Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Electronic Newsletter

Issue No. 1 September 2005


Welcome to the first issue of the Manuscripts Section's periodic electronic newsletter which we will publish four times a year. The newsletter is intended to keep you informed about the latest news from the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library. It is edited by Philippa Smith, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts.

Please feel free to forward it to anyone else who you think might like to read it. Please also let us know whether or not you would like to receive future issues at



Staff news

“Noises off” in the Manuscripts reading room

CLRO moves to Clerkenwell

Statistics for July and August 2005

Volunteer projects

Black and Asian sources: your help needed!

Current Manuscripts reading room exhibition

Nelson exhibition

Probate inventories project completed

Cataloguing news

Ancestors magazine

Archive Awareness Campaigns 2005 and 2006

Guided tours of Guildhall Library

London Maze 2006

We welcome your views!



Those of you who regularly visit the Manuscripts Section will have missed a familiar friendly face over the Summer. Martin Devereux, one of the two archives assistants, left the Section for pastures new at the beginning of June. Martin had recently completed the Society of Archivist's Diploma in Archive Administration and had qualified as an archivist after five years of hard work. Martin is now working as an archivist at the British Postal Museum and Archive. We wish him well in his new job. (You can find out more about the British Postal Museum and Archive at

Martin's fellow archives assistant, Claire Titley, has been doing sterling work over the Summer doing the work of two archives assistants! However, help is at hand in the shape of Jonathan Burton, our new archives assistant. Jonathan joins us from the National Archives where he has been working on their Travel to the UK project. His ambition is to become an archivist. (Travel to the UK is a Heritage Lottery funded initiative to catalogue records of ships' passenger lists from 1910 to 1960 related to travel to the UK from territories outside Europe, including former colonial territories.)

You may be interested to know more about the work of the archives assistants. They are in the front line of the Section's enquiry service being the first person that visitors to the enquiry desk usually speak to. They also answer the telephone and help answer the many letter and email enquiries the Section receives (see below for an indication of just how many). The two archives assistants alternate on the enquiry desk. When not on the desk they each have a number of routine responsibilities like maintaining stocks of leaflets and cleaning the microfilm equipment. They also undertake more interesting work such as indexing the Lloyd's Captains Registers (they are currently working on indexing surnames beginning with the letters E and N) and keeping up to date the database of Black and Asian references (see below).

To be an archives assistant you need to have an honours degree in an appropriate subject and a demonstrable interest in and enthusiasm for archives. You also need to be able to lift and carry heavy documents and be a good communicator. Over the years, the Manuscripts Section's posts have provided suitable pre-course practical experience for graduates wishing to train as archivists and these invariably obtain places on one of the archive courses. However, some post-holders have decided that archives is not for them and go on to pursue other careers. If you would like further details about the posts please email



Unfortunately, the peaceful atmosphere of the Manuscripts reading room, and indeed much of Guildhall Library, has been disrupted this Summer by noise from building works. This is because the Corporation’s offices in the West Wing above Guildhall Library are being refurbished. It has also led to the library being closed on two Saturdays in August and September while a ceiling was taken down to allow access to essential services between floors. Visitors will have noticed the strange wooden tunnel between the Printed Books Section, and the Print Room and Manuscripts Section which was a physical symptom of this. Happily, the refurbishment will be completed in the next couple of months, and in November the Town Clerk, various teams in his department, and the Remembrancer’s department will be reoccupying the offices.



Another consequence of refurbishment at Guildhall has been the move of the Corporation of London Records Office (CLRO) to London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) at 40 Northampton Road in Clerkenwell. This is all to do with the refurbishment of the Corporation’s North Block of offices which is not due to be completed until the beginning of 2008. Until then, a full searchroom and enquiry service for CLRO is being made available at LMA. Full details can be found on the Corporation’s website at The Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library is helping out by making available in the Manuscripts reading room microfilm copies of the indexes to the records of the Freedom of the City of London, 1681-1940 (known as the “Alphabets of Freedom Admissions”). However, those wishing to look at the records themselves will still need to visit LMA. All enquiries about the Freedom of the City of London should be addressed to Further information can be found in Vivienne E. Aldous, My Ancestors were Freemen of the City of London (Society of Genealogists, 1999).

