Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ward Meeting Resolutions in the City of London

This page will be updated as more information on the annual ward meetings is located:

I believe it is useful to see how our fellow wards do business,and how they interact with the Common Council.

Ward Meeting Resolutions 2011

Minutes of all ward meetings, City of London 2011

Bassisshaw Ward minutes of annual meeting 2012

Ward Meeting Resolutions 2012
Grand Court of Wardmote 2012

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Form of Ward Meetings - an investigation.

What kind of resolutions were put at Ward Meetings? Here is a selection:

As the Ward Meetings and Wardmotes were invariably published, we have good records: Almost every ward meeting I have seen, up until as recently as 1891, ends with a resolution along these lines:
"That these resolutions be signed by the Chairman, and published in [named paper]."

Thanks to this, we have a wonderful repository of highly instructive material.

A vote of thanks was given for convening the meeting in response to its being requisitioned.
"That the thanks of this meeting is given to the Chairman for his ready compliance with the requisition of this ward, and for his impartial conduct at this meeting".

Here is a requisition notice from 1832:
On Monday, a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Vintry Ward took place at Cutlers' Hall, in consequence of a Requisition, signed by the most wealthy and influential gentlemen of the Ward. 

December 27, 1814 Ward of Farringdon Without
"At a numerous and respectable Meeting of the inhabitants of this ward, pursuant to a requisition, "to consider the propriety of petitioning Parliament against the continuance or the renewal of that partial, oppressive and inquisitorial tax upon income, commonly called the property tax"
How many people are needed to requisition a meeting of a ward common council meeting (wardmote)?
One assumes, the same number as required to requisition the Court of Common Council at Guildhall.
John William Abbott, 'A History of London'.

It was usually customary to thank the chair.
"That the thanks of this Wardmote/ Ward Meeting be given to Alderman X / the chairman for his impartial conduct of the business of the day."

It was customary to thank the owner of the premises where the meeting was held:
"That the thanks of this meeting be given to So-and-so, for his ready compliance in allowing the use of these premises to the inhabitants of the Ward."

The Ward of Farringdon-Without had six large Precincts. Each precinct was virtually an autonomous sub-ward: Each Precinct had its own Precinct-Clerk. Four precincts had their own precinct-beadles. Five precincts had their own inquest juries, with 12 to 15 people on each jury. There was one wardmote, and one ward inquest,which made formal presentments, and these met monthly right up to the mid 1800s.  Each precinct had its own precinct inquest, which perambulated the precinct weekly. Indeed, one of the precincts even had sub-precincts. All of these division were customary.

In 1799 there is a curious resolution from Farringdon-Without
The content of the resolution from the wardmote is not so interesting: What is odd, is the reference to
"The Common Council of each Precinct".
In other words, the ward precinct committee (presumably?) is here referred to a Common Council.

Farringdon Without. At a meeting of the alderman and common council of this ward, at the inquest room in Saint Andrew's church-yard, on Wednesday, December 11, 1799: ... Resolved, that the common council of each precinct do give such directions to the watch and constables to attend their duty, in order to clear the streets of prostitutes.

What is clear from the wide variations across the City from ward to ward, in the way the local government was set up in each ward, is that these were matters that lay in the power of the inhabitants to dispose of as they saw fit - and not for directives from Common Council.

Thus I maintain that the residents of our ward, if they wish, are free to set up once again representative committees within the ward for local self government.

Minutes of a Ward Meeting from Dowgate 1792

It is instructive to look at how Ward Business was conducted in previous times. I have found a large amount of material related to Ward Meetings,right through to 1900. More recent examples can also be found.

The historical examples are helpful: they tell us things like
1. The usual size of a quorum for a committee appointed at a Ward Meeting. (usually, the working is "at least three are empowered to act"
2. The wording of the Notice of Meeting.
3. The wording of resolutions.
4. That resolutions may be published.
Here is an example from 1792,  Dowgate Ward:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Investigations into the residual functions and powers of the Court of Wardmote

There is no one place to look, to find out the various powers that yet reside in the Court of Wardmote.

Some aspects of the wardmote are covered by the City of London Police Act

Power of a Ward Meeting to resolve that the proceedings be publicised:
I had thought that this power had been removed in the mid 1880's, but I see it in force in a resolution dated 1891 from Castle Baynard Ward,
"The proceedings of the meeting were ordered to be advertised in the 'City Press'"
That was for a general Ward Meeting.
This appointed a committee, which in turn appointed sub-committees.

At the following wardmote in Castle Baynard 1891, there was also a resolution put that the proceedings of the wardmote were ordered to be advertised in the 'City Press'.

I presume that was some kind of fore-runner to our modern "City A.M."
Here is the source document containing the full wording of the resolution

An interesting Wardmote Resolution

An interesting wardmote resolution, that relates to the constitution of the City of London, was passed by a Court of Wardmote in the Ward of Farringdon Without on December 14th 1849:

"That the Corporation of the City of London embraces, according to law and ancient right, all the commonality of the said City who have been occupiers within the said City for the space of a year and a day; and it is the duty of all the said commonality to take part in all that relates to the welfare of the said City, and to discharge actively,of and within themselves, the functions which belong to them as members of that Corporation."

