Town Clerk


The Wells City Council Town Clerk is Stephen Luck, pictured below.

The Office of Town Clerk is both ancient and honourable, and one almost invariably filled by persons of learning, intelligence and practical business habits. Although I cannot trace any express notice of the appointment of a Town Clerk in Wells previous to the reign of Edward IV, yet I have no doubt there was an officer of an analogous description for very many years before that time. The regular Records of the Proceedings of the Corporation of Wells, as they now exist, commence A.D. 1378, and from the careful and systematic manner in which they were kept, we may safely conclude that such an important duty was assigned to some person specially appointed for the purpose, and who was made responsible for the due performance of it.

The Town Clerk, in Wells, was generally one of the body Corporate, and this continued until a very recent period. Several instances occurred in which the Town Clerk was Elected Mayor of the City. This was the case with Mr Bartholomew Cox, who became Town Clerk in 1604.

Before this several of the earlier Town Clerks served the office of Mayor - among others, John Tyler in 1487, 1493, 1494, 1499, 1500 and 1506; and the same John Tyler had the still higher honour of Representing the City in Parliament A.D. 1487 and 1496-7.

The Town Clerk took an oath peculiar to the office. For a very long series of years the following oath has been administered to that officer:

Wells City Archives contains a Roll of Town Clerks which was compiled by Thomas Serel in 1863 and presented to the then Town Clerk, W.I.S. Foster. Each Town Clerk since then has added their signature to the roll. Serel writes in the book:

“I shall true be in the Office of Town Clerk, and the Counsel of this place well and truly hold and keep, and obedient be to the Mayor, Masters and Burgesses in the Hall assembled, and all other things do that belongeth to my office by my Power.  So help me God.”

It is believed he was invariably by Profession a Lawyer, as the duties he had to execute were such that one without the advantage of a legal education would be altogether incompetent to discharge them. These peculiar duties I need not minutely describe. The office itself points out very nearly what he had to perform. The keeping [of] a regular and careful account of the proceedings of the Corporate body, the preparation of Leases of the Corporate possessions, the care of the public Records of the City, advising the Mayor and Members of the Corporation on points of law and such-like, were among the more important of the Town Clerk’s official duties.

It will be seen that the practice [of] appointing [a] Town Clerk in Wells had existed for many years before the grant of Queen Elizabeth’s Charter. These appointments were made annually at the time when the Mayor and other Municipal Officers were elected and sworn. By Elizabeth’s Charter the office of Town Clerk became, virtually, a life appointment, and then the old custom of annually nominating and swearing the Town Clerk ceased.

List of Wells City Town Clerks since 1878

1878    Reginald Lowbridge Foster

1901    Edward Pyndar Foster

1937    Salisbury Jones

1942    Harold James Dodd

1968    Douglas Montague Cursley

1991    Judith M. Amesbury

1994    Keith Cogger Donoghue

2010    Felicity Anne White

2019    Stephen Luck

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