A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14, Lichfield. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
GOVERNMENT TO 1548.
Lichfield was described as a borough in a deed of Bishop Durdent, 1149–59, (fn. 1) and on the occasion of a general eyre in 1199 the town was represented by its own jurymen as 'a borough, vill, and liberty'. (fn. 2) No charter of liberties has survived, but 'the liberties of the free burgesses of Lichfield' were taken as a model by the abbot of Burton when he established a borough at Abbots Bromley in 1222. (fn. 3) A custom recorded in 1221 related to the protection of a wife's marriage portion. (fn. 4) Another custom was the exemption of burgesses from pleas under the writ of mort d'ancestor: three such pleas were stayed at an assize in 1226 because of 'the liberty of the borough of Lichfield'. (fn. 5) Burgesses paid no entry fine when taking up a burgage (fn. 6) and, according to a survey of the bishop's estates made in 1298, no heriot was taken. (fn. 7) The bishop governed the town through a manor court whose competence was confined to the area within the town ditch and the suburbs. In addition the burgesses developed informal powers of self-government. (fn. 8) Certain privileges were enjoyed by the tenants of the dean and cathedral prebendaries, and in 1441 the Close became self-governing. (fn. 9)
The value of the town to the bishop may be gauged by the £12 6s. 8d. for which the escheator accounted as the farm of Lichfield in the six months following the death of Bishop Nonant in March 1198. (fn. 10) By 1298 the town was valued at £25, made up of £14 6s. 8d. for burgage rents (each worth 12d. a year), £6 13s. 4d. for the tolls of the markets and of the fairs, and £4 for the profits of the manor court. Castle mill (in Dam Street) and Stowe mill were valued at £33 6s. 8d. (fn. 11) The income in 1308–9 was greater. The market tolls then produced £10 18s. 4½d. and the fair tolls £6, while profits from the court totalled £8 11s. 8d. Burgage rents were the same as in 1298, but a further 4s. 4d. came from encroachments. The bishop's bailiff also accounted for Castle mill and Stowe mill, and the sale of corn ground at them was worth £43 13s. 5d., against which £4 4s. 5d. was set for their upkeep. Other expenses in 1308–9 included £41 10s. for the salaries of the bishop's officers, so that the profit that year was £30 19s. 11d. (fn. 12)
A rental of 1435 assessed the burgage rents at £19 6s. ¾d. (fn. 13) In 1447–8 the actual rent collected was only a little over £12, with a further 5s. 4d. from encroachments; court profits totalled £8 5s. 8d. and the market and fair tolls were let for £5. After the senior bailiff's expenses had been met, the profit was £16 17s. By that date the mills were no longer the bailiff's responsibility but were accounted for separately by a lessee who paid £40 a year. (fn. 14) In 1541–2 the burgage rents were a little under £12 and court fines £2 10s. 8d; expenses, however, were not great, and there was a profit of £21. (fn. 15)
In 1312–13 the senior bailiff answered to the reeve of Longdon manor for the town's finances. (fn. 16) By the mid 15th century both the bailiff and the lessee of the Lichfield mills accounted directly to the bishop's receiver general, who stayed at Lichfield for the annual audit of the accounts of all the episcopal manors. (fn. 17)
Manorial courts and officers.
In the early 1160s the owner of a shop in the town had his possession of it confirmed by the bishop on condition that he attended the bishop's court three times a year when pleas were held and at other times when summoned. (fn. 18) That court is most likely to have been one for the town alone, as there were later three great courts for the town, while Longdon manor had only two each year. (fn. 19) There was a town court styled the dernmoot in the earlier 13th century when a man abjured his rights to a burgage in it (in placito Lichiffeldie quod vocatur dernemoth), (fn. 20) and around 1250 the bishop forced the tenants of the dean and of the cathedral prebendaries to attend the dernmoot twice a year as well as the portmoot, evidently the small court. (fn. 21) There is no later mention of the court. Dern means secret or private, (fn. 22) and the dernmoot may have been a court which was not open to all the town's inhabitants. Such an explanation, however, conflicts with the nearest etymological equivalent, the dernhundred of some Irish towns which was apparently a full assembly. (fn. 23) The name may signify the exclusion of men outside the town, in particular the men of Longdon manor whose own courts were also held in Lichfield, at least in the early 14th century. (fn. 24) The dernmoot may have been the occasion of a view of frankpledge; at the quo warranto inquiry of 1293 the bishop claimed a view in Lichfield along with pleas of the Crown, infangthief, waif, and pleas of withernam. (fn. 25)
Court records survive only from the early 15th century. There were then three great courts: two were held on Mondays near the feasts of St. Hilary (13 January) and St. George (23 April) and the third on the feast of St. Mary Magdalen (22 July). (fn. 26) In 1414 each court was styled a view of the great portmoot of Lichfield, but by the 1470s the Hilary and St. George's courts were known as views of the borough or of the free borough (or of the free burgesses), and the Magdalen court as a view of tithingmen. The tithingmen represented wards in the town and made presentments relating to offences such as assaults, gossiping, and failure to attend the watch. Their presentments at the Magdalen court were heard by a sworn jury of burgesses styled the Twelve, which at the other two great courts made its own presentments relating to nuisances such as the defects of gutters, encroachments on manorial land, and the lighting of fires in public places. The courts did not consider felonies, which were tried by county J.P.s. (fn. 27)
In the early 15th century there were two tithingmen each for Beacon Street, Bird Street, St. John Street, Market Street (then known as Rope Street), Bore Street, Wade Street, Conduit Street (evidently including Dam Street), Stowe Street, Tamworth Street, and Greenhill. By 1494 the Bird Street tithingmen were also responsible for Sandford Street as far west as Trunkfield brook, and there was an additional single tithingman for that part of the street beyond the brook. (fn. 28) The tithingmen were evidently chosen by their ward at an occasion called a drinking, recorded in 1494 and 1507 when both men and women were fined for failure to attend. (fn. 29) The election was probably by majority decision, as was the custom in 1645, (fn. 30) and the 18th-century practice of making every inhabitant contribute to the cost of the drinking (fn. 31) may have been followed in the Middle Ages.
