The Aldermen of the City of London Temp. Henry III - 1912. Originally published by Corporation of the City of London, London, 1908.
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Of the origin of the office of Alderman in general and in connexion with the Wards of the City of London in particular, and of the date at which, and the evolutionary process by which, the Aldermen of London became associated with the Mayor in the government of the City, much has been written from time to time, the equipment of the writers for the task which they essayed being of varied degrees of efficiency, whether in regard to the extent and character of material at their command, or to their own aptitude for dealing with it.
The present writer, the bent of whose mind and the nature of whose studies and researches tend to make him more at home in the region of established fact than in the wider field of tentative speculation, shrinks from the uncongenial occupation of darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and thinks it best to admit at once that he has nothing original to contribute to the determination of problems as to which, notwithstanding the pontifical tone which some experts are wont to assume, he believes it to be, at any rate in the present stage of historical investigation, impossible to deliver an ex cathedra judgment with that degree of certitude which alone would justify such a pronouncement. His humbler undertaking, which in these volumes he has endeavoured to carry out with some fulness of detail, has been that of collecting in chronological sequence the names of those City Worthies who have served or been elected to the office of Alderman of London during the 640 years since the beginning of the reign of Edward I., from which period the continuous official records of the Corporation now extant are dated, illustrating them with such biographical details as the results of somewhat wide reading enable him to contribute, and with notes on some special points more or less closely connected with the main subject, including—though such was no part of his original plan—some account of Aldermen of still earlier date, which is necessarily less exhaustive and of a more tentative character through the greater lack of authoritative material. (fn. 1)
In the excursus on 'The Aldermen of the City of London,' which forms not the least valuable portion of his monograph on The Aldermen of Cripplegate Ward, (and to which, as it would be contrary to the laws of literary propriety to convey it en bloc or in substantial excerpts to these pages, I would refer those who desire fuller extracts from the Corporation records than the limits of this Introduction admit), Sir John Baddeley writes thus: (fn. 2) 'It is probable that no definite account of the origin of the office of Alderman, or of the body known as the Court of Aldermen can ever be written for . . . the office of the Aldermen of the City of London came into existence by a process of natural growth and development created by the necessities of the times.' A fairly prolonged study of and intimate acquaintance with such material as is easily available for forming an opinion convinces me that, (to adopt a phrase which, though almost certainly mythical in its origin, has become historic), I am not wrong if I content myself on this point with 'saying ditto to' Sir John Baddeley.
It is, of course, a matter of common knowledge that the name 'Alderman' is a survival from Anglo-Saxon times—a designation of the period which I use as being generally 'understanded of the people,' with every apology to the manes of the late Professor Freeman—and its etymological signification is too transparent to need explanation. When, however, we get beyond this elementary stage, unanimity of opinion ceases, and Sir John Baddeley's theory (which he propounds on the same page as the passage quoted above and repeats in his work on The Guildhall of the City of London) to the effect that the 'fiveand-twenty of the more discreet men of the City' who are stated (fn. 3) to have been chosen in the year 1200, and ' sworn to take counsel on behalf of the City together with the Mayor' formed the first Court of Aldermen of which mention is made, is one which has not found unquestioned acceptance. It has, indeed, the powerful support of so eminent an authority on the origin of municipal institutions as the late Miss Mary Bateson, as well as that of Dr. Reginald Sharpe, the weight of whose opinion on any point of London civic history is admitted by all who are cognisant of his life's work, but on the other hand it is rejected, with characteristic confidence in the unassailability of his position, by Mr. Horace Round, whose well-established reputation for accuracy in facts and whose acuteness of reasoning in the application of them to the solution of historic problems render second (and even third) thoughts desirable before venturing to challenge his conclusions.
Mr. Round sees in the Council of the year 1200—whatever was the exact number of the persons composing it—not a Court of Aldermen but the germ of the Common Council of later times. (fn. 4) As an initial objection to the identification of this Council of 25 with the Court of Aldermen he lays stress on the point, already urged by the late Mr. Loftie, (fn. 5) that the number 25 does not coincide with that of the Wards at that date, there being then only 24 in all, the Aldermen of which included the Mayor with whom the 25 were to take counsel. This discrepancy was overlooked by Bishop Stubbs, (fn. 6) who accepted the assumption that the 25 Councillors of King John's time gradually became identified with the Aldermen.
But Mr. Round rests his case not on negative but on positive considerations. He relies on two important documents preserved in British Museum Additional MS. 14252, ff. 110, 112d. The latter of these, the Oath of the Commune ('Sacramentum commune tempore regis Ricardi quando detentus erat Alemaniam'—to quote the original, which is not a model of correct Latin prose),—refers to the governing body of the City at the period of Richard I.'s detention in Germany (1193) as the Mayor and Skivini ('obedientes erunt maiori civitatis Lond [onie] etskivin [is] ' [MS. skiuin]), this hideous vocable serving as the Latin equivalent of the Norman-French échevins. The document preserved at the former reference gives the oath of a body of 'twenty-four', who were connected with the government of London in the 7th year of John (1205-6) ['Sacramentum xxiiijor factum anno regni regis Johannis vijo ']. These twenty-four persons, if the Aldermen are ruled out, would appear to have been either identical with or inclusive of the 'alii probi homines' who are named with the skivini of the earlier document ('sequentur et tenebunt considerationem maioris et skivinorum et aliorum proborum hominum qui cum illis erunt'). Mr. Round leaves no doubt as to his opinion. He points out the resemblance of the oath of the 24 to the oath of the 'vingt quatre' annually elected to form the Council of the Mayor of Rouen, who were divided into 'duodecim eschevini' and 'alii duodecim consultores,' and proceeds to assert, on continental analogy, that the 24 members of the London Council 'comprised twelve skevini [sic] and an equal number of councillors.' Mr. Round holds that the Aldermen were altogether ignored in the formation of this Council. It is, however, by no means impossible, and, as will be seen later, Miss Bateson inclines to that view, that the skivini may have been Aldermen. In any case, the skivini or échevins are, so far as our present knowledge goes, only found in connexion with the municipal officers of the City of London in the Oath of the Commune, and their existence (at least under that name) must have been of brief duration. (fn. 7)
Miss Mary Bateson, in a very able review of the manuscript from which Mr. Round's documents are taken, (fn. 8) arrives at conclusions quite contrary to those of Mr. Round, conclusions which, whatever degree of validity they may possess, lose nothing in weight from the entire absence of a dogmatic tone in their pronouncement. She agrees so far with Mr. Round as to the probability that the oath of the 24 was modelled on that of Rouen, but she adds that 'as there is no evidence that the London Council of twenty-four consisted, like that of Rouen, of twelve consultores and twelve scabini' [another variant of this outlandish designation] 'the likelihood that to Londoners their skivini were the twenty-four Aldermen is great.' (fn. 9) In support of that view she points out that 'the Aldermen's oath preserved in the Liber Albus (fn. 10) is more like the oath of the twenty-four taken in 1205-6 than is the oath of the Common Councillor, for it is the Alderman who takes part with the Mayor in assizes, pleas and judgments of the Hustings, and gives likewise good and loyal counsel in matters which touch the common profit of the City.' For in the oath of the twenty-four which Mr. Round prints, each Councillor swears to take no bribe in any matter of justice ('nullum modum premii accipient . . pro injuria allevanda vel pro jure sternendo') whereas in the later oath of the Common Council (quoted by Mr. Round from the Liber Albus) (fn. 11) 'no mention' as Miss Bateson very shrewdly remarks, 'is made of any judicial function, for the Common Councillor as such had none,' whence she infers that 'if we are to deny' (as Mr. Round does) 'the possibility of an identity between these four-and-twenty and the Aldermen, . . it presents a difficulty.' Mr. Round emphasises the distinction between the Alderman, a local officer in charge of a Ward, and a Councillor who represents the City as a whole in virtue of his election. To this Miss Bateson replies that the evidence of such election is unconvincing, resting only on 'the later and far less trustworthy Liber de Antiquis Legibus which records an election of twenty-five Councillors in 1200-1.' (fn. 12)
Mr. Round agrees with Miss Bateson in his estimate of the value of this authority as regards the number twenty-five, which authority, he says, 'is not first rate,' (fn. 13) and if it is inconclusive as to the number, it is equally so as to the fact of election. Miss Bateson, after a careful examination of Mr. Round's arguments, comes to the conclusion that 'the fact so clearly proved by the Additional Manuscript (fn. 13) that the Aldermen were not isolated officers, but co-operated as givers of judgment in the Husting deserves further consideration as an argument in favour of the belief that the twenty-four Councillors in judgment were the twenty-four Aldermen of Wards, twenty-four men who in 11 Henry III. rendered the account of the tallage of their Wards.' (fn. 13) Mr. Round and Miss Bateson being agreed as to the virtual abandonment of the council of twenty-five, (as resting on no older authority than fitz-Thedmar's Chronicles of Mayors and Sheriffs preserved in the Liber de Antiquis Legibus and written more than half a century later than the date to which such council is assigned), there remains only the point that 'if the Mayor held his Ward during office, twenty-five Wards would have to be accounted for.' Miss Bateson asks 'is it necessary to assume that this was so at an early date?' (fn. 13) I am not sure whether by 'this' Miss Bateson means the retention of the Ward in conjunction with the Mayoralty or that the number would in that case be twenty-five. I see no reason to doubt, though there is no evidence either way, that fitz-Ailwyn who was then Mayor retained his Aldermanry in accordance with the practice that prevailed later; it is possible that the number of Wards at that time was not more than twenty-three, though I know of nothing to suggest its probability, and we have evidence of twenty-four Wards some thirty years later; the only detailed list which we have of earlier date, (going back as far as about 1130 and not professing to be exhaustive), takes account of twenty, and we do not know whether any or all of the remaining four were then in existence or, if not, at what date or dates they were added during the subsequent hundred years. But I do not see any insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of Miss Bateson's identification of the Aldermen with the twenty-four in the fact that the Mayor is included in the number, nor should I regard as inaccurate at the present day the statement that the government of the City is in the hands of the Lord Mayor, twenty-six Aldermen and the Common Council, although the Lord Mayor is himself one of the twenty-six.
With regard to the question of identifying the 'probi homines' who were associated with the Mayor and skivini in the Oath of the Commune, while Mr. Round holds that they were twelve in number forming one half of the whole body of twenty-four, on the analogy of the Vingt Quatre of Rouen comprising 'duodecim consultores' and 'duodecim eschevini,' Miss Bateson suggests that 'though only twenty-four were sworn to act as Councillors, it does not thence follow that only twenty-four took part in council. There might be present also such other probi as the Mayor chose to summon, who in the indefinite medieval way would represent the opinion of the whole community.'
Dr. Sharpe's London and the Kingdom preceded by some years Mr. Round's Commune of London, and at the date of its publication the question raised by the latter based on the documents in the Additional Manuscript had not arisen. In the text of his work Dr. Sharpe identifies the Council of twenty-five with the Court of Aldermen; so far as I know, he has not had occasion to touch on this point in his later publications, but, having had the advantage of personally ascertaining his views on this as on most other questions of civic history, I think I am right in saying that he adheres to his original opinion that the Council of that period was composed of the Aldermen.
Mr. H. B. Wheatley in The Story of London (Mediæval Towns series) remarks that the whole question is at present one of great difficulty, but though he refrains from 'venturing to express any confident opinion until more evidence is forthcoming,' he holds that 'Mr. Round's discovery of the Oath of the Commune in which Aldermen are not mentioned has made it difficult to conjecture when it was that they took their natural place as the advisers of the Mayor,' and he appears not to have been acquainted with Miss Bateson's examination of Mr. Round's arguments.
Who shall decide when doctors disagree? I have endeavoured to set out impartially the arguments on both sides: my independent knowledge is not sufficient to entitle me to pronounce with any affectation of authority on the rival theories of such learned writers as Mr. Round and Miss Bateson, and while it may be possible for the reader to detect a leaning to one side of the controversy in the foregoing summary, I think it wiser to assume a purely agnostic attitude and, if called on for a verdict, to take refuge in the Caledonian via media of 'not proven.'
Whatever be the date at which the Court of Aldermen came into existence as a leading factor in the government of the City, there can be no doubt that Aldermen presided over Wards from a much earlier period than that of the establishment of the Commune in Richard I.'s reign. The earliest mention of an Alderman in connexion with a Ward is that of Tursten, under date 14 Kal. Aug. (July 19) 1111. (fn. 14) From the same authority we get a record of twenty Wards in which the Church of St. Paul's held lands, three of which bear local names, one is the Bishop's Ward and the remaining sixteen are distinguished by personal designations, which may with confidence be assumed to denote their Aldermen. Whether these twenty formed the total number of Wards at that date or whether there were others in which there were no capitular estates, we have no data for determining. In Vol. I. of this work (p. 363) I have followed Mr. Loftie in ascribing this document to circa 1115, but Mr. Round (fn. 15) has shown conclusively that this is too early a date, and has fixed the true one at circa 1130 and certainly later than 1121-2. The total number of Wards appears to have been fixed in the first years of the 13th century (and probably from a much earlier period) at twenty-four, of which eleven were situated to the West and thirteen to the East of the course of the Walbrook. The former were Vintry, Cordwainer, Cheap, Coleman Street, Bassishaw, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Farringdon (whose earlier name was Ludgate and Neugate), Bread Street, Queenhithe, Castle Baynard: the latter were Portsoken, Aldgate, Tower, Lime Street, Bishopsgate, Broad Street, Billingsgate, Cornhill, Langbourn, Bridge, Candlewick, Walbrook, Dowgate. The only additions to this total have been caused by the division of Farringdon into two Wards (Within and Without) in 1394, (fn. 16) and the creation of the Ward of Bridge Without in 1550, when the City purchased the rights of the Crown in Southwark. Since 1550 the number has stood, as it stands at present, at 26.
What was the exact connexion of the early Aldermen with their Wards is still perhaps an open question. The theory most generally adopted is that they were originally hereditary territorial proprietors, having leet jurisdiction over their districts then called Sokes, which became the basis of the later division into Wards. Besant puts this succinctly thus: 'the City consisted originally of a certain number of private manors: the proprietors of these estates were the so-called Barons of the City. Some of the estates remained in the hands of their proprietors for many generations: these proprietors constituted themselves without any law other than immemorial custom, the ruling Council of the City.' (fn. 17) In the Charter of Henry I. (which is undated and was formerly assigned to the first year of that reign, but which Mr. Round adduces good reason for conjecturing to have been granted not earlier than 1130, (fn. 18) a view which Dr. Sharpe appears to adopt), (fn. 19) it is ordered that 'the churches and barons and citizens shall and may peaceably and quietly have and hold their sokes with all their customs; so that the strangers that shall be lodged in the sokes shall give custom to none but to him to whom the soke appertains, or to his officer whom he shall there put.' (fn. 20) By 'the barons' here are clearly meant, says Norton, 'the Aldermen, so styled in virtue of their Ward or leet jurisdictions when such jurisdictions were expressly alluded to, although they never permanently changed their ancient title of Aldermen.' (fn. 21) Norton, in another portion of his work, holds that 'the proprietary title of the Alderman to his soke in London was certainly of short duration, and perhaps never universal throughout the City.' (fn. 22) The recurrence of particular patronymics among the early Aldermen, e.g. Haverhull, Bukerell, Bat, Sperling, Hardel, Basing, lends some countenance to the assumption that the territorial connexion of Aldermen with their Wards was more continuous and lasting, but that it is hardly sufficient to bear the weight of the inference which some would draw therefrom is shown by the fact that as late as the present year (1912) there were three members of the Court of Aldermen who in the ordinary course of election had succeeded their fathers (Sir G. Faudel-Phillips, Sir G. Truscott, Sir J. Knill) and who certainly had no proprietary interest, whether by inheritance or otherwise, in their respective Wards.
Stress is frequently laid both by early and modern writers, from the compiler of the Liber Albus (with which the name of John Carpenter is usually associated) to the late Mr. Loftie, on the fact that whereas ' the Alderman in modern times has his title from the Ward over which he presides . . . in ancient times the Ward was styled after the name of its Alderman, (fn. 23) and it is assumed by Loftie that the influence of the passing of the Statute Quia Emptores in 1290 'is at once apparent when we note that about the same time the list of Wards became substantially what it remains to the present day.' (fn. 24) It may, perhaps, be evidence of defective powers of apprehension on the part of the present writer in regard to those portions of his subject in which he does not profess to take an overmastering interest, that he is unable to see, and does not hesitate to say so, any closer connexion between the passing of the Statute Quia Emptores and the permanent nomenclature of the Wards than between Goodwin Sands and Tenterden Steeple. At any rate the whole of the 24 Wards are designated by their local appellations in the list of Aldermen printed by Dr. Sharpe in his Calendar of Husting Wills (vol. i., p. 702), and Calendar of Letter Book A (p. 209), the date of which is from four to five years earlier than the passing of that Statute. Whatever may have been the case in the earlier years of Ward organisation, it is difficult to believe that the territorial relationship between the Alderman and his Ward—at least in the great majority of the Wards—continued so late as until the substitution of local for personal names. Norton says of the proprietary title of the Alderman to his Soke that 'it probably arose with the introduction of the feudal system, and expired with the grant of those exemptions from it secured to the citizens by their earlier charters, the establishment of a community, and the election of their own magistrates.' (fn. 25) For my part I see no reason to hold that the substitution, e.g., of the designation 'Ward of Walbrook' in the year 1285 for 'Ward of John Adrien' has any deeper historical significance than the parallel oase in much later days (1751) when the general numbering of the regiments of the British army converted 'Cope's Dragoons' into the 7th Dragoons and 'Barrell's Regiment' into the 4th Foot.
Two Wards, those of Portsoken and of Ludgate and Neugate (later known as Farringdon), should be specially noticed. The Aldermanry of the former was, from the reign of Henry I. until that of Henry VIII. when the religious houses were dissolved, held iure officii by the Prior of Holy Trinity (or Christchurch), Aldgate, as a consequence of the surrender to the Canons of that Church of the Soke which had previously been in the possession of the Cnihtengild. It is unnecessary to go into the history of that fraternity, which has been very fully dealt with by Mr. H. C. Coote in his paper on 'the English Gild of Knights and their Soon,' printed in the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archæological Society, vol. V., pp. 477–493, and by Dr. Sharpe in his admirable introduction to the Calendar of Letter Book C. Loftie, in treating of the Cnihtengild, got somewhat out of his depth, and his inference, which he propounds as one on which 'there can now be no doubt,' (fn. 26) that the gild had been 'the governing body of London,' has been shown by Mr. Round to be based on complete misunderstanding of the original authorities, and it is clear that in Mr. Round's words, its position as a governing body has been far too rashly assumed and rests upon no foundation. (fn. 27)
With regard to the Ward subsequently known as Farringdon, so named from the two members of the Farndone family who successively presided over it, it appears that as late as the closing years of the 13th century its Aldermanry was a kind of incorporeal hereditament, transmissible by deed, inasmuch as (probably about 1269) Thomas de Arderne granted it to Anketin d'Auvergne for his life and again in 1277 after the latter's death, to Ralph le Fevre, the latter paying a fine of 20 marks and a yearly offering of one clove of gilliflowers. (fn. 28) The deed concerning this grant was witnessed by G. de Rokesley (Mayor), R. Arraz (Sheriff) and H. le Waleys, P. le Taillour, T. de Basing, J. Horn and J. Blakethorn (Aldermen). How Arderne became possessed of proprietary rights over the Aldermanry does not appear; there is no trace of his having exercised the office of Alderman himself, nor is there any indication how any of the predecessors of A. de Auvergne, whose identity can be established from various Ancient Deeds (see vol. I., pp. 367–374), acquired the position. R. le Fevre's son demised the Aldermanry to W. de Farndone, (fn. 29) from whom it passed to the latter's son-in-law Nicholas le Fevre (son of R. le Fevre) who took, or was generally known by, the name Farndone. Nicholas de Farndone apparently possessed (or imagined himself to possess) the power of devising his Aldermanry, and accordingly he bequeathed it at his death, which occurred as late as 1334 (after more than 40 years' tenure of it) to John de Pulteney. (fn. 30) Pulteney, however, did not act as Alderman of that Ward, and within three weeks of the enrolment of Farndone's Will Richard Lacer is found in possession of the Aldermanry, there being no evidence to show whether he obtained it by devise from Pulteney or by election: he retained office for 23 years and his successor was elected in the ordinary way by 'the good men of the Ward of Farndone.' (fn. 31)
Perhaps, also, a word should be said about the Ward of Cornhill, inasmuch as the late Mr. Loftie has deduced from its omission from the list of Wards whose Aldermen between 1285 and 1320 are given (very incompletely and inaccurately) in Lansdowne MS. 558, the conclusion that, inasmuch as it had formerly comprised a soke belonging to the Bishop of London, though 'there was still an Alderman of Cornhill in 1312, in the later and less orderly years of the reign of Edward II., the Bishop may have been able to recover his claim so far as to prevent the appointment of an Alderman.' (fn. 32) This is a mere mare's nest. There is abundant evidence in the Letter Books and Husting Rolls to prove that Richard de Gloucester was Alderman of Cornhill continuously for the twenty years preceding his death in 1323, and both the Alderman and his Ward are explicitly named in conjunction in the early part of 1320. (fn. 33) The absence of Cornhill from the Lansdowne MS., the value of which authority I have examined in detail at pp. 238, 239 of vol. I., may probably be accounted for by the very simple explanation that the writer accidentally overlooked it, and in any case the omission has obviously no historical signification.
