The corporation of Hertford

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Historical Manuscripts Commission, 'The corporation of Hertford', in The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds Etc. Fourteenth Report, Appendix; Part VIII, (London, 1895) pp. 158-164. British History Online [accessed 29 May 2024].

Historical Manuscripts Commission. "The corporation of Hertford", in The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds Etc. Fourteenth Report, Appendix; Part VIII, (London, 1895) 158-164. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024,

Historical Manuscripts Commission. "The corporation of Hertford", The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds Etc. Fourteenth Report, Appendix; Part VIII, (London, 1895). 158-164. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024,

In this section


The Corporation of Hertford, acting under the advice of their town clerk, Mr. Charles Elton Longmore, have lately placed their muniments in a fire-proof room in the Corporation Buildings. The records are in the utmost disorder and many require repair, but it is satisfactory that they are, at any rate, now kept together, and in a safe place of deposit. Mr. Longmore kindly provided me with a shorthand writer and with his assistance I was able in a short time to note some of the more important documents as I came upon them. These shorthand notes, I subsequently sorted, and the result is shown in the following report.

I believe the Corporation propose, hereafter, to have these documents listed, put into classes, and placed on shelves in the fire-proof room. I may say that the indictments and entries in the book of proceedings at the Mayor's Court contain matter of great topographical value.

During my visit to Hereford I received much valuable assistance from Mr. R. T. Andrews, whose local antiquarian knowledge was exceedingly useful.

W. J. Hardy.

Royal Charters.

These include an assignment of dower, temp. Edward I., to Queen Margaret; market charter of Edward III. (and confirmations by Henry IV., Henry V., Edward IV., &c.); a grant of fairs by Queen Mary; a general charter of pardon by Henry VIII.; confirmation charters by Mary, Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., and Charles II.; and a grant by Charles II. (16 August, 1670) to the Mayor and Corporation of fines payable under the Conventicle Act.


Undated.—Copies of (1) charter by Robert, bishop of Lincoln, concerning an agreement between the monks of Bermondsey and Hugh de Engayne as to the church of the Blessed Mary of Hertford; and (2) a deed relating to the church of Bengeo.

5th of the kalends of January, 6 Edward II.—Settlement of dispute between the Prior and Monks of St. Mary, Hertford, and the Burgesses of the vill of Hertford concerning common of pasture at Le Holmes.

1 Richard II.—Grant by Richard Clarke, of Hertford, to Richard Mildenhale of a stall in the market place at Hertford.

14 July, 21 Henry VI.—Extent of the castle and vill of Hertford.

11 January, 8 Elizabeth.—Agreement between the Bailiff and Burgesses of Hertford and John Meston, as to premises in All Saints' parish, Hertford.

11 October, 1669.—Articles of agreement between Sir Thomas Pye and the Mayor and Burgesses of Hertford as to the navigation of the river Lea.

25 March, 1702.—Trust deed of land on which to erect a new goal in Hertford, for the county.

1738.—Agreement between the Corporation of Hertford and the New River Company.

[Numerous other deeds of topographical interest.]

Records of the Borough Court.

Pleas, indictments, &c.; originals and entries thereof in volumes and in rolls, from 1589 to the year 1840 or thereabouts.

Records of the Court of Quarter Sessions, 1728 to 1835.

Records of the Months' or Mayor's Court, 1596 to 1832.

Records of Petty or Special Sessions, 1663 to 1819.

Manor Court Rolls.

Hertford, 36 Edward III. to Richard III. (An interesting series.)

Corporation Papers.

These include:—

1617.—Draft Bye-laws.

1621.—Survey of the Borough.

1621, May 16.—Declaration against Mr. Wright. States that at the date of the declaration it was agreed that the new mayor should, at his own cost, provide a feast to the late mayor and the chief burgesses and assistants. Mr. Wright refused to give this feast.

1674, August 24.—Indenture between the mayor and burgesses of Hertford, and Ursula Burgess, of London, widow of Thomas Burgess. Recites that living in or near the said borough were divers persons who resorted to conventicles, and that the mayor and burgesses had been very diligent in executing the law against such persons; in consideration of this the King bestowed upon the mayor and burgesses and their successors, all fines and forfeitures of those convicted, under the sum of 300l., from the 29th of November 1670, less one third part thereof which he retained. The money was paid to the hands of the late Thomas Burgess, who died before rendering any account thereof. The indenture witnesses that, for the sum of 100l. the mayor, &c. acquit the said Ursula from rendering account to them of any sums received.

1631.—Table of wages fixed by the Justices of the Peace.

1635, January 18.—Ratification by the Lord Keeper of Constitutions for the borough.

1637, March 7.—A bundle of briefs for the collection of money for sufferers by the fire which happened in Hertford on the previous 20th September, doing damage to the value of 400l.

1677, August 18.—Levy of a rate for the rebuilding and making of a certain ancient bridge in Hertford called Cowbridge, at a cost of 38l. 4s.

