The Role of a High Sheriff.

The High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, the Hon Mrs Amanda Lowther gave us an informative and entertaining talk on Thursday 10th February. She provided a real insight into the role of High Sheriff, an office which dates back to Saxon times, indeed, the oldest secular office in the United Kingdom after the Crown.

The role has changed throughout its history, not least the fact that women may now hold office (with 1983 being the first time a woman was appointed as High Sheriff of Northamptonshire). The word ‘Sheriff’ derives from ‘Shire Reeve’ or the Anglo Saxon ‘Scir-gerefa’. The King’s Reeve was also known as the ‘High’ Reeve. 

Supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements today. Mrs Lowther is not, however, permitted to raise taxes, something which her predecessors were able to do – they wielded much power in the “Shire”, being the principal representatives and agents for the Crown. It was for this reason that the office was only held for one year – and this practice continues today.

We were very grateful to the High Sheriff, for stepping in at short notice to come and talk to us.

By Julie Nicholson

The Hon Mrs Amanda Lowther and Trevor Pearce Chairman. Note, the High Sheriff is wearing her badge of office on a ribbon.
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