Catalogue description ARCHIVE OF RYE CORPORATION

This record is held by East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO)

Details of RYE
Reference: RYE

Table of Contents


Foreword to the revised list of 2003.


Introduction to the printed catalogue of 1962.


Assemblies, Hundreds and Sessions


RYE/1 Hundred and Assembly Books, 1546-1837


RYE/2 Sessions Books, 1679-1951


RYE/3 Rough Minutes of Hundreds and Assemblies, 1575-1840


RYE/4 Quarter Sessions Files, 1910-1951


RYE/5 Assize of Bread, 1813-1834


RYE/6 Writs of Venire Facias to summon juries for General Sessions of the Peace, Quarter Sessions and Gaol Delivery, 1664-1839


RYE/7 Presentments, Summonses and Estreats, 1579-1817


RYE/8 Indictments, 1575-1843


RYE/9 Informations, Examinations, Depositions and associated papers, 1617-1873


RYE/10 Recognizances, 1605, 1682-1843


RYE/11 Summary Convictions, 1760, 1822-1839


RYE/12 Papers concerning the trial of Randall Bell for Treason, 1539


RYE/13 Papers concerning the trial of Susannah Swapper and Ann Taylor for Witchcraft, 1607-1609


RYE/14 Papers relating to the Licensing of Victuallers and Alehouse-keepers, 1586, 1722-1832


RYE/15 Lists of Residents, 1488-1837


RYE/16 Miscellaneous documents relating to Quarter and Petty Sessions, 1555-1878


Oaths, Political and Religious


RYE/17 Engagement to the Commonwealth, 1650


RYE/18 Declaration against the Solemn League and Covenant, 1664


RYE/19 Sacrament Certificates, 1673-1817


RYE/20 Oaths of Allegiance, 1685-1830


RYE/21 Oaths and Declarations of Dissenters, 1728-1818


RYE/22 Oath of a Papist, 1830


Oaths of Office


RYE/23 Customs Officers, 1694, 1714


RYE/24 Returning Officers, 1734-1837


RYE/25 Inspectors of Corn Returns, 1813-1827


RYE/26 Extra Constables, 1828


RYE/27 The Recorder, 1837


Registration and Deposit


RYE/28 Bonds for the maintenance of orphans, bastards and apprentices, 1567-1693


RYE/29 Apprenticeship Indentures, 1602-1659, 1754, 1759


RYE/30 Various Registrations, 1754-1843


RYE/31 Declarations of Corn Dealers, 1813-1836




RYE/32 Inquisitions and associated papers, 1613-1855


Court of Record


RYE/33 Record Rolls and Books, 1475-1835


RYE/34 Rough Minutes, 1580-1692


RYE/35 Files of Pleadings, 1536-1758


RYE/36 Pledges to Prosecute, 1643, 1651-1690


RYE/37 Writs of capias and affidavits, 1697-1834


RYE/38 Bonds for replevin, 1685, 1688, 1840


RYE/39 Pledges for the defendant, 1700-1743


RYE/40 Entry book of plaints under forty shillings, 1823-1835


RYE/41 Summonses to appear, 1823-1835


RYE/42 Other papers relating to the court, 1486-1840


RYE/43 Praecipes and concords, 1688-1808


RYE/44 Certificates of admissions of freemen, 1703-1835


General Instruments, Process and Correspondence


RYE/45 Crown grants, writs and other documents, 1382-1741, 1847


RYE/46 Borough grants and bonds, 1519-1851


RYE/47 General Files: Letters of Process, Letters Testimonial, correspondence and otherpapers, 1387-1722


RYE/48 Royal Proclamations, 1559-1660


RYE/49 Correspondence and papers concerning Town Properties, 1742-1845


RYE/50 Various correspondence and papers, c1590-1888


RYE/51 Lists of Corporation Records, 1668-1866


Government Circulars and Returns


RYE/52 Committals for criminal offences, 1815-1836


RYE/53 Returns of pauper lunatics, 1830-1834


RYE/54 Returns of expenses of criminal prosecutions and transportation, 1836-1851


RYE/55 Circulars and papers on expenses of criminal prosecutions and transportation, 1847-1868


