Alderman

Alderman

Overview
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.

The title is derived from the Old English title of ealdorman
Ealdorman
An ealdorman is the term used for a high-ranking royal official and prior magistrate of an Anglo-Saxon shire or group of shires from about the ninth century to the time of King Cnut...

, literally meaning "elder man", and was used by the chief nobles presiding over shire
Shire
A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and in Australia. In parts of Australia, a shire is an administrative unit, but it is not synonymous with "county" there, which is a land registration unit. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far...

s.

Many local government bodies used the term "alderman" in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

.
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Encyclopedia
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.

The title is derived from the Old English title of ealdorman
Ealdorman
An ealdorman is the term used for a high-ranking royal official and prior magistrate of an Anglo-Saxon shire or group of shires from about the ninth century to the time of King Cnut...

, literally meaning "elder man", and was used by the chief nobles presiding over shire
Shire
A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and in Australia. In parts of Australia, a shire is an administrative unit, but it is not synonymous with "county" there, which is a land registration unit. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far...

s.

In Australia


Many local government bodies used the term "alderman" in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. As in the way local councils have been modernised in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, the term alderman has been discontinued in a number of places. For example, in the State of Queensland before 1994, rural "shires" elected "councillors" and a "chairman", while "cities" elected a "mayor" and "aldermen". Since 1994, all local and regional government areas in Queensland elect a "mayor" and "councillors." (The Brisbane City Council has always had a "Lord Mayor"). An example of the use of the term alderman was in the City of Adelaide
Adelaide
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

. Aldermen were elected from the electors in all the wards.

In Canada


Historically, in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the term "alderman" was used for those persons elected to a municipal council to represent the wards. As women were increasingly elected to municipal office, the term "councillor
Councillor
A councillor or councilor is a member of a local government council, such as a city council.Often in the United States, the title is councilman or councilwoman.-United Kingdom:...

" slowly replaced "alderman", although there was some use of the term "alderperson". Today, the title of "alderman" is rarely used, except in some cities in Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

 and Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 as well as some smaller municipalities elsewhere in the country that retain the title for historical reasons.

In Ireland


In the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 the title was used by the first person elected
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 in a multi-seat local government ward. The Local Government Act 2001
Local Government Act 2001
The Local Government Act, 2001 was enacted by the Oireachtas of the Republic of Ireland on 21 July 2001. Most of the provisions of the Act came into operation on 1 January 2002....

 abolished the title as part of a modernisation of local government, and as such, none of the Councillors elected in the local elections of 2004 or later holds the title Alderman.

In the United Kingdom


Although the term originated in England, it had no clear definition there until the 19th century, as each municipal corporation had its own constitution. It was used in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 (all of Ireland being part of the U.K. from January 1801 up until December 1922), but was not used in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Under the Municipal Reform Act 1835, municipal borough
Municipal borough
Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002...

 corporations consisted of councillor
Councillor
A councillor or councilor is a member of a local government council, such as a city council.Often in the United States, the title is councilman or councilwoman.-United Kingdom:...

s and aldermen. Aldermen would be elected not by the electorate, but by the council (including the outgoing aldermen), for a term of six years, which allowed a party that narrowly lost an election to retain control by choosing aldermen. The act was changed in 1910, so that outgoing aldermen were no longer allowed to vote. Aldermen were finally abolished under the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 in 1974, except for London borough
London borough
The administrative area of Greater London contains thirty-two London boroughs. Inner London comprises twelve of these boroughs plus the City of London. Outer London comprises the twenty remaining boroughs of Greater London.-Functions:...

s where the position was abolished in 1978. County councils also elected aldermen, but not rural district
Rural district
Rural districts were a type of local government area – now superseded – established at the end of the 19th century in England, Wales, and Ireland for the administration of predominantly rural areas at a level lower than that of the administrative counties.-England and Wales:In England...

 and urban district
Urban district
In the England, Wales and Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected Urban District Council , which shared local government responsibilities with a county council....

 councils.

Councils can still create honorary aldermen, often a reward for long service. This award is used much more often in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 than in England or Wales. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 councils may additionally designate a quarter of their councillors as aldermen.

In the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

, aldermen are elected for each ward, by the regular electorate, and until recently for life. They form the Court of Aldermen
Court of Aldermen
The Court of Aldermen is an elected body forming part of the City of London Corporation. The Court of Aldermen is made up of the twenty five Aldermen of the City of London, presided over by the Lord Mayor...

. To be a candidate to be Lord Mayor of the City of London, it is necessary to be an alderman and to have been a sheriff of the City of London
Sheriffs of the City of London
There are two Sheriffs of the City of London. The sheriffs are elected annually by the Liverymen of the Livery Companies, and it is a requirement for a Lord Mayor of the City of London to previously have served as a Sheriff. Sheriffs have only nominal duties now, but previously had large judicial...

.

In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, the office of "baillie
Baillie
A baillie or bailie is a civic officer in the local government of Scotland. The position arose in the burghs, where baillies formerly held a post similar to that of an alderman or magistrate...

" bore some similarities.

"Alderman" is used for both men and women and may be prefixed to a person's name (e.g. Alderman John Smith, Alderman Smith or, for women, Alderman Mrs (or Miss) Smith).

In the United States


"Board of Aldermen" is the governing executive or legislative body of many cities and towns in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The term is sometimes used instead of city council
City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

, or is used of an executive board independent of the council, or is used of what amounts to an upper house of a bicameral legislature (as it was in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 until the 20th Century). Its members are called "Alderman" or "Alderwoman", while in the State of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, the term "Alderperson" is officially used. Some cities, such as Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, mix the two terms, thereby having a city council composed of aldermen. Some states such as Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 established aldermen in the 19th century to serve as local judges for minor infractions. Pennsylvania's aldermen were phased out in the early 20th century. In this manner depending on the jurisdiction an alderman could have been part of the legislative or judicial local government. Boards of Aldermen are used in many rural areas of the United States as opposed to a larger city council
City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

 or city commission.

Historically the term could also refer to local municipal judges in small legal proceedings (as in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

).

Alderman is often abbreviated as Ald., e.g.,

See also


  • Local government in Canada
  • Local government in the United States
    Local government in the United States
    Local government in the United States is generally structured in accordance with the laws of the various individual states. Typically each state has at least two separate tiers: counties and municipalities. Some states have their counties divided into townships...

  • Municipal government
  • Councillor
    Councillor
    A councillor or councilor is a member of a local government council, such as a city council.Often in the United States, the title is councilman or councilwoman.-United Kingdom:...

  • Mayor
    Mayor
    In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

  • Selectman