Appendix: Charters (Charles II)

A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.

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John Noorthouck, 'Appendix: Charters (Charles II)', in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) pp. 845-849. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

John Noorthouck. "Appendix: Charters (Charles II)", in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) 845-849. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

Noorthouck, John. "Appendix: Charters (Charles II)", A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773). 845-849. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,

In this section

No. XLVII. Confirmation of the City Charters by king Charles II. [See p. 215.]

—Now know ye, that we, at the humble petition of the mayor and commonalty and citizens of our city of London aforesaid, of our special grace, certain knowledge, and meer motion; and for divers good causes and considerations us hereunto especially moving; all and singular the letters patents, charters, and confirmations aforesaid; and all and singular the gifts, grants, confirmations, restitutions, customs, ordinances, explanations, and articles; and all other things whatsoever in the said letters patents, charters, grants, and confirmations, or any of them, contained, recited, specified, confirmed, explained or mentioned; and all and singular the lands, tenements, offices, jurisdictions, authorities, privileges, liberties, franchises, freedoms, immunities, liberties, customs, and hereditaments whatsoever; which the said mayor and commonalty, and citizens of our city of London, or their predecessors, by the name of the mayor and commonalty and citizens of the city of London; or by the name of the mayor, aldermen, citizens, and commonalty of London; or by the name of the mayor and citizens of London; or by the name of the mayor and commonalty of the city of London; or by the name of the citizens of the city of London; or by the name of the barons of London; or by the name of the barons of the city of London; or by any other name whatsoever, by reason or force of the said letters patents, charters, or confirmations before-mentioned; or of any use or uses, prescription or prescriptions, or any other lawful means whatsoever, at any time or times heretofore have had, or reasonably used or exercised, (except as above is excepted) ratifying, and gratefully for us, our heirs and successors (as much as in us lies) accepting and approving, do them, and every of them, to the said mayor and commonalty and citizens of our city of London aforesaid, and their successors, ratify and confirm, by these presents, to have, hold, enjoy, and exercise all and singular the premises aforesaid (except before excepted) to the said mayor and commonalty and citizens of our city of London aforesaid, and their successors for ever, as fully, freely, and entirely, and in as ample manner and form, as the same are above-mentioned to be given or granted, or as the same otherwise by use, prescription, or any legal way or right whatsoever, have been heretofore respectively had, obtained, or enjoyed, as if the same were separately, singly, and nominally, in and by these presents expressed, named, declared, granted, and manifested. And further, we will, and by these presents we do, for us, our heirs, and successors, grant to the said mayor and commonalty and citizens of the city of London aforesaid, and their successors, that these our letters patents shall be in and by all things, according to the true intent thereof, good, firm, valid, and effectual in the law, notwithstanding any misnaming, or any ill or false naming or recital in the same contained; or any statute, ordinance, provision, proclamation, or restriction heretofore in any wise had or made. We will also, &c. without any fine in our hanaper, &c, although express mention, &c.

Witness ourself at Westminster, the twenty-fourth day of June, in the fifteenth year of our reign.

No. XLVIII. Proclamation issued by King Charles II. to prohibit the rebuilding of Houses after the great Fire of London, without conforming to the general Regulations therein premised. [See p. 230.]

Charles, R.