RYE/56 Miscellaneous circulars and returns, 1819-1881


Customs and Precedents


RYE/57 Custumals, precedent books and papers, [1229]-1828


Cinque Ports


RYE/58 General Instruments, Circular Letters and other papers, 1378-1916


RYE/59 Copies from records, 1436-1920




RYE/60 Chamberlains' account books, 1405-06, 1448-1606, 1718-1833


RYE/61 Land Chamberlains' rough accounts, 1570-1717


RYE/62 Sea Chamberlains' rough accounts, 1589-1614


RYE/63 Journal of receipts and payments, 1833-1834


RYE/64 Abstract of Treasurer's accounts, 1840-1861


RYE/65 Receipts of the Great Box, 1573-1632, 1658, 1668


RYE/66 Receipts of the Lesser Box, 1573-1673


RYE/67 Receipts of the office of Water Bailiff, 1660


RYE/68 Freight book, 1790-1804


RYE/69 Vouchers to account, general, 1605-1905


RYE/70 Vouchers, particular series including inns, 17th century - 1903


RYE/71 Special accounts with vouchers: small accounts; 1590-1748


RYE/72 Special accounts with vouchers: harbour and shipping accounts, 1588-1634


RYE/73 Special accounts with vouchers: Benbrigge's Marshes, 1827-1833


RYE/74 County Rate account books, 1832-1860


RYE/75 Vouchers to the County Rate account, 1822-1864


RYE/76 Papers relating to the relief of poor debtors in Dover Castle Gaol, 1814-1854


Borough Rates


RYE/77 Borough Ratebooks, 1414-1610


RYE/78 Warrants to collect rates, 1598, 1835-1841


RYE/79 Schedules of dues, 1670-1808




RYE/80 Billets of allowance for Fifteenths and Tenths, 1488, 1492, 1576-1624


RYE/81 Promissory letters for Benevolences, 1523


RYE/82 Assessments for Parliamentary taxes, army and militia, 1642-1664


RYE/83 Hearth Tax papers, 1662-1665


RYE/84 Records relating to Land and Assessed Taxes, 1688-1838


Musters and Militia


RYE/85 Muster lists, c1488, 1597-1642


RYE/86 Local militia papers, 1809-1810




RYE/87 Rules and regulations, 1821-1845


RYE/88 Maintenance of prisoners in county prisons, 1824-1829


RYE/89 Papers concerning the proposed Hastings District Prison, 1837-1843


RYE/90 Other papers relating to Rye Gaol, 1832-1846


Water Supply


RYE/91 Contracts for maintenance, 1597-1833


RYE/92 Papers concerning water supply, 1833-1846


RYE/93 Extension of waterworks, 1884-1905


Commissioners of Sewers


RYE/94 Commissions, 1595-1604


RYE/95 Minutes, 1595-1604


RYE/96 Draft or signed minutes, 1595-1598


RYE/97 Engrossed decrees, 1596, 1604


RYE/98 Related documents, 1565-1604


Rye Harbour


RYE/99 Corporation papers concerning Rye Harbour, 1548-1855


RYE/100 Admiralty letters of protection from impressment, 1740-1761


RYE/101 Harbour commissioners' minutes, 1769-1797


RYE/102 Harbour commissioners' accounts, 1764-1830


RYE/103 Harbour commissioners' papers, 1812-1932


Rye Borough Council


RYE/104 Draft minutes, 1840-1855


RYE/105 Burgess lists, 1838-1860


RYE/106 Voting papers, 1841-1858


RYE/107 Lists of parliamentary electors, 1832-1898


RYE/108 Various papers, 1835-1914


RYE/109 Notices, 1854-1904




RYE/110 Wilford's charity, 1526


RYE/111 Wells's Almshouses, 1551


RYE/112 Peacock's School: various records, 1634-1839


RYE/113 Peacock's School: conveyances to feoffees, 1644-1808


RYE/114 Sanders' School: administrative records, 1671-1845


RYE/115 Sanders' School: vouchers to account, 1719-1816


RYE/116 Sanders' School: title deeds and leases, 1556-1787


RYE/117 Peacock's and Sanders' Schools: papers, 1812-1836


RYE/118 Mackinnon Charity, 1857-1862


Corporation Properties


RYE/119 Town rentals and associated papers, 1586-1872


RYE/120 Papers relating to Gibbet Marsh, the windmill and Railway Lands, 1845-1930


RYE/121 Particulars of lettings, 1836-1902


RYE/122 Deeds of St Mary Marsh, 1402-1855


RYE/123 Deeds of Goldhope or Newlands Garden, Windmill Hill, The Budgewell and Town Salts, 1439-1539


