The bailiffs, two in number, were municipal officers in the medieval town. Elected each year by the burgesses, they were, at the beginning of the 13th century, the principal executive officers of the borough. As the century progressed, the mayor rather than the bailiffs was seen to be at the head of the town’s affairs. Under the supervision of the alderman (later the mayor) the bailiffs were charged with the maintenance of the law, regulation of markets, supervision of standards in the victualling trades and keeping the accounts of customs levied within the town. Bailiffs, unlike the aldermen and the mayor, were not required to be gild officials.
A list of bailiffs from 1205 to 1446 (after which sheriffs are listed instead of bailiffs) was kept, with a list of mayors amongst the town records in the Audit House and is now in the City Record Office.
The Book of Remembrance of Southampton, vol. 1 by Harry W Gidden (ed), pxvii-xviii. (HS/l)
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