Notwithstanding the evidence for the existence of Aldermen and Wards at least as far back as the reign of Henry I., that large section of the British public which is content to take its history from Whitaker's Almanack will learn from this year's issue of that publication that 'Aldermen were first appointed by a Charter of Henry III. in 1242.' The authority for this statement appears to be Fabyan's Chronicle (1st Ed. 1516) part vii. Henry III., fo. xxiii., where, under date 1242 (25 Hen. III.), we read that 'this yere also were Aldermen first chosyn within the Cytie of London, whiche then had the rule of the Cytie and of the wardis of the same, and were thā yerely chaūgyd as nowe the Shryuys be chaungyd.' (fn. 34) If the natural interpretation of these words be adopted, viz., that Aldermen were first introduced in that year, the statement is grotesquely contrary to fact, as there are continuous indications of the existence of Aldermen of Wards for more than a century preceding that date. The only other interpretation that suggests itself is that Aldermen were 'first chosyn' (i.e. elected) in that year, they or their predecessors having previously acquired their Aldermanries by inheritance or purchase or nomination or some other non-elective process. But if what would be tantamount to a revolution in the civic constitution really did occur at this time, it is very difficult to account for the silence of the contemporary chronicler fitz-Thedmar and for the absence of any mention of so important an event in other early authorities for the history of London: if there be any such confirmation of Fabyan's statement, I have unfortunateiy failed to observe it, and in the absence of such confirmation, I do not attach importance to his unsupported assertion some two centuries and a half after the event. The examination of the succession of Aldermen between 1285 and 1320 as given in Lansdowne MS. 558 which will be found at pp. 298, 299 of the first volume of this work, will afford proof of the little reliance that can safely be placed even upon practically contemporary authorities in an uncritical age. Except for this isolated statement of Fabyan, I know of no indication of annual elections of Aldermen during the 13th century. The earliest recorded instance of the election of an Alderman by 'the men of the Ward' is that of Alexander le Ferrun who was chosen Alderman of Walbrook on the removal of S. fitz-Mary in March 1249. (fn. 35)
The first list of Aldermen printed in the Letter Books is undated, but may be safely assigned to 1285 or 1286, and probably, for the reason I have stated in vol. I. (p. 370), to about July, 1285. In June, 1293, there appears to have been a general election of Aldermen, but it is clear that those already in office were in almost all cases re-elected. It seems not improbable that the list of 1285, (fn. 36) which is headed 'Proper Names of the Wards of the City of London and the Names of the Aldermen,' also indicates a general election, and that such elections took place when, as in those years, either the City was taken into the King's hands and a Custos appointed in place of the Mayor, or an existing Custos was replaced by a successor.
Except under such circumstances, there is no evidence other than the words of Fabyan quoted above of any annual or periodical election affecting the whole body of Aldermen before the reign of Edward II. In June, 1319, that King granted a Charter, ratifying certain articles upon which the citizens had agreed, one clause of which provided that the Aldermen 'de anno in annum et præcipue die sancti Gregorii Pape (fn. 37) sint amobiles et amoti anno sequenti non reeligantur.' It is not clear, and apparently was not at the time, or at any rate shortly after, what the precise meaning of the Latin was, the word 'amobiles' (=removable) being open to two interpretations, viz., either that the contemplated removal of an Alderman was prescribed or that it was merely permissive: in the latter case 'amoti' means no more than 'if removed' or 'when removed,' or 'those (Aldermen) removed,' a rendering which according to the ordinary usage of the language is quite legitimate. This appears to have been the interpretation adopted when the new provision was first acted upon, for on the Feast of St. Gregory, 1321, it is recorded (fn. 38) that four Aldermen (J. de Gisors, S. Corp, W. de Caustone, S. de Abyndone,) (fn. 39) were removed and successors elected, (fn. 40) but there is no evidence that any of the other twenty Aldermen were disturbed in their seats, even to the extent of having to submit to re-election.
In the preceding year, 1320, the first after the grant of the Charter of 1319, there is no record of any elections on St. Gregory's Day, but four vacancies had been filled in January (two on the 16th and two on the 18th), there being no evidence to show whether or not these vacancies were created by the operation of the new law. It is noticeable, however, that W. de Caustone was chosen to succeed H. Nasard as Alderman of Broad Street at some date between February 1 and August 7, 1320, (fn. 41) and inasmuch as when Caustone was ejected in 1321, Nasard returned to the Court as his successor, it is at least a not improbable inference that the substitution of Caustone for Nasard in 1320 took place on St. Gregory's Day in accordance with the newly introduced system. (fn. 42)
The Letter Books contain no record of later removals on St. Gregory's Day, and the apparently unbroken continuity of tenure by the Aldermen of the Wards in the great majority of cases during more than half a century after 1321 renders it almost certain that the law became practically a dead-letter. In a few instances (e.g. that of Hamo Godchep who ceased to be Alderman of Bread Street between January 15 and March 20, 1324, and in 1326 returned to the Court as Alderman of Langbourn, (fn. 43) and that of John de Caustone, whose successor in Cordwainer Ward was elected before May 1, 1325, though he himself did not return as Alderman of Lime Street till after July 26 in that year (fn. 44) ) it is not improbable, though there is no clear evidence, that Aldermanries were compulsorily vacated, their holders regaining a seat for another Ward after a short interval.
Stow, under date 28 Edw. III. (1354), (fn. 45) writes: 'Aldermen of London were used to be changed yearely, but now it was ordayned that they should not be removed without some speciall cause.' This is copied by Bohun (fn. 46) and by Howel (fn. 47) who (or probably his printer) alters the date to 1356. Norton, (fn. 48) who gives no other authority than these, (fn. 49) expands the statement into 'the Aldermen continued to be annually elected until the 28th year of Edward III., when an ordinance was passed by the King in council to render them irremovable without cause.' It is not easy to prove a negative, and it is possible that such an 'ordinance' was passed by the King in council, but Stow merely says 'it was ordained' without specifying by whom or by what body, and I have met with no confirmation of the assertion. Edward III. granted a charter in that year, which, however, was confined solely to the conferring of the right of having maces of gold and silver borne before the Mayor and Sheriffs, and the next charter, (that of 1376, the first official document now extant after 1319 which deals with the election of Aldermen), makes no mention whatever of any modification of the law of 1319 having been made by authority in the interim. Moreover, we meet with no reference to this 'ordinance' in the Letter Books, and Dr. Sharpe does not notice it either in his Calendar of Letter Book G or elsewhere.
On November 12, 1376, a Charter was issued by Edward III., setting forth that the provision as to the removal of Aldermen in the Charter of 1319 had been wrongly interpreted, the Aldermen maintaining that the phrase 'sint amobiles' only implied that they might be removed for sufficient reason or some notorious offence, and ordaining that in future all the Aldermen should be removed on St. Gregory's Day and not re-elected. (fn. 50) On March 6, 1377, an ordinance of the Mayor, Aldermen and various representatives of the misteries (fn. 51) provided that Aldermen removed for reasonable cause should be incapable of re-election, but that those retiring under the operation of the new law should be re-eligible after a year's interval.
In February, 1384, the Mayor (Sir N. Brembre) of his own motion disregarded the existing law and issued his precept for the election of Aldermen for that year, allowing immediate re-election without the year's interval, and eight retiring Aldermen were accordingly so elected, (fn. 52) five (T. Cornwaleys, W. Staundon, J. Fraunceys, W. Anecroft, G. Cremylford) being returned by the Wards for which they had served in the preceding year, and three (R. Warbulton, J. Chircheman and H. Vanner) transferring their services to other Wards. The King by letters patent of March 6 in that year condoned the Mayor's irregular proceeding and granted that this innovation should be made permanent subject to the consent of Parliament, (fn. 53) which was granted later in the year.
In March, 1394, an Act of Parliament sanctioned a reversion to the old custom whereby an Aldermanry was tenable for life, subject to removal for just and reasonable cause, and this law has remained in force for more than 500 years and is still operative. (fn. 54) On August 1, 1397, the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty passed a new ordinance by which, in order 'to avoid damages, dissensions and perils which had oftentimes happened in divers Wards by reason of headstrong, partial and imprudent elections of Aldermen,' it was enacted that in all future elections the Wards should 'peacefully and quietly' choose at least two 'reputable and discreet men, either of whom in morals and worldly goods should be fit to be a judge and an Alderman of the City,' the final choice between the two resting with the Mayor and Aldermen. (fn. 55) On September 20, 1402, it was agreed by the Mayor and Aldermen that the number of names to be submitted to the Court should be increased to four (fn. 56) 'of the more honest and sufficient citizens of whom the one most fit to support the honour and charge of the City, according to the discretion and sound consciences of the Mayor and Aldermen for the time being,' was to be admitted and sworn: this ordinance, which was approved by the Common Council on November 23 following, was repeated in October, 1420, (fn. 57) and remained in force (except in the interval between the suspension of the Charter in 1683 and its restoration in 1688) until September 20, 1711, when by an Act of Common Council the number was reduced to two (one Alderman and one Commoner). (fn. 58) On April 5, 1714, the old system of direct election by the Wards was restored, and has continued till the present time. (fn. 59)
Throughout the period when four names were returned by the Wards, the Court of Aldermen claimed and frequently exercised the right of rejecting any nomination containing the name of any one person who appeared to be unsuitable, and in cases where a Ward made three successive nominations which were not approved, the Court itself proceeded to fill the vacancy. There were as many as twelve instances of the exercise of this prerogative by the Court in less than twenty-seven years (October, 1463 to February, 1490): four more cases occurred between 1503 and 1536; in the 17th century there were only two (in 1633 and 1669). After the reversion to the old practice of direct election by the Wards, the Court still claimed the right of veto, though it was not exercised for more than a century (1714 to 1831). In 1831 the test case of Scales occurred: after his third rejection in 1833, legal proceedings were taken on his behalf which lasted till 1839, when the final judgment of the House of Lords unanimously upheld the claim of the Court. Hence when in 1877 the Court elected Mr. Breffit after thrice rejecting Sir John Bennett, that worthy did not attempt to carry the matter further, and in the only later instance, that of Sir T. Brooke-Hitching in 1912, the candidate did not offer himself to the electors after his return had once been vetoed. The whole question of the Aldermanic Veto is treated fully in vol. I. of this work (pp. 242–249), where an exhaustive list is given of the occasions when the Court exercised its rights of rejection and of election after three successive rejections, so far as they are recorded in the Letter Books and Repertories.
During the three centuries in which four names were required to be submitted to the Court for its choice to fill each vacancy, it gradually became the custom (which, however, was by no means invariably observed), to include at least one Alderman of another Ward: this, however, was not the case at first, for in the majority of instances— there being only four to the contrary—in which, during the first half of the fifteenth century the nominations are recorded in the Letter Books or Journals, four Commoners were returned: there are, however, several instances of translation of Aldermen during that period, the names of those returned with them not having been preserved.
On November 7, 1480, it was specifically enacted that not more than two Aldermen should be nominated for any one vacancy. (fn. 60) Later it became usual to nominate two Aldermen and two Commoners. When an Alderman was returned for another Ward it was his prerogative (or that of the senior, if more than one was named) to elect whether to accept translation or remain where he was. (fn. 61)
On January 19, 1479, it had been ordered that no Alderman should be translated from one Ward to another before two years had elapsed since the date of his election. (fn. 62) There had been frequent cases in the preceding half-century of Aldermen leaving their Wards after a brief tenure of office: e.g.—
N. Yoo, elected for Farringdon Without, Jan. 1437, trans. to Candlewick, Aug. 1438.
J. Norman, " Castle Baynard, Oct. 1441, " Cheap, July 1442.
N. Wyfold, " Castle Baynard, Nov. 1450, " Tower, Jan. 1451.
Cornhill, July 1451.
C. Warter, " Farringdon Without, Feb. 1151, " Broad Street, Aug. 1451.
T. Cook, " Vintry, Oct. 1456, " Broad Street, Mar. 1458.
W. Taillour, " Dowgate, Mar. 1460, " Queenhithe, Dec. 1460.
R. Flemyng, " Farringdon Without, Mar. 1460, " Billingsgate, Nov. 1460.
G. Irlond, " Aldgate, Jan. 1461, " Cordwainer, Mar. 1461.
J. Tate, " Bridge, July 1463, " Tower, Dec. 1464.
J. Plomer, " Farringdon Without, Dec. 1464, " Bridge, April 1465.
W. Haryot, " Castle Baynard, Nov. 1469, " Broad Street, July 1470.
R. Colwych, " Farringdon Without, Aug. 1474, " Coleman St., April 1476.
R. Bawson, " Farringdon Without, May 1476, " Aldersgate, Nov. 1476.
H. Colet, " Farringdon Without, Nov. 1476, " Bassishaw, Aug. 1478.
It is worthy of note that when Colet was translated, three successive nominations to fill the vacancy in Farringdon Without were rejected by the Court, which proceeded then to appoint its own nominee, and it can hardly be doubted that it was in consequence of the difficulty of finding a suitable person for that Aldermanry, coupled with the haste which such a person, when found, usually displayed to transfer his services to a smaller and less exacting constituency, that the ordinance of 1479 was passed. Seventy years later (September, 1550) the close time for Aldermen of Farringdon Without was specially extended to three years, the same restriction being also applied in the case of the newly constituted Ward of Bridge Without. (fn. 63) Between 1451 and 1481 fifteen successive Aldermen of the former Ward vacated their Aldermanry by translation, and a death in office was as unknown an event as that of a Vicar of Leeds is to 'the oldest inhabitant' to-day. (fn. 64) During the whole period from the division of the old Farringdon Ward in 1394, while no less than 47 of the Aldermen of the outer division removed to other Wards, only two (N. Nynes in 1503 and Sir R. Hanson in 1680) migrated to it. Next in apparent uncongeniality was the Ward of Castle Baynard, of whose Aldermanry 35 incumbents divested themselves in order to transfer their services elsewhere, while the number migrating to it was only 10. Bassishaw was apparently the most attractive Ward, 30 Aldermen having been translated to it while 11 left it for other Wards. Cornhill retained its Aldermen better than any other Ward, the only three who deserted it being J. de Grantham (1325), S. Eyre (1451) and Sir J. Harte (1590). Portsoken, which did not come into lay hands until 1538, only received two immigrants, Sir S. Starling (1664) and Sir J. Parsons (1687) : Aldgate and Farringdon Within each received 7 from other Wards, while 28 and 27 were translated to Cheap and Cornhill respectively, 25 each to Lime Street and Walbrook and 24 to Langbourn.
The regulation against translating an Alderman before he had remained two years in his Ward, though generally, was not universally observed. In some cases it is specially noted in the Repertories that the rule was dispensed with, in others no notice is taken of its breach. In Farringdon Without itself we have five instances between 1479 and 1550 of the Alderman leaving for another Ward before the expiration of two years from his election, viz.: J. Milborne (1512), W. Bayley (1515), J. Brown (1524), S. Pecocke (1526), (fn. 65) A. Hynde (1547), and after 1550, when the period was extended to three years, J. Harte (1582) and A. Bateman (1659) were translated before the limited time had expired. In Bridge Without, where three years was the limit, G. Barne (1576) and J. Allott (1583) were removed to other Wards, the former before and the latter within a month after the close of his second year.
With regard to the other Wards, in which the two years' limit was not increased, we have the following instances of the regulation being broken or suspended:—
1483. J. Mathewe (Aldersgate to Bridge).
1483. W. Martin (Tower to Cordwainer).
1487. R. Tilney (Cripplegate to Castle Baynard).
1503. T. Bradbury (Aldersgate to Coleman Street).
1523. R. Dodmer (Queenhithe to Vintry).
1525. N. Lambarde (Queenhithe to Billingsgate).
1532. M. Dormer (Aldersgate to Vintry).
1536. J. Cotes (Aldersgate to Dowgate).
1536. H. Huberthorn (Farringdon Within to Bread Street).
1550. T. Offley (Portsoken to Aldgate).
1588. W. Elkyn (Cripplegate to Dowgate).
1592. R. Brooke (Queenhithe to Walbrook).
1603. Sir J. Pemberton (Bishopsgate to Castle Baynard).
1663. Sir T. Bludworth (Portsoken to Aldersgate).
The custom of translating Aldermen from one Ward to another, which was very common from the 15th till the end of the third quarter of the 17th century then practically ceased, the only transfers after 1675, except to Bridge Without under the Act of 1711, being those of Sir R. Clayton from Cordwainer to Cheap in 1676, of Sir T. Alleyn from Aldgate to Bridge Without in 1679, of Sir R. Hanson from Bassishaw to Farringdon Within in 1680, and of Sir H. Edwin from Cheap to Tower in 1689. (I take no account of the translations during the suspension of the Charters, which were the acts of the King and not of the Court of Aldermen.) (fn. 66)
By an Act of Common Council in September, 1711, as stated above, the Act of 1402 was repealed, and it was provided that for future vacancies one Alderman and one Commoner should be nominated and returned to the Court of Aldermen for the final choice. Only six elections took place under this Act, those of T. Scawen, P. Delmé, G. Merttins, J. Lawrence, F. Forbes and R. Child, and in each case the Commoner returned was selected. The Act of 1714, which restored the ancient custom of direct election, specially provided that only a person 'not an Alderman' should be nominated, and translation, therefore, became impossible. Bridge Ward Without was, however, an exception, as the Act of 1711, which is still in force as regards this provision, gave the Aldermanry of the Ward to the senior Alderman at the time of each future vacancy who should have passed the Chair and be willing to accept translation. Before 1711 that Ward had received 7 Aldermen by translation and 14 had migrated from it. (fn. 67)
The numbers polled at all the elections of Aldermen since the passing of the Act of 1714 will be found in the Ward Lists in these volumes. The present writer contributed a Summary of the number of contests in each Ward to Sir John Baddeley's Aldermen of Cripplegate Ward (p. 204). It is an evidence of the increasing interest taken in these elections. or at least of the increase in the number of citizens willing to place their services at the disposal of the Ward electors, that whereas at the date of that work (1900) the number of contests for a period of 186 years was only 90, it now (1912) amounts to 103 in 198 years. Aldersgate is the only Ward in which there has been no contest during that period, Cripplegate and Dowgate have provided only one each and Candlewick two.
The Mayor, (who for nearly four centuries has been styled 'Lord Mayor,' though the designation rests on prescriptive use and not on any specific grant), presides over the Court of Aldermen in virtue of his office. The date of the institution of the Mayoralty has not been definitely fixed. It is certain that Henry fitz-Ailwyn was the first Mayor and that he retained his post till his death in September, 1212. The date which until recent years was generally accepted as that of his appointment (1189, 1 Richard I.) rests on the authority of the Chronicles of Mayors and Sheriffs, and is now practically abandoned by writers of repute. The office, if not actually contemporaneous with the grant of the Commune in October, 1191, must have been created shortly after, but the earliest certain mention of fitz-Ailwyn as Mayor is in the year 1193. (fn. 68) I do not propose here to deal with the general question of the grant of the Commune. Mr. Round's articles on 'The struggle of John and Longchamp' and 'the Commune of London,' which form a portion (pp. 207–260) of the work to which he has given the title of the latter as a collective name, must be read by every careful student of the origins of City government, and with them Miss Bateson's papers on 'A Municipal Collection of the reign of John' (fn. 69) and Professor G. B. Adams' article on 'London and the Commune' in the English Historical Review. (fn. 70) So far as the identity or connexion (or non-connexion) of the Mayor's advising Council with the Aldermen at the beginning of the 13th century is involved, I have already (fn. 71) summarised Mr. Round's and Miss Bateson's arguments: that particular issue lies outside the more general subject of Professor Adams' very able and informing essay.
