The title of Alderman is of Anglo-Saxon origin and predates that of Lord Mayor.
The number of Aldermen has varied over time, and now there are twenty five, one for each of the electoral Wards in the City. They are elected by the residents and business voters in each Ward. Although it is customary for Aldermen to retire at the age of 70, there is no legal compulsion to do so. They must, however, submit themselves for re-election every six years.
The Aldermen, when sitting in session with the Common Councilmen, form the City’s governing body – the Court of Common Council.
The Court of Aldermen is made up of the twenty five Aldermen, plus the Recorder of London, presided over by the Lord Mayor (who is one of the Aldermen). The Court was originally responsible for the entire administration of the City, but some of its responsibilities were subsumed by the Court of Common Council in the fourteenth century. Some of the remaining duties of the Court of Aldermen include approving people for Freedom of the City and approving the formation of new Livery Companies.
The Court meets nine times a year in the Aldermen’s Court Room at Guildhall.
The Aldermen have two forms of ceremonial dress: violet robes trimmed with fur that are worn for Common Hall, and scarlet robes trimmed with fur that are worn for other ceremonial occasions such as the Lord Mayor’s Show.