CLRO and LMA have been closely associated since 2002 when they merged to form the Joint Archive Service (JAS) of the Corporation of London. JAS is comprised of three distinct sections: LMA, CLRO and Keats House Museum. It is also responsible for running the records management service of the Corporation of London. On 1 April 2005, JAS merged with the Department of Libraries and Guildhall Art Gallery (of which Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section is a part) to create the Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery. The merger will lead to closer collaboration and harmonisation within the library and archive services run by the Corporation of London.



Following the tragic events of 7 July, the Manuscripts reading room has had unusually few visitors during the Summer months, traditionally a busy time. However, reader numbers are picking up again and we look forward to seeing the return of some familiar faces. Saturdays have been especially quiet so don't forget that the Manuscripts Section is also open every Saturday except Bank Holiday Saturdays from 9.30am until 5.00pm. Telephone enquiries have also been down, but the number of emails continues to increase.

July 2005

481 visitors to the reading room (657 in 2004)

1177 documents produced in the reading room (1567)

60 letter enquiries (57)

162 email enquiries (122)

148 telephone enquiries (213)

August 2005

414 visitors to the reading room (612 in 2004)

1099 documents produced in the reading room (1494)

35 letter enquiries (54)

148 email enquiries (154)

167 telephone enquiries (211)

Enquiry response times

Our users value our swift response times for written enquiries. We aim to answer 80% of all written enquiries on the day of receipt or the following day. In July around 75% of written enquiries were answered on the day of receipt and a pleasing total of nearly 98% were answered within two days. In August 66% of enquiries were answered on the day of receipt and around 85% within two days (August is always our slowest month because of staff holidays).

We have also had some welcome comments about our enquiry service and the work of the Manuscripts section in general:

"Thank you very much for your exceedingly prompt reply to my enquiry … Again, as on my visit to your Manuscripts Section, an excellent service."

"Your Enquiry Service is greatly appreciated and speed of reply most impressive! Thank you again."

"You guys at the Guildhall give a fantastic service … thank you!"

"I have been up to the Guildhall Library several times and am always struck by the fact that we are so lucky to have such a wealth of information available to us. I arrive with a list of specific people and dates I want to search and am always diverted by something else just as interesting!"

"It's past midnight here in Australia, but I thought that I'd just check the emails before shutting down the computer. How can I ever thank you enough for responding so quickly to my query and for giving me the information that I needed. I am, at present, over the moon!"

As you can imagine, these comments are much appreciated by those of us who work on the enquiry desk.



A Place in the Sun

Since February 2004 the Place in the Sun index has been available online on the Access to Archives (A2A) internet database. It provides an index to early 19th century insurance policies in registers compiled by the Sun Fire Office and now held at Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section. Most of these relate to London property, though entries for property throughout England, Scotland or Wales can also be found.

The Sun policy registers offer an unparalleled source for details of the business, family and social history of the times they cover. There are now (September 2005) 65 registers with searchable indexes online, containing details of over 100,000 insurance policies for the period 1816-1834. The indexing is done by a team of volunteers, who are now working on further registers for dates before 1816 and after 1834.

You can search the database by keywords such as the names of people, businesses and institutions, street names, place names, and occupations. To use the database, go to, click ‘Search the database’, choose ‘Guildhall Library’ from the Location of Archives drop-down menu, and enter your search term. Alternatively, you can enter it on the ‘Extended Search’ menu if you select ‘A Place in the Sun’ as the A2A theme. Numbered insurance policies identified through the index can be ordered from, or consulted at, Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section (, telephone 020 7332 1863).

The project was initiated by the London Archive Users’ Forum (LAUF), and was supported in its earlier phases by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Awards for All and the National Council on Archives. It is now funded entirely by Guildhall Library. Further information about the project can be obtained from the Project Manager, Brenda Griffith-Williams (, telephone 020 7332 1862). Please also contact her if you are interested in becoming a volunteer.