That the Mayor was almost invariably himself an Alderman of a Ward from the first may be assumed with confidence; in the case of almost every Mayor elected before the accession of Edward I., (fn. 72) (after which date we have the evidence of the Letter Books and Husting Rolls), his name appears as an Alderman in the Chronicles of Mayors and Sheriffs or in the St. Paul's MSS., (fn. 73) or in the Ancient Deeds preserved at the Record Office. I think that there was an exception in the case of Henry le Waleys' (or Galeys') last period of Mayoralty (1298–1299), though the point has escaped the notice of all previous writers, including Dr. Sharpe in his Calendars of Letter Books. Le Waleys had been Alderman of Dowgate up to 1294, and while holding that Aldermanry had been Mayor for the year 1273–4 and again from 1280 to 1284, but with one exception I can find no trace of authority for his having been an Alderman (otherwise than in virtue of his Mayoral office) after 1294. That exception is an entry in Letter Book C, fo. 49, under date August, 1300, where it is recorded that one Simon le Coteler appeared before W. de Leyre and W. de Finchingfeud, the Mayor's deputies, H. le Waleys and five other persons named, 'Aldermen.' A careful examination of all the attendances of Aldermen recorded in the Letter Books in the years 1298, 1299, 1300, and of the entries in the Husting Rolls of Aldermen acting for particular Wards in those years, shows almost conclusively that there was no vacancy among the Aldermen of Wards in those years that he could have filled. I am of opinion, therefore, that Waleys, who, having occupied the Mayoral Chair for five years and presided over a Ward for a quarter of a century, held a unique position among the citizens, was permitted by courtesy, or perhaps specially invited, to attend meetings of the Court of Aldermen after ceasing to be Mayor. (fn. 74) As will be seen later, it was not till 1435 that the present tenure of an Aldermanry was made a necessary qualification for the Mayoralty.
During the period of annual elections of Aldermen (1377-1394), inasmuch as the Aldermen were elected in March and the Mayor in October, it necessarily followed that while the provision forbidding re-election of an Alderman till after a year's interval was in force, the Chair must be filled, and after the repeal of that provision might be filled, during the earlier or later portion of his year of office by one who was not himself an Alderman of a Ward. This occurred in the cases of
Adam Stable, from March 12 to March 26, 1377.
Nicholas Brembre, from March, 1377, to March, 1378, and from October, 1383, to March, 1384.
John Philipot, from March to October, 1379.
John Hadle, from October, 1379, to March, 1380, and from October, 1393, to March, 1394.
William Walworth, from March to October, 1381.
John de Northampton, from October, 1381, to March, 1382, and from March to October, 1383.
There is one later case, that of John Heende, elected Mayor in October, 1404, who shortly after, (probably before the close of the year and certainly before June, 1405), became Alderman of Walbrook again. (fn. 75)
The limits of this Introduction precluding me from setting out in full detail the various changes in the constituency by which the Mayor and Sheriffs were elected from time to time, the following summary must suffice. The Charter of John (May, 1215) granted the right of annually electing the Mayor to 'the Barons of London.' (fn. 76) In the earlier Letter Books elections are recorded by 'the Mayor and Aldermen and the whole commonalty,' (fn. 77) 'the good men of the whole commonalty,' (fn. 78) 'all the Aldermen in conjunction with twelve men of each Ward.' (fn. 79) In 1315 the King (Edward II.) forbade the attendance at elections of Mayors and Sheriffs or any not specially summoned (fn. 80) : on October 28, 1346, it was agreed at a congregation of 'the Mayor, Aldermen, and an immense commonalty' that in future there should be summoned to these elections 'twelve, eight or six, according as the Ward is large or small, of the wealthier and wiser of each Ward,' (fn. 81) and on October 11, 1350, the number was specifically limited to 'four of the best men of each Ward.' (fn. 82) On September 28, 1467, the right of election was given to 'the Common Council, Masters and Wardens of each Mistery coming in their livery with other good men specially summoned,' (fn. 83) (the 'good men' not being expressly limited to the misteries), and on September 13, 1475, it was ordained that the Master and Wardens of the Misteries, together with 'good men of the same' and no other except 'good men of the Common Council' should be present at the elections of Mayors and Sheriffs. (fn. 84) From that date, excepting for a brief interval during the Commonwealth (fn. 85) and again during the suspension of the Charter (1683–1688). the election has been in the hands of the Livery. This was recognized by the Act of Parliament passed in 1725 (11 George I. c 18) 'for regulating elections within the City of London' which provided that an elector must have been a Freeman of the City and a Liveryman of one of the companies for twelve months. (fn. 86)
By an Ordinance of Common Council passed on December 13, 1385, it was agreed that every future Mayor should 'have previously been Sheriff, so that he may be tried as to his governance and bounty before he attains to the estate of Mayoralty.' (fn. 87) In the majority of instances before this time the Mayor had already served as Sheriff : the following, however, had not passed through that form of apprenticeship in the mystery of civic administration, viz. : Henry fitz-Ailwyn, Peter fitz-Alan (M. 1246–7), Roger fitz-Roger (M. 1249–50), John le Blund (M. 1301–8), Nicholas de Farndone (M. 1308–9, 1313–4, 1320–1, 1323), John de Gisors (M. 1311–3, 1314–5), John de Wengrave (M. 1316–9), Richard de Betoyne (M. 1326–7), Simon Swanlond (M. 1329–33), Sir John de Pulteney (M. 1330–2, 1333–4, 1336–7), Adam Fraunceys (M. 1352–4). The only case after the passing of the ordinance of 1384 occurred during the suspension of the Charter, when Sir John Eyles was appointed Lord Mayor by the King (James II.) on September 7, 1688, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sir John Shorter, although he had not served the Shrievalty. Eyles' tenure of the Mayoralty was brief, as he was displaced on October 5 following, when the Charter was restored.
On October 13, 1406, a new custom, similar to that which had been adopted in 1397 with regard to the election of Aldermen, was introduced into the proceedings at election of the Mayor, which custom (except during the suspension of the Charter from 1683 to 1688) has continued in force to the present time, viz. : that the 'reputable Commoners of the City' present in Common Hall should 'nominate unto the Mayor and Aldermen two such able and proper persons as had before filled the office of Sheriff in the City: it being for the said Commoners to take no care which one of the persons so to be nominated should be chosen by the Mayor and Aldermen to be Mayor for the ensuing year.' (fn. 88) The names of both the Aldermen returned at subsequent elections have been preserved for the years 1406, 1408, and with considerable lacunæ from 1439 to the suspension of the Charter in 1683. From the restoration of the Charter the records are complete either at Guildhall or in contemporary newspapers. The modern custom of returning the two senior Aldermen, being ex-Sheriffs, below the Chair, of whom the Aldermen chose the first, was not at first observed: the only cases I have noticed during the remaining 94 years of the 15th century of the election to the Mayoralty of the senior Alderman who had not already served the office are not more than 22 in number, those of T. Fauconer (1414), N. Wotton (1415), H. Barton (1416), J. Michell (1424), T. Chalton (1449), W. Gregory (1451), J. Norman (1453), T. Scott (1458), M. Philip (1463), R. Josselyn (1464), R. Verney (1465), W. Taillour (1468), R. Bassett (1475), H. Hayford (1477), Sir B. Jamys (1479), Sir W. Stokker (1485), H. Bryce (1485), H. Colet (1486), R. Tate (1488), R. Chawry (1494), J. Tate [ii.] (1496), W. Remyngton (1500).
From the end of the first decade of the 16th century the custom gradually became established, though with frequent breaches, in some cases certainly with the consent, if not at the instance, of the senior Alderman, who wished to evade the Mayoralty expenses altogether or to postpone his year of office. From the accession of Elizabeth such cases were increasingly rare, and from 1596 till 1640 there was no interruption to the ordinary course of seniority. In 1640 the Royalist Sir William Acton was rejected in Common Hall; in the following year the next senior Alderman to Acton, although a Royalist (Richard Gurney), was elected, but from that time till 1652 the seniors were not returned, J. Cordell being passed over at seven and T. Soame at ten successive elections. From 1652 to the Restoration the normal order of election was observed, the Royalist senior Aldermen being now removed, and with the exception of the passing over with his own consent of Sir T. Soame during the seven years in which he remained an Alderman after the King's return and his own re-admission to the Aldermanic body and the postponement of Sir R. Ford from 1669 to 1670, there was no further departure from it till the period of the Revolution, the senior Aldermen being elected in turn during the period of the suspension of the Charter, except for the few weeks in which the Mayoral Chair was occupied by Sir John Eyles in September and October, 1688.
From 1689 to 1702 inclusive, throughout the whole reign of William III., the rule of seniority was broken in order to keep out the Tory Aldermen Sir J. Raymond, Sir P. Daniel and Sir S. Dashwood, the last named of whom was at last elected in 1702. (fn. 89) From thence to 1782 there was a succession of senior eligible Aldermen below the Chair: then followed the passing over of R. Levett from 1732 to 1740 (apparently at his own desire) and the rejection at the poll of Sir G. Champion in 1739, owing to his support of Walpole's Excise Scheme: the latter, though he remained an Alderman till his death in 1754, made no further attempt to attain to the Mayoralty. Apparently in retaliation for Champion's rejection, the Court of Aldermen in which there was a small Walpolean majority, rejected Sir Robert Godschall, a strong Tory, though returned at four successive elections in 1740 and 1741, but at the annual election in October of the latter year they accepted him. The next Alderman passed over was Sir F. Gosling (at his own wish) in 1766, 1767 and 1768. From 1768 to 1776 the Wilkes agitation, which had the support of the majority of the livery, caused the passing over of Sir Henry Bankes in five successive years until his death, and the election out of their turns of Wilkes himself and of the Opposition Aldermen Beckford (who had already passed the chair), Trecothick, Crosby, Townsend, Bull and Sawbridge. From 1776 the ordinary rota of succession was observed until 1797, except that Brook Watson, being engaged on the King's service as Commissary General in Flanders, was passed over in 1793, 1794 and 1795, accepting office in 1796. The two senior Aldermen below the Chair (W. Newman and G. M. Macauley) were not returned in the years from 1797 to 1801. Newman, who was defeated at a poll in 1800, and was one of the two returned in 1801, when the Tory majority in the Court of Aldermen chose Sir John Eamer, died in 1802, and Macauley, who also was a Whig, was again passed over in that year, dying early in 1808. Harvey Combe, the leader of the civic Whigs, though junior to these, had been returned to the Court at six successive elections between 1795 and 1799, and was chosen at the second election of the latter year. From 1811 to 1820 Sir Matthew Bloxam, who was the senior Alderman who had not served as Mayor, stood aside, his financial position not admitting of his undertaking the office: in 1816 Matthew Wood, whose pronounced Radicalism had made him a popular favourite when Toryism under the Regency had become odious 'to the general,' was re-elected for a second year; in 1820 J. T. Thorp, another leader of the civic Liberals, was preferred to four Aldermen senior to himself, one of whom, C. Magnay, had been passed over in the preceding year, and another, R. A. Cox, was similarly overlooked at the five subsequent elections during his life. From that date till the present time the only interferences with the natural order have been the re-elections of Sir J. Key during the Reform Bill agitation in 1831, the rejection of James Harmer at the poll in 1840 in consequence of his proprietorship of the Weekly Dispatch, and that of Thomas Wood by the Court in 1841, 1842, 1844 and 1845, and at the poll in 1843, owing to his transactions in connexion with the Talacre Coal and Iron Company, the re-election of William Cubitt in 1861, the voluntary postponement for a year of T. Dakin in 1869, and of T. S. Owden in 1876, and the passing over of S. C. Hadley in 1883, when R. N. Fowler was returned with him, two other senior Aldermen being passed over.
In the eighteenth century there were a few cases of Aldermen attaining to the senior place below the Chair without serving as Sheriffs: hence they were not eligible for the Mayoralty. Sir Thomas Scawen, who was Aldermen of Cornhill from 1712 till his death in 1730, had been elected Sheriff and paid his fine instead of serving in 1704. Sir Joseph Hankey, Alderman of Langbourn from 1737 till his death in 1769 was also never Sheriff, having been rejected at the poll of the Livery in 1742 on account of his Walpolean politics, when a Jacobite, William Benn, was elected, and as Sir Henry Hankey, who preceded him and served as Sheriff in 1732-3, died before reaching the Chair, that Ward had no Lord Mayor for over 50 years, from the close of Sir P. Delmé's Mayoralty in 1724 to the election of J. Sawbridge in 1775. Sir William Baker, who was Alderman of Bassishaw from 1739 till his death in 1770, was also never Sheriff: at the time of his death he was senior to all the Aldermen who had passed the Chair. George Arnold also, who was Alderman of Cheap from 1740 till his death in 1751, failed to reach the Mayoralty for the same reason. Sir Harcourt Master, Alderman of Coleman Street 1718 till his death in 1745, who lived to see eighteen of his juniors in the Chair, was disqualified by Act of Parliament from election to any public office on account of having been one of the Directors of the South Sea Company at the time of the celebrated 'Bubble' (1721). (fn. 90)
In the early years of the Mayoralty it was rather the rule than the exception for a Mayor to be re-elected either continuously or after a short interval. In the 13th century only 30 persons filled the office: in the first 40 years of the 14th century only 16 fresh names were added, and between 1340 and 1424, twenty-three Mayors served for more than one term and two others, who had filled the Chair before the latter date, were re-elected afterwards. On October 13, 1424, the Common Council enacted that in consideration of the great and increasing expenses of the Mayoralty in comparison with former days, no one should be elected a second time till after the lapse of full seven years from his last term of office (fn. 91); a previous ordinance of January 12, 1389, had imposed a close time of five years, which was now extended. (fn. 92)
On April 8, 1435, a further ordinance enacted that no one who had served twice as Mayor should be called on to fill the office a third time, and added as a specific provision, though there had been but one case to the contrary since the abandonment of annual elections of Aldermen, that whosoever should be elected Mayor must be an Alderman at the time as well as an ex-Sheriff. (fn. 93)
On October 6, 1545, it was enacted that a Mayor who had served one whole year should not be eligible to that office for another whole year or be compelled 'eftsones to assume, exercyse or take upon hym the said office for any other tyme or seasoun.' (fn. 94)
The re-elections of Pilkington in 1690 and of Barnard in 1741 were in contravention of the words of the Acts of 1424 and 1545 and were held, when the question of Beckford's eligibility was raised in 1770, to have established precedents which rendered those Acts obsolete.
The instances of Mayors elected for a second term of office from 1424 to the present time are:—
Henry Barton (1416-7), 1428-9.
Nicholas Wotton (1415-6), 1430-1.
John Michel (1424-5), 1436-7.
Sir William Estfeld (1429-30), 1437-8.
Henry Frowyk (1435-6), 1444-5.
John Gedney (1427-8), 1447-8.
Stephen Broun (1438-9), 1448-9.
Sir Richard Lee (1460-1), 1469-70.
Sir Ralph Josselyn (1464-5), 1476-7.
Sir Henry Colet (1486-7), 1495-6.
Sir William Capel (1503-4), 1510.† (fn. 95)
Sir Richard Haddon (1506-7), 1513.†
Sir John Tate (1496-7), 1514.†
Sir John Aleyn (1525-6), 1535-6.
Sir Ralph Warren (1536-7), 1544.†
Sir Rowland Heywarde (1570-1), 1591.†
Sir Richard Martyn (1589-90), 1594.†
Isaac Penington (1642),† 1642-3.
Thomas Andrewes (1649),† 1650-1.
Sir Thomas Pilkington (1689),† 1689-90, 1690-1.
Humphrey Parsons (1730-1), 1740-1.*
William Beckford (1762-3), 1769-70.*
Sir Matthew Wood (1815-6), 1816-7.
Sir John Key (1830-1), 1831-2.
William Cubitt (1860-1), 1861-2.
Sir Robert Fowler (1883-4), 1885.†
In addition to the foregoing, the following were elected for a second term, but refused to accept office again:—
George Monoux (1514-5), 1523.
Sir John Barnard (1737-8), 1741.
Thomas Skinner (1794-5), 1799.
John Thomas Thorp (1820-1), 1831.
William Thompson (1828-9), 1831.
The death of a Lord Mayor while in office is of comparatively rare occurrence. There have been 28 such cases in the course of six centuries, with regard to which it is worthy of notice that two died in one week (1485) of the 'Sweating Sickness,' four within a little more than six years (1508 to 1514), five others within eight years (1589 to 1596), and five in less than thirteen years (1741 to 1753). There has been only one instance in the last century and a half. The following is the complete list:—
|H. fitz-Ailwyn,||September, 1212.|
|A. Bukerel,||during the year 1237-8.|
|J. de Oxenford||June, 1342.|
|A. Bamme||June, 1397.|
|Sir T. Hill||September, 1485.|
|Sir W. Stokker||September, 1485.|
|W. Browne [i.]||March, 1508.|
|T. Bradbury||January, 1510.|
|W. Copynger||February, 1513.|
|W. Browne [ii.]||June, 1514.|
|Sir W. Bowyer||April, 1544.|
|Sir M. Calthorpe||May, 1589.|
|Sir J. Allott||September, 1591.|
|Sir W. Rowe||October, 1593. (fn. 96)|
|Sir C. Buckle||July, 1594.|
|T. Skinner||December, 1596.|
|R. Freeman||March, 1634.|
|J. Warner||October, 1648. (fn. 97)|
|Sir J. Shorter||September, 1688.|
|Sir J. Chapman||March, 1689.|
|H. Parsons||March, 1741.|
|Sir R. Godschall||June, 1742.|
|Sir S. Pennant||May, 1750.|
|T. Winterbottom||June, 1752.|
|E. Ironside||November, 1753.|
|W. Beckford||June, 1770.|
|G. S. Nottage||April, 1885.|
In the 13th century and early part of the 14th the date of the Mayoral election was the Feast of SS. Simon and Jude (October 28). (fn. 98) At the meeting for election on that day in 1346 only ten Aldermen being present, others absenting themselves so as to avoid being called on to serve as Mayor, it was then and there agreed that in future the election should take place on the Feast of St. Edward the King (October 13), and that the Mayor elect should assume office on Oct. 28. (fn. 99) On September 28, 1365, it was ordered that the old election day (St. Simon and St. Jude's Day) should be restored 'as of ancient time it was accustomed to be done' (fn. 100) and in 1365 and 1367 this ordinance was observed (fn. 101) —there is no record of the annual election in 1366—but in 1368 St. Edward's Day was again adopted (fn. 102) and no further change was made till on August 1, 1546, the annual election was finally fixed for Michaelmas Day (September 29). (fn. 103) The day for assuming office was altered from October 28 to November 9, at the Reformation of the Calendar in 1751. On two occasions only, except when Michaelmas Day has fallen on a Sunday, has any alteration been made in the election day since 1546. In 1683 it was postponed by a resolution of the Common Council (September 27) till October 6, and in 1690 by the Statute 2 William and Mary, c. 8 (repealing the judgments in the Quo Warranto proceedings), it was provided (sec. 10) that in this year the election of both Mayor and Sheriffs should take place on May 26, those elected to hold office till the close of the Mayoral and Shrieval year respectively in 1691. (fn. 104)
With regard to the title of 'Lord Mayor a few words may here be said. Until recently the accepted tradition has been that it was implicitly or explicitly conferred by the 'Charter of Maces,' granted by Edward III. in 1354. It is to be regretted that this foolish legend, which has no higher authority than a suggestion of Maitland that 'no time bids so fair for it' (i.e. the conferring of the title Lord Mayor) 'as the occasion of this Charter of Maces being granted' (fn. 105) should have received the imprimatur of the Corporation in the valuable Official Statement presented to the Royal Commission in 1893. Upon the original assumption other writers have engrafted the additional fiction that the first Lord Mayor was Thomas Legge, (or as he is called in the Letter Books 'Leggy'), which has found very general acceptance through being incorporated in popular works of reference, such as Dr. Brewer's Handbook of Phrase and Fable, Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, and Whitaker's Almanack. As has been pointed out by Dr. Sharpe (fn. 106) and repeated by myself in the earlier volume of this work, (fn. 107) Leggy was not Mayor at the date of the Charter (June 10, 1354): he did not succeed Adam Fraunceys till October of that year. That either Fraunceys or Leggy was styled 'Lord Mayor' or that the designation was in use during the next hundred years, there is not a scintilla of evidence to show, but overwhelming evidence to disprove. The whole assumption is sheer nonsense. Bishop Stubbs' theory that the King (Richard II.) in 1389 presented his own sword to the Mayor who thenceforward was known as the 'Lord Mayor' (fn. 108) is so entirely wanting in support, contemporary or other, that, despite the Bishop's great authority, it may be regarded as negligible.
That the designation of 'Lord Mayor' was not in general use before the second quarter of the 16th century is beyond question, though there are traces of its gradual evolution during the preceding sixty years. It does not occur in the Chronicle of William Gregory (himself a Chief Magistrate), which is continued after his death to the year 1467, and in which up to the latest year recorded 'Mayre' appears without a prefix. In the Short English Chronicle (Lambeth MS. 306) which ends with 1464, there is a similar absence of the modern designation, the title 'Maire' (with the orthographical variants 'Mayr' 'Meir' 'Meyr') being the only one used.
