History of the Lord Mayor
The coach has been used in every Show since it was built – now over 250 years ago! – and between Shows it can be seen in the Museum of London. Many of the features of the coach emphasise the importance of London’s port and of the City’s trade. The coachman’s seat is supported by tritons, mythical sea creatures, and his footrest is formed from a scallop shell. The coach is supported at each corner by child angels, or cherubs, representing the four known continents: Asia, Africa, America and Europe. The City’s coat of arms, including fire-breathing dragons decorate the back of the coach.
First Lord Mayor Henry Fitz- Ailwyn
The first recorded Mayor of London was Henry Fitz-Ailwyn 1189. Since then, some 700 men and one woman have over the centuries held the position of head of the City of London. Lord Mayors are elected for one-year terms; today by custom they do not serve more than once. Numerous individuals have served multiple terms in office, but the last to do so was Robert Fowler (1883 and 1885).
Perhaps the most famous Lord Mayor of former times was Richard Whittington, who held office in 1397, 1398, 1406 and 1419. Whittington was a philanthropist who set the standard living inLondon, leaving a legacy of doing good. When Whittington died he left everything to charity, endowing and building at a number of almshouses, libraries, civic buildings and other public amenities.
The Great Fire of London
Sir Thomas Bludworth was Mayor in 1665-6, and had “the severest year any man had” in this office. His year was blighted by the Plague of 1665, which was still killing thousands every week, and then by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Bludworth, who had been an apprentice vintner and then a successful merchant, a member of the Levant and Africa companies, sadly underestimated the severity of the fire and failed to create a
The first Lord Mayor from a different faith was probably David Salomons. Salomons was a Jewish reformer who set out to ensure that practising Jews could hold public office: he was elected Sheriff in 1835 and the Government changed the law so that he did not have to take a Christian oath on taking up his office. He won the election to be an Alderman in the City of London in 1835 – but the election was declared null and void. Ten years later the Government changed the law. Salomons was elected Alderman to Cordwainers Ward in 1847 and was finally elected Lord Mayor in 1855.
First woman Lord Mayor
The first and so far the only woman Lord Mayor was Dame Mary Donaldson in 1983-4. Donaldson was a nurse, who later took an interest in the City.
Today’s Lord Mayor
Roger Gifford will be the 685th person serving as the Lord Mayor of London. Gifford’s charity appeal will be under the banner The City In Society’ and will focus the City as the global centre for philanthropy and the arts, reflecting the city as one of the major contributors to society in the 21st Century.
Fact Point : The title ‘Lord Mayor’ is of great age. In the Latin of the thirteenth century ‘dominus major’ is found, and in English ‘Lord Mair’ in 1414. By the sixteenth century the prefix ‘Right Honourable’ was in use.