An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many
jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular,
denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a
council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by
popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.
The title is derived from the
Old English title of ealdorman,
literally meaning "elder man", and was used by the chief nobles
presiding over shires.
Similar titles exist in other Germanic countries, such as the Swedish
Ålderman, the Danish and West Frisian Olderman, the Dutch Ouderman,
the Finnish Oltermanni and the German Ältester which all mean "elder
man" or "wise man".
1 Usage by country
1.4 South Africa
1.5 United Kingdom
1.5.1 England, Northern
Ireland and Wales
18.104.22.168 Honorary Alderman
22.214.171.124 City of London
1.6 United States
2 See also
Usage by country
Many local government bodies used the term "alderman" in Australia. As
in the way local councils have been modernised in the United Kingdom
and Ireland, the term alderman has been discontinued in a number of
places. For example, in the state of Queensland before 1994, rural
"shires" elected "councillors" and a "chairman", while "cities"
elected a "mayor" and "aldermen". Since 1994, all local and regional
government areas in Queensland elect a "mayor" and "councillors."
(Australian capital cities usually have a Lord Mayor). An example of
the use of the term alderman is evident in the City of Adelaide.
Aldermen were elected from the electors in all the wards.
Historically, in Canada, the term "alderman" was used for those
persons elected to a municipal council to represent the wards. As
women were increasingly elected to municipal office, the term
"councillor" slowly replaced "alderman", although there was some use
of the term "alderperson". Today, the title of "alderman" is rarely
used except in some cities in
Alberta and Ontario, as well as some
smaller municipalities elsewhere in the country, that retain the title
for historical reasons.
The title "alderman" was abolished for local authorities in the
Ireland by the Local Government Act 2001, with effect from
the 2004 local elections. Early usage of the term mirrored that of
England and Wales. Local elections since the Local Government
(Ireland) Act 1919 have used the single transferable vote in
multiple-member electoral areas. In each electoral area of a
borough or county borough, the first several candidates elected were
styled "alderman" and the rest "councillor". Someone co-opted to
fill a seat vacated by an alderman would be styled "councillor".
In South Africa the term "Alderman" refers to senior members of
municipal assemblies. They are distinguished from ordinary
councillors for their "long and distinguished service as a
councillor". This can be achieved either via long term of service,
or through alternative means such as 'point' systems.
Ireland and Wales
Although the term originated in England, it had no single definition
there until the 19th century, as each municipal corporation had its
own constitution. It was used in England,
Wales and Ireland/Northern
Ireland (all of
Ireland being part of the United Kingdom from January
1801 until December 1922), but was not used in Scotland. Under the
Municipal Reform Act 1835, municipal borough corporations consisted of
councillors and aldermen. Aldermen would be elected not by the
electorate, but by the council (including the outgoing aldermen), for
a term of six years, which allowed a party that narrowly lost an
election to retain control by choosing aldermen. This was changed by
the Municipal Corporations Amendment Act 1910, so that outgoing
aldermen were no longer allowed to vote. Aldermen with voting
rights were finally abolished under the
Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972 in
1974, except for the
Greater London Council
Greater London Council and the London borough
councils, where they remained a possibility until 1977/1978.
County councils also elected aldermen, but not rural district and
urban district councils.
Councils in England, Wales, and Northern
Ireland still have the power
to create honorary aldermen, as a reward for their services as a
councillor, doing so at a special meeting to pass the title approved
by two thirds of those attending. This power is used much more
often in Northern
Ireland than in England or Wales, where councils may
additionally designate up to a quarter of their elected councillors as
City of London
In the City of London, but nowhere else, aldermen are still elected
for each of the wards of the City, by the regular electorate, and
until 2004 could hold office for life, but now have a term of not more
than six years. They form the Court of Aldermen. To be a candidate to
Lord Mayor of the City of London, it is necessary to be an alderman
and to have been a sheriff of the City of London.
"Alderman" is used for both men and women and may be prefixed to a
person's name (e.g.,
Alderman John Smith,
Alderman Smith or, for
Alderman Mrs (or Miss) Smith).
In Scotland, the office of "baillie" bore some similarities to that of
Alderman in England and Wales.
A "board of aldermen" is the governing executive or legislative body
of many cities and towns in the United States. The term is sometimes
used instead of city council, but it can also refer to an executive
board independent of the council, or to what is essentially an upper
house of a bicameral legislature (as it was in
New York City
New York City until the
20th century). Its members are called "Alderman."
Some cities, such as Chicago, mix the two terms, thereby having a city
council composed of aldermen. Some states such as Pennsylvania
established aldermen in the 19th century to serve as local judges for
minor infractions. Pennsylvania's aldermen were phased out in the
early 20th century. Depending on the jurisdiction, an alderman could
have been part of the legislative or judicial local government. Boards
of aldermen are used in many rural areas of the United States as
opposed to a larger city council or city commission.
Historically the term could also refer to local municipal judges in
small legal proceedings (as in Pennsylvania and Delaware).
Alderman is abbreviated as Ald., e.g.,
Danny Solis (25th) has overhauled the zoning application to spell
out the purpose of the zoning change and identify everyone with an
interest in the property -- including limited partnerships and
Chicago Sun-Times, 10 Feb 2010
Look up alderman in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Local government in Canada
Local government in the United States
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^ Originally "Local Government (Ireland) Act 1919". Wikisource. 3 June
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Retrieved 8 June 2017.
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Retrieved 8 June 2017.
^ "Local Government Act, 1941, Section 42". Irish Statute Book.
Retrieved 8 June 2017.
^ Policy: Conferment of Aldermanship on Councillors of the West Coast
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^ kclancy. "Stoke-on-Trent memories of politician Terry Crowe".
Thisisstaffordshire.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
^ "Aldermen in Municipal Boroughs Bill (Hansard, 20 July 1910)".
Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 20 July 1910. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
^ Minors, Michael; Grenham, Dennis (March 2007). "London Borough
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ISBN 9781852612320. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30
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Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972 Part XII Section 249 (1)
^ "Have Pittsburgh city councilors ever been called "aldermen"? I used
to see "alderman" signs on an old building". Pittsburghcitypaper.ws.