The corporation of Lincoln: Introduction

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The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds Etc. Fourteenth Report, Appendix; Part VIII. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1895.

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The records of the city of Lincoln, which are kept in the offices of the Town Clerk, consist—i. of Royal Charters; ii. of some miscellaneous documents; iii. of the Chamberlains' Rolls of Account; and iv. of the Registers of the Acts of the Corporation. There are no files of court proceedings, and no original letters or petitions. The Royal Charters extend from the reign of Henry III. to that of William III.; but unhappily, while some that were supposed to be lost have in the course of the present investigation come to light, some which were in existence a quarter of a century ago have strangely disappeared. The records were about that time carefully examined by one Mr. John Ross, who printed a series of notices respecting them in a local newspaper. These notices were reprinted in 1870, after his death, in a small privatelyissued volume, entitled Civitas Lincolnia, from its municipal and other records. Abstracts of the Royal Charters are there given; of some now found to be safely preserved transcripts were obtained from the Record Office because the originals were not then forthcoming, while no fewer than six originals which Mr. Ross described have since then disappeared. The subsequent contents of his volume include notices of the earlier volumes of the Registers, and of some other documents, amongst which also there are a few which seem now to be lost, including unfortunately a volume of the accounts of the Churchwardens of St. Martin's parish from 1554 to 1636. Mr. Ross's private collections for Lincoln were purchased after his death by the present Viscount Oxenbridge. A list of the recently lost documents is appended below to the calendar of the Royal Charters.

The Registers are in good condition, and the extracts from them will be found to contain much of interest. The particulars relating to the guild pageants, and their lingering existence subsequently to the Reformation, with the Christmas poem of the Three Senators; the destruction of churches and monastic buildings, and the sale of their materials; the mention of the plague, as prevailing in 1515, 1521, and other years; the illustrations of the depressed condition of the city at various times under the fluctuations of trade; the regulations for various trade-guilds; the agreement in 1612 about gleaning; the coinage of tokens by the city in 1669; and the frequent violent disputes between members of the corporation, are among the many matters which will be found to make the municipal story of Lincoln very interesting and readable. But the entire lack of all record of the Great Civil War period is extremely disappointing. The volume which contained it must have perished in the confusion of the time. And another cause of disappointment is the fact that the extant rolls of accounts only reach back to the year 1685.

Since I made my examination of the records, many of the royal charters and other documents have been carefully repaired and cleaned. under my superintendence.
William Dunn Macray.