High Sheriffs

The Current Role of High Sheriffs

Modern day high sheriffs have very different roles and responsibilities to the ancient ancestors, but they all still play a vital role in our 21st century.

Their duties include attendance at royal visits in the County and support for Her Majesty's High Court Judges when on Circuit. Supporting the Crown and the judiciary remains a central element of the role.

High Sheriffs play an increasingly active role in promoting the voluntary sector within their communities. Many High Sheriffs give their own personal Awards to individuals, often unsung heroes within small voluntary groups who have made an outstanding contribution in some way. As the Office of High Sheriff is independent and non-political, they are therefore very well placed to bring together a wide range of people within the community they serve.

High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expenses incurred by the High Sheriffs falls on the public purse. Their role can be summarised as follows: -

  • to uphold and enhance the ancient Office of High Sheriff and to make a meaningful contribution to the High Sheriff's County during the year of Office
  • to lend an active support to the principal organs of the Constitution within their County - the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police and other law-enforcement agencies, the emergency services. local authorities and all recognised church and faith groups
  • to assure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges; to attend on them at Court and to offer them hospitality
  • to support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits

For more information, visit http://www.highsheriffs.com/Index.htm

 

The High Sheriff of West Midlands

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for one year.

The origins of the Office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year. 

High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff’s year falls on the public purse.

High Sherriff

The current High Sheriff is John Hudson OBE DL who entered into office on 11th April 2017.

The History of the Office of High Sheriff

There have been High Sheriffs for at least 1000 years. The original "Shire Reeves" were Royal officials appointed to enforce the King's interests in a County, in particular the collection of revenues and the enforcement of law and order.

High Sheriffs had extensive powers. They judge cases in monthly courts and acted as law enforcement officers. They could raise the 'hue and cry' after criminals in the County and could summon and command the 'posse comitatus' the full military force of the County.  Sheriffs are mentioned throughout the Magna Carta and were clearly fundamental to the running of the Shires. By 1254 the High Sheriff supervised the election to Parliament of two Knights of the Shire.

From about 1300 their powers began to wane as more and more functions were centralised. The exchequer was established to administer tax collection and to audit Sheriff's accounts. A system of itinerant Justices and Assizes was set up. Sheriffs, however, maintained responsibility for issuing Writs, having ready the Court, prisoners and juries and executing sentences once they were pronounced. It was also the Sheriff's responsibility to ensure the safety and comfort of the Judges. This is the origin of the High Sheriff's modern day duty of care for the well-being of High Court judges.  Further changes came with the creation of Coroners and Justices of the Peace and the establishment of Lord-Lieutenants as the personal representatives of the Sovereign.

Tradition says that Queen Elizabeth I originated the practice of appointing High Sheriffs by pricking their names when the Roll was brought to her while she was engaged in embroidery. Sadly, this is a myth since there is a Sheriffs' Roll from the reign of her grandfather where the names are pricked through vellum. This is in fact an early form of document security. Sheriffs had to collect unpopular taxes and could be personally liable for any shortfall. There was therefore an incentive to try and avoid appointment. No matter how high the bribe, however, no official could disguise a hole pierced through the vellum against the appointee's name. The practice of the Monarch pricking the names of High Sheriffs survives to this day.

In the 19th century Sheriffs' responsibilities for police, prisons and Crown property were transferred to statutory bodies. Their surviving powers were codified in The Sheriffs Act of 1887. This Act, with subsequent amendments, remains in force to this day. Among other things it confirms the historic process of nomination by the Sovereign.
The Current Role of High Sheriffs

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the Counties of England and Wales.
Their duties include attendance at royal visits in the County and support for Her Majesty's High Court Judges when on Circuit. Supporting the Crown and the judiciary remains a central element of the role. They give active support and encouragement to the police and to the emergency services, to the probation and prison services and to other agencies involved with crime prevention, particularly amongst young people.

High Sheriffs play an increasingly active role in promoting the voluntary sector within their communities. Many High Sheriffs give their own personal Awards to individuals, often unsung heroes within small voluntary groups who have made an outstanding contribution in some way. As the Office of High Sheriff is independent and non-political, they are therefore very well placed to bring together a wide range of people within the community they serve.

High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expenses incurred by the High Sheriffs falls on the public purse. Their role can be summarised as follows;

  • To uphold and enhance the ancient Office of High Sheriff and to make a meaningful contribution to the High Sheriff's County during the year of Office
  • To lend an active support to the principal organs of the Constitution within their County - the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police and other law-enforcement agencies, the emergency services. local authorities and all recognised church and faith groups
  • To assure the welfare of visiting  High Court Judges; to attend on them at Court and to offer them hospitality
  • To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and on other occasions as appropriate take an active part in supporting and promoting the voluntary sector and giving all possible encouragement to the voluntary organisations within a County.

 

Previous High Sheriffs of the West Midlands

Mr. Michael L. Cadbury DL 1974-75

Mr. Edwin H. Moore 1975-76

Lt. Col. John H. C. Horsfall DSO MC 1976-77

Mr. Michael G. Southall 1977-78

Lt. Col. Lawrence W. Wilson TD JP 1978-79

Mr. Anthony R. Wyledbore-Smith JP 1979-80

Mr. David Williams-Thomas DL 1980-81

Mr. David G. Justham 1981-82

Mr. Anthony F. Birtles 1982-83

Mr. Hugh Kenrick 1983-84

Mr. Derek M.P. Lea 1984-85

Mr. Richard L. Harris 1985-86

Mr. William E. Husselby OBE DL 1986-87

Mr. Patrick W. Welch 1987-88

Mr. Francis C. Graves OBE DL 1988-89

Mr. David C. Johnson 1989-90

Mr. David L. Burbridge OBE DL 1990-91

Mr. Bruce W. Tanner DL 1991-92

Mr. J. Anthony Jefferson 1992-93

Mr. John I. Westwood 1993-94

Sir Adrian Cadbury DL 1994-95

Sir Frederick Crawford, DL  1995-96

Mr. John D. Saville JP DL 1996-97

Mr. E. Michael Worley CBE JP 1997-98

Mr. W. George K. Carter CBE JP OStJ DL 1998-99

Mr. Roger S. Burman CBE DL 1999-00

Mr. Jeremy F. Woolridge CBE,DL 2000-01

Mrs. Tessa King-Farlow DL 2001-02

Mr. Gary J. Allen CBE DL 2002-03

Mr. Michael R.N. Evans CStJ 2003-04

Mr. John L. Andrews MBE DL 2004-05

Mr. Roger J. Dickens CBE DL 2005-06

Mr. John R.A. Crabtree OBE DL 2006-07

Mr. Peter Tomlinson DL 2007-08

Mr. Byron P. Head DL 2008-09

Mr. Paul Bassi CBE DL 2009-10

Ms. Anita Bhalla OBE DL 2010-11

Mr. David Grove OBE 2011-12

Mr. Stewart Towe CBE DL 2012-13

Dame Christine Braddock DBE DL 2013-14

Dr. Tim Watts DL 2014-15

Mr Jonnie Turpie MBE 2015-16

Dr Keith Bradshaw DL 2016-17

Under Sheriff for the West Midlands:

Mr Greg Lowson

For more information visit: http://www.highsheriffs.com/