The office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. It is at least 1,000 years old, having its roots in Saxon times.
The office of High Sheriff used to be one of significant power and influence. Over many centuries most of the local power which a Sheriff once had has been transferred to other organisations or officials, such as the County and Crown Court judges, magistrates, the police, the Revenue and Customs and the Local Authorities. The Sheriffs Act of 1887 consolidated the law relating to the office of High Sheriff, repeated that the office should be held for a year only and confirmed the historic process of nomination and selection by the Sovereign.
Nominations for the Shrievalty are made each year in the Lord Chief Justice’s Court in the Royal Courts of Justice, on 12th November, the eve of Martinmas. In March of each year the Roll of High Sheriffs in Nomination is submitted to the Sovereign, in a meeting of the Privy Council, who “pricks’ the High Sheriffs for the following year. This is done by pricking each name with a bodkin (sewing needle). Queen Elizabeth I is generally believed to have originated the practice whilst engaged in embroidery, but in fact the real reason for pricking through vellum is more likely to have been so that the hole in the skin could never be repaired or removed and the appointment challenged. To find out more about the Nomination process click HERE.
The year of office begins when the High Sheriff formally makes their "Declaration", usually in early April.
THE SHRIEVALTY IN HERTFORDSHIRE
In the year 959 King Edgar is believed to have established Hertford as the principal borough of the shire that bears its name. He appointed a 'Scirgerefa' or Shire Reeve to act in effect as governor of the new County, holding in his name both civil and military power.
In the early Middle Ages one Sheriff held office for both Essex and Hertfordshire. In 1567 a High Sheriff of Hertfordshire was separately appointed and the first female High Sheriff in Hertfordshire was appointed in 1983.
HERTFORDSHIRE'S HIGH SHERIFFS SINCE 1994:
1994 Lady Staughton JP DL (Joanna) - Sarratt
1995 Nicholas Halsey TD DL - Great Gaddesden
1996 Robert Edward Dimsdale DL - Barkway
1997 Richard Walduck OBE JP DL - Hatfield
1998 The Hon Richard Oakley Pleydell-Bouverie DL - Peters Green
1999 Harry Morton Neal CBE - Sarratt
2000 The Reverend Teddy Faure Walker DL - Sandon
2001 Christopher Maurice Laing OBE DL - Ayot St Lawrence
2002 The Countess of Verulam - St Albans
2003 Lady Lyell (Susanna) - Markyate
2004 Lady Nichols DL (Shelagh) - Bucks Hill
2005 David McMullen DL - Westmill
2006 William Tudor John DL - Willian
2007 Howard Guard DL- Radlett
2008 Paul Cherry - Weston
2009 Janie Wentworth-Stanley DL- Great Munden
2010 Gerald Corbett DL- Redbourn
2011 Lord Charles Cecil DL- Hatfield
2012 The Honourable Arabella Stuart-Smith - Bedmond
2013 The Viscountess Trenchard - Standon
2014 Fergus McMullen - Berden
2015 Jonathan Trower - Stanstead Bury
2016 Stelio Stefanou OBE DL - Welwyn
2017 Will Hobhouse - Sarratt
2018 Suzy Harvey - Bishop's Stortford
2019 Sarah Beazley - Westmill
2020 Henry Holland-Hibbert - Munden
Coat of Arms
HIGH SHERIFF'S ASSOCIATION BADGE OF OFFICE
The Queen issued her Royal Licence and Authority for the Shrievalty Association of England and Wales to incorporate the Royal Crown in its arms and badge in 1991. There are only a few institutions which have been licensed to use the Royal Crown in this way and this is a very rare privilege. The Crown has an ermine border around its base to symbolise the Judiciary.
The swords are in saltire (crossed in an x-shape), with the blunt sword representing Mercy and the sharp sword, Justice. The Tudor roses symbolise England and the crossed leeks, Wales. The wreath of gold oak leaves is representative of the national tree of England.
HIGH SHERIFF OF HERTFORDSHIRE'S COAT OF ARMS
It is unusual for the Office of a High Sheriff to have a coat of arms, but arms were granted to the Office of the High Sheriff for the County of Hertford in 1963: College of Arms Grants 126/170. The arms are described as “Azure a castle triple towered Or on a Chief Argent a Hart lodged proper".