The Twelve (fn. 32) were probably chosen by the bishop's bailiffs. In the years for which records of all three great courts survive (1506 and 1536), the Twelve were drawn from a pool of at least 30 men; in both years eight continued in office from the Hilary court to the St. George's court, but none to the Magdalen court. (fn. 33) The fact that their names were written on the court rolls may indicate official recognition of their standing in the town, and special consideration was accorded them by the steward, who in the 1520s and 1530s gave them breakfasts on court days. (fn. 34)
There was evidently a small court by the mid 13th century. (fn. 35) It was held on Mondays, weekly in the 15th century but possibly less frequently in the mid 1520s when the senior bailiff attended only 15 courts a year. (fn. 36) The court dealt with pleas of debt and trespass and breaches of the assize of bread and of ale. A court of pie powder was held at the time of the Ash Wednesday fair by 1464. (fn. 37)
The great courts were held before the bishop's steward, who was also responsible for the other episcopal estates in Staffordshire. (fn. 38) In 1531 what was probably the honorific office of high steward was held by George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. (fn. 39) With the alienation of some of the bishop's estates to Sir William Paget in 1546, a steward for the town alone was appointed, and in 1547 that office was held by John Otley, a Staffordshire J.P. (fn. 40)
The bishop's chief resident officer was the bailiff. That title was used in the 1160s; in the earlier 13th century the preferred style was reeve. (fn. 41) The title bailiff was again normally used in the mid 13th century when Peter of Colchester is the first recorded office-holder known by name. (fn. 42) From the late 13th century two bailiffs held office together, (fn. 43) but only one was responsible for drawing up accounts. (fn. 44) The senior bailiff's fee in 1308–9 was 15s. for his robe. By the later 1440s it was 20s. together with 6s. 8d. for collecting rents, and both sums were still paid in 1542. (fn. 45)
Two constables were chosen at the St. George's court in the 15th and early 16th century. (fn. 46)
Lichfield men were presented at a general eyre in 1199 for selling wine against the assize, and in 1203 the town was fined by the king for not observing the assize of bread. In the early 13th century the assize of bread and ale was kept by the bishop's officers. (fn. 47) By 1485 presentments relating to the assize were made at the manor court by four jurors, presumably pairs of tasters for bread and ale; they were styled clerks of the market in 1547. (fn. 48)
An official styled the warden of the fields, responsible for impounding stray animals, was recorded in 1501 and 1520, when he reported to the manor court. (fn. 49) There was a pinfold in Dam Street near the gate of the Close, but by 1476 it had been removed, probably to Beacon Street. (fn. 50) Another pinfold stood at Greenhill in 1498. (fn. 51)
There was a moot hall where courts for both the town and Longdon manor were held by 1308. (fn. 52) It probably stood in Lombard Street, where there was a building called the Moot Hall in 1708. (fn. 53) When the bishop surrendered Longdon manor to Sir William Paget in 1546, the Longdon courts were transferred to Longdon Green. (fn. 54) The town courts may have continued in the moot hall, but they were evidently moved to the guildhall when the newly established corporation acquired the manor of Lichfield in 1548.
The community of the town.
A representative element in the government of the town is indicated in 1221 when the burgesses of Lichfield disputed with those of Stafford over the exaction of toll: the case was pleaded before royal justices, and Lichfield sent two representatives. (fn. 55) In 1284 'the community of the city of Lichfield' sent the king a letter, evidently in response to a summons for representatives to appear before the treasurer at Westminster; William the taverner and Ralph de Barton described as 'our bailiffs' and six 'citizens' were nominated. (fn. 56) The community was recorded again in 1301 when six men acting on its behalf made a grant of land next to an aqueduct in the town, the tenant paying the community 2s. a year for the aqueduct's maintenance. What was presumably the community's seal was appended to that grant, and a portion of it survived in 1658; the impression was of a bishop, presumably St. Chad, flanked on the left and evidently on the right by an angel, with the cathedral behind. (fn. 57) Further evidence of the community is the grant of pavage to the burgesses and 'goodmen' of Lichfield in 1285 and 1290 and again in 1345. (fn. 58) Similarly a deacon was retained in office by the dean and chapter in 1333 at the request of the community of the town. (fn. 59) The community was again mentioned in 1450 when its cattle were in the care of the town's common herdsman. (fn. 60)
Corporate identity among the burgesses was strengthened by membership of the guild of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, formed in 1387. (fn. 61) Its purpose was not only 'to maintain divine service and works of charity' but also 'to suppress vice and evil deeds … so that peace, tranquillity, concord, and unity should be promoted', (fn. 62) and accordingly it came to participate in the government of the town. The master of the guild often had experience as one of the Twelve, (fn. 63) and in 1406 he took precedence over the town bailiffs in the witness list of a charter. (fn. 64) In 1486 the master and his brethren in consultation with Sir Humphrey Stanley of Pipe in Burntwood, himself several times master, made ordinances for 'the unity, peace, and welfare of the community'. (fn. 65) The ordinances in part regulated the conduct of a body called the Forty-eight, which was associated with the guild in governing the town and which possibly represented the town's burgesses and commoners. Members of the Forty-eight along with the guild master had to swear to maintain concord amongst themselves, and any dispute between guild members was to be heard by the master and his brethren on pain of expulsion from 'the worshipful election and fraternity of the city'; the master and brethren were also to settle disputes between members and their servants. The master, brethren, and the Forty-eight were to hold meetings in the guildhall or elsewhere when there was business to discuss; a fine was to be imposed on any member of the Forty-eight who was absent, and after three absences the member was to be expelled. The ordinances also concerned matters relating to public order in the town. (fn. 66) It was made clear that there was no intention to abrogate the jurisdiction of the bishop's manor court, (fn. 67) and presumably the aim was to provide a means of more immediate supervision than the annual Magdalen court. The guild was evidently still helping to maintain public order in the early 16th century when guild constables were recorded. (fn. 68)
The guild also gave corroboration to public transactions. As early as 1389 a meeting of the guild approved and registered a deed concerning property in Lichfield, apparently itself unconnected with the guild. (fn. 69) The ordinance of 1532 reconstituting St. Mary's vicarage was sealed with the guild seal in the guildhall by the master acting with the consent of the brethren and 'all the inhabitants' of the city. (fn. 70)
There is no evidence that the master acted in opposition to the bailiffs or that the guild strove for independence from the bishop, to whom the town remained subject. A dispute with the bishop's officers over the collection of tolls in the early 16th century was settled by agreement, the bishop being urged to be 'a good lord'. (fn. 71) In 1547 the Twelve at the Magdalen court complained that neighbouring gentlemen were overburdening the town's common pasture with sheep. The bishop's steward, John Otley, who was one of the chief offenders, was asked to help so that he should have the gratitude of 'the poor community'. (fn. 72)
Although the burgesses associated with each other to protect and promote their interests, they did so without acquiring formal power of self-government. Such power might have been sought if Lichfield had been more important economically. The Lichfield Forty-eight were last mentioned in 1538. (fn. 73) They may have been in mind when in 1553, shortly after the town had been incorporated, there was an unsuccessful attempt to replace the corporation with a ruling council of 48. It was to be made up of equal numbers of burgesses and commoners and styled the Common Hall or Common Council of the bailiffs, burgesses, and commonalty of Lichfield. (fn. 74)
GOVERNMENT FROM 1548.
Lichfield was incorporated by a charter of Edward VI granted in 1548. (fn. 75) It was to be governed by two bailiffs, chosen annually on St. James's day (25 July), and 24 burgesses or brethren. Later the same year Bishop Sampson granted the manor of Lichfield to the corporation for a fee farm rent of £50. (fn. 76) In 1553 Mary I granted a new charter in consideration of 'the diligent industry and faithful service' given by the bailiffs and citizens during the recent rebellion, (fn. 77) possibly involving the arrest of servants of the duke of Northumberland. (fn. 78) The most significant addition to the city's privileges under the charter was the creation of the county of Lichfield with a sheriff. (fn. 79) In 1598 the method of choosing the bailiffs was altered by agreement with Bishop Overton, who had tried to reclaim Lichfield manor. The corporation was to present the names of at least two candidates to the bishop, who was to choose one of them to be the senior bailiff, announcing his choice at the guildhall by noon on St. James's day. (fn. 80)
The corporation was reorganized in 1622 by a charter of James I which reduced the number of brethren to 21. The bailiffs were in future to be drawn from the brethren only, with the bishop choosing the senior bailiff on St. James's day as previously. Refusal to take up the office of bailiff or of sheriff of the county was punishable by a fine. At least one bailiff was to be present when the corporation made any decision. The charter was reissued in 1623 with a clause guaranteeing the independence of the Close, shortly after James had granted a separate charter to the dean and chapter extending their privileges. (fn. 81)
A charter granted by Charles II in 1664 did not alter the composition of the corporation. In 1684 the attorney general brought a writ of quo warranto against the city as part of Charles's attack on corporations, and the 1664 charter was surrendered. The brethren continued to meet, and they paid at least £20 towards the cost of a new charter, which was granted by James II in 1686 and reconstituted the corporation as a mayor and 12 aldermen. (fn. 82) It was annulled by James in October 1688, and the 1664 charter was restored. (fn. 83)
No further changes were made to the composition of the corporation until 1835. The Municipal Corporations Act of that year established a corporation of 18 councillors, of whom 6 were to be aldermen, under a mayor. The councillors were to be elected from two wards, North and South. (fn. 84) The first mayor of the reformed council was elected, along with the sheriff, in January 1836; thereafter both were chosen at the council's November meeting. Under the Representation of the People Act, 1948, the date of the council elections and mayor-making was changed in 1949 to May. The electoral divisions were reorganized in 1968, when six wards were created: Leomansley, Chadsmead, Curborough, Stowe, Central, and St. John's. There was no increase in the number of councillors. (fn. 85)
In 1974, under the Local Government Act of 1972, the city lost its self-governing status and was absorbed into the newly created Lichfield district. It is represented on the district council by 15 councillors, chosen from the six wards created in 1968. Those councillors also acted as a body of charter trustees who preserved the city's offices of dignity by electing annually a mayor and a sheriff; they also had custody of the civic regalia. (fn. 86) The trustees were superseded in 1980 by a parish council with 30 councillors representing the six wards. (fn. 87) The parish was granted city status in November the same year, with the chairman of the parish council, elected at the council's May meeting, styled a mayor. (fn. 88)
Lists of bailiffs, mayors, sheriffs, recorders, stewards, and town clerks from 1548 to 1805 are printed in T. Harwood's The History and Antiquities of the Church and City of Lichfield. (fn. 89) The lists are continued to 1972 in City and County of Lichfield: Municipal Year Book 1972–74. (fn. 90) Mayors and sheriffs since 1836 are listed on boards in the guildhall.
Manorial courts and officers.
From the 18th century the manor courts fell into disuse. The small court may have been discontinued after 1730 when it ceased to be recorded in the court books, (fn. 91) and the Hilary great court was last held in 1741. (fn. 92) The main business of the Magdalen great court (the presentment by tithingmen of assaults) was taken over by the city's J.P.s, who in 1727 further encroached on the court by ordering the tithingmen to attend quarter sessions and report on street cleansing. (fn. 93) The Magdalen court did little business from the 1840s and was last held in 1885. (fn. 94) The St. George's court was retained as the occasion when manorial officers were chosen. It ceased to be held after 1885 but was revived in 1889. (fn. 95) It was still held as a ceremonial event in the late 1980s. A court of pie powder continues to be proclaimed at the time of the Ash Wednesday fair. (fn. 96)
By the 1640s the tithingmen were styled dozeners, a word derived from their Latin name decenarii. (fn. 97) They continued to represent wards in pairs, except that three dozeners were together responsible for Bird Street and Sandford Street, and that by 1658 there was only one dozener for Beacon Street and one for Wade Street. (fn. 98) From the mid 19th century they rarely attended the Magdalen court; only one was listed in 1869, and none from 1870. (fn. 99) They were still chosen for Tamworth Street in 1875 and for Conduit Street and Dam Street in 1877. (fn. 100) By 1748 the dozeners carried halberds as symbols of office. (fn. 101)
The jury formerly known as the Twelve continued to receive the dozeners' presentments as well as making its own. In the 18th century up to 20 men were usually empanelled, with occasionally more at the Magdalen court; as men were often chosen in their absence they were evidently selected by rota. With little business to be done, it became customary to adjourn the courts to a date a month or two ahead when the jury reassembled for a dinner at the house of the foreman, generally an innholder. The adjournment of the Hilary court was usually to early March, that of the St. George's court to June, and that of the Magdalen court to October. (fn. 102) By the mid 18th century the meeting of the adjourned St. George's court was styled the Burgage Jury, after the burgage holders whose court it was, and that of the Magdalen court the Tinsel Jury, a name meaning a fine. (fn. 103) The dinners were at least partly paid for by the bailiffs, evidently as a continuation of the payment for the breakfasts of the Twelve on court days in the Middle Ages. Payment was stopped in 1695, but from the later 1750s the bailiffs paid 10s. towards each dinner. (fn. 104) In 1837 the reformed council agreed to pay 3 guineas to the meeting of the St. George's court and 2 guineas to that of the Magdalen court. (fn. 105) Each court received 3 guineas when the payments were stopped in 1885. Payment for the St. George's court was revived in 1889. (fn. 106)
The appointment of the clerks of the market was discontinued in 1885, but two constables were chosen at the St. George's court when it was revived in 1889. (fn. 107) By the mid 17th century two pinners were chosen at the court, one responsible for the city portion of St. Chad's parish and the other for that of St. Michael's. (fn. 108) From 1718 the former was paid 10s. a year by the corporation, which let ½ a. of land in Sedy field known as pinner's baulk, evidently as an endowment of the office. (fn. 109) From 1895 each pinner was paid 10s. (fn. 110) By the early 1950s the payment was 15s., and its equivalent, 75p, was still paid in the late 1980s. (fn. 111) Four commoners were recorded in 1645 and were chosen at the St. George's court by the mid 1690s. They were responsible for checking that townspeople did not overpasture the commons and the fallow fields. (fn. 112) In the mid 1740s they were denounced as young tradesmen who went out on summer evenings rounding up horses and asses found on the waste or in lanes, impounding them, and extracting from their owners money which they then spent on ale. (fn. 113) The commoners were still chosen in 1889. (fn. 114)
There was a pinfold in Beacon Street by 1645, near the corner of the later Anson Avenue. (fn. 115) In 1809 the improvement commissioners ordered its removal, and in 1810 a new one was set up at the junction of Beacon Street and Cross in Hand Lane. (fn. 116) The construction of houses at Greenhill in the earlier 19th century caused the removal of a pinfold there, possibly on the site of the pinfold recorded in the later Middle Ages. It was probably moved to a site at the junction of Broad Lane and Darnford Lane, where it stood in 1882. It survived there in the mid 1930s. (fn. 117)
Commission of the peace.
A commission was established by the charter of 1548, with the two bailiffs as justices. Mary I's charter of 1553 added a recorder and a steward to the commission, which was empowered to hear all felonies, including murder, and to deliver the gaol. Both bailiffs were required to sit, together with the recorder or the steward; under the charter of 1622 only one bailiff had to sit. A further extension of the commission was made by the charter of 1664 to include the retiring bailiffs for the year after they had left office. From the later 17th century the recorders were noblemen, and it is unlikely that any attended. From the early 19th century, however, the recorders were local gentlemen who did attend on occasion. (fn. 118) By the later 17th century the steward was normally a lawyer. He probably attended when important cases were heard; in the early 19th century capital offences were tried only in his presence. (fn. 119) The Municipal Commissioners in 1833 acknowledged the integrity and impartiality of the magistrates but doubted their competence. (fn. 120) Petty sessions were held weekly by 1834. (fn. 121) Under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 the recorder became sole judge of the quarter sessions. (fn. 122) The sessions were abolished by the Courts Act, 1971. (fn. 123) Sessions were held in the guildhall until 1867 when new premises were built in Wade Street on the site of the former gaol. (fn. 124) They were rebuilt in 1963. (fn. 125)
Court of record.