As no particular man hath sustained any loss or damage by the late terrible and deplorable fire in his fortune or estate, in any degree to be compared with the loss and damage we ourself have sustained, so it is not possible for any man to take the same more to heart, and to be more concerned and solicitous for the rebuilding this famous city with as much expedition as is possible; and since it hath pleased God to lay this heavy judgment upon us all in this time, as an evidence of his displeasure for our sins, we do comfort ourself with some hope, that he will, upon our due humiliation before him, as a new instance of his signal blessing upon us, give us life, not only to see the foundations laid, but the buildings finished, of a much more beautiful city than is at this time consumed; and that as the seat and situation of it is the most convenient and noble for the advancement of trade of any city in Europe, so that such care will be taken for the re-edification of it, both for use and beauty, and such provision made for the future against the ordinary and casual accidents by fire, as may, as far as human wisdom can provide, upon the sad experience we have had, reasonably secure the same, and make it rather appear to the world, as purged with the fire (in how lamentable a manner soever) to a wonderful beauty and comeliness, than consumed by it: and we receive no small encouragement in this our hope, by the alacrity and chearfulness we observe in those who have undergone the greatest loss, and seem the most undone; who, with undaunted courage, appear to desire the same as we do, and resolve to contribute their utmost assistance thereunto. We have therefore thought fit, most necessary, and agreeable to the great and constant affection we have always had, and always shall retain for this our native city, to use this expedition in publishing our thoughts, resolutions, and intentions upon this great affair; that though such present rules and directions cannot be formed, as must, upon more mature deliberation, be established for the re-edification; yet such inconveniencies may and shall be prevented, which may arise by the hasty and unskilful buildings many may purpose to erect for their present conveniencies, before they can know how the same will suit and consist with the design that shall be made: and if this candor of ours, which resolves, with the blessing of God, so to provide for the just right and interest of all, that no man shall have cause to complain of wrong and oppression; and if this our seasonable animadversion shall not meet with that prudent submission we expect, but that some obstinate and refractory persons will presume to erect such buildings as they shall think fit, upon pretence that the ground is their own, and that they may do with it what they please, such their obstinacy shall not prevail to the publick prejudice: but we do hereby require the lord-mayor, and the other magistrates of the city of London, in their several limits, to be very watchful in such cases, and speedy to pull down whatsoever such men shall presume to set up, so much to the disturbance of publick order and decency; and that they forthwith give notice to us or our privy council of such their proceedings, and return the names of such refractory persons who presume to contemn this our injunction, and we shall give order for their exemplary punishment, without the violation of the publick justice.

And because no man shall complain or apprehend, that by this caution or restraint of ours they shall or may for a long time be kept from providing habitations for themselves, and for carrying on their trades, though we make no question, but in a short time, with the assistance and advice of the lord-mayor and court of aldermen, (who have besought us for some time to put this restraint) to finish the whole design, even before any men can make provision of materials for any valuable edifice; we do declare, that if any considerable number of men (for it is impossible to comply with the humour of every particular man) shall address themselves to the court of aldermen, and manifest to them in what places their ground lies, upon which they design to build, they shall in a short time receive such order and direction for their proceeding therein, that they shall have no cause to complain; and so we proceed to the setting down such general, to which all particular designs must conform themselves.

In the first place, the woeful experience in this late heavy visitation hath sufficiently convinced all men of the pernicious consequences which have attended the building with timber, and even with stone itself, and the notable benefit of brick, which in so many places hath resisted and even extinguished the fire: and we do therefore hereby declare our express will and pleasure, that no man whatsoever shall presume to erect any house or building, great or small, but of brick or stone; and if any man shall do the contrary, the next magistrate shall forthwith cause it to be pulled down, and such further course shall be taken for his punishment as he deserves. And we suppose that the notable benefit many men have received from those cellars which have been well and strongly arched, will persuade most men, who build good houses, to practise that good husbandry, by arching all convenient places.

We do declare, that Fleet-street, Cheapside, Cornhill, and all other eminent and notorious streets, shall be of such a breadth, as may, with God's blessing, prevent the mischief that one side may suffer if the other be on fire; which was the case lately in Cheapside; the precise breadth of which several streets shall be, upon advice with the lord-mayor and aldermen, shortly published, with many other particular orders and rules, which cannot yet be adjusted: in the mean time we resolve, tho' all streets cannot be of equal breadth, yet none shall be so narrow as to make the passage uneasy or inconvenient, especially towards the water-side; nor will we suffer any lanes or alleys to be erected, but where, upon mature deliberation, the same shall be found absolutely necessary; except such places shall be set aside, which shall be designed only for buildings of that kind, and from whence no public mischief may probably arise.

