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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/288
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1638-1933
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 7 production units.
Name of creator(s): Sheriff of London | Corporation of London x Sheriff of London and Middlesex x Sheriff of Middlesex


Administrative/Biographical history:

The office of Sheriff is of greater antiquity than any other in the City of London and is mentioned in Anglo Saxon laws of the seventh century. The Sheriffs, alongside Wicreves and Portreeves, exercised the King's authority over the citizens, collected royal revenue and enforced royal justice. Henry I granted the City the right to choose their own Sheriff in 1132, together with the right to choose the Sheriff of Middlesex. The two sheriffs held office jointly as the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex. The right to appoint the Middlesex sheriff was lost in 1888, although the City continued to elect two sheriffs for the City of London. At the same date the fee formerly payable to the Exchequer was redeemed by the Corporation so that all estate and interest in the office of Sheriff belonged to the Corporation and all fees from the shrievalty were received by the City. At first sheriffs were elected on St Matthew's Day (21 September) but it was advanced to 1 August in 1538 and later to Midsummer Day. The office was held for a year and no person who had served as sheriff once was eligible to serve again. In 1385 the Common Council stipulated that every Mayor must first serve as Sheriff to test his suitability for the post.

The sheriffs were expected to attend the Lord Mayor in the discharge of his official functions and to join him in works of charity and at events. They attended the Courts of Aldermen and Common Council as well as Common Hall and the Court of Husting. They were Execution Officers at the Central Criminal Court and had to be in attendance to carry out directions given by the Judges. They also had to attend the Sessions to see the Judges into Court, and be present when a capital sentence was passed. The sheriff was also required to wait upon the Sovereign and ascertain the royal will and pleasure as to the reception of addresses from the Corporation. The sheriff also presented petitions from the Corporation to the House of Commons.

The modern sheriffs are elected on Midsummer's Day (24 June) by the City livery companies. Their duties remain similar to those of their historical predecessors, including attending the Lord Mayor in carrying out his official duties, attending the sessions at the Central Criminal Court in the Old Bailey and presenting petitions from the City to Parliament at the Bar at the House of Commons.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the Sheriffs of the Corporation of London; including notes on the duties of office; armorial bearings of the sheriffs, 1470-1638; and papers relating to legal cases.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, which merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For further records of the sheriffs see COL/SF.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
August to October 2010.

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