Note on the Oxford City archives

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4, the City of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1979.

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

'Note on the Oxford City archives', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4, the City of Oxford, (London, 1979) pp. xvii. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]


The archives are kept in the town hall, but are consulted usually in the Central Library, Westgate. Many medieval town records were lost, apparently in the early 17th century, and are known only through excerpts made by Brian Twyne (d. 1644) (see Munimenta Civitatis Oxonie, ed. H. E. Salter, pp. vi-xiii; cf. Bodl. Ms. Twyne iv, p. 353). Council books, court records, and enrolments of freemen and apprentices survive in an almost unbroken sequence from the early 16th century. The archives were reorganized, and in some cases bundled and rebound in a misleading way, under the supervision of G. P. Hester, town clerk 1839-76. The archives were described in 1887 by F. Madan in Oxford City Records, but were renumbered in 1899; the numeration relates to the position of documents in the strong-room rather than to their class or date. A list was made by the National Register of Archives in 1958, arranged by shelf-mark and describing documents according to the wording on their bindings or wrappings. The following are the principal classes of documents used in this volume; others relating to particular aspects of corporate activity, such as Port Meadow or the waterworks, may be traced without difficulty in the N.R.A. list.

Council proceedings and lists of councillors, 1528-1904: A.5.5-7; B.5.1-8; C.5.1-11. The proceedings from 1528 to 1801 are calendared in Records of the City of Oxford, ed. W. H. Turner and in five volumes of Oxford Council Acts, ed. H. E. Salter and M. G. Hobson.

Council rough minutes, 1559-1607, 1802-79: A.4.1; B. 4.1-13

Mayor's Council rough minutes, c. 1630-18th century: E.4.5 (calendared in part in Oxford Council Acts. 1626-65); Q.4.9. There are some notes of meetings in E.4.6, which appears to be a town clerk's notebook (17th-century).

Accounts and audits of city officers, 1555-1856: P.4.1-4; P.5.1-5 (calendered in Oxford Council Acts).

City lease books, 1578-1826: D.5.5-16

Taxation records: B.1.1-4 (subsidies); F.4.6 (poll tax, 1702); P.5.7 (poll tax, 1667)

Enrolments of hanasters and apprentices, 16th-19th century: A.5.3; L.5.1-6. F.4.9 contains apprenticeship enrolments, 1697-1717.

Medieval court rolls: D.7.1a-c, and an uncatalogued set of 15th-century rolls returned to the city by University College in 1975

Husting and mayor's court proceedings, 1572-1875: L.5.7; M.4.1-8; M.5.1-10; N.5.1-9; O.4.2; O.5.1-8. Some 16th-century husting proceedings and lists of suitors are in A.5.3, and suitors are listed in L.5.1-6.

Quarter and Petty Sessions rolls and minutes, 1614-1880: O.2.1-12; O.4.3-6; O.5.18

Paving Commissioners' minutes, 1771-1865: R.6.2-10

Local Board minutes, 1864-89: R.5.1-12

City charters, deeds, wills & c.: A.5.1 (the Great White Book, printed in part in Liber Albus, ed. W.P. Ellis); A.5.3-4; E.4.2 (city benefactions book); F.5.8-10 (the Vellum Books). There are also loose charters, deeds & c. in roughly chronological arrangement: H.2.1-K.28.2. City charters and royal grants and orders are printed in Royal Letters addressed to Oxford, ed. O. Ogle.

Miscellaneous collections: A.5.2 (Skinner's collection of copies of charters and wills); D.5.1-4 (volumes of original records, 1275-1792); E.4.3-4 (suits with the university, 17th-18th century); E.4.7-8 (Gilpin's and Wright's collections); F.5.1-4 (Hester's collection of copies and original records, 1243-19th century)