The office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Historically, the High Sheriff was the monarch's personal representative in judicial matters, while the Lord Lieutenant acted for the monarch in a personal or military capacity.
The High Sheriff was responsible for the shire courts, for tax collection, and for the enforcement of law and order. The position is over 1,000 years old.
Alas for the Sheriffs, democracy has clipped their wings. They can no longer collect taxes--think "Sheriff of Nottingham"--and the judicial system was reconstituted via the assizes as early as the 12th century.
But the "shrievalty", or office of High Sheriff, remains a most distinguished one, with a roster of names which you can read at www.highsheriffherefordshire.org. Our first recorded Sheriff was the splendidly named Osborne Fitzrichard Le Scrope in 1060!
So I am delighted that on Saturday 20th March the fabulous Jo Hilditch will be declared the new High Sheriff of Herefordshire.
Traditionally this celebration would take place in a crowded Court No:1 at Hereford’s Shire Hall, but this year the necessity of Covid has been the mother of shrieval invention. And that has created a wonderful opportunity for Herefordians across the county and elsewhere to view the proceedings.
The Acting Dean, The Revd Canon Andrew Piper, has kindly allowed the declaration to be included in a Service of Thanksgiving at Hereford Cathedral. At the same time, a live stream of the event means that an unlimited number of people will be able to witness the declaration of a High Sheriff in Herefordshire--for the first time in nigh on 1,000 years.
Readers can register to view a live stream of the ceremony, which will commence at 5.30pm.
The event would usually be followed by a reception. Sadly Covid has put paid to that. But nothing daunted, Jo and Patricia Thomas, the current High Sheriff, have very generously offered to send to the first 120 households to register a small box of drinks and snacks for two people to enjoy while watching the live stream.
These boxes will be sent out the week prior to the event on a first come, first served basis. To put your name in the hat, just add your postal address during registration.
To register and see this wonderful celebration, follow the link below:
Congratulations Jo, and thank you Patricia. Here's to our brilliant High Sheriffs!