The germ of the title is seen at a much earlier date than that of the Charter of Maces, for there is a record of proceedings taken, 'coram domino Maiore' on October 12, 1283. (fn. 109) So far as I have observed this form of expression does not occur again until September 14, 1440, when 'dominus Maior' is recorded to have received letters from the King regarding the interference of the Sheriffs with the rights of sanctuary of the Church of St. Martin le Grand. (fn. 110) This may be translated 'the lord the Mayor,' though probably it meant no more originally than 'Sir Mayor' on the analogy of 'Sir Knight.' In a later minute we have an account of a meeting between the Bishop (Kemp) of London and the Mayor (John Norman) at St. Paul's on March 12, 1454, when the former is represented as addressing the latter as 'domine Maior'. (fn. 111) On February 24, 1455, the Wardens and 'good men' of the Mistery of Horners presented a petition to 'the honourable and good lord the Mair, worshipfull soveraignes the Aldermen,' &c. (fn. 112) A similarly worded petition is recorded in April, 1467. (fn. 113) On September 2, 1469, we have a proclamation by 'my lord the Maire' against breaches of the peace. On October 2, 1469, another petition is addressed to 'the full honourable lord the Maior'; (fn. 114) in June, 1471, we have 'the full honourables lords the Maire and Aldermen' (fn. 115) and 'my lord the Mayor' appears in a proclamation against vagabonds under date November 22, 1475. (fn. 116) In two orders for the destruction of unlawful nets and sacks of coal of deficient capacity, which are undated, but from their place in the records may be assigned with certainty to the early months of 1486, we have 'my Lord Maire'. (fn. 117) On October 10, 1504, there is a petition to 'the Right honourable Lord the Mayor' and an order for the payment of the Swordbearer's bill for the 'ordering of my Lord Mayor's house'. (fn. 118)
[In the compilation of the foregoing details I have been enabled to verify and supplement my original notes by comparison with the proof-sheets of Dr. Sharpe's Calendar of Letter Book L, now passing through the press.]
The question of the date of the designation was discussed in The Times in November and December, 1901, when Mr. St. John Hope asserted that 'down to about 1540' the Chief Magistrate was invariably styled 'Mayor', giving examples from the Repertories and Journals under dates 1512, 1518, 1522, 1535, 1537, admitting however, (somewhat inconsistently with his use of the word 'invariably'), that 'there are instances as early as 1519' where he is referred to as 'my lord the Mayr'.
I have examined carefully the minutes in the Repertories recording the nominations of the Chief Magistrate as one of the four persons returned to the Court of Aldermen for selection to fill a vacancy in their number. These minutes are sometimes entered in English, sometimes in Latin. There is no nomination of a 'Lord Mayor' as Alderman in the 15th century: the earliest is of Sir William Capel, 'M. Lorde Maire', when named for Cripplegate on April 24, 1504, (fn. 119) though he is styled 'Maior' simply when nominated for Bread Street on February 6 preceding, (fn. 120) as is Sir B. Rede in connexion with the Cheap vacancy in December, 1502. (fn. 121) Then we have nominations in 1505, 1506, 1508, 1509, 1511, in all of which the Chief Magistrate is described as 'Maior' or 'Mayre': (fn. 122) then follows an isolated case of 'my lorde Maier', applied to R. Acheley when nominated for Farringdon Without on April 20, 1512. (fn. 123) After this we have six successive nominations, one in 1513, two in 1514, one in 1517, three in 1523, in which the simple 'Mayor' is again used. (fn. 124) On May 30, 1525, Sir W. Bayley (Queenhithe), (fn. 125) and on June 9, 1528, Sir James Spencer (Farringdon Within) (fn. 126) appear respectively as 'Ds. (i.e. dominus) Maior' and 'my lord mayre'. The older and simpler title is again used in 1530, 1532 and 1534, (fn. 127) after which 'Lord Mayor' or its Latin equivalent is the invariable rule, instances occurring on March 11, 1535 (Sir J. Champneys) (fn. 128); December 13, 1535, (fn. 129) January 10, 1536, (fn. 130) May 22, 1536, (fn. 131) September 20, 1536 (fn. 132) (Sir John Aleyn); October 9 (fn. 133) and 21, 1539 (fn. 134) (Sir W. Forman), May 31, 1541 (Sir W. Roche). (fn. 135)
Sir J. Aleyn, in his Will (August 13, 1545) uses both the older and the later styles: he bequeaths his collar of SS. to 'the Lord Mayre of London for the tyme being . . . and his successors Mayres'. (fn. 136)
If we extend our researches beyond official documents to contemporary chroniclers, we have the evidence of Wriothesley's Chronicle in which the Chief Magistrate is uniformly referred to as 'Maire' or 'Mayor' up to May 30, 1545 and 'my Lord Mayor' from and after June 8, 1545. Thus the death of Sir William Bowyer, Mayor, is recorded on April 13, 1544, and the election of Sir Ralph Warren as 'Mayor' four days later: (fn. 137) 'Mr. William Laxton, Mayor,' is named on February 8, 1545 (fn. 138) and referred to as 'the Mayor of London' on May 30 following, (fn. 139) but as 'my lord Mayor' on June 8, (fn. 140) which designation is accorded to Sir Martin Bowes in April and in August, 1546. (fn. 141) I do not suggest that the title was explicitly or implicitly conferred between May 30 and June 8, 1545; I am convinced that it is not definite but evolutionary in its origin, and these dates seem to imply that whereas the prefix had been more or less regularly adopted in the official minutes from about 1535, it did not come into general use in the outer world until some ten years later.
By letters patent of October 26, 1444, confirmed by Charters of Edward VI. (April 23, 1550), and James I. (September 20, 1608), the Mayor, Recorder and all ex-Mayors who retained their seats in the Court of Aldermen were made Justices of the Peace for the City. (fn. 142) On October 18, 1638, this was extended so as to include also the three senior Aldermen below the Chair: (fn. 143) on July 28, 1692, six senior Aldermen below those three who had served the office of Sheriff were added, (fn. 144) and finally by Charter of August 25, 1741, all the Aldermen were constituted Justices whether above or below the Chair. (fn. 145)
Aldermen who had passed the Chair were formerly distinguished by wearing a grey cloak, those below it wearing 'calaber' cloaks. (fn. 146) In January, 1642, it was ordered by the Court of Aldermen that Sir William Acton the Royalist Alderman who, having been passed over for the Chair at the preceding Mayoral election, wished to retain his seniority over the Alderman who had supplanted him (Sir E. Wright) should 'take his place and ranke within this Cittie and elsewhere when he attends upon any occasion as an Aldrân . . . . next after the youngest Aldrân of the Gray Cloakes and before any of the Calaber Cloakes.' (fn. 147) The Aldermen were also required (November 28, 1560) to wear 'skarlyt gownes' when attending their parish churches on Easter Day, Christmas Day, and other principal Church festivals: (fn. 148) on other public occasions they were to wear 'violett gownes' for 'the distinction and dignitie of their place and office' (November 10, 1657). (fn. 149)
There is a curious entry in the records to the effect that when John Derby (Alderman of Candlewick, Sheriff 1445–6) was discharged from his Aldermanry (October 19, 1454), the Court passed a special resolution authorizing him to continue to wear his gown 'not as a judge nor as an Alderman, but for the purpose of keeping him warm in severe weather.' (fn. 150)
On May 23, 1704, it is recorded that Sir William Gore (who had been Lord Mayor in 1701–2) was fined five shillings for sitting in the Court of Common Council without his gown, which sum he promptly paid into the poor box. (fn. 151)
We find the ballot box in early use in the Court of Aldermen. On September 19, 1525, it was agreed that at the election of Mayors and Aldermen and 'in all other matters which afore this tyme have been used to be wrytten & tryed by the way of scrutynye' [they] 'shall nowe from hensforth be tryed & used by the newe Gylte box brought in to this Court by Mr. Chambleyn.' This rule was, however, to be in force 'for this yere only' as an experiment. On December 3, 1532, a similar order was made to the effect that 'in every matter of gravitie' the box shall be brought in and the decision made by 'puttyng of the white pese or black.' (fn. 152)
The two Sheriffs, who are annually elected on Midsummer Day (June 24) and sworn on Michaelmas Eve, are not necessarily Aldermen, though not unfrequently both have been chosen from the Aldermanic body. At each annual election every Alderman who has not already served the office is put in nomination at Common Hall, and generally the senior of these, unless he desires to be excused for that year, is one of the two elected. Moreover in many cases a Commoner who has been chosen Sheriff has been elected Alderman before assuming office or before the expiration of his year of service.
There is a curious incident recorded with regard to the election of Sheriffs in 1324. John de Caustone (Alderman of Cordwainer) was elected one of the Sheriffs for the ensuing year, but did not appear on Michaelmas Day to be sworn, and he was accordingly promptly 'deposed from the freedom of the City and from his Aldermanry,' and one Alan Gille chosen in his place. Caustone, on second thoughts, prayed to be restored 'to the estate he formerly held,' and promised to 'assume the burden of the Shrievalty'; accordingly, on October 29 the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty, 'having regard to the inability of the said Alan,' admitted Caustone 'to the estate in which he formerly was' and he was duly sworn into office. (fn. 153)
From the reign of Henry I. until the passing of the Local Government Act of 1888 (51 and 52 Vict. c. 41), the Sheriffs of London were also Sheriffs of the County of Middlesex: the last to hold the double office being Aldermen Newton and Gray. The Charter of Henry I. (undated) granted to the citizens of London 'to hold Middlesex to farm for three hundred pounds,' and to 'place as Sheriff whom they will of themselves.' (fn. 154) 'London and Middlesex' are referred to as forming one 'Sheriffwick' in the Charters of John (July 5, 1199) (fn. 155) and Henry III. (February 18, 1227). (fn. 156) These latter Charters restored and confirmed the Sheriffwick to the citizens, of which they had been deprived during the reigns of Stephen, Henry II. and Richard I., who ignored the grant of Henry I.
[In Letter Book A, fo. 35, under date September 10, 1283, 'Gerin, Sheriff of Middlesex,' is named in connexion with and in addition to 'Anketin de Bettevile and Walter le Blound, Sheriffs of London' for that year (1282–3), and in Letter Book C, fo. 94, under date May 20, 1308, there is a writ from the King (Edward II.) to 'the Sheriff of Middlesex' (unnamed). With regard to the latter Dr. Sharpe in his Calendar (p. 161) says that the writ was 'presumably addressed to and the return made by the Sheriffs of London acting as Sheriff of Middlesex, according to custom.' The return, which is unsigned, is in the first person singular, and I know of no authority, nor does Dr. Sharpe supply me with any, for the two Sheriffs (or any other joint officials) adopting that form. We have, however, a third reference which lends some support to, though I cannot regard it as establishing satisfactorily, Dr. Sharpe's assumption, and at the same time suggests a probable explanation of the case of Gerin, for which Dr. Sharpe has not propounded any solution. In Letter Book E, fo. 137, 'Hamo de Chigwell, the Mayor, and good folk of the City of London' are recorded to have sent a letter to King Edward II. under date March 12, 1322, in which in reply to a royal writ addressed to 'the Sheriff of Middlesex,' they inform him that 'the said County is joined to the City of London, and the Sheriffs of the said City are Sheriff of the said County,' and they add that 'William de Norwiz, their deputy in the said County,' had gone to Wales in the King's service. Is it not at least a plausible suggestion that Gerin acted, like William de Norwiz, as deputy to the Sheriffs of London in the County of Middlesex? And may not the writer of the unsigned return to the writ addressed to the anonymous Sheriff of Middlesex in 1308 also have been in a similar position? The return in question states that the tenement with which the writ was concerned 'is not in my bailiwick, but is within the precincts of the liberty of the City of London, wherefore I cannot proceed to the execution of this writ.' It seems to me, notwithstanding my respect for Dr. Sharpe's opinion on such a matter, quite impossible that the Sheriffs of the City would have expressed themselves in that way, and I can only suppose that they had given their deputy full authority to act within tho 'bailiwick' of Middlesex which was recognised by the King and Courts of Law, but that his deputed commission gave him no authority in the City. (We have a somewhat parallel case in the administration of the Ward of Portsoken by Thomas de Wymbourne, during the Priorate of Eustace, the ex-officio Alderman. See ante, vol. I., pp. 365, note A, 373).]
The election day in the 13th century appears to have been the Monday before Michaelmas: (fn. 157) in 1302, 1303, and from 1306 to 1313, Michaelmas Eve, (fn. 158) and in 1304 and 1305, the Feast of St. Matthew (Sept. 21). (fn. 159) On Michaelmas Eve, 1313, it was ordained that in future the election should be on St. Matthew's Day: (fn. 160) this rule was observed in 1314, and in 1315 (the Feast falling on a Sunday) the election was held on the eve of St. Matthew: (fn. 161) from 1316 to 1320 there was a return to Michaelmas Eve: (fn. 162) from 1325 the Feast of St. Matthew appears to have become fixed, though there are few records of the day of election before 1368, from which time they are practically continuous. (fn. 163) On August 31, 1527, the date was altered to September 2: (fn. 164) on August 29, 1538, it was put back to Lammas Day or The Feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (August 1), (fn. 165) and finally by an ordinance of Common Council on May 27, 1585, Midsummer Day was fixed for all future annual elections to the Shrievalty, (fn. 166) since which there has been no permanent alteration of the rule. In 1683 by a resolution of the Common Council on July 17, the election of Sheriffs for that year was postponed till September 5: during the Suspension of the Charter (1683–1688) the Sheriffs were not chosen by popular election, but nominated by the King, and as already stated (fn. 167) the election for the Shrieval year 1690–1 took place on May 26, 1690, in accordance with the provisions of Act. 2, Will. and Mary, c. 8.
From the earliest years of which we have records, it is clear that the Sheriffs were chosen by the same electors as the Mayor, the constituency of each being described in practically the same terms. Thus in 1278, 1279, 1280, 1282, the electorate consisted of 'the Mayor, Aldermen, and reputable men of the city,' (fn. 168) in 1283, 'the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens,' (fn. 169) in 1290, 1291, 1293, 'the Commonalty of the City,' (fn. 170) which forms of expression probably denote the same persons. In 1292 only the Mayor and Aldermen are named as electors, the omission of any mention of the citizens or Commonalty being probably a mere clerical error. (fn. 171) In 1301 the election is said to have been made by the Mayor and Aldermen 'in the presence of twelve men from each Ward summoned to receive the Sheriffs;' (fn. 172) in 1303 'for electing and receiving' is substituted for 'to receive;' (fn. 173) in 1304 'twelve good and lawful men' are summoned from each Ward. (fn. 174) The electors are not recorded in the years immediately following: from 1309 to 1316 the formula is 'the commonalty;' or 'the good men of the commonalty:' (fn. 175) from 1317 to 1320 we have 'the whole commonalty.' (fn. 176) After this the records cease to specify the electors until 1347, when for the first time we have one Sheriff (Alderman Brabazon) elected by the Mayor, and the other by the Commonalty. (fn. 177) There is no evidence to show whether this custom, which apparently was observed unbroken for nearly three centuries, was an innovation in 1347 or had originated at some intermediate date since 1320.
In the list of Mayors and Sheriffs appended to Letter Book F and continued by a later hand to 1548, there is a note that in 18 Henry VIII. (1526), S. Pecocke, the Sheriff elected by the Mayor, 'had the pre-eminence afore' his colleague, N. Lamberd, notwithstanding the latter's seniority of standing as an Alderman. (fn. 178)
I need not here repeat the changes introduced in 1346, 1467 and 1475, in the constituency by which Mayors and Sheriffs were elected, as they have already been noticed in dealing with the Mayoral elections. (fn. 179)
The right of the Mayor to nominate one Sheriff was exercised unchallenged till 1640. (Dr. Sharpe is in error in saying (fn. 180) that 'neither in 1639 nor in the following year was the prerogative exercised,' for in the former year John Langham was nominated Sheriff by the Mayor, Sir M. Abbot). (fn. 181) A custom had grown up of the Lord Mayor's nomination being indicated by drinking to the person thus designated at a public banquet before the election day. The first known instance of thus nominating by propination is that of Alderman Thomas Massam, to whom the Lord Mayor (Sir T. Blanke) drank as 'Sheriff of London and Middlesex from Michaelmas next coming for one whole year,' at a feast in Haberdasher's Hall in July, 1583. (fn. 182) Noorthouck misdates this feast 1585, and gives Sir E. Osborne as the Lord Mayor, but we know from the records that Massam served for the year 1583–84, (fn. 183) and that Blanke (who was a Haberdasher) was then Lord Mayor, Osborne succeeding him and occupying the chair during the greater part of Massam's shrieval year, but not when he was nominated.
At the election of 1640 neither of the Sheriffs chosen on Midsummer Day appears to have been nominated by the Lord Mayor, (fn. 184) but from 1641 to 1651 the Mayor exercised his prerogative, (fn. 185) and, though it was challenged, his nominee was elected, a protest being regularly entered against such confirmation being taken as an admission of the right claimed. The custom seems again to have fallen into abeyance from 1652 to 1660 or 1661, but was revived in 1662, (fn. 186) and continued till the suspension of the Charter in 1683, though in 1681 there was great opposition on the part of the Whig majority of the liverymen to the acceptance of Dudley North, whom Sir John Moore, the Tory Lord Mayor, had named, and whom he succeeded in seating in spite of the refusal of the commonalty to confirm the nomination. (fn. 187) After the restoration of the Charter in 1688 Sir T. Pilkington, Lord Mayor, drank to Sir W. Ashhurst in 1691, but although Ashhurst was elected, his nomination was not confirmed as a matter of course: he was returned, after a contest, at the head of the poll. An Act of Common Council, passed on June 6, 1683, declaring the right of the Lord Mayor's nominee to confirmation at Common Hall, (fn. 188) was still in force technically, though ignored until repealed by another Act on June 15, 1694, which declared the custom to be 'contrary to reason.' (fn. 189) Subsequent Acts passed on October 22, 1703, April 7, 1748 and May 2, 1878, gave the Lord Mayor the right of nominating candidates whose names should be submitted to the livery for acceptance or rejection on the election day: (fn. 190) the number so nominated, which under the Act of 1748 might be nine, was limited to three by that of 1878.
It is worthy of notice, though so far as I have observed the fact has been passed over by other writers, that the Mayor seems never to have claimed, during the period when his right to nominate one Sheriff was unchallenged, to exercise that right more than once in each year. When his nominee either declined office and paid the fine for not serving, or, having accepted it, died before the expiration of his year of service, there is no recorded instance of any Mayor proposing to nominate a successor. Hence the election of the Whig Sheriffs, Cornish and Bethel, in 1680, must not (as Dr. Sharpe's account might seem to suggest) (fn. 191) be regarded as a successful vindication of the claim of the liverymen to override the custom, inasmuch as George Hockenhall, grocer, whom the Lord Mayor, Sir Robert Clayton—himself one of the Whig leaders—had nominated by drinking to him, had declined to serve and incurred the fine, (fn. 192) and so the right claimed for the Chief Magistrate would appear to have been exercised and exhausted for that year. It is true that an Act of August 1, 1582, provided that if the Lord Mayor's nominee should refuse to take office or die between nomination and the election day, the Lord Mayor might nominate another, (fn. 193) but this does not cover the case of such refusal declared as in this case on the election day, or of death after the election.
