Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Electronic Newsletter

Issue No. 7 Spring 2007


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 you think might like to read it. The newsletter now has over 250 subscribers. If you are not already on the mailing list, and would like to receive future issues, please email us at


Albert (Stephen Freeth writes about Albert Hollaender, the first Keeper of Manuscripts at Guildhall Library)

Measuring Up: annual enquiry service statistics, 2006-7; enquiry service statistics for January-March 2007

Cataloguing news: There is a corner of a foreign field …

More Jobs for the Girls (readers’ responses about the occupations of Christ’s Hospital girls)

Lloyd’s Captains Registers: Cornish Masters and Mates Project by Lorna Leadbetter

The Worth Project by Dr Judith Spicksley

Recent filming at Guildhall Library: Inside Out (special programme on the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery featuring Dido Belle); History Detectives (searching for an elusive ancestor in the records of the Russia Company)

Archives online: minutes of the Court of Governors of the Royal Hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlem; Ancient Petitions Henry III to James I

Family Records Centre to close

Guided tours of Guildhall Library (including electronic resources and sources for family historians)

Forthcoming events at London Metropolitan Archives

Archives for London seminars

Exhibitions: Sion College (Guildhall Library); London Before and After the Great Fire: Etchings by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1607-1677 (Guildhall Library Print Room); A Mile of Style: 180 Years of Luxury Shopping on Regent Street (Guildhall Art Gallery); How We Are: Photographing Britain (Tate Britain)

Londoners’ Co-operate! at the Bishopsgate Institute

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

We welcome your views!

Contact details


Keeper of Manuscripts, Stephen Freeth, writes about the first Keeper of Manuscripts at Guildhall Library, and founder of the Manuscripts Section as we know it today:

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section has long been an unusual record office. Despite having holdings, staff and user figures equivalent to many county record offices, it is nevertheless buried within a reference library. You might then wonder, how did this come about? How did a bunch of librarians come to have within their building one of the best local record offices in the country, one of very few to earn Three Stars from the National Archives in 2006? The answer, as is so often the case, is that much of what we see today can be traced back to one single person of energy, determination and vision. That man was Albert Edwin Johannes Hollaender, my predecessor but one as Keeper of Manuscripts. 

Hollaender, as his name suggests, was not English. He was an Austrian Catholic, with a doctorate in Medieval and Modern History from the University of Vienna, and a Diploma in Archive Studies from the Institute of Austrian Historical Research. Born in 1908, the son of an army surgeon, he was in 1938 a journalist on the Wiener Zeitung, writing leader articles full of dire predictions about that awful man Adolf Hitler. The consequences were indeed dire, not least for Hollaender, who found himself, almost literally, penniless, with no English, on the dockside at Dover, having had to flee for his life.

Strength of character was one of Hollaender’s virtues. He needed English, and proceeded to learn it for free, with a little help from international events, by immersing himself amongst English people. Where? In an infantry barrack room on Salisbury plain, as a private soldier in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Barrack rooms are tough, especially if you are a bit weedy, have a strong Austrian accent, and come from a country on which your new home has just declared war. Incredibly, he also started at this time to establish his credentials as an English medieval historian. The annual volumes of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society for the early 1940s carry articles by him on such topics as the seals of the medieval bishops of Salisbury.

In the end, Hollaender had a good war, ending up via the Pioneers as a Company Sergeant-Major in the Intelligence Corps, interrogating senior Nazis after the German surrender. When the time came in 1945 to find a job in civilian life, he applied to Guildhall Library as a temporary assistant on a three-month contract. Almost thirty years later, he retired as Keeper of Manuscripts, having built a local record office of international repute, virtually from scratch.

Hollaender was lucky. The bombed-out City in 1945 needed help. Archives were not the most important problem, compared with food and fuel, but Hollaender was nevertheless in the right place at the right time. He offered City institutions a place of safety for their ancient records, and these flooded in, from London Diocese, from the City churches, from the livery companies, and from City businesses. When he arrived, the Library’s manuscripts comprised a couple of hundred linear yards of random deposits, and a few treasures such as the Shakespeare Deed. By the time he retired, the manuscripts extended to well over a linear mile, and included the archives of most of the City’s parishes and livery companies. There was nowhere in particular to store them of course, so Hollaender borrowed space from others, including cellars in Gresham Street, and the old staff rifle range in the vaults off the East crypt of Guildhall. Gradually, the Library and City Corporation were persuaded to fit around him and his ambitions, not the other way round. He was also a founder member of what is now the Society of Archivists, and editor of its annual professional journal for many years, as well as editing the Library’s own in-house scholarly journal at that time, Guildhall Miscellany.

Hollaender, known within the Library as “Doc”, or “Albert”, was not an easy colleague. His speech, still heavily accented, remained that of the infantryman until the end of his life, though curiously his written style was always a model of probity, clarity and precision. The stream of expletives, audible almost everywhere within the Library, might have earned him instant dismissal almost every day, had he not been indulged as a Johnny Foreigner who was trying his best despite the disadvantages of birth. He was also bloody-minded. For years his boss Arthur Hall, the Guildhall Librarian, had to endure being addressed as “Chiefy”. Hollaender’s attitude to almost anything was at one extreme or the other – either things were superlatively good, or they were frightful. He could also be moody, mean-minded and unpredictable. He never filed any current papers, preferring to throw them away. But, with all this, he had clear vision, impeccable scholarship, a huge network of contacts, the ability to list archives of institutions hundreds of years old at the rate of one per week, year in, year out, and a sense of duty towards the manuscripts in his care that inspired complete trust in others. His assistants, known as the “Golden Boys”, never forgot him, and though his faults live on, so do his virtues. Even today, when the manuscripts catalogue is available on the internet, and the holdings have at least quadrupled in size, hardly a day goes by when the Section’s staff do not use a description or note in Hollaender’s distinctive hand, and jet black or lurid red ink, with “AEJH” proudly marked beneath. Even today, livery company members occasionally ask to see again entries which Hollaender had shown them with a flourish long ago, such as the mention of the “football players” in the Brewers’ Company memorandum book of the 1420s.

Hollaender retired from Guildhall Library in 1973, being succeeded by Chris Cooper, one of his “Golden Boys”. He immediately went to the Public Record Office at Chancery Lane as a voluntary Editor working on State Papers (Foreign), a role which allowed him access to the building and the stacks at any hour of the day or night. He continued there virtually until his death. I myself knew him only in old age, having come to Guildhall Library in 1980 from West Sussex Record Office. A funereal voice, every so often, would telephone from the blue: “Hello, zees ees Albert!” He wanted to hear news from the Library which had allowed him to establish himself in the service of archives in England. Every so often, he would appear in person, and as age and infirmity took their toll, new staff needed to be forewarned, lest they turn him away as an undesirable tramp. His funeral in 1989 was notable for its varied congregation, drawn from the ranks of senior archivists, medieval historians and museum curators. He knew them all, and had earned their friendship and respect.

Much of the above is derived from the festschrift, Prisca Munimenta: Studies in Archival and Administrative History, presented to Hollaender by the Society of Archivists in 1973, and from his Times obituary, 6 May 1989. Other details have come from former colleagues, in particular Richard Harvey and Garry Humphreys.



Unsurprisingly, all the figures show an increase on the previous year. The total number of visitors to the reading room and the number of documents produced in the reading room are the highest they have been for five years. The number of telephone calls has not increased dramatically, but written enquiries continue their relentless increase from year to year. Ten years ago we were answering just over 1000 letters and emails a year, two years ago this had doubled to 2000, and by this year had increased to nearly 3000. In spite of this, we are answering more written enquiries on the day of receipt than ever before - nearly 92%.

Visitors to the reading room                         7572            (6729 in 2005-6)

Documents produced in the reading room     17030         (15456)

Written enquiries                                          2936           (2326 in 2005-6; 1930 in 2004-5)

Telephone calls                                            2578            (2467)

Enquiry response times: 91.8% (82.1% in 2005-6; 81.3% in 2004-5) answered on the day of receipt; 99.6% (97.1%) answered within two days of receipt.


Having reported an annual increase, February seems to have been a quieter month than has been usual recently, with the monthly total of written enquiries lower than that of last year – an increasingly exceptional circumstance. This month also saw a small decrease in the year-on-year total of visitors, although more original documents were produced to these. The telephone enquiries were down in February and March, and static in January.

The Manuscripts Section continues to exceed its target of at least 85% of written enquiries answered within two days of receipt, with an average of nearly 99.75% answered within two days over the three month period. The City of London Corporation’s target is 100% within 10 days.

January 2007

676 visitors to the reading room (580 in 2006)

1317 documents produced in the reading room (1250)

280 written enquiries (239)

238 telephone calls (233)

Enquiry response time for written enquiries (target at least 85% answered within two days): 99.6% answered within two days; nearly 94% answered on the day of receipt.

February 2007

651 visitors to the reading room (681 in 2006)

1544 documents produced in the reading room (1400)

258 written enquiries (306)

201 telephone calls (249)

Enquiry response time: 100% answered within two days; 93.4% answered on the day of receipt.

March 2007

769 visitors to the reading room (741 in 2006)

1491 documents produced in the reading room (1715)

285 written enquiries (269)

227 telephone calls (283)

Enquiry response time: 99.6% answered within two days; 88.4% answered on the day of receipt.


Charlie Turpie, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts, who manages the section’s cataloguing programme, describes recently catalogued records from Anglican chaplaincies in Europe.

There is a corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England …

Unless you’ve been looking for an elusive ancestor who lived or died overseas, you may not be aware that Guildhall Library holds chaplaincy records of Anglican communities in many European countries (including Russia and Turkey) and elsewhere.

Enquirers are, of course, often most interested in the registers of baptisms, marriages and burials which were kept by the local chaplain. In some places with a long-standing British community, these records cover centuries – for example there are baptisms for St. Petersburg from 1723 to 1918, Chantilly 1854-1972 and Florence 1833-1945. More typically, however, we will hold records for a number of years with some gaps.

Our holdings are set out in our guide, The British Overseas, which also includes details of records held elsewhere in the UK and locally. The British Overseas is available from Guildhall Library Bookshop, price £5.75. You can buy it online. For further information about records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials overseas at Guildhall Library, see "Born or buried abroad", by Philippa Smith, in the May 2005 issue of Ancestors magazine.

Recently catalogued are the records of chaplaincies in Dinard, Brittany, and Rapallo on the Ligurian coast of Italy. The Rapallo registers hold entries for baptisms 1893 and 1905-58, marriages 1930-2, and burials 1898-39 and 1951-64 (Guildhall Library Ms 38412-14). The Dinard entries only cover baptisms 1874-8 and one marriage in 1885 (GL Ms 38371).

However, other records can fill in the gaps a little (particularly if you bear in mind that your ancestor did not necessarily marry, die or bear children during the period he or she lived abroad). For example, the Dinard records include notes made by the chaplain in 1939 for his successor - handover notes, you might say (GL Ms 38375). These give an insight into the life of the British community in Dinard attending St. Bartholomew’s church. The chaplain devotes a page to the choir and the organist. He gives a list of regular singers: Miss Hody; Miss Handbury; Miss Dora Wauchope; Mrs Little; Miss Legard; Mrs Cumming (only just arrived); and Miss D Cunningham. Other, less regular, attenders are mentioned with notes explaining their periodic absences. His remarks about the organist, his wife, and his stand-in are worth quoting:

“Mr Kendrick is organist & a good one. Mrs Kendrick when well is regular in choir. She is splendid. Trained voice. When Kendrick is away or ill – Mrs Legard (or her daughter Diana) plays. Mrs Little has also played for me.”

Then a note added presumably slightly later:

“Organist. Just now Kendrick is away & Mrs Legard is playing. She asks that the psalm chosen should be a short one. She is just recovering from a broken arm. She likes the hymns etc. early in the week as she likes to put in a good lot of practice.”

My heart goes out to Mrs Legard. I’m sure she tried her very best.

Editor’s note: the National Archives has recently announced a project to digitise its records of non-parochial, foreign and maritime Births, Marriages and Deaths. The series will be fully searchable by name, and there will be free onsite access for TNA readers. The aim is to have some records online by the end of 2007. For more details go to


In the last issue Amy Erickson, Senior Research Associate of the Group for Population History at the University of Cambridge, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, challenged our assumption that Christ’s Hospital girls invariably went into domestic service. We asked whether any readers had ancestors who were Christ’s Hospital girls in the 19th and early 20th centuries whose occupation after school they knew. Several readers have written to us and two contributions are given here.

David Miller writes:

I am a male Old Blue and have dabbled in the history of both the boys’ and the girls’ schools. Although I have not made a deep study of the girls’ post-school activities, I find it very surprising that there should be an assumption that many of them went into domestic service during the period you mention. A few might have done so, but would, I am sure, have been a minority. I am not sure how you define “early 20th century”, but offer the following for what they are worth and in case they are of any help.

Etta Harris, who left in about 1909, graduated, became a teacher and then went to teach (Latin, I believe, but am not certain) at a grammar school in West Hartlepool. When the Germans bombarded that town in December 1914 she was having breakfast, but leapt to her feet and said to her landlady “I must go and see to the safety of my girls.” Her landlady tried to dissuade her, but Etta knew precisely where her duty lay. She had got just outside when she was killed on the doorstep by a bursting shell, dying instantly. This behaviour and care for others were exactly those being exhibited throughout the war by her fellow Old Blues on the Western Front.

The other is Lilian Ada Bostock, who was awarded the British Empire Medal, the award being promulgated in The Supplement to the London Gazette dated 8 January 1918. This described her as “a Telephonist”, and stated that the award was “For displaying great courage and devotion to duty during air raids.” GPO telephonists were always noted for their steadiness and devotion to duty, so this lady must have been exceptional.

Dorothy Green writes:

My grandmother, Ethel Leftwich (1874-1962), was a pupil at Christ's Hospital from 1884 to 1890. Her brother Charles was at the school from 1882 to 1891 and may have been still at Hertford when Ethel went there, before he moved on to the London school and then St John's College, Cambridge. The boys' and girls' schools at Hertford were completely separate, and they saw each other only on Sundays when they all walked to the parish church, but they were not allowed to communicate with each other at all. Ethel told us that even shaking a duster out of a window was forbidden, because it might be an attempt to signal to a boy! Conditions for the girls were grim, but Ethel had stories of various pranks they got up to, so there was fun as well.

After CH she went to some kind of finishing school in Germany, which may have provided kindergarten training, because she did various jobs as a governess and a nursery school teacher. She never mentioned any formal qualification.

In January 1900 Ethel married Dr Percy McDougall, a GP in Manchester, and settled down to being 'the doctor's wife', bringing up a family of one boy and five girls, doing charity work in the slums and becoming involved in amateur dramatics. Her CH training in sewing must have been useful, as she made many of the family's clothes, and also costumes for plays and fancy dress parties.

lloyd’s captains registers: CORNISH MASTERS AND MATES PROJECT

In the last issue we reported on the progress of Guildhall Library’s project to index the first series of “Captains Registers” of Lloyd’s of London, 1851-1911 (GL Ms 18567). In this issue, Lorna Leadbetter, Cornish Masters & Mates Project Contact, writes about another project involving the “Captains Registers”, 1851-1948 (GL Ms 18567-71).

A number of years ago the Family History Group of the London Cornish Association started a project to extract the names of Cornish-born masters and mates from indexes in series BT127 at the National Archives  These indexes contain thousands of names, not only from the United Kingdom, but from the colonies and other countries.  Our main aim was to provide Cornwall Family History Society with a source of information not available in the county. We even dreamed that we might one day be able to undertake a look-up service for members, many of whom live overseas. 

Compilation of our “local index” took longer than we anticipated, largely because some TNA registers were in places very difficult to decipher, particularly where a line was drawn through an entry, not to delete it but as an indication that the man in question had died in service.  Another problem was that there were instances when a place name was not precisely identified by a county name. We were, for example, faced with uncertainty whether “St Ives” meant Cornwall or Huntingdonshire, and whether “Launceston” indicated Cornwall or Tasmania!  Finally TNA granted our request for access to the original registers, rather than continuing to work from the microfilm version.  Although this helped to resolve doubts over many entries, our work still contained gaps and query marks where pages in the original registers were damaged, missing or partially obscured by blots.

At this point we came to the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library for assistance.  Their collection of Lloyd’s Captains Registers allowed us to cross-check the certificate numbers we had extracted at TNA, to correct errors, to fill in gaps, and to confirm the true place of birth of many mariners. In September 2006, with assistance from Cornwall Family History Society, and advice from the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, a CD went on sale as a joint production of LCA, CFHS and NMMC.  It contains 4,250 names of Cornish-born masters and mates (the officer class) in the Mercantile Marine, and covers dates of birth between the 1790s and the early 1900s.  The certificate numbers will guide researchers to sources at TNA, Guildhall Library and the National Maritime Museum, so that they can learn more about their mariner ancestors.

We have also been able to realise our dream of providing a look-up service for CFHS members, many of whom cannot visit London archives themselves.  We make frequent visits to the Manuscripts Section to extract the details of service of Cornish-born mariners (vessels, dates, rank, voyages and incidents), and pass this information on to enquirers all over the world.  We also visit the Printed Books Section to search Lloyd’s Lists for references found in the Captains Registers. 

On behalf of the Project I should like to record our thanks to the staff of the Manuscripts Section for all the advice and assistance they gave us so readily during preparation of the CD, and now continue to provide for the look-up service.  We also appreciate the never-failing good humour of the delivery staff, and the speed with which they produce and carry those huge registers.

Lorna can be contacted at

For more information about the project, see "Masters and Mates”, by Lorna Leadbetter, in the March 2007 issue of Ancestors magazine.

Copies of the CD can be bought for £7, plus postage and packing, from Cornwall FHS, 5 Victoria Square, Truro TR1 2RS (


Dr Judith Spicksley, from the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, part of the Department of History at the University of Hull, describes a recent project. This has involved the collection of material from the records of the London Commissary and Consistory courts in the period ca. 1550-1750, and may be of interest to readers.

The Worth Project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain, and directed by Dr Alexander Shepard, currently Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge.  The aim of the project was to examine the statements of witnesses who appeared before the early modern courts, in order to recover and analyse new data relating to the distribution of wealth and the language of social description in England over the two centuries in question. The project ranged widely in terms of geography, extending to six main areas in addition to London: Cambridge [University Courts], Canterbury, Chester, Chichester, Salisbury and York. It sought to examine the responses of witnesses to the commonly-asked question of what they were worth, in goods, with their debts paid. Such responses often included monetary estimates of material worth, and details about how witnesses made a living, together with more qualitative forms of evaluation in terms of honesty and industriousness. An extensive amount of personal and biographical information that emerged during the cases was also collected, including the age, literacy status and migration histories of witnesses, and incidental details of their religious observance. A database, containing the responses of, and information relating to, a total of 13,686 witnesses was created during the course of the project. This database is currently being lodged with the Data Archive Service at the University of Essex, and will be available through them at


Guildhall Library is regularly approached by film companies who wish to use our manuscripts, our staff and our buildings in their programmes. While we are happy to participate when it is practical to do so, we always try to ensure that any filming is as unobtrusive as possible for the readers that use the Library. Here are details of two recent programmes to which we have made a contribution.

Inside Out

Claire Titley, Archives Assistant, writes: the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library was filmed by the BBC on Thursday 18 January 2007 for inclusion in the local current affairs programme Inside Out. A small crew, plus researcher Sarah Minney, filmed the marriage allegation and bond relating to the marriage of Dido Elizabeth Belle and John Davinier (GL Ms 10091/169 & Ms 10091E/106) as part of a special programme on the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery, which was broadcast on 2nd March.

The facts of Dido Belle’s early life have long been established. She was the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Lindsay, a captain in the Royal Navy. Her mother was a black slave of African origin whom Lindsay had taken prisoner in a Spanish vessel in the West Indies and brought to England, where Dido was born.

Dido Belle's historical significance relates to her unusual position as a black girl taken into the care of William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield (1705–1793). Mansfield was the uncle of Sir John Lindsay, and seems to have welcomed Dido into his household as a companion for his great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray (c.1763–1823). Dido lived with the family at their house in Bloomsbury Square until 1780, and then at Kenwood House.

Her position in the house was somewhere between servant and family member, and she was given the responsibility of looking after the dairy and the poultry yard. Her place in the family shocked some, and the Oxford DNB quotes Thomas Hutchinson, who was certainly disconcerted by her presence and proximity to the family after a family dinner in 1799: ‘A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies and, after coffee, walked with the company in the gardens, one of the young ladies having her arm within the other.’ Despite her uncertain position in the house, Mansfield was fond of Dido and provided her with an education, an allowance, and gifts. He even ensured that her freedom was made part of his will of 12 April 1782.

As Lord Chief Justice from 1756 to 1788 Mansfield had jurisdiction over cases involving slaves. The presence of Dido Belle as his ward made some critics sceptical about his judgments. Indeed, Mansfield's judgment in the case of James Somerset (22 June 1772) was popularly and erroneously believed to emancipate slaves in England.

Until recently, the facts of Dido’s later life were unclear, but in 2005 research by Sarah Minney provided further details. On 5 December 1793 she married John Davinier at St George's, Hanover Square, London and the couple had at least three sons (the twins Charles and John, and William Thomas) who were also baptized at St George's. Dido Belle died in July 1804 and was buried at St George's Fields, near the modern Bayswater Road.

The programme also features shots filmed at Kenwood House, where there will be an exhibition entitled “Slavery and Justice: the legacies of Lord Mansfield and Dido Belle” from 24 May to 2 September 2007. This will include the marriage allegation mentioned above (GL Ms 10091/169) loaned by Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, as well as the famous Johan Zoffany painting of Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray on loan from Scone Palace. More details can be found at

Further reading:

The Mansfield ruling of 1772 was the subject of a Black History Month exhibition at Guildhall Library, the text of which can be found online at

G. Adams, ‘Dido Elizabeth Belle, a black girl at Kenwood: an account of the protégée of the First Lord Mansfield’, Camden History Review (1984), pp.10-14.

Sarah Minney, ‘The Search for Dido’, History Today (October 2005), 55/10, pp.2-3.

The History Detectives

Dr Stacey Gee, Assistant Archivist, reports: If you were in Guildhall Library on Tuesday 3 April 2007 you may have spotted another film crew, this time in the Printed Books Section of the Library. The crew were from Lion Television, who are producing an Open University and BBC2 series, The History Detectives. In one programme of the 6-part series they plan to investigate a photograph of a man dressed in the cloth of the ministry, taken in St Petersburg between 1900 and 1912, and signed “George Packwood Clarke”.

The television company found out from sources at other libraries and archives that George Packwood Clarke had spent some time in Russia working on relief from suffering before becoming a vocational guidance officer in Kent.

The Manuscripts Section helped the film company's researcher to consult the archives of the Russia Company in order to find out more about Clarke. Although no mention of him was found in the Russia Company records, Lion Television were still eager to film at Guildhall Library. Unlike many history programmes in which the researcher wanders into an archive and immediately finds lots of information, it seems that this television company is more enlightened about the difficulties and potential dead-ends of historical research!

Vanessa Woodbine Parish, the Governor of the Russia Company, very kindly agreed to talk to the presenter, Neil Oliver, about the Company's records. We are very grateful to her for this, as her knowledge of Anglo-Russian commerce and communities during the early 20th century is excellent. They were filmed looking at Crockford's Clerical Directory, a court minute book of the Russia Company (GL Ms 11741/15), and annual reports of the chaplains and other miscellaneous papers and letters relating to Anglican churches in Russia (GL Ms 11751/1 and Ms 21377). But, of course, there is no guarantee that most, let alone all, of the filming will make it onto our screens! We do not yet know when the series will be shown, but it is likely to be in late summer this year.




High quality digital images of the minutes of the joint Court of Governors of the Royal Hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlem, 1559-1955, are now available online at


Originally built as a palace for Henry VIII in New Bridge Street, by 1556 Bridewell had become a house of correction for petty offenders, vagrants and immoral persons. By 1574 (and possibly earlier) Bridewell and Bethlem were jointly administered. This arrangement between the two institutions (and, in the case of Bridewell, its sucessor King Edward's School) lasted until the advent of the National Health Service in 1948.


Although Guildhall Library holds the archives of Bridewell Royal Hospital, the originals of the minute books of the joint Court of Governors and joint General Committee are held by the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX. Microfilm copies of both sets of minutes have been available in the Manuscripts Section for a number of years (GL Ms 33011 and 33016).


A reader, Dr J Freeman, has recently extracted our two earliest references to black Londoners from the Court books (GL Ms 33011/3):

15 December 1576 in relation to Ann Levens, a prostitute, presented before the Court: ‘She sayeth that a tall blacke man with a blacke beard and a straunger had the use of her body at Mrs Esgrigges at White Fryers’ (GL Ms 33011/3 f.97).

15 May 1577, Peter Peringe, ‘a blackamore confessed he had the use of the body of Margery Williams’ (GL Ms 33011/3 f.218).


The catalogue of the archives of Bridewell Royal Hospital is available at The catalogue of the archives of Bethlem Royal Hospital can be found at




You can now search and download over 14,000 images from the series of Ancient Petitions held by the National Archives at This series draws together petitions addressed to the king, to the king and council, to the king and council in parliament, to the chancellor, and to certain other officers of state. The petitions include detailed information about the circumstances of the parties involved, and the conditions of the locality. These documents reveal something of the attitude to public authority in the later Middle Ages and the social conventions and political culture.


Most of the petitions are in Anglo-Norman French, although some early examples are in Latin, while English was increasingly used as the fifteenth century progressed. Most of the petitions came from England, but a significant minority were from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Aquitaine, Gascony and other parts of France.


The majority of petitions were presented by named individuals, men and women, singly or in groups. Although there are examples of petitions presented by members of the peasantry, it was more usual for petitioners to be members of the gentry, the nobility, the urban elites or the higher clergy.


In addition to petitions presented by individuals, a significant number of cases were presented in the name of communities and corporations: many examples exist of petitions presented by villages, towns, ecclesiastical institutions and mercantile associations. There are also petitions addressed from the "commons" or "people".


You can search on any or all of the following: petitioner name; places mentioned; occupation; subject; and other keywords.


TNA is able to provide free access to the images because the project, based at the University of York, has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through its Resource Enhancement Scheme. The first batch of images is online, with the remainder due to go online during 2007. Be warned, on the TNA site it looks as though you are going to be charged for the image, but you are not!




We reported in the Summer 2006 issue of the newsletter that the National Archives had announced in June its decision to relocate those holdings currently at the Family Records Centre (FRC) in Islington to Kew in early 2008, and to develop online access to the records. On Tuesday 16 January 2007, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also announced its decision to close its facility at the FRC which it has shared with the National Archives since 1997 and to put its records online. This means that, from April 2008, the FRC will be no more. The ONS’s news release can be read at For another perspective on the closure see the Federation of Family History Societies’ website. The latest newsletter of Archives for London also addresses the issue, although it is not currently available on its website.


Each session starts at 1.00 p.m. and will last for one hour. Sessions are free, but you must book in advance by phoning 020 7332 1868/1870 or by emailing

General tours

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

Wednesday 6 June 2007

Wednesday 1 August 2007

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Wednesday 5 December 2007

You will hear about the history of the Library, see the collections, and visit behind the scenes.

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 2 May 2007

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Wednesday 5 September 2007

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Sources for family historians

You will be shown resources for tracing family history in the Printed Books Section, and then view a selection of original documents in the Manuscripts Section.

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Tuesday 10 July 2007


Among forthcoming events at London Metropolitan Archives are: Criminal Londoners – Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century, Tuesday 24 April 10.30am-4.30pm; Caring for your Family History, Wednesday 25 April 2.00pm-4.30pm; Use LMA, Thursday 10 May 2.00pm-3.30pm; A Slave History Walk, Tuesday 15 May and Saturday 9 June both 2.00pm-3.30pm;  Use LMA – Getting Started, Wednesday 11 July and Thursday 16 August both 2.00pm-3.45pm; Campaigning London, Wednesday 12 September 2.00pm-3.00pm; Understanding Slavery Documents, Tuesday 25 September 2.00pm-3.30pm; Class Struggle and Slavery, 1807-2007, Saturday 13 October 10.00am-4.30pm.

Details of these, and booking information, are at:


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. Forthcoming topics in 2007 are: How to Find and Use London wills, Jane Cox, 3 May 2007; and How to Date Photographs, Jenny Lister and Sophie Leighton from the V&A, 6 September 2007. These seminars are open to all, but advance booking is necessary – please contact Nicola Avery (email:

Also planned are two afternoon visits: Kew Gardens, Thursday 17 May 2007 at 2.00pm; and Bethlem Royal Hospital, Tuesday 19 June 2007 at 2.00pm. There is a charge of £5 per person for each of these events. Further details and a booking form are available on Archives for London’s recently-launched website at


SION COLLEGE in Guildhall Library until 4 June 2007. Free admission.

Matthew Payne, Assistant Archivist, writes: The Manuscripts Section’s latest reading room display celebrates the history of Sion College. The College was founded in accordance with the will of Rev Dr Thomas White (d.1624), to serve as a meeting place for London clergy and as an almshouse for ten poor men and ten poor women. During construction it was felt that a library would be a useful addition. The College remained at London Wall until 1886, when it moved to new premises on Victoria Embankment. There it remained until the dispersal of the library and archives in 1996.

In 1996 the Sion College archives were deposited in Guildhall Library, although a few minor items had been deposited in the 1960s. The pre 1850 printed books and the medieval manuscript literary and other texts from the Library were passed to Lambeth Palace Library, and post 1850 books to King's College, London.

The Manuscripts Section has on display various items from the archive, including interior and exterior photographs (especially of the library), the first court register, an 18th century account ledger, and petitions of 1677 and 1678 from poor widows seeking admittance to the almshouses. In addition, there are loaned items from King’s College (a copy of Charles Mackeson, A Guide to the Churches of London and its suburbs for 1871, London 1871) and Lambeth Palace Library (Caxton’s 1478 printing of Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae, as translated by Chaucer). The displayed items are to be found in three cases, two in the Printed Books Section, as you enter the Library, and the other in the Manuscripts reading room.

The display forms part of Sion College Collections: Access for All, a collaboration between the Manuscripts Section, Lambeth Palace Library and King’s College London to enhance access and promote the use of the Sion College collections on the three sites. A grant has been received as part of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s ‘Routes to Knowledge’ strategy by the lead partner, Lambeth Palace Library. This has enabled the production of a leaflet (copies of which are available in the reading room), and an online exhibition to promote the three collections (visit, as well as displays of Sion College material at each location. The display at King’s College will take place 1 May-29 June, and the display at Lambeth Palace Library will be 3 September-1 November.

LONDON BEFORE AND AFTER THE GREAT FIRE: ETCHINGS BY WENCESLAUS HOLLAR 1607-1677 continues in Guildhall Library Print Room until 12 May 2007. Free admission.

For more information go to

A Mile of Style: 180 Years of Luxury Shopping on Regent Street in Guildhall Art Gallery, 13 April - 30 June 2007.

Celebrating the 180 years of Regent Street, A Mile of Style reveals the fascinating story of Europe’s most famous shopping thoroughfare through archival documents, maps, photographs and plans. The archives on display include an item lent by Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section: a County Fire Office scrapbook (GL Ms 31964), featuring that company’s prominent building in Piccadilly Circus.

For more details and admission charges go to

How We Are: Photographing Britain at Tate Britain, 22 May – 2 September 2007.

This is the first major exhibition of photography ever to be held at Tate Britain. It takes a unique look at the journey of British photography, from the pioneers of the early medium to today’s photographers who use new technology to make and display their imagery.


The images in this exhibition come from the length and breadth of the UK, and again include an item from the Manuscripts Section, one of several items loaned by Guildhall Library: the case book of London boys from the Ragged School Union, admitted to a collecting centre for assisted emigrants to Canada, containing photographs of the boys, ca. 1860 (GL Ms 5754). As well as being displayed in the exhibition, the complete case book will also be available online and within Tate Britain as a digital “turning the pages” book.


For more details and admission charges go to

Londoners Co-operate! At the Bishopsgate Institute

Celebrating the London Co-operative Society Collection at Bishopsgate Institute, and International Co-operator's Day, Saturday 7 July 2007, 10.00am-5.30pm.

This one-day event will provide an insight in to the history of co-operation in London, and allow those attending to discover more about this important movement from its origins to the present day.

In the Chair will be Dame Pauline Green (Chief Executive and General Secretary, Co-operatives-UK), and speakers will include: Andrew Flinn (University College London); Baron Graham of Edmonton (ex-Labour MP and ex-National Secretary, Co-operative Party); Stan Newens (ex-Labour MP and ex-President of the LCS); Rita Rhodes (Visiting Fellow, Open University); Nicole Robertson (University of Nottingham); and Mervyn Wilson (Chief Executive and Principal, Co-operative College).

As well as the speakers, the day will feature exhibitions of co-operative archives and historical material from major repositories around the country, including those of the Bishopsgate Institute itself, and showings of London Co-op-produced films, Peace Parade (1937), Advance Democracy (1938), and other short publicity films.

Cost: £25 (£15 concessions); lunch included. Advance booking is necessary. Please download the booking form at or telephone 020 7392 9270.


As reported in the last newsletter, the popular BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? is launching a national history show.

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE will be held from 5-7 May 2007 at the National Hall, Olympia, and will incorporate the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show to create the largest ever event of its kind.

If you’re going to be there, why not visit us at the joint Guildhall Library/London Metropolitan Archives stand?

You can find out more at You may still be able to get discounted tickets via some of the partner websites: try and


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, at

Last updated April 2007

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section