The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2

Allen, Thomas


The Court of Wardmote.


This court is so denominated from the words ward and mote, that is, the ward court; for in London parishes are as towns, and wards as hundreds; wherefore this court resembles that of the leet in the county: for, as the latter derives its authority from the county court, so does the former from that of the lord mayor; as is manifest by the annual precept issued by the lord mayor to the several aldermen, for holding their respective leets, for the election of proper officers in each ward; the tenor whereof is as follows:

To the alderman of the ward of----

We charge and command you, that upon St. Thomas's day, the apostle, next coming, you do hold your wardmote; and that you have afore us, at our general court of aldermen, to be holden the Monday next after the feast of the Epiphany next coming, all the defaults that shall be presented afore you by inquest in the said wardmote; and the said inquest shall have full power and authority, by one whole year, to inquire and present all such defaults as shall be found within your said ward, as oftentimes as shall be thought to you expedient and needful; which we will shall be once every month at least.

2. And if it happen any of your said inquest do die, or depart out of the said ward within the said year, that then in place of him or them so dying, or departing out of your said ward, you cause to be chosen one able person in his stead, to inquire and present with the other, in manner and form above-said.

3. And that at the said general court, you give afore us the names and sirnames of all of them of your said ward that come not to your said wardmote, if they be duly warned, so that due redress and punishment of them may be had, as the case shall require, according to the law.

4. And that you do provide, that at all times convenient a sufficient watch be kept: and that lanterns with light by nightertail, in old manner accustomed, be hanged forth; and that no man go by nightertail without light, nor with vizard, on the peril that belongeth thereto.

5. And also, that you do cause to be chosen men, of the most sufficient, honest, and discreet men, of your said ward, to be for your said ward of the common council of this city for the year ensuing, according to the custom in that behalf yearly used. And also, that you do cause the said men, so to be chosen to be of the common council, to be sworn before you, and in your presence, according to the oath by them used, and of old time accustomed.

6. And that also in the said wardmote you cause to be chosen certain other honest persons, to be constables and scavengers, and a common beadle, and a raker to make clean the streets and lanes of all your said ward, according to the custom yearly used in that behalf; which constables have, and shall have full power and authority to distrain for the salary and quarterage of the said beadle and raker, as oftentimes as it shall be behind or unpaid.

7. Also, that you keep a roll of the names, sirnames, dwelling-places, professions and trades of all persons dwelling within your ward, and within what constable's precinct they dwell; wherein the place is to be specially noted by street, lane, alley or sign.

8. Also, that you cause every constable, from time to time to certify unto you the name, sirname, dwelling-place, profession and trade of every person who shall newly come to dwell within his precinct, whereby you may make and keep your roll perfect; and that you cause every constable for his precinct, to that purpose, to make and keep a perfect roll in like manner.

9. Also, that you give special charge to every innholder, and other persons within your ward, who shall receive any person to sojourn in his house above two days, shall, before the third day after his coming thither, give knowledge to the constable of the precinct where he shall be so received, of the name, sirname, dwelling-place, profession and trade of life, or place of service of such person, and for what cause he shall come to reside there. And that the said innholder lodge no suspected person, or men or women of evil name.

10. Also, that you cause every constable within his precinct, once every month at the farthest, and oftener if need require, to make diligent search and inquiry what persons be newly come into his precinct to dwell, sojourn or lodge; and that you give special charge, that no innholder or person shall resist, or deny any constable in making such search or inquiry, but shall do his best endeavour to aid and assist him therein.

11. And for that of late there is more resort to the city, of persons evil-affected in religion and otherwise, than in former times hath been; you shall diligently inquire if any man be received to dwell or abide within your ward, that is not put under frank-pledge, as he ought to be by the custom of the city: and whether any person hath continued in the said ward by the space of one year, being above the age of twelve years, and not sworn to be faithful and loyal to the king's majesty, in such sort as by the law and custom of this city he ought to be.

12. To all these purposes, the beadle of every ward shall employ his diligence, and give his best furtherance.

13. Also you are to take order, that there be provided and set up a pair of stocks, and a whipping-post, in some convenient place in every parish within your ward, for the punishing of vagrants and other offenders.

14. Also, that you have special regard that from time to time there be convenient provision for hooks, ladders, buckets, spouts and engines in meet places, within the several parishes of your ward, for avoiding the peril of fire.

15. Also, that the streets and lanes of this city be from time to time kept clean before every church, house, shop, warehouse, door, deadwall, and in all other common passages and streets of the said ward.

16. And whereas by divers acts of common council aforetime made and established for the common-weal of this city, among other things it is ordained and enacted, as hereafter ensueth. That from henceforth no huckster of ale or beer be within any ward of the city of London, but honest persons of good name and fame, and so taken and admitted by the alderman of the ward for the time being; and that the same hucksters do find sufficient surety afore the mayor and aldermen for the time being, to be of good guiding and rule; and that the same hucksters shall keep no bawdry, nor suffer no letchery, dice-playing, carding, or any other unlawful games to be done, exercised or used within their houses; and to shut in their doors at nine of the clock in the night from Michaelmas to Easter, and from Easter to Michaelmas at ten of the clock in the night, and after that hour sell no ale or beer. And if any huckster of beer or ale, after this fact published and proclaimed, sell any ale or beer, within any ward of the city of London, and be not admitted by the alderman of the same ward so to do, or find not sufficient surety, as it is above rehearsed, the same huckster to have imprisonment, and make fine and ransom for his contempt, after the discretion of the lord mayor and aldermen. And also that the said hucksters suffer no manner of common eating or drinking within their cellars or vaults, contrary to the ordinance thereof ordained and provided, as in the said act more plainly appeareth at large. We charge you, that you put the same in due execution accordingly.

