Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Electronic Newsletter

Issue No. 13 Autumn 2008


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, Principal Archivist, Guildhall Library. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you think might like to read it. The newsletter now has over 400 subscribers. If you are not already on the mailing list, and would like to receive future issues, please email us.


EC1 + 2: the development of public spaces at Guildhall Library in 2009

Staff news

Where there’s a will (preparations for digitisation)

Measuring Up: enquiry service statistics for August-October 2008

Cataloguing news: Cazenove & Co (stockbrokers); Needlemakers’ Company (additional)

Guiding the way – is this your manor?

A glowing endorsement: the Sun Insurance Office endorsement registers

Important information about access to Sun Insurance Office policy registers

Voyages of discovery in the records of Lloyd’s of London

Early modern sources for non-Londoners, Part Two

Making History (a piece on plague pits recorded for Radio 4)

An Insight into Community Archives at London Metropolitan Archives: Religious, Ethnic and other communities

London Maze was A-Maze-ing!

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section’s Archive Awareness Campaign 2008

400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton (exhibitions, talks and a workshop)

Exhibitions: “Orderly, Mellow and Studious.” Images of Old Guildhall Library and Museum, 1872-1974, in Guildhall Library Print Room; G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary. Highlights from the Watts Gallery Collection, in Guildhall Art Gallery

Guided tours of Guildhall Library

Forthcoming events at London Metropolitan Archives

Archives for London seminars

We welcome your views!

Contact details

EC1+2: THE Development of Public Spaces at Guildhall Library in 2009 – spreading the word!

In the last newsletter, we reported that the Manuscripts Section’s reading room will be temporarily closed for approximately six months from March 2009 as part of an extensive refurbishment programme at Guildhall Library. Access will be at the reading room of London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).

For more information about the refurbishment go to A regular newsletter dedicated to the refurbishment will appear shortly, and we are currently planning meetings early in 2009 at which you can find out more about the Guildhall Library refurbishment and other exciting developments such as digitisation. We will let you know as soon as we have firm dates.


The Manuscripts Section is pleased to welcome archivist Janine Stanford who joined us on 15 September. She will be with us for a year working on the new (4th) edition of the livery companies handlist, City Livery Companies and Related Organisations: A Guide to their Archives in Guildhall Library, and, in connection with this, cataloguing some recent deposits of livery company records. In the New Year, she will also be working at LMA, cataloguing the records of the Irish Society held there. Janine describes her experience of cataloguing additional records of the Needlemakers’ Company below.

We have also been joined by Megan Dunmell who started work in the Manuscripts Section at the end of September as a Casual Information Assistant. Megan is a student on the UCL archive course. She works one day a week in the Manuscripts Section and is currently converting the card index to the Diocese of London faculties to an electronic database which we intend to put on our website. This is part of a larger project to convert all the card indexes in the Manuscripts reading room to an electronic format prior to the refurbishment.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL - Preparations for digitisation

As readers of this newsletter already know, London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section recently announced a new partnership with Ancestry to digitise genealogical sources. Senior Archivist, Matthew Payne, describes the process of getting the wills ready for scanning:

The Manuscripts Section holds about 80,000 original wills proved between 1523 and 1857 in the Commissary Court of London (Guildhall Library Ms 9172), the Archdeaconry Court of London (Ms 9052), by the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral (Ms 25628) and a handful by the Royal Peculiar of St Katharine by the Tower (in Ms 9732-3, 9735). These are supplemented by many more wills enrolled in accompanying will registers, filling many gaps and taking the start date (for the Commissary Court) back to 1374.

As some readers will be aware, the original wills are currently unavailable for consultation. A huge amount of work is being done to them at present, cleaning, flattening, re-boxing, numbering etc, to prepare them for inclusion in our major digitisation programme. Whilst LMA was closed for stocktaking, the wills were transferred there and any spare hands put to work on them. Great progress has been made, but the sheer volume of wills means that there is plenty yet to do. I should perhaps stress that all the will registers, whether available in original form or on microfilm, are still accessible in the normal way.

We will of course keep you up-to-date about progress and let you know on our website as soon as the original wills are available again, and when the scanned wills become available on For further information about the digitisation project go to


Senior Archivist, Wendy Hawke writes about an increasingly busy reading room and enquiry desk:

The Manuscripts Section has continued to be busy over the summer and into the autumn. September and October have been markedly busy, with production figures, visitor numbers and remote enquiries all up significantly. In September the number of documents produced in the reading room exceeded 2000 for the first time since August 1996. We have recorded the three highest monthly totals of written enquiries this year, and phone calls are up an astonishing 30% on the same time last year. This cannot easily be explained by the “credit crunch” keeping people away, as visitor figures are also up on average 24%! In spite of the extra demand, enquiry desk staff answered an average of 97.9% of enquiries within two days over the three month period (the City of London Corporation’s target is 100% within 10 days). Across the Section, we also exceeded the Corporation’s target and answered over 98% of phone calls within 20 seconds.

