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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): COL/CHD/PR
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1606-1976
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 10.4 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 regarding poor relief, including financial accounts of collections for the poor, 1659-1665, 1690-1703, 1776 and 1795; money received towards raising a Regiment of Horse and Dragoons, 1690; papers relating to collections and distributions on the King's Letter, including parish returns, 1690-1829; warrants, signed by the Lord Mayor and Bishop of London, for payment of monies out of the Chamber, 1688 and 1694; receipts of parishes for monies received out of the Chamber, 1726-1742; notice of the opening of a fund for the relief of the poor, 1000 being subscribed by Common Council, 1767; petitions and orders for payment of gifts and pensions to poor people in distress by the Courts of Aldermen and Common Council, 1676-1800?; orders of Poor Law Commissioners for the valuation, assessment and appointment of Guardians for various parishes in the City of London, East London and West London Unions, 1837-1838; report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law and Relief of Distress, 1909; papers relating to the distribution of coal and wood to the poor, 1606-1763; precepts, 1717-1761; account of money received for providing lodging houses for the poor, 1852-1858; case notes regarding the disposition of property of the Guardians of the Poor of the City of London Union, on the passing of the 1929 Local Government Act, 1930; Acts of Common Council for assessing the parishes of the City towards the further employing the Poor of the City of London, 1698-1823 and various other correspondence, petitions and orders relating to poor relief.

Also papers relating to the collection of alms for the relief of French Protestants (Huguenots), including returns for parishes in the Diocese of Ely, Cambridgeshire, Diocese of Winchester, Hampshire (including Isle of Wight), Peculiar of Canterbury, Kent, Peculiars of Canterbury, Sussex, Diocese of Chichester, Sussex, Diocese of Lincoln, Hertfordshire, Diocese of London, Essex and Diocese of Rochester, Kent, 1688; accounts and acquittances of money received and distributed, 1693-1704; orders to the Chamberlain for payments out of the collection for the relief of French Protestants, 1681-1706; articles on the Huguenots in London, 1976.

Also accounts of money collected and paid on the royal brief for 'the redemption of captives taken by the Turks and Moors' along the African coast, 1670-1705, with chamber vouchers [orders for payment] and returns of collections.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also COL/CT: Charities and COL/MH/AD: Mansion House Administration.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's 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

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