A court of record was established by the 1548 charter to meet weekly on Thursdays and deal with pleas relating to debts or damages of 40s. or over. Its competence was widened by the 1553 charter to include sums of less than 40s. Records of the court which survive for the 1660s and from 1696 show that it was held in the guildhall before the bailiffs and the town clerk. (fn. 126) Little business was done from the 1730s, and none from 1836 when recourse to the new county court was preferred. The court was formally abolished in 1857. (fn. 127) Under the 1548 charter the corporation was allowed to keep the fines imposed by the court in return for a fee farm of 20s. to the Crown. The farm was redeemed in 1874. (fn. 128)
The unreformed corporation.
There was a close connexion between the first members of the corporation and the dissolved guild of St. Mary. Gregory Stonyng, the senior bailiff nominated in the 1548 charter, and half the 24 brethren had been masters of the guild, and a further 6 had been guild wardens. (fn. 129) The junior bailiff nominated in 1548 was Mark Wyrley, a lawyer who had been the bishop's bailiff in the town in 1541–2. (fn. 130)
Power was evidently concentrated in a small group of men, often bound by family ties. (fn. 131) Henry Bird, a baker, who was listed third among the brethren nominated in the 1548 charter, was senior bailiff in 1551–2 and sheriff in 1561–2. Nicholas Bird, also a baker, who was listed twenty-third in 1548, was senior bailiff on four occasions between 1559 and 1588 and sheriff in 1556–7; he was second in a list of the brethren made in 1583. Other members of the Bird family who held office were Henry Bird the younger, a baker, who was junior bailiff and senior bailiff in the later 1560s, and John Bird, another baker, who was junior bailiff in 1577–8. Humphrey Lowe, a mercer who was listed twelfth in 1548, was sheriff in 1554–5, junior bailiff in 1556–7, and senior bailiff in 1564–5 and 1573–4. In 1583 he headed the list of brethren. Simon Biddulph, another mercer, was not nominated in 1548, although he had been a warden of the guild in 1546; none the less he was junior bailiff in 1553–4 and three times senior bailiff between 1562 and 1576. His son, also Simon, had a similar career as junior bailiff in 1581–2 and three times senior bailiff between 1588 and 1606. Others who held the office of senior bailiff three times before 1600 were John Burnes, an upholsterer, and John Chatterton, styled gentleman; (fn. 132) those who held it twice were William Hawrytt, an innholder, Thomas Rowe, a butcher, John Snape, a husbandman, Thomas Whitmore, a baker, and William Wightwick, a tanner. James Weston, a lawyer and diocesan registrar who was listed third among the brethren in 1583, held office only once, as junior bailiff in 1562–3; he was, however, a Lichfield M.P. in 1584–5. (fn. 133) John Dyott, another lawyer, was three times junior bailiff between 1558 and 1573 but never senior bailiff. The leading families intermarried. Humphrey Lowe's son Michael married one of the elder Simon Biddulph's daughters, (fn. 134) and Lowe's sister married James Weston, (fn. 135) himself John Dyott's son-in-law. (fn. 136)
There is evidence of Protestant sympathies among the earliest brethren. About 1550 the corporation ordered the removal of 'idols and images' and altars from St. Mary's church. (fn. 137) In 1556 or 1557 the sheriff, Nicholas Bird, and a group of women who included Simon Biddulph's wife Margaret and Humphrey Lowe's wife Joan gave comfort to Joyce Lewes of Mancetter (Warws.), when she was burnt as a heretic in Lichfield. (fn. 138)
It seems that supporters of parliament against Charles I achieved prominence under the patronage of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (d. 1646). From 1604 Essex held a lease of Lichfield manor for life, and the Lichfield waits wore his badge. (fn. 139) The town clerk nominated in the 1622 charter, Michael Noble, had puritan sympathies, and he and Devereux's half-brother were Lichfield's M.P.s in the Long Parliament. (fn. 140) Between 1648 and 1659 Richard Drafgate, probably a former agent of Devereux, was twice senior bailiff, sharing office in 1656–7 with James Rixam (or Rixom), a Presbyterian who was a town carrier. (fn. 141) Another Presbyterian, Thomas Minors, a mercer who was Lichfield's M.P. 1654–60, was in turn both junior and senior bailiff, and his brother-in-law, William Jesson, junior bailiff. (fn. 142) At the Restoration both Minors and Jesson, despite their wealth, were dismissed from the corporation. (fn. 143)
Charles II's charter of 1664 did not alter the composition of the corporation. The surrender of the charter in 1684 was generally believed to be intended to bring the town under the control of George Legge, Lord Dartmouth, one of the leading favourites at court. He had married in 1667 a Lichfield heiress, Barbara, daughter of Sir Henry Archbold, the diocesan chancellor 1675–82; her elder sister Mary had married as her second husband the Lichfield physician John Floyer, knighted in 1685. According to Dartmouth's rival Thomas Thynne, later Viscount Weymouth, Floyer worked on Dartmouth's behalf in Lichfield, 'endeavouring to frame that corporation anew by leaving out some of the best men in it, that it may solely depend on that family'. The town clerk, John Rawlins, supported Thynne and delayed the issue of a new charter. (fn. 144) The new corporation established by James II in 1686, although reduced in size, took its members exclusively from the retiring brethren, and the first mayor, Thomas Hammond, was the retiring senior bailiff. Hammond was appointed a J.P. for life, as was Floyer. No record of the meetings of the mayor and aldermen has survived, and it is uncertain to what extent the brethren supported the king. James visited Lichfield in 1687, when he touched for the King's Evil in the cathedral, and it was evidently on that visit that the corporation gave him 'a present' of £107 10s. (fn. 145) None the less the entire corporation and Floyer were removed from office in stages during 1688. (fn. 146) When Charles II's charter was restored in October 1688 most of the men appointed in 1686 regained power. (fn. 147)
Meetings of the corporation, for which records survive from 1679, were styled the Common Council until 1688 when the name Common Hall was adopted. (fn. 148) They were held frequently but at irregular intervals, the only fixed occasion being St. James's day when the bailiffs and sheriff were chosen. Business was confined generally to the oversight of corporate and manorial property and the administration of trust funds, including that of the grammar school. Although public works received less attention, chiefly because they were supported financially by the Conduit Lands trustees, (fn. 149) the brethren were concerned to promote the town's welfare. They supported the creation of the Lichfield turnpike trust in 1729, (fn. 150) used a gift of money to abolish market tolls in 1741, (fn. 151) and landscaped parts of the town in the late 18th century. (fn. 152)
The corporation was poorer than the Conduit Lands trust, which in 1545 had acquired many of the endowments of the medieval guild of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist. Under the 1548 charter the corporation was permitted to acquire land worth up to £20 a year, raised to £100 by the 1622 charter. Land acquired under the charter is not readily distinguishable from land which the corporation held as lord of Lichfield manor or as the trustee of various charities. Income from 'city lands', presumably corporate property, was £3 13s. 5d. in 1577–8; by the late 1650s it was apparently a little over £13. (fn. 153) In the later 1760s revenue from both corporate and charity land was some £140. (fn. 154) In 1776 the corporation held 270 a. of inclosed land in Curborough and Elmhurst, Farewell, King's Bromley, Aldridge, and Mayfield and 58½ a. of common land and 6 a. of Lammas meadow in Lichfield. (fn. 155) The chief items of manorial revenue were burgage rents, tolls from markets and fairs, and the profits of the mills and the fisheries of the town's pools. Burgage rents produced £20 in 1577–8, and in 1674 they were valued, together with fines for encroachments on the streets, at £29. (fn. 156) In the later 1760s they produced only £12. (fn. 157) The tolls from markets and fairs were let for £20 a year in 1696, and the lease was renewed in 1716 for the same rent. (fn. 158) The corporation extinguished market tolls from Christmas 1741, except for pickage and for tolls other than those on corn when a market day coincided with a fair. It was able to do so because of a gift of £500 from Sir Lister Holte, newly elected as one of Lichfield's M.P.s. Of that sum £400 was invested and its income spent on paving, an expense previously met out of the market tolls; the remaining £100 was spent on the guildhall. (fn. 159) The corporation still received tolls from the two fairs; they produced nearly £5 in the earlier 1740s but only around £2 from later in the decade. (fn. 160) Stowe mill was let in 1717 for £38 a year and the malt mill in Dam Street in 1718 for £22. (fn. 161) The corporation also received the fines for refusal to serve as sheriff; they amounted to as much as 100 guineas when five men were fined in 1778. (fn. 162)
