued until 1835. (fn. 166) An ordinance of 1428 refers to the swearing in of the Mayor and bailiffs on St. Michael's Day, and as far back as 1261 the Mayor is said to serve until Michaelmas, (fn. 167) and no other term of office is ever hinted at. The earliest form of the oath, taken by Mayor and bailiffs alike, appears to be about 1327: to defend the liberties of the town with the help of the community, to maintain the ancient customs and ordinances of the town, to give true judgements and execute them swiftly, to keep the peace of the town and preserve the commons intact; and not to be a regrater of victuals while in office. (fn. 168) Apart from the last clause, the same oath is in the order book of 1609, supplemented by an oath against assenting to a union with the University, (fn. 169) and other additions reflecting current issues were made from time to time.
The method of election as prescribed in 1344 was that the Mayor and his 'assessors sitting on the bench' should select one burgess and the commonalty another; these two should elect twelve burgesses from those present, themselves excepted; the twelve should co-opt six more and these eighteen should elect the Mayor and the other officers. (fn. 170) In 1419 the commonalty ordained that only those who had served as bailiff or treasurer might be chosen to elect the officers. (fn. 171) The next important modification was made in 1568, by which time the status of the aldermen in the municipal constitution had been established.
In Cambridge the word alderman has at least three distinct meanings. Hervey fitz Eustace, alderman and Mayor, was probably alderman of the guild merchant recognized by John's charter of 1201 (fn. 172) and when it was revived under Edward VI and Mary, the Mayor for the time being was again alderman of the guild. (fn. 173) Other burgesses were aldermen of the guild of St. Mary. (fn. 174) Secondly, under the University's charter of 1268 two aldermen of the town were to be elected annually to assist the Mayor and bailiffs in the keeping of the peace, with the help of four other burgesses. (fn. 175) Finally in 1566 a town ordinance provided that there should be twelve aldermen at the least from whom the Mayor should be annually elected. (fn. 176)
The evolution of the aldermen's bench was a long and obscure process. Tait was doubtful whether the six men elected under the charter of 1268 served as a Mayor's council and thought they had no part in choosing the Twenty-four in 1426. (fn. 177) But as early as 1344 the Mayor's assessors were sitting with him on the bench; (fn. 178) the 1426 narrative specifically mentions the Mayor's assessors and counsel; (fn. 179) and it seems quite probable that it became customary to re-elect the same men to the office. That the aldermen had other duties besides maintaining the peace appears from their sharing the responsibility of presiding in the town courts (1405) (fn. 180) and of having custody of the town seal (1423), (fn. 181) whilst in 1462 a town ordinance is 'made' by the Mayor, aldermen, bailiffs and burgesses. (fn. 182) The fee payable after 1499 by everyone 'chosen to be alderman or called to the Common Bench of the town' can hardly have been imposed on the annually elected keepers of the peace. (fn. 183) There were at least four aldermen as well as the Mayor in 1509. (fn. 184) It is between 1535 and 1545 that the aldermen come into the foreground of the town records. Thomas Cromwell writes to them along with the Mayor, bailiffs and burgesses; (fn. 185) town documents refer to 'Mr. Maire and his brotherne' and 'Maister Mayor and other Aldermen of the Towne'. (fn. 186) One of the first entries in the Common Day Book (28 March 1544) records a resolution of the aldermen and the Twenty-Four; (fn. 187) and in 1545 'all the Aldermen' attend a banquet. (fn. 188) In 1551 'three of the auncientest aldermen' are to supervise the diking of the commons. (fn. 189) In 1552 one of the common councillors, 'elected to the bench', refused to accept office. (fn. 190) In 1556 an ordinance in August was approved by eight, and another in October by nine aldermen. (fn. 191) In 1560 a distinction was drawn between aldermen who are ex-Mayors and those of lower standing. (fn. 192) The future town council had clearly taken shape before the overhaul of 1564–8.
On 1 November 1564 a committee of the Mayor, three aldermen and three common councillors was appointed to revise the method of electing the town officers, and it would seem that the advice of the Recorder was also sought. (fn. 193) On Hock Tuesday 1566 (fn. 194) ordinances were approved for a trial period of two years which provided, inter alia, that there should henceforth be at least twelve aldermen; that one of them should be elected Mayor annually by the commonalty from two candidates nominated by the aldermen. Though the other provisions remained in force, those for the election of the Mayor were not satisfactory. Advice was sought first from the High Steward, Thomas, fourth Duke of Norfolk, and then from five Cambridgeshire gentlemen, created freemen of the Borough ad hoc, and with their help the ordinance of 1568 was drafted. By this two common councillors chosen by lot were to nominate the first twelve electors, who were to co-opt six more, and these eighteen persons were to elect the Mayor and officers. A time limit was fixed for each stage of the election, and in case of ties the Mayor was to have the casting vote. The electors were to swear that they had not been 'laboured' to cast their votes for or against any men. (fn. 195) This arrangement, which increased the part taken by the Twenty-Four at the expense of both aldermen and commonalty, and sought to secure impartiality by the use of the ballot, was observed until 1786. The electors' choice was limited, since only aldermen were eligible, and only those who had not served as Mayor for six years past. (fn. 196) Moreover, when the eligibles refused to serve there were difficulties. Thus in 1643 five successive elections were made and the Mayor was not duly installed until 10 November; (fn. 197) in 1781 three aldermen in turn refused to serve; (fn. 198) whilst in 1778 John Forlow was made alderman and Mayor all on one day. (fn. 199)
The position of the aldermen, just defined in the ordinance of 1566, grew steadily more assured. In 1581 it was provided that the Mayor might not propound anything to the house without first getting the consent of the aldermen present. (fn. 200) In 1599 the power to appoint and remove common councillors was reserved exclusively to the Mayor and aldermen. (fn. 201) The 'benchers', apparently senior common councillors recognized as a distinct row in 1572 and 1589, (fn. 202) disappear, and the number of aldermen is limited to thirteen including the Mayor. (fn. 203) In 1624, as the electors to the mayoralty had exercised the power given to them in 1572 (fn. 204) of electing aldermen as well as town officers, an appeal was made to the Privy Council, which produced the ruling that, in accordance with established usage, only the aldermen could elect aldermen; that no alderman could claim the right of veto or quorum by virtue of seniority; and that none but aldermen could be elected Mayor. (fn. 205) Orders drafted in 1629 by a town committee assisted by the Recorder, Talbot Pepys, and the High Steward, Lord Keeper Coventry, laid down that only common councillors could normally be elected aldermen, that normally aldermen should be elected to the Mayoralty 'in due turn', according to seniority; that an alderman refusing to serve should be fined £40; that before any Called Common Day the Mayor should discuss with the aldermen all matters to be proposed and propose nothing without the consent of the majority. (fn. 206) The charter of 1632, the first to mention aldermen and prescribe their number, was only registering their established status when it called them 'the privy council of the Borough'. (fn. 207) Nor could the common council limit the aldermen's choice; Lord Keeper Coventry warned the Twenty-Four that if they refused to eject their 'decayed' members in favour of 'abler' men, the aldermen were free to elect any burgess to the bench, as they did in 1655, when four common councillors in turn had refused the aldermanry. (fn. 208)
It might indeed be an expensive matter to be an alderman in the 16th or 17th century. From 1558 the wearing of murrey gowns and tippets was prescribed; in 1560 a 20s. fine was imposed on all Mayors and ex-Mayors who failed to wear a scarlet gown on the feast days and holidays; whilst the orders of 1575 not only laid down that every alderman should have both murrey and scarlet gowns, but that he should be attended to church by 'at least' one servant. (fn. 209)
Samuel Newton's diary, covering the years 1660–1717, gives an admirable picture of the civic career of a leading Cambridge burgess. A freeman by purchase in 1661, he served as treasurer 1664–5, was elected common councillor 1667, alderman 1668, and Mayor 1671. (fn. 210) He was a justice of the peace under Charles II, James II, William and Mary, and Anne. (fn. 211) He was one of the members of the Corporation removed by James II in April 1688 and restored in the following October. He served as deputy-Mayor in 1690. (fn. 212) His accounts of the annual elections show various instances of reluctance to serve as treasurer or bailiff, with readiness to accept the aldermanry with its perquisites of gifts and dinners, and its liabilities mitigated by the purchase of gowns second hand. For the most part vacancies on the bench were only created by death, though in 1669 an alderman resigned in a huff because he was not elected Mayor. (fn. 213)
In the 18th century with the rise of party factions the question of the quorum emerges. The orders of 1686 had provided that at least five aldermen must be present for business to be done at a private Common Day, (fn. 214) and at the election inquiry of 1715 a number of common councillors declared that by custom at least six must agree to the admission of a freeman, so that the absence of seven aldermen when the Mayor admitted 36 freemen with a view to the approaching parliamentary election was deliberate and successful obstruction. (fn. 215) It was possible for a measure to be carried in a general Common Day by the Mayor and 31 burgesses against seven aldermen and three burgesses (1766) (fn. 216) but the rule for the presence and consent of six aldermen when the Mayor's honorary freeman was nominated was upheld until 1780, (fn. 217) and the consent of six aldermen to corporation business was only declared superfluous in 1785, (fn. 218) as a stage in the establishment of the Mortlock dictatorship. In 1787, when 11 aldermen divided 5 and 6 over the election of an alderman, John Forlow senior by voting twice, once as alderman and once with the Mayor's casting vote (acquired eight months earlier), secured a majority, and the courts upheld his right in Rex v. Francis. (fn. 219) Not only town legislation but the election of freemen and of the aldermen themselves had gone back to the body of freemen, and orders of 1789 assimilated the procedure for electing aldermen to that for electing the Mayor, and repealed all orders obliging the Mayor to be elected from the aldermen only. (fn. 220) In 1833 the commissioners found that four of the thirteen aldermen were non-resident. (fn. 221)
