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III. The Aldermen are chosen for life, by the householders of the several wards, being freemen, one for each ward, except Bridge-ward Without, on a vacancy for which the senior alderman, or, as he is commonly called, The Father of the City, is removed to this ward, and a new alderman is elected for the ward which he vacates.
The Aldermen are the principal magistrates in their several wards. There are various courts in the city for trying the civil causes of its inhabitants, by judges, members, or officers of the corporation. The Lord Mayor, the Recorder, the Common Serjeant, (the principal law officer of the city,) and the Aldermen, are judges of Oyer and Terminer; that is, they are the king's judges to try capital offences and misdemeanors committed in the City of London and county of Middlesex; and the Aldermen are perpetual justices of the peace for the City.
IV. The Common Council, or City Parliament, consists of the Mayor, 25 Aldermen, and 236 Members; these latter are chosen annually, by the house-holders, being freemen, in their several wards, the number for each ward being regulated by ancient custom, the body corporate having a power to extend the number. The debates in this council are highly interesting, and its sittings are open to the public.
The Common Council are the representatives of the Commons, and compose one of the parts of the City Legislature, which nearly resembles that of the kingdom; for as the latter consists of the King, Lords, and Commons, so this is composed of the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen, and Common Council; the principal difference is, that King, Lords, and Commons, the three estates of the kingdom, enjoy, separately, the right of a negative, while in the City, this right is denied the Lord Mayor, and confined to the Aldermen and Common Council.
Before the year 1347, there were only two Common Councilmen returned for each ward, which being thought insufficient to represent the numerous body of the Com mons, it was at that time agreed, that each of the City wards should choose a number of Common Councilmen, according to its dimensions; but none to exceed twelve,
nor any to have less than six; which has been since increased to the present number.
The City is now divided into twenty-five wards, and those into two hundred and thirty-six precincts, each of which sends a representative, who is elected in the same manner as an Alderman, with only this difference, that as the Lord Mayor presides in the wardmote, and is judge of the poll at the election of an Alderman; the case is the same with respect to the Aldermen in their several wards, at the choice of Common Councilmen.
The Court of Common Council consists of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Representatives of the several wards, who assemble in Guildhall, as often as the Lord Mayor, by his summons, thinks proper to convene them, in order to make bye-laws for the government of the city. They annually select six Aldermen and twelve Commoners for letting the City lands, and this committee generally meets at Guildhall on Wednesdays. They also appoint another committee of four Aldermen and eight Commoners, for transacting the affairs of Gresham College, who generally meet at Mercers' Hall, according to the appointment of the Lord Mayor, who is always one of the number. Besides the appointment of these, and several other committees, they, by virtue of a royal grant, annually choose a governor, deputy and assistants, for the management of the city lands in Ireland. They have likewise a right to dispose of the offices of Town Clerk, Common Serjeant, Judges of the Sheriff's Court, Common Crier, Coroner, Bailiff of the Borough of Southwark, and City Garbler.
In a word, the administration in all its branches within the jurisdiction of the corporation, in all cases embracing the city, and part of the Borough of Southwark, and in some cases extending beyond, is exercised by the corpora tion or its officers.
The Borough of Southwark (as was before observed) was formerly independent of the city of London, till the reign of Edward III. A part has since been incorporated with the City, under the appellation of Bridge-ward Without, and hasits officers appointed by the court of Aldermen
and Common Council, viz. an Alderman of the Bridgeward, High Bailiff, Steward, &c.
This is a numerous, respectable, and important elective body, being the livery of the several companies, in whom reside the election of the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Members of Parliament, Chamberlain, Bridge Masters, Ale Conners, and Auditors of the Chamberlain's accounts, all of whom are chosen by their respective guilds or companies from among the freemen forming the body of the livery.
The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Common Council-men, and Livery of London, form together the most important popular assembly (the Commons House of Parliament excepted) in the empire. On occasions of the greatest moment, their decisions have been regarded as the voice of the nation; their example has inspired general patriotism, and the legislature itself, when under evil influence, has been arrested in its course, and has prudently listened to warnings solemnly pronounced by this great assembly.
