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Ipswich received its first charter from King John in 1200; the Corporation records survive from 1255, placing the borough archive among the earliest in England, antedated only by Leicester, Shrewsbury, Wallingford, London and Exeter. The archive is particularly rich in records of the medieval courts, most tably perhaps those of the Court of Petty Pleas, whose cases touched almost every aspect of town life, and those of the Petty Court of Recognizances - in effect a register of deeds furnishing a detailed record of transactions involving burgage tenements. The financial records of Treasurer and Chamberlains are particularly detailed for the Elizabethan and Stuart periods, and much social history is contained in the records of various town charities.This catalogue, published to celebrate the 800th anniversary of John's charter, includes all the surviving records of the old Corporation down to its dissolution in 1835, thus facilitating access to an unjustly neglected major source for the history of Suffolk. It also features two contextual essays: The Government of Ipswich from its Origins to c. 1550 by Geoffrey Martin (former Keeper of the Rolls) and The Government of Ipswich from c.1550-1835 by Frank Grace (Lecturer, Suffolk College). Dr David Allen is on the staff of the Suffolk Record Office in Ipswich and editor of the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History .