In many years much difficulty was experienced in finding persons willing to accept the Shrievalty. In 1526 four persons sucessively declined the office, and it was not till October 1 that the second Sheriff was secured: (fn. 194) this doubtless led to the alteration of the date of election for the following year, so as to admit of a longer interval in which to find a substitute in case of refusals. In 1580 seven persons were elected who successively refused to serve; (fn. 195) in 1591, thirteen; (fn. 196) in 1613, twelve; (fn. 197) in 1614, eleven; (fn. 198) in 1639, as many as thirty-two; (fn. 199) in 1651, twenty-seven, including thirteen who were elected Aldermen on the same days on which they were chosen Sheriffs, and twelve who on the day of election were already members of the aldermanic body. (fn. 200) In 1666, fourteen; (fn. 201) in 1667, eleven; (fn. 202) in 1673, seventeen; (fn. 203) in 1674, twelve; (fn. 204) in 1679, fourteen; (fn. 205) in 1694, fifteen; (fn. 206) in 1698, eleven; (fn. 207) in 1777, ten; (fn. 208) in 1815, fifteen (fn. 209) were similarly chosen but refused to accept office, the city's coffers in those years reaping a rich harvest of fines. Besides these, many of those put in nomination by the Lord Mayor in the eighteenth century either 'swore off' as not possessing the amount of property below which they were not compellable to serve, or paid the fine before the election day. Amongst those thus nominated and fined for refusal were some Nonconformists, who, if the provisions of the Corporation Act were strictly enforced, were not legally eligible, unless (like Sir H. Edwin and other distinguished civic dissenters before them) they were willing to suppress for a time their conscientious scruples and take the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Established Church, and in the language of Cowper, make
'The symbol of atoning grace An office key, a pick-lock to a place.' (fn. 210)
At last a sturdy Dissenter, one Allen Evans, merchant taylor, who was elected Sheriff in 1754, resolutely declined (like the Earls in Edward I.'s reign who refused either 'to go or hang') either to accept the office or to pay the fine. He was at last proceeded against by the Chamberlain in the name of the Corporation for recovery of the fine imposed: a strong court of four judges (fn. 211) decided in his favour in 1762, but the case was carried on appeal to the House of Lords and the decision of the Court below affirmed (February 4, 1767), the judgment being delivered 'in a speech of classic eloquence' by Lord Mansfield. A good deal of cheap indignation has been showered on the memory of the Corporation of that day by later writers. It is, of course, true that the whole system of the Test and Corporation Acts was utterly indefensible according to modern notions ; it is equally true that the judgment of Lord Mansfield and the House of Lords that Nonconformists were not, while these Acts were in force, legally compellable to serve, was in accordance with common sense no less than with law, and one can only wonder that the question was fought out by the Corporation. On the other hand it must be remembered that the Corporation Act was at this time practically a dead letter, annual Indemnity Acts being passed to relieve from penalties those who had not complied with its provisions, and during the century preceding its repeal many Dissenters in London and in provincial cities and boroughs filled corporate offices with distinction to themselves and to the advantage of their respective communities, and Mr. Evans, as well as other wealthy Nonconformist citizens who paid their fines, (which, of course, were very much less in amount than the ordinary expenses of a Sheriff), might have accepted office, had they been so disposed, in spite of the Corporation Act without appreciable risk of incurring any penalty; (fn. 212) hence it is at least open to the historical student, whose business is to weigh the facts rather than to accept without examination a plausible but flimsy theory, to doubt whether the objection on the part of some Dissenters to accept civic responsibilities proceeded rather from regard for keen conscientious scruples than from contemplation of the effect which a year of office as Sheriff might have upon the balance in their bankers' books.
It is sometimes said that the Mansion House was built with money derived from fines imposed by a tyrannical Corporation upon persecuted Nonconformists. It is true that for some years fines for non-acceptance of office were devoted to that object, but it is a simple travesty of fact to assume that the persons fined were all Nonconformists.
In 1418 when John Bryan, one of the Sheriffs, died during his Shrievalty as the result of a very singular accident, (fn. 213) the Lords of the Council summoned the Mayor, Aldermen and 'more principal commoners' to appear before them on October 11 to show that they had power to elect a Sheriff to fill a chance vacancy. (The right of the citizens to choose at the annual election on St. Matthew's Day was not challenged.) Accordingly they appeared before the Council in ' le sterred chaumbre,' the Lord Chancellor and the Chief Justices of the King's Bench and of the Common Pleas being among the Privy Councillors present, and by reference to their charters and to the precedent of 1312, when they elected a new Sheriff to fill a death vacancy, (fn. 214) they established their right and were graciously permitted to 'continue to enjoy the same liberty.' (fn. 215)
Among the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. (vol. 8, p. 78) there has been preserved a curious and interesting document, bearing date February 14, 1535, in the form of a petition to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the City for diminution of the expenses of the Shrievalty. The petition bears 19 signatures, the first three names being those of Richard Reynolds (Sheriff 1532–3), John Prest (Sheriff 1533), Robert Trappys (Alderman 1534): others who signed were Robert Pakyngton (M.P. for the City 1534–6), John Rychemond (elected Alderman and Sheriff later), John Fayrey (who served as Sheriff later), John Sturgeon (afterwards Chamberlain). It sets forth that 'of late years divers aldermen and commoners have been reduced to extreme poverty after exercising the offices of sheriff and mayor, or even one of them,' and instances 'Sir Lawrence Aylmer (fn. 216) and Master Roger Acheley, (fn. 217) Mayors, and Masters Danyell, (fn. 218) Bronde, (fn. 219) Doget, (fn. 220) Nynes, (fn. 221) Isaacke, (fn. 222) Coote, (fn. 223) Holderness, (fn. 224) Keme, (fn. 225) Worley (fn. 226) and Caunton, (fn. 227) Sheriffs': that 'divers citizens elected as aldermen and sheriffs have discharged themselves of the office on oath by which they have been supposed to incur the guilt of perjury,' and that others, 'as of aldermen, Masters Inglisshe, (fn. 228) Dakers, (fn. 229) Symonds (fn. 230) and Hardy (fn. 231) and of commoners, Masters (fn. 232) Tayllor, (fn. 232) Withypoll, (fn. 233) Traps, (fn. 234) (fn. 232) Callarde, Hynde (fn. 235) and Rowlett, (fn. 236) who are still alive; besides, among deceased persons, Aldermen Tyndley, (fn. 237) Welbecke, (fn. 238) Fabyan, (fn. 239) Twesylton, (fn. 240) (fn. 232) Browne (Haberdasher) (fn. 241) and Nic. Jenyns (fn. 242) and Masters Will. Lambard, (fn. 243) (fn. 232) Acton and Nychells (fn. 244) have made suit to be discharged of these offices by patent or letters missive or by payment of fines.' The prayer of the petition was that in future the Mayors and Sheriffs should 'keep one house and household, at an expense of not less than £1,600 per ann. over and above the charges of their feast on the day following SS. Simon and Jude, of which, as heretofore, the Mayor shall sustain one half and the two Sheriffs the other.' (It had been ordered by the Court of Aldermen on October 15, 1521, that the expenses of the annual Mayor's feast should be paid jointly by the Mayor and the two Sheriffs.) (fn. 245)
Although during three centuries one Sheriff was named by the Mayor and one was elected by the Commonalty or by the Liverymen, it was by no means the case that the Mayor necessarily named an Alderman, or that the popularly elected Sheriff was always a Commoner. Very frequently Aldermen were chosen by both : less often the election fell on two Commoners. In the years 1369, 1390 and 1400, (fn. 246) in 25 years of the 15th century and in 1510 and 1534 (fn. 247) the Mayor nominated a Commoner and the Commoners elected an Alderman. On July 20, 1631, it was ordained that the Lord Mayor should not elect a Commoner so long as there was an Alderman eligible. (fn. 248) This rule was acted on thereafter so long as the custom of election by the Lord Mayor was retained, but in several years, all the existing Aldermen having served as Sheriffs, the election of two Commoners became necessary. Many of the Sheriffs who were elected as Commoners became Aldermen during their terms of office or after their expiration. A list of those Sheriffs who were elected Aldermen either during their Shrievalties or between the date of election and that of entering upon office is given later (see Appendix II. pp. lxii., lxiii.).
Of the 55 persons who served the office of Sheriff between the accession of Edward I. and the close of the 13th century only 17 are not found in the register of Aldermen before or after their Shrieval years. Most of the heriffs of the 14th century who were not already Aldermen subsequently secured election, and between 1371 and 1407 there is an unbroken series of 74 Sheriffs who all attained Aldermanic rank. From 1408 to 1480, 117 out of a total of 148, and from 1481 to 1552, 103 out of 153, were present or future members of the Court of Aldermen.
From 1552 to 1679 the series of 264 Sheriffs contains no name which does not also appear as an Alderman, and except in 1680 the line is unbroken up to 1693. From that date to the present time there has been a larger proportion of ex-Sheriffs who either did not seek or were unsuccessful in their candidatures for admission to the Court of Aldermen; there were six such cases out of a total of 13 in the remaining years of the 17th century: in the next 100 years there were 160 actual or future Aldermen out of 205; in the 19th century as many as 83 out of a total of 202 did not 'go up higher.' Of the 24 Sheriffs elected thus far in the 20th century, 11 were Aldermen at the date of election and seven (Sirs H. B. Marshall, G. J. Woodman, T. V. Bowater, W. H. Dunn, C. C. Wakefield and J. J. Baddeley) have since been chosen to fill vacancies in the Court.
Since the reversion to direct election of Aldermen by the Wards in 1714, the following Sheriffs have been unsuccessful candidates for Aldermanries during their terms of office:—
Sir John Grosvenor, Bridge, 1727.
*B. Kennett, Walbrook, 1766.
S. Sayre, Coleman Street, 1773.
W. Nicholson, Cornhill, 1782.
Sir R. Phillips, Coleman Street, 1808.
J. Williams, Bridge, 1821.
*H. Winchester, Vintry, 1827.
*F. G. Moon, Portsoken, 1844.
R. Jones, Portsoken, 1871.
*P. Cowan, Tower, 1883.
*G. F. Phillips, Cordwainer, 1885.
W. H. Harris, Bassishaw, 1890.
*Sir H. B. Marshall, Candlewick, 1902.
R. Slazenger, Billingsgate, 1910.
Those marked * subsequently became Aldermen, Moon being elected to the next vacancy in Portsoken, and Winchester, after long litigation, securing the seat for Vintry, while the others obtained election for other Wards.
J. Hart contested Cordwainer in 1774, and Mr. H. S. Foster, Tower in 1891, while Sheriffs-elect: Hart was elected afterwards for Bridge Ward, and having been unseated there, was chosen later for Dowgate.
Of ex-Sheriffs, the following were defeated in their candidatures for Aldermanic vacancies:—
Sir S. Clarke, Coleman Street, 1718.
*W. Alexander, Lime Street, 1752.
*W. Lee, Vintry, 1772.
*Sir M. Bloxam, Langbourn, 1795.
Sir F. Desanges, Langbourn, 1823.
T. Ward, Broad Street, 1831.
*J. Humphery, Aldgate, 1835.
A. A. Croll, Queenhithe, 1854.
D. Nicol, Bread Street, 1855.
G. J. Cockerell, Castle Baynard, 1875.
Sir J. Bennett, Cordwainer, 1873, 1875.
*E. Breffit, Cheap, 1877.
*H. J. Waterlow, Farringdon Without, 1882.
G. Hand, Cheap, 1896.
Sir T. R. Dewar, Vintry, 1902.
Sir T. H. Brooke-Hitching, Walbrook, 1906, Farringdon Within, 1912.
*Sir W. H. Dunn, Castle Baynard, 1907.
*Sir G. J. Woodman, Cheap, 1909.
Those marked * subsequently became Aldermen, and Sir J. Bennett and Sir T. H. Brooke-Hitching were returned by Cheap and Farringdon Within respectively, but rejected by the Court of Aldermen.
The following Sheriffs have died during their terms of office. Those marked * were not Aldermen:—
*Robert de Cateloigne, December, 1257.
*Peter de Blakeneye, August 1, 1311.
*Richard de Welleford, December 28, 1312.
*John Bryan, October 10, 1418.
*Henry Brice, June 20, 1467.
William Wyking, October 19, 1481.
Richard Chester, February 6, 1485.
Robert Revell, February 23, 1491.
*Robert Watts, November 9, 1503.
John Dawes, June, 1514.
Richard Grey, October 20, 1515.
*Nicholas Pynchon, March 8, 1533.
*John Martyn, September, 1533.
Richard Lambert, April 4, 1567.
Robert Hardyng, November 26, 1568.
John Hayden, November 26, 1582.
Sir Roger Jones, July 25, 1605.
Ellis Crispe, November 3, 1625.
Thomas Westrowe, December, 1625.
Rowland Wilson, February 19, 1650.
Thomas Chandler, September 2, 1659.
Sir Jonathan Dawes, April 18, 1672.
Sir Peter Floyer, January 31, 1702.
*Sir Felix Feast, February 24, 1724.
*Sir Jeremiah Murden, March 27, 1726.
*Thomas Russell, January 22, 1738.
Richard Blunt, December 30, 1763.
*Benjamin Charlewood, April 11, 1766.
Sir Barnard Turner, June 15, 1784.
John Bates, May 13, 1785.
William Champion, August 9, 1799.
*Charles Stable, April 15, 1828.
*Sir James Vallentin, February 25, 1870.
We have already seen that in 1397 provision was made that in addition to being 'reputable and discreet' and fit in character (' moribus') to sustain the position of Alderman, candidates should be fit also in respect of worldly goods. This was made more definite in July, 1469, (fn. 249) when it was enacted that an Alderman must be possessed of at least £1,000 in goods and ' sperate' (fn. 250) debts. Landed property not being specifically mentioned, some substantial citizens evaded liability to serve by investing a considerable portion of their wealth in land, so that their personal property might be represented as below the limit. In order to circumvent this method of escape from civic responsibilities, it was further ordained on June 20, 1525, that an Alderman's qualification should be 2,000 marks in ' goods, catalls, debts sperate and lands or tenements to his use bought and purchased to be solde.' (fn. 251) On August 9, 1710, the sum was raised to £15,000, and the fine for refusal to serve, which had previously varied at the discretion of the Court of Aldermen, was fixed at £500. (fn. 252) On April 17, 1812, the pecuniary qualification was further increased to £30,000. (fn. 253)
At one time, especially in the 17th century, the fines for non-acceptance of, or discharge from, the position of Alderman formed a by no means negligible item of Corporation finance. In the earlier times almost the only discharges with fines recorded are those of Aldermen who had served the office for some considerable time and become more or less incapacitated, or at least indisposed, to continue to perform the duties of the office through age, deafness or other infirmities of the flesh. During the first quarter of the 16th century we find persons elected and declining to serve as Aldermen, and instances continued to occur occasionally till the end of the Tudor period, but with greater frequency after 1590. The recusants were, unless excused on the ground of insufficiency of estate, required to take the oath and be admitted as Aldermen before being 'discharged'—the technical term still in use in its literal signification of being 'relieved of the charge.' Hence we often find in the records cases of Aldermen being discharged within a few days after, or on the very day of, their admissions.
Throughout James I.'s reign these immediate discharges occurred with increasing frequency: thus in 1604 three Aldermen of Vintry were elected and fined in the months of February and May : (fn. 254) in 1605 there were three similar cases in Farringdon Without : (fn. 255) in 1607 seven elections for Aldgate, (fn. 256) in 1611 seven for Bread Street, (fn. 257) in 1612 six for Cordwainer, (fn. 258) in 1621 there were five returns for Tower (fn. 259) in June and four within seven weeks for Farringdon Within, (fn. 260) while in 1622 there were as many as 17 new Aldermen elected, all but one of whom were returned for the three Wards of Aldgate, Cordwainer, and Bishopsgate. (fn. 261) The three following years were only slightly less prolific of 'transient phantoms' in the Court of Aldermen, but from 1629 to the last month of 1640 the coffers of the City Chamberlains were not materially replenished by fines paid on discharge. Between November, 1640, and May, 1641, there were six successive elections for Castle Baynard, (fn. 262) but it was not till 1648 that the discharges again became numerous. Throughout the Commonwealth period the City's cash was constantly being augmented by fines. During the eleven years from the abolition of the monarchy to the Restoration the total number of Aldermen elected (not including translations) was no less than 288, (fn. 263) an average of about one each fortnight, but in the year 1651 there were as many as 76, more than a quarter of the whole, 24 being chosen in the month of August alone and 32 in September. (fn. 264) Billingsgate contributed 17 and Walbrook 16 Aldermen to the list in 1631, whose fines amounted to £8,000 and £5,600 respectively, (fn. 265) and as these were less than half the total it is evident that, allowing for the reductions occasionally made in the amount imposed, the fines which varied from £200 to £800 must have made up in the aggregate a very considerable sum. In 1657 the Ward of Cripplegate by itself yielded a crop of nine elected Aldermen, the total of whose fines was £3,740. (fn. 266)
In December, 1656, an Act of Common Council provided that in future in addition to the ordinary fine discharged Aldermen should pay 20 marks each for the benefit of the preachers in prisons. (fn. 267) (In the minutes of such fines imposed after this date, this item sometimes appears as 20 marks and often as 20 li = librae [i.e. £20]). The unwillingness of citizens at this period to serve as Aldermen was caused undoubtedly by the unsettled state of political affairs, and it may have been due to want of confidence in the stability of the new regime after the Restoration that the difficulty of securing successors to Aldermanic vacancies was hardly less pronounced. The year 1661 witnessed the election of 36 new Aldermen, of whom only four were permanent. (fn. 268) Bread Street contributed eight of these, whose fines, though three of them escaped being mulcted, amounted to over £2,600, and Broad Street a like number, whose aggregate fines reached over £3,400. (fn. 269) Between December, 1662, and November, 1663, there were 18 elections, (fn. 270) of which 12 were in the Ward of Bridge Without, with £3,200 in fines : (fn. 271) in 1664 the elections of new Aldermen numbered 23, but in 1665 there were only two, followed by 19 in 1666, 32 in 1667, 31 in 1668, and 26 in 1670. (fn. 272) Of the 63 new Aldermen elected in 1667 and 1668, Vintry contributed 11 with over £3,000 in fines, (fn. 273) Bread Street 10 with £3,980 in fines, (fn. 274) and the two Farringdon Wards seven each with over £2,500 and £3,000 respectively. (fn. 275) After 1670 the discharges on election were very few except in 1687 (during the suspension of the Charter), (fn. 276) when James II. found it very difficult to get men willing to accept the office on the terms on which alone it was possible to hold it.
In 1710 three persons, successively elected Aldermen of Portsoken by the Whig majority of the Court in order to keep out the Jacobite, John Cass (whom they accepted in 1711 on a fourth return), were discharged without fine, having sworn that they did not possess the requisite amount of property. Since 1689 there have been only three cases of an elected Alderman refusing to serve and so incurring the fine, viz., those of J. Heywood (1746), Sir P. Warren (1752), J. Martin (1772). In the last of these, the fine was not imposed.
Some instances of royal and ministerial interference with the ordinary course of election in the City may be noticed. I do not propose to go through in detail the various occasions on which the King 'took the City into his own hands,' displacing the Mayor and appointing a custos or warden of his own nomination to act as chief magistrate. Henry III., who had more than once before suspended the normal government of the City on frivolous pretences, kept it in the hands of a royal warden for nearly five years, as a punishment for its sympathies with Montfort, after the overthrow of the Baronial leader at Evesham (October, 1265, to July, 1270). (fn. 277) The most prolonged interval of suspension was, however, in the reign of Edward I., who placed the City under the rule of a warden from June, 1285 to April, 1298, (fn. 278) in consequence of the Mayor, Gregory de Rokesle, having declined to obey the summons to attend the King's justiciars at the Tower, which was outside the limits of the City's jurisdiction, in his official capacity. The latest instance of the exercise of this power was by Richard II. in 1392, when the Mayoralty was only kept in abeyance for less than four months (June-September). (The suspension of the Charter from 1683 to 1688 was not a similar case: it was based on corporate acts of the whole body of citizens and not, as in the earlier times, on individual offences, and moreover, the Mayoralty was retained.) In April, 1323, Edward II. summarily removed Hamo de Chigwell from the Mayoralty and appointed to succeed him Nicholas de Farndone, (fn. 279) whom he had deprived of a previous Mayoralty in February, 1321 (at the time of the celebrated Iter of that year), when he temporarily took the City into his hands. (Chigwell had been elected Mayor in May, 1321, on the restoration of the City's franchises, and had held the office continuously since.) (fn. 280) In the following November (1323) Edward again turned out Farndone and restored Chigwell by his own authority without election. (fn. 281) In the reign of Edward III. Adam de Bury was removed by the King's order in January, 1366, (fn. 282) and again in his last year (March, 1377), that monarch, acting under the influence of his son, John of Gaunt, deposed Adam Stable from the Mayoralty, but permitted the Sheriffs and Commonalty to choose his successor in due course. (fn. 283)
In October, 1382, Richard II. intimated that, while he had no intention of interfering with the free election of a Mayor by the citizens, it would be agreeable to him if they re-elected John de Northampton, and at the same time wrote a letter to that turbulent and pragmatical personage praying him to accept the office for a second year if it were offered to him, with which suggestion, though he attributed his assent to his 'reverence for the King' and 'the instant request of the Alderman, Sheriffs and Commonalty,' we may be sure that he complied very willingly. (fn. 284) (18 Aldermen, including himself, were present at his re-election, the two ex-Mayors, Brembre and Walworth, with two other Fishmonger Aldermen, Neuport and Brian, being significantly absent.) In June, 1397, Richard II. nominated Richard 'Whityngtone' Mayor by letters-patent on the death of Adam Bamme: in the following October he was re-elected in the ordinary way by the Aldermen and Commonalty. (fn. 285)
In 1448 Philip Malpas was chosen Alderman of Lime Street in response to the recommendation of Henry VI., with the proviso that this was 'to be in no wise held as an example to expel the Mayor and Aldermen from liberty to elect.' (fn. 286) In 1506 Robert Johnson, Alderman of Cheap, who had been elected Sheriff, was discharged a few days after his election at the command of Henry VII., and William Fitzwilliam was substituted for him. (fn. 287)
In Henry VIII.'s reign the Court intervened on several occasions in order to obtain exemption from election as Alderman, or discharge after election, of particular individuals. Thus Cardinal Wolsey sent to the Mayor desiring him to remove Robert Amadas, who had been chosen Alderman of Farringdon Without in March, 1523, as being 'the King's servant.' A committee was appointed to confer with the Cardinal on the matter; the latter, however, carried his point, and Amadas was discharged. (fn. 288) Six years later Amadas accepted office as Alderman of Broad Street, (fn. 289) but his personal attendance was dispensed with for the year 'if he shall continue in the King's business.'
