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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Al·der·man n.; pl. Aldermen
 1. A senior or superior; a person of rank or dignity. [Obs.]
 Note:The title was applied, among the Anglo-Saxons, to princes, dukes, earls, senators, and presiding magistrates; also to archbishops and bishops, implying superior wisdom or authority. Thus Ethelstan, duke of the East-Anglians, was called Alderman of all England; and there were aldermen of cities, counties, and castles, who had jurisdiction within their respective districts.
 3. One of a board or body of municipal officers next in order to the mayor and having a legislative function. They may, in some cases, individually exercise some magisterial and administrative functions.