A lease of manorial revenue for seven years in 1664 was probably made in order to raise capital. The lessee paid £200 cash, 20s. a year, and the £50 fee-farm rent which the corporation owed the bishop for the manor; the lessee also agreed to clean the streets, pay the millers' wages, and repair the mills. (fn. 163) A policy of financial retrenchment was undertaken in 1695. (fn. 164) The appointment of Nicholas Deakin as chamberlain by 1737 may have been an attempt to impose stricter financial control. He took over responsibility for the accounts from the town clerk and was still in office in 1743. (fn. 165) By 1809 a treasurer was employed. (fn. 166) A rate was levied in 1816 and again in 1820. (fn. 167)
Although under the 1622 charter the corporation had a complement of 21 brethren, there were only 17 in 1696 and 15 in 1720. (fn. 168) In 1793 there were 16. (fn. 169) The low number was presumably deliberate and helped to concentrate power. No family came to dominate the corporation, however, and the offices of both senior and junior bailiff seem to have been held by the brethren according to seniority. No man ever retained office from one year to another, and only a few were senior bailiff more than twice. The brethren fostered a sense of community among themselves and of superiority over others by attention to ceremonial. They wore gowns which were probably modelled on the scarlet gown worn by the master of St. Mary's guild in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 170) In the late 17th century the gowns were evidently of heavy, good-quality cloth: the brethren permitted themselves to attend church on Sunday without them in the hot summer of 1705 and when it rained. (fn. 171) From 1622, if not before, the bailiffs had maces carried before them, even in the Close although it lay outside their jurisdiction. (fn. 172) A sword was placed by their seat in St. Mary's church, where they attended services with the brethren, who also had their own seats there. It was presumably at St. Mary's too that the customary St. James's day sermon was preached after the new bailiffs and sheriff had been chosen. (fn. 173) The brethren made solemn public appearances in their gowns in the late 17th and the 18th century, and presumably earlier, when walking the fairs and at times of public rejoicing, such as that for the military victories in 1702 when a bonfire was lit in the market square and a hogshead of ale provided. (fn. 174) In 1695, however, expenditure at the walk, presumably on food and drink, was stopped, (fn. 175) and in the late 18th century only the bailiffs joined in the procession at the Whitsuntide inspection of the watch. (fn. 176)
Concerned for its dignity, the corporation in 1705 allowed three members to resign because they had been reduced to poverty, and in 1708 it dismissed another who was facing bankruptcy. At a meeting in 1720 when new members were chosen, one evidently unsuitable candidate was rejected on the nod. (fn. 177) In 1696 the brethren forced the dismissal of John Matlock, a writing master at the grammar school, who besides being 'a turbulent person' had acted 'very unhandsomely' towards them. (fn. 178)
The corporation promoted good relations with the nobility by patronizing the race meetings on Whittington heath (fn. 179) and by organizing public feasts called buck-eatings. The deer were provided free by local noblemen and eaten at feasts held at the corporation's expense. The cost was limited to £10 a year in 1679. (fn. 180) In 1718 it was resolved that up to 50 guests were to be invited to eat a buck given by Lord Weymouth, provided that the cost did not exceed £5. (fn. 181) In 1727 a buck was given by Lord Weymouth and another by Lord Uxbridge, the recorder; one buck was eaten at the George, with musicians playing and probably with the sheriff in attendance, and the other was eaten at the gaol, with the corporation providing drink for the gaoler and the prisoners. (fn. 182) By 1734 the feasts had become ordinaries, for which the participants paid a small fee. A feast at the guildhall in 1734 cost each guest 12d., as did feasts in 1737, one at the guildhall and the other at the Bowling Green inn. (fn. 183) A guinea fee paid in 1799 to the gamekeepers of Lord Dartmouth, then recorder, and of Sir Nigel Gresley suggests that buck-eatings still took place, although the corporation no longer financed them. (fn. 184)
The reformed council.
The Municipal Commissioners visited Lichfield in December 1833. They received no co-operation from the unreformed corporation, which had challenged the commissioners' powers and forbidden the town clerk to show them the corporation records. As a result the commissioners took evidence from local inhabitants, notably the antiquary Thomas Harwood. (fn. 185) The commissioners' chief complaint referred to the corporation's party bias. (fn. 186) A minority of the corporation had wished to cooperate with the commissioners. The group was led by Charles Stringer, the junior bailiff, and Charles Simpson, the town clerk, and included Thomas Adie, the only member of the corporation to be returned as a councillor at the elections which followed the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. (fn. 187) The elections returned a Radical majority. Besides Adie, a plumber and glazier, councillors in cluded Joseph Potter the elder, an architect, Richard Harris, an auctioneer, William Weldhen, a coachmaker, William Standly and Thomas Walton, both chemists, John Proffitt, a hat maker, and Thomas Rowley, a physician. (fn. 188) Rowley, who had become a Congregationalist in 1823 and became an Anglican in 1841, (fn. 189) was chosen mayor.
In 1836 the council inherited £22 in cash and a debt of £260 from the unreformed corporation. It increased the rent of the market stallages and of the fisheries of the pools, and it cut expenditure. (fn. 190) It also sold property. Land and cottages in St. John Street were sold in 1838 for over £580; land in Paradise fields on the north side of Trent Valley Road was sold in 1839 for £381 as the site for the Lichfield union workhouse; and the former workhouse in Sandford Street was sold in 1840–1 for £740. (fn. 191) In 1842 the council raised £735 by the sale of stock which the corporation had bought from the proceeds of the lease in 1819 of the New College in the Close. (fn. 192) A borough rate was levied from 1846. (fn. 193) The mayor was voted a salary of £60 and the treasurer one of £10 in 1836. (fn. 194)
Elections in 1843 produced a Conservative council. (fn. 195) The Liberals were returned in 1853, and Rowley became mayor again. They kept control until 1881, when a Conservative majority was returned. (fn. 196) The council was controlled by Conservatives or by Independents until its abolition in 1974. (fn. 197) The first woman councillor, Mrs. Daisy Stuart Shaw, was elected for South Ward in 1919; she became the first woman mayor in 1927. (fn. 198)
The Labour and Co-operative Party first contested an election in 1919, when two candidates stood in North Ward. None stood from 1925. (fn. 199) The first Labour supporter to be elected was Frank Halfpenny at a byelection in South Ward in 1937, although he did not stand on a party ticket. Official Labour candidates were not elected until 1946, when two were successful in North Ward. In 1949 Halfpenny, standing as a Labour candidate, lost his seat, but he was reelected for North Ward in 1953; in 1965 he became the first Labour mayor. (fn. 200)
Improvement commission and urban sanitary authority.
