How is the High Sheriff chosen?

The current High Sheriff is responsible for nominating a successor, usually four to five years in advance.  In Cheshire, as in many other counties, there is a County Consultative Panel to assist the High Sheriff with this process.

The nomination goes forward to the Privy Council and, if accepted, is then read out by the Queen’s Remembrancer at an annual Nomination Ceremony in November in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.  This has to happen three times on three consecutive years before being submitted to the Queen for her approval at the ancient ‘Pricking Ceremony’.

The person chosen should be someone whom the panel considers of ‘standing in the county’, someone who will perform the required duties well and someone who can afford the time and expense involved.

What happens at the ‘Pricking Ceremony’?

The names of the High Sheriffs in Nomination for the coming year are presented to the Queen at a ceremony in the Privy Council known as the ‘Pricking Ceremony’. The Queen indelibly marks the names by pricking them with a bodkin (a blunt needle for threading ribbon through loops).

Historically the role of High Sheriff could be ruinously expensive and unpopular and therefore was not always a welcome honour.  By using a bodkin the names were permanently marked and the list could not be altered.  This practice is thought to have started during the reign of Henry VII (1485-1508).

Each year 47 High Sheriffs in England and 8 in Wales are appointed.

What does ‘shrieval’ mean?

Shrieval means ‘relating to a Sheriff’.  The shrieval year is therefore the Sheriff’s year in office.  The Sheriff, historically, was the Reeve of the Shire or Shire Reeve, and these words have become Sheriff.

What happens at the DEclaration?

The Declaration is the official ceremony that marks the start of the High Sheriff’s year and is usually held between late March and mid April following ‘Pricking’ (see above).  The ceremony is a short formal legal occasion during which the incoming High Sheriff makes a statutory Declaration of Office before a High Court Judge or Justice of the Peace.  The occasion is usually attended by the Lord Lieutenant, the outgoing High Sheriff, the Under Sheriff, the Chaplain and other guests.

What are the main events during the High Sheriff’s year?

There is a long tradition of holding a High Sheriff’s Legal Service, a church service honouring local Judges and Magistrates.  Some counties hold a service at the start of each of the three legal terms; others, such as Cheshire, tend to hold one service at the start of the legal year in October.   High Sheriffs also often provide some form of entertainment or celebration for those actively involved in the community.  The office of the High Sheriff is entirely privately funded by the current High Sheriff, therefore no costs whatsoever fall on the public purse.  Therefore, what a High Sheriff decides to do during his or her year in office is very much up to the individual and can vary from year to year.

Does the High Sheriff present any awards?

The High Sheriff can make awards to those who have been active in the apprehension of certain offenders.  Additionally the High Sheriff can also present a certificate to anyone they consider to have made an outstanding contribution to life in the county.  In Cheshire there are also two High Sheriff’s prizes, one for Business Enterprise and one for Literature, both facilitated through The University of Chester.

Does the High Sheriff receive any training?

High Sheriffs in Nomination are well supported and advised by the High Sheriffs’ Association.  Each year the Association organises a national seminar and encourages a number of Regional Meetings.  At these events High Sheriffs in Nomination are able to meet each other, exchange ideas and receive advice on the role.

What does a High Sheriff wear?

On formal and ceremonial occasions High Sheriffs either wear Court Dress, a suit of black silk velvet trimmed with cut steel buttons, based on the style of the mid-eighteenth century or, if they attained the equivalent rank of Captain or above in the armed services, they may wear a military uniform.

Lady High Sheriffs have generally adapted the style of the traditional Court Dress to suit their requirements, including a hat adorned with white ostrich feathers; they do not carry a sword but can have a steel dagger carried on a cushion, usually by a police cadet

What is the protocol for High Sheriff’s precedence in the county?

The High Sheriff in any county is by right second only to the Lord Lieutenant (or deputy acting as Lord Lieutenant) but gives precedence to Mayors at their own civic functions. When in attendance upon High Court Judges at the Crown Court the High Sheriff has precedence.

The Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff are both appointed by, and are representatives of, the Sovereign in the county. The Lord Lieutenant is responsible for civil and civic matters, whilst the High Sheriff is responsible for law and order, i.e. for keeping the Queen’s Peace.

As a representative of the Sovereign, the High Sheriff should be received at any event with the same degree of etiquette and protocol as a member of the royal family when the High Sheriff is attending in an official capacity in their own county.

How do I address a High Sheriff?

Written: Mrs Alexis Redmond MBE, High Sheriff of Cheshire

Salutation: Dear High Sheriff

In a Speech: In the preamble the High Sheriff should be referred to as High Sheriff e.g. a speech might begin, “High Sheriff, Ladies and Gentlemen…”.

Conversation: On formal occasions High Sheriff or Mrs Alexis Redmond

Who are the previous High Sheriffs of Cheshire?

Cheshire’s High Sheriffs since 1980 are:

1980-1981 J.M. Temple

1981-1982 Comm. R. Gilchrist

1982-1983 R.J. Posnett

1983-1984 W.A. Bromley-Davenport

1984-1985 R. C. Roundell

1985-1986 R. D. Wilson

1986-1987 P. J. Brocklehurst

1987-1988 A. G. Barbour

1988-1989 S. B. J. Z. Ferranti

1989-1990 J. B. Lockett

1990-1991 D. M. Stern

1991-1992 Sir Richard Baker-Wilbraham

1992-1993 Hon. P. H. Greenall

1993-1994 Hon. R. H. Cornwall-Legh

1994-1995 R. J. McAlpine

1995-1996 J. M. Pickering

1996-1997 Sir Anthony Pilkington

1997-1998 E. S. Tudor-Evans

1998-1999 M. A. T. Trevor-Barnston

1999-2000 M. D. A. Clarke

2000-2001 S. Chantler

2001-2002 A. W. A. Spiegelberg

2002-2003 J. A. E. R. Richards

2003-2004 Mrs D. M. McConnell

2004-2005 S. P. Sherrard

2005-2006 Mrs C. Paton-Smith

2006-2007 T. D. Briggs

2007-2008 N. W. Bromley-Davenport

2008-2009 A. M. Stoddart

2009-2010 W. C. Fergusson

2010-2011 Mrs D. C. Barbour

2011-2012 J. E. Lea

2012-2013 W. G. R. Lees-Jones

2013-2014 M. D. Beaumont

2014-2015 Mrs. S. E. Sellers

2015-2016 W. Holroyd

2016-2017 Mrs K. Cowell

2017-2018 Mrs Sarah A M Callander Beckett

2018-2019 Mrs Alexis J Redmond MBE

Who are the High Sheriffs in Nomination?

2019-2020 Mark S Mitchell Esq DL

2020-2021 N P Hopkinson Esq

The names of all the High Sheriffs of Cheshire since 1135 are recorded on boards inside Chester Crown Court.