Each of the City’s 25 electoral wards is headed by an Alderman. The office is of Anglo-Saxon antiquity and shares with the noble title of Earl the same root ‘Elder man’. The Aldermen were previously responsible for the government of the City and got directly involved in deliberation and decision making. Nowadays the Aldermen are primarily responsible for matters related to the Freedom of the City of London and the creation of new Livery Companies in addition to various other duties in their wards.
It is from the Aldermen that the Lord Mayor is elected each year. By custom no Aldermen may stand for election to the office of Lord Mayor if he or she has previously served. Furthermore an Alderman wishing to stand for election to the mayoralty must first serve a year as Sheriff.