The History of the Office of the High Sheriff
The Title High Sheriff is the oldest secular title in our history after “King”. It dates back to Saxon times when the Scir Gerefa enjoyed delegated powers to run his county as The King’s Representative, Land Agent and Tax Collector.
The title slowly developed into Shire Reeve, Sheriff and ultimately High Sheriff. Since the 13th Century the reigning Monarch has awarded the honour annually.
Greater Manchester is part of the ancient County Palatine of Lancaster and the name of the High Sheriff in Nomination, together with those for Lancashire and Merseyside, is listed separately from all other Counties on a parchment known as “The Lites”.
Whilst the names of all the other High Sheriffs are published three years in advance, in accordance with the wishes of His Majesty George 1st, those of our County Palatine are kept secret until Her Majesty the Queen takes a bodkin, which belonged to Queen Elizabeth 1st, and just like her predecessors, pricks a hole through the name of the new High Sheriff.
This year the “Pricking Ceremony” was on March 14th. In June at the courtesy of Duchy’s Office I had the privilege of holding the very Bodkin held by Her Majesty The Queen, It was a surreal moment and one that I will never forget!