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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): COL/CC/PLC

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1837-2002

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 14.9 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The concept of the Court of Common Council grew from the ancient custom of the Folkmoot, when the assent of the citizens to important acts was obtained. This custom was continued by the Mayor who consulted the Commons several times during the 13th century. From 1376 the assembly began to meet regularly and was referred to as the Common Council. It was decided that the Council should be made up of persons elected from each Ward. By 1384 a permanent Common Council chosen by the citizens was established for all time. The Council assumed legislative functions and adopted financial powers, confirmed by Charters of 1377 and 1383. The Council has often used these powers to amend the civic constitution, regulate the election of Lord Mayor and other officials, and amend the functions of the City courts. The Council was judged so successful in the conduct of its duties that it was the only Corporation unreformed by Parliament following the Municipal Corporations Commission report of 1837, while the Corporation Inquiry Commission of 1854 suggested only minor reforms. The work of the Council is conducted by a number of committees, while the whole Council has the right to approve policy, confirm major decisions and sanction expenditure. The committees handle many aspects of the running of the City including land and estates, finance and valuation, open spaces, street improvement and town planning, public health, police, Port of London, civil defence, airports, libraries, markets, education, and law. The Town Clerk has held responsibility for recording the minutes of the Council and its committees since 1274.

The preservation of peace in the City was originally entrusted to ward constables, beadles and watchmen, assisted in the 17th and 18th centuries by extra constables appointed by the Common Council. The City of London Police Act of August 1839 established a regular police force in the City. A Commissioner of Police appointed by the Court of Common Council was given responsibility for the day-to-day running of the force, although his orders and regulations required the approval of the Home Secretary and Court of Aldermen, who could also dismiss him. The Police Committee of the Court of Common Council was given responsibility for supplying and equipping the force.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Police Committee, Court of Common Council, including minute books, 1839-2002 (closed after 1978); minutes of evidence before the 'Select Police Committee of the Common Council' regarding the conduct of the Commissioner of Police, 1847; minutes of evidence regarding a complaint against the City Police Surgeon, 1863-1864; committee papers, 1837-1957; subject files, 1847-1903 and 1921-1961, including papers relating to the Police Hospital, uniforms, secondments, pay, the widow's fund, regulations, correspondence, financial accounts, job applications, petitions, expenses, the Police Rate and the Ward Rate.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright City of London.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

For Corporation of London records relating to the police see: CLA/048: City of London Police, COL/CA/PLA: Court of Aldermen Police Committee, COL/CC/PLC: Court of Common Council Police Committee, COL/CC/SPO: Court of Common Council Special Police Committee, COL/CC/WPC: Watch and Police Committee, COL/CC/WPD: Court of Common Council Day Police Committee, COL/CC/WPS: Court of Common Council Special Day Police and Nightly Watch Committee, COL/PL for maps showing police jurisdiction in London, COL/SVD/PL and COL/PLD/PL for plans of police stations. See also COL/CHD/RT for financial information, COL/AC for historical information, CLA/041 for police reports, COL/CT for charities and COL/CC for byelaws.

Publication note:



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: February 2009

Police management | Police | Law enforcement | Social control, formal | Sociology
Police personnel | Emergency services personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People

Personal names

Corporate names
Police Committee | Court of Common Council | Corporation of London