A body of improvement commissioners was established by an Act of 1806 to pave, clean, light, watch, and maintain the town's streets. Besides ex officio members, the commissioners included everyone owning or occupying land worth £20 a year. (fn. 201) The commissioners levied a rate, received gratuities of £40 from the corporation and £60 from the Conduit Lands trustees, (fn. 202) and sold annuities. (fn. 203) In 1836 they transferred their powers to the reformed council. (fn. 204) The council acted as commissioners until an Act of 1872 gave it powers as an urban sanitary authority. (fn. 205)
The recordership was established by the 1553 charter. The recorder in 1583 was Thomas Egerton, who was solicitor general; he later became lord chancellor and was created Viscount Brackley. (fn. 206) Sir Simon Weston, nominated as recorder in the 1622 charter, was the son of James Weston, the diocesan registrar and a Lichfield M.P.; in the 1620s Simon was himself M.P. for Lichfield and then for Staffordshire. (fn. 207) The recordership was later held by William Seymour, duke of Somerset (d. 1660), presumably because he was brother-in-law of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (d. 1646), lessee for life of Lichfield manor. (fn. 208) The recorder named in the 1664 charter was Thomas Wriothesley, earl of Southampton and high constable of England (d. 1667). He was followed by two other dukes of Somerset, William Seymour (d. 1671) and John Seymour (d. 1675). (fn. 209) The corporation next chose Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby, lord treasurer of England. (fn. 210) The choice offended Thomas Thynne, later Viscount Weymouth, a descendant of the Devereux family. After Danby was impeached in 1679, the corporation tried to conciliate Thynne and promised him the recordership when it next became vacant; in fact in 1684 they chose George Legge, Lord Dartmouth, and he was confirmed in office by the charter of 1686. (fn. 211) After Danby was restored to favour he once more became recorder, apparently in 1688, and retained the office until his death, as duke of Leeds, in 1712. The corporation then fulfilled its promise to Weymouth, although by a majority of only one; he remained recorder until his death in 1714. (fn. 212) The choice of recorder evidently reflected the political character and needs of the corporation, and throughout the rest of the 18th century the recorders were noblemen. (fn. 213) After the death of Henry, earl of Uxbridge, in 1743, the corporation was allegedly persuaded by Theophilus Levett, the town clerk, to choose John LevesonGower, Lord (later Earl) Gower, in preference to Uxbridge's heir, who had recently dismissed Levett as steward of Yoxall manor. (fn. 214) In the early 19th century the recorders were local gentlemen. (fn. 215) After 1835 lawyers were appointed, and in 1836 the council voted a salary of 60 guineas. (fn. 216)
The office of steward was mentioned in the 1553 charter, and in 1583 it was held by Richard Broughton. (fn. 217) From the later 17th century the steward was normally a barrister with a salary of 40s., raised to £5 in 1705 and to 5 guineas in 1727. (fn. 218) A salary of 15 guineas was paid in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 219) The office was evidently abolished in 1835. (fn. 220)
The office of town clerk, so called in the 1553 charter, was earlier mentioned in the 1548 charter under the style of steward. The charter of 1622 confirmed Michael Noble in office for life and laid down that his successors were to be chosen from the brethren and were to hold office during the corporation's pleasure. The clerk appointed in 1688, Richard Wakefield, was the son-in-law of John Rawlins, clerk from 1667 to his death in 1685. (fn. 221) Wakefield was succeeded in 1721 by Theophilus Levett, whose appointment was opposed by one of the city's M.P.s., Walter Chetwynd, a Whig, probably on political grounds. Levett remained in office until his death in 1746. (fn. 222) The next clerk, Joseph Adey (d. 1763), was followed in 1764 by his nephew, Charles Simpson. Charles retired in 1792 and was replaced by his son Stephen (d. 1825), who was in turn succeeded by his son Charles. (fn. 223) By 1826 the clerk received a salary of £21. (fn. 224)
Charles Simpson retained office as town clerk under the reformed council. (fn. 225) Under the Municipal Corporations Act, however, he had to relinquish his post as clerk to the justices of the peace and was awarded as compensation an annuity of £71 6s. 8d. for life. (fn. 226) Simpson was politically active and was agent for the Liberal parliamentary candidate in 1841. (fn. 227) As a consequence he was dismissed when the Conservative council held its first meeting in 1844. Simpson regarded his dismissal as taking effect as soon as the motion had been passed and apparently walked out of the council chamber with the minute book; he also retained the council seal, and a replacement had to be made. (fn. 228) He was awarded a life pension of £50 18s. 2d. (fn. 229) which he retained on his reinstatement when the Liberals regained control in 1853. (fn. 230) Standing unsuccessfully as a Liberal parliamentary candidate in 1874, (fn. 231) he remained clerk until 1887 when he was again dismissed. The council had found him increasingly difficult to work with because of his eccentric behaviour and advanced age. Once again Simpson regarded his dismissal as taking immediate effect and abruptly stopped taking the minutes, which were continued by a councillor. The council had difficulty in recovering the seal and muniments, and it was over a year before Simpson handed them over. (fn. 232) He died aged 90 in 1890. (fn. 233)
The corporation from its establishment in 1548 evidently met in the hall in Bore Street formerly used by St. Mary's guild. It was the tenant in 1549, and it presumably bought the hall from the London speculator to whom the Crown had sold it that year. (fn. 234) By the later 17th century the council chamber occupied the upper storey, and there were various rooms underneath, including in the early 1670s a tailor's warehouse and in 1696 a shop. (fn. 235) The royal arms and those of the city were painted in the hall in 1677, at the expense of the Conduit Lands trustees. (fn. 236) By 1707 the fabric was so ruinous that the corporation decided to rebuild the hall and engaged Joseph Moseley and John Pilsworth. The money was again provided by the Conduit Lands trustees. (fn. 237) The work was apparently restricted to internal repairs, (fn. 238) but the hall was later given a new front. When the corporation renegotiated the lease of the rooms underneath the hall in 1732, it reserved the right to insert stairs from the street in front of them and to erect a new façade. (fn. 239) Structural work continued in the late 1730s and mid 1740s, the Conduit Lands trustees bearing most of the cost. (fn. 240) The new façade was rusticated on the ground floor with two doorways on the left and two windows on the right; the upper storey had pedimented windows and above was a parapet in which a sculptured stone panel bearing the city arms was set in 1744, at the cost of Lord Gower, recorder of Lichfield. (fn. 241) Access to the council chamber was by internal stairs leading up from the right-hand doorway; the left-hand doorway led to an uncovered passage to the gaol. In 1742 the corporation created additional rooms at the rear by converting a house which seems formerly to have been part of the gaol. (fn. 242) The hall was rebuilt in 1846–8 to the design of Joseph Potter the younger, the Conduit Lands trustees once more financing the work. The building is in a Gothic style with a plate-traceried north window of five lights. Internally a hammerbeam roof was inserted and a passage along the east side was made at first floor level. (fn. 243) The walls were wainscotted in 1852–3. (fn. 244) The stone panel of the city arms was removed and later placed in Museum Grounds in Bird Street. In 1893 early 19th-century glass from the north transept of the cathedral, with a new panel depicting Queen Victoria, was inserted in the north window. (fn. 245)
Donegal House, adjoining the guildhall on the west, was built in 1730. (fn. 246) It was bought by the council in 1910 for conversion into offices. (fn. 247) When the council was abolished in 1974, the ownership of the guildhall passed to Lichfield district council which in 1987 let it to the revived city council on a 999-year lease at a peppercorn rent. The mayor's parlour remained in Donegal House, also owned since 1974 by the district council. (fn. 248)
COUNTY OF THE CITY.
