The office of High Sheriff is of great antiquity, dating back to Saxon times. The High Sheriff is appointed by the Crown and is the oldest secular office in England and Wales after the Crown. Originally the office held many of the powers now vested in the Lord-Lieutenant, High Court Judges, Magistrates, Local Authorities, Coroners and even the Revenue and Customs.
Today the duties of the High Sheriff are largely ceremonial. The appointment is honorary and there is no formal qualification for the office, however, certain people – members of both Houses of Parliament, serving members of the Armed Forces and certain government officials are disqualified from holding the office. The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the County for matters relating to the Rule of Law and the Constitution and is therefore concerned with the Judiciary, public services engaged with law enforcement and community safety, elections and government in the county and everything in the county relating to community cohesion, especially the voluntary sector.
Apart from the ceremonial duties, High Sheriffs in Wiltshire have for many years been active in encouraging and supporting a wide range of activities in both the public and voluntary sectors aimed at enabling offenders, potential offenders and those who are otherwise disadvantaged to achieve their potential as citizens. The task of the High Sheriff is to show appreciation and encouragement to all those who work for the good of the Community and particularly to enable the disengaged to get back on track.
The High Sheriff is appointed for a period of one year. A list containing three names is submitted to the Queen each March and the name of the High Sheriff for the subsequent year is pricked with a silver bodkin following which a warrant is issued to the High Sheriff by Order of the Queen in Council.
The High Sheriff of Wiltshire for 2017-18 is Lady Marland