Story Of London

London’s Lord Mayor: 1399-1485

The Lord Mayor of London is an ancient elective office which dates from the reign of Richard the Lionheart. In the intervening eight centuries more than seven hundred men and one woman have held this important post. The City of London has always jealously guarded its independence from the Crown and to this day, within the City, the Lord Mayor is second in Precedence only to the reigning Monarch. This major series of nine articles presents a complete list of the Lord Mayors, arranged chronologically according to the reigns in which they served. This article reviews the political situation of London in the fifteenth century, presents the list of Lord Mayors in the reigns of Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III and assesses the characters of each reign.

By the end of the fourteenth century London had acquired almost all of the rights which towns across England had been fighting for since the beginning of the mediaeval period. There is a curiosity in history here however. One of the most important rights for any town wishing to be independent of the Crown was that of legal incorporation. This allowed the borough a perpetual succession to a common seal, the right to sue and be sued and the rights of land ownership amongst other things. In the case of London this was not formally granted until 1608. It would appear that it had been assumed by both the Crown and the City that had been granted in an early reign.

One of the most important, and valuable, privileges acquired by the City in the fourteenth century was the right of the Mayor and Aldermen to amend the City’s own Constitution. It allowed the government of the City to develop into an oligarchic institution but one which had to itself the power of self reform. It allowed the Corporation to remain relatively open which is in sharp contrast to the closed corporations of many of the other towns of England. It was also to prove a life-saver in the nineteenth century when it allowed London alone to escape the imposed reforms of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.

The constitution of the City had been slowly evolving throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This was undoubtedly brought about by the proliferation of craft guilds and the fact that property ownership ceased to be the sole requirement for the right of citizenship. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the freedom to work and trade in the City could be gained one of three ways:

  1. Patrimony: Birth from a freeman father.
  2. Redemption: Purchase of citizenship for a sum determined by the Coproaration.
  3. Apprenticeship: Acceptance as an apprentice by a freeman of the City.

Of the three, apprenticeship was by far the most common route to the freedom of the City. The customary period of apprenticeship was seven years and the usual age of admission was fourteen. However, by the beginning of the fifteenth century some Guilds were refusing to enrol any apprentice under the age of sixteen and had made a ten-year term compulsory. The predominance of this means of entering into the freedom of the City meant that a close relationship between citizenship and membership of a guild gradually evolved. The number of craft guilds steadily increased and by the beginning of the fifteenth century there were more than one hundred, each of which regulated the manner in which their own craft was exercised and organised.

Henry V began his reign 20th March 1412
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Henry IVThomas Knolles1399-1400
2nd Henry IVJohn Fraunceys1400-1
3rd Henry IVJohn Shadworth1401-2
4th Henry IVJohn Walcote1402-3
5th Henry IVWilliam Askham1403-4
6th Henry IVJohn Heende1404-5
7th Henry IVJohn Wodecok1405-6
8th Henry IVRichard Whytyngdone1406-7
9th Henry IVWilliam Staundon1407-8
10th Henry IVDrugo Barentyn1408-9
11st Henry IVRichard Merlawe1409-10
12nd Henry IVThomas Knolles1410-11
13rd Henry IVRobert Chichele1411-12
Henry V began his reign 20th March 1412
Regnal YearMayorTerm
14th Henry IV/1st Henry VWilliam Walderne1412-13
2nd Henry VWilliam Crowmere1413-14
3rd Henry VThomas Fauconer1414-15
4th Henry VNicholas Wotton1415-16
5th Henry VHenry Barton1416-17
6th Henry VRichard Merlawe1417-18
7th Henry VWilliam Sevenoke1418-19
8th Henry VRichard Whytyngdone1419-20
9th Henry VWilliam Cauntbrigge1420-1
10th Henry VRobert Chichele1421-2
Henry VI began his reign 31st August 1422
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Henry VIWilliam Walderne1422-3
2nd Henry VIWilliam Crowmere1423-4
3rd Henry VIJohn Michell1424-5
4th Henry VIJohn Coventre1425-6
5th Henry VIJohn Reynwell1426-7
6th Henry VIJohn Gedney1427-8
7th Henry VIHenry Barton1428-9
8th Henry VIWilliam Estfeld1429-30
9th Henry VINicholas Wotton1430-
10th Henry VIJohn Welles1431-2
11st Henry VIJohn Perneys1432-3
12nd Henry VIJohn Brokle1433-4
13rd Henry VIRobert Otele1434-5
14th Henry VIHenry Frowyk1435-6
15th Henry VIJohn Michell1436-7
16th Henry VIWilliam Estfeld1437-8
17th Henry VIStephen Broun1438-9
18th Henry VIRobert Large1439-40
19th Henry VIJohn Paddesle1440-1
20th Henry VIRobert Clopton1441-2
21st Henry VIJohn Hatherle1442-3
22nd Henry VIThomas Catworth1443-4
23rd Henry VIHenry Fawyk1444-5
24th Henry VISimon Eyre1445-6
25th Henry VIJohn Olney1446-7
26th Henry VIJohn Sidney1447-8
27th Henry VIStephen Broun1448-9
28th Henry VIThomas Chalton1449-50
29th Henry VINicholas Wyfold1450-1
30th Henry VIWilliam Gregory1451-2
31st Henry VIGeoffrey Feldynge1452-3
32nd Henry VIJohn Norman1453-4
33rd Henry VIStephen Forster1454-5
34th Henry VIWilliam Marowe1455-6
35th Henry VIThomas Canynges1456-7
36th Henry VIGeoffrey Buleyn1457-8
37th Henry VIThomas Scott1458-9
38th Henry VIWilliam Hulyn1459-60
39th Henry VIRichard Lee1460-1
Edward IV began his reign 4th March 1460
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Edward IVHugh Wiche1461-2
2nd Edward IVThomas Cooke1462-3
3rd Edward IVMatthew Philip1463-4
4th Edward IVRalph Josselyn1464-5
5th Edward IVRalph Verney1465-6
6th Edward IVJohn Younge1466-7
7th Edward IVThomas Oulegrave1467-8
8th Edward IVWilliam Tailour1468-9
9th Edward IVRichard Lee1469-70
10th Edward IVJohn Stokton1470-1
11st Edward IVWilliam Edward1471-72
12nd Edward IVSir William Hampton1472-73
13rd Edward IVJohn Tate1473-74
14th Edward IVRobert Drope1474-75
15th Edward IVRobert Bassett1475-76
16th Edward IVSir Ralph Josselyn1476-77
17th Edward IVHumphrey Hayford1477-78
18th Edward IVRichard Gardyner1478-79
19th Edward IVSir Bartholomew James1479-80
20th Edward IVJohn Browne1480-1
21st Edward IVWilliam Haryot1481-82
22nd Edward IVEdmund Shaa1482-83
Edward V began his reign 9th April 1483
Richard III began his reign 22nd June 1483
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Edward V/
1st Richard IIIRobert Billesdon1483-84
2nd Richard IIIThomas Hill1484-85

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