Lichfield was created a county separate from Staffordshire by the charter of 1553 with effect from St. Thomas's day (21 December) that year. The sheriff chosen that day was to hold office until the following Michaelmas; thereafter the sheriff was to be chosen on the day after Michaelmas. Under the charter of 1622 he was to be chosen on St. James's day (25 July) and was not to be a bailiff or one of the brethren. Lichfield remained a county until reunited with Staffordshire by the Local Government Act of 1888; it was one of only four counties of cities not to be made a county borough. (fn. 249)
The first sheriff was Gregory Stonyng, the senior bailiff nominated in the 1548 charter, and the next three sheriffs were also original members of the corporation. Within a few years it was customary for a junior member of the corporation to be chosen sheriff, later becoming junior bailiff. (fn. 250) That practice continued until the charter of 1622. In the early 19th century it was alleged that the sheriff had to spend between £60 and £80 to fulfil his duties. (fn. 251) A fine was imposed on those who refused to serve: £30 in the 1680s, it was £20 in the 1740s, 20 guineas in the early 1770s, and 30 guineas in the early 19th century. From the later 18th century it was common for more than one fine to be taken: three men were fined in 1771 and 1772, five in 1778, and generally two or three from the 1780s. (fn. 252) The practice appears to have been a deliberate policy by the corporation to raise revenue; it was criticized by the Municipal Commissioners in 1833, and in 1834 the fine was reduced to 10 guineas. It was soon restored to 30 guineas, however, after five men had preferred to pay the reduced fine rather than serve. (fn. 253) The first woman sheriff was Councillor Mary Halfpenny, chosen in 1968. (fn. 254) The shrievalty survives as an office of dignity. Since the establishment of the parish council in 1980, the sheriff has been chosen at the council's May meeting.
Under the 1548 charter an annual perambulation of the city's bounds was made on 1 May by the bailiffs accompanied by the sheriff of Staffordshire. After the county of Lichfield was created in 1553, the sheriff of Lichfield headed the perambulation and the date was moved to the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (8 September). The perambulation was still held in the late 1980s.
The sheriff was empowered by the 1553 charter to hold a monthly county court on Thursdays; the senior bailiff was to act as escheator, and the profits were to be shared with the corporation. No records have survived. In 1841 the court dealt with the recovery of debts under 40s. (fn. 255) It probably met in the guildhall, where the weekly court of record was held. In 1867 it was moved to the new magistrates' court in Wade Street. (fn. 256)
The office of county coroner, held by the town clerk, was established by the 1553 charter. The Local Government Act of 1888 transferred his powers to the Staffordshire coroner. (fn. 257)
By the early 13th century the Lichfield tenants of the dean and of the cathedral prebendaries enjoyed certain privileges which set them apart from the bishop's tenants in the town. (fn. 258) They were not answerable in the bishop's manor court for breaking the assize of bread and ale, and they could recover any distress taken for such offences; nor were they required to attend the manor court for offences committed on prebendal land, as the relevant prebendary punished them. (fn. 259) Prebendal tenants were in the same tithings as their neighbours and attended the town's view of frankpledge, but they were not fined if they defaulted. They were liable for service as tithingmen and tasters, and they also helped to maintain the watch; they were excused, however, the guard of robbers who had taken refuge in a church. They did not have to pay dues to the bishop but had to contribute to expenses incurred when the king or justices came to Lichfield. No restrictions were placed on their freedom to buy and sell goods in the town, but they were required to use the bishop's mill. The privileges were upheld by arbitrators in 1252. They were tested in 1317 when the tenants of the prebendary of Freeford in Sandford Street, required to contribute to a levy for the repair of Sandford Street gate, successfully protested that they were obliged to meet only royal financial demands. (fn. 260)
Probably as a result of an attack on the Close in 1436, the Crown in 1441 granted the dean and chapter extensive powers of self-government. No royal officer was to be allowed into the Close, where the dean and chapter were to have the return and execution of all writs and were to be J.P.s. (fn. 261) In 1531 Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, a justice of King's Bench, issued a writ against Canon David Pole and it was executed by the janitor of the Close. Fitzherbert interfered again in 1532, when he ordered the arrest of a felon who had taken refuge in a canon's house. (fn. 262) The events evidently caused the chapter later in 1532 to warn the subchanter and sacrist against endangering the privileges of the Close when they planned to ask a Staffordshire J.P. to issue a warrant against a canon. (fn. 263) The incorporation of the town in 1548 did not affect the independence of the Close.
The privileges of the Close were extended by James I in 1623. The dean and resident canons remained J.P.s, and to their number were added the bishop, the bishop's vicar general, and Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (d. 1646), lessee for life of Lichfield manor. The J.P.s had to take an oath of fidelity to the cathedral. The Close was exempted from the jurisdiction of all town officers, although the bailiffs were allowed to have their maces carried before them when they attended services in the cathedral. The vicars choral and the cathedral officers (the two chapter clerks, the two clerks of the fabric, the bailiff of the liberty, and the collector of pensions) were exempted from jury service in the town. No one living in the Close was to lose civic rights, and conversely no craftsman working at the cathedral was to be refused permission to live in the town. (fn. 264) The corporation resisted the restriction of its authority, and in particular it sought to tax residents of the Close. In 1638, after a dispute over the payment of ship money, the solicitor general declared that the Close was in neither the town nor the county of Lichfield. (fn. 265) With the abolition of the cathedral chapter in 1649, the privileges were no longer enforced. They were re-established, with difficulty, at the Restoration. (fn. 266) The Close remained a liberty until 1836 when it was added to Lichfield under the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act. (fn. 267)
Even before the grant of self-government in 1441 the dean and chapter maintained a watch for the Close. The last watchman died in 1956. (fn. 268) The Close had its own stocks in the mid 18th and earlier 19th century. (fn. 269)
GAOL AND HOUSE OF CORRECTION.
There may have been a gaol at Lichfield in 1163–4 when the sheriff of Staffordshire received an allowance for escorting prisoners from Lichfield. (fn. 270) There was certainly a gaol in 1306, when it was repaired at the bishop's expense in readiness for the arrival of justices of trailbaston. (fn. 271) The mention in 1309 of three stalls around the gaol suggests that it stood in the market place. (fn. 272) In 1459 the gaol needed repair after it had been attacked by the men of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. He was a supporter of the Lancastrian cause, and possibly the attack was an attempt to release prisoners following the Yorkist victory at Blore Heath that year. (fn. 273) By the 16th century the gaol probably stood behind the guildhall, with an entrance passage from Bore Street along the east side of the hall: fragments of 16th-century and earlier stonework survive there as part of a building which is mostly 18th-century.
