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Repository Cheshire Record Office
Level Collection (Fonds)
Reference ZM
Title Mayor of Chester
Description In English towns, the office of mayor dates from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Its precise origin in Chester is uncertain. A reference to the mayor of Chester is contained in a request from Henry III to 'the mayor and others of Chester' in 1244 to lend money to the justice of Chester 'for the defence of the king's castles and land, and the grievance of the king's enemies'. From the sixteenth century onwards, many attempts were made to compile correct lists of the early mayors and sheriffs. Some sources cite Sir John Arneway as the first mayor, others cite Sir Walter Lynnet, Mr W F Irvine, in a list published in The Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd series, volume. 34, 1939, pp.20-45 claimed that the first mayor was William the Clerk, mayor in 1238-39, but research currently being carried out is likely to establish that this is incorrect. In the thirteenth century, the mayor's duties were not defined. Precise responsibilities were attached to the office from 1300 onwards, when Edward I's charter provided that Crown pleas should be pleaded before the mayor and bailiffs and that the newly elected coroners should take an oath before the mayor. The Black Prince's charter of 1354 empowered the mayor to act as escheator within the city, but it was not until 1506 that the citizens' right to elect a mayor was formally recognised and the procedure laid down. The mayor came to preside over three of the city's courts: crownmote, portmote and, as chief magistrate, quarter sessions. He was also clerk of the market and his other administrative duties included admitting freemen and presiding over the Assembly and its business. Since the mayor had both administrative and judicial duties, mayors' records have been divided into two main groups. However, many series within these groups overlap and such series as mayors' books contain both administrative and judicial material.
Location Please note that parts of this collection are held offsite. Please contact Cheshire Archives and Local Studies in advance of your visit if you wish to view these records.
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