Thames and Avon Branch of the Murray Club    

  Apprentice Boys of Derry  

The Five Charters

Londonderry received five Charters of incorporation between the years 1604 and 1689

The first of the Charters was granted by King James I on 19th July 1604 in the second year of his reign. By this Charter the Town of Derry was incorporated under the name of the City and County of Derry - the limits were defined as being three miles on every side from the old church (this is thought to be the site of the present St Augustines Church, which was the parish church until 1633 when St Columbs Cathedral was opened): and the corporate body was made to consist of the Provost, twelve Aldermen, two Sherriffs, twenty Burgesses and as many Freemen as should be thought fit. By this Charter Sir Henry Dowcra was appointed Provost for life. Although this Charter was made public, it does not appear to have been accepted by the City, or to have been further acted upon.

The second Charter of 1613 (29th March) was the most significant. This was the Charter that :

1. Created the County of Londonderry from the old county of Coleraine and adjacent lands.

2. Created a new municipal corporation and changed the name of the City to Londonderry to mark it's association with the City of London.

3. The Irish Society was incorporated.

4. The Irish Society was granted the new county of Londonderry.

The third Charter was granted by Oliver Cromwell on 20th March 1656, and this Charter which appears to have been enrolled in England, was not enrolled in Ireland.

The fourth Charter was granted by King Charles II and bears the date 10th April 1662, the fourteenth year of his reign. This Charter recites the Charter of King James of 1613, and grants and confirms all the privileges and estates comprised in that Charter. 

The fifth Charter was granted by King James II, and is dated 3rd August 1687, purporting to create a new body corporate, but was never accepted by the Corporation.