The eclipse of aldermanic power was correlative to that exaltation of the Mayors for which John Mortlock was responsible. Inherited wealth and native ability enabled this young townsman to exploit the divisions in the Corporation between the 'New' and the 'Old' Party which began to affect municipal politics from 1766 onwards. (fn. 222) Mortlock's civic career is the complete antithesis of Newton's. Buying his freedom in 1778 he was elected common councillor in 1780, alderman in 1782 and Mayor, at the age of 30, in 1785, an office which he was to hold thirteen times in all before his death in 1816. (fn. 223) His relations with the parliamentary reformers are dealt with below, (fn. 224) but his success in making himself 'master of the town of Cambridge' (fn. 225) owed little to outside support. The first sign of the coming revolution was the election of Tunwell of the New Party as Mayor in 1783 in defiance of the by-law which prescribed an interval of six years before re-election. Only four of the thirteen aldermen protested and the King's Bench upheld the election, as well as the by-law permitting re-election to the Mayoralty after one year's interval. (fn. 226) By alienating his ally Alderman Purchas Mortlock had restored an equal balance to the Bench and his success in 1785 in repealing the order that required the assent of six aldermen to business was recognized by his opponents as a fatal blow. (fn. 227) The next step was the repeal in 1786, in Mortlock's own mayoralty, of the order of 1568 for the election of town officers, and the restoration of the regulations of 1344 as 'the ancient custom of the Borough'. (fn. 228) The choice of the two initial electors openly, by the Mayor and the whole body of freemen, instead of by drawing lots, meant that the whole course of the election could be arranged in advance. It amounted, said Whittred in 1818, 'to investing Mr. Mortlock with the absolute power of appointing the Mayor'. He openly from the bench gave 'to the two nominees a list of the eighteen he wished to be selected'. (fn. 229) Once again the courts, when appealed to in the case of Newling v. Francis, upheld the right of the Corporation to alter its own constitution (providing the charter was observed) and the ascendancy of Mortlock was established. (fn. 230) Between 1784 and 1835 only members of Mortlock's family or faction were Mayors of Cambridge, and all the resources of the Corporation were in his control until his death. His two sons took turns with him from 1801 to 1816—'we called it the bucket system' said a witness in 1833. (fn. 231)
It is interesting to note that Mortlock, like his predecessors Hervey fitz Eustace and Roger of Harleston, had extensive landed interests in the county, and that his grandfather had come to Cambridge from Pampisford. (fn. 232)
An entry in the Cross Book dated 1426 declares that 'from all time of which the memory of man is not to the contrary the Mayor for the time being and twenty-four burgesses . . . to this elected . . . have been accustomed and used to . . . order and determine for the whole rule and government of the town of Cambridge'. (fn. 233) Actually the first mention of the Twenty-Four is fifty years earlier; an ordinance of 1376 about the farming of Sturbridge Chapel empowered the Four and Twenty to disfranchise any burgess convicted before them of infringing it. (fn. 234) An undated regulation assigned by Cooper to the following year is described as being 'ordained by the Twenty-Four lately elected in the name of the whole commonalty, many of the commonalty being there present'. (fn. 235) It is not necessary to interpret the expression 'lately elected' in 1377 as meaning 'set up recently for the first time'. In 1426 also the Twenty-Four had been 'lately elected': they resigned as a body at the Hockday assembly of that year so that a new election might be held. (fn. 236) But other towns besides Cambridge had been electing councils of 24 well before 1376.
A council of 24 electi pro communitate had appeared in Leicester in 1273, in Yarmouth in 1272, in Norwich about 1308, and in King's Lynn in 1324. (fn. 237) Cambridge was in close contact with the last two and was obviously influenced by the customs of Norwich. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suggest that it was in the first half of the 14th century that the practice began of devolving some of the functions of the Cambridge town assembly upon a smaller group. The town records are too fragmentary for their silence to be conclusive.
Though given judicial powers in 1376, and regarded in 1426 as sharing the executive responsibilities of the Mayor, the Four and Twenty are mostly mentioned in relation to legislation. (fn. 238) But in the town records we hear much more about their appointment than about their functions. The 'usual method' in 1426 was for the Mayor and 'his assessors' to elect one man, and the commonalty another, those two to elect eight, who should elect eight more, and the sixteen to elect eight more, making the twenty-four. These were to hold office until death or incapacity, and vacancies so created were to be filled by co-optation. (fn. 239) In 1426 it would seem that for the time being the Common Council became a close body. Of those then elected, fourteen had already served as Mayors or Members of Parliament, and four were to do so later. They belong to the inner ring of influential burgesses.
As we have seen, the emergence of the bench of aldermen is an obscure process, and it seems likely that as their status became definite and their number fixed, the importance of the Four and Twenty declined. They are not mentioned between 1426 and 1543, (fn. 240) and in 1543 a 'council' distinct from them (fn. 241) was assisting the Mayor. They were in process of becoming a pool from which the aldermen were chosen; to be one of the Twenty-Four was to be on the line of advancement to the mayoralty, and it was presumably the competition for that standing that produced the many regulations about election and tenure in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1546, at the Common Day for electing the Mayor and the other officers, an election of all the Four and Twenty was held; this time no ex-Mayors were chosen, and only eight future Mayors. (fn. 242) Six years later a similar election was held; fourteen of those chosen in 1546 were re-elected, and of the ten new-comers seven were future Mayors. (fn. 243) The name 'Comon Counsell' is coming into use for the Four and Twenty, (fn. 244) though the old term is not extinct. In 1571 the town assembly ordained that only ex-bailiffs could be chosen to the Twenty-Four. (fn. 245) In 1599 by common assent all previous legislation on the subject was repealed, and 'for the avoiding of many inconveniences and abuses committed by the four and twenty', the election was henceforth to be by the Mayor and aldermen only, who might also remove any common councillor at will. The Mayor and ten aldermen 'going together into the parlour' chose twenty-four persons, six of whom ultimately reached the mayoralty. (fn. 246) The Mayor's 'privy council' was to have control over the Common Council. But in 1608 the Twenty-Four were given power to fill vacancies in their own body. (fn. 247) In 1629 the orders drafted by the Recorder, Lord Coventry, confirmed this, and provided further that though only the aldermen could elect aldermen, they must choose them from among the Twenty-Four unless the Twenty-Four agreed to the choice of an outsider. (fn. 248) The charter of 1632 placed the Common Council firmly in the Borough constitution, but defined neither the method of electing them nor their functions beyond the general statement that they should be helpers and assisters of the Mayor and aldermen whensoever called upon, as of old time. (fn. 249)
The bench naturally took a lively interest in elections which would limit their own choice of their fellow aldermen, and in 1654, having failed to induce the Common Council to reject a newly elected councillor, they declared him ejected by vote of the whole assembly, and carried an order that henceforth when a vacancy occurred among the Twenty-Four, they should propose two names between which the common councillor should choose. (fn. 250) Though this order was soon repealed, (fn. 251) the Mayor in 1699 secured the casting vote in case of a tie. (fn. 252) In January 1787, when P. Beales was elected to the Common Council by thirteen votes to nine, the Mayor refused to accept him as having failed to pass the sacramental test, (fn. 253) enforced in 1699 (fn. 254) but more recently ignored. Next August an order was passed providing that only those who had served the office of treasurer or bailiff were eligible, a condition that Beales had not fulfilled. (fn. 255) The courts upheld this second rejection, though not accepting the Mayor's appointment of the defeated candidate. (fn. 256) These manœuvres, part of the campaign for establishing the ascendancy of John Mortlock, resulted in two more alterations in the method of electing common councillors. On 29 September 1787 the Corporation passed a by-law that the Common Council should be chosen by the electors of the Mayor and bailiffs. (fn. 257) On 17 August 1789 they passed another giving the election to the whole body of freemen. (fn. 258) In September, however, they once more assimilated the election of common councillors to that of the Mayor, now returned to the medieval method, (fn. 259) and this was retained until 1833.
From 1185 it is to the burgesses of Cambridge that grants are made, and not until 1605 does the official style of the Corporation become the Mayor, Bailiffs, and Burgesses. What made a man a burgess, however, is uncertain. Perhaps in 1086 those who held a masura, or those who paid hawgavel and land gavel were burgesses; these can be identified in the survey of 1279. Again, it is probable that when John granted the guild merchant in 1201 he was recognizing the existing community of traders, who were thus enabled to admit whom they chose to share the exclusive privileges of the Borough. Hervey, the first Mayor, may have been the alderman of the guild, the name Guildhall was used for the chief civic building, and the burgesses claimed in 1383 to hold 'their court of the guild merchant, concerning their merchandises, from day to day'. (fn. 260) Apart from that the guild merchant seems to have left no trace on Borough institutions until it was abruptly revived as a dining club in 1547. (fn. 261) This may have been the result of studying old charters; in any case it reappeared only to disappear again after 1639. (fn. 262) But whatever the nomenclature, undoubtedly the burgess or freeman of Cambridge is the man entitled to practise a trade there without paying toll. This privilege was still 'most desirable' in 1833, (fn. 263) when the municipal commissioners were told that the freedom of the Borough might be acquired by birth, by apprenticeship, by purchase, or by gift (fn. 264) —four categories which had been distinguished at least as early as 1500. (fn. 265)
The freeman's oath on admission pledged him to uphold the liberties and customs of the town, to preserve intact its commons and pastures, not to divulge the town's counsel, to obey the Mayor, not to colour the goods of foreigners to deceive the collectors of toll, not to bring a plea in any other court that could be determined before the Mayor and burgesses, and to report the presence of thieves to the town officer. (fn. 266)
It is not possible to say what proportion of the inhabitants of the Borough were freemen in the early days. The roll of the court of the liberty for 1294–5 records the admission of eight freemen in twelve months. (fn. 267) The receipts from men taking up their liberties in 1347 were £5 16s. 0d., (fn. 268) whilst in 1424, £12 13s. 4d. were paid for the admission of fifteen men. (fn. 269) But the fees varied according to circumstances. In 1294 they ranged from ½ mark to 2 marks; the first ordinance on the subject, in 1424, provides that the sons of freemen pay 'the old fine' of 3s. 4d. if admitted on their father's death, 6s. 8d. if they take up their freedom in his lifetime. (fn. 270) 'Foreigners' paid a heavier fee than natives, (fn. 271) and had to secure two resident burgesses as 'godfathers' if they wished their sons to be admitted (1462). (fn. 272) The burgess who had an apprentice was made responsible in 1561 for bringing him to the Guildhall on a Common Day to see that he got his freedom before his term was up. (fn. 273) In 1534 the Mayor is described as calling all the foreigners in the town to the Guildhall and exhorting them 'to become freemen of the town, and they should be heartily welcome, affirming they had as good a corporation as London had'. (fn. 274) This suggests that the freedom was not then in great demand, as does the reduction of entrance fees for burgesses' sons in 1544 and 1576; (fn. 275) somewhat surprising, seeing that the freedom carried with it, since 1403, the right to a booth in Sturbridge Fair rent free. (fn. 276) But it was noted in 1622 that the expenses of holding office and the financial penalties for refusing to hold office were causing many 'to forbear to be of the Corporation, and many being of the Corporation to forsake it'. (fn. 277) Though it cannot be proved, it looks as if the number of Cambridge residents who were freemen was diminishing before any deliberate policy of restriction is traceable.