August 2008

641 visitors to the reading room (621 in 2007)

1744 documents produced in the reading room (1312)

289 written enquiries (251)

235 telephone calls (217)

Enquiry response time (target at least 85% answered within two days): 96.8% answered within two days; 75% answered on the day of receipt.

September 2008

734 visitors to the reading room (570 in 2007)

2154 documents produced in the reading room (1182)

304 written enquiries (258)

292 telephone calls (227)

Enquiry response time: 98.7% answered within two days; 73.3% answered on the day of receipt.

October 2008

792 visitors to the reading room (653 in 2007)

1583 documents produced in the reading room (1498)

303 written enquiries (269)

334 telephone calls (256)

Enquiry response time for written enquiries: 98.3% answered within two days; 80% answered on the day of receipt.


Philippa Smith, writes about the records of Cazenove & Co, stockbrokers, which she has just finished cataloguing:


The archives of Cazenove & Co were presented to the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library by JPMorgan Cazenove on 29 January 2007. The archives date from 1853 (with copy material dating from 1823) to 2003. The records are especially strong for the company’s recent history, particularly the period around “Big Bang” in the 1980s, and leading up to incorporation in 2001. As well as more traditional records such as partnership deeds, minutes, accounts and financial records, they include the papers of a number of partners, including Mark Loveday who was Senior Partner from 1994 to 2001 and retired on the point of incorporation, and a significant amount of material gathered in the course of research for the company’s history.


The origins of Cazenove can be traced to the early Huguenot financiers who left France for Geneva in the late 17th century after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. In time, a number of the Huguenots left Geneva for the City of London, including members of the Cazenove family.


The founder of the firm was Philip Cazenove (1798-1880). It all began in 1819 when Philip joined the business of his brother-in-law John Menet with whom he went into partnership in 1823. John Menet died in 1835 and Philip subsequently went into partnership with Joseph Laurence and Charles Pearce, before branching out on his own and then forming a new partnership in 1854 with his son and nephew. Involved in issues ranging from His Highness the Nizam's State Railway Company to the Metropolitan Sewage and Essex Reclamation Company, his business prospered. Following Philip’s death in 1880, the business continued to flourish and by the mid 1930s had become one of the City of London's pre-eminent stockbroking partnerships.


In the 1980s, Cazenove played an important part in most of the British Government's privatisation issues. In the turbulent period of "Big Bang" in the mid 1980s, which revolutionised the workings of the City, Cazenove retained its independence. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s it expanded its business, both domestically and internationally.


The firm incorporated in April 2001, raising equity and debt finance from some of the leading institutional investors in the United Kingdom. During 2002, it opened offices in Frankfurt, Paris and Beijing and began the restructuring of its fund management business. In the UK, it continued to extend its competence and market share in the mergers and acquisitions, financial advisory and equities businesses.


On 5 November 2004, Cazenove announced that it would combine its investment banking business with JPMorgan's UK investment banking business in a new investment banking company to be owned jointly and called JPMorgan Cazenove. Cazenove Group is a private company which holds a 50% interest in JPMorgan Cazenove.


Over the years the firm has been known under a variety of names: Menet & Cazenove, 1823-35; P. Cazenove & Co, 1835; Laurence, Cazenove & Pearce, 1836-54; P. Cazenove & Co, 1855-84; Cazenove & Akroyds, 1884-1932; Cazenove, Akroyds & Greenwood & Co, 1932-54; Cazenove & Co, 1954-2004; Cazenove Group, 2004-.


The company was based at: 7 Old Broad Street, 1823-35; Auction Mart, Bartholomew Lane, 1836-54; 39 Lothbury, 1855-9; 52 Threadneedle Street, 1859-1919, 43 Threadneedle Street, 1919-26; 10 Old Broad Street, 1926-37; 12 Tokenhouse Yard, 1937-2003; 20 Moorgate, 2003-.


For further details of the history of the firm to 1991, see David Kynaston, “Cazenove & Co: A History” (London, 1991)


The archives have been catalogued as Guildhall Library Ms 39301-475 and comprise 235 production units. They have been arranged as follows:


Corporate records, including partnership deeds and minutes, Ms 39301-19; records of internal administration, Ms 39320-3; financial records, Ms 39324-40; operational records, Ms 39341-423, including overseas operations, Ms 39363-8, and partners’ and staff papers Ms 39369-423 (for Antony Hornby, David Barnett, Peter J. Smith, Jimmy Young, Mark Loveday, Rae Lyster, Henry de Lerisson Cazenove, Peter Brown and Anthony Forbes); staff records, Ms 39424-6; notes compiled in connection with the history of the company, Ms 39427-72; papers concerning archives, artefacts, paintings and memorabilia, Ms 39473-4; and miscellaneous printed items, Ms 39475.


