How is the High Sheriff chosen?
The current High Sheriff is responsible for nominating a successor, usually four years in advance. In Warwickshire, as in many other counties, there is a County Consultative Panel to help the High Sheriff with this process, although the final decision is entirely the High Sheriff’s.
The nomination goes forward to the Privy Council and is then read out by the Queen’s Remembrance 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’.
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 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).
What happens at the Installation?
The Installation marks the start of the High Sheriff’s year and is usually held between late March and mid April following ‘Pricking’. The Installation is a short formal legal occasion during which the incoming High Sheriff makes a statutory Declaration of Office before a 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?
The office of the High Sheriff is entirely funded by the current High Sheriff who receives no help with expenses. With this in mind what a High Sheriff decides to do during his year is very much up to the individual and can vary from year to year.
Does the High Sheriff present any awards?
As well as making awards to those who have been active in the apprehension of certain offenders, the High Sheriff also presents ‘Outstanding Young Citizenship Awards’.
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 wear Court Dress, a suit of black silk velvet trimmed with cut steel buttons based on the style of the mid eighteenth century. Lady High Sheriffs have generally adapted the style of the traditional Court Dress to suit their requirements and have added a hat adorned with ostrich feathers.
What is the High Sheriff’s precedence in the county?
The High Sheriff is by right second in the county only to the Lord Lieutenant (or deputy acting as Lord Lieutenant) but, as a matter of courtesy, gives precedence to Mayors at their own civic functions, i.e. where the Mayor is clearly acting as host. 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, with the Lord Lieutenant responsible for civil and other matters and the High Sheriff for law and order, i.e. for keeping the Queen’s Peace.
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