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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): HFCS
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1683-1847
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 46.5 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Holborn and Finsbury Commission of Sewers


Administrative/Biographical history:

Early Commissioners of Sewers were solely concerned with land drainage and the prevention of flooding, not with the removal of sewage in the modern sense. In 1531 an Act of Sewers was passed which set out in great detail the duties and powers of Commissioners and governed their work until the 19th century. Gradually a permanent pattern emerged in the London area of seven commissions, five north and two south of the Thames, with, after the Great Fire, a separate commission for the City of London. The London commissioners had more extensive powers than those in other parts of the country; they had control over all watercourses and ditches within two miles of the City of London as well as newly constructed drains and sewers. After 1800 the London commissioners also obtained powers to control the formation of new sewers and house drains.

On 21 May 1608 a Commission of Sewers was issued to Sir Nicholas Mosley 'maior of London' and others 'for Turnemyll Brooke and Fleets ditche in Lond. & Midd. and the Watercourse that runneth from Clerkenwell to holborne Bridge and soe into the Ryver of Thames' (Stow's Chronicle). Although this appears to be the first of the Holborn and Finsbury Commissions, the next covering this area appears to be that 'for the Cittie of London and two miles from the same' (1615) (Act 6 Hy. VI c.5) though this must have overlapped the area of the Westminster Commission. The later 17th century Commissions have the area of their jurisdiction described in similar terms and it is not until 1699 (Act 23 Hy. VIII c.5) that 'the Divisions of Holborne and Finsbury' are specifically mentioned.

The jurisdiction of the Holborn and Finsbury Commission of Sewers included sewers in Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, Islington, Hoxton, Moorfields, Chancery Lane, Gray's Inn Road, Leather Lane, Saint Pancras, Camden, Gower Street, the Regent's Canal and the River Fleet.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letters Patent appointing Commissioners, 1811-1837; qualification books, containing signatures of Commissioners acknowledging their allegiance to the sovereign, 1812-1847; standing orders of the Court, 1812-1826; minutes, copies of warrants, and presentments, 1683-1688; minutes of the Commissioners, 1716-1847; General Committee minutes, 1813-1847; Committee of Accounts minutes, 1813-1847; Committee of Works minutes, 1818-1847; entries of bonds and contracts, 1814-1841; specifications for contracts for new sewers, 1839-1847; description and particulars of sewers built by contract, providing name of contractor, place, length of sewer, 1821-1837; out-letter books, 1812-1847; in-letter books, 1840-1847; petitions for new sewers, 1812-1848; petitions for drains from houses to sewers, 1812-1848; clerk's monthly reports upon sewers ordered to be built upon contributions being paid, 1842-1847; complaints and applications from householders and others, 1813-1848; Surveyor's order books, 1812-1846; Surveyor's report books, 1811-1847; financial records, 1812-1849; rate books, 1779-1848; a collection of the public statutes relating to sewers and the local acts for Holborn and Finsbury Division, 1830; registers of sewers, 1849; maps and plans, 1745-1846.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

HFCS/1-5: Letters Patent; HFCS/6-8: Qualification Books; HFCS/9-62: Orders and Minutes; HFCS/63-70: Contract Books; HFCS/71-95: Correspondence; HFCS/96-132: Petitions; HFCS/133-134: Clerk's Reports; HFCS/135-144: Complaint Books; HFCS/145-161: Surveyor; HFCS/162-556: Financial; HFCS/557-570: General; HFCS/P and PR: Maps and Plans.

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:

Acquired with the records of its successor body.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For further records relating to sewers in London please see MCS: Metropolitan Commission of Sewers; PCS: Poplar Commission of Sewers; SKCS: Surrey and Kent Commission of Sewers; THCS: Tower Hamlets Commission of Sewers; WCS: Westminster and Middlesex Commission of Sewers; NSJSB: North Surrey Joint Sewage Board; O/080 and O/160: Westminster Commission of Sewers; ACC/2766: Crossness Pumping Station; GCS: Greenwich Commission of Sewers; HLCS: Havering Level Commission of Sewers; HFCS: Holborn and Finsbury Commission of Sewers; RMSB: Richmond Main Sewerage Board; STKCS: Saint Katherine's Commission of Sewers; WVA: Wandle Valley Main Drainage Authority and MBW: Metropolitan Board of Works. For the City of London see CLA/006: City of London Commissioners of Sewers.

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:
April to June 2009

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