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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): COL/MH/LM
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1544-1999
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 5.7 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The first recorded Mayor of London was Henry Fitz-Ailwyn in 1189. Since then, some 700 men and one woman have over the centuries held the position of chief officer of the City of London. The most famous of them all is Dick Whittington, who held office three times, in 1397, 1406 and 1419. Contrary to popular belief, Dick Whittington was not a poor, ill-treated orphan who managed against all the odds to work his way up to Lord Mayor. Coming from a wealthy family, Richard Whittington had a successful business and civic career before he became Lord Mayor. As for the black cat which supposedly helped him found his fortune, no-one is quite sure how this part of the myth grew up! The fact is that Dick Whittington carved out a successful business career in a very practical way as a mercer (dealer in costly fabrics such as silk), wool merchant and royal financier.

The Lord Mayor has throughout the centuries played a vital role in the life of the City of London and continues to do so today. In the City, the Lord Mayor ranks immediately after the sovereign and acts as the capital's host in Guildhall and Mansion House, his official residence. On behalf of the City and the nation he carries out numerous engagements at home and abroad. Although in former years a person could become Lord Mayor as many times as the electorate would vote him in - Dick Whittington being such an example - nowadays one year of such demanding activity is considered enough.

The right of citizens to elect their own Mayor dates from the Charter granted by King John to the City in 1215. The election of Lord Mayor is held at the end of September each year in Guildhall. The assembly, known as Common Hall, consists of all liverymen of at least one year's standing together with certain high officers of the City. All aldermen who have served the office of sheriff and who have not already been Lord Mayor are eligible.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the Lord Mayor, including articles on the history and duties of the Mayoralty, 1972, 1986, 1988 and 1992; lists of the Lord Mayors, 1189-1951; notes and historical extracts on the appointment of a locum to stand in for the Lord Mayor, compiled 1960; papers relating to the election and admission of the Lord Mayor, 1546-1999, including ballot papers; affidavits sworn before the Lord Mayor, 1758-1805; papers relating to the Lord Mayor's chaplain, 1805-1807, 1953 and 1982; papers relating to the Lord Mayor's Coach, 1757-1990, including agreements with the coachmaker and information sheets about the coach; notes on the proceedings following the death of a Lord Mayor while in office, 1885?; duties of the Mayor, 1665; bill for a purple robe trimmed with fur made for the Lord Mayor, 1861; speeches given at the presentation of the Lord Mayor to the Judges of the Queen's Bench, 1803-1991; papers relating to State Visits by Lord Mayors, 1930-1991; lecture on the precedence of the Lord Mayor in State Ceremonies outside the City, in State Ceremonies within the City and in State Ceremonies within the City attended by a Member of the Royal Family but not the Sovereign, 1915; papers relating to the Mayoralty Seal, 1580-1980; diaries of various Lord Mayors, 1935-1972; invitation books for various Lord Mayors, 1890-1955; Swordbearer's diaries, 1872-1904; visitor's books, 1935-1963; extracts of orders from the Court of Aldermen relating to the Lord Mayor, 1544-1719; papers, including biographical information, articles and photographs, on individual mayors including Henry Fitz-Ailwyn, John Philipot, Sir Thomas Leigh, Sir William Turner, Frederick Bull, Sir William Plomer, Robert Peckham, Sir John Hopkins, Sir William Curtis, Sir Peter Laurie, Thomas Quested Finnis, Sir James Whitehead, Sir Joseph Dimsdale, Sir James Thomson Ritchie, Sir George Truscott, Sir James Roll, Sir William Robert Pryke, Sir Percy Greenaway, Sir Peter Vanneck, Sir Allan Davis, Sir Greville Spratt, Sir Brian Jenkins, Sir Francis McWilliams and Sir Peter Gadsen.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also COL/CC/MYA: Mayoralty 800th Anniversary Committee, COL/CC/MYC: Mayoralty Visits Committee, COL/AD: Administrative, COL/SP: Subject Series: Places and COL/SJ: Subject Series: Subjects.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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