Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Sheriff is the chief officer of the Crown in every county in England. He does all the sovereign's business in the county, the Crown by letters patent committing the custody of the county to him. The judges, together with the other great officers and privy councillors, meet in the Exchequer on the morrow (November 12) of St. Martin yearly, and then and there the judges propose three persons from each county to be reported, if approved of, to the Queen, who afterwards appoints one of them to be sheriff; and such appointment generally takes place about the end of the following Hilary Term. If a sheriff die during his term of office, the appointment of another is the mere act of the Crown. The duties of a sheriff in England are chiefly ministerial, i.e. the execution of writs and orders of the courts, though he has a judicial office in the assessment of damages with the assistance of a jury, where judgment has gone by default against a defendant in the superior courts. But in Scotland the sheriff is the chief judge of the county, his civil jurisdiction extending to all personal actions on contract, bond, or obligation to the greatest extent, also by a statute of the present reign to actions relating to a heritable right where the value of the subject matter does not exceed £50 per annum or £1,000 value and to all possessory actions as removings, spuilzies, etc., to all brieves issuing from Chancery in Scotland, as of inquest, terce division, tutory, etc., and generally to all civil matters not specially committed to other courts. He has also a summary jurisdiction in regard to small debts as well as a criminal jurisdiction.