RYE/124 Deeds of Ypres or Badding's Tower, 1430-1517


RYE/125 Deeds of the Gun Garden and adjoining cottage, 1575-1762


RYE/126 Various conveyances to the corporation, 1514-1798


RYE/127 Leases of corporation property, 1542-1835


RYE/128 Leases of corporation marshland, 1626-1845


RYE/129 Leases of town dues, 1634-1735


RYE/130 Conveyances of corporation land for a quitrent, 1443-1628


RYE/131 Conveyances of corporation land, 1557-1701


RYE/132 Maps and plans, 1575-1930


Parish and church lands administered by the corporation


RYE/133 Chantry of St Nicholas and St Mary, 1275-1420


RYE/134 Austin Friars, 1368, 1378


RYE/135 Deeds and leases of parish lands, 1441-1751


Deeds of other properties


RYE/136 Early deeds, 1258-1521


RYE/137 Deeds relating to Rye, c1220-1747


RYE/138 Deeds relating to places other than Rye, c1220-1726


RYE/139 Draft deeds relating to Rye, 1551-1642


RYE/140 Draft deeds relating to places other than Rye, c1550-1622


Transferred records


RYE/141 Correspondence of the 'Men of Rye', 1825-1832


RYE/142 Orders of the Poor Law Commissioners relating to the sale, purchase and alteration of former parish workhouses in the Rye Poor Law Union, 1836-1840


RYE/143 Papers relating to the appointment of parish officers by the JPs for the Rye Division of Hastings Rape, 1840-1843


RYE/144 Correspondence and notes on Rye records, 1850-1945


RYE/145 Town clerk's private papers, 1592-1597


RYE/146 Records relating to Winchelsea, 1285-1912


Civil parish records


RYE/147 Churchwardens' accounts and rentals, 1513-1597


RYE/148 Poor rate assessments, 1664-1765


RYE/149 Overseers' accounts, 1622-1699


RYE/150 Overseers' accounts: vouchers, 16997-1714


RYE/151 Highway Surveyors: rates and statute labour, c1585-c1720


RYE/152 Highway surveyors: accounts, 1618-1721


RYE/153 Highway surveyors: vouchers, 1705-1728


RYE/154 Other parish documents, 1635-1758


RYE/155 Printed books; 1639-1870


RYE/156 Acts of Parliament, 1562-1838


RYE/157 Fragments of documents, 1477-c1740




Jeake Samuel Jeake, The Charters of the Cinque Ports, Two Ancient Towns and their Members. Translated into English, with annotations historical and critical thereupon. London, 1728


Holloway William Holloway, The History and Antiquities of the Ancient Town and Port of Rye, in the County of Sussex. London, 1847


Vidler L. A. Vidler, A New History of Rye. Hove, 1934


5 HMC Fifth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, Part I, Report and Appendix, 1876


13 HMC Thirteenth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, Appendix, Part IV, 1892


S.A.C. Sussex Archaeological Collections


D.N.B. Dictionary of National Biography


V.C.H. Victoria County History of Sussex


Murray K. M. E. Murray, The Constitutional History of the Cinque Ports. Manchester University, 1935


Other abbreviations used in the text


a. acre


bt. baronet


doc. document


fo. folio


gent. gentleman


m. and mm. membrane(s) of parchment


kt. knight


N.d. no date given in the document


p. and pp. page (s) of paper


r. recto of a folio


v. verso of a folio


v. versus in citing law suits


yeo. yeoman


The spelling of personal and place names is given exactly as in the original, even where this leads to inconsistencies within one document.

Date: c1220-1951
Held by: East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Rye Corporation

Physical description: 157 series
  • Rye, East Sussex, England
Administrative / biographical background:

Foreword to revised list of 2003


In 2003, in preparation for the inclusion of the list of Rye Borough Archives on the Access to Archives website, an opportunity was taken to revise and augment the printed catalogue of the records which had been published in 1962 (R F Dell (ed), The Records of Rye Corporation; East Sussex County Council, 1962).


The main purpose of the revision has been to incorporate the detailed lists referred to in the last paragraph of Dell's introduction to the list; in some cases, these lists have had to be created, or extensively revised. Time has not been available to create lists at item-level for all classes, but it has been possible to make many corrections to the printed catalogue, augment the head-notes to individual classes and to provide cross-references, both to documents within the Rye Corporation archive and elsewhere. In some cases it has proved necessary to alter the titles to individual classes the better to reflect the nature, purpose and covering dates of their contents.