The archives at Guildhall Library are subject to a 30 year closure rule and are on 24 hours call. Access to some of the correspondence is subject to special conditions. For further details about access, please enquire at the Manuscripts enquiry desk.

JPMorgan Cazenove has retained a number of items at 20 Moorgate, although ownership has been transferred to Guildhall Library. These mainly comprise 20th century financial and operational records such as ledgers, cash books and allotment books. It should be noted, however, that some volumes from these series are amongst the deposit at Guildhall Library and the catalogue is annotated accordingly. For further details about access to the records retained at 20 Moorgate, please enquire at the Manuscripts enquiry desk. 

As well as significant business collections, Guildhall Library Manuscripts is also unique in holding the records of the City of London livery companies. Our newest archivist, Janine Stanford has dipped her toe into cataloguing with some additional records of the Needlemakers’ Company:

The Needlemakers’ Company, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, deposited some additional records last year and earlier this year, and I have recently catalogued them. A few of the records in the new deposit continue series that we already hold: court minute books now continue up to 1972 (Ms 2817), and an additional volume continues the registers of freedom admissions up to 1949 (Ms 2818). In addition, the new deposit contains many other records, now catalogued as Ms 39264-91, including financial records, such as the master’s and wardens’ accounts, 1779-1959 (Ms 39273), and some of the clerk’s records. The clerk’s records are rather varied, and range from out-letter books (Ms 39277) to photographs of livery dinners (Ms 39289), and even include a signed letter, from the then Princess Elizabeth, as thanks for the present of a needle case given to her by the company in 1947 (Ms 39287).

Janine says, “I am very happy that I have been able to catalogue my first collection for Guildhall Library. I found it interesting to discover just how these new deposits fit in with the Needlemakers’ records that we already hold, and it was fascinating to find out how the Needlemakers’ Company has interacted with the royal family over the years. I’m now looking forward to cataloguing some additional records of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen!”

If you would like to find out more about any of the archives described above, or any of the other material mentioned in the newsletter, you can search the Manuscripts Section’s catalogue online. Just click on “Former catalogue” and enter the name of the person or institution in an Author search, or the Manuscript number in a Classification search.

GUIDING THE WAY – is this your manor?

Charlie Turpie, Principal Archivist, writes about her work on the Manuscripts Section’s General guide to holdings.

Manorial records are the ugly ducklings of family history research. If you heard of a source which could take your ancestors back into the middle ages, giving you dates of death and proving family linkages, as well as giving you a real idea of the day-to-day life of your ancestor and their community, you would usually get excited. However, because manorial records are in Latin routinely until late in the 17th century and officially until 1733, and they are in an obviously official court format, they are perhaps not as widely “sold” to family historians as they should be.

Manorial records either deal with estate management or the business of its courts (court baron or court leet). Perhaps the most genealogically useful manorial records are those of the court baron, which oversaw the everyday business of the manor.  This included the reporting of tenants' deaths and the resulting surrender of their land and admission of the tenants’ heirs, with the relationship between the two usually recorded. From time to time, there are also payments, known as merchets, for the marriages of the tenants’ daughters or records of the remarriage of widows. Also, many tenants will appear in the records as officials or jurors, or they may be noted as absent or they may be fined. Surveys, rentals and extents are also very useful and usually list all the manor’s tenants (usually adult males), giving details of land held. (For further information about manorial records see also Matthew Payne’s article on early modern sources below.)

I recently completed revising section 19 of our Guide covering our manorial records holdings. The records of manors can be very fragmented because the ownership has changed with time. However, they are specifically protected by legislation from being sold abroad. These manorial records are listed in the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) and the entries for some counties are available to search online. One of these is Middlesex, for which we hold records of many manors especially Finchley, Fulham, Harringay/Hornsey, Paddington, Stoke Newington and Sutton Court (Chiswick).

Sadly Essex and Hertfordshire, the two other counties for which we hold significant manorial records, have not yet been computerised by the MDR. However, the Guide entries show what records we hold and it is worth mentioning (amongst many others) the manors of Ashwell, Bishop’s Stortford, Paul’s Walden and Stevenage in Hertfordshire and the manors of Barling, Belchamp St Paul, Heybridge, Mucking, Wickham Bishops and Wickham St Paul in Essex. For all of these manors we have records starting in the 13th and 14th centuries and finishing in the 20th century.

You may have noticed the prevalence of the words “Bishop” and “St Paul” in these manorial names. The Diocese of London and the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral owned many manors in Middlesex, Essex and Hertfordshire. The other manors whose records we hold were owned in the main by livery companies, Christ’s Hospital and St Katharine by the Tower and come from counties throughout England, alphabetically from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire. (Though it is fair to say that the further away a manor is from London, the shorter the period for which we hold records.)

If you are new to manorial records, you may wish to have a look at the guidance available online at the MDR and elsewhere. There are also several helpful books about using these records. M. Ellis, Using Manorial Records (P.R.O. Readers' Guide no 6; London, 1997) looks at the manorial system and the records created, and P. D. A. Harvey, Manorial Records. (British Records Association, Archives and the User No. 5, revised edition, 1999) is a very good introduction to medieval manorial records. The Society of Genealogists and other genealogical societies also regularly run sessions on using manorial records.


Information Officer, Claire Titley, writes:

Thanks to the hard work of our A Place in the Sun volunteers, nearly 200,000 policies from the Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers are now indexed and available to search online at, covering the period 1808-1838, with current indexing work stretching back into the late 18th century. As a result, more enquirers are searching further into the records of the Sun Insurance Office to see what other sources can be used.

Stacey Harmer discussed the records that can be used to trace claims made on particular policies in the last newsletter, but, in recent months, I have had several enquiries from readers who are interested in using the series of endorsement books (Ms 12160) as a way of finding out more about the policy holders.

The endorsement books were used by the Sun Insurance Office to record changes to the policy or to the policy holder. Once a policy had been taken out, it was valid for a fixed period of time (usually around seven years), but could be transferred to another individual in the event of the death of the policy holder. This change would be noted in the form of an endorsement. If there had been significant changes to the terms of the policy (for example, the property’s contents were moved elsewhere) this would also be noted in this way. The endorsements are arranged chronologically, but are not indexed.

The most straightforward way to approach the endorsement books is from the policy registers. You can tell if there has been an endorsement to a policy by way of page references in red or black ink at the bottom of the policy entry. These take the form of a fraction such as 12/239, which relates to the register number and the page number, in this case register 12, page 239 (Ms 12160/12 p. 239).

I have been asked by several readers if it is possible to use the endorsement books  as a shortcut to finding a policy in the periods for which there is no index (most of the 18th century and the period before 1808 and after 1838). This would take a considerable amount of time and some luck, as not all policies are endorsed, although a significant proportion are. In a policy register of 1750 there are 250 policies endorsed (Ms 11936/92) and in a register of 1813 (Guildhall Library Ms 11936/461) there are 530 policies endorsed. Most of the policy registers contain approximately 1500-2000 policies, which leaves you with a reasonable chance of finding an endorsement. 

The endorsement books are also useful for finding policies for periods where original policy registers are missing. If you know that a policy was issued (for example, if you have a firemark on your house) in a year when there is no surviving policy register, you can search the endorsement register covering that year for potential information about the policy.

A word of warning though, it is not just the policy register series that has gaps in it. There are 28 missing volumes from the series of endorsements.

What do these records tell us?

Endorsements provide useful information on the passing of a policy from one owner to another. I have used a selection of early 19th century registers to show the range of information that can be found.

When a person dies, you can frequently find an endorsement which names the widow or a child as the new policy owner. In the example below, the policy has been passed on to the policy holder’s daughter, at her own address:

“London 12th March 1812. Policy no. 499777. Mary Morton, Portpool Lane, now Mary Morton, daughter of Mary Morton deceased, and removed to her new dwelling house, No.12 Lower Northampton Street, Clerkenwell…” (Ms 12160/62)

These records can provide a way of finding an approximate date of death if there is a lack of other sources.

The transfer of a policy from a single woman to her husband on their marriage is also recorded in these registers, providing a useful source for tracing women’s maiden names. For example, policy number 885690 was taken out by Jane Baker, a dealer in pastry and fruit, on her property at 133 Goswell Street (Ms 11936/462). The endorsement book records her marriage to John Baron as it notes the transfer of the policy from her name to his:

“London. 11th November 1813. Policy no. 885690. Jane Baker, Goswell Street, now John Baron by marriage with Jane Baker.”  (Ms 12160/62).

As well as detailing changing personal relationships, the endorsement books can provide details of changing business circumstances. The making and breaking up of partnerships are frequently recorded.  An endorsement of 28 October 1813 shows a changing partnership:

“London. 28th October 1813. Policy no. 769817. Fanny and Christianna Gow, Whitechapel, now Fanny Gow and James Calder, the latter being admitted into the partnership in the [place] of Christianna Gow who has deceased.”

The endorsements can also tell you about the transfer of contents or substantial changes to the property.  For example, the following endorsement suggests that the policy holder has moved house, and taken the policy with her:

“London. 22nd November 1813. Policy no. 814690 Sarah Lecand, Paternoster Row (3&4). Removed the contents of this policy to h[er] dwelling house, Brick, No. 6 Spencer Street, Northampton Square, Goswell St.” (Ms 12160/62).

An imaginative researcher may be able to research changes to local areas on the basis of these endorsements, as they show the movement of people between properties. They can be used in conjunction with the policy registers (which provide the nature of the occupation and the value of the property) to make a detailed analysis of a locality.

