A History of the County of Chester: Volume 5 Part 1, the City of Chester: General History and Topography. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
After the reinstatement of the charter and the election of the mayor and sheriffs there was only one recorded meeting of the Assembly, on 30 March 1660, before the Restoration. (fn. 1) Amid modest jubilation the corporation sent a loyal address to the king in early May. (fn. 2) Soon afterwards the aldermen began to dismiss some of the main supporters of the previous regime, principally the Cromwellian alderman and city counsel Jonathan Ridge. (fn. 3) Between then and the autumn three aldermen resigned, including the leading puritan Calvin Bruen, three royalists purged in 1646 were restored, and Charles Stanley, earl of Derby, was newly appointed. (fn. 4)
The new Assembly sought to improve routine administration by exhorting its members to attend regularly, organizing the flow of petitions in a more orderly way, publishing a tariff of court fees, and undertaking a thorough audit. (fn. 5) In March 1661 it resolved to revive the Midsummer show, but continuing anxieties were manifest in concern for the city's defences and in the election as M.P.s in 1661 of a former royalist along with a Presbyterian parliamentarian. (fn. 6)
The provisions of the Corporation Act evidently caused uncertainty, and the Assembly did not meet between December 1661 and June 1662. (fn. 7) In 1662 seven aldermen J.P.s and four aldermen were displaced, all but one elected since 1646. Nine sheriff-peers and 12 councilmen, including the serving treasurers, coroners, and leavelookers, were removed. Civic officials who lost their places were headed by the clerk of the Pentice, Ralph Davenport. Those permitted to remain included 10 aldermen J.P.s and one alderman, to whom were added two more restored aldermen. Five of that number had been elected since 1646; two, Robert Harvey and William Ince, had served continuously from pre-war days; and six had been among those purged in 1646. The two serving sheriffs, with a sheriff-peer and eight councilmen, continued in office; one sheriff-peer and a councillor were restored. The deputy town clerk, the eight serjeants, the crier, and the yeoman of the Pentice all held their places. Vacancies were filled by the commissioners. They promoted to aldermanic rank nine of the sheriff-peers, named 28 new councilmen, and appointed new treasurers, coroners, and leavelookers. Richard Levinge became the recorder and an alderman, and Daniel Bavand clerk of the Pentice. (fn. 8)
No further changes were imposed from outside. At the next aldermanic vacancy the place was filled in the usual way by the election of a former sheriff; at the same time the displaced recorder, John Ratcliffe, was permitted to re-enter civic service as a fee'd counsel. (fn. 9) The sheriff-peers were not restored as a distinct group: councilmen who were elected sheriff were replaced in the ranks of the Forty only when they became aldermen, left the Assembly, or died; otherwise, after the shrievalty they reverted to the position of councilman, holding the title of sheriff-peer only as a courtesy. (fn. 10) To allay any remaining uncertainties about the city's rights and privileges, however, the corporation began the quest for a charter of confirmation. (fn. 11)
Anglican worship was resumed at the cathedral after Henry Bridgeman, a son of the late bishop, became dean in June 1660. Four of the surviving pre-war prebendaries resumed their duties, and were joined in July 1660 by Thomas Mallory, a son of the late dean. Their puritan colleague John Ley had moved away and died in 1662. Only three of the petty canons returned to their posts, leaving the prebendaries with heavier duties. (fn. 12) The first two Restoration bishops, Brian Walton and Henry Ferne, died within a few months of each other before spring 1662. (fn. 13) By January 1661 a new diocesan chancellor had been appointed and the bishop's consistory court revived. (fn. 14)
During his short tenure Walton put pressure on clergy to use the Prayer Book. (fn. 15) Nevertheless, only one Presbyterian lost his living, Thomas Upton at Holy Trinity, where the pre-war vicar was restored. (fn. 16) For several months various ministers who later fell foul of the law continued to conduct worship in the forms accepted during the 1640s and 1650s, apparently without opposition. They included the incumbents of St. Michael's, St. Peter's, and St. Oswald's, and the Friday lecturer at St. Peter's; as late as June 1662 the best known of Lancashire's Presbyterians, Henry Newcome, preached at St. Peter's and Holy Trinity. (fn. 17) At first, use of the Prayer Book was resumed only at the cathedral, Holy Trinity, and St. Mary's, and perhaps St. Martin's and St. Bridget's, where one of the restored petty canons returned to his cure; in the other churches Prayer Books were purchased during the spring and summer of 1662. (fn. 18) Complete restoration of Anglican worship was made possible only by the 'Great Ejection' under the Act of Uniformity of 1662. None of the cathedral clergy was displaced, but four of the leading ministers in the city were deprived: the incumbents of St. Michael's, St. Peter's, St. Oswald's, and St. John's. At St. Peter's the Friday lecturer also resigned. (fn. 19)