St Katharine by the Tower indexing project

In 1442 the precinct of St Katharine by the Tower was granted a Charter of Privileges, which exempted it from the civil jurisdiction of the City of London and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop. One of the benefits of this status was that the clergy of the Royal Peculiar could issue (and charge for) licences for marriages in the church. Before Hardwicke’s Marriage Act (1753), up to four or five marriages a day were taking place at St Katharine’s, by couples from all over London and beyond. After 1754, the number of licences issued dropped dramatically as at least one of the parties had to be a resident of the Royal Peculiar. The licence records include details of the marriages of Sir William Keith (a former colonial governor in Philadelphia) in 1740, and Elizabeth Wollstonecraft (sister of Mary Wollstonecraft and aunt of Mary Shelley) in 1782.

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section has a volunteer project to index the marriage licence records of St Katharine by the Tower, which cover the period 1720-1802. The project has made a lot of progress over the past 18 months: only 12 of the 93 bundles of marriage licence records in the series  Ms 9772 remain to be done. The information (names of the parties, date and type of document) is entered into an Access database and will be made available to the public both in the Manuscripts reading room and online in due course. Any offers of volunteer help (ideally with access to a computer) for a last great push to get the project finished would be very welcome! Please contact archivist Dr Stacey Gee, who is managing the project, at

Lloyd’s Captains Registers

We have an ongoing project to index the earliest series of Lloyd’s Captains Registers 1851-1911 (Ms 18567). Indexes for personal names beginning with the letters A-C and K-L have already been completed and are available in the Manuscripts reading room. The index for D is in the final stages of preparation. Indexes for E, M  and N are in progress. The indexing is done by both archives assistants and volunteers. If you are interested in taking part in this valuable project, please contact Charlie Turpie, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts at



People of African and Asian origin have lived in Britain for at least two thousand years, but this aspect of our heritage has been largely forgotten. Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section has launched a project to find Black and Asian Londoners in the records we hold. We invite all our readers to participate and let us know their findings, either in our reading room or by e-mail. So far we have found 207 entries, the earliest in 1586 and the latest in 1896, mostly in registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, but also in probate records.

This is an ongoing project, so do come back to look for entries again, as all further entries found by our readers will be added in.

The entries will be useful for researchers investigating the Black and Asian history of London (and further afield, especially the British factory at Oporto, Portugal), but also for people tracing their family tree who have Black or Asian ancestors. For further information about sources elsewhere, see the Black and Asian Studies Association website at, and the National Archives' (in conjunction with BASA) black history website at

We are interested in collecting the records of Black and Asian individuals, businesses and communities within the square mile of the City of London and we welcome anyone who has such records or knows of them contacting us at

The Manuscripts Section is planning a small exhibition in Guildhall Library for Black History Month in October based on some of the entries found by the Black and Asian sources project. It will focus on two entries for former slaves baptised as adults who were central to the beginnings of the abolition movement in the late 18th century – James Somerset and Jonathan Strong.

The Section’s first exhibition for Black History Month in October 2004 was on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, particularly the profits made by Londoners, and the beginnings of the abolition movement in London. The text of the accompanying leaflet and captions of the items displayed are available on the Manuscripts Section’s website at



25th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese in Europe

The small exhibition currently on display in the Manuscripts reading room, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese in Europe. In 1980 a new diocese was created with the amalgamation of the Diocese of Gibraltar and the Bishop of London's Jurisdiction of North and Central Europe. The diocese is officially called the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, but known as the Diocese in Europe. The area covered by the diocese is vast, comprising Europe, Morocco, Turkey and the whole of the former Soviet Union. The chaplain in Moscow also ministers to the congregation in Mongolia.

The diocese currently comprises 270 congregations in over 40 countries. Many of the congregations have churches and keep registers in the same manner as Anglican parishes in the UK. The display includes a burial register from St Boniface, Antwerp, dating from 1910 (Ms 34398). The English speaking community in Antwerp dates back to the medieval period. However, St. Boniface was not constructed until 1906-9 for the British and American communities in the city. The church now serves all English speaking peoples.

