The Lord Mayor of London: we know they're important because they wear a big gold necklace perched on a doily. But how much do we really know about them? It's high time we met all 669*. Let's begin with 10 who made a big impact.
1. Sir Thomas Legge (1354)
How can we omit London's first ever Lord Mayor? Sir Thomas Legge previously held the title of Mayor of London in 1347, and scored the first 'Lord' title seven years later, thus making him sound even more important. He was a skinner by trade, and has his own page on the Skinners' Company website. Alas it doesn't actually say anything about him (see above), so we remain unsure what he actually did. By the way, Sir Thomas Legge is not to be confused with former senior civil servant Sir Thomas Stuart Legg. We've all made that mistake once, right? ★★★☆☆
2. Dick Whittington (1397)
Four-times Lord Mayor, Richard Whittington proved that anyone can make their mark on London — even people from Gloucestershire. He did excellent things for the city's drainage system i.e. he created one. He even created London's first gender-divided public toilet. When this kid said he'd 'drain the swamp' he meant it. An early incarnation of Joseph Bazalgette, if you will... with a cat. ★★★★★
3. John Wilkes (1774)
It all started so promisingly. John Wilkes stood staunchly for the rights of voters to determine their representatives, and pressed for Parliament to make public in print what had been debated. Wilkes rather fluffed his mayoralty, though, during the Gordon Riots, when he ordered soldiers at the Bank of England to shoot at advancing Londoners. Several hundred died or were wounded. As you might imagine, London went a bit cold for their Lord Mayor after that. For that, Wilkes, you drop two stars. ★★★☆☆
4. Fiona Woolf (2013)
"A lady mayor," as Roger Moore might say. That's right Woolf is only the second lady Lord Mayor in London's history — the first being Dame Mary Donaldson, in 1983. We didn't have a photo of her, so we've gone with the Woolf instead. Her website claims she has helped advise 28 different governments, and although we're not quite sure how she's defining that, it certainly sounds impressive on the old CV. ★★★★☆
5. William Walworth (1380)
It was during his second term as Lord Mayor of London, in 1380, that William Walworth really made his mark — namely by stabbing a peasant. The peasant was Wat Tyler, and he was revolting. To be fair, Tyler was actually killed by one of King Richard II's servants, who stabbed Tyler again for good luck. These days, stabbing a poor person will land you in trouble, no matter how close you are to the reigning monarch. Back then, Walworth was knighted. You can still see the dagger in Fishmongers' Hall. ★☆☆☆☆ (you just can't go around handing out stars for stabbing peasants).
6. David Salomons (1855)
Like Woolf and Donaldson, David Salomons rather stands out in the lengthy list of Lord Mayors. He was the first non-Christian Lord Mayor, and a tenacious chap to boot. Refusing to denounce his Jewish faith, Salomons struggled to get the jobs he deserved (he was elected as an Alderman of the City of London, but had to turn it down, because the oath required him to announce his Christian faith). Salomons not only became Lord Mayor of London, but England's first Jewish magistrate. If at first you don't succeed... ★★★★★
7. Dick Whittington (1397)
Nope, the date isn't a typo. Whittington was twice made Lord Mayor of London in 1397 — once when Adam Bamme died in office, and the King decreed Whittington should fill his boots, and again, when Whittington we re-elected later the same year. Being elected to the same high ranking position twice in the same year is usually the only thing Putin could pull off. Kudos, Dick.
8. Thomas Bloodworth (1666)
Conspicuous, not as one of the best Lord Mayors of London, but almost certainly the worst. Bloodworth is widely considered to have let the Great Fire of London happen. "A woman might piss it out," it is claimed he said, before heading off back to the land of nod. When he awoke, there was about two-thirds less of London for him to be mayor of. His name is sometimes spelled 'Bludworth' too — we should never have trusted a man who couldn't even give himself a definitive name. ☆☆☆☆☆
9. Dick Whittington (1406)
Look, we're struggling OK. This time Dick gets an inclusion for his will — which helped found charities that are still going strong today.
10. Dick Whittington (1419)
Er, he coined the phrase "he's behind you"?
OK, so we bit off more than we could chew. So here, in no specific order, is every single other Lord Mayor of London, ranked by awesomeness of name.
Sir John Lovekyn (1348/58/66)
Sir Vansittart Bowater, 1st Baronet (1913)
Sir Baldwin Radyngton (1392)
Sir Drugo Barentyn (1398/1408)
Sir Thomas Kneesworth (1505)
Sir Cuthbert Buckell (1593)
Brass Crosby (1770) who was genuinely followed by
William Nash (1771)
Sir Francis Moon, 1st Baronet (1854)
Sir Rupert de la Bère, 1st Baronet (1952)
OK, so we bit off more than we could chew. Dick Whittington wins.
*Correct number at time of print. Figure does not include pre-1354, when the position — as you'll all know — was simply 'Mayor of London'.