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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): COL/CC/NGC

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1755-1831

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 0.1 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.

Newgate Prison was founded by King Henry II in 1188 and was originally part of the gatehouse at Newgate. It was enlarged in 1236, rebuilt in 1423 with money donated by Lord Mayor Dick Whittington and burned down and was rebuilt in 1666. In 1399 Henry IV granted custody of the gates of London, with their attached prisons, to the citizens of London. Newgate ceased to be used as a prison in 1877. The building was demolished and the land used for an extension to the Old Bailey, opened in 1902. Newgate was the most notorious of London's prisons. It was reserved for the worst of criminals, most of whom were under the death sentence. It was renowned for overcrowding, lack of air and water, and epidemics of gaol fever in which many prisoners and officials died.

The 'Committee to Inquire into the state of Newgate Gaol and how the same may be enlarged' was succeeded by the 'Committee for Rebuilding Newgate Gaol' in 1767.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Newgate Gaol Committees, Court of Common Council, including minutes, rough minutes and papers of the Committee to enquire into the state of Newgate Gaol and how the same may be enlarged, 1755-1766, and minutes, rough minutes, papers and journals of the Committee for rebuilding Newgate, 1767-1831, including certificates of work done, financial accounts, bills, proposals and letters.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

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 prisons see: CLA/003: Holloway Prison, CLA/028: Wood Street Compter, CLA/029: Giltspur Street Compter, CLA/030: Poultry Compter, CLA/031: Southwark Compter, CLA/032: Prisons and Compters, CLA/033: Ludgate Prison, CLA/034: Whitecross Street Prison, CLA/035: Newgate Prison, COL/CA/PCA: Court of Aldermen Prisons Committee, COL/CC/FNG: Court of Common Council Gaol Expenses and Finance Committee, COL/CC/MIN: Court of Common Council Committees includes material relating to gaols and compters, COL/CC/NGC: Court of Common Council Newgate Gaol Committee, COL/CC/PCC: Court of Common Council Prisons Committee, COL/CC/SPO: Court of Common Council Special Prisons Committee, COL/PL: Plans, including plans of prisons and compters.

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

Building construction | Building operations | Construction engineering
Maintenance | Engineering
Prison administration | Administration | Organisation and management
Prisons | Penal sanctions | Administration of justice
Penal institutions

Personal names

Corporate names
Committee to Inquire into the state of Newgate Gaol and how the same may be enlarged x Committee for Rebuilding Newgate Gaol | Court of Common Council | Corporation of London