As with the records of Winchelsea Corporation (ESRO WIN), it has been found that the fonds has been considerably confused by records from other sources. Many of the documents listed as RYE derive not from the archive of the Corporation but from the offices of Messrs Dawes, Son & Prentice of Rye, solicitors, clerks to the justices sitting at Rye both for the Borough and County, who served the office of Town Clerk for many years.


In 1949, documents relating to the educational foundations of Thomas Peacock and James Sanders (which had been the subject of a relator action in Chancery in 1812), were released by the Public Record Office (where they had formed part of Chancery Masters' Exhibits, C109/34, 35 and 165) to Rye Corporation. When the corporation archive was transferred to ESRO these documents were included, with others, as RYE/112-116 and possibly 117, without any mention of their provenance.


In addition, in 1951, three years before the deposit of the Rye Corporation Archives, the records of the borough's separate court of Quarter Sessions, abolished in that year, were transferred by the last Clerk of the Peace for Rye, N S Jones of Messrs William Dawes, solicitors and were included on page 72 of Descriptive Report of the Quarter Sessions and other Official and Ecclesiastical Records ... of East and West Sussex(1954). These documents were included in the published catalogue, as RYE/2/10-13 and RYE/4, in 1962.


It has been decided to leave these documents, and others which might have been allocated different references, under the references established in 1962. The one exception to this has been some contents of RYE/157, a class of fragments of records, many of which have been identified as parts of other, listed, documents, and re-united with them.


A copy of the published catalogue of 1962 has been added to the class of superseded lists as ESRO R/C86/33




4 iii 2003


The borough of Rye lies in the extreme east of the administrative county of East Sussex and is one of the five Sussex towns which belonged to the confederation known as the Cinque Ports. The formation of the territorial units comprising the borough, the liberty of the Cinque Ports and the parish of Rye has been recently described by L. A. Vidler, the town's historian.¹ The constitutional history of the town is summarised in the Victoria County History of Sussex, vol. 9, and much information is also to be found in the works of Samuel Jeake, a 17th-century town clerk, William Holloway and L. A. Vidler, whose works are frequently referred to in the ensuing pages. The place of Rye in the Cinque Ports confederation has been studied in detail by Miss K. M. E. Murray.²


The aim of this catalogue is to provide a full introduction to the notable survival of records of this ancient borough, together with such historical notes and references as are felt to be necessary for their understanding and use. The catalogue is thus not intended as a substitute for the historical studies cited above. The ensuing constitutional notes concern only those factors which affected the creation and ordering of the main classes of records.


Like other boroughs exercising many privileges of a corporate nature, Rye was governed through assemblies, whose various functions did not necessarily require different styles and forms until a comparatively late date.³ While it can be inferred that the office of Mayor commenced in the late 13th century, that of Jurat was certainly older.4 As a royal estate after 1216, when with the loss of Normandy the possession of Rye by the Abbey of Fécamp came to an end,5 the town was governed by a bailiff, but although the king's bailiff was at first a person of importance, by the time the corporation records are extant the mayor is clearly established in precedence and effective power.6 By the sixteenth century if not earlier the bailiff became little more than a collector of rents and dues for the Crown.


The fullest expression of municipal authority and the most widely representative institution was the Assembly, wherein the commonalty of the town met with the Mayor and Jurats to make ordinances and decrees regulating borough affairs. In the fifteenth century this body is called the Comens or Cominalte, but by the mid-sixteenth century the name Assembly is firmly established. It was summoned from time to time as there was need. Its only regular meetings were for the election of the mayor and town officers, which are described as being held in 'full and open hundred,' and shows that this nascent town council developed out of an ancient local court. According to the Custumal,7 the election of the mayor took place on the Sunday following St. Bartholomew's Day (24 Aug.) at the Churchyard cross, when he also appointed 12 jurats with him, followed by the election of the Common Clerk.8 The annual great session of the Hundred Court, however, which had all the characteristics of the Court Leet and view of Frankpledge was held on the Monday following St. Andrew's Day (30 Nov.), at which lesser officers such as constables, ale-conners and the like were appointed. Despite any clear differentiation between the ancient public moot or court of the hundred and the more recent assembly of townsmen exercising their special powers under royal grant, some divergence has already occurred.