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ward Policing in Portsoken

As there have been a number of problems in the Ward of Portsoken recently, what with rough sleepers, attempts at entry into residential property, break-ins into parking garages, and a spate of broken shed doors.

Policing of the ward has become an issue.

Residents might be interested to know that they can apparently leave direct feedback on ward-based police matters at the


This is what the page looks like: please visit the link above to complete the feedback form:

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Of Citizens and Freemen

While nowadays any freeman of the City of London who is on a ward list can stand for election in any ward, an important point has to be considered:

Is a freeman automatically a FULL CITIZEN of this great City of ours?

The answer is, in legal terms, no, he or she is not, in a complete sense, a full citizen.

A Citizen also needs to be ordinarily a resident inhabitant of the City.

The Court of Common Council is filled with Freemen. Only a small minority are resident inhabitants - full citizens.

 We here live in a residential ward, where we have three bona fide citizens of the City standing for election.

I say to the residents of Portsoken: the Common Council already has enough freemen non-resident councilmen. Whatever you do in this election, I urge you to vote for a Citizen, not someone foreign to the ward, who just happens to have possession of the freedom of London.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Ward Committees - Establishing Precedent

It apparently lies within the power of the Court of Wardmote to appoint sub-committees. This matter is currently being investigated.

Historically, our ward had 5 such permanently sitting sub-committees, called Ward Precinct Committees.

It just so happens that the two main population centres in the ward fall conveniently into two of these precincts: The precincts themselves were never abolished, and the committees simply stopped being appointed.

For Portsoken Ward, the following two precincts are of interest:

Covent Garden Precinct - Middlesex Street
Tower Hill Precinct  - Mansell Street.

Both of these precincts are currently served by committees, which represent the inhabitants.
I propose that these committees be formally recognised by the court of wardmote as being the representative precinct committees for the ward.

I have found evidence of wardmotes appointing subcommittees right up until the late 1800's (Which was when most wardmotes in the City became dormant, apart from serving as an election court - even wardmote resolutions fell out of use, until revived in our ward in 2001). There may be examples from more recent times, but I have not yet dug one out of the records - what I have listed here is merely a selection of references to this apparent power of the wardmote that I have found using Google Books - more must be readily accessible, and of course,we have the existence of the Ward Precinct Committees.
A description of what happened to them is found in detail in Webb, Sidney, 'English Local Government', volume 2. In the chapter that discusses the Ward Precinct Committees,he shows that the power to appoint these committees,or let them slip into disuse, was a power of the wardmote. Sometime after the 1830s the wardmotes stopped appointing these committees, or amalgamated them into general ward-wide committees.
However, the power of the wardmote to appoint committees seems clear.
Here is a link to the English Local Government. The relevant section on Ward Precincts is found on page 586.

Regarding wardmote committees: one other thing to consider - the City Police Act (Clause 85) refers to the expenses of holding 'wardmotes or other ward meetings or for other local purposes connected therewith'. It is not unreasonable to assume that this refers to the precinct meetings and other ward committee meetings.

Here is a reference to a committee appointed at a wardmote/ward meeting from Castle Baynard Ward, 1891:
This link is the source document containing the full wording of the resolution, and the minutes of the subsequent committee meetings and sub-committee meetings that resulted from this resolution.

Here is the actual resolution passed at that Wardmote: "and that a committee be formed to give effect to this resolution"

Here is a reference to the Portsoken Wardmote appointing a sub-committee as recently as 1862

"On Wednesday a respectably attended wardmote of the inhabitants residing in the ward of Portsoken was held.for the purpose of taking into consideration what steps should be adopted with reference to the munificent gift of George Peabody, Esq. After a vote of thanks to Mr Peabody, Mr Good proposed the following resolution: "That this meeting,representing as it does one of the poorest districts of London, desires to express its opinion that the improvement of the dwellings of the labouring classes is the great necessity of the day, and likely topromote the happiness and well-being of the metropolis. The motion was seconded and carried,  and a committee was appointed to confer with the gentleman appointed to administer the funds"
Link to the source: The Illustrated Times

Here is another example from 1859, from the Ward of Farringdon-Without:

This resolution of the Wardmote is interesting,as it contains two elements:
1. The appointment of the committee for a specific purpose.
2. The report back to the wardmote of the committee.
Here is a link to the full source:  'Proceedings at a Public Meeting etc'  Appendix C.

Another precedent for the appointment of a committee at Wardmote can be found from Farringdon Within.(1740)
Here is a link to the full source

Here is another precedent, from 1789, again from Farringdon-Without:

Here is a link to the full document

Here is a reference to Ward Committees from 1803:

Here is Joshua Toulmin Smith on the Constitutional position of the Wardmote committees:

The following minutes from a wardmote from 1789,relating to the committee mentioned above, that shows in more detail how a wardmote committee was set up with resolutions of the wardmote.: (Cripplegate Ward)
Link to the full source online

Although not in the City, one of the Cinque Ports , Faversham, had a wardmote that appointed a general purposes committee annually. See item 36, page pg 965, "Report of the Commisioners etc"