The first Town Reeve known by name is William Brooke, who is mentioned in the St. Mary's Churchwardens' account books in 1536. A series of Town Reeve's books was kept from at least 1548, but have disappeared, and now the earliest records of the Reeve's and Feoffees activities only survive from 1725. The title-holder in that year was James King, about whom little is known except that he was close to the Nelson family who owned the navigation at Bungay Staithe. Richard Nelson , who owned and made considerable improvements to Rose Hall in Upper Olland Street, succeeded Brooke in 1726, and went on to become Reeve for another six terms of office.
Matthias Kerrison, owner of the Staithe Navigation from 1753, and said to have been a self-made millionaire, was Reeve from 1811 - 12. A lead plaque at the base of the Black Dog lighting standard in the Market Place commemorates his year of office and provision of a town pump.
John Barber Scott was the son of a wealthy tanner from whom he inherited a considerable fortune. He donated funds for many improvements in the town, and was Reeve in 1828 - 9, with five subsequent periods of office. His published diaries An Englishman at Home & Abroad , provide a fascinating glimpse of Bungay civic and social life in the first half of the 19th century.
Dr. Leonard Cane was Reeve for three periods of office, commencing in 1932, and is described as “undoubtedly the most outstanding Town Reeve in modern times, and was tireless in his efforts to enhance the importance of the ancient office”. A local GP with a surgery in Trinity Street, he also provided the Black Dog weather-vane and lighting standard in the market Place, and organised and raised funds for the renovation of the Castle.
In 1937, a woman was nominated to the office of Town Reeve for the first time. This was Rosalind Messenger, also the first woman member of the Town Trust. She acquired the Castle Hills for the town as a recreation area, in 1937, and became the first female Chair of the Urban District Council from 1941 - 1945. For her work as Chair of the Lowestoft & Waveney Youth Employment Committee , she was awarded the M.B.E. in 1950. On relinquishing the office of Reeve in 1951, she presented a chain and medallion to be worn by the consort of the Reeve.
Since then, a number of women have served as Reeve: Hilda Nursey, 1955 - 6; Vera Stevens, 1959 - 60; Lilian Trafford, head -mistress of Bungay Primary School, 1963 -64, and 1975 - 76; Mary Kent, 1980 - 81, 1989 -90; 2005 -06; Cicely Smith, 1985 -86; Diana Belcher, 1992 - 93, 2003 - 4; Betty Warnes, 1997 - 98; Roma Went, 1998 -99; Susan Curtis, 2001 -02; Maureen Davies, 2006 - 07.
Information about all those who have held the office of Town Reeve is contained in The Town Reeves of Bungay, 1725 - 2007, by John Harris, 2007.