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Oxford

(With acknowledgments to Oxford City Council)

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Introducing...

The Sheriff of Oxford 2022-2023

Councillor Mike Rowley

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History

As a Saxon town Oxford was governed by two 'Shire Reeves' whose office evolved to Sheriff and later Mayor.  The current Office of Sheriff of Oxford has been in existence since the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.  Sheriffs were responsible for the custody of offenders, maintaining law and order and receiving and processing fines and taxes.  The Sheriff also acted as conservation officer for the large swathe of cattle and horse grazing meadow, called Port Meadow to the north west of the city centre. 

Acting as conservator of Port Meadow is one of the traditionally surviving duties of the Sheriff of Oxford.  Cattle 'drives' are still carried out each year as a continuation of the annual drives of what were formally the bailiffs of the City.  

The Sheriff's Chain

Customs and Traditions

Annual Cattle Drive 

Arrangements for the Cattle Drives are kept as secret as possible.  At about 6.00 am on the morning of the Drive the Sheriff and their assistants, who are either on horseback or on foot, assemble at one end of the Meadow.  They collectively start to drive the cattle and horses to the other end of the land where they are then impounded. 

 

The Drive itself takes two to three hours and is followed by a traditional breakfast.  

 

During the rest of the day owners of the impounded animals come to claim them.  If the owners are Freemen or 'Wolvercote Commoners' or have other legally valid rights to keep their livestock on the Meadow their animals are released to them on payment of 10p per head.  If, however, they are keeping their livestock on the Meadow 'illegally' they are fined £35 per head and an additional cost of £1 per day per head.  

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Inspection of the City Walls

The Sheriff would normally accompany the Lord Mayor of Oxford in the 600 year old tradition to inspect the City's walls.  However this is a rare event and dependent on those in Office to undertake the considerably challenging task of inspecting the 10 miles of boundaries.  

The agreement to inspect the walls started in 1379 when Richard II granted some land for a new college as part of Oxford's University (New College).  The land was granted on condition that 

the College took responsibility to keep the walls of the city in good condition.

The 'New College' was built in such a way that the city walls could no longer be inspected from inside without entering the college's grounds.  Consequently, a royal command was granted that the college should allow the city access to the ground once every three years to inspect the walls.  

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Lord Mayor's Procession

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The Sheriff of Oxford accompanies the Lord Mayor at the annual Lord Mayor's Procession.  This event is held on the Bank Holiday at the end

of May soon after the civic party

start their year in office.  

The colourful and well attended procession includes a number of floats and vehicles as well as marching bands and finishes with entertainment and fund raising

stalls for the Mayor's charities

in South Park.  

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Sheriffs of Oxford

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City Sheriff of Oxford, 2013-2014 Mohammed Abbasi

Year        Sheriff

1984        BG Standingford

1985        A Ramsay

1986        A Pope

1987        N Whorley

1988        Lady P Yardley

1989        EFM Standingford

1990        BM Gatehouse

1991         J Power

1992        JC Blewitt

1993        W Buckingham

1994        AJ Turner MP

1995        PMF Moss

1996        W Baker

1997        Carole Roberts

1998        RJ Price

1999        BI Keen

2000      V Smith

2001       M Christian

2002       P Stannard

2003       BC Keen

2004       Gill Sanders

Year        Sheriff

2005        James RM Campbell

2006        Susan Pressel

2007        Mary Clarkson

2008        John Goddard

2009       Elise Benjamin

2010        Colin Cook

2011         Jean Fooks

2012         Dee Sinclair

2013         Mohammed Abbasi

2014         Rae Humbertstone

2015         Sajjad Malik

2016         Susan Brown

2017         Mohammed Altaf Khan

2018         Craig Simmons

2019         Stephen Goddard

2020        Dick Wolf

2021         Dick Wolf

2022         Mike Rowley

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City Sheriff of Oxford, 2018-2019

Craig Simmons