This annual service remembers former Royalist mayor and wealthy merchant trader, Alderman Hercules Clay, who died in 1645. This grand, respected gentleman left a legacy for an annual sermon in thanks for a dream, that he took as a divine warning, to move his family to safety during the English Civil War. This dream showed his house, which was on the corner of NatWest Bank next to Newark Town Hall, in flames; a plaque on the wall is in memorial to him.
Many local government bodies used Alderman, elected by councillors. Alderman date back to the Middle Ages and reflect their long-standing importance in local government of Newark and across the UK. Aldermen were finally abolished under the Local Government Act 1972.