Prahran Mayors and Councillors
This list was compiled using the Prahran Council minutes, except for the years 1909-1954 where the Council's series of annual reports was used. The first minute book covering the years 1856-1859 is missing from the collection held by the Public Record Office - it appears to be no longer extant.
Several discrepancies in the various published lists that precede this one have been noted and checked. Every attempt has been made to assure the accuracy of this latest list. Some errors occurred due to the shifting of dates for elections (see below), others may have occurred by overlooking a by-election, especially if it was close to August - the 'traditional' month for municipal elections.
The first election was held in February 1856, and until 1864 elections were held in February. In that year, elections were moved to August. Until 1875, the Annual General Meeting was held in November, and the new Mayor elected. In at least one case (1866), the current Mayor was not re-elected as a Councillor in August, even though he still had three months of his mayoral term left. In such situations, he had to tender his resignation from the mayoralty, as he did not have a seat on Council, and another interim Mayor would need to be elected.
So until 1875, for any given council (February-February, later August-August), there were two mayors, as decided by the November AGM.
Initially there were only seven councillors elected, but this increased to nine in 1864, and twelve in 1888 when the ward system was introduced. Three councillors stood for re-election in any given year, and - at least in the early years - the three new successful candidates were elected for a period of one, two or three years depending on the number of votes obtained. (i.e. the person winning the most votes was awarded a three-year term, the next person a two-year term etc.)
For the early years, the elections appear to have been held at a public council meeting by show of hands, with the option of a public poll to be called. For example, on 19 February 1861, a show of hands by 337 people elected Chambers, Goodman and Crews. However, Mr John Palmer supported by five other ratepayers demanded a poll, which was conducted the following day between 8am and 4 pm at three local polling booths. A total of 2230 votes were recorded which elected Chambers, Goodman and Fellows (i.e. Crews lost his seat to Fellows).
Under the terms of the Municipal Institutions Act of 1854, male householders resident for more than three months in the district were entitled to vote at municipal elections. This included tenants whose name appeared as the occupant in Council's ratebook. This changed in 1863 with the Municipal Government Act, whereby a property qualification was introduced: voters could be entitled to up to three votes, depending on the value of their property holdings in the municipality. This system (called plural voting) remained in place until 1969.
The franchise was extended to include all adult residents regardless of property ownership in 1983. Non-resident ratepayers could still apply for a vote in the ward(s) where they owned property. This form of multiple voting was not abolished until 2004 by an amendment to the Act, allowing only a single vote per person for the municipality.
For a complete list of former Chairmen/Mayors of the municipality, download the file:
Prahran_Mayors.pdf (32.14 KB)
For a complete list of former councillors, download the file:
Prahran_Councillors.pdf (39.32 KB)