Apart from the enfranchisement of James of Granchester and his brother in 1381, (fn. 278) the practice of bestowing the freedom as a gift on outsiders seems to begin with the making of William Alyngton a freeman for his good and wise counsel by common assent of the whole assembly, on 23 August 1474. (fn. 279) In 1568 five country gentlemen, including Sir Giles Alyngton and Lord North, were made freemen so that they might assist in the revision of the election regulations, as one of the town counsel had been in 1566. (fn. 280) In 1572 Lord North's eldest son was made a free burgess, (fn. 281) and this was apparently regarded as qualifying him to represent the town in Parliament in 1581, (fn. 282) in spite of the ordinance requiring residence for the parliamentary burgess. (fn. 283) The increasing importance of the House of Commons was affecting the significance of the freedom. In 1620 Thomas Meautys, in 1625 John Thompson, both London residents, were sworn freemen so that they might be Borough members of Parliament. (fn. 284) In January 1640 Oliver Cromwell was admitted to the freedom almost certainly with a view to his election to Parliament in the following March. (fn. 285) In 1660 the defeated candidates in the county election were made freemen and elected as town members to the Convention Parliament. (fn. 286) Newton's diary gives a picture of the ordinary, unpolitical burgess; he bought his freedom for £6 5s. in 1661, (fn. 287) his immediate object being to secure booths in Sturbridge Fair, though in his 90 years he served a succession of Borough offices. He tells of both apprentices and sons of freemen taking up their freedoms, and mentions the new custom whereby the Mayor could nominate one freeman during his term of office, but he also mentions the admission of several country gentlemen as honorary freemen, one of them as a preliminary to being sworn Recorder of Cambridge. (fn. 288) He does not mention the creation in August 1679 of 22 honorary freemen, mostly country gentlemen, (fn. 289) almost certainly in connexion with the Exclusion Bill agitations, though the election had taken place in February. (fn. 290) This was the first of many such creations. George Pryme, writing in 1823, supposed that admissions by right of birth were extensive in the first half of the 17th century and that 'the closing of the borough' began about 1680. (fn. 291) However that may be, from about that time the freedom of Cambridge, though still retaining some economic significance, (fn. 292) was growing steadily more important as conferring the municipal and parliamentary franchise. Non-resident freemen were created to secure new parliamentary electors of the desired complexion, and as factions developed within the Borough, the process of admitting townsmen or outsiders to the small group of residents who controlled Borough government was jealously scrutinized.
In 1688 the Corporation, just 'regulated' by James II, first rescinded the ordinance that fixed the freedom fine for foreigners at £10, and then, under the guidance of their High Steward, James's nominee, Lord Dover of Cheveley, granted the freedom to 150 persons, 65 of them non-resident, in preparation for the expected general election. (fn. 293) The Revolution undid this, but the precedent of 1679 had been strengthened. From 1706 the practice became common, and the investigations of the Committee of Privileges in 1710 and 1715, though they exposed the scandal, did not end it. (fn. 294) Various attempts were made to control it. By established custom a freeman could only be admitted in the presence of the Mayor and six aldermen, (fn. 295) and it was further provided in 1766 that a freeman must be proposed at one Common Day for election at the next. (fn. 296) In 1770 the entrance fee for purchasers was put up to £21, (fn. 297) so that in 1782 and again in 1784 the election of a number of honorary freemen was justified as a means of reducing the debt on the new Guildhall. On this occasion each paid 30 guineas. (fn. 298) As the Corporation split into factions the ill-observance of the rule of 1766 led to a number of disputes and lawsuits. (fn. 299) Only three of the sixteen freemen admitted three days before the election of 1774 were allowed to vote in it, and these were not numerous enough to defeat the Hardwicke candidate, Soame Jenyns. (fn. 300) His correspondence with Hardwicke in 1777 shows that the creation of honorary freemen was a normal procedure, frankly canvassed by Parliamentary candidates. In 1781 when the Hardwicke interest was losing ground he wrote that unless 'a very large number of honorary freemen' was created, it would be better to leave them entirely to themselves. 'It seems to me impracticable without a much greater expense and more trouble than the thing is worth.' (fn. 301) In 1784 Ewin expressed the wish that 100 instead of 24 had been created. (fn. 302) From 1788 the control both of the Corporation and of the parliamentary seat was secured to the Mortlock-Rutland party. The one limit to their power was the fact, established by Foster's Case in 1787, (fn. 303) that a freedom once granted could not be revoked. There was no contested election to Parliament between 1788 and 1818, (fn. 304) and, for municipal politics, the existence of a reserve of some 80 non-residents who could be called up at need made contests a foregone conclusion. There were recurrent protests against the withholding of the freedom from freemen's sons, (fn. 305) and in 1818 William Whittred attempted to vindicate his right in the King's Bench, but died before his case was tried. (fn. 306) Other instances were reported to the commissioners in 1833, when it appeared that, through the obstacles placed in the way of those who were entitled by birth to the freedom, the number of eligible freemen's sons had by that year dwindled to five. (fn. 307)
James II's agents had reported in 1688 that there were about 400 electors for Cambridge town. (fn. 308) From the poll-books it appears that in 1715 over 300 freemen voted. In 1736, 246 freemen voted, in 1774, 152, of whom 69 were non-resident. In 1783 in a population of 7,000, with 1,200 rate-payers, there were 100 resident and 80 nonresident freemen. (fn. 309) In 1833 the number of resident freemen was 118. (fn. 310) The artificial character of the freedom is brought out by the fact that, in the county election of 1780, of the 152 men who were qualified to vote by their freeholds in the Borough, only 20 were freemen of the Borough. (fn. 311)
Town Assembly or Common Hall
If we pass from the rights of the individual freeman to the freemen acting as a community, we are once more in the dark as to origins. The Borough moot probably long served both judicial and legislative purposes. The earliest record of the town court records the election of the Mayor and the admission of freemen, but the election did not take place on a court day. (fn. 312) The transfers of land are witnessed by many other burgesses besides the Mayor and bailiffs, but the early deeds are not dated, so that one cannot be certain at what session they were published. In 1467 a payment is made in plena curia, coram communitate, and as late as 1715 a burgess uses the expression 'The Common Day Court'. (fn. 313) Only with the recording of ordinances from 1348 (fn. 314) do we begin to make contact with the full assembly of burgesses—'the whole community'. In 1426 we read of 'a colloquy and treaty' between the Mayor and the burgesses, also called a 'congregation', (fn. 315) and in 1460 the Hock Tuesday assembly is described as 'the great congregation of burgesses'. (fn. 316) This wording indicates that by that date certain days were appropriated to specially full meetings of the burgesses. Three of these were certainly established at an early date: Michaelmas, when the Mayor-elect was sworn in, (fn. 317) 9 September, the day of election, (fn. 318) and Hock Tuesday, (fn. 319) the day for electing the treasurers. In an ordinance of 1499 in which the term 'Common Day' first occurs, the Tuesday after Epiphany figures as an annual occasion. (fn. 320) The records of the assembly used by Cooper began in 1544; (fn. 321) he cites an ordinance made in 1556 which distinguished between 'special' and 'general' Common Days, (fn. 322) and in 1624 it was declared specifically, as there had been some question about it, that the five general Common Days were Michaelmas, Tuesday after Twelfth Night, Hock Tuesday, election day, and Bartholomew Day. (fn. 323) These are the 'Grand Common Days' of the 17th and 18th centuries; the term 'charter days' used in 1833 (fn. 324) has no warrant by fact or usage. They do not seem to have any relation to the five court days named by the burgesses in 1383, (fn. 325) nor to the five terms for accounting kept by the Mayor and bailiffs. (fn. 326) The other Common Halls were either adjournments or 'special' or 'Called Common Days' summoned by the Mayor at his discretion, recognized in the charter of 1632. (fn. 327) James I had acknowledged the right of the Mayor and burgesses to make by-laws; (fn. 328) Charles I specified that such laws should be made by the Mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses, 'gathered and assembled for this purpose, on a public summons by the Mayor'.
During the parliamentary inquiry into the election of 1715 a very full statement was made regarding the customary method of holding Common Days. The five general Common Days are said (incorrectly) to be fixed by charter. The private or summoned Common Days are held when the Mayor thinks fit, one day's notice at least being the rule. Freemen should only be admitted at a General Common Day, or at a summoned Common Day at which at least six aldermen are present. Precedents going back to 1554 are cited. (fn. 329)
The Common Day Books give a wealth of information about the business done in Common Hall in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Besides the passing of ordinances or by-laws, and the annual elections of officials at Hocktide and mid-August there are occasional elections, as of the Recorder, the High Steward, the Town Clerk and the burgesses for Parliament, either by a committee or by the majority of all the burgesses. (fn. 330) Authority is given to a delegation to act for the Corporation in some matter; (fn. 331) leases or exchanges of Corporation property are authorized (fn. 332) and repairs or improvements ordered; (fn. 333) arrangements are made in connexion with civic feasts, (fn. 334) with Sturbridge Fair (fn. 335) or with royal visits; (fn. 336) letters from noble friends and patrons are read and acted upon; (fn. 337) petitions or loyal addresses to the Crown are approved. (fn. 338)
The development first of the Common Council and then of the bench of aldermen reduced the powers and activity of the assembly, especially after the presence of six aldermen was made necessary for the transaction of business in Common Hall. (fn. 339) Newton describes how at Michaelmas 1668 'The Mayor and aldermen going first into the parlour and propounding and considering what was fit to be propounded at the Common Day, within a quarter of an hour went into the Hall, and the Common Day being opened, there was propounded what in the parlour was thought fit to be propounded'. (fn. 340) But though policy might be determined by the 'private council' of the Mayor and his brethren, legislation required the assent of the commonalty, and the Common Days were held regularly until 1835. After the by-law dispensing with the assent of six aldermen was passed in 1785, so many of the losing faction stayed away that for a few months in 1787 fines for absence were imposed, which evoked from old alderman Whittred the protest that 'he knew no use in the Common Days'. (fn. 341) They were indeed coming to do little more than register the edicts of a dictator. By a paradox it was the nominal revival of the powers of the body of freemen by the restoration of direct election in the years 1785–9 that, along with the ad hoc creation of freemen and the reduction of their numbers, finally discredited the town assembly. Whatever powers were given to the townsmen by municipal reform, the Common Days ceased after 1835.
