The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2Allen, Thomas
The Sheriffs' Officers.
The sheriffs also of London, as the mayor, for the state of the city, had their officers. In the year , they were appointed each of them to have serjeants, every serjeant to have his yeoman. And clerks, viz. a secondary, a clerk of the papers, and other clerks; besides the under-sheriffs' clerks, their stewards, butlers, porters, and others in the household. The various opinions concerning the antiquity of the commonalty of this city having a share in the government thereof, have occasioned warm disputes between the advocates for the aldermen and commons, but seemingly to very little purpose; for instead of determining on either side, matters are as much embarrassed as ever.
That the government of London by aldermen is of Saxon origin, is almost demonstrable, by the charter of Henry I. granted to the city about years after the conquest; wherein all strangers are expressly commanded to pay no custom to any person, save to the owner of the soke, or his deputy: that the
|owner of the soke or ward, was the alderman, we think, is beyond dispute. But that the government of the city was not vested in the aldermen exclusive of the commons, does in some measure appear by the said charter; for as the latter were thereby empowered to chuse their own sheriff and justiciary, it is not to be questioned, but they were a part of the city legislature.|
The common-councilmen at returned being only for each ward, the city commons thought it a number very insufficient to represent their numerous body; wherefore, in the year , it was agreed that each ward of the city should choose a number of common councilmen according to its dimensions, but none to exceed , nor any to have less than ; which has been since increased to the present number.
The city of London being divided into wards, and they into precincts, each thereof send a representative to the common council, who is elected after the same manner as an alderman, only with this difference, that as the lord mayor presides in the wardmote, and is judge of the poll at the election of an alderman, so are the aldermen of the several wards in all respects the same at the choice of common councilmen.
The several parts which compose the city legislature, very much resemble those which constitute that of the kingdom; for as the king is the chief estate of parliament, so is the lord mayor of the common council; and as the house of lords and commons are subordinate to the former, so are the aldermen and common councilmen to the latter; but the estates of the national representative enjoying separately the rights of the negative, that belonging to the common council of the city is only vested in , viz. the aldermen and common councilmen.