Town Clerk of London

Coat of arms of the City of London.

The Town Clerk of London is an important position that has existed since the 13th century within the City of London, England. Originally the position was to take the minutes of London council meetings, but over the years the holder has gathered responsibility which requires staff and executive powers.


The Town Clerk of London has held responsibility for recording the minutes of the council of the City of London and its committees since 1274.[1] But historically, the Town Clerk of London's elected position was also one of a legal advisor and recorder of city law. The Town Clerk has worked out of the Guildhall, London building since 1411. Today the Guildhall is still used for official functions..[2]

The elected City of London council assumed legislative functions and adopted financial powers as confirmed by charters of 1377 and 1383 and as written by the Town Clerk of London. The council, with the Town Clerk, has amended the civic constitution, regulated the election of Lord Mayor and other officials, and amended the functions of the City of London courts via writs.[3]

This was successful, leading to the similar expansion of the City of London courts who had jurisdiction outside London as a type of county court. This gradually took over from the now obsolete circuit criminal court called the Assize Court. The format strongly influenced the development of the High Court of Chancery and Lord Chancellor's jurisdiction based in Westminster.

The Great Fire of London destroyed 80% of the city in 1666. The Guildhall was damaged in this and other great fires.

During the early 17th century, before and after the 1666 Great Fire of London the Town Clerk's function began to evolve into more complex and multiple positions as need and growth dictated. The more modern era of the Town Clerk as an executive had begun requiring more assistants and employees.

Today the Lord Mayor of the City of London is assisted in the daily operation of the city by three leading personnel[4] whose titles are the Town Clerk and Chief Executive, the Chamberlain and the Remembrancer.

Town Clerk and Chief Executive

By 2009 the actual title of Town Clerk has resolved into its combined Town Clerk and Chief Executive type position which is much more than a recorder of minutes of the city council.

In 2012, The Town Clerk and Chief Executive of the City of London is John Barradell. The Town Clerk's Department manages hundreds of officers and city employees.[5]

Sample duties[6] include:

Statue of John Carpenter (1372-1442)- Resides on a plinth in the City of London School. He is also the author of "Liber Albus" which he is shown holding in his hand.

The noted Town Clerk of London

John Carpenter was one of the most famous of London's town clerks, and was the author of the first book of English Common Law[7] called "Liber Albus" (the White Book). The statue of John Carpenter, now residing within the City of London School, shows him holding this book.[8] John Carpenter (1372–1442) also in 1442 bequeathed land to the Corporation of London intended to fund the maintenance and education of four boys born within the City, who would be called 'Carpenter's children'. This later became the City of London School.

Town Clerks of London

List of the known Town Clerks of London from 1274 to 2009, covering 735 years.[9]


  1. Court of Common Council: Administrative/Biographical history. See:
  2. "The Guildhall", Museum of London.
  3. Court of Common Council: Administrative/Biographical history.
  4. Leading personnel page at: -
  5. City of London Corporation - See:
  6. City of London - Leading personnel -
  7. Medieval English common law: foundations for 21st century legal systems. See: English Common Law#Medieval English common law: foundations for 21st century legal systems
  8. Riley, Henry T., and John Carpenter, eds. Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis; Liber Albus, Liber Custumarum, Et Liber Horn. 3 Vols. in 4. Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores (Rolls Series), 12. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859-1862. City of London (England), Henry T. Riley, and John Carpenter. Munimenta Gildhallæ Londoniensis: Liber albus, Liber custumarum, et Liber Horn. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859.
  9. Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, "The Town Clerk" - Pages 71-74, from the London Metropolitan Archives, City of London, 40 Northampton Road, London EC 1R 0HB - - - additional information supplied by the Director of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Gallery, David Bradbury, BA, MA, DipLib, MCLIP.

External links

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