17. And also, that you see all tipplers, and other sellers of ale and beer, as well privy osteries, as brewers and innholders within your ward, not selling by lawful measures sealed and marked with the city arms, or dagger, be presented, and their names in your said indentures be expressed, with their defaults, so that the chamberlain may be lawfully answered of their amerciaments.

18. And also, that you suffer no alien, or son of any born an alien, to be of the common council; nor to exercise or use any other office within this city, nor receive or accept any person into your watch, privy or open, but Englishmen born; and if any stranger born out of this realm, made denizen by letters patents, or any other, after his course and lot be appointed to any watch, that then ye command and compel him, or them, to find in his stead and place an Englishman to supply the same.

19. And also, that you cause an abstract of the assize appointed by act of parliament for billets and other fire-wood, to be fair written in parchment, and to be fixed or hanged up in a table, in some fit and convenient place in the parish within your ward, where the common people may best see the same.

20. And furthermore, we charge and command you, that you cause such provision to be had in your said ward, that all the streets and lanes within the same ward be from time to time cleansed, and clearly voided of ordure, dung, mire, rubbish, and other filthy things, whatsoever be to the annoyance of the king's majesty's subjects.

21. And also, that at all times, as you shall think necessary, you do cause search to be made within your said ward for all vagrant beggars, suspicious and idle people, and such as cannot shew how to live; and such as shall be found within your said ward, that you, cause to be punished, and dealt with according to the laws and statutes in such case ordained and provided.

22. And also, we will and charge you the said alderman, that yourself certify and present before us at the said general court, to be holden the aforesaid Monday next after the feast of the Epiphany, all the names and sirnames truly written of such persons being and dwelling within your said ward, as to be able to pass in a petty jury by themselves, that is to say, every grand juryman to be worth in goods an hundred marks, and every petty juryman forty marks, according to an act in that case ordained and provided, the same you shall indorse on the back side of your indenture.

23. Item. For divers reasonable and urgent considerations especially moving, we straightly charge and command you, on the king our sovereign lord's behalf, that you diligently provide and foresee, that no manner of person or persons, within your said ward, what condition or degree soever he or they be of, keeping any tavern or ale-house, ale-cellar, or any other victualling-house, or place of common resort to eat or drink in, within the same ward, permit or suffer at any time hereafter, any common women of their bodies, or harlots, to resort and come into their said house, or other the places aforesaid, to eat or drink, or otherwise to be conversant, or abide, or thither to haunt, or frequent, upon pain of imprisonment, as well of the tenant and keeper of every such house or houses, and all other the places afore-remembered, as of the common women and harlots.

24. Also, that you do give in charge to the wardmote inquest of your ward, all the articles delivered to you herewith; and that you may have a special care of keeping the peace and good order during your wardmote; and if any offend herein, you may fine or punish him or them according to law.

25. And whereas the monies received for the fines of persons refusing to hold ward offices within your ward, ought to be employed in the service and for the public benefit of the whole ward, and not of any particular precinct or parish within the ward; these are therefore to require you to take care that all such fines be from time to time disposed of accordingly, for the benefit of the whole ward, as you, with the deputy, and common councilmen of your ward shall think most fitting and convenient; and that no such fines be received or employed in any particular precinct or parish.

Not failing hereof, as ye tender the common weal of this city, and advancement of good justice, and as ye will answer for the contrary at your uttermost peril.

Dated at under the seal office of mayoralty of the said city, the day of December, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord George the fourth, &c.

By this precept it appears, that the court of wardmote consists of the alderman and the respective householders of his ward, by whom are annually elected the several officers peculiar to the same; among whom being those of the inquest, they receive the aforesaid instructions for their better regulation.


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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: History of London, from the Accession of William and Mary, to the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER II: History of London during the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER III: History of London from the Accession of George the Third, to the year 1780
 CHAPTER IV: History of London continued to the Union
 CHAPTER V: History of London from the Union to the Jubilee, 1809
 CHAPTER VI: History of London from the Jubilee to the Peace of 1814
 CHAPTER VII: History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth
 CHAPTER VIII: Account of the Civil Government of the City by Portreves, Bailiffs, and Mayors, with a list of the latter...
 CHAPTER IX: An account of the Aldermen and Sheriffs, with a list of the latter
CHAPTER X: Lists and brief Accounts of the various Officers and Courts within the City
CHAPTER XI: Some account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the city of London, with a List and Biographical Notices of the Bishops of the see
CHAPTER XII: Some Account of the Military Government of London, and the Artillery Company
CHAPTER XIII: An Account of the twelve principal Companies of the City of London
CHAPTER XIV: An Account of the Companies of the City of London, alphabetically arranged
 CHAPTER XV: An Account of the River Thames
CHAPTER XVI: Historical and topographical account of London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Thames Tunnel
CHAPTER XVII: Topographical and Historical Account of the Tower of London