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(With acknowledgements to Haverfordwest Town Council)




The Sheriff of Haverfordwest

2024-2025 Councillor Jill Owens


The office of Sheriff along with Mayor and two bailiffs was decreed to the town by Edward, Prince of Wales on 30th April 1479 also bestowing upon it status of ‘county’. This important status was confirmed by the Act of Union of England and Wales in 1543 granting the ‘county’ the right and authority to hold its own assize.  In 1545 Haverfordwest was granted the right to have its own ‘Custos Rotulorum’ (master of rolls and a representative as Member of Parliament).  In 1761 the town was also given the office of Lord Lieutenant – the monarch’s direct representative.  Like most of the shrievalty towns and cities these privileges have diminished then disappeared.

Sheriff of Haverfordwest, Cllr Gillian Howell accompanies Mayor and PCC Chair for the St David's Parade, 2018. 

True to its origins the Sheriff largely ensured the law was upheld at local level and justice served when needed.  Overseeing the whole justice system from arrest, to the courts and to sentencing, including overseeing executions.  In later years after the formation of Parliament the Sheriff was instrumental in conducting Parliamentary elections within the Borough. 


The Sheriff was elected at the first Hundred Court held after the Feast of St Michael, either from the 24 common council-men or from the burgesses at large. He was as often chosen from the one body as from the other.

The Sheriff waited upon the Judge of Assize and when no crime had been committed in the borough, he presented the Judge with a pair of white gloves, a ceremony last performed in 1995.


The Sheriff's Chain

The Sheriff wears a silver-linked chain inscribed with the names of those who have held office from the middle of the last century onwards. From the chain hangs a badge showing the reverse of the Town Seal. There is a representation of a fortified gatehouse with side towers. On the central tower is a trumpeter flanked by flying banners and on the base a slain wyvern. On one side is a lion and on the other an eagle. The badge is suitably inscribed and bears the town’s motto. The badge and chain were presented by former Sheriffs in 1953 to commemorate the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen.

Customs and Traditions

The Sheriff received £10 to provide a breakfast on Whit Monday for important citizens of the Town and would see that donkeys and ponies were at hand for them to ride later in the day to Portfield for special races and sports.


At Cuckoo Lane novices went through an initiation ceremony at the Bumping Stone, where a fee was demanded. They later rode back through the streets of the town to a special dinner provided by the Mayor. He also received a quota of 200 apples from each shipload of apples arriving at the quay-usually from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

A well documented story dating back from 1741 regarding the capacity of the sheriff’s powers involves a woman called Dorothy Rees from Prendergast who was caught stealing a flannel petticoat worth sixpence. The Sheriff had to arrange her transportation to America for seven years, but before this, she was stripped to the waist and marched through the streets from the goal near St Thomas Green to her home in Prendergast. This punishment was overseen by the Sheriff.



Beating of the Bounds

An annual event in Haverfordwest in which the Sheriff and Mayor take part is the Beating of the Bounds ceremony, an ancient tradition to

retain the town’s title as a port.  The port of Haverfordwest was once an important trading

point on the Western Cleddau river, especially in

the town’s medieval period.

Today, to retain the title and claim to be a port,

the mayor of Haverfordwest, who is also the

admiral of the port, must inspect the outer

boundary marker of the town each year. 

These bounds are marked by a large outcropping

of rock on a section of the Western Cleddau

south of the town which has been painted white.  Assisted by the Sheriff of Haverfordwest, the

Mayor invites members of the public to take part

in the event by accompanying them to ride out

on a flotilla of boats to the boundaries.  Before

maps were drawn up and widely used, the

marking of the boundaries traditionally involved swatting the important boundary landmarks with branches to maintain a shared mental map of

them to be handed down to the next generation.




The Beating of the Bounds Ceremony


Into the 21st Century

Cllr Chris Thomas

Councillor Chris Thomas, Sheriff of Haverfordwest,  
2015 to 2016; 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.

Haverfordwest'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 Haverfordwest is widely celebrated locally as one of fifteen across England and Wales and, along with Camarthen, one of only two that remains in Wales.    


The Shrievalty Association of Haverfordwest was formed in 1996 of present and past sheriffs.  A Sheriffs’ Service is held at St Mary’s Church in April each year and this is followed by a Sheriffs breakfast.

Haverfordwest hosted the annual general meeting for the The National Association of City and Town Sheriffs of England and Wales in 1995 and again in 2007.

Sheriffs of Haverford West


Cllr Gillian Howell, Sheriff of Haverfordwest 2017-2018 with consort

Year       Sheriff


1984       TP Lewis

1985       C M Cole

1986       D E Pritchard

1987       P A Stock

1988       B A Morgan

1989       D L James

1990       D R Twigg

1991        J Nicholas

1992       C M Cole

1993       B Thomas-Cleaver

1994       C W D Davies

1995       S M Davies

1996       W M B Griffiths

1997       S M James

1998       M Campbell

1999       J Wannacott

2000      B A Shone

2001       D J Westrup

2002       B Thomas

2003       Rev C L Gillam

2004       W R Thomas

Year        Sheriff       

2005       Mrs B A Morgan

2006       D L James

2007       D R Twigg

2008       A Buckfield

2009       W R Thomas

2010       C W Davies

2011        S M Llewellyn

2012       C Blakemore

2013        B A Morgan

2014        E Repton

2015        Chris Thomas

2016        Sue Murray

2017        Gillian Howell

2018        Chris Thomas

2019        Chris Thomas

2020       Richard Blacklaw-Jones

2021        Richard Blacklaw-Jones

2022        Helen Lewis

2023        Arthur Brooker

2024        Jill Owens

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