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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): COL/CHD/CM

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1517-1988

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 76.3 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 Chamber accounts, including cashier's general office cash books, 1662-1724 and 1784-1857; general office cash books, 1727-1906 (cash books 1688- 727 were destroyed by a fire in the Chamber on 7 Feb 1786); general cash book receipts, 1906-1971; general cash book payments, 1906- 971; City estate cash books, 1928-1946; acquittance books, 1660-1917; periodical charges books, 1918-1937; salaries and pensions books, 1919-1936; acquittance cash books, 1902-1942; account of expenditure and the state of the Chamber, 1660-1670; account of 'the several extraordinary disbursements out of the Chamber's Stock from 1637 to 1667 whereby it may be conjectured how the Chamber came into debt', listing expenses incurred during the Civil War for fortifications, trained bands, ships and men, restoration of Charters, diamonds to the Queen, entertainment of Charles I, Lords and Commons, and Charles II; account of extraordinary disbursements made out of the Chamber of London, 1625-1650; memoranda of payments made out of the Chamber by note of land, 1671-1712; account of moneys ordered to be paid by the Court of Aldermen, Oct 1717-May 1722; statements of disbursements in the nature of salaries, gratuities, pensions and other allowances to officers of the Corporation, 1791-1829; statement of the expenses and allowances of the several Committees of the Corporation and Commissioners of Sewers, 1791-1829; statements of payments made to the Lord Mayor and of expenses of the Mansion House 1820-1829; vouchers and bills for work done by smiths, founders, masons, bricklayers, plumbers, glaziers, joiners, paviors, remembrancers, comptrollers, water bailiffs, hall keepers, printers and stationers, 1670-1672; reports and other papers regarding audits, 1674-1889; book of fines, 1517-1628; ward expenses, 1933-1961; monthly balances (securities), 1935-1965; monthly balances (cash), 1932-1979; papers relating to bonds issued under the Corporation of London (Bridges) Act, 1928-1973; fees and annuities, 1649-1670; method of keeping accounts, 1650?; security papers, 1940-1979; historical notes and articles, 1948-1985; City lands grant books, 1853-1972 and City lands assignment books, 1843-1902; markets grant books, 1877-1972; rates grant books, 1949-1971; annual accounts, including audited accounts, 1942-1988; ledgers for various accounts including poor rates, general rates, war damage payments, Epping Forest, Gresham trust, markets, West Ham park, Barbican, London Bridge, tithes and various committees and courts; letter books, 1847-1911; profit and loss ledgers and cash books, 1866-1978 and various other administrative and financial papers.


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:

See COL/CA for Court of Aldermen, CLA/006 for Commissioners of Sewers, COL/MH/MSH for Mansion House, CLA/008 for City Lands Estates, CLA/077 for Epping Forest, CLA/062 for the Gresham Trust, COL/CC/WHP for West Ham Park, CLA/072 for the Barbican and CLA/022 for London Bridge.

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

English Civil Wars (1642-1651) | Civil wars (events) | Wars (events)
Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Municipal government | Local government | Public administration | Government

Personal names
Charles I | 1600-1649 | King of Great Britain and Ireland
Charles II | 1630-1685 | King of Great Britain and Ireland

Corporate names
City Chamberlain | Corporation of London
City Lands Committee | Corporation of London x City Lands and Bridge House Estates Committee
Court of Aldermen | Corporation of London
Court of Commissioners of Sewers | Corporation of London x Public Health Department

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Epping Forest | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
West Ham | Essex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe