[Court of] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Common Council.]377

[Court of] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Common Council.]

"Whence we may gather, the Value the Citizens set upon their Freedoms; and how they were given underhand, and gotten often by Stealth, without the Consent and Allowance of the whole Commons; and that the Seal was kept in private Hands, and too much at the Command of the Aldermen, or some of them."

The Year after this, they petitioned again, as follows.

A Petition exhibited to the Maior and Aldermen by the Commonalty.


"ON Friday, next before the Feast of St. Nicolas, in the 6th Year of King Edward, the Son of King Edward, were gathered together at Gyhald, London John de Gisors, Maior, and many Aldermen and honest Men of the City of every Trade. Who came to treat upon certain Articles and Businesses for the whole Commonalty; and shewed certain Grievances following to the said Maior and Aldermen. Upon which they propounded certain Articles ordained for the common Profit, requiring that for the Remainder they be firmly observed."

Other Petitions of the Commonalty to the Maior, &c.

Lib. Horn. fo. 427.

"First of all, that firm Peace and good Concord be nourished and preserved in a neighbourly Unity through the whole City."

" Also, For that many Fellow Citizens of the said City, whose Counsel and Assistance is always necessary to maintain the same City, are by reason of their juvenile Age, less sufficiently instructed, as to the Laws and Liberties, and ancient Customs of the City; it is agreed, that such Liberties, Usages, and Customs, as concerning those which belong to the Offices of divers Bailiffs, as well within the City as in the Gates of the same; and also the Statutes and Manners, whereby divers Trades, as well those of Merchants or Workmen, ought to be regulated; be, according to Right, enrolled in some certain Register; and be read once or twice every Year, in a common Assembly: And for the time to come it be not denied to the Citizens, that are minded, to have a Transcript thence, or an Inspection."

" And also, that every Alderman, in the Terms accustomed in the City, hold their Wardmotes, and do more diligently such things which are incumbent upon their Duties, as they are more firmly tied by the Bond of their Oath, under pain of Degradation from the Office of Alderman."

" Also, for that the Sheriffs, Aldermen, and Serjeants, by Authority of their Bailivery, do not desist to make Extortions and Forfeitures, not to be suffered, without Consideration or Judgment of the Maior and Aldermen, upon divers that bring Victuals to the City: And also, where they, the said Bailiffs, ought to do speedy Right to all complaining before them, according to the Laws and Customs of the said City, the said Bailiffs, for Malice and Covetousness, are found so remiss and impotent to do Right and Justice, that scarce any can be dispatched before them in due manner: So that now no small murmuring ariseth anew in the People of the City; and a manifold Scandal beginneth thence to hang over us: It is agreed, that the said Maior and Aldermen more diligently enquire upon these Grievances; and that they provide a seasonable Remedy hereupon, as is fit."

" Also, because in times past, whereof no Memory is, as also in modern times, the City is wont to be defended and governed by the Wealth and Counsel, as well of honest Men of Mercantile Trades, as of other Trades wrought by Hand; and it hath anciently been used, that no extraneous Person, be he homebred or Foreigner, of whose Conversation and State a certain Knowlege might not be had, should be admitted into the Liberty of the City; unless first such Merchants and Tradesmen of the City, exercising the Trade which such to be admitted intended to use, be lawfully called: that by the Citizens themselves so called together, the Maior and Aldermen being certified of the Condition and Fidelity of such Persons to be admitted, might know, if they were to be admitted or refused."

" The whole Commonalty petitioneth, that the foresaid Form, whereby the greater Trades of Merchants or Handicrafts Men were ordered, be for the future observed. Lest any for time to come be admitted to the Liberty of the City, contrary to the foresaid Provision."

Concerning the Election of Aldermen for the Wards, and especially of Common Council Men, there have been of late Years great Contests, when upon Vacancies two Parties have been set up to be chosen, and the Persons elected not allowed by one Side, on pretence of an undue Election, Petitions have been drawn up and preferred to the Common Council, complaining of the said Election. And upon such Petitions, the Common Council have appointed a Committee to consider the same. And thereupon, by their Order, Suits in Law have been commenced. The Charges whereof have been out of the City Cash. Which from Novemb. 8, 1711, unto the Year 1718, cost the City 2827l. 10s. as it was brought into the House of Lords in the Year 1719, by the Town Clerk and Chamberlain.

Contests about Elections of Common Council Men.

The Charges thereof to the City 2827l.

For the stopping of this great Expence of the City for time to come, (being already so deeply in Debt) an Endeavour was made to find out an Expedient, by application to the King's Bench, upon such a controverted Election. When, on the 6th of February, 1717, such a Petition of an undue Election was exhibited to the Common Council by Edward Brigden, Peter Bolton, and others; complaining, (as I take it out of an Order of the House of Lords, for the printing of the Report and Resolution, 17 April, 1719.) that Robert Jeffs and Stephen King were declared duly elected Common Council Men for Tower Ward, in Prejudice of the Petitioners Brigden and Bolton's Right. Which Petition was received by the Common Council: Who the same Day appointed a Committee to examine the Allegations thereof, and to issue such Money as they should appoint for Advice, or other necessary Expences in this Matter. And their Lordships [viz. the Committee of the Lord's House, before whom this Matter now was come] were informed, that this Practice of the Common Council, of issuing the City Cash, in taking Part with Citizen against Citizen; and in assuming to themselves a Right of judging contested Elections of the City Officers, grew so heavy, that it became necessary to apply for Remedy to the Court of the King's Bench, to put a Stop to so growing an Evil.

And for this Reason, the said Mr. Jeffs and Mr. King moved the said Court; and thereupon obtained a Prohibition, to restrain the Common Council from intermeddling with the Examination of the Election: With Directions however, to declare in such manner, as to bring the Point to be tried, Whether the Common Council had, or had not a Right of examining such contested Elections. And accordingly, a Declaration was delivered: and therein, and in the Proceedings thereon, the Point was tendred to put in Issue. But to avoid such Trial, the Defendants demurred. Which coming to be argued, Judgment was given for the said Jeffs and King. And then Writs of Error were brought, returnable in Parliament.

The Common Council restrained.