The Sheriff of Gloucester 2023-2024
Councillor Justin Hudson
Gloucester’s office of Sheriff is known to be at least 250 years, possibly 500 years older than the City Council. In 1200 local government was undertaken by the Burgesses. King John’s Charter of 1200 is the first to give authorisation for two bailiffs to perform the role of Sheriff, the first being Walter Cadivor and Robert Calvus. Gloucester's archives hold a full list of Sheriffs from that time to the present day. It was not until The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 that the number of sheriffs was reduced from two to one.
The Sheriff's role in the earliest days was as agent of Royal jurisdiction in Gloucester. The Sheriff presided over local courts, had powers of summons and distraint, held the key to the gaol, collected fines and taxes and executed Royal writs, such as those to repair the castle and provision the army. Many of these duties were undertaken as recently as 1732 (remaining responsible for the tax field) and summoning the court until the major overhaul of local government in 1974.
The 1483 Letters Patent of Richard III provided that there should be two Sergeants-at-Mace to serve the two Sheriffs. Ever since, on formal occasions they have joined the Mayor's macebearers and preceded the Mayor and Sheriff in procession.
As with other shrievalties the local government reorganisation in 1974 reduced the role of sheriff to being largely ceremonial or an ‘office of dignity’. Gloucester's City Council were keen to retain the City's cultural heritage and preserve the office of Sheriff and so combined it with that of Deputy Mayor in the late 1980s.
The local Association of Sheriffs is strong and Councillor Andrew Gravells, during his term as Sheriff of Gloucester in 1984-5, was a founding father of the now National Association of City and Town Sheriffs of England and Wales formed in 1985
Sheriff of Gloucester 2014-2015
The Sheriff's Chain
The Sheriff’s chain and badge of office were presented to Mr Henry Jeffs by his brother Freemasons when he was Sheriff in 1883. Mr Jeffs gave the chain to the Corporation at the end of his term of office for the use of future Sheriffs.
The sheriff's chain and badge, also of gold, were purchased by local freemasons in 1883 for Henry Jeffs, who gave it to the corporation at the expiry of his term of office. Enamelled shields incorporated in the chain include references to a bailiffs' seal and the arms of Gloucester diocese and the enamelled badge shows the city arms with crest and supporters.
The gold chain is made up of alternate links of garter and shield, with mural crowns at the top and blocks containing emblems of the Sheriff’s office in front, comprising the sword and fasces, with axe and mace. These are linked up with the national emblems of the rose, shamrock and thistle, joined together.
The central link is a larger garter and shield surrounded with the royal crown, and bearing on the centre of the shield the monogram “HJ” in purple enamel and “Royal City of Gloucester” in the garter in blue enamel. On each side of this are the coats of arms of the See of Gloucester and of the old city of Gloucester, the former having in the centre the episcopal keys and the latter the old castle.
The badge consists of the City arms in repousse work, comprising a wreath of oak and laurel surrounding a garter and two rampant lions, with the Royal arms in red enamel at the top, and a ribbon bearing in purple enamel “Caer Glou”, the earliest known name of the City, and on another ribbon the City motto “Fides invicta triumphat”, also in purple enamel.
The sword and axes are in platinum and the whole of the other portions of the chain are made of 18-carat gold.
Customs and Traditions
The Sheriff of Gloucester's Assize of Ale
The Sheriff’s Assize of Ale dates back to medieval times when the Sheriff was responsible for ensuring the ale on sale in the city was of
Today this practice is recreated annually with the primary aim of raising funds for the Civic Charities.
The Sheriff, together with an army of followers dressed in medieval clothing, tour the pubs in the city’s historic core collecting cash for charity and carrying out a slightly bizarre ritual involving a wooden stool, someone dressed in leather breeches and an egg timer!
The Sheriff has an “Ale Conner”, whose job it is to sit on a wooden stool on which a small amount of ale has been poured wearing a pair of leather trousers. If, after three minutes the trousers stick to the stool, the ale does not pass the test.
Conversely, if the Ale Conner can move freely at the end of the three minutes, it does pass.
The tradition was reintroduced in 2003 by former City Council Leader Paul James during his year as Sheriff of Gloucester and has taken place each year since then, apart from a break during the Covid pandemic.
Since that time the event has raised around £15,000 for charity. Paul continues to organise the event with Gloucester’s Town Crier Alan Myatt, with a group of other local ‘characters’ taking part.
