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An officer, generally appointed or elected in towns corporate, or cities, possessing various powers in different places.
The aldermen of the cities of Pennsylvania, possess all the powers and jurisdictions civil and criminal of justices of the peace. They are besides, in conjunction with the respective mayors or recorders, judges of ibe mayor's courts.
Among the Saxons there was an officer called the ealderman. ealdorman, or aldernwn, which appellation signified literally elderman. Like the Roman senator, he was so called, not on account of his age, but because of his wisdom and dignity, non propter oetatem sed propter sapientism et dignitatem. He presided with the bisbop at the scyregemote, and was, ex officio, a member of the witenagemote. At one time he was a military officer, but afterwards his office was purely judical.
There were several kinds of aldermen, as king's aldermen, aldermen of all England, aldermen of the county, aldermen of the hundred, etc., to denote difference of rank and jurisdiction.