The order of sitting at the Common Days as laid down in 1787 gives a picture of the ordo dignationum in unreformed Cambridge. The bench with the Mayor and other aldermen was above the table, at which none but the Town Clerk ought to sit; below the table sat first the 24 Common Councillors, then the 'dispensers', that is, those who had fined to be dispensed from serving as bailiffs or treasurers, in the order in which they had obtained dispensation and thus become eligible to be common council men; and below them the freemen or burgesses. The whole body of those below the table constituted 'the floor'. (fn. 342) In 1833 the average number attending the meetings of the Corporation was 33, in a body of 118 resident freemen. (fn. 343)
At least from the time when the shire of Cambridge was constituted with fifteen hundreds, of which Cambridge Borough was reckoned one, (fn. 344) there must have been a Borough court of status similar to that of the rural hundreds. To the Danish occupation may be traced the lawmen of Domesday book, (fn. 345) who are to be equated probably with the 24 judices of the Liber Eliensis. The Liber records that a number of legal transactions concerning land transfers and stolen merchandise took place at Cambridge coram tota civitate or coram coetu civium, and testifies to a well-established local custom 'that pledges were not needed when land was purchased at Cambridge, any more than at Norwich, Thetford, and Ipswich'. (fn. 346) A Borough court then had presumably been in existence for some 150 years when the writ of 1118 recognized its jurisdiction over offences committed within the Borough. (fn. 347) In 1201 John further recognized the burgesses' right to a defence in pleas of the Crown 'according to the ancient custom of the Borough'. (fn. 348) No Cambridge custumal is extant; the only customs specifically recorded are the right of a person to devise his church to a relative, already obsolete in 1207; the right of a landlord to distrain on the whole holding for arrears of rent; and the right of a widow to half her husband's chattels on his death. (fn. 349) Henry III in 1256 recognized the right to hold pleas of replevin, (fn. 350) and the 13th-century records show the town courts hearing pleas of dower, land (by writ of right), nuisance, trespass, debt, covenant, account, quittance, distraint and assault, petty larceny, and grand larceny, and taking proceedings preliminary to the hearing of pleas before the king's justices. (fn. 351) In the eyre of January 1261 a plea between two townsmen for a house was referred back to the town court, since the writ pone could not apply. In the same eyre a widow claiming dower failed in her plea because her husband had formerly lost the land by judgement of the court of Cambridge, and the rolls of the said court were searched for the names of pledges. (fn. 352) In the seventeen courts held for the year 1295–6 thirteen people were convicted of larceny and ten were hanged. (fn. 353) It appears that the competence and procedure of the Cambridge courts matched those of Norwich, where manifest theft at the suit of a party could be dealt with before the coroner and a bailiff whilst appeals of felony went to the county court, and other forms of larceny were reserved for the justices of gaol delivery. (fn. 354) As larceny came to be classed as a felony, the town court would lose such cases. (fn. 355) Transfers of land took place in the court before the Mayor and bailiffs, (fn. 356) and many fines made there are extant, (fn. 357) the earliest reference to a chirograph 'made in the town court before many men of the town' belonging probably to the year 1220. (fn. 358) A transfer made in another county is formally recorded there about 1268. (fn. 359) In 1286, according to the Barnwell chronicler, a quitclaim to the prior was declared invalid because made before the Mayor and bailiffs and not before the justices who bear record, (fn. 360) but the number of surviving deeds goes to show that very many Cambridge burgesses found the record of the Mayor's court adequate for their land transactions in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Like other boroughs, Cambridge had different courts for the exercise of its different jurisdictions. In 1383, in making a claim of cognizance in the King's Bench, then sitting at Cambridge, the Mayor and bailiffs of Cambridge enumerated the courts held in the town under the royal charters, 1207–1313, as follows: The prepositus and bailiffs hold their court concerning lands and tenements on five Mondays in the year—those after St. Matthew's (2 Sept.), St. Lucy's (13 Dec.), Mid-lent, Trinity and St. James's (25 July). They also hold a weekly court on Tuesdays for trespasses and for contracts and covenants made within the town. Thirdly they hold pleas of trespass and so forth in which 'foreigners' are concerned 'from day to day' as occasion demands. Fourthly they hold their court of the guild merchant between merchants concerning their merchandise, and lastly they hold courts at Easter and Michaelmas for leet business and view of frankpledge. (fn. 364) Two ordinances in the Cross Book describe the court held on Mondays as the Court of the Liberty. Cooper cites that of 1405 which provides that surrenders of booths in Sturbridge Fair may be made by burgesses in either the Monday or the Tuesday court; (fn. 365) he omits that of 1424, which is as follows:
It is ordained by the Four and Twenty, on Tuesday after St. Gregory's in the second year of King Henry VI, in the Guild Hall of the town of Cambridge, in the presence of many of the community of the said town, by the advice of John Burgoyne, William Gudred and Nicholas Hywyssh (fn. 366) there present, that (if) any burgess impleaded on any Tuesday in the court of the Mayor and bailiffs claim to have his franchise and to be assigned to the court of the liberty held on Mondays every three weeks and have nothing whereby he can be distrained for the said plea, that [sic] straightway the process shall be continued before the said Mayor and bailiffs up to the end of the said plea, and the said defendant shall then find sufficient manucaptors there in the presence of the Mayor and bailiffs that he will answer to the said plaintiff in the aforesaid court of the liberty according to the law and custom of the said vill. (fn. 367)
From this it appears that the weekly court was for all and sundry and the three-weekly court of the liberty for freemen of the Borough. Its roll for 1294–5 survives, (fn. 368) and records sessions on every third Monday of the year, but it would seem that like other contemporary courts it continued to be described as 'three-weekly' long after it met normally only five times a year. There is no unequivocal reference to it after 1424, and no later rolls are extant, for the scanty records of the 'court of the town of Cambridge held at the Guildhall before the Mayor and bailiffs' in the years 1314–16 (fn. 369) relate to courts held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (fn. 370) at irregular intervals, from a week upwards, and are presumably the 'day to day' sessions for civil pleas between townsmen and strangers. If the three-weekly court of the liberty disappeared, (fn. 371) there is ample evidence of the survival of the weekly court, which probably absorbed its jurisdiction. A surviving court book for 1389–90 (fn. 372) records fairly regular Tuesday sessions at which pleas of debt, covenant, detinue, account, and trespass are heard and merchants from London, Northampton, and Bury St. Edmunds as well as men from the Cambridgeshire villages appear as litigants. Annotations with initials probably denote the names of the four bailiffs, each responsible for execution in his own ward, and the entries are crossed through, indicating that the requisite action has been taken. An ordinance of 1403 (fn. 373) forbade burgesses to prosecute in any other court contracts which could be determined before the Mayor and bailiffs, on pain of disfranchisement, and the enforcement of this penalty against two burgesses in 1578 (fn. 374) no less than the various ordinances from 1499 to 1692 regulating the number and the fees of the attorneys practising in the town court, (fn. 375) are evidence of its activity. Newton, when treasurer in 1664, noted that 21 causes were heard on one day, (fn. 376) and Tuesday is 'court day' for him, as it had been in 1609 (fn. 377) and 1594. (fn. 378)
In 1650 and again in 1658 the Mayor and bailiffs claimed cognizance of all pleas and tenements within the town, as well as of trespass, covenants, and contracts, (fn. 379) but apart from occasional fines and transfers of booths in Sturbridge Fair (fn. 380) its jurisdiction had probably shrunk to personal actions merely long before 1833. A court book for the years 1724–36, (fn. 381) which incidentally registers the transition from Latin to English in recording pleas, shows the court meeting always on Tuesdays, at intervals ranging from one to five weeks, and handling pleas of debt, trespass, and assault. It is described as 'The court of pleas of our sovereign lord the king for the town of Cambridge held in the Guildhall of the same town before Mayor and and bailiffs.' In 1833 the municipal commissioners were told that it met once a month on Tuesdays; that though two bailiffs attended, the Mayor was the sole judge; that its jurisdiction was in practice limited to personal actions, most of which were settled by agreement. Of the 68 cases brought before it in the last three years, none had come to an issue for trial. It had no very good reputation, as the Mayors knew no law, and apart from suspicions of political bias, the processes were cumbrous and expensive. (fn. 382) Under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 the Recorder replaced the Mayor as judge of the town court, 3 bailiffs attending for execution of process and the Town Clerk being registrar. Between 1837 and 1839 the court entertained 418 pleas, but only 59 were brought to execution. (fn. 383) In February 1840 1,400 Cambridge inhabitants signed a petition for the establishment of a court for the recovery of small debts. (fn. 384) Under the County Courts Act of 1846 such a court was set up for Cambridge and the surrounding region, (fn. 385) and the last raison d'être for the old Court of Record disappeared, though it was never formally abolished.
