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(With acknowledgements to Gloucester City Council)



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


 Collette Finnigan,

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

palatable quality.

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.

Assize of Ale for NACTSEW.png

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 Town Cryer.png

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.


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

Year          Sheriff

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

Year          Sheriff


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

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