Borough and council history

History of the Mayor's Office

Thurrock has had a mayor since 1974 when it gained Borough status with a grant from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Mayoralty has long been a tradition of our national heritage and is regarded as one of the most ancient offices in British history. The word "Mayor" derives from the Latin word "Magnus" which means great and was acknowledged as the "First Citizen" of the town in medieval times. He would have had a Council to assist him and would have been in charge of the towns civil and criminal courts.

For more than a century after the Norman Conquest, the Chief Magistrate of London bore the role of Portreeve and was elected through popular choice. The term Mayor or Chief Officer was employed from the 12th Century onwards with boroughs across England introducing the title at various intervals. By Tudor times, the powers of the Mayor as Chief Magistrate were increased and by the 17th century the Mayor had become all-powerful in many boroughs.

The title of Mayor, as the head of a corporation, was introduced by the Municipal Corporation Act in 1835. This act was extended in 1882 to regulated elections, enforcing annually appointed Mayors by the Council of the Borough from among the Aldermen and Councillors. A deputy could be appointed from the same pool to act through illness or absence. Mayors would be disqualified and have to vacate their office if absent for more than two months.

Through time the role of the Mayor has changed. Party politics and the introduction of a political leader in local government have caused the mayoralty to engage more of a social and ceremonial role and less emphasis is set on other duties, especially administrative. Long periods of service to the council or local distinction play a key role in modern appointments.

Districts which have not been created a Borough do not have Mayors but a Chairman of the Council, although their role is exactly the same. Thurrock Urban District Council, which had been made up of four separate councils: Orsett Rural District Council, Grays and Purfleet Urban District Councils and Tilbury Town Council having been amalgamated in 1936, changed in 1974. Thurrock, having become a Borough by Royal command, saw the first appointment as Mayor of Cllr. Mrs Margaret Jones JP.


  • Thurrock Gazette 1972 to 2010
  • Thurrock History Society publication Panorama 'Grays and Greys' by Brian Burton
  • Original Mayor's chain and official seals are on public display at Thurrock Museum