Town Commissioners

1773 Brighton Town Act

Reproduced with permission from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

183. TOWN COMMISSIONERS and TOWN ACTS

a) 1773 BRIGHTON TOWN ACT (13 George III ch.34): With the change in the fortunes of Brighton in the latter eighteenth century, the need for proper regulation of the town, and the improvement of its facilities and streets, was paramount. In 1773 the first of the Brighton Town Acts, by which the town was to be governed for over eighty years, provided for better paving, lighting and street-cleaning; for the removal of nuisances and annoyances; for the holding and regulation of a daily market; for building and repairing groynes; and for other purposes within the town. It also named sixty-four commissioners, commonly known as the 'town commissioners' or 'improvement commissioners', to regulate these functions throughout the parish.
The commissioners, who had to meet certain financial requirements to qualify, chose their own replacements and included some of the best known names in the town such as William Attree, John Hicks, Thomas Kemp , Revd Henry Michell, Philip Mighell, Dr Anthony Relhan, Charles Scrase, Samuel Shergold, Henry Thrale, Richard Tidy and Richard Whichelo. Only a small number of commissioners were active, however. The first meeting was held at the Castle Inn on 24 May 1773, and they met at the Old Ship , the Castle Inn or the New Ship about once a month.
The Act empowered the commissioners to levy a rate of up to three shillings in the pound for the purposes of lighting, paving and cleansing the streets. They were also authorised to borrow up to £3,000 for the erection of a market building, and to charge a tax on all coal landed on the beaches to pay for sea-defences. Powers were also given to regulate the use of signs and to remove nuisances. One interesting clause of the act required inhabitants to sweep the pavements outside their houses between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. every day except Sunday, The 'sport' of cock-throwing, the slaughtering of animals in streets, and public bonfires and fireworks, were all banned.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above: 14,29-32,112

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