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Lichfield

(With acknowledgements to Lichfield City Council)

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Introducing...

The Sheriff of Lichfield 2024-2025

Cathy Wood

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History

Lichfield was made a separate county from Staffordshire by Queen Mary's Charter of 1553, bringing with it the right to appoint its own Sheriff.  The Sheriff 

The Sheriff was responsible for keeping the prison and all parts therein, including the gallows, neck collars, chain and shackles.  The first appointed Sheriff of Lichfield was Gregorie Stonynge who was also the first Senior Bailiff (Mayor) appointed under the Charter of Edward VI.

 

In  1611 the Sheriff was present at the trial and subsequent burning at the stake of Edward Wightman, the last person to be burnt alive for heresy in England.

From the first office of sheriff until the 14th century, the sheriff supervised Lichfield’s ‘Frankpledge’ (a system of law enforcement in which all but the highest ranking members of society were mutually responsible for the behaviour of their peers). This ancient ceremony is still celebrated today by the people of Lichfield who are keen to retain the town's cultural heritage.  

 

The Sheriff of Lichfield was appointed by the Burgesses and not directly by the Crown.  In more  recent times that right was given to the City Council.  Prior to 1972 cities with a Shrievalty were referred to as the ‘City and County of…’ and were known as ‘Counties Corporate’ but this system was abolished by the 1972 Local Government Act and the role of sheriff in Lichfield became largely ceremonial.  

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The Sheriff's Chain

CIVIC REGALIA, CHAIN OF OFFICE

 

The Badge Pendant is 18ct gold with an enamel centre with  enamelled Coat of Arms.  Applique 40mm x 25mm shield, ten blue cabochons, lettered ‘LICHFIELD’ and one Maltese cross on circle surround, 45mm, and laurel leaves, maroon enamel ground ribbon – 1895, on crossed faces and mace in relief, castellated coronet finial to a hook bail

Reverse of Pendant is engraved: ‘Presented to the corporation of Lichfield by S.L. Seckham J.P + D.L

A citizen of Lichfield … W.R Coleridge Roberts

Sheriff 1895 (and the first sheriff to wear it)

Hallmarked 18ct gold, Birmingham 1895, makers mark ‘T&JB’, approximate gross weight 144.7 grams.

 

 Chain of Office:  18ct gold, centre pendant bail, domed centre, enamelled Lion Rampant crest, ribbon motto surmount, castellated coronet finial, ‘UT DUCAM SPERO’, ten Staffordshire knot links; fleur de lys connecting links, to alternate links, bearing the letters ‘LICHFIELD’.

Engraved on each reverse link; names of Sheriffs 1895 – 1935. Hallmarked 18ct gold, Birmingham (no date), makers mark ‘T&J.B’, approximate gross weight 323.1 grams, together with original leather fitted leather case which has two extra ribbons to support the badge in a blue and a black, box printed with ‘City of Lichfield Sheriff’

Made by Birmingham Goldsmiths T. & J. Bragg

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Portrait photograph of Samuel Lipscomb Seckham.  Further information about the Lichfield dignatory can be found by clikcing on the following links:

Customs and Traditions

The City of Lichfield values its history and so maintains the ‘Court of St George’, which is held on St Georges Day.  This is the Court Leet and the View of Frankpledge, when the Mayor and the City Council become Lords of the Manor. The Sheriff attends in support of the Mayor and the Barony of Lichfield. There is a presentation of reports at each of the City Wards and from the Pinner and Ale Tasters, all conducted in a light-hearted manner.

The Sheriff also attends the ‘Court of Arraye’ or ‘View of Men at Arms’ which takes place at the Spring Bank Holiday. This Court is now only ceremonial but has taken place in an unbroken line for over 1000 years.

But perhaps the most notable tradition is the annual 'Sheriff's Ride'

The Sheriff's Ride

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Sheriff of Lichfield 2010-2011 Cllr Colin Greatorex, leads the Sheriff's ride with his wife Donna – both having learnt to ride especially for the occasion.

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Lichfield’s unique ceremonial ‘Sheriff’s Ride’ is a much celebrated annual event.  The tradition originates from Queen Mary Tudor’s Charter in 1553 which separated Lichfield from the rest of the county of Staffordshire, thus giving it city and county status in its own right and bestowing upon it a Sheriff.  The Charter included a command that the Sheriff  "perambulate the new County and City annually on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary".

Over the years the ride has waxed and waned and developed various additions and customs.  Today, holding true to custom, the Sheriff (not always on horseback!) commences the Ride at Guildhall at 10:30am, and followed by a retinue of about 50 riders, commences a route of around 20 miles around the City's boundary.  The northern and eastern boundaries are covered in the morning, arriving in the grounds of a country manor for lunch, joined by the High Sheriff and other Civic Heads. 


After lunch the Sheriff’s Ride is resumed, completing the circuit of the boundary, stopping for tea then returning to the City centre.  The Sheriff and riders are met by the Sword and Mace Bearers and, with great ceremony, escorted to the Cathedral where they are greeted by the Dean, before returning to the Guildhall. 

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Robert Yardley, Sheriff of Lichfield 2016-2017 with Consort Jayne Marks at Chester, 2021. (thanks to Robert, as a professional photographer for so many photographs on this page and the whole website)

The Sheriffs' Association of Lichfield added a tree to the National Memorial Arboretum to celebrate the Conference and AGM held in Lichfield in 2008.

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The Sheriff's Association in Lichfield has a strong membership.  Past Sheriffs with Consorts at Chester 2021 with present Sheriff Peter Hitchman.

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Sheriffs of Lichfield

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Michael Mullarkey, Sheriff

of Lichfield 2018-2019

Year       Sheriff

1983       Kathryn Duncan Brown

1984       Nicholas Sedgwick

1985       James Hopping

1986       Elise Beedle

1987       Marjorie Simmonds

1988       George Kemp

1989       Antony Thompson

1990       Terence Finn

1991        John Mercer

1992        Malcolm Knight

993         David Bailey

1994        Robert White

1995        Margaret Barratt

1996        Peter Barrett

1997         Kenneth Edwards

1998        Michael Bennett

1999        John Haggett

2000       Doris English

2001        Mark Warfield

2002        Barry Diggle

2003        Janet Eagland

 

 

Year       Sheriff

2004       John Rackham

2005       John Smith

2006       Gwyneth Boyle

2007       Terence Thomas

2008       Norma Bacon

2009       Simon Price

2010       Colin Greatorex

2011        Neville Brown

2012        Brian Bacon

2013        Terence Thomas

2014        Bob Awty

2015        Mike Sheldon

2016        Robert Yardley

2017        Andrew Smith

2018        Michael Mullarkey

2019        Daryl Brown

2020       Daryl Brown

2021        Peter Hitchman

2022        Janice Greaves

2023        Adam Burns-Mace

2024       Cathy Wood

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Sheriff of Lichfield 2019-2021

Daryl Brown

Sheriff of Lichfield 2018-2019

Michael Mullarkey

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