Mayor Making

Weighing the Mayor Tradition

The Town of High Wycombe Weighing-in Ceremony

The ceremonial surrounding the annual election of the town’s new Mayor is unique to High Wycombe and is thought to date back to medieval times. It is not known how the ceremony was ordered originally but there is a direct report from 1678 of a change in procedure arising from the misconduct of a certain dignitary who became very drunk and ‘offered affronts to several gentlemen’. The townsfolk were so disgusted by this behaviour that he was stripped of his burgeeship and ‘in token thereof it was ordered that the great bell should be rung out in testimony of his misdemeanours’.

Thereafter the ‘old’ mayor was tolled-out on the morning of the election of his successor and, on the parade to the Church; the procession was preceded by a drummer who continued to drum the old mayor out.  Following the election of a new Mayor he would be drummed around the market place in procession and the church bells pealed to announce to the town that a new Mayor had been chosen. This custom ceased with the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, but has in part been revived as now when a new Mayor is elected, a quarter peal of bells sounds from the Parish Church to announce the election. Also in 1999 the procession was once again preceded by a drummer from the local Sea Cadet Corps, High Wycombe Unit 181, TS Jaguar and it is anticipated that this ancient custom will continue, now re-instated.

In the ‘weighing-in’ ceremony, the newly elected Mayor, the Charter Trustees, Honorary Burgesses, and the outgoing Mayor are all weighed. As their weight is recorded the Town Crier shouts out the words ‘and some more’ if the Mayor has gained weight, or ‘and no more’ if there is a weight loss or it remains the same. The spectators wait for the call and, if the words ‘and some more’ are heard, the person being weighed is jeered. It is traditionally believed that they have grown fat at the expense of the towns’ people.  If the words ‘and no more’ are heard, the crowd cheers and claps. If no weight has been gained, or some lost then they must have been working hard for the good of the town.

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Photo credit and content ©Copyright Mayor of High Wycombe. Photograph from Mayor Making 2017.

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