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Letter of protest from the Oxford City Council to the 1st Earl of Abingdon on the new city charter

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Letter of protest from the Oxford City Council to the 1st Earl of Abingdon on the new city charter

Author
Oxford City Council
Date
14 July 1684
Medium
Manuscript

In July 1682 Charles II's government issued quo warranto proceedings against the Oxford city charter (CSP Dom. 1682, p. 279). The proceedings formed part of a concerted effort to procure greater royal control over local government in the aftermath of the exclusion crisis (Harris, Restoration, pp. 293-4). The Oxford Council at first fought the proceedings, but was persuaded to surrender the charter by the Earl of Abingdon in January 1684 (MS. Wood diaries 28, fol. 8). In return, the Earl promised to support the inclusion of new privileges for the city in a renewed charter (MS. Wood diaries 28, fol. 2). The University, however, interjected and demanded that the new charter contain a clause enshrining its right to the 'night watch' (CSP Dom. Oct. 1683-Apr. 1684, p. 205). In this letter, an indigant Oxford Council complains that "wee suffer enough already" and condemns the night watch as "such a slavery, that none of his Majesties subjects any where doe or can endure." The dispute was ended in July 1684 when the Council agreed to drop its requests for new privileges in return for the University forgoing its demands for a night watch clause (CSP Dom. May 1684-Feb. 1685, pp. 95-6). The new charter, however, secured the Crown the power to remove Council members (VCH Oxon., vol. 4, p. 124).

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