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New River Company charter, 1619

​New River Company charter, 1619. With kind permission of LMS Capital plc.

​Recent acquisitions highlight

Richard Wiltshire

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is delighted to announce the deposit of the original New River Company charter and the oath of Sir Hugh Myddelton, the company’s founder and first governor, both dating from 1619.

In 1612 plans began on construction of the New River which brought fresh water from Chadwell and Amwell, some 20 miles north in Hertfordshire to New River Head, Islington. From there the water was distributed to those in the city fortunate enough to be able to afford a fresh water supply.

A charter was granted in 1619 by James I to the New River Company, incorporated as The Governor and Company of the New River brought from Chadwell and Amwell to London. The original charter now deposited has a partial surviving seal depicting James I. The company’s own seal depicted the hand of Providence bestowing rain upon the city and its motto was ‘et plui super unam civitatem’ (and I rained upon one city). The charter (reference code ACC/1953/A/002/A) has been de-framed and given bespoke archival packaging by LMA’s Conservation team. There is a printed copy from 1737 also available (LMA reference ACC/1953/A/002).

As the first Governor, Sir Hugh Myddelton swore his oath (ACC/1953/A/001/A) to the King. In this document, the King commands Sir Hugh Myddelton that ‘You shall well and honestlie behave your selfe in the place of Governor of this company, and justlie and indefferentlie, shall order the matters and causes of this Company according to Right and conscience, and no singular profit to your owne person doe nor take…’.

LMA would like to thank the depositor, The Rayne Foundation and Derwent London plc, for adding these important items, along with an engraving of Sir Hugh Myddelton (ACC/1953/A/002/B), to the main New River Company archive (ACC/1953).

Further information

You can search the LMA online in depth to find out more about the New River collections using the references given above:

LMA catalogue Search archive

You can see images of the new river on Collage: The London Picture Archive:

COLLAGE Search images
25 September 2014
Last Modified:
15 November 2017