Local Government

By 1690 London had long since outgrown its medieval walls and boundaries, spilling into Middlesex and joining with the City of Westminster. As a result, the metropolis formed a complex patchwork of administration and policing. The sources reproduced on this website are intended to reflect that complexity, and to use them effectively it is necessary to understand the varied local government systems that produced them.

The main urban areas included within the City, Westminster, Middlesex and Southwark. The City of London is indicated in dark blue, Westminster in purple, Middlesex in brown, and Southwark in green. The base map is John Rocque's, London, Westminster and Southwark, 1746. © Motco 2001 (base map only).

St Botolph Aldgate, St Clement Danes, St Dionis Backchurch

The City of London
Government, Wards and Parishes, Magistrates, Guilds

Sessions, Criminal Justice, Poor Law, Sessions Records, Tower Liberty Sessions

Government, Criminal Justice

Court of Burgesses, Sessions, Parishes, Liberties, Elections


If you are just getting started you may wish to consult the Research Guides provided; read the article on How to interpret an Eighteenth-Century Manuscript; and review the descriptions of the individual Document Types.

For a detailed reading list on these subjects, see the London Lives Bibliography.