Historical Information

The word "Mayor" and "Major" derive from the same Latin word, Magnus, meaning great. The office of Mayor, together with the Domesday Book and the feudal system, were brought to this country by the Normans as such an office had existed on the continent at least since the fifth century.

The office of Head of the Corporation is as old as the particular Borough itself, but in many towns the name of "Mayor" for this official is, comparatively speaking, an innovation which was introduced by the Municipal Corporation Act 1835.

1199 The first "Mayor Town" in England, Thetford, established (although the City of London Mayoralty dates from 1192).

Middle Ages Position similar in many ways to that of today, ie acknowledged as "First Citizen" of the town. The Mayor would normally preside in the Borough's civil and criminal courts.

Tudor The powers of the Mayor as Chief Magistrate (sometimes the sole Magistrate) greatly increased. Magistrates in this period were the "maids of all work" and, as a result, their personal importance was expanded.

17th Century In many Boroughs the Mayor had become all-powerful.

19th Century The Mayor could be the centre of all political activity with the terms of office lasting often two to four years. The political role of the Mayor, rather than the social and ceremonial role, was more important in this era than it is today.

20th Century The political role of the Mayor diminishes and the social and ceremonial role becomes more emphasised.

It was not until 1974 that it became compulsory for Mayors to be selected from members of the Council.

See a full list of past Mayors of Surrey Heath