1683, March 25.—Foundation deed of John Chauncy's charity for providing sermons, &c., for condemned prisoners on the morning of their executions. (Printed in abstract in Turner's History of Hertford, pp. 369–70.) With supplemental deed relating to the payment of those engaged to preach these sermons, in the event of reprieves.

1692, 10 October.—Constitutions, Acts, and Ordinances made by consent of the Mayor, Recorder, &c., of the borough, and by authority of Letters Patent, for the government of the inhabitants of the said borough.

1709–1711.—Papers relating to the repair of the Town Hall.

1731, September 7.—Bye-laws respecting freemen.

1752, May 20.—Bye-laws restraining persons not "free," from trading.

1768 (?).—Specification for building the Town Hall.

1773, March 16.—Estimate given to the mayor for building, at a cost of 32l., "a cadge," 6 feet long and 6 feet wide, and a pair of stocks and whipping post at one end of the stocks.

Letters, &c.

1610 (?), April 29.—The Earl of Salisbury to the Mayor, &c. of Hertford.

"His Majesty's House at Whytchale." "I have been informed that there is a report in the town of Hertford that the cross in the markett is to be puled doune, and not only that, but that some officers of mine should be in speech for buying the lead, and I have thought good, hereby, to require you to let me know by what authority the same is ordered to be taken down. And also to command you, or any other whom it concerns, to forbear to proceed therein before I have made his Majesty acquainted with it, at your utmost perill. Next, because I have herd of a lewd report that some of my officers have presumed to bargain for the lead belonging to the same, which I can hardly believe, bycause I know none I keepe that wold medle with any such matter without my privity, I thought good to desire you to let me know who they be that have been in speech with you about it, of which, as I hear, Mr. Gravenor or Mr. Manistey of your company can advertise you hereof." (Signed.)

[1610].—John Shairley, mayor, and others to "Mr. George Battell, at New Inn."

"Mr. Battell . . . . . . this is to let you understand that we received a letter from my Lord Treasurer which we have herein inclosed, wherein we desire your help, by the direction of Mr. Steward, to give answer thereof to my Lord. For the matter, you do understand as well as ourselves, and, therefore, if you penne a letter and set our hand to it, I hope it will be sufficient. We sell (sic) it by a consent amongst ourselves to pay that we owe; it was builded by townsmen. We have set up a better building in the place, which supplies the use of the crosse, and of greater worth. And further, the crosse is a thing decayed, and so have no use for it. We would be loth that any towards my Lord should be blamed for it, but rather say, if it please you, that we did make offer thereof to Mr. Shawe."

[1610.]—Copy Petition by John Shairley [Sherley], Mayor of Hertford, and the Corporation, to the Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer.

"Whereas Right Honourable, by your letters, we understand how your honour hath been informed touchinge our intended disposinge of an old markett Crosse, standing in our markett-place, and that some of your honour's officers are dealers therein, with intent to buy the same, and your honour doth also command that noe further proceedings should be therein, and to be certyfied by what authoritye the said Crosse was ordered to be pulled downe . . . . . . and doe certyfie your Lordship our case and proceedings therein. . . . . . The Castle of Hertford, late used for keeping the assisses of the county, being taken away, and the assisses, also, very likely to have been kept; for want of convenient room to sett the justices in, your honour's petitioners, for the good of the poor towne have (to ther great charge) new built a large and convenient house which serveth for the same justices' sitting, and also for the market, and in the place where the same Crosse stoode. After the moving of which Crosse, your honour's petitioners finding the town to be indebted for the new building, and that the said Crosse was of small use, and like to be a charge to them to repair, taking some learned advyse therein, that it was lawful for them to dispose of it, the Maior, and more part of the petitioner, consented to take yt down and sell yt for money towards payment of [the] debt owing for the said new house." The petitioners offered to sell the same to your honour's servant, Mr. Shawe, who has made no answer. "The Crosse, Right Honourable, thus standing, the petitions in all humility appeal to your Lordship's censure, and humbly desire your Honour's favourable respect of the said pore town indebted."

1623–4, February 9.—The Duchy Council to the Mayor and Burgesses of Hertford, recommending a member of Parliament.

1624, April 24.—The Prince's Council Chamber, at Denmark House, in the Strand, to the Mayor, &c. of Hertford, as to the election of a member of Parliament.

1633, June 28.—John Kitchen (?) to the Mayor, &c. of Hertford, as to the removal of the assizes from Hertford to St. Albans.

1650, June 9 (?), Hertford.—The parishioners of All Saints to "the Right Worshipful Dr. Gabriel Barber." We earnestly entreat your help in the speedy confirming, by the committee for plundered ministers, or otherwise, of Mr. William Tuker to be minister of the parish of All Saints in Hertford.

[1650 ?].—Petitions from "seven score" householders of All Saints parish in Hertford, to the House of Commons, in favour of appointing a weekly lecturer.

1668, September 28. Whitehall.—The Council to the Sheriff of Hertford. The King forbids the re-admittance of those persons formerly displaced from offices in the Corporation.

