A family abandoned
Our starting point is an entry in the Yarmouth Assembly Book from 1625 to 1642, which can be found in the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich. The entry was made in 1635, and it reads:
At the Assembly Mrs Burdett in regard of hir husbands absense from hir, being gone for New England, whereby she is much destitute of means for the maintenance of hir and hir children, petitioned the house for some relief to be afforded hir in supply thereof: which being taken into consideration it is agreed that she shall have 20 marks per annum to be paid quarterlie by the Chamberlines. The first payment to begin at St Michael next: and soe to continue during the good likeing and pleasure of the house.
We also find the following note in the margin:
'Annuity of 20 marks per annum granted to Mrs Burdett'.
'These books did not have lists of contents or indices ...'
Great Yarmouth is a coastal town in Norfolk, and in the 17th century it was governed by a council or 'Assembly' of freemen. The Assembly books record the freemen's deliberations, and date back to the mid-16th century.
These books did not have lists of contents or indices, but the scribes did write brief descriptions of the different records in the margins of each folio. This shows us that the Assembly Book was made to be used and referred to by the town at any time, and was not simply something that they filled in and stored away to be instantly forgotten.