Former Town Clerks of Wokingham

Jim Bell (Self-published, 2011) A5 paperback 40pp

This book by Wokingham based author Jim Bell is of similar format to his other books. It is comprised of an introduction on the origins of the office followed by a collection of short biographies on each holder of the office. This book also has a short chapter detailing the responsibilities of the clerk.

The charter of 1612 also saw the establishment of the office of Common Clerk (renamed Town Clerk in 1885) and the book covers all 20 Clerks through to the retirement of Keith Abnett in 2011. As might be expected with a rather parochial appointment (compared to the High Steward), the Clerks biographies contain much of interest to local and family historians. However very little is known of the early appointees – and the four 17th century clerks are only known as names (in one case the only evidence is a lone signature.) However from the mid-18th century onwards the reader is presented with enough biographical detail to bring out the personalities and stories of the men (and woman) that held the office.

Taken together with his book, The High Stewards of Wokingham, these books contrast two very different views of civic service – the well-known intermediary between town and state, and the diligent and unsung local public servant. Both offer interest to historians; which depends on the reader’s preference!

Tony Roberts

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