Town Clerk of London
The Town Clerk of London is an important position that has existed since the 13th century within the City of London, England. Originally the position was to take the minutes of London council meetings, but over the years the holder has gathered responsibility which requires staff and executive powers.
The Town Clerk of London has held responsibility for recording the minutes of the Council of the City of London and its committees since 1274. But historically, the Town Clerk of London's elected position was also one of a legal advisor and recorder of city law. The Town Clerk has worked out of the Guildhall, London building since 1411. Today the Guildhall is still used for official functions.
The elected City of London Council assumed legislative functions and adopted financial powers as confirmed by Charters of 1377 and 1383 and as written by the Town Clerk of London. The Council, with the Town Clerk, has amended the civic constitution, regulated the election of Lord Mayor and other officials, and amended the functions of the City of London courts via writs.
This was successful, leading to the similar expansion of the City of London courts who had jurisdiction outside of London as a type of County Court. This gradually took over from the now obsolete circuit criminal court called the Assize Court. The format strongly influenced the development of the High Court of Chancery and Lord Chancellor's jurisdiction based in Westminster.
During the early 17th century, before and after the 1666 Great Fire of London the Town Clerk's function began to evolve into more complex and multiple positions as need and growth dictated. The more modern era of the Town Clerk as an executive had begun requiring more assistants and employees.
Today the Lord Mayor of the City of London is assisted in the daily operation of the city by three leading personnel whose titles are the Town Clerk and Chief Executive, the Chamberlain and the Remembrancer.
Town Clerk and Chief Executive
By 2009 the actual title of Town Clerk has resolved into its combined Town Clerk and Chief Executive type position which is much more than a recorder of minutes of the city council.
Sample duties include:
- Efficient management and execution of City functions.
- Primary advisor on policy and resources.
- Servicing meetings of the Court of Common Council and designated committees.
- Servicing meetings of the Court of Alderman and designated committees.
- Investigating complaints against the City.
- Electoral Registration Officer.
- Overseer of public relations.
- Overseer of economic development.
- Overseer of human resources.
The noted Town Clerk of London
John Carpenter was one of the most famous of London's town clerks, and was the author of the first book of English Common Law called "Liber Albus" (the White Book). The statue of John Carpenter, now residing within the City of London School, shows him holding this book. John Carpenter (1372–1442) also in 1442 bequeathed land to the Corporation of London intended to fund the maintenance and education of four boys born within the City, who would be called 'Carpenter's children'. This later became the City of London School.
Town Clerks of London
List of the known Town Clerks of London from 1274 to 2009, covering 735 years.
- Years served Name, notes
- ..... 1274-1306 ..... Ralph Crepyn, alias 'Ralph de Alegate', served as "clericus" or "common clerk" of the city with an absence due to serious injury and Royal inquest from 1285 to 1286 due to the murder of his assailant.
- ..... 1284-1286 ..... John de Bauquell, aka Batequell, Banquell & Bankwell. He served from 21 Nov 1284 to 1286 in absence of Ralph Crepyn.
- ..... 1307-???? ..... William [last name unreadable], aka "clerk de la Gyalle."
- ..... 1311-1335 ..... Hugh de Waltham, first known elected Clerk on 20 November 1311.
- ..... 1335-1335 ..... Roger de Depham, elected on 25 Jan 1335 until about August 1335. Second shortest term in office.
- ..... 1335-1354 ..... John de Bourne, elected 29 August 1335.
- ..... 1364?-??? ..... John Lucas
- ..... 1368-1375 ..... Henry de Padingstone, elected 7 September 1368.
- ..... 1375-1399? ..... Henry Perot, elected 10 August 1375.
- ..... 1399?-1417 ..... John Marchaunt, first known to be granted a dwelling and pension - 10 pounds per annum - upon retirement.
- ..... 1417-1438 ..... John Carpenter, elected 20 April 1417, Member of Parliament (MP) 1425,1437-1439.
- ..... 1438-1446? ..... Richard Barnett, elected 4 October 1438.
- ..... 1446-1461 ..... Roger Spicer, alias Tonge, elected 18 November 1446. First known to be dismissed from his office for offences and rebellions against King Edward IV on 5 August 1461.
- ..... 1461-1490 ..... William Dunthorn, elected 2 October 1461.
- ..... 1490-1510 ..... Nicholas Pakenham, elected 9 March 1490.
- ..... 1510-1514 ..... Walter Stubbe, elected 16 July 1510.
- ..... 1514-1533 ..... William Paver, elected 20 June 1514. First known to have committed suicide while in office.
- ..... 1533-1540 ..... Thomas Ryshton, aka Rysshton, admitted 13 May 1533, granted annual pension and livery.
- ..... 1540-1570 ..... William Blackwell, admitted 10 July 1540.
- ..... 1570-1574 ..... Anthony Stapleton, admitted 24 July 1570.
- ..... 1574-1613 ..... William Sebright, admitted 25 May 1574. First known to have a deputy (Richard Langley) admitted to assist in office.
- ..... 1613-1642 ..... John Weld, admitted 27 April 1613. His deputy was Robert Michell. He was later Knighted for service to the Crown.
- ..... 1642-1649 ..... Robert Michell, succeeded to office 15 September 1642 and confirmed 27 October 1642. First Deputy to assume office when required.