The exhibition also includes photographs of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Gibraltar (Ms 20983/23 part). The building of Holy Trinity Church began in 1825. It was completed in 1832 and the church was consecrated in 1838. Holy Trinity was raised to cathedral status when the Diocese of Gibraltar was established in 1842. It remains the cathedral church of the Diocese in Europe.



The Manuscripts Section is contributing material to the forthcoming major exhibition in Guildhall Library Print Room entitled Death and Glory, the Funeral of Lord Nelson. The exhibition will run from 3 October 2005 to 31 January 2006. You can see further details at Guildhall Library Print Room Exhibition



A project to calendar the probate inventories of the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's 1660-1725 has recently been completed after several years of work. The information was extracted by a series of volunteers and archives assistants under the supervision of Philippa Smith. The resulting hard copy calendar is available in the Manuscripts section reading room together with indexes by personal name, place and occupation. The index by personal name is also available online at

The jurisdiction of the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s covered a few parishes and precincts in the City of London, Middlesex, Essex and Hertfordshire. The inventories therefore relate to persons dying in the parishes of St Faith under St Paul, St Giles Cripplegate, St Gregory by St Paul and St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London; Chiswick, Friern Barnet, St Pancras, Stoke Newington, West Drayton and Willesden in Middlesex; Barling, Belchamp St Paul, Navestock, Tillingham and Wickham St Paul in Essex; and Albury, Brent Pelham and Furneux Pelham in Hertfordshire.

The probate inventories of the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's date from 1660 to 1725. They are arranged in yearly (mostly) and half-yearly bundles. Within each bundle they are arranged chronologically by the date they were exhibited in the court. There are 77 bundles now numbered as Ms 19504/1-77.

Unfortunately, owing to the condition and format of the documents, it is not possible to supply photocopies of the inventories. The inventories have not been microfilmed or copied in any other way. However, the original inventories may be viewed by personal callers only in the Manuscripts Section’s reading room (see access details at the foot of the newsletter).

For each inventory, where the information exists, the calendar gives the first name and surname of deceased, their occupation or status and whether they are a Citizen of London, their place of residence or where they died (usually the parish name), the date the inventory was made, the date the inventory was exhibited, its value, notes about the content of the inventory, cross references to the appropriate act book, will register and original will, and the Ms reference number. The information in the calendar is extracted not only from the inventory itself, but also from these other sources.

The indexes to these inventories are part of a wider project to provide computer-generated indexes to all probate inventories held by the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library. The Commissary Court and Archdeaconry Court probate inventories have already been indexed by personal name, but the indexes exist on cards only. These manual indexes have not yet been input onto the computer database, but are available in the Manuscripts reading room to personal callers.

For the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter it is possible to search the database by keyword. If you have an enquiry related to a search not covered by the available indexes, please contact the Manuscripts Section at



Charlie Turpie, who manages the section’s cataloguing programme, describes two recently catalogued archives and some cataloguing in progress:

Legal and General

The records of Legal and General Assurance Society, which were given to Guildhall Library in 1996, have recently been catalogued (Mss 36001-443). The constitutional documents, board minutes and life policy registers had already been catalogued (Mss 18473-8 and 33434-8). Legal and General was established in 1836 as the Legal and General Life Assurance Society with offices at 10 Fleet Street.  Its head offices moved to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street in 1962, where they remain today. The records, which date from its formation in 1836, include extensive series of minutes, accounts and correspondence.

This material is all stored off-site, so 24 hours notice is required to order any items from the collection.

Tell me something interesting about the collection

In the 1920s and 30s Legal and General expanded into many new areas of insurance and tried to reach new markets. To sell life and accident insurance, they advertised widely, playing on fear and guilt about leaving your family unprotected if you died or were seriously injured. Adverts and leaflets on this theme are in Ms 36290.