The irreparable damage and loss by the late fire being, next to the hand of God in the terrible wind, to be imputed to the place in which it first broke out, amongst small timber houses standing so close together, that as no remedy could be applied from the river for the quenching thereof, to the contiguousness of the buildings hindering and keeping all possible relief from the land-side, we do resolve and declare, that there shall be a fair key or wharf on all the river-side; that no house shall be erected within so many feet of the river, as shall be within few days declared in the rules formerly mentioned; nor shall there be in those buildings which shall be erected next the river, which we desire may be fair structures, for the ornament of the city, any houses to be inhabited by brewers, or dyers, or sugar-bakers; which trades, by their continual smokes, contribute very much to the unhealthiness of the adjacent places; but we require the lord-mayor and aldermen of London, upon a full consideration, and weighing all conveniencies and inconveniencies that can be foreseen, to propose such a place as may be fit for all those trades which are carried on by smoke to inhabit together, or at least several places for the several quarters of the town for those occupations, and in which they shall find their account in convenience and profit, as well as other places shall receive the benefit in the distance of the neighbourhood; it being our purpose, that they who exercise those necessary professions, shall be in all respects as well provided for and encouraged as ever they have been, and undergo as little prejudice as may be by being less inconvenient to their neighbours.

These grounds and foundations being laid, from the substance whereof we shall not depart, and which, being published, are sufficient advertisements to prevent any man's running into, or bringing an inconvenience upon himself, by a precipitate engagement in any act which may cross these foundations: we have, in order to the reducing this great and glorious design into practice, directed, and we do hereby direct, that the lord-mayor and court of aldermen do, with all possible expedition, cause an exact survey to be made and taken of the whole ruins occasioned by the late lamentable fire, to the end that it may appear to whom all the houses and ground did in truth belong, what term the several occupiers were possessed of, and at what rents, and to whom, either corporations, companies, or single persons, the reversion and inheritance appertained; that so provision may be made, that tho' every man must not be suffered to erect what buildings and where he pleases, he shall not in any degree be debarred from receiving the reasonable benefit of what ought to accrue to him from such houses or lands; there being nothing less in our thoughts, than that any particular person's right and interest should be sacrificed to the publick benefit or convenience, without such recompence as in justice he ought to receive for the same: and when all things of this kind shall be prepared and adjusted, by such commissioners, and otherwise, which shall be found expedient, we make no doubt but such an act of parliament will pass, as shall secure all men in what they shall and ought to possess.

By the time that this survey shall be taken, we shall cause a plot or model to be made for the whole building through those ruined places; which being well examined by all those persons who have most concernment as well as experience, we make no question but all men will be pleased with it, and very willingly conform to those orders and rules which shall be agreed for the pursuing thereof.

In the mean time, we do heartily recommend it to the charity and magnanimity of all well-disposed persons, and we do heartily pray unto almighty God, that he will infuse it into the hearts of men, speedily to endeavour by degrees to re-edify some of those many churches, which, in this lamentable fire, have been burned down and defaced; that so men may have those publick places of God's worship to resort to, to humble themselves together before him upon this his heavy displeasure, and join in their devotion for his future mercy and blessing upon us; and, as soon as we shall be informed of any readiness to begin such a good work, we shall not only give our assistance and direction for the model of it, and freeing it from buildings at too near a distance, but shall encourage it by our own bounty, and all other ways we shall be desired.

Lastly, that we may encourage men by our own example, we will use all the expedition we can to rebuild our custom-house in the place where it formerly stood, and enlarge it with the most conveniencies for the merchants that can be devised; and, upon all the other lands which belong unto us, we shall depart with any thing of our own right and benefit, for the advancement of the publick service and beauty of the city; and shall further remit, to all those who shall erect any buildings according to this declaration, all duties arising to us upon the hearth-money for the space of seven years.

Given at our court at Whitehall the thirteenth day of September, one thousand six hundred and sixty-six, in the eighteenth year of our reign.

No. XLIX. Confirmation of the Order of Common-Council, for the laying new Foundations, and for widening the Streets of London, after the great Fire.

(See p. 231.)

At the court at Whitehall, the eighth of May, 1667.

