Historically the status of Burgess was hereditary and the ownership or occupation of a house or a door opening onto the High Street was the original requirement. In 1226 there were 26 Burgesses. Within 20 days of election a Burgess had to deliver a leather bucket for the use of the corporation to be kept in the town hall. The town’s Burgesses acted corporately as the town’s first ‘council’ to make decisions for the common good of the town inhabitants.
Prior to 1974 the borough of High Wycombe had the right, by law, to confer the Honorary Freedom of the Borough on persons deemed to have rendered singular service to the town. This was the highest honour which the town could bestow.
The Local Government Act of 1972, which reorganised Local Government into its present form, created Charter Trustee Towns to preserve the Mayoralty but did not continue the right to grant Honorary Freedoms, although this was bestowed elsewhere. As results of this change several Charter Trustee Towns, including High Wycombe, decided to create their own means of honouring persons of merit, creating Honorary Burgesses. The title of Honorary Burgess is therefore a link with the municipal past and a means of continuing the time honoured desire to honour such persons.
The 2009 Act requires the Charter Trustees to grant Freedom of the Town (rather than Burgess) but no appointments have been made since that date.
The above information is courtesy of The Book of Wycombe by Ivan Sparkes, and Charles E Talbot, Honorary Secretary of the National Association of Charter Trustee Towns and Charter Town Councils.
The following appointments to Honorary Burgess have been made since 1990
|Name||Date of Resolution|
|Albert Henry Mcrae||17 May 1990|
|Mrs Winifred Darby (Deceased)||17 May 1990|
|Ronald Henry William Gaffney IPEA ACIS||16 May 1991|
|Frederick G Secker DFC (Deceased)||14 May 1992|
|Lucian B Ercolani DSO DFC Hon D Des (Deceased)||20 May 1993|
|Ronald G Thomas (Deceased)||16 May 1996|
|Mrs Shaukat Amin MBE BA BT (Deceased)||16 May 1996|
|Basil A Di Mascio (Deceased)||15 May 1997|
|Mrs Elizabeth M Barratt MBE JP (Deceased)||2 September 1999|
|Mrs Kathleen M Peatey MBE JP||2 September 1999|
|Montague Edward Seymour MRPharmS (Deceased)||10 January 2002|
|David Morris FIBE||16 January 2003|
|Lawrence B N Dallaglio MBE||12 December 2003|
|Simon D Shaw MBE||12 December 2003|
|Stuart R Abbott MBE||12 December 2003|
|Owen J Lewsey MBE||12 December 2003|
|Joseph P R Worsley MBE||12 December 2003|
|Matthew J S Dawson MBE||12 December 2003|
|Amir Dad Khan Raja MSc||15 January 2004|
|Jim Tanner||3 November 2004|
|David Fieldhouse (Deceased)||13 March 2007|
|Peter Cartwright||13 March 2007|
|William Pollard||9 May 2009|
|John Auld Clark (Deceased)||1 September 2009|
|Frances Alexander||5 November 2013|