Press Association

The records of the Press Association up to 1991, which were given to Guildhall Library in 1995, have now been catalogued (Guildhall Library Mss 35512-73).

The Press Association was founded in 1868 as a limited company. It was formed by provincial newspapers acting together in a cooperative venture to organise their own collection and supply of national and foreign news to their newspapers outside London. In forming the Press Association, its founders sought to produce a more accurate and reliable alternative to the monopoly service of the telegraph companies. Through their co-operation, they wanted to provide a London-based service of news-collecting and reporting with correspondents in all the major towns.

The main services offered by the Press Association were general home news and Reuters' foreign news services. The “Comprehensive Service” was introduced in 1941, which offered Parliamentary reports, golf, racing, cricket and football reports, as well as home and foreign news.

Tell me something interesting about the collection

At the beginning of the First World War, the government tried to control the dissemination of news in emergency situations. The D (Defence) Notice Committee was set up in 1914, under which newspapers were asked not to refer to certain matters, or to consult the War Office before doing so. An Assistant Secretary of the War Office and Edmund Robbins, the representative of the Press Association, were appointed as joint Secretaries of the Committee. If the Admiralty or the War Office wished to inform the Press of something which should not be published, the War Office would get in touch with Robbins, a meeting of the Committee would be convened or the members would be consulted, their agreement would be obtained and Robbins would send the agreed notice to the newspaper editors. The volumes of D-notices 1914-39 kept by the Press Association have not survived. References to D-notices may however be found in the minute books of the Management Committee (Ms 35358), manager's memoranda books (Ms 35461), Robbins' memoranda books (Ms 35417) and the typescript histories (Mss 35596-8).

An inventory of the Association's records was made in 1980 by the Business Archives Council. A substantial part of the archive was subsequently lost in 1994 after an eruption of the drains in the basement of Byron House, Fleet Street. As a result, many series of accounts, correspondence, etc are now incomplete.

There are two histories of the Press Association held in Guildhall Library Printed Books Section: George Scott, Reporter Anonymous: The Story of the Press Association (1968) and Chris Moncrieff, Living on a Deadline: a History of the Press Association (2001).

24 hours notice is required for access and there is a 30 year closure period on the collection.

Harrisons and Crosfield

This collection is not completely input on to the computer yet, but can be consulted in our reading room by researchers using a combination of WebOPAC and draft catalogue forms. It was deposited in 1991 and 1996 and subsequently the deposit became a donation. The collection was partially catalogued several years ago by a previous member of staff. Collections catalogued in draft, especially very large ones, can languish for many years, but Harrisons and Crosfield is an interesting archive for several reasons. The firm was founded in Liverpool in 1844 as tea and coffee merchants and moved to the City of London in 1854, becoming from the 1860s one of the largest tea traders in Britain.

Tell me something interesting about the collection

Over the years, H&C (for short) has reinvented itself many times by diversifying into new areas and deliberately moving out of less profitable sectors. Having started off as tea merchants buying tea in the UK, the firm moved first into blending tea, then importing it directly, then buying tea plantations. Its plantation expertise led H&C to buy rubber plantations outright and also to acquire shareholdings and act as agents for many other plantation companies. By the late 20th century H&C managed nearly half a million acres of tropical crops in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Southern India, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (but it had largely sold off the tea business in 1916).

From the 1960s the company consolidated its timber interests and built up the “Harcros” group of timber merchants, building suppliers, chemicals and animal feeds. The rubber companies were sold off in the 1970s and 1980s. Then in 1997 H&C disposed of its timber, food and agriculture business to concentrate on speciality chemicals and the firm is now known as Elementis.

The other fascinating aspect to H&C (at least to archivists, who really should get out more) is that it had a Byzantine company holding structure. Many companies were wholly owned subsidiaries which were run from H&C’s London fastness. Other companies, in great number, were firms for which H&C supplied secretarial and agency services (H&C would act as the company secretary and would perhaps recruit staff and look after the estates side of the business). These companies, which we have called “secretarial companies” would have a couple of H&C directors on their board and H&C would be a large minority shareholder (owning say 15-25% of the shares).

