OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
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  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 12, 2020
Webpage updated: May 13, 2020

        

ARCHIVES SERVICE

THE WIDEY COURT BOOK

Any reader of Plymouth history will at some time come across references to the 'Black Book', the 'White Book' and the 'Widey Court Book'.  This explains the origins of the 'Widey Court Book.'

This is an important volume of Borough accounts, starting in 1569-70, during the Receivership of Mr Walter Peperell, and running until 1657-58, after which another volume called the 'Receivers' Book' takes over.  Receiver was the term used at the time for the treasurer.

It is known that this volume was in the hands of the Corporation on June 17th 1679, when it was shown in evidence in a legal case between them and Mr Richard Strode.  There is no further mention of the Book until January 1880, when it was discovered among the papers of the Morshead family of Widey Court and returned to the Corporation.  It is probable, therefore, that it was removed by Mr John Morshead when he was Mayor, in either 1753-54 or 1762-63, and not returned to its rightful place.

The 'Widey Court Book' contains 600 folio pages and is considered the most valuable of the surviving volumes of Corporation accounts, as it contains references to general and local events.

This Book forms part of a series that provides Plymouth with an almost continuous record of accounts from 1486 to 1807.  The other volumes are:

'Thomas Tregarthen's Book' covering from the 22nd year of the reign of King Edward IV to the 25th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth;

the 'Old Audit Book', which runs from the 9th year of the reign of King Henry VII to the 2nd year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth;

here fits the 'Widey Court Book';

the 'Receivers' Book Number IV', which covers the period from 1658-59 to1737-38;

'Receivers' Book Number V', 1739-40 to 1783-84;

'Joseph Collier's Account Book' (he was the Town Steward), 1752 to 1764; and finally

'Receivers' Book Number VI', 1784-85 to 1806-07.

Extracts from all these Books were published by Mr R N Worth FGS (1837-1896) in a "Calendar of the Municipal Records", 1893.