Few records are extant of proceedings between merchant and merchant in the Pie Powder courts, but those arising in Reach Fair in 1508 have been preserved and include actions of debt and deceit. (fn. 386) A court house for the Mayor was erected at Sturbridge in 1654 and pulled down in 1802. (fn. 387)
Nor do many records survive of the October and April leets mentioned in 1383. (fn. 388) By an ordinance of 1374 all burgesses had to attend on pain of money penalties and the forfeiture of freedom for the third default, and Metcalfe mentions a tradition that they had to be kept 'in the field' because the numbers were so great. (fn. 389) The petty criminal jurisdiction of the court was absorbed, here as elsewhere, after 1461 by the justices of the peace, (fn. 390) but it was still active in presenting nuisances and upholding peace measures. In 1502 266 persons were charged with nuisances or purprestures; and in the spring leet of 1561 59 apprentices were enrolled in the queen's tithing and 28 foreigners took the oath of allegiance to the queen. (fn. 391) From 1459 the University, with its concurrent responsibility for town hygiene, held its own leet, swearing in a jury of townsmen (fn. 392) and by the 1503 indenture it could take action if the Mayor failed to do so within six weeks. (fn. 393) The Paving Act of 1544 added a paving leet, held jointly by Vice-Chancellor and Mayor twice a year. (fn. 394) Newton's account in 1664 shows that there were two distinct juries, but the amercements which the treasurers collected, amounting to £3 10s., seem to have arisen in the paving leet. (fn. 395) The leets were still being held in 1733, (fn. 396) but the paving leet must have been extinguished by the Paving Act of 1788. (fn. 397) A petition of 1790 relating to a dunghill is directed to a 'court' which was presumably the leet of nuisances, (fn. 398) but in 1833 the commissioners were told that the court leet had ceased to assemble some fifteen or twenty years before. (fn. 399)
Justices of the Peace
The first recorded commission of the peace for the Borough was issued to the Mayor and bailiffs in 1344. (fn. 400) Another was issued in May 1380 which included both the Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor, but in September 1380 a separate commission for enforcing peace in the University was issued and the Mayor and his fellows were warned not to intermeddle with the masters. (fn. 401) In February 1381 the Mayor was bound over to keep the peace as a result of obstructing the holding of the town sessions, and his name does not appear with that of the Vice-Chancellor on the commission issued after the rising. (fn. 402) All town commissions were revoked on 9 December 1381 (fn. 403) and no further ones issued until 1392. Thenceforward the name of the Mayor appears in every extant commission for the Borough. (fn. 404) The fact that the Vice-Chancellor and other members of the University were invariably also on the commission explains why there was in Cambridge no such merger of the traditional town jurisdictions with the sessions of the peace as occurred frequently elsewhere. (fn. 405)
A picture of the activities of Cambridge justices of the peace in the 17th century is given in the note-books (fn. 406) of Sir Thomas Sclater, M.D., Fellow of Trinity, freeman of the Borough from 1670, and member of both town and county commissions of the peace from 1661 to 1684. He issued warrants for apprehending vagrants and runaway apprentices, receivers of stolen goods, breakers of windows, robbers of orchards and fishponds; he supervised the swearing-in of constables and the accounts of collectors of excise and hearth money; he broke up conventicles and inquired into seditious speeches. His eight or nine colleagues at quarter sessions were mainly aldermen, but Dr. Stoyt of the University was very active. In 1664 the charge was given by the Recorder, Roger Pepys, and the business was finished in one day. (fn. 407) Though the justices had to deal with burglary, arson and sedition, bastardy and apprenticeship cases and the regulation of the spittle house recur more frequently. Sir Thomas's note on a quarrel between neighbours in 1665—'I made them all friends'—is thoroughly in keeping with the tone of his record. The commission of 1682 among its nineteen members included several other county gentlemen besides the borough members of Parliament. The political motive in naming the commission comes out in a letter of S. Shepheard the elder to Harley in August 1710: 'According to your command I send the names of the justices of the peace turned out at Cambridge upon my son being chosen for that place—T. Ewin, F. Fox Senior, C. Chambers Senior and T. Fowler, all aldermen of the town.' (fn. 408) Of the four who replaced them, only one was a Cambridge resident. Two generations later another Ewin, like Sclater a member of the University, a resident of the town and a justice for both town and county, reported on the sessions to Lord Hardwicke. (fn. 409) For all his Borough ancestry, his sympathies were closest with the county gentry, but whether honestly or from sycophancy he represented the Borough as the natural field for county ambitions. He quoted Keene, the town member, as saying in 1780: 'I don't care a farthing what they do in the county; I am only concerned with the town.' Upon this his comment was: 'It was enough to judge how little he cared about matters.' (fn. 410) In 1776 he described how two vagrants were induced to enlist very promptly by the sentence, as an alternative, of three floggings and three months in prison. When in 1778 he fell into disgrace for lending money to undergraduates at an extortionate rate (fn. 411) he resented bitterly the attempt of the University to have him put out of the commission, and succeeded in getting both his town and county colleagues to protest against his removal. The Lord Chancellor's refusal to put him in the new commission of 1781 he considered 'vindictive conduct'.
Though collaboration between the town and the University justices of the peace seems to have been easy in the days of Sclater and Ewin, on occasion the sessions of the peace proved yet one more field of rivalry between town and gown. Precedence on the bench was a recurrent issue from 1596, when the University was greatly offended at the Mayor's name being placed first in the Commission, (fn. 412) until 1818, when the ViceChancellor acquiesced peaceably in John Purchas's 'positive and unequivocal' refusal to surrender the seat he occupied as chairman of the commission. (fn. 413) Since 1836 the ViceChancellor has as a rule been appointed justice of the peace for the town along with the Mayor. (fn. 414)
The existence of rolls of the town court in 1261 (fn. 415) implies that the town then had a clerk, but no certain identification is found before William of Harwood, whose fee of 6s. 8d. is entered on the treasurers' roll for 1346–7. (fn. 416) In 1418 Richard Parys was mentioned as common clerk of the town. (fn. 417) The records of the subsidy of 1512 named John Thyrleby as Town Clerk of Cambridge and assessed the profits of his office as between £2 and £10; (fn. 418) in 1514 he was paid 7s. 4d. for writing the treasurers' roll and for parchment. (fn. 419) He was still in office in 1531, and very likely until his death in 1539. (fn. 420) In 1545 it was provided that the Recorder might not appoint a town clerk without the consent of the town; (fn. 421) and all the evidence goes to show that he was thenceforth elected in Common Day. It would seem that the tenure was already for life, since Edward Ball, who had to apologize to the Vice-Chancellor in 1583 for abusing the University to the Lord Mayor of London at Sturbridge Fair, served from 1557 to 1596, when he resigned his office. His Register Book is still in the City archives. (fn. 422) The office was apparently a profitable one. (fn. 423) When Ball's successor Henry Slegge died in 1629, King Charles himself urged the appointment of Roger Slegge 'trayned up by the space of twenty years in hope that he should succeed his father'. (fn. 424) The Corporation had, however, granted the reversion of the office to North Harrison in 1610 for life, at £5 a year, with fees and emoluments, (fn. 425) and though Roger Slegge was elected, he had, by a decree of Lord Keeper Coventry, to hand over the office and the books to Harrison a year later. (fn. 426) In January 1632 Harrison's son, John, was granted the office for which his father had had to wait so long, on the same terms, and held it until his death in 1660, (fn. 427) but once again a claimant was waiting for the dead man's shoes, for Alderman Samuel Spalding had been granted the reversion in 1637, and held it from the age of 70 for nine years only. (fn. 428) From the time of the Slegges the office would seem to have been the object of aldermanic rivalry. The most sensational episode occurred in 1707 when Joseph Pyke, who had hoped to succeed his father as Town Clerk, was stabbed in the Rose Tavern by Alderman Thomas Fox the younger, who obtained the position by a majority of 40. (fn. 429) From 1731 to 1756 the office was held by two ex-Mayors, Syndrey and York, but in 1745 the Corporation ordered that for the future no alderman should be chosen Town Clerk. (fn. 430) James Day, common councillor and Town Clerk from 1756 to 1788, (fn. 431) was, however, as deeply involved in town politics as any alderman. He was one of the most ardent supporters of 'the old interest', and is mentioned more than once in the Hardwicke correspondence as a regular reporter of Cambridge news. (fn. 432) His sins as custodian of the town records are only excelled by those of York, through whose slackness the treasurers' rolls found their way to the church chest of St. Michael's and were only saved from imminent destruction by Bowtell. (fn. 433) During the last year of his term of office James Day was being constantly ordered to produce town books in connexion with the numerous corporation lawsuits. He was threatened with dismissal for refusing to produce them, and on his resignation a committee was appointed to draw up an inventory. (fn. 434) One at least was retained by him and given by his brother and executor after his death to Bowtell, whilst other valuable records disappeared. A volume of the Common Day Books, long missing, contains an inscription recording its return to the custody of the town. Day's successor, Robert White, elected by the triumphant Mortlock faction at Michaelmas 1788, (fn. 435) had the usual life patent, and was succeeded in due course by his son and his grandson to the scandal of the commissioners of 1833.
The duties of the town clerk included keeping the records both of the courts and of the assemblies. In 1557 he was sworn 'to write all orders truly'. (fn. 436) It was presumably the fees and perquisites that made it a coveted position. In 1833 the fees averaged £260 a year, and the salary was £40: he was the legal adviser of the Corporation and the post was always held by an attorney. (fn. 437)
The greatest of all Cambridge Town Clerks, Charles Henry Cooper, was not a native of the town, but settled there in 1826 and made himself familiar with local antiquities while pursuing his profession as a solicitor. His legal abilities were warmly commended in connexion with the complicated preliminaries to Sir John Patteson's award of 1855. He was elected the first town coroner under the reformed Corporation in 1836, and was Town Clerk from 1849 until his death in 1866, but he was studying the archives well before he became their official custodian, and the first volume of his Annals of Cambridge was published in 1843. Four more volumes followed, the last, with an index, being published posthumously in 1908. His Memorials of Cambridge (1858–66) and his Athenae Cantabrigienses (1858–61) dealt with the buildings and topography of Cambridge and the careers of distinguished graduates; at least as valuable to the student of Cambridge institutions was the report of the Borough Rate Committee, which was printed anonymously in 1850. All who have worked on Cambridge history, from Maitland to W. M. Palmer and Milner Gray, have had reason to appreciate the amazing industry and accuracy of Cooper's work, which remains the starting point for all further discoveries. (fn. 438)
By the charter of 1256 the burgesses were granted the right to elect their own coroners (fn. 439) and five years later in the eyre of 1261 there are several references to the coroner Harvey Parleben. The coroner's rolls are cited, the coroner himself is amerced for dereliction of duty, and one passage suggests that the liberty of choosing coroners might be revoked for failure to attach or exact criminals according to the law of England. (fn. 440) Two coroners were named in 1294 and 1299. (fn. 441) This was the regular number and later records indicate that they were elected annually.
