From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
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.
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
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