Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 06, 2017.
Webpage updated: September 06, 2017

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The Charter for Incorporating the Town and suburbs of Devonport received the Royal Assent on Friday October 13th 1837 and arrived in the Borough on the evening of Saturday October 14th 1837, addressed to Mr Edward Abbott, chairman of the Committee that was appointed at a public meeting nearly two years ago.

In accordance with a resolution passed at a public meeting held on Monday October 16th 1837, the Charter was  publicly read by Mr Abbott at the Town  Hall at Noon on Wednesday [October 18th 1837] and then the Incorporation Committee proclaimed the Charter at the Head of Market-street, the Dockyard Gate, the Gunwharf Gates, the Head of Newpassage Hill, the Eastern end of Fore-street,  Stoke Terrace,  the  North end of Newpassage Hill, the Eastern end of Pembroke-street, James-street, the Southern end of James-street, and at the Town Square [Morice Square].

The published "Abstract of the Charter" is reproduced below:

'The Charter grants and declares that the inhabitants of Devonport and the parish of Stoke-Damerel, for the district comprised within the boundaries of the borough of Devonport, exclusive of so much of the said borough as is comprised in the parish of East Stonehouse, and their successors, shall be forever hereafter one body politic and corporate, to be called the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the borough of Devonport, who shall be capable to have and exercise all the powers, authorities, immunities, and privileges, and be subject to the same provisions as fully and effectually as if the said borough had been included in the schedules of the act for regulating Municipal Corporations in England and Wales.  And that the said body corporate shall be able to take purchase, and acquire, lands, etc., within the borough, to any amount, and out of the borough, if the same shall not exceed 5,000 by the year.  And that the Council shall consist of a Mayor, 12 Aldermen, and 36 Councillors, to be elected according to the provisions of the Municipal Act Amendment Bill, and that the borough be divided into six wards, to be called Morice Ward, Saint Aubyn's Ward, Saint John's Ward, Clowance Ward, Tamar Ward, and Stoke Ward, and the number of six Councillors is assigned to each of the six wards.  The divisions of the wards being described, the Charter appoints Edward Abbott, esquire, to prepare a burgess list on the 19th instant of all the inhabitants qualified to vote at the  election  of Councillors, and provides that those who have a right to vote, and whose names are not included in the Burgess List, must give notice to the said Edward Abbott before the 28th inst., and also that any person may before the 28th inst., object to any name being retained on such list, but notice of the same must be served on the party objected to.  Copies of these lists when prepared are to be fixed in some conspicuous situation in the borough eight days before the sixteenth day of November next.  Benjamin Parham, esquire, barrister-at-law, is appointed to revise these lists on the 18th day of November.  The first election of Councillors to take place on the 11th of December, and the Aldermen and Mayor to be elected on the following day; Edward Abbott, esquire, is appointed to act as Returning Officer at the first election.  The Charter also grants to the said body corporate the power of holding within the borough a Court of Record, for the trial of civil actions before the Mayor of the said borough, which court shall be holden on the third day of every week, and shall have the power to try actions of assumpsit, covenant, and debt, and all actions of trespass or trover, provided the sum or damages sought to be recovered shall not exceed the sum of twenty pounds, and all actions of ejectment. wherein the annual rent of the premises shall not exceed twenty pounds.'