:"This article refers to the political appointment "portreeve"; for the town in Canada see Portreeve. For the "Doctor Who" character, see "Castrovalva"."

A portreeve, or 'port warden' is a historical British political appointment with a fluctuating role which evolved over time.

The origins of the position are in the reign of Edward the Elder, who, in order to ensure that taxes were correctly exacted, forbade the conducting of trades outside of a 'port' or duly appointed place for trading, and without the supervision of a portreeve or other trustworthy person. At this time therefore, they had a role as a fiscal supervisor, much like modern customs and revenue officers.

By the late Middle Ages they acted as a representative of the people to ensure that their duties to the mayor and community were fulfilled; in some cases (and usually more recently) the role was also that of mayor. In some cases the portreeve also acted as a returning officer at elections.

Contemporary British towns which still nominally have or appoint a portreeve include Ashburton (the only town in the country where the office is still held by act of parliament), Beccles, Callington (where the name is given to the council chairman) [http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=133464&command=displayContent&sourceNode=133158&contentPK=17340243&folderPk=78031&pNodeId=133174] , Cheevel and Yeovil.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Portreeve — Port reeve , n. A port warden. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Portreeve — Chief officer of a town; someone with a role similar to mayor; also, the officer responsible for looking after the king s interests in London. [< OldEngl. portgerefan] Cf. Port and Reeve …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • portreeve — port·reeve …   English syllables

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  • portreeve — …   Useful english dictionary

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