This extremely ornate company structure gave us some difficulty in ordering the companies’ records in the catalogue so that the shape of the catalogue reflects the organisation of H&C, but we have now decided on a structure and allotted every document a manuscript number (Mss 37001-38277).

Please note that the Manuscripts Section’s catalogues can be searched on the Internet at



The Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library is contributing a series of articles about its records to Ancestors magazine.

Already published are:

"Where there's a will" by Philippa Smith about probate records at Guildhall Library in the March 2005 edition;

"Born or buried abroad" by Philippa Smith about records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials overseas at Guildhall Library in the May 2005 edition;

"The answer to your prayers" by Dr Stacey Gee about sources for tracing clergy at Guildhall Library in the July 2005 edition; and

"A Burning Issue" by Dr Stacey Gee about fire insurance records at Guildhall Library in the September 2005 issue.

Forthcoming are articles on:

schools records, particularly pupil records, at Guildhall Library by archivist Matthew Payne; and

Corporation of Trinity House family history sources at Guildhall Library by Charlie Turpie.

Details of Ancestors magazine can be found at



Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section is holding a series of free events as part of Archive Awareness Campaigns 2005 and 2006. The series aims to encourage the use of archives by family and local historians. The talks will include the opportunity for attendees to see examples of manuscripts, to combine a talk with a visit to a related City institution, or to tour behind the scenes at Guildhall Library.

These free events commence in the Guildhall Library Lecture Theatre at 2p.m. on the following days:

13th October 2005: Behind the scenes tour of the Manuscripts Section store and Conservation workshop. (1hr 15 minutes)

25th October 2005: “Heroes are worth more than Saints: Bravery Awards at Guildhall Library”, Matthew Payne, Assistant Archivist. (45 minutes) 

17th November 2005: “Four early maps of London”, John Fisher, Prints and Maps Librarian. (45 minutes)

29th November 2005: “Business records for family historians”, Charlie Turpie, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts, followed by a visit to the Bank of England Museum. (2hrs)

18th January 2006: Behind the scenes tour of the Manuscripts Section store and Conservation workshop. (1hr 15 minutes)

16th February 2006: “Marriage licence records and the St Katharine by the Tower indexing project”, Stacey Gee, Assistant Archivist. (45 minutes)

Numbers are limited. Please book in advance by telephoning 020 7332 1863/2 or emailing There are 20 places available for each talk and 16 places for the behind the scenes tours. You are welcome to come on the day and see if there are any places available.



If you are interested in finding out more about Guildhall Library in general, tours will take place on:

Wednesday October 5th

Wednesday December 7th

Wednesday February 1st

Each visit will start at 1.00 p.m. and will last for one hour. You will hear about the history of the Library, see the collections and visit behind the scenes. Tours are free but you must book in advance by phoning 020 7332 1866 or e-mailing

Electronic resources in Guildhall Library

Would you like to know more about our computer-based resources and receive help in using them? Practical sessions will take place on:

Wednesday November 2nd

Wednesday January 4th

Wednesday March 1st

Each session will start at 1.00 p.m. and will last for one hour. Sessions are free but you must book in advance by phoning 020 7332 1866 or e-mailing



London Maze will be returning on Saturday 18 March 2006 and we look forward to seeing you there!

London Maze is a free local history fair devoted to London and its past.

It is organised by Guildhall Library and Guildhall Art Gallery and takes place in Guildhall Art Gallery and the Guildhall complex located in the historic heart of the City of London.

With dozens of stalls from libraries, archives, museums and local history societies, specialist talks, guided walks and a wide range of activities this fun and educational free event has something for everyone.

It is early days in the planning process, so please keep an eye on the website at for further information. If you would like your organisation to be involved in London Maze 2006 or have any queries about taking part, please contact



Do you have any comments about this newsletter, about the Manuscripts Section itself or the records it holds? If so, we would be delighted to receive them. Please contact the editor, Philippa Smith, at

Last updated January 2006

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section