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Liberty of Westminster
Status Liberty
1831 area 2,500 acres (10 km2)[1]
Abolished 1900
Succeeded by Metropolitan Borough of Westminster

The Liberty of Westminster was an independent liberty, locally in the Hundred of Ossulstone, in the county of Middlesex, England.

Following the dissolution of Westminster Abbey, a court of burgesses was formed in 1585 to govern the Westminster area, previously under the Abbey's control. The City and Liberties of Westminster were further defined by Letters Patent in 1604, and the court of burgesses and liberty continued in existence until 1900, and the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster.[2][3] The court of burgesses (or court leet) was headed by the High Steward of Westminster Abbey, who was usually a prominent national politician. He appointed a high bailiff, who served for life, and performed most of the functions usually exercised by a high sheriff of a county. The city and liberty were divided into wards, each with a burgess and assistant burgess, this arrangement being adopted from the system then used in the City of London. The burgesses chose two head burgesses, one for the city and one for the liberty, who ranked next after the high bailiff. A high constable was appointed by the court leet, under whom was a force of constables. These were absorbed by the Metropolitan police in 1829.

Following the dissolution of the court of burgesses in 1900, a link has been retained to the old corporation, as the Lord Mayor of Westminster is ex officio Deputy High Steward of Westminster Abbey.[4]

The Liberty returned two members to parliament.

Constituent Parishes

The City and Liberties of Westminster contained the following "parishes, townships, precincts and places" in 1829:

The parishes of St Margaret and St John comprised the city, the other parishes the liberties of Westminster.


  1. ^ Vision of Britain - Middlesex hundreds 1831 census population. Retrieved on 2008-02-20.
  2. ^ Description of the City and Liberties of Westminster in 1819
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, Topgraphical Dictionary of England, Vol. III, London, 1831
  4. ^ History of the Lord Mayoralty of Westminster

Coordinates: 51°29′56″N 0°07′41″W / 51.499°N 0.128°W / 51.499; -0.128



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