In June, 1534, the King sent letters asking for the discharge of Ralph Symonds, Alderman of Castle Baynard, and the Common Serjeant was deputed to 'know Mr. Cromwell's mind in the matter': the discharge promptly followed, Symonds, however, consenting to give £156 'to the use of the Commonalty.' (fn. 290) Two years later (1536) Ralph Aleyn, who had been elected Alderman of Aldersgate, was discharged 'on the contemplation of the King's letters.' (fn. 291) Aleyn was elected for Billingsgate later in the same year, and again discharged in consequence of letters of the King and Lord Cromwell requesting his exemption from service. (fn. 292) He subsequently was Alderman of Queenhithe for eight years, holding office till his death, and served the office of Sheriff in 1545–6. In 1537 Richard Gresham was elected Lord Mayor at the King's command over the heads of twelve seniors who had not passed the chair. (fn. 293) In August, 1542, Thomas Blanke was discharged from his Aldermanry (Bishopsgate) at the request of the King's brother-in-law, the Earl of Hertford. (fn. 294) In the following October Sir William Denham, who had been for 11 years Alderman of Coleman Street, obtained his discharge at the King's request, but, as was the case with Blanke, not without a fine. (fn. 295) In 1564 Queen Elizabeth wrote to beg for the discharge of Edward Gilbert, Alderman of Aldersgate; her letter was read July 27, but he did not obtain his discharge till November 16 following. (fn. 296) On April 15, 1567, a letter was read from Secretary Cecil asking for the discharge 'for the present' of Philip Gunter from liability to election as Sheriff, and he was discharged accordingly: a similar request from the Earl of Leicester as well as from Cecil was preferred in October, 1569, after Gunter's election to the Aldermanry of Portsoken, and he was again discharged, but with a fine of £400. (fn. 297) In 1596 Queen Elizabeth made known to the Aldermen her wish, which was complied with, that Sir Henry Billingsley, the senior Alderman below the chair, should not be elected Lord Mayor for the ensuing year. Accordingly Thomas Skinner, the next in order below him, was elected, but he died two months after entering on office, and Billingsley was then chosen. The Court of Aldermen had protested against the Queen's interference with their 'ancient coustoom' of electing of 'him who is next in succession'; and endeavoured through the intervention of the Lord Treasurer (Burleigh) and the Lord Keeper (Egerton) to induce the Queen to allow the ordinary course to be followed, but the imperious monarch was 'greatly offended that shee should bee farther importuned hearabout.' (fn. 298)
James I. also more than once intervened. A few months after his accession (June, 1603) he directed the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to release Thomas Myddelton from Newgate, (to which prison he had been committed for refusing to serve as Alderman of Queenhithe), on the ground that he was 'employed in an important service for the State.' The Court declined to be coerced and replied that in committing him they were observing their oaths and the customs of the City. (fn. 299) Myddelton then consented to serve, was elected Sheriff the same year and afterwards became Lord Mayor.
The same monarch also in the same year made an ineffectual attempt to get exemption from serving as Alderman for Sir Thomas Hayes, who became Myddelton's immediate successor both as Sheriff and Lord Mayor. (fn. 300)
In 1611, when Sir Baptist Hicks was chosen Alderman of Bread Street, James approached the Court of Aldermen through one of the Gentlemen of his Bedchamber, Roger Aston, with a request for his discharge. The Court replied that they had already on a previous occasion, at the King's wish, forborne to elect him, but now the Ward 'having a special liking of him,' they were desirous of having him as an Alderman. Aston in his letter said that the King 'had not moved them for any in that kind heretofore and did not intend to do so again' thereby displaying as regards the first of those statements either considerable ignorance of the facts or an inadequate regard for veracity. The King then sent Sir Thomas Lake in person to the Court, (fn. 301) and at last the worthy knight, a silkmercer by trade, who is said to have violated the canons of early seventeenth century propriety by continuing to keep a shop after elevation to that dignity, was discharged. (fn. 302)
In April, 1626, the Lord Keeper Coventry begged the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to discharge Francis Pember, recently elected Alderman of Castle Baynard, and so liable to serve as Sheriff, he having been Sheriff of Herefordshire in the preceding year, or to moderate his fine. He was accordingly discharged with a fine of £200. (fn. 303) In October, 1626, the King (Charles I.) sent a letter requesting exemption for Robert Myldmay, who had been elected Alderman of Vintry, on the ground of his being 'entirely settled in the country,' and if that could not be granted that his fine might be so moderated that it might appear that the King's request had not been fruitless. The Court, however, imposed a fine of £500, his predecessor having got off with £300. (fn. 304) In February, 1627, Francis Fuller was discharged from the Aldermanry of Queenhithe in accordance with letters from the Lord Treasurer and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Earl of Marlborough and Sir Richard Weston). (fn. 305) During the suspension of the Charter from 1683 to 1688 the Kings Charles II. and James II. appointed to vacancies in the Court of Aldermen, accepting in several cases recommendations from that body. In 1687 James turned out ten Aldermen in six days, all of whom were strongly attached to the Established Church and opposed to the suspension of the Test and Corporation Acts, and filled their places mainly with Whigs and Nonconformists. (fn. 306)
There has been no overt interference with the course of civic elections on the part of the Crown or its ministers since the Revolution, but George III., as is shown in his correspondence with Lord North, watched the Mayoral and Shrieval contests with keen interest and used such influence as he was able, directly or indirectly, to exert on behalf of candidates who favoured his policy.
In the first volume of this work (fn. 307) I have dealt at length with the knighthoods, actual and mythical, which have been attributed to the Mayors and other Aldermen. It is, I suppose, as difficult to kill 'Sir Richard Whittington' as the less inaccurate 'Lord Bacon' or 'Lord Coke.' Bacon was, at any rate, a peer though his title is invariably misquoted, but Coke certainly was not, and Whittington's knighthood is at least as legendary as (perhaps more so than) his far-famed cat. It is, however, satisfactory to find that the writer of the article on Whittington in the Dictionary of National Biography has not fallen into the popular error, though a collaborateur in that monumental (but far from accurate) publication has been less cautious in weighing the evidence for the knighthood of Isaac Penington and his brother Aldermen by Speaker Lenthal, a myth of which I have endeavoured to demonstrate the falsity, though I had unfortunately not had my doubts concerning it aroused until after the earlier pages of volume I. had been printed. (fn. 308) It is not necessary here to enter into the details as regards individuals; I will content myself with summarising the results which are deducible from existing evidence; these show that Aldermanic knighthoods were scarce, indeed almost non-existent, until the reign of Edward IV., and comparatively few, though less infrequent, during the following sixty years. For more than two centuries after 1519, the Chief Magistrate was almost invariably knighted or in some cases (in the latter portion of the period) created a baronet, and in James I.'s reign almost all the permanent Aldermen were knights. After the early years of George II. civic knighthoods and baronetcies were less lavishly bestowed for another 130 years, when they again became more general.
The following table shows the number of knights and baronets in the Court at various periods. (The order of baronet was not instituted till 1611.)
It is interesting to note one or two cases in which men of eminence, actual or prospective, were included in the four whose names were returned to the Court of Aldermen for selection of one to fill a vacancy in that body, but were not chosen either on those or any subsequent occasions.
'Thomas Mores [sic], mercer,' in whom we may recognize the author of Utopia, was returned for Farringdon Without in July, 1503, along with Alderman and Sheriff Nynes, T. Kneseworth and J. Warner. (fn. 309) The Sheriff was translated from Bishopsgate, and the other two found seats within the next three months, but More was not again nominated.
Thomas Gresham, mercer, who afterwards founded the Royal Exchange, was nominated for Dowgate in November, 1556, when again one of the Sheriffs was preferred, viz.: William Harper, whose educational benefactions to Bedford have perpetuated his name and who on this occasion was translated from Bridge Without to the vacant Ward. (fn. 310)
In February, 1612, Sir James Lancaster, skinner, one of the founders of the East India Company and commander of its first fleet, was named for Cordwainer, but the election fell on Edward Barnes. (fn. 311)
In October, 1613, Sir Lionel Cranfield, mercer, was named for Farringdon Without. He at that time held the office of Surveyor-General of the Customs, but in the course of a few years became James I.'s chief minister, Lord High Treasurer and Earl of Middlesex, and arrived also at the dignity of impeachment by the House of Commons in the first parliament which for over 150 years had had recourse to that method of procedure against obnoxious politicians. On this occasion two Aldermen and Mr. Sheriff Jeye were nominated for the vacant Aldermanry with Cranfield, and the election fell on the Sheriff. (fn. 312) In July, 1615, Cranfield was again proposed, this time for Bridge Ward, but the Sheriff-elect, William Gore, was chosen. (fn. 313) Between these two nominations for Aldermanic vacancies Cranfield had been twice elected Sheriff, on July 11, 1614, and on June 24, 1615. (fn. 314) On the former occasion he refused to serve and the King endeavoured to secure his exemption from a fine, both writing himself to the Lord Mayor and causing the Lord Treasurer (the Earl of Suffolk) to write on Craufield's behalf. The King said he would pay the fine himself rather than lose Cranfield's services, and Suffolk also intimated that His Majesty had resolved to pay it, if its payment were insisted upon, and at the same time requested the return both of the King's letter and of his own. The Court of Aldermen rather unkindly reminded the King in reply that when he had interceded for Sir B. Hicks on a former occasion he had 'promised not to require a similar favour from thenceforth for any Citizen'. (fn. 315) Apparently Cranfield's fine was remitted, as he would not, after paying it, have been nominated in another year. In 1615 he obtained a discharge for a year without a fine and he was not again chosen. (fn. 316)
Thomas Player, haberdasher, afterwards City Chamberlain, (father of his perhaps better-known successor in that office, the 'railing Rabshakeh' of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel), was nominated for Coleman Street in November, 1645, when George Witham was elected. (fn. 317)
Edmund Berry Godfrey, woodmonger, whose mysterious death, after receiving Oates' depositions concerning the 'Popish Plot', has given him posthumous fame, was nominated for Farringdon Without in December, 1664, when his name appears in the Repertory minute in the incorrect but familiar form 'Edmundbury Godfrey'; he was again named for Bread Street in September, 1666, this time being correctly designated 'Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey', he having been knighted in the interval. Richard Shelbury and Henry Partridge were respectively chosen to fill the vacancies. (fn. 318)
Slingsby Bethel, leatherseller, the Whig Sheriff (colleague of Cornish) 1680–1, (Dryden's 'Shimei' who 'loved his wicked neighbour as himself') was nominated five times, for Cheap (June, 1669), Cordwainer (July, 1669), Farringdon Without (December, 1680), Portsoken (October, 1689 and January, 1690), (fn. 319) but was not elected, his parsimony and his Puritanism combining to render him a persona ingrata to the Court of Aldermen.
Since the return in 1714 to direct election by the Wards, the best known unsuccessful candidate for an Aldermanry at the polls who was not subsequently elected was Thomas Tegg, pattenmaker (Common Councilman for Cheap), who in December, 1835, contested Bassishaw against James White. (fn. 320) Tegg's name has, in a sense, been 'damn'd to everlasting fame' by the mordant pen of Carlyle in his famous petition in favour of the Copyright Bill of 1839, in which he prayed that, inasmuch as he had not received from Tegg and did not 'discern any chance of receiving any encouragement or countenance in writing of books', parliament would 'forbid all Thomas Teggs and other extraneous persons . . . to steal from him his small winnings, for a space of sixty years at shortest', after which period 'they may begin to steal'. (Tegg was a printer and publisher of popular literature, and had reprinted some of Carlyle's writings without permission and without payment.)
The connexion of the various Livery Companies with the Aldermanic body is dealt with in the first volume of this work. (fn. 321) My subject does not require me to outline the general history of the rise and development of the English, Scottish and continental Gilds or that of the London Gilds in particular. It is unfortunate that the standard work on the more important London Companies, that of Herbert, (fn. 322) a painstaking but uncritical compilation, is disfigured by errors which in an uncritical period were not easily detected, and have been accepted on his authority, without verification, by later writers of repute. Mr. George Unwin's The Gilds and Companies of London gives an admirable summary of their history in a small compass, and may be read with advantage and with pleasure by those who have not time or inclination for fuller study of the subject. Histories of and historical memoranda relating to several of the smaller and some of the larger Companies have been published in recent years: Holford's Chat about the Broderers' Company, Sir W. S. Prideaux's Memorials of the Goldsmiths' Company, Smythe's Worshipful Company of Girdlers, Gould's History of the Fruiterers' Company, Pitman's The Worshipful Company of Painters, Welch's History of the Company of Pewterers, Young's Annals of the BarberSurgeons, Rivington's Annals of the Stationers' Company, Clode's Early History of the Guild of Merchant Taylors, and Kingdon's Facsimile of the early records of the Grocers' Company—the list is not exhaustive—give valuable information and set an example for other Livery Companies to follow. The most important of all the Companies, once the most closely connected of all with the Aldermen of London, from membership of which body it now stands ostentatiously aloof, has done singularly little towards opening to the historical student the treasures of its ancient records and, instead of welcoming, does its best to repel with a frigid non possumus those who would willingly, at no cost to that guild's not very slender financial resources, do some small portion of the work which a more adequate conception of the moral duty of those who have important historical material in their charge would impel its officials to undertake themselves or entrust to capable hands. It is satisfactory to know that an authoritative history of the Drapers' Company has been confided to one of the leading writers of the Oxford school of history.
From the date of the Charter of Edward II. (June, 1319), which restricted the freedom of the City to members of some mistery or trade, it became necessary for an Alderman to possess that qualification. From 1467, as we have seen, or at least from 1475, the election of the-Mayor and that of the Sheriffs have been in the hands of the Livery Companies. (fn. 323) Until after the middle of the 16th century it was understood, though I have not found any express enactment or ordinance to that effect, that an Alderman must necessarily belong to one of the greater Companies: hence the translation on election as Aldermen from their parent inferior Companies, in some cases under extreme pressure, of J. Warner (1503), J. Thurston (1513), R. Dodmer (1521), J. Brown (1523), R. Choppyn (1532), Sir J. Ayliffe (1550), and T. Curtes (1556). Afterwards the restriction appears to have been held to apply only to Lord Mayors, and this was practically removed by the action of R. Willimott in 1742. (fn. 324)
On February 25, 1446, a rule had been made that 'not more than six of one art or mistery' should be Aldermen simultaneously. (fn. 325) This led to some trouble in the case of J. Brown in 1523. (fn. 326) The limitation was removed during the Commonwealth by an order of the Common Council, December 23, 1642. (fn. 327) Apparently it was revived at the Restoration, though I have found no official entries to that effect, and the minute of 1642 is not amongst those actually erased from the Journal after the reversion to the old order of things. It was, however, finally abolished on July 31, 1673. (fn. 328)
There was a similar limitation in regard to the election of Mayor, an order of Common Council on September 13, 1475, prescribing that two Aldermen of the same art or mistery should not be returned for the election of one of them to the Mayoralty. (fn. 329) Before this date it was certainly not a frequent occurrence that two Aldermen from the same Company should be returned: the records do not always supply the names of both, but so far as they have been preserved the only instance I have found is that of R. Drope and Sir R. Josselyn, drapers, in the preceding year (1474) (fn. 330), which probably suggested the new rule. I have no note of a formal repeal of this provision, which in course of time became a dead letter. In 1520 it was broken by the return of J. Brugge and J. Milborne, drapers, (fn. 331) in 1578 by that of W. Aleyn and L. Duckett, mercers, (fn. 332) in 1640 by that of E. Wright and T. Soame, grocers, (fn. 333) in 1656 by that of R. Tichborne and R. Chiverton, skinners. (fn. 334) Later instances are those of Sir S. Garrard and Sir J. Jeffreys, grocers, in 1709, Sir F. Forbes and Sir J. Eyles, haberdashers, in 1725, Sir R. Baylis and Sir R. Brocas successively with H. Parsons, all grocers, in 1728 and 1729, Sir R. Glyn and T. Chitty, salters, in 1758, Sir W. Stephenson and G. Nelson, grocers, in 1764, S. Turner and B. Trecothick, clothworkers, in 1768, after which date there is no similar case for more than a century.
During the last century the Mercers have been conspicuous by their absence from the roll of Aldermen; the Grocers and the Drapers also have been very sparingly represented, but each has contributed an Alderman of exceptional distinction in the persons respectively of Sir J. C. Dimsdale and J. T. Thorp. Of the twelve greater Companies, the Merchant Taylors, the Fishmongers, the Goldsmiths and the Haberdashers have been the most continuously connected in modern times with the Court of Aldermen, though in the case of the last named there was an interval of nearly half a century (1806–1855) in which no Alderman belonged to that Company, and the loss in the course of a few years by death or resignation of Sir R. Hanson, Sir J. W. Ellis, W. M. Guthrie and Sir F. S. Hanson has (it is to be hoped, only temporarily) deprived the Court of the presence of a Merchant Taylor.
At the present date (November, 1912) the greater Companies are represented by three Haberdashers, two Goldsmiths, a Fishmonger and a Vintner, six members of the Court out of twenty-six, Sir G. Truscott being both a Haberdasher and a Vintner. There is no member of the three senior Companies and there is a similar absence of the Skinners, Merchant Taylors, Salters. Ironmongers and Clothworkers. On the other hand the less historic Companies are strongly represented, many of the Aldermen belonging to several of them, the two most popular being the Loriners and the Spectaclemakers, the former of which has twelve and the latter eight of the present Court of Aldermen among its members.
With regard to the electorate by which the Aldermen were chosen, we have, as already noticed, the rather indefinite 'Men of the Ward' (Walbrook) choosing Alexander le Ferrun for their Alderman in 1249. (fn. 335) At the General Election of Aldermen before John le Breton, the Custos, in June, 1293, 'the wealthier and wiser men from each Ward' chose the Aldermen, 'each by their several Wards,' (fn. 336) but we are not told whether there was then any definite standard of wealth or of wisdom, (qualifications not invariably found in conjunction), the determination of which apparently was a matter for the discretion of the Custos. After this date the minutes of the elections, where (which is by no means regularly the case) the electorate is mentioned at all, record that the Aldermen are chosen by 'the men,' or 'the good men' of the Ward as in 1249. Some centuries later, disputes arose as to the right of non-freemen residing in the City to take part in the elections of Aldermen and Common Councilmen, and it was determined by an Act of Common Council on October 26, 1692, that they had not such right, (fn. 337) and the limitation to freemen was recognised in the Act of 1714 which in 'reviving the ancient manner of electing Aldermen' (to quote its official title) provided that in future each Alderman should 'be elected according to the ancient custom by the householders of that Ward which shall be void of an Alderman, being freemen of the said City, and paying scot and bearing lot.' (fn. 338) The freedom qualification was abolished in 1867, but the right of voting was still restricted to those rated as householders to the amount of £10, who are liable to serve ward and parish offices and on juries and so comply with the old requirement of 'paying scot and bearing lot.' (fn. 339)
At one time the Court of Aldermen assumed the same kind of relation to the Common Council which under Poynings' Act the English Parliament established towards the Irish. On June 12, 1618, it was determined that the Aldermen should 'debate and conclude all matters' before they were presented to the Common Council. (fn. 340) Again on March 10, 1642, there was a similar decree that no petition should be read or presented to the Common Council before it had been read and approved in the Court of Aldermen, (fn. 341) and on July 16, 1669, there was a further resolution that the Court of Aldermen should meet the day before the Common Council, when all bills, reports and matters to be preferred to the Common Council should be brought to the Court of Aldermen to be 'read, perused and considered.' (fn. 342) The Act of Parliament ' for regulating elections within the City of London and for preserving the peace, good order and good government of the said City' (1725) in order to put a 'final end to all disputes between the Mayor and Aldermen and the members of the Common Council' provided in its 15th clause that in future 'no act, order or ordinance whatsoever' should be made or passed in the Common Council without the assent of the Mayor and Aldermen present, or the major part of them, nor without the assent of the commons present.' (fn. 343) This Act was stoutly opposed both in Parliament and in the City by the Tory party, no doubt less from any regard for the abstract rights of the Commoners than from their realisation of the fact that at that time the Court of Aldermen had a Whig majority, while the heterogeneous opposition to the Walpole ministry was predominant in the Common Council. Had the question been debated half a century later, in the period of the Wilkes agitation and the American taxation troubles, we may be sure that every Tory would have supported the bill and every Whig would have opposed it. In the House of Lords it was proposed that the judges should be consulted as to whether the provisions of the bill were contrary to the Act 2, William and Mary, which quashed the Quo Warranto proceedings and restored to the City its ancient rights and privileges, and when this was rejected 16 Tory peers including Lords Bathurst, Bingley, Gower and Foley and Bishop Gastrell of Chester, signed a protest. A further protest signed by 22 peers was made on the passing of the third reading of the Bill, in one clause of which the signatories say that 'though the council [sic] for the Bill insisted that the Mayor and Aldermen had anciently that right which this Bill establishes, yet the proof of that right appeared to us so remote and obscure that we own ourselves too shortsighted to discern it and . . . it appeared plain to us that, even from the time, that of incorporating the City to the present time, such a claim has very seldom been made and that it has never been acknowledged.' (fn. 344) The Bill had been strenuously opposed in the Commons by three of the four City members, the only supporter being Alderman Sir Richard Hopkins, who was a steady adherent of the Whig ministry of Walpole.