There is therefore significant potential for using the endorsement books to find out more about individuals who have taken out policies with the Sun Insurance Office, but interested readers should be warned that without an index, a lengthy search may be required. For readers searching for individuals from the 18th century in particular, these records can provide valuable snippets of extra information that may not be found elsewhere.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT ACCESS TO SUN INSURANCE OFFICE POLICY REGISTERS: We are currently undertaking a programme of conservation work on the Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers. This means that, at any one time, a number of registers will be unavailable. If you are coming to Guildhall Library to look at Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers, please contact us in advance of your visit to ensure that the registers you want to see will be accessible. Our aim is to complete the programme in time for the Sun’s 300th anniversary in 2010.


Information Officer, Louisa Macdonald, writes about a discovery in Lloyd’s Captains Registers:

As many of you will be aware October was Black History Month, a time when we highlight some of the archives relating to Black and Ethnic Minority Britons of the past.  As part of the ongoing Lloyd's Captains Register indexing project I have been extracting the entries for the letter “G”.  Recently I extracted the following details (Ms 18567/63):

NAME: GODING, Charles Valery

BORN: Bridgetown, Barb[ados], 1852

PASSED: Hull 1887


Note to say : Dead 9/4/98

This is one of the occasional entries where it has been noted that the Captain has died.  Attached to this particular entry is a clipping from Lloyd's List revealing some rare biographical details:

“1899 entry

Ll. List Nov 2, 1899

The death is reported to have occurred at Odessa recently of Captain C.V. Goding, a genuine Barbadian negro, who rose to be an eminent shipmaster, and was well known at Baltimore and other ports, in command of the steamer Ethelgonda.  His widow, a white woman, and several children, live at Cardiff.  Deceased was warmly respected by all who knew him.”

Cardiff had the largest population of black people outside London in the 19th century. For more information about why people of many different cultures and nationalities settled in Tiger Bay, “Cardiff’s melting pot”, go to  (  Details of the Butetown History and Arts Centre, which holds collections relating to Cardiff Bay (then Tiger Bay), can be found online at

Declan Barriskill, from the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library, writes about the end of a long voyage -  a project to index Lloyd’s List:

Some 25 years or so ago a group of volunteers in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library began to index the Marine News section of Lloyd’s List. Lloyd’s List records the movements of ocean going vessels. News of casualties and other events involving individual vessels were reported in the Marine News section of each issue. That part of the paper was never indexed and thus became one of our big projects. Joan Dormer and Helen Hodgson, current volunteers, have seen the project through to its conclusion. From 1741 to 1837 names of masters or ships or locations or type of incident can be checked against the database. A total of 204,946 entries have been generated and it represents Printed Books’ commitment to making our collections more accessible to our users.  Contact Printed Books for further details.

Early modern sources for non-Londoners, PART TWO

Matthew Payne, writes:

In the last newsletter I touched on a few sources held in the Manuscripts Section which relate to non-Londoners coming into or through London in the early modern period. However, the archives of London institutions also include information about people outside London, many of whom may never have ventured to the metropolis at all.

The most obvious examples of this lie among the records of those manors and estates held by City institutions. Much of the wealth of the livery companies, St Paul’s Cathedral, Christ’s Hospital and other major institutions and families in late medieval and early modern London derived from extensive estates acquired by them, by purchase, gift or bequest. While the rural system of manorial land holding was not applicable to property in the City, Guildhall Library does hold a large number of manorial documents for manors held by City institutions, usually in the counties surrounding London itself. These include, for example, the records of Tillingham manor, the longest continuously-held manor in England (supposedly given to St Paul’s Cathedral at its foundation in 604AD). The estate is still in the possession of the Dean and Chapter. Manorial records can include court books and court rolls, accounts, rentals, surveys and plans, all of which throw light on the people who lived and held property on these estates (for further information, see Charlie Turpie’s article above).

A particularly noteworthy example of this are estates in Ulster, managed from the time of James I until the 19th century by many of the livery companies under royal compulsion, and under the oversight of the Irish Society (originally virtually a committee of the City of London Corporation). Much of the land in the County of Londonderry was parcelled up in 1613 and ownership distributed between the Great Twelve livery companies (at a charge by the Crown), each in conjunction with a group of the minor companies. Many livery company collections contain records relating to these estates, in some instances including detailed rentals and maps of the parcels of land for which they had responsibility.

The livery companies involved themselves in areas outside London in more ways than just the management of their estates. As a result of bequests to the companies, or in other charitable capacities, they often found themselves managing schools or almshouses in manors with which they had connections. So, for example, it is possible to find amongst the records held at Guildhall Library records of Oundle School and almshouses in Northamptonshire, and Witney School in Oxford (both run by the Grocers’ Company), Tonbridge School in Kent (Skinners), Monmouth Grammar School (Haberdashers), Gresham School in Holt, Norfolk and Jesus Hospital, Bray, Berkshire (Fishmongers), and Boone’s almshouses in Lee, Kent (Merchant Taylors’ Company). Unfortunately, before 1700 very few records naming individual pupils or almspeople survive.

