History of the Mayoralty
In September 1835, Swansea's old corporation, headed by the portreeve, was replaced by a new municipal corporation.
The new corporation styled itself 'the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Swansea'. This new corporation, in contrast to the old, was to be elected by the ratepayers of the borough. The Municipal Corporation Act which instituted this change also defined the legal position of the mayor, the title for the head of municipal corporations which was to become universal in England and Wales after the passing of the Act.
Subsequent local government legislation between 1835 and 1972 may have introduced slight modifications to the role of mayor, but his basic functions have changed little since 1835.
Robes and regalia
The mayor's ceremonial role is reflected in its robes and regalia. In many cities and boroughs, such items are of great antiquity. In Swansea, maces have been borne before the portreeves and mayors since at least the 16th century. The present pair were made in 1753, while an earlier pair which date from 1615, are still in the Council's possession but are no longer in use.
The mayoral robes and chain of office were only introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century. The robes of office worn by mayors until March 1982 consisted of a sable-furred scarlet robe and tricorne hat. They were first instituted by the antiquarian, George Grant Francis, during his mayoralty in 1853-4.
Chain of office
The mayoral chain of office dates from 1875, when it was presented to the corporation by Frank Ash Yeo to commemorate his own mayoralty of the preceding year. The former mayoral robes were replaced on 25 March 1982 by the Lord Mayor's robes of ornamented black silk and cotton damask, and a tricorne hat of black velvet with black ostrich feathers.
Change in Swansea
In the years since 1835, there have been several changes in Swansea's size and status. The status of the mayor has also altered. In 1835, he was simply the mayor of the borough of Swansea. The Local Government Act 1888 made Swansea a county borough, while in December 1969, city status was granted.
Under the terms of the Local Government Act 1972, the former city and county borough of Swansea were replaced by the Swansea District Council. On 1 April 1974, the day on which the act came into force, the status of borough and city was bestowed upon the district, thereby granting the right for the chairman of the district council to be styled as the mayor.
On 22 March 1982, HM Queen Elizabeth II graciously granted to the city of Swansea letters patent which elevated the status of the mayor to that of Lord Mayor. The Unitary Authority of the City and County of Swansea which came into being on 1 April 1996 was successful in having both the City and Lord Mayor status re-bestowed.