Sunday, 9 February 2014

The History of our Ward is Fascinating.

Printed and promoted by Evan Philip Millner of 19b Petticoat Tower, Petticoat Square, City of London E1 7EF
Portsoken Ward was sold to the City of London during the reign of Elizabeth the First.

It has its own charters, unlike any other ward in the City of London, as it was originally an independent borough, and is mentioned separately in various of the City's Charters.

This excerpt is from Gurdon, "The History of the High Court of Parliament", pg230.


What was the original 'constitution' of Portsoken, before it became part of the City?
Ballard - British Borough Charters:













Madox, Firma Burgi, pg 30


What we now call the ward-mote is the surviving remnant of this ancient constitution.



4 Feb 1531 - The Soke was surrendered to King Henry VIII by Nicholas Hancock, Alderman and last Prior of Holy Trinity.
Did this terminate the franchise? (Jacon and Tomlins, Law Dictionary, 1809, vide 'Franchise".
The Franchise of the Cnighten Gild had been created 'de novo'. it did not become extinct when it was surrendered to the King. As we can see, it was subsequently gifted to Sir Thomas Audley, who became Alderman.




Henry gave it to Sir Thomas Audley.


While most of the City’s attempts to undermine the liberties’ franchises were
fruitless, it met with notable success in the precinct of Christ Church (or Holy Trinity
Priory) at Aldgate. In February 1532 Holy Trinity became the first London religious
house to meet its end under Henry VIII.107 For centuries Holy Trinity’s prior had been ex
officio alderman of the City’s Portsoken Ward.108 When the site passed to Lord Chancellor
Thomas Audley in April 1534, the City encountered the stubbornness of post-monastic
owners for the first time. Audley claimed the rights of the prior both within the precinct
and in the civic government.
 The aldermen finally paid Audley two hundred marks in
1537 to relinquish his claim to the aldermanship.
 After Audley’s 1544 death, the precinct passed to his daughter Margaret, who in 1558 married Thomas Howard, fourth duke of Norfolk.
 Norfolk made the precinct his London home for a period, from which it earned a third name, Duke’s Place. Norfolk also purchased the London Charterhouse from Lord North in 1565 and renamed it Howard House.

 After Norfolk’s conviction for treason in 1572, his sons were allowed to keep much of the
estate. Philip (later earl of Arundel) took Howard House while his brother Thomas (later
earl of Suffolk) inherited Duke’s Place. Philip was convicted of treason and attainted in
April 1589, but Thomas survived to become ‘one of the most extravagant courtiers at
the extravagant Jacobean court.’1
 In January 1586 several aldermen met with him ‘towchinge the sale of Christe Churche within Allgate’,which finally occurred in July 1592. Afterwards, the Corporation of London governed Duke’s Place as landlord and as holder of the precincts’ franchises, but it had to wait until 1608 for its jurisdiction there
to be regularised. (5 CLRO Let Bk AB, fo 106)

Audley died April 30 1554, and his daughter Margaret inherited the Soke, which passed to her husband,  Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

He was beheaded June 2, 15th Elizabeth.

His eldest son, Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, inherited the Soke.

On July 21st, 34th Elizabeth, he sold the Soke (Franchise) to the Mayor, Commonality and Citizens of London.

On the question of whether any liberties remain for Citizens of London, see McBain,2013, International Law Research, Volume 2, number 1, 2013. The answer is, essentially, "no".




Items collected that throw light on wardmote powers:

The Power of Wardmote to Appoint Committees:

The wardmote appears to have had the power to appoint a committee, for carrying out a particular function within the ward. Here is an example from Farringdon Without, from 1789:


Here is another, explicit request that committees be appointed at the wardmote, dated 1803: These committees were to comprise common councilmen and inhabitants, jointly.

The two excerpts below are from an article by Toulmin Smith, mid 1800'


Note:  From the article quoted above, there appear to be Acts of Common Council that allow the occupiers to requisition the wardmote to meet.


Here is yet another reference to a local ward based committee involved in local governance of the ward (1771)

Yet another precedent for a wardmote to appoint a committee, is found in the 1792 wardmote of Cripplegate Without.


A more recent example comes from the Wardmote of Farringdon Without, 1859, where a committee appointed by the wardmote in the previous year delivered its findings to the wardmote:

Ward Precincts:

Municipal Ward Precincts have administrative function in the ward.

All the wards of the City are divided into administrative areas, which are known as Precincts. These are small areas, and among other things, the residents of each precinct originally elected the men of the Wardmote Inquest every year, according to their ancient Custom. This was a local government committee that investigated nuisances and annoyances in the ward, and reported to the Court of Wardmote.

The names of our Precinct areas are: 
The Barrs Precinct, (The cluster of buildings south of Aldgate High street, up to the edge of the Guinness Estate, comprises this precinct)
Covent Garden Precinct, (Modern Middlesex Street Estate is located here)
 High Street Precinct, (The Central traffic island containing the church, tube station, etc is located here)
 Hounsditch Precinct, (John Cass School is all that remains of this precinct)
and Tower Hill Precinct. (Mansell Street Estate is located here)

Each Precinct can have a committee for local governance of the Ward, headed up by a Common Councilman.

 Due to adjustments in the Ward Boundaries, some of these Precincts no longer fall inside the Ward. Professor Derek Keene, the Leverhulme Professor at the Centre for Metropolitan history, has reconstructed the boundaries of the precincts, using old tax records.

These ward precinct meetings were more regular occurences than the annual warmote: They could, apparently, directly petition Common Council, as we see from the Court of Common Council minutes from December 4 1794:

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