History of His Majesty’s Commission of Lieutenancy
for the City of London

The first records of a county Lieutenancy date to 1540 and in 1545 Henry VIII appointed by means of letters patent the Duke of Norfolk as a Lieutenant of 12 counties and the Duke of Suffolk 11 counties. Lieutenants were responsible for raising military forces for both civil and military purposes, but during this period there was no uniform approach across the land and whilst some counties had no Lieutenants others had multiple appointees.

The earliest Commission of Lieutenancy in the City of London of which there is any record was issued in 1617 by James I to the Lord Mayor, 8 Aldermen and the Recorder. In 1662 an Act of Parliament laid the foundations for the Lieutenancy as it exists today, laying down its duties regarding the militia. It empowered ‘Lieutenants that are or shall be commissioned for the Militia of the City of London’ to levy the trained bands and auxiliaries of the City and to raise a trophy tax for defraying the necessary charges and incidental expenses of the Commission.

The Lieutenancy of the City of London is different from the county Lieutenancies, for instance the Militia Act of 1882 makes it clear that ‘the City of London will continue to be a separate county for the purposes of the militia’. Whereas a county has a Lord Lieutenant, in the City of London the Lord Major and the rest of His Majesty’s Lieutenants constitute and represent the County of the City of London in commission. More recently the Lieutenancies Act 1997 states that His Majesty may issue Commissions of Lieutenancy for the City of London and they will be treated as if they were Lord Lieutenant of a County.