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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): COL/CHD/OA

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1545-1983

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 20.3 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Chamber of a city is the place where the funds of the corporation are kept and where moneys due are received - a kind of treasury. The Chamber is run by the Chamberlain, an officer who receives the rents and revenues owed to the corporation. The origin of the Chamber of London is obscure, but as soon as the citizens were sufficiently united to hold lands and tenements in common an officer must have been appointed to collect rents and disburse income for public welfare. The Chamber is first mentioned in 1275 and in the following year Stephen de Mundene is named as City Chamberlain. At first the Chamberlain was chosen by the Mayor and Aldermen, but by 1319 elections were introduced and the officer was chosen by the liverymen in Common Hall.

The Chamberlain's duties combined municipal finance with public banking. His main duty was as treasurer or banker of the City of London with custody of the monies of the Corporation, called the City's Cash, and other funds. Former Chamberlains were able to keep for themselves profits derived from interest on the cash! The Chamberlain also collects the rents of all Corporation properties and makes payments on behalf of the Corporation including salaries and pensions. He also invests money, is responsible for insurance, the preparation of tax returns and production of reports and statistics.

Additionally, the Chamberlain was the Accountant General of the Court of Orphans (see CLA/002) and held all money belonging to the orphans on which he allowed interest. For this purpose the Chamberlain held a Common Seal, first mentioned in 1396. He was also the occasional collector of taxes for the London area, particularly those granted to the City by the monarchy in return for loans. The Coal Duty for reconstruction of public buildings after the Great Fire was paid into the Chamber, as was any money borrowed by the City. The Chamberlain was also treasurer of any charitable funds organised by the City.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Chamberlain's Department relating to the Orphan's Fund, 1545-1983, including Finding Money account books, recording money paid to persons for the maintenance of orphans in their care, 1643-1678; Finding Acquittance books containing receipts for Finding Money paid out, 1668-1694; account book of dates of deposits of money in the Chamber, 1656-1677; casting books in which interest due to orphans was calculated, 1660-1699; Orphan's Journals, entries of receipts of money for the use of orphans, 1661-1692; Orphan's Ledgers, entries of money received for the benefit of orphans and money paid out to them, 1627-1683; Orphan's Fund cash books, 1694-1832; accounts ledgers, 1694, showing all money owed to orphans at the time of the Orphan's Act of 1694 [when the City of London suffered a financial collapse and was not able to pay orphans what they were owed]; accounts ledgers containing receipts and payments to the Orphan's Fund, 1694-1762; Grand Ledger of orphans, 1694-1817, with indexes; ledger of orphans holding orphanage stock, 1732-1788; orphan's journals, 1729-1817; journals of the accounts of Orphan's Fund creditors, 1694-1729; payments accounts books, 1694-1790; abstract of the produce and expenditure of the duties payable to the Orphan's Fund and of the surplus of the Fund, 1694-1832; statements of produce and expenditure, 1793-1837; papers and accounts regarding the Act of Common Council for raising 2000 a year from the inhabitants of the City payable to the orphans, 1696-1795; papers relating to Orphan's Fund Stocks including accounts of money received, 1717-1818; Act of Parliament of 1693 (5 and 6 William and Mary) for the relief of the orphans and other creditors of the City with related papers including register of assignments of orphan's stock, 1694-1818; deeds of grant, assignments and Chamberlain's memos, 1700-1810; accounts regarding interest on the Orphan's Fund, including dividends on orphan stock, 1732-1819; receipts on duties and duties posting books, 1694-1834 and accounts of receipts and payments of surpluses, 1793-1853.

Also accounts of the fees paid to Corporation of London Officers for dealing with Orphan Fund matters, 1672-1678; petition by the Chamberlain for an increase of salary for himself and his clerks for their work on the Orphan's Fund, with a history of the Fund, 1821; "The Case of the City of London in reference to Debt to the Orphans and otherwise, how it was incurred and what amount has been repaid", 1691; reports of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Orphan's Fund, 1812, 1822 and 1829; and article on the origin and history of the Orphan's Fund, 1983.


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:

See also CLA/002: Court of Orphans.

Publication note:

See The Court of Orphans by Charles Carlton (Leicester University Press, 1974) for a detailed history of the Court of Orphans.



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

Child welfare | Social welfare
Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Municipal government | Local government | Public administration | Government
Orphans | People by roles | People

Personal names

Corporate names
City Chamberlain | Corporation of London

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe