The Borough & Corporation of Bedford in 1835
From an article in the SDUK 'Penny Magazine' 1835
Bedford is considered a borough and corporation by prescription, and is so called in all legal proceedings. The first charter on record was granted to the town by Henry II, and the last by Charles II. The corporation consists of a mayor, recorder, two bailiffs, thirteen common-councilmen, and an uncertain number of aldermen, as every who has served the office of mayor is after wards reputed an alderman.
The manor of Bedford is vested in the corporation by virtue of ancient grants, the earliest of which is that of Henry II, which subjected the burgesses in return to the payment of a fee-farm rent of £40 per annum. This was afterwards raised to £46 ; but in the end was gradually reduced to the sum of £16, 5 shillings, 8 pence, which is now payable to representatives of persons who bought the rent of the crown. The bailiffs for the time being are lords of the manor, and have the right of fishing and taking game to the extent of the bounds, which contains a space of upwards of nine miles in circumference, comprising an area of 2,200 acres. The Boundary Commissioners, in 1831, recommended no alteration of the ancient limit.
The town has sent two members to parliament ever since the year 1295. The right of election was determined, in 1690, to be in the burgesses, freemen, and the inhabitant householders not receiving alms. Under this franchise, the greatest number of electors polled in the first thirty years of this century was 914. In 1831, the borough of Bedford contained 1,446 houses, with a population of 6,959 persons, of whom 3,757 were females.