It is widely known that the companies’ role in trade regulation did not in the main extend beyond the City of London and its immediate environs. There are, however, a handful of interesting exceptions to this. For example, the Pewterers’ Company, from the date of its first charter in 1474, obtained the right to search and regulate pewter manufacture throughout England. The records of the Company contain fascinating “country search” books beginning in 1636, and running until the early 18th century (Ms 7105 and 7106), which contain the names of almost 700 provincial pewterers in over 200 towns and cities, and often include lists of wares being produced. For further information see Ronald F Homer, “The Pewterers’ Company’s Country Searches and the Company’s Regulation of Prices”, in Ian Gadd and Patrick Wallis (eds), Guilds Society & Economy in London, 1450-1800, (London 2002), pp.101-113.

The regulation of trade may in general have been restricted to London, but the trading operations of Londoners themselves clearly ranged much more widely. Records of 17th century merchants (or earlier) are in fact few and far between, but it is perhaps worth selectively noting the papers of Thomas Bowrey and his travels in the East Indies, Daniel Harvey and Co, Levant merchants, Richard Archedale trading in wine, oils, spices, the D’Aeth family, Italian merchants, Sir Robert Clayton and John Morris, scriveners and merchant bankers, the Holford family, lawyers with extensive interests in Gloucestershire and Somerset, Richard Maples, sea captain and trader with Madras and elsewhere, Sir John Moore, iron and lead trader, and Sir William Turner, cloth and silk merchant. The papers of many of these contain information on trading partners or customers beyond London itself.

Other institutions had wide-ranging connections outside London from an early period. The Corporation of Trinity House, incorporated by royal charter in 1514, had the oversight of pilots in many coastal districts around England, as well as the construction and manning of many (but not all) lighthouses around England, Wales and the Channel Islands, and a role as the charitable organisation for the relief of mariners and a close connection with the Merchant and Royal Navy. Unfortunately, many records were destroyed when Trinity House was bombed during the Second World War, so please refer to the relevant leaflets on our website for further information.

This last connection was established also at Christ’s Hospital on the foundation in 1673 of the Mathematical School within it. Boys, having been trained for a career in the Navy, were examined by the elder brethren of Trinity House. After the abolition in 1678 of the rule that children admitted to Christ’s Hospital must be actually living within the City, some ordinary pupils (as long as they were not “crooked or diseased” and were “wanting either a father or a mother”) also hailed from further afield. An increasing number of eminent individuals and organisations obtained the right to present pupils.

This is only a brief survey of some of the collections of London institutions which range beyond the boundaries of the City itself, or even the larger area of the Diocese of London (whose records I have deliberately avoided) for the early modern period. I hope some of these suggestions spark lines of research and enquiry that may prove fruitful.


Wendy Hawke reports:

The team from Radio 4’s Making History programme came to Guildhall in September to record an item on plague pits for the current series. The two presenters looked at a parish register, some churchwardens’ accounts and the weekly bills of mortality which so graphically illustrate the impact of the plague in the City of London.  In the week of 12-19 September 1665 alone, 7,165 people in the City died of plague.  Professor Justin Champion also pointed out the unusually high number of deaths from “fever” in that week.  Apparently, wealthy people would often bribe the searchers (the old ladies who identified plague victims) to say that a death was from fever, rather than suffer the embarrassment of having plague in the family!  Those of you who caught the broadcast of the item in October would also have heard the sound of a reluctant archivist pressed into walking down the stairs to the lower ground floor and turning the key in the lock of the one of our meetings rooms to add a little “local colour”.


Following on from her article in the last issue about the archives of the disabled community at LMA, Nicola Avery, Principal Archivist, Acquisitions and Cataloguing, writes about another important and growing area of archives held there:

For the last few years LMA has been concentrating on expanding the breadth of its holdings to document the history of London’s diverse communities. Religious, ethnic and other communities have been growing in size and influence within London for many years and it was felt that LMA should begin to reflect this change in the make-up of London within our holdings. If we wanted to remain a relevant source to all Londoners we needed to ensure that the records we held reflected their own communities and experiences.

LMA has always been very strong on collections relating to the Jewish community in London and the United Kingdom. For many years we have been the place of deposit for national organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Office of the Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue and the Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief. We also hold records of individual synagogues and Jewish charities and organisations from the London area. Until 2007 our Jewish holdings related solely to the Ashkenazim, or Jews of Eastern European origin. However, in the summer of last year, we took in the collection of the Sephardim (Jews of Spanish or Portuguese origin). This is the oldest Jewish community in the UK and began life with the opening of the Bevis Marks synagogue in the City of London in the mid 17th century.

