What is a High Sheriff?

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. Today there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales.

The role of the modern High Sheriff is “to uphold and lend active support to the principal organs of the Constitution – the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police, the Prison Services and other law enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, and all recognised church and faith groups.”

History of High Sheriffs

The Office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular Office in the UK and has existed for over 1,000 years. During the 11th and 12th centuries their powers were very extensive. The High Sheriff judged court cases, collected taxes, and could raise the “hue and cry” in pursuit of felons.

The High Sheriff was the representative of The Crown. The Sheriff’s powers were gradually reduced over succeeding centuries. Under the Tudors, Lord-Lieutenants were created as personal representatives of The Sovereign. The Sheriffs were responsible for issuing Court writs until relatively recently, yet the strong relationships with The Judiciary and Magistrates has continued to this day.

Every year, The Sovereign pricks the names of the High Sheriffs in Nomination on vellum with a bodkin on the Sheriffs’ Roll, a practice that goes back to Henry VII to ensure the name cannot be changed. The High Sheriff is responsible for reading the Proclamation in his/her County on the accession of a new Sovereign.

Find out more about the High Sheriff

Current High Sheriff

Kurshida Mirza BEM

The Office of High Sheriff

Nomination Panel

Current Members


Find out more about what the High Sheriff is currently up to