Lambton Aldermen, 1871-1899

Thomas CroudaceMy latest article for the Lambton Local is out, this month on Thomas Croudace, the father of Lambton.

Thomas Croudace served as alderman and mayor on both Lambton and New Lambton municipal councils at various times, and as part of my background research for the article I have been summarising who served as aldermen and mayor of Lambton Council from when it was incorporated in 1871, through to the end of 1899 when the council was bankrupt and virtually defunct amidst the ructions of the commercial failure of the electric light system.


Authors note: Since writing this blog post I have completed the task of summarising the Lambton alderman for all the years of the council and more complete and authoritative information can be found on my Lambton Alderman (1871-1938) page.


I had made a couple of attempts at the task of documenting council representatives on previous occasions, but struggled to work out what details to include and what format to present the information. This time I’ve worked out a nice compact way of presenting the data, with colour coding to indicate additional information.

AldermenSnip2The list of aldermen is available in two formats:

Entries in the table that are underlined are hyperlinks to a relevant newspaper article in Trove.

To make sense of the information in these documents, it is helpful to understand how council elections were organised, and secondly how I have used colour coding to represent changes in the council membership.

Council elections

Elections in the Lambton Municipal Councils were governed by the the NSW Municipalities Act of 1867. The council had 9 aldermen, who served terms of three years. Each February the term of three aldermen expired, and nominations were called to fill the expiring positions, so that over a three year cycle the terms of all nine of the aldermen expired. If three or less nominations were received for alderman, the nominees were automatically appointed to the council without the need for a ballot. If there were more nominations than positions available the returning officer would set a date within the next seven days at which a ballot would be held, where the ratepayers of the council area would vote for aldermen. The three candidates with the most votes would be declared elected.

The position of Mayor was not voted on by ratepayers, but rather on the first council meeting after the election, the nine aldermen (including the three newly elected/returned aldermen) would vote for who they wanted to be Mayor. In contrast to the position of aldermen who were elected to a term of three years, the position of Mayor had a term of only one year.

In the event of any casual vacancies, nominations for the vacancy would be called for, and and and election called if there were more nominees than vacancies. Casual vacancies could be due to resignation, death, or by an aldermen being absent from council meetings for three months without leave being granted.

Colour coding

In the documents I have used different colours to indicate the means by which people entered and exited council positions:

  • The foreground text color indicates how a person entered a council position:
    • Blue indicates the person was elected unopposed.
    • Green indicates the person was a successful candidate in an election.
    • Black indicates a continuation in office.
  • The background colour of a table cell indicates how a person exited a council position:
    • Yellow indicates a resignation.
    • Light pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person did not seek re-election.
    • Darker pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person was defeated when seeking re-election to another term.
    • Orange indicates that the person’s positon became vacant after three months of continued absence from council meetings, without leave.

Each new row in the table represents a change in the makeup of the council, with the exception of the February 1897 election when the aldermen and mayor remained unchanged.

Observations

In the period 1871 to 1899:

  • 14 different people served as Mayor.
  • 56 or 57 different people served as aldermen.
    • The exact number is hard to pin down as it is unclear whether T. Screen (1874-1876) is the same person as Thomas Screen (1888-1890)
    • The obituary of Thomas S. Jones in 1917 states that he was an alderman for eight years, thus confirming that the Thomas Jones (1872-1874) is the same person as Thomas S. Jones (1889-1894).
  • Two people died while serving in office – Peter Grant in 1876, and Dr. J.J. Hill in 1882.
  • On only two occasions (1885, 1897) did the regular election in February result in the same set of aldermen serving for a successive year, and only in 1897 did the aldermen and mayor remain unchanged.
  • On three occasions a vacancy occurred due to an alderman not attending council meetings for three successive months – John Beveridge in 1881, Thomas Croudace in 1886, and Enoch Higgs in 1887. It is not clear on any of these occasions whether the reason was sickness, laziness, busyness, or wilfulness.

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