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The Wards

©Barry Carter 2002 - 2021


The Wards or Aldermanries and the governing
of the Square Mile

The Wards of the City

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The City of London is divided into twenty five different sections called Wards, or Aldermanries (26 before 1978). Each of these areas has its own Warden, or Alderman to take care of the administration and running of each section. The Wards were named as follows:

Tower Street Ward
Lime Street Ward
Portsoken Ward (outside the walls)
Basinghall Ward
Aldgate Ward
Langbourne Ward
Broad Street Ward
Cornhill WardBridge Ward (within)
Candlewick Street Ward
Billingsgate Ward
Vintry Ward
Walbrooke Ward
Dowgate Ward
Coleman Street Ward
Cheape Ward
Cordwainer Street Ward
Aldersgate Ward (within and without)
Bishopsgate Ward (within and without)
Cripplegate ward (within and without)
Bread Street Ward
Queenhithe Ward
Castle Baynard Ward
Farringdon Ward (without)
Bridge Ward (without)
Bridge Gate Ward

The Aldermen

Twenty five of the City Aldermen are elected for a term which used to be their lifetime but is now up to the retiring age of a Magistrate. The twenty sixth Alderman (Bridge Gate Ward) must be a former Lord Mayor and must also have been a Sheriff of the City. This has come to be due to the change of City jurisdiction of the ward. Southwark formed the Bridge Ward Without. It was in ancient times, a part of the City. This is no longer the case but the old tradition carried on until 1978 when it was discontinued.
The Aldermen also have the final vote on who is to be Lord Mayor of London for the coming year. The Livery men of the City elect two final candidates from the list of nominees, and the Aldermen choose from these.

The Court of Common Council

The Court of Common Council meets in the Guildhall every other Thursday. It dates back to the 13th. century and is presided over by the Lord Mayor. In his absence an Alderman who has previously served as Mayor presides. The opening words for each meeting are: “Domine dirige nos, Amen”. Which means Lord direct us. This is also the City Corporation motto on the coat of arms.
From the 25 Aldermen of the City, and 130 Common Councillors, at least 2 Aldermen and 40 Councillors must be in attendance at the meetings. The Lord Mayor is accompanied by members of his Household Escort. There is also an assembly of Livery men who meet to elect the Sheriffs and Mayoral candidates. The public can attend these sessions, which are basically council meetings to discuss the running of the square mile.
There are monthly meetings held in the Great Hall of the Guildhall.

The Lord Mayor

The Lord Mayor is the most powerful man in the City of London. Only the reigning sovereign takes precedence over him. He resides at the Mansion House and his Household includes the Sword bearer, the Common Crier, and the Sergeant-at-Arms, the City Marshall.
The first Mayor of London was Henry FitzAilwyn in 1192 or thereabouts. He held the post until his death in 1212 but in 1215 King John granted the charter allowing the annual election of a Mayor. The term Lord Mayor was first recorded in 1414. The Corporation of the City is the oldest governing body still in existence today, and the rights and privileges of the citizens were recognised by William I in his 1067 charter  William is not referred to as "the Conqueror" in the City, because he never conquered it, unlike the rest of the country, he was allowed to negotiate. The "Lord Mayor" should not be confused with the Mayor of London. They are two separate entities.

Electing Councillors

Elections are unique because not only City residents are entitled to vote. Businesses can also appoint workers for City Ward Elections.To qualify for the office of Common Councilman a person must at the date of nomination and at the date of election, be: Aged 18 years or over and a British subject or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. Also, they must either (a) be registered on the City of London Ward Lists, or (b) own freehold or leasehold land in the City (if the land is leasehold and is held on a joint tenancy, the maximum number of joint tenants who can qualify is four) or (c) have resided in the City for 12 months preceding the date of nomination, and intends to reside here until the date of election
They can be disqualified for any other reason, for example, by reason of bankruptcy or on conviction of fraud or any crime for which a prison sentence has been imposed. A person must also be a Freeman of the City of London, this can be granted quickly for potential candidates.

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