The Sheriff of Southampton 2023-2024 Councillor Dave Shields
Southampton superseded the Saxon Hamtun and was a royal borough before 1086. It is believed that Henry II granted the town its charter in the 12th century, most probably in acknowledgment of the town's importance as a south coast port, but the borough was not incorporated until the 1400's. In 1447, Henry VI made Southampton a county through King's Charter. This status granted the people of Southampton the authority and right to choose a sheriff. The first appointed sheriff was Henry Bruyn.
Traditionally, up until the Municipal Charter of 1835 the sheriff was chosen from the Mayor and Burgesses of the City - normally a person of rank from within that circle.
The Sheriff of Southampton had very much the same level of power and authority as the County sheriff but was not considered equal in status as the county was much larger in size and population. The Sheriff's duties included attendance at the town and county assizes, and the quarter sessions, for each of which he summoned the juries. He held a county court when necessary and executed writs from the superior court.
The custom of Beating the Bounds was revived in 1957 after a gap of over 100 years. Originally, the Mayor and Sheriff, accompanied by other civic dignitaries, toured the bounds of the borough of Southampton on horseback to check it was intact.
More recently, this responsibility has been undertaken by the Sheriff of Southampton and Service Director, Legal and Governance; however, it is now undertaken by car rather than on horseback. Although the route for the ceremony is chosen by the Sheriff and may alter slightly from year to year, some of the historic, ancient boundaries are still visited.
In recent years, Sheriffs have encouraged participation by local school children. At various pre-chosen boundary stones, the children assemble and, together with the Sheriff, beat back some of the undergrowth to make the
After the boundary has been toured and checked to be intact, the Sheriff returns to the Civic Centre to oversee the procedures of the
Customs and Traditions
Since the roles and responsibilities of Sheriff became more ceremonial the individual sheriffs in Southampton have an influence on what and how old customs and traditions are kept alive and to what extent local people are invited to get involved.
Sheriff of Southampton, 2021, Jaqui Rayment with Mayor Alex Houghton at Remembrance Service
Southampton's Court Leet ceremony takes place annually on the first Tuesday after Michaelmas following the Beating of the Bounds.
Originally held on a mound called 'Cutthorn' it moved to the Bargate in the 1600's and then to the Audit House. It is now held in the City's Civic Centre. The Sheriff of Southampton has overall responsibility and authority over the Court and how it is run.
The Court Leet is opened formally by the Town Crier and the jurors, between 12 and 16 in number are sworn in. Jurors include the Sheriff, as Foreman, past councillors including past mayors and sheriffs, honorary aldermen and other community representatives.
Representations from the public are received by written 'Presentments' following notice of the Court Leet in local newspapers and other forums.
After hearing the representation the Jury votes on whether it should be accepted, mainly based on its relevance to local concern. When a representation is accepted it is then brought into the City Council's system to be fully considered.
The Sheriff's Chain
Into the 21st Century
Cllr Alex Houghton, Sheriff of Southampton, 2020-2021, supports the installation of a commemorative bench
The Sheriff of Southampton's role is largely ceremonial and each Sheriff will make their own mark upon it. Today the Sheriff upholds a civic presence and function by:
Attending events to which the Civic Party is invited
Undertaking specific functions as invited.
Deputising at certain functions for the Lord Mayor in their absence.
Giving general support to the Lord Mayor as required.
Promoting the history, role and function of the Office of Sheriff
Supporting, promoting and celebrating local community groups and initiatives
Peter Baillie, Sheriff of Southampton, 2018-2019 promotes the launch of a new charity
Sheriffs of Southampton
Sheriff of Southampton 1998-1999 and 2011-2012 Cllr Derek Burke
1984 Geoffrey Malcolm Ranger
1985 Jack V Candy
1986 Ivy White
1987 Maria Bear
1988 Norman Best
1989 Mary Key
1990 Joan Baker
1991 Pat Bear
1992 Kenneth Street
1993 Eddie Read
1994 Margaret Singerman
1995 Dorian Attwood
1996 Kenneth Street
1997 Michael Andrews
1998 Derek Burke
1999 Peter Wakeford
2000 Christine Kelly
2001 Norah Goss
2002 Parvin Damani
2003 Harry Mitchell
2004 Edwina Cook
2005 John Slade
2006 Stephen Barnes-Andrews
2007 Brian Parnell
2008 Elizabeth Mizon
2009 Carol Cunio
2010 Terrence Matthews
2011 Derek Burke
2012 Ivan White
2013 Susan Blatchford
2014 Linda Norris
2015 Cathy McEwing
2016 Les Harris
2017 Stephen Barnes-Andrews
2018 Peter Baillie
2019 Susan Blatchford
2020 Alex Houghton
2021 Jacqui Rayment
2022 Valerie Laurent
2023 Dave Shields