The word 'Mayor' derives from the French 'Monsieur le Maire', which in turn derives from the Latin 'Major' meaning 'superior.' The first town to have a Mayor named as such was Thetford which established its mayorality in 1199. Other towns had office holders who occupied the same position, but were called 'Bailiff', or 'Portreeve', or 'Warden.' Until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 the Mayor was in effect a legal dictator within his own Borough.
The 1835 Act restricted and regulated the legal position of the Mayor. He or she is however the official representative of the Crown in the Borough, second only to the Lord Lieutenant of the County. Blackburn petitioned the Queen in 1850 for a Charter of Incorporation.
Cotton made Blackburn and it's no surprise that those at the head of the industry became prominent in local politics. The election of the town's first Mayor was discussed at the first council meeting held on November 12th, 1851 and the honour fell to William Henry Hornby of Brookhouse Mills. He was succeeded by Robert Hopwood, Thomas Dugdale, William Hoole, William Pilkington and so on throughout the rest of the century, men, almost without exception, who were prominent in the cotton industry.
The Mayor's Chain originally belongs to Darwen Council and was made in 1879 by T. J. Bragg of Birmingham and was used in Darwen until 1974 when Blackburn and Darwen joined together as Blackburn Borough Council. It has been used by Mayors of Blackburn Borough Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Attached to the chain is a pendant with the Blackburn Coat of Arms. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council uses this chain as the original Blackburn chains were stolen.
The Mayoress's Chain. This is worn on occasions when the Mayoress is on official engagements and has a past Mayor's badge attached beneath.
View of items worn by the Mayor, Chief Executive and the Mayor's Officer. Tricorn hat is worn by a female Mayor and the cocked hat is worn by a male Mayor. The Block and Gavel are used at Council meetings, the Mayor's seal and various shields are here and various mementoes have been presented to the Mayor from visiting dignitaries and organisations.
The Mace of the County Borough of Blackburn. It was made by G&Sco Ltd. in London in 1911 and was bought to celebrate the Coronation of King George IV and weighs 4.13kgs. The Mace is a symbol of authority.
Two views of the Mayor's Parlour at Blackburn Town Hall.