PRESENT MILITARY GOVERNMENT.
The military government of the City of London was considerably changed by an act of parliament passed in 1794; under which two regiments of militia are raised in the city, by ballot, amounting together to 2,200 men. The officers are appointed by the commissioners of the king's lieutenancy for the City of London; and one regiment may, in certain cases, be placed by the king under any of his general officers, and marched to any part not exceeding twelve miles from the capital, or the nearest encampment; the other, at all such times, to remain in the City
Middlesex returns eight Members to Parliament; viz. two for the County, four for the City of London, and two for Westminster: those for the County are chosen by the freeholders; thuse for London by the liverymen; and those for Westminster by the inhabitant householders.
GENERAL CIVIL GOVERNMENT.
It remains to speak of the general civil government of the metropolis, not included in the several jurisdictions already mentioned. The suburbs in Middlesex are under the jurisdiction of the justices of the peace for the county, as part of the county. The County Hall for Middlesex is on Clerkenwell Green; and in sessions held there quarterly, great part of the civil government of the suburbs in Middlesex is exercised. Four General Quarter Sessions are held, and four other Sessions are held by adjournment, so that there are eight Sessions every year.
Bow Street, Covent Garden, is the Office celebrated all over the United Kingdom, and it may be said the whole World, for its execution of the Police, particularly since the time of Sir John Fielding. It is not included in the Police Act, but is wholly under the direction and management of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Its establishment consists of three Magistrates, at a salary of 600l. clear of the property tax, a year each, for attending two days in a week. The chief magistrate has, in addition, 500l. a year, in lieu of the fees taken at the office, which were formerly appropriated to their emolument, but are now carried to the public account. He also has 500%. a year for the superintendance of the horse patrole.
All the Magistrates belonging to this Office are in the commission of the Peace for the Counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, it being the chief Office of England.
There are three Clerks and eight Officers who are applied to from all parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, to assist in the discovery of mysterious and daring offences; but three of them are excused from going out of town, being retained to attend the Regent and Court. There are also about 150 foot and horse patroles, who parade the streets of the metropolis, and all the roads for about ten miles out, from dusk till 12 o'clock. The former go in parties of three and a conductor, armed with blunderbusses and cutlasses.
PROVISIONS AGAINST FIRE, &c.
It is calculated that 2044 beadles, watchmen, and pa
troles, are nightly on duty in and around the Metropolis. The City itself contains 25 wards, in which there are 765 watchmen, and 38 patroles. Watch-houses are placed at convenient distances in all parts, where a parochial constable attends in rotation, to see that order prevails, to receive offenders, and deliver them the next morning to the sitting Magistrate. In each watch-house also, in case of fire, the names of the turncocks, and the places where engines are kept, are to be found. Besides parochial engines, certain societies and individuals are provided with them, together with the principal Fire Offices, who have engines stationed in various districts.
POLICE OF THE METROPOLIS.
As it is of the highest importance to strangers to be able to obtain redress in cases of injury, a list is subjoined of the Police Offices in London, in which Magistrates sit every day.
The Mansion House,
Queen's Square, Westminster,
Great Marlborough Street,
Lambeth Street, Whitechapel,
High Street, Shadwell,
Union Street, Southwark,
Wapping New Stairs, for offences connected with the shipping and port of London.
The Magistrates of these Offices are appointed to hear and determine according to law; particularly in cases relative to the customs, excise, and stamps; the game laws ; hawkers and pedlars; pawnbrokers; friendly societies; highways; hackney coaches, carts, and other carriages; quakers, and others refusing to pay tithes ; appeals of defaulters in parochial rates; misdemeanors committed by persons unlawfully pawning property not their own; bakers for short weight, &c.; journeymen leaving their services in different trades; labourers not complying with their agreements, and disorderly apprentices; persons