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5 - Local Arithmetic: Information Cultures in Early Modern England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2013

Paul Griffiths
Affiliation:
Iowa State University
Steve Hindle
Affiliation:
Foundation Director of Research at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Alexandra Shepard
Affiliation:
Reader in History, University of Glasgow
John Walter
Affiliation:
Professor of History, University of Essex
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Summary

Chester, 1626, and civic leaders had yet another problem to deal with. This time the cause was not a new wave of vagrants or unwelcome ‘strangers’ but one of their own. Gaps in the city records had come to light and the town clerk – Robert Brerewood – was the villain of the piece, although his ‘underclerkes’ also had to face the music. A string of complaints about ‘uncivel’ Brerewood claimed that he had been rude to a few mayors in a row and also to justices sitting at Chester's Quarter Sessions. He had not been doing his job by the book. In fact for three long years he had farmed out his ‘office’, lined his pockets, and created an administrative mess. Assembly orders had not been drawn up or written down in the book ever since he began to moonlight elsewhere, and names of juries went unrecorded. There was nothing left of the trust the city had once placed in its clerk. And to cap it all, word of new ‘abuses’ was brought to court: ‘Imperfect orders’ put down in records but not ‘agreed on by the assembly’; ‘accons’ entered ‘after a copie given out and baile put in by the defendant’; ‘a declaracon and a record’ both ‘razed’ and ‘altered’; a ‘judgement’ ‘blotted out’; another found after checking to be ‘wrongfull’. ‘[O]ther misdemeanors’ were not important enough to record but were important enough to ‘hinder’ justice and ‘dishonor’ the city. Troubled, aldermen looked through ‘bookes of orders of assembly’ and ‘records of perticular cases complained of’.

Type
Chapter
Information
Remaking English Society
Social Relations and Social Change in Early Modern England
, pp. 113 - 134
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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