- ..... 1649-1660 ..... John Sadler, elected 3 July 1649, first known to be suspended from office on 4 September 1660, then first to have suspension lifted on 6 September 1660. He is the first known to be declared incapable of continued service on 18 September 1660 and retired for cause.
- ..... 1660-1666 ..... Sir John Weld, admitted 21 September 1660, first to serve to serve two separate terms of office. His deputy (William Avery) was to succeed him on his death per contract.
- ..... 1666-1672 ..... William Avery, admitted 12 November 1666.
- ..... 1672-1690 ..... William Wagstaffe, elected 9 February 1672.
- ..... 1690-1700 ..... John Goodfellow, elected 17 February 1690/1691.
- ..... 1700-1705 ..... Henry Ashurst, elected 2 July 1700.
- ..... 1705-1717 ..... James Gibson, elected 16 November 1705.
- ..... 1717-1724 ..... Randolph Stracey, elected 9 May 1717.
- ..... 1724-1737 ..... Thomas Jackson, elected 19 March 1723/1724.
- ..... 1737-1757 ..... Miles Man, first noted "Clerk" to the Town Clerk to succeed Town Clerk upon death, he was then elected 13 July 1337.
- ..... 1757-1774 ..... James Hodges, elected 10 May 1757. Knighted c. 1760.
- ..... 1774-1801 ..... William Rix, first known Clerk to the Town Clerk to officiate during vacancy of illness of Town Clerk. He was then elected 25 November 1774.
- ..... 1801-1801 ..... Edward Boxley, former "principal clerk" appointed to fill in during vacancy on 2 September 1801 to 15 December 1801. Shortest term in office.
- ..... 1801-1825 ..... Henry Woodthorpe, Sr., elected 15 December 1801. First to have his son (Henry Woodthorpe, Jr.) to be his "principal assistant" upon election then to be his appointed deputy on 27 February 1818.
- ..... 1825-1842 ..... Henry Woodthorpe, Jr., elected 6 October 1825, the first son to succeed his father in office. "The Remembrancer" appointed to officiate during vacancy of Town Clerk.
- ..... 1842-1859 ..... Henry Alworth Merewether, elected 23 June 1842.
- ..... 1859-1873 ..... Frederick Woodthorpe, elected 10 February 1859. Related to Henry Woodthorpe, Sr. & Jr., but details not given.
- ..... 1873-1902 ..... Sir John Braddick Monckton, elected 17 July 1873. Knighted 1880. The "Remembrancer" appointed to officiate during vacancy of Town Clerk.
- ..... 1902-1935 ..... Sir James Bell, elected 1 May 1902 with effect from 1 June 1902. Knighted 1911.
- ..... 1935-1946 ..... Alfred Thomas Roach, elected 13 June 1935. The "Comptroller and City Solicitor" (Anthony Frederick Ingham Pickford) appointed to officiate during vacancy of Town Clerk from November 1946.
- ..... 1946-1953 ..... Anthony Frederick Ingham Pickford, elected 27 February 1947 with effect from 28 November 1946. Knighted 1949.
- ..... 1954-1974 ..... Edward Henry Nichols, elected 22 October 1953 with effect from 1 January 1954. Knighted June 1982.
- ..... 1974-1982 ..... Stanley James Clayton, elected with effect 1 April 1974.
- ..... 1982-1991 ..... Geoffrey William Rowley, elected with effect 2 September 1982.
- ..... 1991-1995 ..... Samuel Jones elected with effect 23 May 1991.
- ..... 1996-1999 ..... Bernard Peter Harty, no election date given.
- ..... 1999-2003 ..... Tom Christopher Simmons, no election date given. Former Deputy Town Clerk.
- ..... 2003-2012 ..... Chris Duffield, no election date given.
- ..... 2012-current ... John Barradell, no election date given. Formerly served Brighton & Hove City Council. Formerly Deputy Chief Executive of Westminster City Council.
- Court of Common Council: Administrative/Biographical history. See: http://www.aim25.ac.uk/cgi-bin/vcdf/detail?coll_id=11567&inst_id=118&nv1=search&nv2=
- Guildhall, City of London - See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guildhall,_London#1441-present
- Court of Common Council: Administrative/Biographical history.
- Leading personnel page at: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Council_departments/Leading+personnel.htm -
- City of London Corporation - See: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Council_departments/
- City of London - Leading personnel - http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Council_departments/Leading+personnel.htm#townclerk
- Medieval English common law: foundations for 21st century legal systems. See: English Common Law#Medieval English common law: foundations for 21st century legal systems
- Riley, Henry T., and John Carpenter, eds. Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis; Liber Albus, Liber Custumarum, Et Liber Horn. 3 Vols. in 4. Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores (Rolls Series), 12. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859-1862. City of London (England), Henry T. Riley, and John Carpenter. Munimenta Gildhallæ Londoniensis: Liber albus, Liber custumarum, et Liber Horn. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859.
- Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, "The Town Clerk" - Pages 71-74, from the London Metropolitan Archieves, City of London, 40 Northampton Road, London EC 1R 0HB - www.cityoflondon.gov.uk - www.lma.gov.uk - additional information supplied by the Director of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Gallery, David Bradbury, BA, MA, DipLib, MCLIP.
- City of London website
- City of London School web site
- City of London Corporation - Town Clerk & Chief Executive picture at: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Council_departments/
- Guildhall - http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Leisure_and_culture/Local_history_and_heritage/Buildings_within_the_City/guildhall.htm City of London Corporation homepage on the Guildhall.