Skip to main content
Mayors and Sheriffs of London top banner

Sources

Names, dates, and sole or main/original company (or, in the earliest times, occupational) affiliations of the mayors and sheriffs come largely from one or more of several basic sources, which have been checked against one another. These are (as given in full at the foot of this explanation of sources) A.B. Beaven's The Aldermen of the City of London (information to 1912), C.L. Kingsford's  edition of John Stow's A Survey of London (information to 1602), A. Hughes' List of Sheriffs for England and Wales (information to 1831), J. Chalstrey's Aldermen of the City of London 1900--2010, and the manuscript Letter Books, Journals, Repertories, and Common Hall Books of the City of London. Also extensively consulted--especially for non-aldermanic sheriffs before 2011 (i.e., sheriffs who do not appear in the main listings in Beaven or in Chalstrey as having served as aldermen before, during, or after their shrieval terms)--have been London livery company manuscripts and reliable, records-based company histories. Largely for the very early years, scholarly historical publications and a number of chronicle histories have also been consulted. For web sources for very recent years, see below.

For Beaven's and Chalstrey's aldermanic mayors and sheriffs up to 2010, where no reliable sources disagree with Beaven or with Chalstrey, no sources are footnoted; but disagreements have been checked and footnoted. Information from sources other than Beaven's main listings and Chalstrey's basics (names, dates, companies) is also footnoted. For the only or main/original companies of non-aldermanic sheriffs, from 1400 to 2010 (and occasionally from before 1400), two sources are normally given, the first of which, wherever possible, is a formal city record of the shrieval election. The election notice normally includes not only a successful candidate's name and election year but also his/her company of civic record. For the second source, a reliable, records-based company history may be cited; it is considered (if using many records) to be generally a valid confirmation of the information in the first source. (Company histories are used with caution, however, especially because some do not distinguish between mayoral and shrieval members for whom their specific companies are the original/mother companies and those for whom their companies are additional. For the distinction between original/mother and additional companies, see Companies/Occupations on the site menu bar.)  Source disagreements, as for aldermanic sheriffs, are checked and footnoted. Disagreements in non-basic sources without strong credibility, such as some chronicle histories, are investigated but largely not footnoted. Occasionally Beaven supplies the name and company of a sheriff who ran for aldermanic office but was not elected. In such a case Beaven is normally cited as one of the two sources. Brief identifications of individual mayors and sheriffs as sons, grandsons, great-grandsons, or nephews of earlier mayors and sheriffs are from Beaven or from Chalstrey and are footnoted accordingly.

A conservative approach to company designations has included not identifying a sheriff by company where the same name occurs in a company's records around the same time as the sheriff's term of office but without the person named in the company's records being also identified there as the individual who served as sheriff. Names are much repeated in the early periods, and the same name cannot be assumed always to indicate a single individual, nor can members of the same family be assumed always to have belonged to the same trade or company. The occasional exception is made and footnoted: for example, where a company's records or another source identify an individual with the sheriff's name as the company's master around this time. Individuals who served as sheriff also often, at some point, became masters of their companies, especially in smaller companies.

From 1996 (when the city's Common Hall Book 13--the most recent Common Hall Book on deposit at the London Metropolitan Archives--ends) and 2010 (the end date of Chalstrey's reference volume), largely online sources have been consulted: official city websites, the personal websites of the individual sheriffs and mayors, and sometimes company websites. Especially useful sources for company memberships are personal websites and, where available, sheriffs' election addresses (i.e., candidacy statements). This database provides no second, confirming sources where the main sources are personal websites or shrieval election addresses. Election addresses, now routinely produced by or for candidates for the shrievalty, are to be found online at election times (the shrieval election is currently c. 24 June). A number of past shrieval election addresses are to be found at [http://]www.liverycompanies.info , the most reliable and extensive of online sources of livery company information.

All website addresses provided have been checked; but urls often change over time, and also in some cases such sources may vanish from the web. City government web pages on individual sheriffs or mayors, for example, are usually taken down when the individual ceases to be a member of the civic government (which makes information on non-aldermanic sheriffs likely to disappear more quickly than for aldermanic ones). The urls continue to be cited here, as the original sources of the information provided; but because of their often transitory nature, they are not provided as links.

A number of online lists of mayors and sheriffs also exist, for various periods. All such lists have been checked against this database's listings, with disagreements investigated, and are cited (as "online list(s)")  where they have potentially useful new information on company memberships: almost always the listing of more additional memberships. This new information, however, has largely not been checked. The online lists occasionally specify a given membership as acquired subsequent to the shrievalty/mayoralty, but this database does not otherwise provide this information.


