Sheriffs of the City of London


Sheriffs of the City of London

There are two Sheriffs of the City of London. The sheriffs are elected annually by the Liverymen of the Livery Companies, and it is a requirement for a Lord Mayor of the City of London to previously have served as a Sheriff. Sheriffs have only nominal duties now, but previously had large judicial responsibilities. They attend the Justices at the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey since its original role as the Court for the City and Middlesex. The Sheriifs actually are resident for their year of office in the court house complex, so that one of them is always attendent on the judges. The Sheriffs have always been jointly those for the City of London and Middlesex. In Court No1 the principal chairs on the 'bench' are reserved for them and the Lord Mayor, the City's Sword hangs behind the 'bench'.

They are elected at the Midsummer Common Hall by the Liverymen by acclamation unless a ballot is demanded from the floor which takes place within 14 days. The returning officers at the Common Hall are the Recorder of London (senior Judge of the 'Old Bailey') and the serving Sheriffs. The current (as of June 2007) Sheriffs are Alderman Ian Luder and Alderman Michael Bear. The Sheriffs Elect are Alderman Roger Gifford and George Gillon CC. [http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/leisure_heritage/corp_history/sheriffs.htm Sheriffs & Aldermen] ]

The sheriffs only cover the square mile of the City of London. There is now a High Sheriff of Greater London who covers London outside of the City, which today incorporates parts of several old counties, notably Middlesex.

History of the office

The title of sheriff, or shire reeve, evolved during the Anglo-Saxon period of English history; the reeve was the representative of the king in a city, town or shire, responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing the law. [Bruce and Calder, p.10] By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, the City of London had sheriffs, usually two at a time; the sheriffs were the most important city officials and collected London's annual taxes on behalf of the royal exchequer; they also had judicial duties in the City's law courts.Inwood, p.55-6] Until 1130, the sheriffs were directly appointed by the king; however, London gained a degree of self-government during the 12th century, including the right to choose its own sheriff, a right which was affirmed in an 1141 charter by King Stephen.

In 1189, [http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/leisure_heritage/corp_history/sheriffs.htm Sheriffs and Aldermen] , Corporation of London website] an annually elected mayor was introduced as chief magistrate for the City of London (along the lines of some European cities of the time such as Rouen and Liege); this change was reaffirmed by a charter granted by King John in 1215. As such, the sheriffs were relegated to a less senior role in the running of the city, and became subordinate to the mayor. [Inwood, p.59] However, the mayor (later Lord Mayor of the City of London) generally served as sheriff before becoming mayor, and in 1385 the Common Council of London stipulated that every future Lord Mayor should "have previously been Sheriff so that he may be tried as to his governance and bounty before he attains to the Estate of Mayoralty"; this tradition continues to this day.

Footnotes

References

*Bruce, Alastair and Calder, Julian, "Keepers of the Kingdom" (Cassell, 2002), ISBN 0-304-36201-8
*Inwood, Stephen, A History of London (Macmillan, 1998), ISBN 0-333-67154-6


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