By royal appointment
THE historic role of the High Sheriff existed long before the Norman invasion of 1066. It is one of the highest accolades the monarch can bestow among their subjects, with the sheriff responsible for all duties requested by the Crown. William Tudor John,
THE historic role of the High Sheriff existed long before the Norman invasion of 1066.
It is one of the highest accolades the monarch can bestow among their subjects, with the sheriff responsible for all duties requested by the Crown.
William Tudor John, of Willian, is the latest to inherit the year-long role in Hertfordshire after being recently selected by the Queen.
"Until approached, I had never thought of aspiring to the shrievalty. When I was initially approached I was, of course, flattered to have been asked," Mr Tudor John said.
"While the role is, in this modern day, mostly ceremonial, it is nonetheless important as a link between the community and those responsible for law and order in the community - the police, the magistrates and the judiciary.
"Originally, the High Sheriff was wholly responsible for law and order in his shire or county, ensuring that order was maintained, that the courts ran properly, that their judgments were carried out and that taxes were raised.
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"All these functions have, of course, been assumed by others like the revenue, the police and the courts."
To celebrate him being chosen, Mr Tudor John, with his wife Jane, held an official declaration ceremony at his local parish church, All Saints in Willian, followed by a private lunch at The Fox pub.
For much of his life prior to becoming High Sheriff Mr Tudor John worked in an international law firm. He has also held various non-executive roles and is a fellow of Downing College, Cambridge.
"My various jobs, which I am still doing, occupy me fairly fully. Now that I have become High Sheriff, a position which is held for one year, I will necessarily have to do less in order to fit in my various shrieval functions."
Asked in what circumstances he was chosen to take up the role, Mr Tudor John said: "In Hertfordshire possible High Sheriffs are approached about four years before they actually take up the role and I was spoken to by the then High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 2001.
"In theory, the Queen selects each High Sheriff upon recommendation by the Privy Council.
"In practice, each county has a nominations committee, in Hertfordshire's case comprising the Lord Lieutenant, some ex-High Sheriffs, the existing High Sheriff and an independent person like the senior judge at St Albans Crown Court, which selects the future High Sheriff, passing on the relevant name to the Privy Council.
"The selection actually takes place by the Queen in Council, pricking the name of the selected person with a bodkin needle. I believe that this originated during the reign of Elizabeth I.
"The High Sheriff being selected is not present when this occurs so I can't verify whether the needle is actually used. Following this, the names are read out some days later in the High Court in the Strand."
While he holds the role Mr Tudor John is expected to attend various official functions. Usually these functions are related to law and order but he will also, for example, present various awards to organisations such as St John Ambulance and Hertfordshire police.
Mr Tudor John said: "Statutorily the High Sheriff is the returning officer in the county if there is an election and is the person who makes the official declaration on the accession of a new monarch."
Mr Tudor John has so far been very busy but expects it to get even busier as the year progresses.
Asked about his plans for the future, he said: "I will attend various citizenship ceremonies where immigrants to this country are made citizens, swearing allegiance to the Queen. I have my garden party for various dignitaries in the county in June.
"The High Sheriff also has a fund from which he makes awards to clubs, bodies, groups who have contributed greatly during the year to the reduction of crime and in this regard I will be receiving nominations during the year.
"I am in office for one year and I hope to use my time to access as many of the young in our county as I can to pass on the message that law and order is not just the role of the police, but all of us working together.