Henry Hawlehed, elected Mayor in 1514, had served as coroner the previous year. (fn. 442) The provisional regulations of 1566 provided that the two youngest aldermen should always serve as coroners, (fn. 443) and the ordinance of 1568 prescribed that they should be elected at the same time and in the same way as the Mayor. (fn. 444) The coroner's oath is entered in the order book of 1609. (fn. 445) On several occasions a coroner elect successfully claimed, as the privilege of an attorney, exemption from serving, but not all put in this plea. (fn. 446) In 1833 it was reported that one of the two coroners was usually an attorney; that they were elected annually from the commonalty, but usually re-elected and served for long terms. (fn. 447)
The first mention of a recorder in Cambridge is in 1494, when John Leynton, who had represented the town in the Parliament of 1489, was paid 6s. 8d. for receiving and determining the treasurers' accounts as 'Recorder and auditor'. (fn. 448) Five years later John Woode, 'Recorder of the town of Cambridge', received the same fee for the same service, but he also received £1 6s. 8d. as 'lawyer and of the counsel of the town, for the business of the town and keeping and supporting the rights of the same'. (fn. 449) For many years previously the town had been retaining counsel for its business, whether, as in 1418, in a dispute with the University, (fn. 450) or, as in 1424 or 1426, for the drafting of ordinances about the town courts or the Common Council, (fn. 451) and these services were recognized by hospitality as well as by fees. (fn. 452) In 1500 the Recorder John Woode rode to Huntingdon on town business and gave labour and counsel divers times in the town's dispute with Barnwell Priory about the title to a ditch on Midsummer Common, as well as in the matter between the University and the town. (fn. 453) There might be other 'learned counsell' of the town (1556), (fn. 454) but the Recorder was, it seems, the senior legal adviser. His functions are well described in the letter in which the Mayor and Corporation declined the queen's offer in 1559 to permit George Frevill to retain the office after becoming a baron of the Exchequer. According to that letter the Recorder of Cambridge was one 'learned in the lawes of this your Realme, to whome as well the Corporacion of your highnesse said towne, as every particular person of the same, might resort for Counsell as occasyon served, And such a one also as not only might speak in any of your Majesties Courts for such matters as we from time to time have had in sute . . . but also should assist us in the Courts holden within in the said towne, as well for the furtherance of Justice . . . as for the instructing of us, being simple and unlearned men, in doubtfull matters in the lawe'. (fn. 455) This, it was implied, was not compatible with serving as a royal justice, and so 'time out of mind' they had been accustomed to choose another Recorder if such advancement occurred. Such skilled advice was especially needful in the later 16th century, when the town was constantly at issue with the University; it was also called for when the town orders were revised in 1609, and Recorder Brackyn and Mr. Weston took great pains in amending them. (fn. 456)
But by this date the emphasis was shifting from technical knowledge to social influence; the 'counsel' might be of a political as much as of a legal character. The office had been held by a succession of king's serjeants: John Hynde (1520), William Cooke (1546), George Freville (1553), Robert Shute (1559). The transition was marked by the departure in 1579 from the principle laid down in 1559. (fn. 457) By royal command, Shute was continued as Recorder after he had become baron of the Exchequer; he also represented Cambridge in Parliament from 1572 to 1581. (fn. 458) On Shute's death in 1590 the town elected to the post the queen's cousin, Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, whose advocacy would be personal, not professional, (fn. 459) and Francis Brackyn, a local lawyer, was appointed as deputy recorder. From this point onwards the typical Recorder was the noble patron, who seems almost to duplicate the office of the High Steward. Sir Thomas Egerton, indeed, resigned the recordership in 1600 to become High Steward. In 1608 Brackyn who had been deputy under three Recorders became Recorder himself. His successors Talbot and Roger Pepys were, like himself, working lawyers, but in 1679 the régime of the magnates was resumed, and baronets and peers only occasionally make way for commoners. (fn. 460) John Mortlock held the office with that of Mayor and Member of Parliament for three months in 1788, passing it on to the Duchess of Rutland's brother, who was succeeded by her two sons. The deputies were professional lawyers until 1835, and were magistrates of the Borough; they received no fee, and their attendance at sessions was not regular. (fn. 461) Since 1835 the Recorder has been a professional lawyer and the presiding magistrate at Quarter Sessions.
It seems that the first High Steward of the Borough was elected in 1529, shortly after the King's Bench had admitted the claim of the Mayor and burgesses that Cambridge was a Corporation by prescription, a status that carried with it the right to sue or be sued. It may have been in anticipation of other lawsuits that it was deemed advisable to secure the good offices of a noble patron. (fn. 462) No earlier institution of a High Stewardship has been noted in any borough. The Duke of Norfolk received his patent under the common seal of the Borough and accepted an annual fee of 40s. (fn. 463) He was superseded in the whirligig of politics successively by the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, and resumed his office on the death of Edward VI. (fn. 464) His grandson who succeeded him in 1554 was offended at the 'unworthy rejection' of his recommendations in the municipal elections of 1569 (fn. 465) and resigned, regardless of the town's ordinance appointing him the only equitable court of appeal in disputes between burgesses not determinable at common law. (fn. 466) He was induced to resume the office, however, although the University, afraid, presumably, of his influence as attorney for the town in disputes between them, tried to dissuade him. (fn. 467) In 1572 he followed his predecessors to the block, and the town turned to a representative of the new nobility, their neighbour at Kirtling, Roger, Lord North, (fn. 468) whose steady friendship and support to the Borough from 1572 to 1600 as its High Steward evoked the gratitude recorded year by year on the treasurers' rolls in the form of gifts of 'hippocras', 'muscadyns', 'marchpayne', white wine, fish, flocks of wethers, and other 'remembrances', as well as dinners and suppers. (fn. 469) His sons, John and Henry, were made freemen and parliamentary representatives of the town in 1581 and 1584 and his impecunious brother, Thomas, was accorded a 'benevolence' of £20 in 1598. (fn. 470) It seems, however, that neither High Steward nor Recorder had their way in the parliamentary elections of 1593 and 1601. (fn. 471) From 1600 to 1640 the office was held by four Lord Keepers in succession, Ellesmere, Bacon, Coventry, and Finch, and in the elections of 1614, 1620, 1625, 1626, and March 1640 the town paid the price for patronage by reserving one seat for the High Steward's nominee. (fn. 472) The office, more and more honorary, was suspended after Finch's flight to the Continent in December 1640. Neither Cromwell (1652–8) nor Clarendon (1660–67) concerned themselves particularly with Borough politics, and from 1670 on the High Stewards were country gentlemen or noblemen—Chicheley of Wimpole, Russell of Chippenham, Harley of Wimpole, Bromley of Horseheath, and Manners of Cheveley—the lords of county politics. It is interesting that the political dominance attributed to Lord Hardwicke by his dependants in the 1770's and 1780's found no reflection in any Borough office; he was Lord Lieutenant of the county, High Steward of the University and President of Addenbrooke's Hospital, but neither High Steward nor Recorder of the Borough.
It was, presumably, during the Interregnum that the High Steward's fee of 40s. ceased to be paid; in 1833 the office is described as having neither duties nor emoluments, though the terms of appointment named a salary of £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 473) The title has now become a distinction conferred on outstanding sons of Cambridge such as Macaulay, John Maynard Keynes, and George Macaulay Trevelyan, O.M. The disappearance of one possible reason for its existence was indicated when in 1862 it was conferred on the Chancellor of the University, the seventh Duke of Devonshire.