From left: Paul James, Sheriff - 2003 who re-introduced the Assize.
Jim - the all important "Ale-Conner"
Cllr Joanne Brown - current Sheriff of Gloucester, David Brown, Sheriff 2009 and currently Sheriff's Consort.
Alan Myatt, Gloucester's Town Crier for
over 30 years and keeper of many traditions
The 'Lamprey Pie' Tradition
Gloucester has been presenting a Lamprey Pie to the reigning monarch since the medieval era. By 1200 it had become customary for the city of Gloucester to send the English monarch a pie each year, and King John fined the city 40 marks or £26 13s 4d (equivalent to £38,000 in 2020) for failing to send a pie at Christmas.
That tradition stopped in 1836 - partly due to the fact lampreys are now an endangered species in the UK. Now Gloucester City sends pies to the monarch on special occasions, such as a Coronation or during Jubilee years, as in 1987, 2012 and 2022.
For the Coronation of King Charles III formal proceedings were opened by Mr Alan Myatt, “Town Crier of the Port & Historic City of Gloucester”.
Mr Alan Myatt:
“It has been communicated to me by those in authority that this the 27th day of April in the year of our Lord 2023 the Right Worshipful Mayor of Gloucester Councillor Howard Hyman shall present a lamprey pie on behalf of the Gloucester Civic Trust and worthy Friends to His Majesty the King's Lord Lieutenant Mr Edward Gillespie of this Royal and Rustic County of Gloucestershire a tributary 3 tier heraldic encrusted lamprey pie which is a celebratory culinary creation of antediluvian historical origin full of astronomical delights a collective input and community cohesion of heartfelt sentiments of many loyal organisations and groups who have participated in its creation and preparation to mark this auspicious celebratory occasion the King's Coronation. Later today the aforesaid pie shall be transported and presented on behalf of His Majesty the King, who is an advocate of community inner city inclusion, to Gloucester Feed the Hungry’s founder Mr Hash Norat and his fantastic team of volunteers who shall serve the pie in their SMILES cafe to those less fortunate peoples in the City in the express hope they may share and join in the celebration with His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla's Coronation celebrations.
GOD SAVE THE KING”
Cllr Joanne Brown (Sheriff), Hash Norat (Gloucester Feed the Hungry), Cllr Howard Hyman (Mayor) with the Lamprey Pie – donated to GFTH, ingredients include pork, apple.
Into the 21st Century
Councillor Carol Francis
Sheriff of Gloucester, 2001-2002
Gloucester's Office of Sheriff and its role has changed over the years in keeping with political and social shifts. Many of the Sheriff’s traditional roles have developed into ceremonial ones such as accompanying the mayor on formal occasions, but the historic importance of the office continues.
The Shrievalty of Gloucester is widely celebrated locally as one of fifteen across England and Wales.
Gloucester's Shrievalty Association is very active in the City. Pam Tracey who served as Sheriff of Gloucester in 2011-2012 was elected as Association President for 2021 and has pledged to spend her year in office promoting the ancient civic role of sheriff.
Sheriffs of Gloucester
Cllr Said Hansdot
Sheriff of Gloucester 2016-2017
1984 Andrew Gravells
1985 David Short
1986 Elsie Hedge
1987 Donovan Hartshorne
1988 Eric Edge
1989 Peter Grant-Hudson
1990 Tony Ayland
1991 John Neary
1992 John Holmes
1993 Tony Workman
1994 Tony Potts
1995 Ben Richards
1996 Tony Hanks
1997 Rose Workman
1998 Geraldine Gillespie
1999 Terry Haines
2000 Rose Workman
2001 Carol Francis
2002 Paul James
2003 Sue Blakeley
2004 Harjit Gill
2005 Bob Gardner
2006 Chris Witts
2007 Jan Lugg
2008 Nigel Hanman
2009 David Brown
2010 Geraldine Gillespie
2011 Pam Tracey
2012 Philip McLellan
2013 Said Hansdot
2014 Lise Nokes
2015 Jim Beeley
2016 Said Hansdot
2017 Paul Toleman
2018 Howard Hyman
2019 Colette Finnigan
2020 Jan Lugg
2021 Pam Tracey
2022 Joanne Brown
2023 Justin Hudson
Cllr Howard Hyman, Sheriff of Gloucester 2018-2019