Monday, 24 April 2017

A new High Sherriff for the county

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent, non-political Royal appointment for a single 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.  

Last week Jim Davies stood down and a new High Sherriff was installed at a ceremony at St Georges Hall. Stephen Burrows Esq DL is the new person and his period of office began in April 2017 and lasts for one year.   


Jim was a popular High Sherriff and went about his tasks with great enthusiasm and gusto. He has livened up many an event and stood alongside me at the rededication of the Bootle War Memorial in the pouring rain for nigh on a couple of hours.
Jim is on my left with the black umbrella

Since 1399, when The Duchy of Lancaster became associated with the Crown, reigning monarchs have appointed the High Sheriff of Lancashire.  As a result of the Local Government Act 1972, the Duchy now appoints High Sheriffs in Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.  Today, The Queen  'pricks' the names of the three High Sheriffs 'on the Lites' (on the list) with a bodkin, in the presence of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The ceremony- and the selection procedure- owe more to the concerns of times past than that the C21st. The bodkin is allegedly used as in times gone by a shrewd person may reasonably have wished to have avoided the job. Charles the 1, when starved of cash by parliament, resorted to collecting Ship-money that parliament did not have to authorise and it was the High Sherriff's job to do the collection. John Hampden was the chief opponent of this backdoor tax. By using a bodkin the monarch's choice could not be altered as may have happened if the pen had been used. 

The ceremonial uniform that is worn by male High Sheriffs today is called Court Dress. It has remained essentially unchanged since the late seventeenth century and consists of a black or dark blue velvet coat with cut-steel buttons, breeches, shoes with cut-steel buckles, a sword and a cocked hat. A lace jabot or white bow tie is worn around the neck. In my experience in Merseyside they opt for military uniform instead of Court Dress. Jim often had difficulties with the spurs and sword

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