Concerning the ALDERMEN.


ALDERMAN signifies in the Saxon Language Senior, or an Elder Person: for Alde is Old. So that Alderman answers to Senator among the Romans. Yet in Aldermen the Old Age of the Mind is more to be regarded, than of the Body, and the Gravity of Manners rather than Antiquity of Years. Whence in the old Laws of King Knute and other Saxon Kings, he was called Alderman who is now called Judge or Justitiary, as appears in the Book of Customs. But in many other Laws of St. Edward, they who are now called Justices, were termed Lagemanni, Lawmen.

Alderman, what it signifies. Lib. Alb.

These Aldermen were also called as well in Name as Honour, Barones. For it is found about the Year 1350, that in the Burial of Aldermen, that honourable ancient Custom was observed, viz. that in the Church where an Alderman was to be buried, one armed with his Arms, bearing in his hand a Standard, on an Horse with trappings, carried aloft his Shield, Helmet and his other Arms with the Standard, as the Manner yet is, of burying the Lords Barons. But by reason of sudden and frequent Changes of the Aldermen, and often Plagues, by little and little the Custom vanished in London. But by this it appears, how great Honour was in former Times given to Aldermen.

They were Barons.

For none was accepted for Aldermen unless he were without Deformity in Body, wise and discreet in Mind, wealthy, honourable, faithful, free, and of no base or servile Condition; that no Disgrace, which might happen to him upon the Account of his Birth, might thence redound on the rest of the Aldermen, or the whole City. And hence it came to pass that none was made Apprentice, or at least admitted into the Liberty of the City, unless he was known to be of a Gentleman-like Condition; * or if after he had been made free, it came to be known, that he was of servile Condition, for that very thing he lost the Freedom of the City. As it happened to Thomas le Bedel, Robert le Bedel, Alan Undirwode, and Edmund May Butchers; who in the Maioralty of John le Blount, lost their Freedoms; because they acknowledged they held Land de Villenagio of the Bishop of London; and they remained without the Liberty of the City.

How to be qualified.

*Liberæ Conditionis.

Lib. C. fo. 88.

Whence in the Maioralty of Nicholas Exton Fishmonger, Ann. 1386 or 1387, in the ninth or tenth of Rich. II. it was ordered, that in the taking of Apprentices and also in the taking of Freedoms, that ancient Custom for the future should be kept.

Lib. H. fo.

A modern Alderman is called from the Ward over which he is; as Alderman of Chepe, Alderman of the Bridge, Alderman of Queenhith. But anciently on the contrary, the Ward was called from the Name of its Alderman. As the Ward of Candlewyckstreet was called the Ward of Thomas de Basing: the Ward of Castle Baynard was called Simon Hadestok's Ward. In like manner the Tower Ward was called the Ward of William de Nadestoke. And the Ward of Chepe was called Henry de Frowycke's Ward. So the Parish of St. Briget was said to be in the Ward of Anketil de Auvern; which is now called the Ward of Farndon, from Nicholas de Farndon afterwards Alderman of that Ward. And this appears in the Book B.

Wards took their Names from the Aldermen.

Fol. 3. permulta.

The Aldermen also anciently had such a Prerogative, that they were not put into Inquisitions. In the Time of John le Breton, Custos, among other Ordinances made by him and certain Aldermen chosen in this behalf by the Commonalty, (and the King confirmed the same for the Time) this was one, that such Aldermen were Judges of the City. Yet it is found that as well the Aldermen as the Sheriffs of London, were put into the Inquisition by the King, to wit, for Burglary, and breaking into his Treasury at Westminster. But so rare and so great a Case cannot be drawn into Consequences.

Their Privileges.

Lib. Custom. fo. 220.

Lib. C. fo. 76.

The Maior, Sheriffs and all the Aldermen used to cloath themselves in one Suit (or Habit) twice in the Year; viz. when the Maior rode to take his Oath at Westminster. And this Vesture was made of honourable Furrs. And so they were used to be cloathed again in one Habit against Whitsuntide, with a Lining of Silk *. Whence, on Monday after the Feast of Epiphany, 31 Ed. III. it was ordered by the Maior and Aldermen, that whensoever it happened, that the Maior and Aldermen were cloathed in one Habit, none of them should give away or alienate his Robe within that Year, upon the Penalty of 100 Shillings, for the use of the Commonalty.

The Suit of the Maior, Sheriffs, &c.

*Cum Subductura de Serico.

The Aldermen were wont to pay nothing for enrolling Charters or Deeds, however pertaining to them.

Lib. C. fo. 124.

How they were to be punished that made any Assault upon the Aldermen exercising their Offices in keeping the Peace, appears by Wll. Hulot, Shield-bearer, abiding with the Bishop of Bath, and Officer of the King's Receipt: whose Hand was adjudg'd in Guildhall to be cut off, because he had made an Assault upon John Rote, Alderman, in the Time of Nic. Exton, Maior, in the 10th of the Reign of King Richard.

Assaults made upon Aldermen, how they were punished.

Lib. H. f. 110.

But more fully, Assaults, Reproaches, Lyes and Scandals of the Aldermen, are spoken and discoursed of elsewhere, in the Liber Albus.

Lib. 4. fo.

Formerly Aldermen were not to be removed from their Office, during their Life, unless for some great Offence, or enormous Crime: For which they deserved also to lose the Freedom of the City. Yet afterwards Edward, Son of King Edward, in the 12th of his Reign, by his Charter, granted, that the Aldermen might be removed yearly. But long since the King and his Council considering the great Losses, Disprofits and Dangers which have happened by a yearly changing of the Aldermen in the City for some time, and which might easily happen; it was declared and decreed, as now it is, that the Aldermen should remain immovable, unless some reasonable Cause of removing them happened; as is contained in the Charter of King Richard II. made to the City [Ann. 17] and confirmed by Act of Parliament.

Aldermen not removable.

Lib. Custom. f. 192.

An Alderman of London's Privilege is to be exempted from serving Offices elsewhere. This Case is printed in some of the Law Books. Alderman Abdy had an House in Leytonstone in Essex; where Constables were elected out of the Inhabitants of every House by Presentment every Year in the Leet. And the said Alderman, by the name of John Abdy, Esq; was nominated by the Leet holden such a Day, to be Constable there the Year following. And because he refused, the Steward imposed a Fine upon him. It was moved to have a Writ directed to the Lord of the Manour [who was Sir William Hicks, Bar.] and his Steward [who was Mr. Conyers] to discharge him. And it was granted. For that he ought to be discharged by his Privilege; and for the Reason of his Attendance in the Courts of London: And he needed not execute by his Deputy.

An Alderman chosen Constable in the Country.

Priv. Lond. p. 110. Crok. Cas. 585.

J. S.

Two Aldermen of London were appointed Treasurers of a Tax given by Parliament to King Richard II. as in the Records; viz. A Parliament had required to know, how and in what manner the Sums were defray'd, [granted by a former Subsidy.] Sir Richard le Scrope, the King's Steward, answered the Parliament, that the King's Pleasure was, that William Walworth and John

Two Aldermen Treasurers of a Subsidy.