British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Sept. 29.]                     michaelmas day.                               381
it into the hand of his successor. The new mayor then proposed two persons for sheriffs, and two for the office of chamberlains; and after these had also gone through the votes, the whole assemblage marched into the chancel, where the senior coroner administered the oath to the new mayor in the presence of the old one; and the town-clerk gave to the sheriffs and chamberlains their oath of office. These ceremonies being over, they marched in order to the New Hall, attended by such gentlemen and tradesmen as had been invited by the mayor and sheriffs, where the feasting took place. On their way, at the Week-day Cross, over against the ancient Guild Hall, the town-clerk proclaimed the mayor and sheriffs; and at the next ensuing market-day they were again proclaimed in the face of the whole market at the Malt Cross. On these occasions the mayor and sheriffs welcomed their guests with bread and cheese, fruit in season, and pipes and tobacco.
At Chichester, Sloe Fair was always proclaimed under the Canon Gate by the bishop's steward eight days before the eve of St. Faith the Virgin, during which time the jurisdiction of the mayor ceased, and the bishop had power to collect, and did by his agent collect, the tolls of the market and fair. An instance is recorded (1702) in the annals of the corpora­tion of the bishop claiming the keys of the city during the Piepowder Court. The bishop's claim arose from a grant made as early as Henry I,—Dally, Chichester Guide, 1831, p. 24.
The bailiff of Seaford is annually elected on St. Michael's Day. The freemen of the town having previously assembled at the Court Hall—leaving the jurats on the bench—retire to a certain spot at the gate-post of a field near the west end of the town, where the serjeant-at-mace of the body cor­porate nominates the chief magistrate for the ensuing year, who is then and there elected. This peculiar custom is supposed to have originated to prevent any influence on the part of the corporation magistrates (jurats), and to enable the freemen to make a free choice of their mayor.
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