AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): COL/WD
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: WARDS
Date(s): 1617-1979
Level of description: subfonds
View parent record
Extent: 1.6 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The division of the City of London into wards is confirmed in the earliest written records and was considered fundamental to municipal organisation. The ward was an administrative division of the City and each ward was managed by an Alderman. In 1206 the total number of wards was recorded as 24, although by 1550 this had increased to 26 with the division of Farringdon into two wards and the addition of Bridge Without covering the area of Southwark. In the present day there are 25 wards. Each ward held a court called the Wardmote which had a wide jurisdiction for the preservation of the peace and had the power to inflict appropriate punishments. A synopsis of civic regulations was read annually at the Wardmote and a special inquest jury was appointed to report on breaches of regulation, unlicensed victuallers, defective weights, fraudulent traders and other complaints of the inhabitants of the ward. Gradually the municipality took over many of these duties and election of officers became the major concern of the Wardmote, although local problems can still be brought to the attention of the Court of Aldermen.

Wardmotes are held annually for the constitutents of a ward to meet their representative, raise concerns and ask questions. Elections for Common Councilmen are held every 4 years.

The 25 wards of the City of London are: Aldersgate, Aldgate, Bassishaw, Billingsgate, Bishopsgate, Bread Street, Bridge, Broad Street, Candlewick, Castle Baynard, Cheap, Coleman Street, Cordwainer, Cornhill, Cripplegate, Dowgate, Farringdon Within, Farringdon Without, Langbourn, Lime Street, Portsoken, Queenhithe, Tower, Vintry and Walbrook.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the wards of the City of London, 1617-1979. Papers relating to individual wards, including petition of inquest jury and inhabitants of Aldersgate Without regarding the boundaries of the Liberty of St Bartholomew on Cloth Fair, 1766-1789; complaint of inhabitants of Bridge Ward that their ancient rights of free wharfage through the gate in Churchyard Alley were being hindered, 1660s; report regarding the rights and privileges of the ward of Bridge Without [Southwark], 1892; extract from a lease of the Jamaica Coffee House reserving a room for the use of the Ward Inquest and the parish officers, Cornhill Ward, 1884 and correspondence with the Secretary of the Board of Ordnance about the complaint of the inquest of Tower Ward about the entrance from Tower Hill into Thames Street being stopped by a Box and Toll, 1739.

Papers relating to Wardmotes, including returns of elections of Officers for Farringdon Within, 1683; Bishopsgate, 1683; Tower, 1689; Cordwainer, 1689; Vintry, 1690; Langbourn, 1690; Cordwainer, 1707; Cornhill, 1711; Bridge, 1711; Cripplegate, 1711 and Dowgate, 1711; set of Acts relating to the holding of Wardmotes and elections, 1663-1928; various Wardmote Precepts (orders, rules and regulations), 1679-1714? and 1802, 1823, 1957 and 1970-1973; Wardmote Books (printed copies of regulations, Acts and Orders for the holding of Wardmotes), 1853 1979; lists of candidates, 1965-1975; Act of Common Council for regulating elections in Wardmotes and Common Halls, 1712; case notes regarding whether a Deputy can hold a Wardmote and declare himself elected a Common-Councilman, 1723; opinion regarding the right of attendance at Wardmotes, 1905; Articles of Charge of the Wardmote Inquest (orders for actions to take place at the Wardmote, such as the reading of new regulations), [1625-1910]; 'Act of Common Council that the Inquestmen, after taking their oaths, shall choose from among themselves a Foreman, should the voting be equal the Alderman of the Ward shall nominate one as Foreman', 1617; Order of the Court of Common Council against the 'Extravagant Expenses at the Meeting of their Wardmote-Inquests, in Eating and Drinking, and also sending abroad Wine and Ale to the Inhabitants of the several Wards' and allowing that Inquests may be adjourned in order that the Inquestmen may refresh themselves at their own houses, 1694 and reprints 1702-1839; Precepts, rules and regulations regarding the conduct of Inquestmen, 1625-1796 and 1801-1852; returns to a precept to return an account of all dancing and fencing schools, lotteries and other gaming houses, 1673- 1674 and notes on the nature and jurisdiction of the Great Courts of Wardmote, 1857-1907.

Large scale ward plans by Samuel Agnall and Michael Meredith, 1858, of individual wards including Aldersgate Within, Aldersgate Without, Aldgate, Bassishaw, Billingsgate, Bishopsgate Within, Bishopsgate Without, Bread Street, Bridge, Broad Street, Candlewick, Castle Baynard, Cheap, Coleman Street, Cordwainer, Cornhill, Cripplegate Within, Cripplegate Without, Dowgate, Farringdon Within, Farringdon Without, Langbourn, Lime Street, Portsoken, Queenhithe, Tower, Vintry and Walbrook. Also ward map, 1950.

Financial and administrative papers including returns of the numbers of freemen, non-freemen, householders, houses and so on in each ward, 1772 and 1833; report regarding the employment of Ward Beadles, 1928; legal notes, correspondence and agreements relating to the ownership of various Ward Maces, 1923-1974; orders relating to exemptions from holding offices, 1637-1741; ward rate accounts, 1892-1902; ward rate cash books, 1842-1882 and ward rate ledgers, 1842-1876.

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 COL/CA for the Court of Aldermen, COL/PL for maps of the ward boundaries and COL/TCD/ER for papers relating to Ward elections.

Publication note:

For a detailed history of the wards and especially voting regulations please see The Corporation of London: Its Origin, Constitution, Powers and Duties, 1950. For a map of the wards and information about modern voting regulations please see the website of the City of London.

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

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"