Lambton Aldermen (1871-1938)

Lambton Council was incorporated in 1871 and remained until 1938 when 11 local municipal councils merged to form the City of Greater Newcastle Council. During the 67 years of its existence, Lambton Council had 97 different aldermen, 28 of whom served as mayor.

Lambton Aldermen. 26th February 1895. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Lambton Aldermen. 26th February 1895. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The file linked to below contains a summary of all the aldermen that served on Lambton Municipal Council in the years 1871 to 1938.

Click the preview image above to view the full table.

Click the preview image above to view the full table in a PDF document.

Entries in the table that are underlined are hyperlinks to a relevant newspaper article in Trove. To make sense of the information in the summary document, it is helpful to understand how council elections were organised, and how I have used different text and background colours to represent changes in the council membership.

Council elections

Elections in the Lambton Municipal Council were initially 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.

On 26/2/1906 ,the Municipalities Act (1897) was replaced by the Local Government Act (1906). The system of electing 3 aldermen each year was changed to elect 9 aldermen every 3 years. The election of a Mayor was still held each February, with the Mayoral term running from the first day of March to the last day of February.

Although there are numerous pieces of legislation relevant to local government in the period 1871 to 1938, the main acts relevant to the content on this page are:

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.
    • Light gray indicates that the person died while serving their term of office.
    • Orange indicates that the person’s positon became vacant after three months of continued absence from council meetings, without leave.
  • For entries prior to 1906, where three aldermen retired each year, the names of the retiring aldermen are shown in italics.

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.

Miscellaneous Observations

In the period 1871 to 1938:

  • 28 different people served as Mayor.
    • The longest serving Mayor was John Thomas Johnson, who served a total of 8 years as Mayor during the period 1912 to 1938, on five separate occasions.
    • The four longest serving Mayors have streets in Lambton/North Lambton named after them – Johnson, Charlton, Dent, and Croudace. Four other Mayors also have corresponding street names (Notley, Hill, Noble, Young) although Young Road is probably not named after Alderman James Young, as the street name was in use as early as 1871, seven years before he was first elected in 1878.
  • Approximately 99 different people served as aldermen.
    • The exact number is hard to be sure of. I have had to make some educated guesses as to whether aldermen with the same, similar, or variant names at different periods are the same person, or a different person.
      • It is uncertain whether T. Screen (1874-1876), also spelt “Screens” is the same person as Thomas Screen (1888-1890). I have assumed it is the same person.
      • 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).
      • There are two people named Robert Bell, but they are clearly different people as the first Robert Bell died before the second Robert Bell served as alderman.
      • Arthur Payne (1926-1930) was possibly the grandson of Arthur Lydney Payne who served in various terms in the period 1884 to 1912, and who died in 1917.
      • Given the gap in years, I am assuming that Thomas William Smith (1926-1928) is not the same as Thomas Smith who served as alderman at various times between 1894 and 1910.
    • The longest serving alderman was Edward Charlton who served a total of 24 years and 8 months in the period 1903 to 1931, on three separate occasions.
    • The shortest serving alderman was John Simpson who was elected in February 1911, and then resigned just four months later in May 1911, along with six other aldermen in the great building ordinance brouhaha of that year.
  • This page is titled “Lambton Aldermen“, for they were all men. For most of the life of the council, this was by law, for while both men and women were entitled to vote, the Municipalities Act of 1867 and the Local Government Act of 1906 was explicit in restricting council service to men. e.g. section 69 of the 1906 act says:
    “Any male person whose name is on the roll of electors for an area shall, if not disqualified, be eligible to be elected and to act as alderman or councillor of the area.”
    By the time of the Local Government Act of 1919, this gender exclusion for office was no longer in place, however in the remaining 20 years no women were nominated for or elected to Lambton Council.
  • 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 four occasions a vacancy occurred due to an alderman not attending council meetings for three successive months – John Beveridge in 1881, Thomas Croudace in 1886, Enoch Higgs in 1887, and Nathaniel Elliott in 1906. It is not clear on any of these occasions whether the reason was sickness, laziness, busyness, wilfulness, or some other reason.
  • There were 30 occasions when an alderman or mayor resigned their position. Sometimes this was for the simple reason that the person had left the district, but more often than not the resignation was for political reasons. A..L. Payne resigned on two separate occasions, but the champion of resignations was George E. Hardy who resigned as mayor once, and alderman twice.

Note on “Mc” names

In the old newspaper articles, Scottish surnames that begin with “Mc” are typically printed with an inverted comma to represent a superscript “c”. So for instance McEwan is printed as M‘Ewan. In my compilation of names I have used the superscript “c” in names of this form.

4 thoughts on “Lambton Aldermen (1871-1938)

  1. Hi Lachlan,
    Do you have the names of the Lambton Alderman in the 1895 Snowball photograph. I am particularly looking for Richard Ward.
    Thanks,
    Greg Archbold

  2. Hi Lachlan, love the spreadsheet and the information posted on this site regarding the Lambton Alderman.

    Regards
    Denise

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