From the 15th century, Cambridge, like Norwich, Thetford, Lynn, and several other towns, maintained a band of town minstrels or waits. The treasurers' accounts, which frequently enter payments to minstrels accompanying royal and noble visitors to the town, first mention the town minstrels in 1484 when 16s. 4d. had been spent on their vestments. (fn. 474) Similar payments are noted under 1489, 1491, 1494, 1500, and 1501. (fn. 475) The livery was generally of sanguine woollen cloth, but once the cheaper tawny is used. They were apparently three in number; in 1511 the Bassingbourn churchwardens' accounts record the payment of 5s. 6d. to three waits of Cambridge who had accompanied the performances of the play of St. George on their round of the neighbouring parishes. (fn. 476) The chief wait, John Martyn, has a fee of £2 and a gown (fn. 477) priced 10s. in 1512, and the subsidy records show him to be a man of substance, having movables worth £40 to £100 and with two apprentices. (fn. 478) That the position conferred prestige appears from the provision at a Great Common Day in 1552 that if Bennett Pryme does not wish to continue to be a wait along with John Richemond and John Clerke, they are to co-opt a third minstrel with the approval of the Mayor, the consent of the whole house being needed for any change. (fn. 479)
The waits' silver collars are mentioned in 1551 and 1564 (fn. 480) when two new ones were made, indicating that their number had been increased to five, probably in view of the queen's visit of that year. (fn. 481) Tudor magnificence, it may be conjectured, in this as in other matters, had taxed the resources of the townsmen too heavily: in 1622 it was agreed that the fee to the town waits should cease, but it was restored next year. (fn. 482) It had been a retainer rather than a salary; special payments were made on special occasions, such as the celebration of the capture of Edinburgh and Boulogne in 1544, the proclamation of James I's accession in 1603 or the treasurers' feast in 1608, and the visit of the High Steward, Lord Clarendon, in 1664. (fn. 483) They played when the charter of Charles II was read in 1685, when William III visited the town in 1689, and when war was declared on Spain in 1761. (fn. 484) They took part regularly in the Mayor's procession at Sturbridge Fair (to the number of 12 in 1727) (fn. 485) and it is possible that the discontinuance of that procession in 1790 was the death blow to the official town music. When in 1799 the victory of the Nile was celebrated it was the Band of the Volunteer Associations which paraded the town. (fn. 486)
The Cambridge town waits are of more than local interest as being the field of activity of the Gibbons family. In 1567 William Gibbons 'musitian' was appointed leader of the town waits and given charge of their five silver collars. (fn. 487) Possibly he had been brought in three years before for Elizabeth I's visit; but he married a Cambridge woman and settled in the town, where eight of his ten children were born, where, in 1576, he was paid by the Vice-Chancellor for keeping a dancing school, and where, in 1574 and 1578, he was a vestryman of Holy Trinity. (fn. 488) He was buried there in 1596, but between 1583 and 1588 he was living at Oxford, probably his native town, and served as one of the city waits there. He was a householder and a freeman of Oxford. (fn. 489) Thus it was in Oxford that his youngest and most famous son, Orlando, was born and baptized in December 1583; though as the family returned to Cambridge in 1588 Orlando's musical career began with his admission to the choir of King's College Chapel in 1596, and it was at Cambridge that he took his bachelor's degree in music. (fn. 490)
Treasurers and Town Revenues
According to Maitland 'the evolution of a borough corporation is very closely connected with the emergence of a freely disposable revenue'. (fn. 491) When Cambridge acquired from the Crown the right and duty of collecting the ancient customary dues, rents, and profits of the Borough, there were probably few other profitable assets at the disposal of the burgesses. But in course of time other sources of revenue appeared, and whereas the ancient revenues inherited from the Crown and levied by the bailiffs had small expanding power, these other assets developed considerably. Maitland suggests that 'a steady income of this kind would hardly be found before the fourteenth century in any but the largest towns'. (fn. 492) It is, in fact, in 1338 that we meet the first reference to the treasurers, who were responsible for all sources of revenue other than those for which the bailiffs accounted. A town order of that year provided that the penalty for not committing cattle to the common herdman was to be paid half to the Mayor and bailiffs and half to the treasurers for the time being. (fn. 493) In the earliest account roll surviving, that of 1347, these officials are also described as 'receivers'. (fn. 494) There is nothing to indicate when or why they were instituted, but the borough of Colchester in 1372 set up two receivers or chamberlains to check the lavish spending of the town bailiffs, (fn. 495) and it may well be that they were imitating an action taken by Cambridge for similar reasons. At Colchester, as at Cambridge, the office of treasurer was held by men who had not yet served as bailiff, (fn. 496) and the term was from September to September. At Cambridge, however, it was customary to elect them on Hock Tuesday although all other elections were held in September. They were chosen by a method of double election, similar to that used in choosing the Mayor. (fn. 497) At first they held office from 9 September to 9 September, but from 1528 onwards they were sworn in at Michaelmas like the Mayor, having to give security in 20 marks. (fn. 498) A treasurer was sworn 'to give due attendance upon Mr. Maior and the Counsell of the Towne and truly collect and gather all Rentes resolutes to the Treasury of the Towne due and belonginge and of all the Revenewes and Profittes cominge to your handes by the reason of the sayd office you shall yeeld a true accompt'. (fn. 499) In 1590 a fine of £10 was imposed if an elected treasurer refused to serve. (fn. 500) The revised rules of 1622, which provided that the treasurers should not be forced to disburse more than they had received, indicate that the holding of the office might be a financial liability. (fn. 501) The charter of 1632, which is the first to mention the treasurers, provides for their annual election and empowers them to sue in the Borough court for money penalties incurred by violators of the by-laws. (fn. 502) Samuel Newton, one of the two treasurers for 1664–5, speaks more of the treasurers' perquisites than of their duties. (fn. 503) His description of the audit at the Guildhall before three aldermen, three other burgesses and the town clerk, corresponds to the description given to the commissioners in 1833. (fn. 504) By that date all the duties of the treasurers were being performed by the senior treasurer alone; (fn. 505) he had ceased to give any security and the audit had become a mere form. His annual election, abandoned between 1787 and 1819, was also a matter of form; he was regularly re-elected unopposed. (fn. 506) Well before that date the financial responsibilities of the bailiffs had been finally taken over by the treasurers. The ancient distinction between Crown and town revenues had been finally obliterated and the separate accounts merged in one in 1795. (fn. 507)
As we have seen, the ancient Crown revenues, probably from before the Norman Conquest, were made up of (1) haw gavel and land gavel, (2) the tolls and (3) the profits of justice, (fn. 508) and it is for these that the bailiffs account at the 'ports'. The first item has a long and remarkable history. Though the two terms used imply a dual origin, the land and house taxes had merged in one by 1086. In Domesday Book the land gavel is said to bring in £7 and 2 orae and 2d.; (fn. 509) the sums payable for 'hagabulum and landgabulum' in 1279 have been calculated to amount to nearly £8; (fn. 510) the totals collected under this heading in 1483 and 1491 were £7 10s. 5¾d. and £7 7s. 1d. respectively, (fn. 511) and a roll for the early 17th century records the payment of £7 2s. 10d. (fn. 512) It was a permanent charge on particular houses and sites, and items can be traced unchanged for centuries. The distribution of liability is probably a guide to the distribution of inhabited houses before 1066, and when, in the later Middle Ages, houses were destroyed to make way for colleges, the liability was transferred to the colleges. (fn. 513) In the 18th century the smallness of the sums levied led to refusal to pay or neglect to levy. (fn. 514) But the Corporation still collects 'hagable rents' to the amount of £1 12s. 1d. (fn. 515)
The tolls probably included those on waterborne goods landed at the Cambridge hithes (fn. 516) under the writ of Henry I, the market tolls, the mill tolls and the through tolls levied on loaded carts and beasts driven through the town. (fn. 517) In 1330 the burgesses referred to the market tolls as their main source of revenue (fn. 518) and the protest of the University in 1503 against excessive tolls refers to picage, stallage, tolls on victuals brought into the town and hawked in the streets, tolls on livestock, on riverborne grain, and on loaded carts as being levied by old custom. (fn. 519) The tolls on carts loaded with building material were particularly irksome when 15th-century building was in progress. (fn. 520) As regarded outsiders, there were recurrent disputes from the 13th to the 17th century with the merchants of Lynn, Saffron Walden, Northampton, Bury St. Edmunds, and Huntingdon as to the payment of toll at Cambridge. (fn. 521)
From 1279 to 1769 the Corporation also collected the bridge tolls on Whittlesford Bridge, (fn. 522) estimated in 1521 to bring in 20s. a year towards the fee farm, of which 6s. 8d. was put aside for a repairing fund. (fn. 523) As early as 1499 the bridge tolls were farmed out. (fn. 524) In 1769 a farmer paid 5 guineas a year to the Corporation and was responsible for the upkeep of the bridge, but by the Act of that year the trustees of the new turnpike took over the responsibility and paid the Corporation 5 guineas. (fn. 525) Until the 18th century the bailiffs collected the tolls within the town, and eventually appointed tollers, and the accounts for 1510 and 1511 show that the market ward brought in more than the bridge ward. (fn. 526) From about 1743 the practice began of farming the cart tolls at about £230 a year. (fn. 527) The Common Day Books record the appointment of various farmers and in some cases their bankruptcy. (fn. 528) The advance both of trade and of laissez-faire doctrines led to a growing resentment at these payments and in 1786 the farmer for the time being lost a lawsuit brought by a carter who had refused to pay the toll, (fn. 529) the court finding the Corporation had lost its prescriptive right to such tolls by the forfeiture of the town charters in 1381. A retrial was ordered but never took place, and the Corporation continued to lease the tolls at ever higher rates. By 1822 the tolls were bringing in £750 a year. (fn. 530) Once again there was concerted resistance and three lawsuits followed, leading to the final judgement in 1829 depriving the Corporation of its right to levy the tolls. (fn. 531) Over £4,000 had been spent on legal expenses and the Corporation was still in debt in 1833. (fn. 532)
The right to take stallage or market tolls, however, remained. We hear of 8d. a year being paid for a stall in the 13th century, of 1d. a week before 1815 and a 1d. a day thereafter. (fn. 533)
The profits of the mills also contributed to the fee farm. Whatever was the fate of the three mills controlled by Picot the sheriff, only one mill seems to have been farmed by the town under John's charter: the King's mill, which stood by the Bishop's mill at the end of Mill Lane and is shown on all maps of Cambridge down to its demolition in 1927. The Cambridge mill was profitable. In 1086 it brought in £9, and in 1157 the king granted an annuity of £3 to Solomon the goldsmith as a charge on the profits of the King's mill. (fn. 534) Another charge was payable first to the Dunning family and later to Merton College. (fn. 535) The accounts of the bailiffs in 1510 show that much of the dues was paid in kind. The Mayor and bailiff had full responsibility for upkeep and spent considerable sums on repairs, handing over the fixtures each year to their successors for an agreed sum. (fn. 536) As has been seen, one of the four bailiffs was bailiff of the mill.
At various periods the town had temporary control of the two other mills, the mill of the Bishop of Ely and Newnham mill, which at the time of Domesday had been in the hands of Count Alan and had passed by way of the Zouches, Dunnings, and Mortimers to Gonville Hall by the end of the 15th century. (fn. 537) In 1507, for instance, the town took a lease on the Bishop's mill for 99 years, (fn. 538) and soon after they leased the Newnham mill from Gonville Hall. (fn. 539) In 1518, however, both mills were being farmed at a substantial profit by private farmers. (fn. 540) In 1566 the King's and Bishop's mills were leased jointly to one lessor. (fn. 541) Thenceforth they were under one roof, (fn. 542) though the town never acquired the ownership of the Bishop's mill; though retaining its ancient name, it had become Crown property under Elizabeth I. (fn. 543) In 1635 all three mills were farmed by one man, as on several later occasions. (fn. 544) This represented a sound investment on the part of the town, as long as the mills continued to work. It constituted, however, an undesirable monopoly in the eyes of the University, who protested in 1601 that 'our neighbours of the town have all the mills here at their own command'. (fn. 545)
The third item of the ancient Crown revenue is the profits of the town courts, to which were added after 1385 forfeitures and fines incurred by Cambridge men in the King's courts. The profits of the town courts diminished as their business dwindled, and they do not amount to very much in the Mayor's and bailiffs' accounts of 1510, but there are profits arising from the sales of waifs and strays. (fn. 546)
When we turn to the treasurers' accounts, the items of expenditure become far more interesting. If the Mayor and bailiffs had a balance in hand they were expected, as Maitland conjectured, to spend it on a dinner (jantaculum). (fn. 547) The treasurers, however, doubtless by town orders, were able to spend large sums of money on gifts to great men and to strolling players, on the wages of their Members of Parliament, on expenses of their officers going to London, on fees and salaries, on repairs to town property, on furbishing the town armaments (in the year of the Armada) (fn. 548) and, of course, on dinners. What were the resources from which these funds were derived?
