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(With acknowledgements to Canterbury City Council)




The Sheriff of Canterbury 2024-2025

Councillor Keji Moses


Canterbury became a County of itself by Royal Charter in 1448 under the Lancastrian King, Henry IV with the Bailiffs answering to the King for the 'fee farm' and taking over the duties previously undertaken by the High Sheriff of Kent.  The role of the Town Sheriff was therefore created in all but name.


The Charter creating Canterbury as a City and County was granted by Edward IV in 1461 in return for Canterbury pledging support to him and giving a large sum of money.  The same Charter confirmed the role of Sheriff of Canterbury evolving from the title 'Sherwick'.  


The Sheriff of Canterbury was elected from among the Common Councillors and on election took oath before the Mayor which had to be within the Guildhall and within 4 days. 


The Sheriff was then required to provide a festive dinner to the whole House of Burghmote or pay a fine of £3.6s.8d.  Occasionally the Sheriff, such as Thomas Giles in 1562 would opt to pay the fine. 

The Sheriff of Canterbury was responsible for the discharge out of the Royal Exchequer of the money demanded of the City for the 'fee farm' which lasted until the reforms in 1837.  The Sheriff was not paid a salary but collected various fees which would have enabled a 'salary' to be claimed. These fees included, for example, £40 for a conviction for burglary; aquiring various assets gained by 'deodand' (which is the 'sacrificing' of any belongings that caused a person's death); payments for executions and court fees.  In the 1630's there was considerable trouble over payment of the Sheriff's expenses because of their complexities, such as being so numerous, so small in amount and very difficult to accurately determine.  The contention lasted over many years until, in the end, the City agreed to be liable for them all. 

The Sheriff of Canterbury sat at Quarter Sessions and was also responsible for arranging executions: having coffins and gallows made, purchasing ropes and hiring the executioner etc.  Records explain the costs in accordance to the time period.  In July 1635 there is mention of 13d disbursed at the exectution of Susan Whentnall.  In 1641 a sum of £1. 17s. 5d was given to the gaoler for carrying up a person named Moore, a popish priest accused of speaking treason against Charles I by extolling the Pope's supremacy.  In 1653 £4. 10s. was paid to a Town Sergeant in connection with the execution of a man, William Lee,  accused of poisoning his wife. 

Each of these sums were added to the Sheriff's Account.  Also in 1661 the Sheriff was paid £3. 8s. 2d in connection with the execution of some witches. 

The Sheriff could, in turn, equally be fined.  Fines were issued for non-attendance on the Mayor (usually 3d) or at the Cathedral (more serious, at 10s).  In 1570, the Sheriff was fined

3s 4d for 'wearing his beard', but in 1587 another Sheriff was given leniency and allowed to wear his hat in Burghmote (presumably when others would be expected to remove theirs) for having a 'disease in his head'. 

After the government reforms in 1835, from 1837 onwards the Sheriff of Kent was also the Sheriff of Canterbury, although accepted separately.  The Office became a solely honorary or ceremonial one since the abolition of the Quarter Sessions in 1972, which it remains today. 

Customs and Traditions

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The Sheriff's Chain

The chain of office

Into the 21st Century

The Sheriff of Canterbury's role is largely ceremonial and each Sheriff will make their own mark upon it.  Today the Sheriff of Canterbury upholds a civic presence and function by: 

  • Attending events to which the Civic Party is invited

  • Undertaking specific functions as invited.

  • Deputising at certain functions for the Lord Mayor in their absence.

  • Giving general support to the Lord Mayor as required.

  • Promoting the history, role and function of the Office of Sheriff

  • Supporting, promoting and celebrating local community groups and initiatives


Cllr Colin Spooner, Sheriff of Canterbury 2017-2018 supporting local fundraising event for Children in Need and opening a local hospital fair


Sheriff of Canterbury Cllr Jeanette Stockley at local fun run, supporting a major care provider's 'Topping Out' ceremony and, (below) promoting civic office and function at a local school. 

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Sheriffs of Canterbury

Year          Sheriff

1984          Douglas A Fenn

1985          Tom Steele

1986          Brian P Rye

1987          Douglas R Gomm

1988          Robin Gregory

1989          Willam Arthur Wildman MBE

1990          Patrick Burke

1991           Bernard Collins

1992          Iris Law

1993          Ron Flaherty JP

1994          Andrew Frogley

1995          Maisie Seager

1996          Martin Fisher

1997          Philip Bond

1998          Kate Panton

1999          Michael Street-Williams

2000        Jennie Bukht

2001         Jennifer Yonge

2002        Brian Hunter

2003         Fred Whitemore

2004         Richard Parkinson

2005         Lewis Norris JP

                 (until 02/09/2005)


Year           Sheriff

2005         Jeanne Harrison (from 22/09/2005)

2006         Jeanne Harrison

2007         Gillian Reuby

2008         Charlotte MacCaul

2009         Gabrielle Davis

2010          Sally Pickersgill

2011           Hazel McCabe

2012           Heather Taylor

2013           Ann Taylor

2014          Tony Austin

2015           Robert Jones

2016          Rosemary Doyle

2017           Colin Spooner

2018           Jeanette Stockley

2019           Jeanette Stockley

2020          Anne Dekker

2021           Anne Dekker

2022          Louise Harvey-Quirke.

2023          Tom Mellish

2024          Keji Moses

Douglas R Gomm, Sheriff
of Canterbury 1987-1988

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