ALD'ERMAN, noun plural Aldermen.
1. Among our Saxon ancestors, a senior or superior. The title was applied to princes, dukes, earls, senators and presiding magistrates; also to archbishops and bishops, implying superior wisdom or authority. Thus, Ethelstan, duke of the East-Anglians, was called alderman of all England; and there were aldermen of cities, counties, and castles, who had jurisdiction within their respective districts.
2. In present usage, a magistrate or officer of a town corporate, next in rank below the mayor. The number of aldermen is different in different cities. In London the number is twenty-six, one in each ward, and the office is held for life.
In the United States, the number of aldermen depends on the charters of incorporation. In general, aldermen have the powers of a justice of the peace, and with the mayor, they constitute the court of the corporation. In most of our cities, they are annually elected by the citizens.