The Ward Beadles hold the oldest elected Office in the City, predating the Sheriffs election from 1130, previously appointed as the King's officers and also that of Mayor instituted in 1189. The Aldermen were not elected until well into the modern era.
The Ward Beadles for each Ward were elected by the Freemen of the Ward to execute the Alderman's magistracy in the Ward and to bring wrong-doers before the juries of Freemen for the Alderman to fine and punish when found as guilty.
They continue to be elected, each Ward has at least one, two have two and one has three. Nominated by the Alderman with consideration by the Common Councilmen and formally elected by the Wardmote. The principal 'electoral duty' of the Ward Beadle is to open, close and otherwise keep order at the Wardmote. This role of 'keeping order' is also their role at the Common Halls for elections of Sheriffs and Lord Mayor with minor other officials, which is why they sit facing the Liverymen with their backs to the dais.
All other duties are now of a ceremonial nature in that the Ward Beadle accompanies the Alderman in civic processions listed in the City Calendar, most notably that of the Lord Mayor's Show.
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The City of London Ward Beadles (founded 1895)