THE OFFICE OF HIGH SHERIFF

History

  • The Office of High Sheriff in England and Wales began over one thousand years ago and is the oldest continuous secular Office under the Crown
  • High Sheriffs were originally the main tax collectors for the King; they “farmed” their bailiwicks which were based on the Domesday survey
  • The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative on all matters appertaining to civil law and order
  • The High Sheriff comes second in precedence to the County’s Lord-Lieutenant.

The High Sheriff

  • Attends Royal visits to the Isle of Wight
  • Provides hospitality and looks after the well-being of High Court Judges visiting the Isle of Wight
  • Acts as the Returning Officer for parliamentary elections
  • Is responsible for the proclamation of the accession of a new Sovereign
  • Maintains the loyalty of subjects to the Crown.
  • Modern functions

  • Undertakes duties to support and encourage voluntary and statutory organisations engaged in all aspects of civil law and order
  • Works with organisations involved with young people, particularly those that seek to keep them from drifting into crime
  • Makes awards to those who, in the opinion of the Judges at a criminal trial, have been active in the apprehension of certain offenders
  • Participates in Citizenship Ceremonies
  • Is advised and assisted by a legally trained Under-Sheriff.

Appointment of High Sheriffs

  • The Office is a Royal appointment. It is made at a meeting of the Privy Council, where the custom of HM The Queen literally pricking a hole through the nominee’s name on the Roll with a bodkin is perpetuated
  • The Office of High Sheriff is non-political and unpaid, and no part of the High Sheriff’s expenses falls on the public purse
  • The Appointment runs for one year starting in April
  • Any citizen of good character owning property within the Isle of Wight may be appointed.

Dress

The High Sheriff’s Court Dress dates from Victorian times and is a modification of an eighteenth century costume. It is only worn by High Sheriffs who are men. Dress for women is not yet standardised and is individual to each lady High Sheriff. Most wear lace jabots and velvet suits as the men do, some wear skirts, some breeches and all wear hats.

 

Further information on the Office of the High Sheriff.