Members of the Corporation
In conformity to the above-mentioned charter,
granted to this city by king James I. the corporation
at present continues to consist of a mayor, chosen on
Sept. 14, and sworn in on the day of St. Michael, a
recorder, twelve aldermen, and twenty-four commoncouncilmen, including the sheriff and town clerk.
The mayor, recorder, (fn. 1) and those who have served the
office of mayor, are justices of the peace; a chamberlain, coroner, and other inferior officers. It has the
privilege of a sword granted at the time of the charter by king James I. in 1607, (fn. 2) and a mace. (fn. 3) A court
of burghmote for the business of the city, which is
held on every fourth Tuesday; (fn. 4) and it continues to
hold a general court of sessions, with power of life and
death, a court of pleas before the mayor, and other
liberties, as mentioned in the charter, in like manner
as other cities and counties of the like fort.—There is
also a court of conscience for recovery of debts under
40s. granted by act of parliament.
The arms of the city are, Argent, three Cornish
choughs proper, two and one; on a chief, gules, a lion
passant guardant, or, (fn. 5)
The common seal of the city of Canterbury has on
one side the above arms of the city, and on the reverse a castle, with this inscription round it: Istud est
Sigillum Comune Civitatis Cantuariæ.
The seal belonging to the office of mayoralty has
a castle garnished with three lions passant, with this inscription round it, viz. Sigillum Majoris Civitatis Cantuariæ. The chamberlain has also a seal of office.
||Michaelmas term, anno 12 George, B. R. the king, v. the
mayor, &c. of the city of Canterbury, on a mandamus to restore
a recorder, they returned, that he was an officer at pleasure, and
that upon due summons to chuse another they did so, and thereby
the former was removed; and this was held by the court to be a
good return See Strange's Reports, vol. i. p. 1674.
||The sword was obtained by Thomas Paramor, who was
mayor that year, not without a great expence to the city. Batt.
Somn. p. 18.
||It was ordered in parliament as appears by the rolls of 20
Edward III. that no man within cities or towns or elsewhere, do
carry maces of silver, but only the king's serjeants; but that
they carry maces of copper only, and of no other metal, except
in the city of London, where the sergeants may carry their maces
of silver within the liberties of it, before the mayor, in the king's
presence. Cotton's Records, p. 46.
||By the charter of king Henry III. the city burghmote may
be assembled once in 15 days; but the ordinary business of the
city not requiring such frequent meetings, this court is hardly
ever convened oftener than once in a month. It has been held
immemorially on a Tuesday, and is called by summons and by the
blowing of a horn. This custom of assembling burghmotes by
the sound of a horn, is very antient, being mentioned in an exemplification of a record now in the city chamber, dated so far
back as the 13th century. It is a court of record, and is composed of the mayor for the time being, or of his deputy in his
absence, the aldermen and common council, a majoriry of
whom, the mayor being considered as one, is necessary to form a
||It appears that this city formerly regarded St. Thomas Becket
as its patron and tutelar saint, and therefore borrowed and retains at this day a part of its arms from those borne by him, which
were three Cornish choughs, proper; and as a farther instance of it,
they caused these verses to be cut about the rim of its old common seal:
Ictibus immensis Thomas qui corruit ensis
Tutor ab offensis urbis sit Canturiensis.