The King's Most Excellent Majesty.
His royal highness the duke of York, Earl of Carlisle,
Lord archbishop of Canterbury, Earl of Craven,
Lord Chancellor, Earl of Lauderdale,
Lord Privy-Seal, Earl of Middleton,
Duke of Albemarle, Lord Arlington,
Marquis of Dorchester, Lord Ashley,
Lord Chamberlain, Mr. Comptroller,
Earl of Bridgwater, Mr. Secretary Morice,
Earl of Berkshire, Mr. Chancellor of the Dutchy,
Earl of Bath, Sir William Coventry.

An order made by the lord-mayor, aldermen, and common-council of the city of London, of the 29th of April past, in the ensuing words, (viz.)

It is ordered, that the surveyors take special care, that the breast-summer of all houses do range of an equal height house with house, so far as shall be convenient, and there to make breaks by directions.

And that they do encourage and give directions to all builders for ornament-sake, that the ornaments and projections of the front buildings be of rubbed bricks; and that all the naked part of the walls may be done of rough bricks neatly wrought, or all rubbed, at the discretion of the builder; or that the builders may otherwise enrich their fronts as they please.

That, if any person or persons shall desire in any street or lane of note to build on each side of the street or lane (opposite one to the other) six or more houses of the third rate, or that the upper rooms or garrets may be flat roofs, encompassed with battlements of bricks covered with stone, or table ends, or rails and bannisters of iron or stone, or to vary their roofs for the greater ornament of building; the surveyors, or one of them, shall certify their opinions therein to the committee for rebuilding, who shall have liberty to give leave for the same, if they see cause.

That in all the streets no sign-posts shall hang cross, but the signs shall be fixed against the balconies, or some other convenient part of the side of the house.

It is ordered, that a postern shall be made on the north side of Newgate, for conveniency of foot passengers; and that Holborn-Bridge shall be enlarged to run straight on a bevel line from the timberhouse on the north side thereof, known by the sign of the Cock, to the front of the building at the Swan-inn on the said north side of Holborn-hill.

Forasmuch as it is provided in the late act for rebuilding, that the surveyors shall take care for the equal setting out of all party walls and piers, and no person be permitted to build till that be done; therefore, for prevention of any exaction in the taking of such surveys, and of all quarrels and contentions that may arise between the builders, it is ordered, that no builder shall lay his foundation, until the surveyors, or one of them, (according to the act) shall view it, and see the party walls and piers equally set out; and that all persons observe the surveyors directions concerning the superstructure to be erected over the said foundation.

And that, for the defraying that and all other incident charges of measuring, staking out, taking the level, and surveying the streets and ground, each builder, before he lay his foundation, or such survey shall be taken, do repair to the chamber of London, and there enter his name, with the place where his building is to be set out, and to pay to the chamberlain the sum of six shillings and eight pence for every foundation to be rebuilt: for which Mr. Chamberlain shall give acquittances; upon receipt of which acquittances the surveyors shall proceed to set out such persons foundations.

And it is ordered, that all persons, who have already laid any foundations, shall forthwith pay into the chamber of London six shillings and eight pence for every foundation.

And this court is consenting and desirous, that all straight and narrow passages, which shall be found convenient for common benefit and accommodation, and shall receive his majesty's order and approbation, shall and may be enlarged and made wider, and otherwise altered, before the 20th day of May now next ensuing, as shall be fitting for the beauty, ornament, and conveniency thereof, and staked and set out accordingly.

Several late inhabitants of Fleet-street intending to rebuild their houses, which did formerly stand backward, of other foundations near adjoining, and desiring liberty to advance their houses, that the whole front may run on a straight line; the committee did agree to the same, if the right honourable the lord high chancellor of England and the other lords shall approve thereof, and procure his majesty's approbation to the same; and the committee do desire liberty may be given for other persons in other places, where it shall be found convenient.

And it is ordered, that the committee for rebuilding do present the particulars aforesaid to the right honourable the lord high chancellor of England and the other lords, and that the same (if they receive his majesty's approbation) shall be forthwith printed and published.

Which being this day represented to the board by the right honourable the lord high chancellor of England, the same was allowed and approved of; and it was ordered, that the same be punctually observed in every part thereof. And all persons concerned are required and commanded to yield due obedience and conform themselves thereunto.