Series NCR 21b - Chamberlains' and other officials' vouchers and accounts

Identity area

Reference code

NCR 21b


Chamberlains' and other officials' vouchers and accounts


  • 1618-1835 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

18 bundles of papers and gatherings

Context area

Name of creator

(c 1249-)

Administrative history

Established in c 1249 by the then Bishop of Norwich, Walter Suffield and originally known as the Hospital of the Blessed Mary and St Giles, and afterwards, simply as St Giles's Hospital, Norwich, in the parish of St Helen in Holmstrete, now Bishopgate in Norwich.
Formerly known as St Giles' Hospital, the Great Hospital in Norwich is still a functioning charitable, residential institution and its archives extend from the thirteenth century to the twentieth century. Prior to the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the Mayor and Corporation acted as trustees for a large number of City charities. The most ancient was the Great Hospital (founded by Walter Suffield, Bishop of Norwich, in 1249), whose records are the largest and most complete of any of the City charities.
While most English hospitals were dissolved at the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Great Hospital was one of very few which survived. On Henry VIII's death in 1547, it was surrendered to the new Protestant monarch, Edward VI. The Norwich city fathers, however, were sufficiently astute to recognize the important rôle which the Hospital might play in caring for the city's poor (who then posed a serious social problem). Edward VI succumbed to local pressure and returned the ownership of the Hospital and its possessions, land and property to the corporation, which then used it to prioritise and channel charitable work in the community. Thus, through its acquisition by the corporation, the Hospital continued to function and its records became part of the city archives.
By the terms of Edward VI's charter by letters patent in 1547, forty poor people were to be accommodated in the Hospital (then called 'God's House'), looked after by the keeper of the House and a team of four matrons or women keepers, but by the end of the century, the number had risen to 54. In 1633, owing to increased revenues, the numbers of inhabitants had increased to 86 though there were still only four women keepers. Seven years later, there were 95 inhabitants, looked after by five matrons. Of these inhabitants, the original 40 provided for by charter had been augmented by two paid for by legacies in Francis Rugg's will, two more by the will of Alderman Henry Fawcett and the remainder allowed by the mayor and aldermen because of the increase in revenues. Presumably finances were tight when in 1647, numbers were down to 71 and the team of matrons only four women, but by the early Commonwealth period, there were again 95 poor and five matrons. By 1685, a hundred poor folk were accommodated in the Hospital.
The Charity Commissioners finished their enquiry into the Norwich charities in 1833 and a copy of their printed report is to be found at N/TC 63/2. By a Chancery Order dated 18 March 1837, twenty-six Charity Trustees were appointed, with responsibility to manage the charities formerly in trust with the Corporation. The charities were divided into two lists: the Church List Charities (including the Great Hospital, the Free Grammar School, Archbishop Parker's Scholarships, the Preachers' Fund and various other smaller charities) and the General List Charities (including Doughty's Hospital, the Boys' Hospital, the Girls' Hospital, the Barnham Broom Estate and many other smaller charities).
A considerable number of charity records (many of them pre-1835) were deposited in the Record Office many years after the publication of Hudson and Tingey's Revised Catalogue of the Records of the City of Norwich in 1898. They interrelate with the records in the NCR collection and are listed at N/CCH and N/MC.
The medieval records of the Great Hospital were inscribed in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in May 2011. The UK Memory of the World Register (established in 2010) helps to raise awareness of some of the UK’s exceptional, but lesser-known documentary riches by awarding them globally-recognised Memory of the World status.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The chamberlains' vouchers contain yearly bundles of receipts and receipted invoices and accounts from tradesmen, suppliers and city officials, and the mayor's or his court's warrants to pay them, often directed to one or both of the chamberlains, but also to anyone of several other officials. These include the town clerk, the city clavors and Alderman Alexander Anguish, treasurer for the Great Hospital stock, and the alderman treasurer for St George's Company (and for the stone mines). The bundles often include long and detailed accounts of building and maintenance work on city properties (that is, the city walls, gates and towers, the common staithes, the city bridges, the market stalls, guildhall, the common inn, Bridewell, Norman's Hospital, the Great Hospital, St Andrew's Hall (the so-called New Hall), the New Mills, the city brewhouse, the cockeys, and the various common pits, etc.) and of the clearance of the streets, river and cockeys from weed and muck. The payment of the salaries and expenses of minor officials is also recorded here. The warrants often cite Assembly, Court of Mayoralty or Common Council agreements or orders authorising the payment of individuals and usually include the signatures or autographs of the mayor and other aldermen. The accounting period ran from Michaelmas (29 September) to Michaelmas each year.
Later papers contain similar records relating to the office of the chief constable, who, by the 18th century, was also acting as treasurer of the city. In addition, this series currently includes a bundle of vouchers and receipts specifically authorised by the Tonnage Committee in the 1830s. Other tonnage related records also appear in the chamberlains' and chief constable' records.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement


Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • Latin
  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The bundles of vouchers from 1618 to 1627 each contain one to two hundred bills, warrants for payment and receipts. The papers all bear filing holes, so the bundles actually represent original files, presumably created by the chamberlain's office.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Miscellaneously surviving vouchers from 1670 onwards are currently listed in NCR 21a, as are later original files dating from 1801 to 1830.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 08/01/2007 by Droip. Modified 06/11/2019 by Catherine.Collins.


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places