In 1728 the corporation ordered the construction of a cage 8 ft. square and as deep as possible under the floor of a dungeon, presumably in the gaol. (fn. 274) In the earlier 1740s extra accommodation for prisoners was provided in a house in Wade Street behind the gaol. (fn. 275) New cells were built in 1801. (fn. 276) They were probably the 14 cells, each 9 ft. by 6 ft., mentioned in 1832, when there were also 6 day rooms and 5 open yards. Although there was room in 1832 for 50 prisoners, only 13 had been held at any one time that year; they were guarded by a gaoler and a turnkey, who were both resident. (fn. 277) There were only three prisoners early in 1848, when conditions were considered unsuitable and a recommendation was made that they should be sent to the county gaol at Stafford. By 1853 the corporation was paying for the maintenance of its prisoners at Stafford. (fn. 278) The Lichfield gaol, however, was not closed until 1866. (fn. 279) Most of the site was used for the construction in 1867 of a magistrates' court, (fn. 280) but four cells were incorporated into the guildhall and in 1986 they were opened as part of a small museum. (fn. 281)
Prisoners were shackled in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 282) In 1728 it was proposed to provide work for the prisoners. (fn. 283) There was apparently no work in 1818, and a handmill for grinding corn was installed in 1823–4; by 1833 work also included the heading of pins. (fn. 284)
Debtors were consigned to the gaol by the sheriff. In 1645 fetters for them included 4 neck collars, 4 pairs of bolts, 5 pairs of shackles, a chain, and a clog and chain. The same equipment was recorded in 1674. (fn. 285) Debtors were evidently kept in a separate chamber, first mentioned in 1657. (fn. 286)
The gaoler was paid a salary of £50 a year in the late 1780s, (fn. 287) raised to £60 in 1836 when his duties included the care of the guildhall. (fn. 288) In 1839 the gaoler's wife was appointed matron at a salary of £5. (fn. 289)
In 1681 the corporation considered building a house of correction, but the idea was apparently not carried out. (fn. 290) Part of the gaol was used as a house of correction in 1725, but that year the corporation assigned instead part of the workhouse in Sandford Street, with the workhouse master acting as governor. (fn. 291) In 1803 the corporation ordered the conversion of a room under the guildhall into a house of correction, to be maintained by the three city parishes. (fn. 292) It contained a cell in 1821. (fn. 293)
The murderers of a royal forester were hanged at Lichfield in 1175, Henry II himself having tried them there. (fn. 294) A gallows was built, or possibly repaired, at the bishop's expense in 1532–3. (fn. 295) In 1650 there was a gallows on the west side of the London road near its junction with Shortbutts Lane. (fn. 296) The gallows there fell down c. 1700, its foundations undermined by people digging for sand, but it was re-erected. (fn. 297) It was used, apparently for the last time, in 1810 when three forgers were hanged. (fn. 298)
There was a pillory in 1305, and it stood on the north side of the market square in 1402–3. (fn. 299) In the later 18th century it stood at the north-west corner of the market house, but seems to have been set up only when required. (fn. 300) A cuckstool was mentioned in 1485 and was used to punish harlots as well as scolds. (fn. 301) In the early 18th century it was customary to set up the stool on land off Bird Street, presumably on the edge of Minster Pool so that duckings could take place. In 1734 a stool had to be retrieved out of Stowe Pool. (fn. 302) Stocks were recorded in the late 1680s when they too had to be pulled out of one of the pools. (fn. 303) In the later 18th century they formed part of the pillory in the market square. (fn. 304) Stocks kept in the guildhall in 1895 are probably those in the museum opened there in 1986. (fn. 305) There were also stocks in the Close. They stood at the west end of the cathedral near the conduit in 1749 and were moved in 1823 to the south side of the cathedral. (fn. 306) A whipping stock stood next to the pillory in the 18th century. (fn. 307) A scold's bridle was bought by the Conduit Lands trustees in 1666–7, and one was still in use in 1781. (fn. 308) One kept in the guildhall in 1856 is probably that displayed in the museum there. (fn. 309) A branding iron was available in 1701. (fn. 310)
CITY SEALS, ARMS, INSIGNA, AND PLATE.
The right to use a common seal was granted to the corporation by the charter of 1548. One was designed in 1549, and a drawing of it was made at a heraldic visitation in 1583. It depicted three dismembered bodies with weapons and the profile of a man's head above. Legend, Roman: SIGILLVM COMMVNI BALLIVORVM ET BVRGENSIVM DE LICHFELD 1549. (fn. 311) The iconography refers to the legend of a massacre of Christians at Lichfield in the Roman period or later, (fn. 312) and its choice by the corporation may have been intended to break with the cult of St. Chad, while at the same time displaying protestant zeal. (fn. 313) The seal was remodelled when the corporation was reorganized in 1622. An impression of 1625 also showed three dismembered bodies but with three trees in the background and the man's head in the centre. Legend, Roman: SIGILLVM COMMVNI BALLIVORVM ET BVRGENSIVM CIVITATIS LYCHFELD. (fn. 314) A new matrix, 23/8 in. in diameter, was made in 1688; it added a banner and a crown to the design and omitted the man's head. Legend, Roman: SIGILLVM COMMVNE CIVITATIS DE LICHFEILD ANNO DOMINI 1688. (fn. 315) A wafer matrix with the same device and legend was used by the city council in the late 1980s.
The city arms in 1610 represented the three dismembered bodies, one of them wearing a crown, with trees behind. (fn. 316) In the 18th century the design retained the bodies but altered the background to a hill surmounted by trees, a tower (or castle) flying a pennon, and the cathedral with a pennon flying from each of its three spires. (fn. 317) In addition to the pictorial design, a heraldic device of chevrons on a checky field was also used as arms by the late 17th century; it was authorized in 1950 by the College of Arms together with two supporters, St. Chad on the right side and a robed master of St. Mary's guild on the left, and a crest above. (fn. 318)
Gilt or silver maces to be carried before the bailiffs by serjeants-at-arms were authorized by the charter of 1622. Described in 1634 as black staves tipped with silver, (fn. 319) the maces were apparently lost or removed during the Commonwealth. Two maces were presumably made at the time of the 1664 charter, but only one survives. The other was missing in 1690 when the corporation, concerned that 'the grandeur of the city' was imparied by the possession of only one mace, decided to have another one made. An order was placed with Peter (later Sir Peter) Floyer of London, who was also to regild the existing mace; he was paid £55 19s. for both jobs in 1690. (fn. 320)
The churchwardens of St. Mary's, the civic church, provided a sword for the bailiffs' seat in church in 1657–8. It was known as the church sword in 1690–1, and the maces were placed on either side of it when the bailiffs attended services. In 1868 the mayor, Rowland Crosskey, an ironmonger by trade, gave a new sword, still used in the late 1980s. (fn. 321)
When the corporation was reconstituted in 1686 under a mayor, he was allowed to have a sword carried before him, and one was given by the recorder, Lord Dartmouth. (fn. 322)
A silver drinking bowl with a cover, made in 1666, was presented by Elias Ashmole, a native of Lichfield, in 1667. (fn. 323) The bowl has three roundels, each depicting a dismembered body. A silver bowl and two silver cups with covers were given in 1900 by the sons of a former mayor, H. H. Hewitt (d. 1893). (fn. 324) The bowls and the cups were displayed in St. Mary's Centre in the late 1980s along with the 1686 sword and 1690 mace. The 1664 mace is kept in the guildhall.
A mayor's badge and chain were presented in 1873 by Richard Dyott of Freeford, the city's M.P. The intention was to provide regalia for the mayor to wear at a reception held at the guildhall for the shah of Persia. The badge is a painting on porcelain of the city's pictorial arms used in the 18th century. A matching badge and chain for the mayoress was presented in 1935 by the wife of Thomas Moseley, for whom it had been made during her husband's term of office in 1934. A sheriff's badge and chain, showing the city's heraldic arms, was presented by S L Seckham in 1895. A matching badge and chain for the sheriff's lady was presented in 1935 by Harold Graham, then sheriff. (fn. 325)
The mayor wore a ceremonial gown by 1851. (fn. 326) The custom was evidently abandoned but was revived in 1913 when Robert Bridgeman, on becoming mayor that year, provided a scarlet gown. (fn. 327) The sheriff has worn a gown since 1899. (fn. 328) In 1902 the mayor and sheriff were provided with cocked hats. (fn. 329)