Reference numberHB1/1/13
TitleLetter patent of King Charles I
DescriptionThe borough is to have a new corporation, constituted "The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Huntingdon." The corporation may have a common seal, and may have and hold for itself a Council House in which to meet. In order "to prevent and remove all occasions of popular tumult and to reduce to certainty and constant order the elections and other public matters and affairs of the said borough" the Common Council is reduced from 24 burgesses to twelve, who will sit for life, one of whom is to be appointed Mayor. The first appointments of aldermen are to be made by the Crown, and they are Lionel Walden, Thomas Phillips, John Peacock, Arthur Ashton, William Patrick, John Barton, Robert Wallis, Thomas Ginne, John Abbot, Edmund Robinson, William Bludwick senior, and Oliver King, all gentlemen. Lionel Walden is to be appointed the first Mayor. Future Mayors are to be annually elected by the members of the Common Council, on the first Tuesday following the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and to take up office on the Feast of St Michael the Archangel. The Mayor is also to act as Coroner for the borough and as Clerk of the Market of the King's Household within the borough. The Common Council is to appoint a burgess of the town as Recorder, to act instead of the Mayor in the Mayor's absence. The corporation is also to elect "one upright and fit man" to be Common Clerk, and they may also have two Sergeants at Mace, one Keeper of the Gaol, and one Beadle, or more if the Mayor wishes, and also as many Constables and other inferior officers as thought necessary. The Mayor, the High Steward [not previously identified in the text] and the Recorder are appointed Justices of the Peace for the borough, alongside Thomas Beard, Doctor of Divinity, Robert Bernard esq, and Oliver Cromwell esq, burgesses of the borough. All fee farm rents are remitted.

This letter patent was granted in 1630 in order to close down the town's elections, which had been marked by violence over the Fishbourne Bequest in previous years. It was then surrendered in 1686 (HB1/1/15) but came back into force upon the abdication of James II in 1688. The constitution then remained in force as the town's governing document until the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act in 1835.

Oliver Cromwell, the town's former MP, was made a Justice of the Peace in this letter patent, a role he relinquished a year later when he moved to St Ives. It is possible that he resented his failure to secure a nomination as one of the town's aldermen. It is notable that the letter patent contains no provisions regarding the admission of burgesses to the Common Council: in practice the borough had to pass numerous bye-laws in order to deal with this and related issues.
Date15 July 1630

CreatorNameHuntingdon Borough
RepositoryHuntingdonshire Archives

Show related Persons records.

P/0001Cromwell; Oliver (1599-1658); Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653-1658)1599-1658
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