A continuous agitation was kept up against the obnoxious provision, and in 1746 the clause was repealed by the statute 19, George II., c. 8. (fn. 345)
The changes in the personnel of the Court of Aldermen have for the most part been very regular in their recurrence, except in the cases where a newly elected Alderman has been discharged immediately or after a few days' or weeks' tenure. The vacancies by death and resignation have been usually from one to three each year, and it is only very rarely that an interval of more than two years has passed without the introduction of a new member to the Court. The longest period without a change has been the four years and a few days which intervened between the election of R. A. Cox on the last day of May, 1813, and that of J. T. Thorp in June, 1817. Next to this come those between J. Crowder and Sir P. Laurie (April, 1823-June 1826), between F. G. Moon and D. Salomons (October, 1844-December, 1847), and between T. S. Owden and T. White (April, 1868-April, 1871), all in the 19th century: the longest in earlier times being between J. de Stodeye and R. de Notyngham (July, 1352May, 1355), between W. Melreth and W. Russe (autumn of 1432–1435), and between Sir H. Waver and J. Warde (October, 1465-July, 1468).
A few years have been conspicuous for the mortality amongst Aldermen. In 1349, the year of the Black Death, R. Basyngstoke, G. Wychingham, W. Thorneye and J. Syward died in the months of May, June and July, and H. Darci in September or October: in 1485, R. Chester and Sir W. Haryot died in the earlier portion of the year, and in the autumn the 'sweating sickness' carried off in rapid succession Sir T. Hill, T. Breteyn, Sir W. Stokker, J. Stokker, T. Northland and R. Rawson. The five months between December, 1535, and May, 1536, were fatal to three ex-Lord Mayors (Sir T. Seymour, Sir R. Dodmer, Sir S. Pecocke), a fourth (Sir J. Milbourne) followed in the autumn, and two Aldermen below the Chair (J. Hardy and T. Colyns) died within the same period. The eleven months between December, 1555, and October, 1556, made an even larger inroad on the Aldermanic ranks, H. Herdson dying at the end of the former year, Sir Richard Dobbys on May 13, Sir William Laxton on July 29, Sir John Champneys, Sir Henry Huberthorn. Sir John Ayliff and Sir John Gresham in the month of October, four of the six being ex-Lord Mayors. Another fatal period was the year 1711, when Sir Richard Levett died on January 20, Sir Charles Duncombe on April 9, Sir Robert Bedingfeld on May 2, Sir Thomas Stampe on July 25, Sir Joseph Woolfe on September 10, Sir John Houblon following them on January 10, 1712, making a total of six (of whom five had occupied the Chair) within twelve months. The most fatal year since then was 1737, when Sir C. Peers died on January 29, Sir H. Hankey on January 30, R. Alsop on March 12, Sir Gerard Conyers on July 20, and Sir R. Brocas on November 7, of whom three were ex-Lord Mayors. In 1912 four ex-Lord Mayors died: Sirs H. D. Davies and J. T. Ritchie on September 18, and Sir J. W. Ellis on September 20, Sir J. C. Dimsdale having predeceased these on August 10: the two last named of these, however, had ceased to be Aldermen before their deaths.
Although it could not be expected that more than a small proportion of those who have been elected Aldermen of London would be men of national and permanent rather than of local and transient eminence, yet as many as 170 are deemed worthy of notice in our great literary valhalla the Dictionary of National Biography, (fn. 346) and when the names of some of those included are compared with some conspicuous by their absence, it is difficult to understand on what principle of selection such men as Thomas fitz-Thomas, Walter Hervi, Hamo de Chigwell, Richard Lyons, Sir Andrew Judde, Thomas Witherings, Sir Thomas Cooke (ii.), George Heathcote, John Barber, Sir Robert Godschall, Sir George Champion, Barlow Trecothick, Brackley Kennett, James Townsend, Frederick Bull, Sir Watkin Lewes, William Lee, Richard Atkinson and Harvey Christian Combe are denied admission to the sacred enclosure which finds room for Maria Manning (a personage more appropriately accommodated in the Tussaud Chamber of Horrors), and allots a larger space to Dan Leno than to that eminent Whig statesman, the late Lord Halifax (Sir Charles Wood). (fn. 347) In the footnotes to the names in the Chronological List in these volumes, I have pointed out omissions and errors in many of the notices of Aldermen which appear in that great work, because had I not specifically called attention to them, the great prestige of the Dictionary would, not unnaturally, secure unchallenged acceptance for its many misstatements of fact and date. In dealing with these far too numerous 'spots on the sun,' I have certainly not 'set down aught in malice,' and I have called special attention to such excellent specimens of biography as the articles, e.g., on Richard Chambers, Sir R. Gresham, Sir C. Hoddesdon, Sir Thomas White, Whittington, Wilkes, Rowland Wilson and Sir S. Waterlow.
The roll of Aldermen contains, it is true, few names like those of Walworth and Wilkes and Whittington, of which the last is known in every child's nursery and the others are familiar not only to 'every schoolboy' as Macaulay would say, but to 'the man in the street.'
But to the historical student there are many others which are of interest and which he cannot afford to overlook. In the early struggles of civic parties *Thomas fitz Thomas, *Walter Hervi, *Henry le Waleys, *Gregory de Rokesle were men, if not 'of light ' at least 'of leading.' In the later days of Edward II. and Richard II., in the varied phases of the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster and especially at the crisis of 1483 and Richard of Gloucester's coup d'état. amid the troubles of the Civil War and the Commonwealth, at the era of the Restoration and the Revolution, in the years when ' the great Walpolean battle' was being fought in parliament and in the country, and again when George III. was striving to subdue the great Whig families, and in the agitation which preceded the Reform Bill, the protagonists in the arena of civic politics in London were not unconnected, some creditably and some the reverse, with the course of events of national moment. In their turns *Hamo de Chigwell, *Richard de Betoyne, Richard Lyons, *John Philipot, *John de Northampton, *Nicholas Brembre, *Thomas Cook (i.), *Edmund Shaa, Richard Rede, Richard Chambers, William Abell, *Abraham Reynardson, *Robert Tichborne, John Barkstead, Rowland Wilson, *Christopher Pack, John Wildman, *Richard Browne, *Robert Clayton, *John Moore, *Thomas Pilkington, Dudley North, Henry Cornish, *Humphrey Edwin, *Gilbert Heathcote, *John Barnard, George Heathcote, *Humphrey Parsons, *William Beckford, *Brass Crosby, *Barlow Trecothick, Richard Oliver, *James Townsend, *John Sawbridge, *Harvey Combe, *Samuel Birch, *William Curtis, *Matthew Wood, *Robert Waithman, *Henry Winchester in their several degrees took a prominent part in the public life of their times: 'they had their day and ceased to be,' but their disembodied phantoms still flit across the page of history and arrest the attention of the careful researcher into the records of the past.
Those marked thus * were Lord Mayors.
And it is not only in political life, whether civic or national, that Aldermen of London have played a conspicuous part or done deeds at least as worthy of remembrance. The roll of founders and benefactors at Oxford is enriched with the revered name of *Thomas White, whose memory not Oxford only, but Bristol, Coventry and the great school of the Merchant Taylors have reason to cherish. The notice of him in the Dictionary of National Biography has been fittingly written by a distinguished alumnus of the College which he founded and endowed in the University of Oxford, Archdeacon Hutton. Cambridge owes her Arabic Professorship to the bounty of *Sir Thomas Adams.
Of *Andrew Judde, *William Harper, *William Laxton, *John Gresham, Erasmus Smith, it may be said that the good they did 'lives after them,' and was not 'interred with their bones': the fame of the four first-named of these is perpetuated at Tonbridge, at Bedford, at Oundle, and at Holt, and few names hold a higher place in the history of national education in Ireland than that of the fifth. And in connexion with 'schools and seminaries of useful learning' as they are styled in the Bidding Prayer, we ought not to forget *Henry Billingsley, the first translator into English of Euclid's Elements, that familiar text book, so long the bane of the idle schoolboy, now at length by the superior enlightenment of the 20th century relegated to the scrap heap of educational derelicts, while the young tiro in geometry substitutes for the harder task of essaying the tortuous passage of the pons asinorum the pleasanter pastime of pottering with a protractor and measuring lines on squared paper. (fn. 348)
Others, besides the above, deserve remembrance for acts of munificence and charity in various directions: such are Simon fitz-Mary, *John Wodecok, *William sevenoke, *Robert Chichele, *Simon Eyre, *Stephen Jenyns, *George Monoux, *Rowland Hill, *Richard Dobbys, *Thomas Offley, *Wolstan Dixie, Henry Smith, William Adams, John Moore, the elder Henry Ashhurst, John Cass, some of whose names live enshrined for ever in the deathless pages of quaint old Fuller. And with such men as these I trust it is not invidious to name one still living, for we may be sure that the Recording Angel has written as 'one who loves his fellow-men' the name of *William Purdie Treloar, who has done so much to gladden the hearts and brighten the lives of so many thousands of poor and afflicted children.
And many more deserve to be recorded for their place among the eminent merchant princes of their day, as *John Welles, John Crosby, *Henry Colet (the father of the great Dean of St. Paul's), *William Hewet, *John Spencer, *Richard Saltonstall, *Thomas Lowe, Richard Staper, before the close of the 16th century. When the East India Company was first established, the original Governor (T. Smyth) and DeputyGovernor (W. Romeney) and eight other of its original 'Committees' (the predecessors of the 'Directors' of later times) were actual or future Aldermen, as also were sixteen of its Governors during the first century of its existence, as well as eight DeputyGovernors who did not pass to the higher Chair. Of another great commercial corporation, the Levant or Turkey Company, the Governors during the first seventy years of the 17th century were all Aldermen of London, and when the South Sea Company was incorporated in the Reign of Anne, the Sub-Governor and five others of the original Directors were also actual or future members of the Court.
The great goldsmiths of the 17th century, the predecessors of the modern bankers, contributed *Thomas and *Robert Vyner, Francis Meynell, Edward Backwell, *Charles Duncombe to the Aldermanic ranks: the great banking houses of later days have been represented by the first *Francis Child and his two sons, Robert and *Francis, by two of *the Hoares and two of *the Glyns, three of the Hankeys, *Thomas Hallifax, *Robert Ladbroke, *William Curtis, Robert Williams, and in very recent years by two of the most popular Lord Mayors, *Robert Fowler and *Joseph Dimsdale.
When the Bank of England was founded its first Governor (*Sir John Houblon) was an Alderman, and in its first forty years its Directorate included Sirs *J. Ward, *J. Bateman, F. Eyles, *Gilbert Heathcote, *P. Delmé, *G. Conyers, T. Scawen, *E. Bellamy (Governors) as well as Sirs James Houblon, *W. Gore, H. Furnese, *T. Abney, W. Hedges (all members of the first Board), *W. Ashhurst, *R. Levett, *R. Clayton, *C. Peers, *G. Thorold, R. Knipe, *John Eyles, Joseph Eyles, *W. Humphreys, *F. Forbes, F. Porten, *J. Thompson and the unknighted C. Chamberlain and R. Alsop.
Nor ought we to pass over the few Aldermen who have devoted some of their leisure to recording the annals of the City or of the country. Chief amongst these, of course, is Robert Fabyan, but we must not forget the good work done by Arnold fitzThedmar in the 13th and by William Gregory in the 15th centuries, to both of whom the historian of later times owes a deep debt. In the centuries to come it may be that the young researcher in civic history will feel grateful for the unpretentious but sound and useful work of one who has only recently been received into the ranks of the order in which as a commoner he evinced so keen and fruitful an interest. (fn. 349)
And in addition those who have attained celebrity either by their course of action as public men or by their prominent position in the world of commerce or of finance or by munificence in life or by posthumous benefactions, there have been not a few among the Aldermen of London who deserve remembrance either as founders of great families or as ancestors of eminent warriors and statesmen. In an appendix to Part III. of his Citizens of London and their Rulers, the late B. B. Orridge traced the descent of many such illustrious Englishmen from an Aldermanic ancestor, and the biographical notes in these volumes will show that Orridge's list is capable of considerable expansion.
Francis Bacon numbered among his ancestors *Sir Thomas Cook, John Hawes and Sir William Fitzwilliam, from the last named of whom sprang the noble family which bears his name, as well as Lord Cardigan, the hero of Balaklava. Cook was also ancestor to two chief Ministers of the Crown, Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, and his illustrious descendant and namesake, the late Marquess of Salisbury, who was likewise descended from another Chief Magistrate, *Sir Crisp Gascoyne. Of Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal since Bacon, Lord Keeper Coventry was descended from *John Coventre, Lord Cowper (and his descendants the poet William Cowper and the late Earl, who governed Ireland in the stormy period of 1880-1882) from Sir William Cowper, Earl Bathurst from Lancelot Bathurst and Sir Benjamin Bathurst; Lord Hatherley was the son of Sir Matthew Wood. Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden could both claim descent from *Thomas Mirfyn and *Sir Ralph Warren. Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, could trace his ancestry to *Sir Thomas Leigh and *Sir George Bonde: so also could Marlborough and his descendants, amongst whom are reckoned the Earls Spencer (Pitt's First Lord of the Admiralty, Grey's Chancellor of the Exchequer [the Althorp of the Reform Bill period], the 'Red Earl' and the present possessor of the title who prefaced his best-remembered speech to a delighted House of Commons with the assurance that he was 'not an agricultural labourer,') the late Lord Randolph Churchill, the political 'comet of a season,' and his hardly less famous son, who has played so many parts and is now 'the ruler of the King's navee,' and who will live in history as the patentee of an immortal euphemistic circumlocution: from the same stock spring the later Dukes of Leeds, the first to bear which title, better known as Danby, Charles II.'s chief minister, was the great-grandson of *Sir Edward Osborne, whose romantic alliance with the daughter of *Sir William Hewett is too well-known to need record here. Sir Thomas Leigh was, moreover, the ancestor not only of the present Lord Leigh and his predecessors in title (both of the elder line which he represents and of the younger which was ennobled earlier, but whose peerage has been long extinct), but also of Chatham and the younger Pitt.
Those marked thus * were Mayors or Lord Mayors.
*Geoffrey Boleyn was a direct ancestor of Henry VIII.'s queen, Anne Boleyn, (the mother of Queen Elizabeth) and also, through Anne's sister, of Nelson and of the Earls of Kimberley. William Pulteney, the leader of the Parliamentary opposition to Walpole, who in 1742 made 'the great refusal,' was descended, as also is the present Marquess of Crewe, from *Sir John de Pulteney. Walpole himself was fourth in descent from *Sir Edward Barkham, and married the daughter of *Sir John Shorter, by whom he was the father of the dilettante Horace of Strawberry Hill. Sir Baptist Hicks (afterwards Viscount Campden) was ancestor of a great poet and of a great admiral (Byron and Howe) as well as of the Earls of Essex of the present line, who are in direct descent from *Sir William Capell, who was also ancestor to the Dukes of Bolton and the Marquesses of Winchester. The Lords Petre have two Lord Mayors as ancestors (*Sir John Browne and his son *William Browne): the Richs, Earls of Warwick and of Holland, were descended from *Sir Thomas Baldry: *Sir William Hollyes was the founder of the family from which sprang Denzil Holles, the parliamentary leader (one of the 'five members' of 1642), and the two Prime Ministers, Henry Pelham and that Duke of Newcastle whose ineptitudes have been immortalized by Macaulay. The second Earl of Manchester (associated as Lord Kimbolton with 'the five members'), from whom the Dukes of Manchester are descended, was grandson of the daughter of Francis Bowyer. The Marquesses of Bath trace descent from *Sir Rowland Heyward and from *Sir Richard Gresham, the latter of whom was also an ancestor of the Lords Braybrooke. The first Earl of Dorset (Thomas Sackville), eminent alike as a politician and as the author of the first English tragedy, (fn. 350) was the grandson of *Sir John Brugge. From Francis Dashwood descended his namesake (Lord le Despencer), who not inaccurately described himself as the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that had ever held the office, and also the Earls of Warwick of the existing line.
The Earls and Marquesses of Northampton, Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington (nominal Prime Minister after Walpole) and Henry Compton, Bishop of London, were descended from the first Earl of Northampton who (when Lord Compton) eloped with the heiress of rich *Sir John Spencer: ancestor of the Earls of Ducie was *Sir Robert Ducye: *Thomas Leggy is claimed as the founder of the family of Legge, Earls of Dartmouth, which includes Henry Legge, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the pious 2nd Earl who was Secretary of State under North ('one who wears a coronet and prays') and more than one Bishop. Among the descendants of *Sir William Cokayne were the Viscounts Cullen, the Dukes and Earls of Ancaster and the Earls of Pomfret: from *Sir Peter Probie sprang the Earls of Carysfort; the later Earls of Kinnoul and Lords Rodney are in lineal descent from *Thomas Harley; Viscount Lake, the Indian General, and the Dukes of Chandos from *Sir William Ryder.
It will be seen from the foregoing summary, which is far from exhausting the material, that the genealogical, no less than the purely historical, researcher may find a field by no means barren in a study of the Aldermen of London.
The exigencies of space preclude me from dealing with the history of the Aldermen of London in relation to political movements and questions of party otherwise than very briefly. To treat of it adequately would require a separate monograph. The more comprehensive subject, however, of the relation of the civic history of London to the general history of England has been dealt with by Dr. Sharpe with a master's hand in London and the Kingdom, and it covers much of the same ground.