1671, May 16. Exchequer Office.—A. Sparke to Thomas Burgess, at Hertford. "There is great probability Mr. Solicitor will be made Lord Chief Baron, which will cause a vacancy as M.P. for the borough; Sir Edward [Turnor] desires this may be filled by his son.

1675, November 27. Lincoln's Inn Fields.—Thomas Pye to the Mayor of Hertford. Sending money for disposal after an election.

1677.—Articles of agreement for building Cowbridge. A brick bridge to be erected in one month.

1678.—Petition of "loyal subjects" of the town of Hertford to the King. There are some of their town "of inferior qualities" who call themselves "the Mayor and Chief Burgesses," and assume authority against right. Endorsed "Copy of Mr. Clarke's scandalous Petition."

1680, November 4.—H. Chauncy to Edward Lawrence, Mayor of Hertford. As to bribery at the election.

1685, May 5.—William Cooper to Sir Henry Chauncey, as to his attendance at Court.

1696, July 15.—"Declaration" by the Mayor, &c., congratulating the King on his escape from a papistical conspiracy, and acknowledging him as King.

1698, August 23.—Thomas Turnor to Sir Henry Chauncey, Recorder of Hertford, requests his attendance on the 26th September next at an enquiry concerning the office of Recorder of Hertford.

1698.—Report of Thomas Turnor, made to the King on the petition of the Mayor, &c. of Hertford, complaining of the proceedings of 18 persons residing within the borough. He finds that one of the persons who subscribed the petition was indicted for the speaking of scandalous words against the magistrates; also that Sir William Cowper used scandalous words (set out) against the Mayor, Aldermen, and Recorder.

1700.—Petition of the inhabitants of Hertford to Parliament, as to their voting at elections.

1702, August 12.—Copy of corporation proceedings touching the discharge of Charles Fox, gentleman, from his office of town clerk, and confirmation of Ralph Willymott in that office.

1705.—Petition of inhabitants of Hertford against the return of Mr. Goulston as their member.

1706.—Petition to the Queen respecting the creating of freemen.

1717, August 15.—Certificate of a marriage celebrated at Datchworth, Hertfordshire, between Thomas Hodges, junior, esquire, and Mary Hallett, daughter of the late John Hallett, of Barbadoes. Witness, Mrs. Sarah Hallett, widow of the said John.

1721, May 23. Hertford.—M. Noble to the Mayor, &c. of Hertford, patrons of the Free School. He designs to leave the Free School, and hopes the successor he intends to suggest will be approved.

1728, October 12.—"Allegations against Mr. Willymott, containing lies from beginning to ending."

1781, October 17.—"Mr. Baker," M.P. for Hertford, to Benjamin Cherry, mayor, enclosing 11 guineas which he understands is the usual sum advanced by each of the borough members towards the expenses of the Mayor's feast.

1796.—Petition to the House of Commons against the wet docks.

1837, &c.—Various letters relating to the Free School, including one from Lord Melbourne.

Undated.—Petition against Marmaduke Allington, recorder of the borough.

Undated.—Petition to Lord Cowper by divers inhabitants of Hertford complaining that the mayor, &c., appropriate charity money.

Lists of Persons, Trades, &c. (Various).

These include a list of innholders in 1623; of voters at elections (various dates); and of buyers and sellers of corn, with the signs of their shops, 1635.

Papers relating to Apprenticeships and Freedoms.

1624–1685.—Apprentice books.

1630 (circa)–1650.—Indentures of apprenticeship.

1635 to 1792.—Apprenticeship bonds and tests.

1645.—A bundle of apprenticeship indentures.

1675–1682.—Lists of freemen.

1680–1740 circa.—Alphabetical list of freemen.

1721 (after).—List of freemen and "housekeepers" with particulars as to their apprenticeships.

1780 (circa).—Persons summoned to take up their freedoms.

1820–1837.—Admission of freemen.

1826–1837.—Apprenticeship indentures, &c.


These include those of the administration of charities in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rate Books and Rolls.

These exist for various dates from 1625 until recent times. The first is levied on the whole borough for the relief of such persons "as now are, or hereafter may be, infected by the plague." In 1637 is the return of a rate on the whole borough levied "towards furnishing of one ship for His Majesty's service"; and in the same year one for building "Pest Houses." There are returns of the rate levied for the entertainment of judges for the following dates:—1677–1686, 1690– 1699, 1701–1710, and 1714–1726.

Sacrament Certificate and Oath Rolls.

These exist from 1680 until recent times.

Recognizance Books.

1623–1659.—These include lists of the inns within the borough in 1623 and 1637.

Miscellaneous Books.

1644–1736.—Town rents.

1794.—Corporation rent-roll.

1632–1786.—Examinations at sessions.

1638–1708.—Rates, All Saints parish.

1636–1637.—Accounts, All Saints parish.

1687–1723.—Sessions papers, affidavits, pleadings, &c.

1621–1750, 1763–1791.—Sessions minutes.

A book containing various memoranda as to Mr. Noble's charity.

W. J. Hardy.