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Worcester City History

Certificate of John Verney's election as a freeman of Worcester, 1733These pages will provide a brief history of the city and some of its most notable residents, whose contributions to sciences, the arts or society are still celebrated today.

Worcester City Charters

The Archive Service now holds digital copies of the Worcester City Charters owned by the city council.

Download the Worcester City Charters (PDF 109 KB).

Famous Residents

With the exception of Dancox, all the essays marked were written by WASP volunteers.

The Council

The council had a diverse range of responsibilities including finances (monies owed or loaned, distribution of municipal funds), property (maintenance, leases of municipal property), trade (regulation of markets and quality of goods) welfare (charities, poor, the city gaol) and governing procedures (succession of councillors, officials and Parliamentary representatives, negotiation of charters).

The Chamber was the governing body of the city of Worcester. The council chamber actually consisted of two chambers; the 48 and the more important 24 (which included the mayor), from whose ranks the city's magistrates were also chosen. Membership was through co-option, and members were largely well-off and literate merchants or (more rarely) gentlemen who gave their service for no or nominal wages. There was continuity of government as resignation without good cause, absence from meetings or, from 1649, refusal to take up a nominated position was punishable by a fine. Acceptance into the 48 and then the 24 was the standard career progression of a local government official. Promotion was dependent on the death or removal of other members, but some offices, such as bailiff or mayor, could only be held for a fixed period or by someone who had held a certain junior position. By the nineteenth century, this structure had been superseded by just one council chamber.

From 1555 the reasons for dismissal (temporary or permanent) from either chamber were for 'evil government', non-residence in Worcester for a period of at least one year, failure to attend meetings without good reason despite due warning, and occasionally what could be termed as behaviour not befitting a councillor. The frequency of meetings depended on the quantity and urgency of the matters to be discussed. During the Civil War meetings were held every few days, though for the rest of the seventeenth century it was not unusual for meetings to be held at 6-8 week intervals. Nineteenth century meetings were often monthly and incorporated the duties of the Burial Board, Local Board of Health etc.  

Mayor * Bailiff * Sheriff * Chamberlain * Town Clerk

Further Information

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This page was last reviewed 15 May 2013 at 21:33.
The page is next due for review 11 November 2014.