From the accounts of the Mayor and bailiffs and the treasurer's rolls we find that fines for offices, payments for taking up freedoms, and profits of the fairs figure in both sets of rolls. (fn. 549) But whereas the profits of Reach and Midsummer fairs are slight, the steadily increasing profits of Sturbridge Fair, the payments for booths there and the proceeds of the Piepowder Court held there constitute a substantial and growing item in the treasurer's account. (fn. 550) With the waning importance of the fair in the 18th century, the value of these items declined, but, at the same time, another source of revenue was rapidly appreciating: the real property rights of the Corporation as lords of the soil.
In the reign of Henry II, when the town first tried to acquire the firma burgi, it was still paying various small rents for different properties in the town (fn. 551) and, as Maitland shows, as late as 1294 a Cambridge burgess is described as holding in chief of the king the tenement for which he pays hawgavel to the town. (fn. 552) The Crown retained the right both to escheats and to the leasing of vacant sites all through the 13th century. In 1230, for instance, Nicholas Pilate offered 5 marks at the Exchequer 'on behalf of the burgesses of Cambridge', for a certain void place in Cambridge for the use of the Franciscans, (fn. 553) whilst in 1267, the Mayor and bailiffs had to pay rent for a messuage of the Earl of Leicester which had escheated to the Crown. (fn. 554) The lawsuit of 1275 between Eleanor, the Queen mother, and the Bishop of Ely over the patronage of St. John's Hospital suggests another conclusion. The queen's counsel claimed that she, as tenant in dower of the town of Cambridge, had the presentation 'per burgenses qui tenuerunt predictam villam de domino rege ad feodifermam'—and the jury found that the site of the hospital was a very poor, empty place belonging to the community of the town of Cambridge and that Henry Eldcorn had built upon it, by the assent of the community. (fn. 555) The queen dowager claimed through the community, and the rights of the Crown to the vacant sites were exercised by the burgesses. When in 1330 the town petitioned for leave to approve the lanes and waste places of the town, it seems probable that they were merely asking for the legalization of existing practice and that their plea was granted, though no answer is recorded. (fn. 556) By 1347 the town was already drawing a substantial income from the leases of town property; the rents amounted to over £17. (fn. 557) An inquest of 1353 expressly found that the brethren of the guild of Corpus Christi held the tenements which they wished to give to Corpus Christi College of the men of the town of Cambridge who held the town from the king. (fn. 558) The Borough had become the mesne landlord. The rental of 1500 speaks not merely of shops, but of waste grounds, enclosed lanes, and footbridges whose tenants hold 'land and soil belonging to the town of Cambridge'. (fn. 559) The report of the Borough rate committee drawn up by Cooper in 1850 gives numerous instances of the founders of the colleges buying waste land from the town in addition to the house plots they purchase from individual burgesses. (fn. 560) It is possible that Henry III had bought land from the men of Cambridge. It is certain that Henry VI bought a lane from the town for the site of King's College as Edward IV did for Queens' College. (fn. 561)
The value of the properties rented by the town rose from about £17 in 1347 to over £22 in 1424, £70 in 1519 to £165 in 1570. After that it rose more gradually by £226 in 1680 to £247 in 1753. (fn. 562) Then again it rose suddenly to £428 in 1805 (fn. 563) and had reached £542 by 1832, (fn. 564) according to the senior treasurer's evidence to the commissioners in 1833. The profits of the tolls were then £178; those of the fair had shrunk to £44. Rents brought in £542 14s. 6½d. and fines on leases £172. (fn. 565)
The long series of leases of town property preserved in the town archives begins with a lease for 50 years from September 1500. The lessors are described as the Mayor, bailiffs, treasurers, and burgesses of the town. The lessee, John Serle, burgess, is granted a garden on the east side of Fair Yard Lane at a yearly rent of 2s. Hereon he was to build a house and keep it in repair. (fn. 566) The Book of Orders of 1609 lays it down that every lease must contain a proviso not to alienate. (fn. 567) An early instance of a long lease was one to Pembroke College in 1620 for 500 years at 1s. a year. (fn. 568) Two years after this it was ordered that no lease was to be for more than 21 years except of waste lands, (fn. 569) and in 1625 that all leases should be publicly registered. (fn. 570) The growth of population in the early 17th century which led to subdivision of tenements and complaints by the University that the burgesses 'under color of being lords of the soil' were 'pestering every lane and corner of the town with unwholesome and base cottages', (fn. 571) made the potential value of the town property more obvious. A regulation in 1677 that leases of town property should be granted only to free burgesses, to colleges or to parishes, paved the way for the jobbery of the 18th century. (fn. 572)
Newton's Diary in 1669 mentions the appointment of a committee to view two houses that were to be granted by lease. (fn. 573) The appointment of 'references' to report on applications for leases or their renewal became the routine procedure. (fn. 574) In 1759 it was laid down that the Town Clerk should advertise in the newly-founded Cambridge Journal when a lease was out so that it might go to the highest bidder, (fn. 575) and this was still the rule in 1777. (fn. 576) It seems probable, however, that the members of the Corporation were assisting each other to good bargains even before 1788, when the Mortlock régime was fully established. (fn. 577) In 1786 it was provided that the Mayor should be on all references and in 1787 that he should nominate all references, (fn. 578) and a by-law of 1791 repealed all previous by-laws about the leasing of town property and left the Mayor completely free to grant leases to persons who were not known to the Corporation. (fn. 579) It was taken for granted, however, that members of the Corporation got better terms, and in 1833 a witness who had served on many references considered a 10 per cent. advantage as only reasonable. The facts and figures in the lease-book and the evidence given in 1833 (fn. 580) reveal reckless squandering of the town property at a moment when its value was fast appreciating. An information laid in Chancery by the anti-Mortlock faction in June 1788, (fn. 581) charges the defendants with granting long leases of corporation estates at small rents. In 1789 leases began to be granted for 999 years as a regular practice and 30 such leases were granted between 1789 and 1800, for fines ranging from 5s. to £50 and for rents ranging from 1 to 10 guineas a year. (fn. 582) 'All had good bargains but Alderman Butcher the best of all.' Alderman Butcher, solicitor to Mortlock, and agent for the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, secured a lease of the whole of both sides of what is now Regent Street for £30, a frontage of 1,386 ft. which was worth 24s. a foot in 1810. He said at the time that he was so convinced that Cambridge was prospering that he would have the land at any price, and a well-known land speculator, not of the Corporation, would have paid anything for it. Butcher also acquired for 2 guineas a frontage of 345 feet at Maids' Causeway which he sold soon after for £345. These bargains were the 'signal for a general scramble . . . amongst the corporators', and thus the Corporation shared out the potential land values of a town that was growing more rapidly than ever before in its history. In 1833 the commissioners learned of 62 leases for 999 years as well as 69 40-year leases. (fn. 583) The remark of Common Councillor Starmer is notorious: 'he thought that the property belonged bona fide to the Corporation and they had a right to do what they liked with their own.' (fn. 584) And indeed some £1,197 derived from the sale of property was entirely unaccounted for.
Besides the profits arising from lands rented or leased, there were certain realizable values in the commons over which the town exercised a landlord's control. The lands granted to Barnwell before the first charter (fn. 585) had given the prior independent rights that were to cause recurrent trouble. But the responsibility of the town for the common grazing lands was exemplified in regulations by town ordinance from 1338 onwards, when an ordinance provided that every man who had cattle on the common pastures should herd them under the charge of the town herdsman. (fn. 586) In 1275 and again in 1381 the right of the townsmen to drive their beasts from Greencroft (Midsummer Common) to Estenhale (Sturbridge Common) across the Barnwell lands was asserted as the right of all the townsmen. (fn. 587) In 1502 when a number of burgesses were presented in the court leet for putting out more than their fair share of beasts on the common, the Prior of Barnwell was one of the offenders, and four years later it was expressly stated that he is to be 'stinted' along with all the other inter-commoners. (fn. 588) But whether the Prior of Barnwell or the masters and scholars of the University (fn. 589) or the burgesses were concerned, the common rights seem to have been appendant to holding of arable and the burgesses claimed full control over the 'stinting' of the commons and were prepared to inclose them on their own responsibility. They reserved to freemen the profitable right of planting willows on the banks of the ditches with which the marshier pastures were drained. (fn. 590) The rising of 1549 (fn. 591) was an apparently successful assertion of the rights of the inhabitants who were not freemen of the Borough and who held no ploughlands to a share in the use of the town commons. The regulations of 1551, 1583, and 1624 definitely recognized the rights of the inhabitants (fn. 592) who were not members of the town oligarchy to which only substantial townsmen were admitted. After 1624 peace descended on the commons of Cambridge, and when the arable fields were inclosed in 1802 and 1807 no particular interest seems to have been excited among the inhabitants who were not freemen. But in 1833 when the commissioners inquired about the Cambridge commons there was evidence that here also the Corporation was widely regarded as having failed to discharge its responsibilities. The dyking and planting of earlier years had been completely neglected, and the commons had deteriorated until they were a danger to health. On Sturbridge Common at fair time horses stood up to their knees in mud. (fn. 593) The sum of £150 had been raised by subscription for the draining of one common. To this the Corporation had contributed 10 guineas. Before draining it had not been worth more than 2s. 6d. an acre; after draining, it could be let for £10 an acre. (fn. 594) The Cambridge commons, which in 1833 were 'of very little benefit' either to the town or to the Corporation, escaped inclosure in 1841 and 1850, (fn. 595) and are now available for grazing, to the extent of 226 acres, from Old May Day to Old Candlemas Day. (fn. 596)