This practice continued until the 17th century, except that the election of town officers other than the mayor took place the Sunday after, a practice recorded as early as 1449 in the Chamberlain's Account Books.9 However in July 1603 the venue was changed to the Guildhall, and in September and December 1631, to avoid the violation of two successive Sabbaths 'which ought wholely to be employed and spent in the service and worshippe of God,' decrees provided for the elections to take place on one day only, the Monday following the feast-day.¹0 The mayoral year provides the basis for ordering the records; files of pleas and letters are made up accordingly and it is also used as the financial year.


The general business not requiring the approval of the commons or freemen was carried on by the mayor and jurats, who also presided over the hundred courts in criminal cases, aided where necessary by special counsel, and the Court of Record for civil pleas (see Introduction to Court of Record below). The hundredal jurisdiction slowly developed in the same way as the county courts of criminal proceedings, so that the 'sessions of the peace' or more simply 'sessions' tend to replace the hundred and the presiding officers naturally attracted to themselves most of the powers of justices of the peace. The Custumal required all pleas of the crown, life and member to be held 'in the market and pleyn hundred,' while the hundred was not to be held at less than fortnightly intervals.¹¹ In practice they were held on Wednesdays, on the same day as the Court of Record, since the personnel of both courts were the same.


The jurisdiction of the mayor and jurats in criminal matters was ill-defined in relation to the many statutory powers conferred on the justices of the peace in the 16th century, and indeed the question arose in an acute form over the trial of Susanna Swapper and Anne Taylor for witchcraft in 1607.¹² It is surprising that the Cinque Ports only achieved specific recognition of powers to act as justices in Quarter Sessions as late as the first charter of James I in 1605.¹³ Not until the end of the 17th century does the term Quarter Sessions come into use,¹4 and the practice of holding quarterly sessions regularly followed. The principal sessions of the peace was the St. Andrew's Day or December Sessions, referred to above. Here petty officers associated with the Court Leet were appointed, and a presenting jury formally impannelled. The latter was normally sworn in on that day and made its presentments at no fixed date during the following year. After the post-Restoration gap in the series of Assembly Books, the two functions of government represented by the Assemblies and Sessions respectively are recorded in separate series of records.


Rye Quarter Sessions was scheduled for abolition under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 (5/6 Wm. IV, c. 76) subject to petition for regrant; it was reprieved under the Act 6/7 Wm. IV, c. 105 (1836) and in March 1837 a recorder was appointed to hold the court under the terms of these two acts.¹5 A separate grant of Quarter Sessions was made in 1905, which was finally abolished in 1951 under the Justices of the Peace Act, 1949 (12-14 Geo. VI, c. 101).


For the purposes of this catalogue it was decided not to print long numerical lists of series such as the Court Books, Files of Pleas, etc., which would have made the work unwieldy. However, such lists (and in some classes, such as the Sacrament certificates, full calendars) have been prepared and are available in the County Record Office. The words 'Detailed list available' have been appended to the general descriptions of classes where such work has been carried out at the time of printing.


¹ 'Rye Foreign' in S.A.C., vol. 92, pp. 125-156.


² For the full titles of these works and the abbreviations adopted in this catalogue see the List of Abbreviations below.


³ See S. and B. Webb, Manor and Borough (1908), Pt. I, pp. 337-9.


4 5 HMC., p. 504; Vidler, p. 16; Cal. Close Rolls, 1234-7, p. 163.


5 This was an emergency step taken after the invasion by Louis of France. The final transfer to the English Crown by the Abbey of Fécamp was not confirmed until 1247.


6 The mayor replaced the bailiff as the chief accounting officer to the exchequer for town revenues in 1307. P.R.O., Min. Accts. 1028 No. 12.


7 RYE/57/1, cc. 1-6; Holloway, pp. 138, 159


8 Ibid.


9 RYE/60/2.


¹0 RYE/1/7, fo. 476v; 1/12, fo. 3v; Ibid. fo. 13r.


¹¹ RYE/57/1 cc. 13-15; Holloway, p. 141.


¹² RYE/13.


¹³ RYE/57/1, fos. 76-96; Jeake, p. 145.


¹4 The term 'General Sessions and Gaol Delivery' appears on a recognizance in 1682 and 'Quarter Sessions' in 1686.


¹5 See Sussex Notes and Queries, vol. 13, pp. 82, 83.

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