Leeds Mace


Leeds Mace
Courtesy of Nick Pinches and the Headingley Rotary Club

Both the charter of 1626, granted by Charles I, and that of 1661, granted by Charles II, empowered the election of two Serjeants-at-Mace. In 1694 the council ordered a new silver gilt mace from Arthur Mangey, a Briggate goldsmith and silversmith. On 3 November they paid him £60 11s. for it. Ralph Thoresby records in his Diary on 12 May 1713 the events surrounding the celebration of the Treaty of Utrecht that concluded the War of the Spanish Succession and wrote of, ‘Two Serjeants-at-Mace, in their black gowns, bearing the old silver mace and the new great gilt one.’ We have no knowledge of the shape or size of the original mace.

The mace is 4ft 8ins long (140cm) and weighs 13lb 3.6oz (6 kilograms). The shaft is beautifully engraved and ornamented. A border of foliage encircles the head which is made up of four divisions containing the national insignia of England, France, Scotland and Ireland which in turn are surmounted by the Royal Crowns of these kingdoms. The whole is surmounted by the Imperial Crown of Great Britain with a row of fleur-de-lis and cross pattee alternatively. The initials of William and Mary are superimposed with R. R. (Rex, Regina) and inscribed on the upper part of the base are the words, ‘Arthur Mangey de Leeds, Fecit 1694’. Inscribed on the lower part are the words, ‘Marmaduke Hick, 2 Maior, Tho. Dikson’ with the arms of the old borough surmounted by the motto ‘Burgus de Leeds’. Hick was mayor 1693–1694 and Dickson or Dixon from 1694–1695.

Later Jeremiah Bastow or Barstow, mayor in 1706, had his name added but it was removed in 1713. On 8 May 1728 it was decided to re-gild the mace and Isaac Hancock was employed to carry out the work. He was paid £15 13s. 5d. In order to pay for it an older gold and silver mace was sold to Hancock at the rate of 5s. per ounce. The mace was re-gilded again in 1771 and underwent a complete repair in 1898.

In Civic processions the Serjeant-at-Mace precedes the Lord Mayor carrying the mace on his shoulder with the head of the mace at the rear. However, in the presence of the monarch the Serjeant-at-Arms reverses the mace carrying its head in his hand and its symbolic authority lapses. On the death of an important member of the Royal Family, the mace us trimmed with black crêpe.

Middle Row, Leeds

Middle Row behind Moot Hall in Briggate where Mangey had his workshop. It was demolished in 1825

Arthur Mangey the silversmith and goldsmith, who probably came from York where the Mangeys had a well established goldsmith’s business, had his workshop in Middle Row in Briggate. The parish church register shows that on 28 December 1694, Adam Dale, Mangey’s assistant, was buried at the church. He was said to have died as a result of being poisoned by gilding the mace. Mangey’s problems, however, began in 1696 when George Norcross, a Leeds shoemaker, accused him of forgery, a capital offence at the time. Mangey was tried in York on 1 August 1696, found guilty and executed in the city on 2 October 1696.

Mangey’s clippers, or were they planted there by George Norcross?

When Middle Row was eventually demolished in 1825, a secret room was discovered that appears to have been Mangey’s workshop. It contained two pairs of shears and a shilling from Elizabeth’s reign dated 1567. Whether they had been planted by Norcross or were the remnants of Mangey’s illegal operation will never be known. For further reading see J. Sprittles, Links with Bygone Leeds (Leeds, 1969).