Our first deposit from the Afro-Caribbean community came in 2005 when LMA was approached by Eric and Jessica Huntley as a suitable place of deposit for both their personal and their business archives. Eric and Jessica moved to London from Guyana in the late 1950s and founded the UK’s first publishing house specialising in the works of Black authors. They have been tireless campaigners in London for 50 years and their personal archive includes records relating to their campaigns for education, the environment and their local West London community. The business archive contains the records of their publishing house, Bogle l’Ouverture Publications, and the Walter Rodney Bookshop in Ealing. The Huntley collections have now been joined by the archive of Hansib Publications Ltd, which includes major newspaper titles such as the African Times, Asian Times and Caribbean Times as well as many books published by Hansib.

Last year LMA was involved in a project run by the London Chinese Community Network to collect memories and archival documents from older members of London’s Chinese Community. The first deposit from the community was a series of oral history interviews conducted by the Network and subsequently made into a DVD, Whispers of Time. As part of the project with LMA, called Footprints of the Dragon, 26 separate accessions were received from members of the community, ranging from single passports belonging to individuals who moved to London from Hong Kong and China in the 1950s, to business records from Chinese restaurants and community centres. A key collection was that of Samuel Chinque, an influential member of the Chinese community and head of the London branch of the Chinese News Agency, Hsinhua.

The South Asian community is one which LMA is keen to see represented more strongly among its holdings, and we were very happy to accept the records of the Muslim Women’s Helpline this year. This charity works to help women facing forced marriages, family and other pressures, and campaigns and publicises its work through conferences and other events.

Another area which is growing in representation among LMA’s holdings is the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community. We already hold the personal archive of Peter Tatchell, a well-known campaigner for gay rights, and the archives of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a group based in Southwark/Lambeth and the Advisory Group which advises the Metropolitan Police on LGBT issues.

In order to maintain the links with these communities and to encourage more individuals and organisations to deposit with us, LMA runs annual Saturday conferences, which aim to provide informative and entertaining talks on subjects relevant to a specific community, as well as an opportunity for networking and entertainment. The annual Huntley conference, which concentrates on the Afro-Caribbean community, takes place every February, the LGBT conference every December, and this year we held our first conference for the Chinese community in July.

London Maze was a-maze-ing!

Senior Archivist, Sharon Tuff, and Maureen Roberts, Interpretation Officer at

London Metropolitan Archives, report:

London Maze, held this year on Saturday 11 October at Guildhall, confirmed its reputation as London’s premier local history fair. This successful event, attended by nearly 3000 people, brought together around 50 stalls under one roof representing London’s museums, archives, local history libraries and historical groups and societies.

The many activities included Renaissance Dancers in the crypts, talks on the Roman Amphitheatre and the Copley painting, walks led by the City of London Guide Lecturers’ Association and presentations on London history in the newly refurbished Old Museum. Activities for children included drop-in story time and Make a Museum. A highlight was Richard York, a Tudor musician, who gave two talks on the life of a Tudor musician and his collection of musical instruments. He then spent the afternoon wandering around the complex playing a hurdy gurdy.

Youth Maze at London Maze showcased artwork, photographs and dance created in response to the Guildhall by the school groups who had visited between April and October 2008. The event included making squares to add to the Youth Maze History Quilt and an Arts Wall display of the young people’s art which was inspired by their visit to the Art Gallery.

There has been much positive feedback including that of a visitor who had expected to go elsewhere in the afternoon, but stayed all day! However, as with all big events, there were some issues which could have been done better and the organisers will be looking at these.


Guildhall Library has been holding a free series of events as part of the Archive Awareness Campaign 2008. There are still places available for the final event:

10 December 2008: Searching for Black and Asian Londoners in the Parish Registers of the City of London. (1hr). 50 people maximum.

The University of the Third Age (U3A) are participating in a project in conjunction with the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library to search the parish registers of the City for evidence of Black and Asian Londoners (see article in the previous issue of the newsletter). The project, running from September to December, involves volunteers searching the original parish registers from the 1530s to 1837. In this talk, the project's participants will discuss their work and describe the results of their investigation.

The event will take place in the Basinghall Suite. Please come to Guildhall Library Manuscripts enquiry desk, at 2pm sharp. Please book in advance by telephoning 020 7332 1863 or email us. However, you are welcome to come on the day and see if there are any last minute places available.

400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton

EXHIBITION: John Milton 1608-2008 at Guildhall Library, 1 October 2008 to 9 January 2009, free admission.

A small exhibition of manuscripts and books marking the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton in Bread Street in the City of London.

