The position of Mayor of Dorchester dates back to 1629 when John Parkyns was elected as the first Mayor (click here for a full list of Mayors).
Today the Mayor has to be a member of the Council and we have a seniority list based on the length of each member's service on the Council; when they get to the top of the list they have the choice whether to be Mayor or not, and when they have served their year of office they move to the bottom of the list.
But it has not always been like that. It was not until the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act in 1835 that the Council existed in anything like a form that we might recognise today and even then the Mayor could be absolutely anyone until the Local Government Act 1933 came into force in 1935.
There is a saying in Dorchester that things were never better than when Freddie James was Mayor; the photograph shows Freddie wearing the Mayoral chain with Town Clerk J Adrian Hands who served from 1922 to 1949, the longest-serving Town Clerk of the 20th century. The photograph is a detail taken from a 1935 photograph of Dorchester Corporation.
The position of Town Clerk also dates back to 1629: click here to download a list of Town Clerks since then.