The office of Mayor was, and to some still is, the highest distinction which the Borough of Doncaster can bestow. Doncaster has kept a record of its Mayors since the 1300s. London was the first English city to adopt the use of a Mayor from its origins in northern France. Records show that Londoners elected a mayor around the year 1190 and King John recognised the London mayoralty in 1215. In the later Middle Ages most leading English towns followed London’s example with an annually elected mayor as their chief official. Doncaster was one of these towns.
Up until the 19th century the office of Mayor carried many responsibilities although the pay balanced it out quite handsomely. For example, our first recorded ‘Mayor of Doncaster’, William Veylle, was “chief magistrate of the Borough and Soke of Doncaster; presided at the Petty and Quarter sessions; acted as Coroner for the district, the Judge at the Court of Pleas (the full title being, ‘The Court of Pleas of the Mayor and Recorder of the Borough and Soke of Doncaster’), and visiting justice of the gaol. He was authorised to take cognisance of statute merchant by charter (whatever that means!); was returning officer for all writs and other processes of the Courts of Westminster, which were directed to him, acting like a sheriff; he was a commissioner of the Court of Requests; also for the Court of Sewers for the Level of Hatfield Chase.”