Additional Companies

The database entry for each mayor and sheriff identifies his/her original company of civic record. Additional company memberships are provided in the footnotes. For general information on the companies of mayors and sheriffs, and for specifics on original (parent, mother) companies in relation to additional companies and on the process known as translation (formal transfer of an individual from one company to another), see Companies/Occupations on the site menu bar.

In this database each individual's original/mother company has been checked as described above. Additional company memberships, however, for mayors and for aldermanic sheriffs, in general have simply been taken from Beaven and from Chalstrey, and from online sources after 2015, and are cited accordingly. No consistent attempt has been made to check a second source for them. Where a second source has been encountered, however, in the course of other kinds of searches, it has been recorded within square brackets in the list attributed to Beaven, Chalstrey, or online sources. If not in Beaven, Chalstrey, or an online source, it has been independently listed. For non-aldermanic sheriffs, additional-company information has been provided only where found during other kinds of searches. Lists of additional companies are thus likely to be incomplete, especially for non-aldermanic sheriffs, since no specific searches for such companies have been made.

Unlike Beaven, who differentiates clearly, when a mayor or a sheriff has more than one company membership, between the original company (or subsequent company of translation) and any additional companies, Chalstrey only occasionally specifically notes, in his biographies of the aldermen, that one of an individual's listed companies is his/her "mother" company. He identifies each alderman, however, by only one company in his lists of aldermen by ward (pp. 583--89); this is the alderman's original/mother company; and in Chalstrey's biographies this ward-list company is normally the first in an alderman's list of companies. In a few cases Chalstrey's ward-list company differs from the company listed first in a mayor's or sheriff's biography; these cases are footnoted.


Asterisks after Names

Mayors and sheriffs included as aldermen in Beaven's and/or Chalstrey's volumes are marked in the database listings with an asterisk after their names. More information on them may be found in these volumes. Beaven notes (I.370) that his listing of aldermen is reliable only from 1272; and John McEwan's "The Aldermen of London, c.1200--80: Alfred Beaven Revisited" (full reference below) removes a number of names from Beaven's listing and adds others. Parentheses around an asterisk in this database indicate individuals included as aldermen in Beaven's volumes but not appearing as aldermen in McEwan's list. (Not so marked, but footnoted, are four sheriffs in Beaven and not in McEwan but for whom Beaven used post-1280 records; 1280 is McEwan's cut-off date.)  McEwan's additions to Beaven's aldermen are footnoted. Sheriffs were not necessarily aldermen at the time of their shrieval terms; they are included in Beaven and in Chalstrey (and in McEwan's list) as long as they were at some point aldermen: before, during, or after the shrievalty. Beaven and Chalstrey both provide, wherever possible, individuals' dates of aldermanic office. McEwan provides dates of first and last known records appearances.

Beaven believed that mayors from the beginning (with the possible exception of Henry le Waleys in 1298--99) were presumably "almost invariably" current aldermen (Beaven II.xxiii). McEwan argues that early mayors did not have to be aldermen. From 1435, certainly, mayors were required currently to be aldermen at the time of the mayoral election, and from 1386, to have served previously as a sheriff (Beaven II.xxv, xxvii). This database relies entirely, for aldermanic identification, on Beaven to 1912 (with McEwan's revisions noted), on Chalstrey 1900--2010, and from 2010, on city websites. A database updating search is made approximately once a year to identify any previous, recent, non-aldermanic sheriffs who have since become aldermen.



Full references for the sources not given fully above

Alfred B. Beaven, The Alderman of the City of London, 2 vols. London: Corporation of the City of London, 1913.

John Chalstrey, The Aldermen of the City of London 1900--2010. London: City of London Corporation, 2011.

A. Hughes, List of Sheriffs for England and Wales. Public Record Office: Lists and Indexes, #9, 1898; rev. 1963. In a (former) Corporation of London Records Office copy with handprinted annotations made (according to the CLRO) at the former Public Records Office (now National Archives).

John McEwan, "The Aldermen of London, c.1200--80: Alfred Beaven Revisited." Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 62 (2011), 177--203.

John Stow, A Survey of London, ed. C.L. Kingsford. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908. Vol. 2, pp. 150--83.

The city's Letter Books, Journals, Repertories, and Common Hall Books are available for consultation at the London Metropolitan Archives. This database provides the individual LMA catalogue numbers for the Letter Books; for the other three series, consult the LMA (online) catalogue. Livery company manuscripts other than current ones are largely available for consultation at the Guildhall Library (Aldermanbury, London); the database provides their individual catalogue numbers. A few companies keep their older (as well as current) manuscripts in their own halls; these manuscripts are cited by company name and reference number: e.g., Drapers' MS WA2.