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Letter from the 2nd Earl of Clarendon to Lord Norris on the Oxford Town Clerk

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Letter from the 2nd Earl of Clarendon to Lord Norris on the Oxford Town Clerk

Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon
1 July 1682

The death of the Oxford town clerk, in July 1681, sparked a bitter contest between the Whigs and Tories for the office. In the ensuing election the Whig candidate, Edward Prince, defeated the Tory candidate, Thomas Baker, in the popular vote. Baker was the favoured choice of both Lord Norris, the Tory Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, and the Crown. Despite his electoral success, Prince was prevented from assuming the office by the King (VCH Oxon., vol. 4, p. 123). In this letter, Lord Privy Seal Clarendon writes "I am very sorry to find those People still soe farr from their duty to the King; I have spoken to Mr Secretary Jenkins upon it...& I believe a Quo Waranto will be brought against the Charter of that City." Quo Warranto proceedings were begun later that month (CSP Dom. 1682, p. 279). The attack on the charter's legality was a move designed to secure the Crown greater power over the Council's composition (VCH Oxon., vol. 4, p. 124). The wrangle over the charter became a protracted affair, and eventually placed Norris in the middle of a battle between the city and University over their respective rights and privileges. Baker, by order of the King, was installed as town clerk in October 1683 (CSP Dom. Oct. 1683-Apr. 1684, pp. 4-5).

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