Chester_edited.png

Chester

(With acknowledgements to Chester City Council)

dreamstime_xxl_41860845.jpg

Introducing...

300-cllrbobrudd-1.jpg

The Sheriff of Chester 2022-2023

Cllr Bob Rudd

History

The Office of Sheriff of the city was first recorded in Chester in the 1120s, earlier than in any other English borough. In the 12th century the sheriff was appointed by the earl.   The sheriffs of Chester assisted the Mayor in the running of the City Court (the Portmote), and presided over the Pentice and Passage Courts.  They were responsible for maintaining law and order and accounted to the earl's chamberlains for the revenues of the city.

Chester was one of the cities in England important enough to have two sheriffs.  One was normally chosen by the Mayor and the other high ranking citizens and the other was ostensibly chosen by the 'people' which is likely to have been the only voting populace - the Freemen. Over the next three centuries as in other towns and cities, the role evolved, waxed and waned in importance.  There were many complaints recorded during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that the sheriffs were failing to hold their courts and in 1604 records show that the Assembly insisted that they restore them to full and regular use.  Sheriffs then maintained their responsibilities for holding courts and assemblies, overseeing justice and sentencing and keeping the city gaol in order. 

900 Years!

In 2021 Chester celebrated its 900th Anniversary of the Shrievalty.  A colourful, celebratory booklet was written by Graeme J. White, Emeritus Professor of Local History, University of Chester, documenting the history and notable moments of the Sheriffs of Chester.  The booklet can be viewed here:
JS90945894_edited.jpg

The Sheriff's Chain

The Sheriff’s chain was presented by Alfred W Butt in memory of his father, Alderman Francis Butt, on the occasion of the opening of the Town Hall in 1869. The badge bears the arms known as the arms of the Sheriff, “a chevron between three garbs” and is surrounded by an earl’s coronet supported by a lion and a wolf.

Customs and Traditions

From 1835, Chester elected only one sheriff each year which continues to the present day.  The Office of Sheriff is largely ceremonial but still holds the responsibility for moving the sealing of documents at Full  Council meetings and the annual inspection of the City Plate (in 1640 it is recorded that the city's Sheriffs gave a 'piece of Plate value 13l 6s 8d to be run for' at, presumably, Chester race course which is believed to have been founded in 1539).   The annual inspection of the City Plate has been performed since 1908 and still continues as a formal way of ensuring all the City's 'treasures' are accounted for.  

The Sheriff jointly hosts in Chester Cathedral with the High Sheriff of Cheshire the annual Legal Service which marks the start of the legal year for the judges on the local circuit.   The service is held each October and is attended by the Presiding High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, District Judges, Recorders and Assistants, Magistrates and representatives of the Legal profession and Local Authorities as well as many other community, public service and academic leaders. 

Ancient traditions and customs are considered important in Chester and recently the Sheriff reintroduced a modern interpretation of an ancient tradition of the Sheriffs sharing a substantial breakfast following an annual archery contest.  This was known up, at least, until the 17th century as the 'calve's-head feast'.  Following the contest the Sheriffs, Mayor, Aldermen and 'gentelmen' and others would adjourn to common hall of the city for a good breakfast feast in 'loving manner'.   Today, a full English breakfast precedes a guest author talking about their book.  Any money raised from the event is donated to the Sheriff's chosen charities.  

Into the 21st Century

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

  • Attending Civic Receptions at the Town Hall (but these being hosted by the Lord Mayor).

  • At the Lord Mayor’s discretion, hosting fund raising events on behalf of the Lord Mayoral charities and occasional events as instigated by the Sheriff.

  • Undertaking specific functions as invited.

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

  • Giving general support to the Lord Mayor as required.

  • Hosting the annual charity fund-raising 'Sheriff's Breakfast

0_The-new-Lord-Mayor-of-Chester-Cllr-Mark-Williams-flanked-by-the-new-Deputy-Lord-Mayor-Cl

Cllr Gill Watson, Sheriff of Chester 2019-2021

The-Snow-Dragons-project-run-by-InterAct-Neston-won-the-Community-Performing-Arts-category

Sheriff of Chester 2018, Stuart Parker gives out awards to winners at Cheshire West and Chester Community and Voluntary Arts Awards 2018

Sheriffs of Chester

JS90945894_edited.jpg

Myles Hogg, Sheriff of Chester 2016-2017

Year           Sheriff

 

2005          Colin Bain

2006          David Hughes

2007          Andrew Storrar

2008          David Hull

2009          Hilarie McNae

2010           Pat Lott

2011            Reggie Jones

2012            Bob Crompton

2013            Angela Claydon

2014            Herbert Manley

2015            Alex Black

2016           Myles Hogg 

2017            Jane Mercer

2018           Stuart Parker

2019           Gill Watson

2020          Gill Watson

2021           Jill Houlbrook

2022           Bob Rudd

JS120823465_edited.png

Jane Mercer, Sheriff of Chester 2017-2018

Year           Sheriff

1984           Thomas Jones

1985            Kate Peate

1986            J Gordon Smith

1987            John Frederick Randall

1988            Frank Z Pierce

1989            Eric Brock Gerrard

1990            Lilian G Price

1991             John Butler

1992            Christine Russell

1993            Elizabeth Bolton

1994            John Ebo

1995            David Nield

1996            Ken Holding

1997            Ray Bott

1998            Patricia Johnson

1999            Marie Nelson

2000          Terry Ralph

2001           Eleanor Mary Johnson JP

2002          Edward Walley

2003          Sandra Rudd

2004          John Boughton