Word Origin & History
O.E. aldormonn (Mercian), ealdormann (W.Saxon), from aldor, ealder "patriarch" (comparative of ald "old") + monn, mann "man." A relic of the days when the elders were automatically in charge of the clan or tribe, but already in O.E. used for king's viceroys, regardless of age. The word yielded in O.E.
to eorl, and after the Norman Conquest to count (n.). Meaning "headman of a guild" (1130) passed to "magistrate of a city" (c.1200) as the guilds became identified with municipal government.