2008 marks the 400th year since the birth of the poet John Milton who was born at Bread Street, Cheapside on 9 December 1608.  To mark this anniversary, the Manuscripts Section is joining the Printed Books Section in exhibiting items relating to Milton's connections with London.  The Manuscripts display comprises the parish register of St. Mary Aldermanbury, recording Milton's second marriage to Katherine Woodcock in front of a local Justice of the Peace on 12 November 1656 (Ms 3572/1), and a deed relating to Christ's Hospital where Milton, as a trustee, is mentioned many times alongside his fellow trustees (Ms 13249).  The Printed Books display includes the parish register of All Hallows, Bread Street, open at 20 December 1608, showing Milton's baptism, an event highlighted at a later date by a note made in the margin (Ms 5031).  Also on display are the detailed plans of the Milton house in Bread Street and a case devoted to the Milton anniversary celebrations that took place at the tercentenary in 1908.

TALK: John Milton of London at Guildhall Library, Friday 5 December 2008, 2 - 4.30 pm, admission - £10/£7.50 (booking essential on 020 7332 3851).

Join us for a talk by Dr Gillian Spraggs about the life and times of John Milton in and around the City. Milton was born 400 years ago in Bread Street and the afternoon will explore aspects of the 17th century City and Milton’s work. The afternoon will include some readings and a chance to see original documents held in the Guildhall collections. The session will end with some seasonal refreshments.


Workshop: Milton and Handel’s Samson Agonistes at Barbican Library, Sunday 7 December 2 – 5 pm (booking essential – see below).

An exploration by Graham Fawcett, lecturer with the Poetry School, of the texts of Milton’s poems Samson Agonistes, L’Allegra and Il Penseroso, and Handel’s music.

Tickets £25.00 (£15.00 concessions) available from the Barbican Centre Box Office on 0845 120 7500 or online.


TALK: Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot at Barbican Library, Monday 8 December 7.30pm (booking essential – see below).

Anna Beer is the author of the latest biography on Milton published in January 2008. She will talk about the writer’s life and draw on her research for the book to illustrate how his life as a writer was informed by his interest in the political and religious controversies of his time.


Refreshments will be served from 7.00 pm and after the talk until 9.00 pm.
Tickets £5.00 (£3.50 concessions) available from the Barbican Centre Box Office on 0845 120 7500 or online.


“ORDERLY, MELLOW AND STUDIOUS”. IMAGES OF THE OLD GUILDHALL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, 1872-1974 in Guildhall Library Print Room, 10 October 2008 – 14 February 2009, free admission.

The origins of Guildhall Library go back to 1425 when Dick Whittington and Richard Bury left money to establish a library “for resorte of all students for their education in Divine Scriptures”. A century later the Lord Protector, Edward Duke of Somerset removed all the books to furnish his new palace: they were never returned. Not until 1824 was the library refounded as a collection chiefly relating to London, and in 1870 work began on a magnificent new building on the east side of Guildhall. Designed in Perpendicular Gothic style by Horace Jones (later responsible for Tower Bridge), it opened in 1872. The basement housed the Guildhall Museum, containing archaeological treasures from the City. Annual visitor numbers swelled from 14,000 to 174,000 in five years and to nearly half a million by 1911. Damage in World War II was made good and expansion continued until the early 1970s when the library moved to the present premises in Aldermanbury, while the museum moved to London Wall to form the nucleus of the new Museum of London. The old Guildhall Library has since been used for receptions and the entire building has recently been refurbished. Victorian architecture nowadays receives increasing appreciation, and it seems a fitting time to celebrate this handsome edifice which has been described as “one of the most beautiful rooms in London.”

G. F. Watts: Victorian Visionary. Highlights from the Watts Gallery Collection at Guildhall Art Gallery, 11 November 2008 – 26 April 2009.

This exhibition focuses on one of Britain’s most original and unusual artists, George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). Drawn from the collection of the Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey and as part of the Watts in the City project, the exhibition has been made possible by the Watts Gallery’s imminent closure for its exciting Lottery-funded restoration project Hope.

For more details and admission charges go to

Guildhall Art Gallery’s exhibition is complemented by a further exhibition from the Watts Gallery in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, G F Watts: Parables in Paint (1 December 2008 - 30 July 2009).


For details of all forthcoming events at Guildhall Library, including behind-the-scenes tours, and the popular sessions on sources for family history and electronic resources, go to


For a calendar listing the events and exhibitions held in all the City of London Libraries and Guildhall Art Gallery for the next three months go to


For details of forthcoming events at London Metropolitan Archives go to

Editor’s note: Talks, workshops, poetry readings, exhibitions, walks, conferences, tours, children’s activities and many other events at the City of London’s Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery are listed in its regularly published events brochure. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact us.


Archives for London organises a number of events, including a series of free seminars held, usually, on the first Thursday of the month at 5.30 pm at London Metropolitan Archives. For details of forthcoming events go to


Do you have any comments about this newsletter, about the Manuscripts Section itself or the records it holds? Do you have anything to contribute about your research, or experiences of working with archives that you would like to share? If so, please contact the editor, Philippa Smith.

Last updated December 2008

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section