As a general rule the City of London has been on the democratic or 'popular' side, as is usually the case with capital cities, and for the most part, though not invariably, the Aldermen have reflected the views of the community. We have the high authority— which in this case, however, is altogether erroneous—of the late Professor Gardiner for the statement that the leader of the first historical popular émeute in the City, William fitz-Osbert ('Longbeard') was 'one of the Aldermen' of London, (fn. 351) a statement which the learned Professor must have evolved from his inner consciousness, as it has absolutely no foundation. In the struggles of Henry III.'s reign, while the populace appear to have sympathised with the cause of the Barons, which was upheld by some of the Aldermen as fitz-Thomas, Thovi and Stephen Bukerel, the majority of the Court sided with the King, the leaders of that party being Gregory de Rokesle, Henry le Waleys, Arnold fitz-Thedmar the chronicler, (whose distinctly prejudiced pen is responsible for one of the chief authorities on the civic history of the period), John Adrien and John Gisors. After fitz-Thomas' disappearance from the scene (fn. 352) his mantle fell on Walter Hervi, whom Dr. Sharpe describes as a 'worthy successor' to him, (fn. 353) a phrase which is patient of more than one meaning. After his Mayoralty, during which he carried out a democratic policy with a high hand, affixing the City Seal to certain ordinances for the regulation of the crafts on his own responsibility, he was succeeded by Rokesle who annulled his acts, and after some unseemly personal wrangles brought a formal accusation against him of committing divers 'presumptuous acts and injuries' and thus secured his ejection from his Aldermanry. During 13 years of Edward I.'s reign (1285–1298), in consequence of Rokesle's act of discourtesy to the King's Justiciars at the Iter of the former year, the City was in the hands of the King and ruled by a Custos appointed by him. In the troubles at the end of Edward II.'s reign the City at first supported the King against the Barons and contributed men to the royal forces which won the Battle of Boroughbridge (1321). But at the end of the reign the City went over to the side of Isabella and Mortimer, Richard de Betoyn and John de Gisors being the leaders of the majority in the Court of Aldermen, while Hamo de Chigwell, whom one of the Aldermen of the other party (John Cotun) described in language more powerful than polite as 'pessimus vermis qui venit in civitate [sic] jam xx annis elapsis et amplius,' represented the King. (fn. 354)
In the reign of Richard II. the struggles between the victualling trades (Grocers, Fishmongers, Vintners) on one side and the non-victualling (Mercers, Drapers, Goldsmiths, Skinners) on the other became of national importance, as being closely associated with and ultimately to some extent merged in the feud between the supporters of the King and those of his uncles John of Gaunt and Thomas of Woodstock. The victualling party led by Brembre, Walworth, (fn. 355) Philipot and Exton were adherents of the King: their opponents under the leadership of John of Northampton, John More, Twyford and Norbury received the countenance of the Royal Dukes, and supported their policy. It is a curious fact that at the time of Wat Tyler's insurrection four Aldermen, Horne, Sibyle, Tonge, Karlill, who all more or less openly sympathised with the rebels, (Horn going to Tyler's camp at Blackheath and encouraging him to enter London, Tonge and Sibyle opening respectively Aldgate and the gate on London Bridge to the invaders), and who were subsequently put on trial for complicity with them but acquitted through absence of witnesses, belonged to the victualling guilds, Horn and Sibyle being fishmongers, Tonge a vintner and Sibyle a grocer, whereas Walworth, the Mayor, whose part in the suppression of the rising is historic, was also a fishmonger, and this and the allied trades were usually on the side of the King. (fn. 356) It is also strange that at a later period when Northampton and his party were on their trial, it was alleged that John More, a mercer and one of Northampton's chief allies, had secured the acquittal of Horn and the others by ensuring the suppression of evidence against them. The course of the struggle between the two parties is traced by Dr. Sharpe (fn. 357) and it is not necessary to deal with it here: each party had its periods of triumph and of defeat. Brembre was put to death by the Merciless Parliament during the ascendency of Gloucester (Thomas of Woodstock); Northampton, More and Norbury had been earlier condemned to death when their opponents had the upper hand, but their sentences were commuted to perpetual imprisonment from which they were ultimately freed. Loftie regards Brembre as a sort of monster of unscrupulousness, but it would be difficult to assign the palm for that particular characteristic to either Brembre or Northampton. Revolutions, political or civic, were not made with rose-water in those days. 'Autres temps, autres mœurs.' Neither party is likely to hang Mr. Asquith or to send Mr. Bonar Law or even Sir Edward Carson to perpetual imprisonment in the 20th century, but there is a good deal of human nature— especially party human nature—in the party politician, and those who read recent history with a dispassionate eye may reasonably doubt whether the leaders of party majorities are less disposed now than in the days of Brembre and Northampton to make a tyrannous use of a temporary triumph, or more scrupulous as to the available means by which such triumphs are to be obtained.
The contests between the opposing guilds continued in a less acute form throughout the reign of Richard II. In 1389 there was a keen contest for the Mayoralty, Venour (grocer) defeating Adam Bamme (goldsmith). During the first thirteen years, at the elections from 1377 to 1389 inclusive, a member of one of the non-victualling guilds had been chosen Mayor only at those of 1381, 1382 and 1388: during the remaining nine years grocers were elected in 1392 and 1393 and a vintner in 1395, the choice in the other six falling on one of the opposite party. In the Court of Aldermen the victualling guilds had the majority in the four years 1377–1380 and again in 1384–1387 inclusive, after which their opponents outnumbered them.
During the Wars of the Roses the sympathies of the City and of the majority of the Aldermen were with the Yorkists. Sir T. Cook, the most prominent Lancastrian Alderman, was removed by the King's orders in November, 1468: Sir J. Plomer, another Lancastrian, had been ejected in July on a charge of treason, and H. Hayford was also 'exonerated' at the King's command in December, and presumably for political reasons, as he was restored to the Court with Cook on the return of Henry VI. at the end of 1470, after which Cook presided in it as Deputy-Mayor, Stockton, the actual Mayor, feigning illness. In June, 1471, Cook was promptly removed again on Edward IV.'s return, (fn. 358) but Hayford was not disturbed. On the death of Edward IV. the then Mayor, Edmund Shaa, was conspicuous as a partizan of the Duke of Gloucester, and his brother (Ralph Shaa), a popular preacher, used the pulpit at St. Paul's Cross to denounce the late King's marriage as illegal and his children thereby incapable of succeeding.
In 1545 an Alderman, Richard Rede, who resisted Henry VIII.'s demand on the citizens for a 'benevolence,' was punished in a novel way by being sent off to serve with the army then invading Scotland, where he was taken prisoner by the enemy almost immediately in a skirmish at Jedworth, and held to ransom.
In Edward VI.'s reign the City took the side of Warwick (afterwards Duke of Northumberland) in the struggle for power with Protector Somerset, and materially assisted him in effecting the latter's overthrow. When at the end of the reign Edward was induced to name Lady Jane Grey as his successor, Northumberland was able to persuade the Mayor (Sir G. Barne) and several Aldermen, including Sir J. Gresham, Sir A. Judde and Sir R. Dobbys, who had passed the Chair, to attest the will. Barne, however, took no part in Jane's proclamation, and when Mary entered the City she met with no opposition.
At the end of Elizabeth's reign Alderman Thomas Smyth, who was then Sheriff, gave some encouragement to the foolish insurrection of Essex and was in consequence deprived of both his civic offices.
At the beginning of the troubles in Charles I.'s reign, which ended in the Civil War, the majority of the Aldermen resisted the King's unconstitutional means of raising money, but the most prominent civic opponents of the Court as Richard Chambers and John Wollaston, who took the lead in resistance to Shipmoney, were not then, though they became later, members of the Aldermanic body. In May, 1640, four Aldermen, N. Rainton, J. Gayer, T. Soame, and T. Atkyn (of whom only the last-named took part against the King after war had broken out), were committed to prison for refusing to furnish lists of inhabitants in their respective wards able to contribute to a forced loan. Sir Henry Garaway, the Lord Mayor of that year, Acton next in seniority, Gurney, Cordell and Adams were unswerving royalists: so also was Reynardson, elected Alderman at the end of the year, but a strong opposition element was being formed: Atkyn, Penington and Wollaston, who were added to the Court in 1638 and 1639, were prominent Roundheads, and their ranks were augmented during the next four years by the elections of Towse, Andrewes, Fowke, Chambers, Foot, Kendricke, Edmunds, Avery and Bide. In April, 1649, the Roundhead majority having been further reinforced in the meantime by the elections of Thomas Vyner, C. Pack, J. Dathick and Rowland Wilson, five Cavalier Aldermen were ejected by the House of Commons—the Lord Mayor (Sir J. Gayer), Adams, Langham, Bunce and Reynardson: on May 30 and June 1 Soame and Chambers, who had absented themselves from the proclamation of the abolition of the Kingship, were also removed, and a few days later W. Gibbs was similarly ejected, (fn. 359) and in December Richard Browne, who had fought against Charles I., but whose strong Presbyterianism could not brook the triumph of the Independents who formed the bulk of the New Model Army, was also expelled. Under the Commonwealth the majority of the new Aldermen elected were opportunists, ready to acquiesce in, and indeed to promote, a restoration of the monarchy when opportunity should offer, but also equally ready to adopt the existing status quo. Such were R. Chiverton, T. Alleyn, J. Frederick, J. Robinson (the nephew of Archbishop Laud), A. Bateman; some regicides, however, as Tichborne and Barkstead, and strong Parliamentarians as J. Ireton, brother of Cromwell's son-in-law, and W. Love were also chosen at this period. After Cromwell's death some undisguised Royalists as T. Bludworth, W. Peake, W. Bolton, W. Wale were added, and when the movement for the Restoration was initiated the City co-operated with Monk in bringing it about. When Charles sent over the Declaration of Breda with a letter to the Common Council on May 1, sixteen Commissioners were appointed to wait on the King with the Council's answer: among whom were four of the displaced Aldermen of 1649 (Adams, Langham, Bunce and Reynardson), (fn. 360) also Aldermen Foot (who declined), Robinson, Wale and A. Bateman.
After the King's return one Alderman (Robert Tichborne, ex-Lord Mayor) and three ex-Aldermen (Isaac Penington, ex-Lord Mayor, John Barkstead and Edmond Harvey) were attainted by Act 12, Car. II., c. 30, of whom Barkstead was executed and the other three were imprisoned for life. By the earlier Act of Oblivion passed in the same session (1660) [12, Car. II., c. 12, sect. 42] Aldermen Christopher Pack and John Ireton (ex-Lord Mayors) were excepted by name from the benefits of that Act if after September 1, 1660, they should accept or execute any office, ecclesiastical, civil or military: hence they ceased from that date to act as Aldermen. (fn. 361) Section 43 of the Act further excluded from office any who since December 5, 1648 (the date of 'Pride's Purge') had given sentences of death on any person in the so-called High Courts of Justice or had signed any warrant for carrying out such sentences: under the operation of this section Aldermen Foot, Vyner and Dethick (ex-Lord Mayors) were removed. On September 4 the six surviving deprived Royalist Aldermen (Soame, Browne and the four named in the preceding paragraph) were restored by order of the King, but Langham and Bunce at once resigned and Reynardson not long after. The Corporation Act of 1661 (Car. II., c. 2) empowered the King to appoint Commissioners with authority to remove from office in the Corporations and appoint successors to any whose removal they should deem expedient for the public safety. Under the provisions of this Act the King's Commissioners removed William Love and Tempest Milner, substituting for them Sir Thomas Bludworth and William Turner. The Court of Aldermen was now strongly Royalist, the majority of its members being thorough-going 'Church and King' men, but there was a small minority under the leadership of Sir J. Lawrence, who favoured the Nonconformists. There is an interesting MS. account of the Aldermen drawn up in the early months of 1672 giving from a bigoted courtier and Churchman's point of view the characters of the Aldermen of that date, from which extracts are given in the biographical notes on the Aldermen in this volume (pp. 182–191). (fn. 362) During the agitation over the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Bill the general feeling of the City was against the Duke of York and the Romanists, but the Exclusiouists could only reckon on a small minority in the Court of Aldermen. The story of the fierce contests at Mayoral and Shrieval elections in 1680, 1681 and 1682, and of the events that led up to the suspension of the Charter in 1683, is narrated in detail by Dr. Sharpe, and forms an interesting chapter in civic history. (fn. 363)
From 1683 to 1688, the eight opposition Aldermen (Alleyn, Frederick, Lawrence, Clayton, Ward, Gold, Shorter, Cornish) having been removed, the Court of Aldermen became exclusively Tory, to use the name which had just come into vogue to denote the supporters of the Duke of York. But this monotonous unanimity did not last long. When James II. had determined on suspending the Test and Corporation Acts, he found himself strongly opposed by those ultra 'Church and King' men, whose affection for the King and devotion to his wishes were subordinate to their firm attachment to the Established Church and horror of 'Popery': hence James found or thought it necessary in 1687 to remove the Tory Aldermen wholesale and fill their places mainly with Whigs and Dissenters. Sir P. Rich was got rid of in March: Sir J. Herne, Sir W. Russell and Sir B. Newland followed in June, and in August ten more, including such tried supporters of High Church Toryism as Sir W. Turner, Sir W. Prichard, Sir J. Moore, Sir S. Dashwood, their successors including such staunch Whigs as H. Edwin, W. Ashhurst, Sir J. Eyles, C. Chamberlain and W. Jolliffe.
In 1688 the Charter was restored: the survivors of the Aldermen who had held office in 1683 resumed their positions, of whom 14 were Tories and 4 Whigs, four more of each side being elected to fill vacancies. (fn. 364) As further vacancies arose by death or resignation, the Whig strength was reinforced, and by the end of 1690 the two parties were equalised. By the end of William III.'s reign the Tories had recovered the majority, but a succession of Whig gains between 1702 and 1710 left the relative strength at 16 Whigs to 9 Tories. In the last years of Anne, during the Tory reaction which was induced by the Sacheverell trial, the Whigs resorted to various devices to retain their lead: the scrutinies in the Wardmotes were conducted with scandalous partiality by Whig Lord Mayors, (fn. 365) and when Sir Joseph Lawrence, a Tory, was returned for Bishopsgate in place of a Whig, the Aldermen of the latter party either did not attend meetings of the Court or walked out so as to prevent by the want of a quorum the admission of the newcomer. At the accession of George I. the Whig Aldermen numbered 14 to 12, and their lead was increased during the reign, before the end of which the numbers were 17 to 9. Then came the great struggle against Walpole, when the tide of popular feeling in the City ran strongly against the Prime Minister, though he retained a small majority of supporters in the Court of Aldermen. In 1742, when Walpole's ministry came to an end, he was still supported in that Court by 14 to 12. Great party disputes arose over the Mayoralty. In 1739 Sir George Champion, the senior Alderman, having voted in Parliament for Walpole's Excise Bill and the Spanish Convention, was opposed, and the next below him, Sir J. Salter, being also a Whig, the opposition nominated Sir R. Godschall and placed him at the head of the poll, with Salter second: the Court, however, elected Salter. In 1740 Champion did not demand a poll, but the Court elected the second in seniority, George Heathcote, who also was a violent anti-Walpolean, in preference to Godschall, by 11 votes to 8. Heathcote refused to serve, and at the next Common Hall H. Parsons, who had already passed the Chair and was a Jacobite, was returned with Godschall, when 12 Whig Aldermen voted for Parsons and 11 Tories and anti-Walpoleans (including both candidates) for Godschall. Parsons accepted office but died before the expiration of his year, and in March, 1741, Godschall was again returned with an ex-Lord Mayor, Sir John Barnard. The Whig majority chose Barnard, who refused to accept: then Daniel Lambert, the next Tory on the list, was returned with Godschall, two Whigs who came between them in seniority being passed over. Again by 13 to 10 the Whigs rejected Godschall. (fn. 366) However, at the close of Lambert's term in October, 1741, Godschall, who had been again returned with George Heathcote, was allowed to occupy the Chair without further opposition.
In the later years of George II. the Aldermen and the Common Council were united in their admiration of the policy and vigorous administration of the elder Pitt, of whom William Beckford was the mouth-piece in the Corporation and in parliament. After the accession of George III. the City went into violent opposition to Bute, the King's favourite, and took up the cause of Wilkes with great zeal and clamour. Many of the Aldermen, led by Thomas Harley, favoured the King's policy. Angry addresses and remonstrances were sent up by the Common Council to the King and the strained relations culminated in the violation of precedent and it may be added of common decency, by Beckford's impromptu reply to the King's reproof of the remonstrants. During the heats engendered by the Wilkes agitation and the opposition in London to the American policy of the government, the ordinary course of succession to the Mayoral Chair had been again interrupted. In 1769, in order to secure the rejection of Sir Henry Bankes, the next on the rota (who was a 'King's man'), Beckford, who was one of the senior Aldermen and had already served as Lord Mayor, was nominated with Trecothick, the next Whig below Bankes, and they were returned. The Court of Aldermen, in which the King's party had a majority, chose Beckford by 16 to 6, expecting that he would refuse a second term of office and so necessitate a fresh election, in which hope, however, they were disappointed, as although he at first declined, he finally consented to accept the Mayoralty. On Beckford's death Trecothick was chosen to serve out the remainder of his term: in 1770 Brass Crosby, another of the 'popular' Aldermen was elected, but in 1771 the King's party succeeded in returning W. Nash at the head of the poll. In the next four years Townsend, Bull, Wilkes and Sawbridge, all strong opposition candidates, were elected Mayors, after which the natural order of succession was resumed. Civic politics had been much complicated by the personal quarrels in the Whig ranks, some of the leaders of that party, including Townsend, Sawbridge and Oliver, (fn. 367) with whom the demagogue parson, Horne (afterwards Horne-Tooke), was associated, denouncing Wilkes' personal character, though still adhering to the cause he represented. Wilkes was supported by Bull and received also the more valuable adherence of Junius, who in the energy of his vituperative warfare was more than a match even for Horne.
The City, including both Aldermen and Common Council, took a strong part in support of Pitt against the Coalition of 1783, and continued to adhere to his administration through the Regency Bill dispute and at the beginning of the French war of 1793. Soon afterwards the majority of the Livery became very violently Whig, while the government retained and indeed strengthened its majority in the Court of Aldermen. At the end of the century the Whig strength in that Court consisted of Aldermen Pickett, Skinner, Combe, Newman, Macauley and Sir W. Staines: old-fashioned Whigs like Sir W. Lewes, N. Newnham, Sir W. Plomer and G. Hibbert dissociating themselves from the extreme Foxite party. The Radical orators of the Common Council, Matthew Wood, Samuel Goodbehere and Robert Waithman were transferred to the Court of Aldermen between 1807 and 1818, and many more moderate Liberals also were added to that body in the early years of the 19th century. The City was strongly on the side of Queen Caroline and afterwards energetically supported the Reform Bill. The majority of the Aldermen, however, were opposed to interfering with the ordinary course of the Mayoralty by re-electing Sir. John Key in 1831, as a reward for his Reforming zeal. He was returned three times with a Whig colleague—Aldermen Thorp, Thompson and Kelly successively—and on the first two occasions the Court seated his rival, the voting being 13 to 10 for Thorp, and 12 to 6 for Thompson, Key being finally chosen by 10 to 4 in the last division, 11 Aldermen not voting. Reformers as well as Tories were found voting against Koy in the two first divisions: the four stalwarts who held out at the last were Aldermen Sir C. Flower, Birch, Atkins and Winchester. (fn. 368)
After the Reform Bill politics gradually ceased to influence either the elections of Aldermen and Councilmen or their action as such after election. For practically three quarters of a century the members of the Corporation of London—both the 'Upper' and the 'Lower' House—have been chosen quite irrespective of party considerations, and in that respect it has presented a striking contrast to the Corporations of all other large towns and most of the smaller ones throughout the country. It is universally recognised that it is 'bad form' for a candidate or his supporters in a contest for an Aldermanry or a seat in the Common Council to refer or allude to his opinions on matters of Imperial policy. It is no doubt possible in the case of most of the Aldermen, as in the case of other public men, to infer from their action at parliamentary elections or in other matters outside the Guildhall and the Wardmotes what their political opinions are; and in the case of those who take no prominent part in other than purely civic questions, the Clubs to which they belong may afford an indication, but only a person of singularly developed powers of intuitive perception could find any data on which to base a deduction as to the political views of individual Aldermen from a careful study of their speeches and votes on the questions which alone come before them in their capacity as members of the Corporation. (fn. 369)
In one respect the Corporation of London is more democratic than any other similar body. The whole Common Council is elected annually instead of being renewed only as to a third portion each year, as is the case in provincial borough councils, or in bulk triennially like the London County Council.
The Aldermen retain their seats for life, unless they voluntarily resign or are removed for good and sufficient cause, of which there has been only one instance since the restoration of the Charter in 1688. That system has been in force now for more than five centuries, and it is difficult to see what practical objection can be made to it. As a rule those who find themselves becoming incapacitated by age, infirmity, or a growing indisposition to give due attention to their duties, tender their resignations of their own accord, and it would be easier to find instances of over-sensitiveness and excessive conscientiousness depriving the Court of honoured members who can ill be spared than of inconvenience to the public service caused by a contrary course of action. The days of Alderman Bridgen—who, by the way, was a 'popular' Alderman 'agin the Government' and a supporter of Wilkes—are over, and cannot be recalled in the 20th century. If that worthy who, after passing the Chair, retired into the country, and during fifteen years thereafter appeared at Guildhall only once or twice, except when he came up to give a party vote for a Whig Recorder, (fn. 370) were to be restored to the Court of Aldermen now and evince a similar conception of his responsibilities and his duties, we may rest assured that public opinion would very soon prove too strong for him.
In a history of a corporate body or any similar institution extending over many centuries, it is necessarily possible to find examples of unworthy members and of actions both morally reprehensible and practically disastrous. The British House of Commons, which we have been taught to regard as the fine flower of representative institutions, (a flower whose bloom seems to be fast fading), would not come out unscathed from a rigid examination on such points, and even the London County Council, in the heyday of its youthful Progressive exuberance, was not altogether free from the presence of 'undesirables.' But the grand old Corporation of London, and especially the elder branch of it with which the present writer has dealt in this work, venerable in its antiquity, and not inglorious in its associations, may look back with no small measure of satisfaction on the record of its past history, a record in the main of public spirit and public usefulness. It has emerged unharmed more than once or twice in safety and with renewed youth from storms which at one time threatened to overwhelm it. When similar storms lower menacingly again it can, with the recollection of the dangers it has hitherto surmounted, say to its members, 'O passi graviora, dabit Deus his quoque finem,' to the bitterest of its enemies 'Contempsi Catilinæ gladios, non pertimescam tuos,' and proud of the traditions of a thousand years, it may look forward to the future with hope and confidence of carrying on those traditions in centuries that are yet to come.
'The torch that we took from our elders' grasp, we are passing along undimmed and clear; Through constant succession of later hands, may it still gleam brightly from year to year!'
20th December, 1912.