The High Sheriff’s role is Saxon in origin. Historically the ‘shire-reeve’ was the
monarch’s agent for taxation and law and order in the county. The High Sheriff is still
nominally responsible for ensuring that writs of the High Court are enforced in the county
and for receiving judges visiting the county, although in practice much of this work is carried
out by the Undersheriff.
Since medieval times the High Sheriff has been an annual appointment,
and the tradition is that it cannot be refused if offered. The present High Sheriff is Timothy
Dawson (2002), and the Undersheriff is Nicholas Blandy.
(right) Sir Edward Barry of Ockwells Manor, Bray, High Sheriff in 1907. (Q/Z1/29)