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Finances and government of Canterbury eighteenth century to mid nineteenth century

Panton, Frank H. (1998) Finances and government of Canterbury eighteenth century to mid nineteenth century. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86028) (KAR id:86028)


From this examination of the progress of local Government in Canterbury, 1700-mid 1800s, in the light of the City's finances, a broad pattern emerges of the oligarchic and self-perpetuating Burghmote clinging to overall control until 1835, adapting its role, with some success, to accommodate changing circumstances.

Control of commerce remained the prime concern of the Burghmote, though its gold on the Freeman and Guild system was greatly weakened by the late 1770s. Developments requiring expenditure beyond the Burghmote's limited resources were accommodated and managed through the creation of two new Corporations - Court of Guardians (1727), and Pavement Commissioners (1787) - with powers to levy rates and tolls, which the Burghmote lacked. And, by 1773, the Magistrates began to levy a County Rate defraying the mounting expenses of Canterbury's Commission of the Peace. No great magnate dominated the City, which governed itself with little or no direction from outside. Burghmote members and Magistrates were exclusibely drawn from tradesmen, craftsmen and professionals, living and working in the City. It is suggested that this situation, paralleled in other County Boroughs but not in rural areas, contributed to peaceful government, as evidenced by Canterbury's management, without riots, of food crises of 1795/6 and 1800/1. A degree of urban renaissance, increasing social and leisure activities, was fostered by the ruling elite.

Replacement of the Burghmote by a City Council in 1836 introduced a measure of democracy, the abolition of Freemen, and some central government control. A paid police force was established and a Borough rate authorized. However, democracy brought with it links to national politics, and the Council's rates were twice that of the old regime. Despite efforts to increase commerce, the Industrial Revolution passed by, and Canterbury remained a market town, declining in importance relative to other provincial capitals.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86028
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Local government; Burghmote; Canterbury
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:25 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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