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About this site

David Langford was appointed High Sheriff for the Isle of Wight for the year 2007/2008.

This site is an archive of an eventful year - for information on the current High Sheriff, please visit www.highsheriff-iow.org.uk.

The Office of High Sheriff - summary


  • The Office of High Sheriff in England and Wales began over one thousand years ago and is the oldest continuous secular Office under the Crown
  • High Sheriffs were originally the main tax collectors for the King; they "farmed" their bailiwicks which were based on the Domesday survey
  • The High Sheriff is the Sovereign's representative on all matters appertaining to civil law and order
  • The High Sheriff comes second in precedence to the County's Lord-Lieutenant.

Historical functions

The High Sheriff:

  • Attends Royal visits to the Isle of Wight
  • Provides hospitality and looks after the well-being of High Court Judges visiting the Isle of Wight
  • Acts as the Returning Officer for parliamentary elections
  • Is responsible for the proclamation of the accession of a new Sovereign
  • Maintains the loyalty of subjects to the Crown.

Modern functions

In addition to those functions listed above, the High Sheriff:

  • Undertakes duties to support and encourage voluntary and statutory organisations engaged in all aspects of civil law and order
  • Works with organisations involved with young people, particularly those that seek to keep them from drifting into crime
  • Makes awards to those who, in the opinion of the Judges at a criminal trial, have been active in the apprehension of certain offenders
  • Participates in Citizenship Ceremonies
  • Is advised and assisted by a legally trained Under-Sheriff.

Appointment of High Sheriffs

  • The Office is a Royal appointment. It is made at a meeting of the Privy Council, where the custom of HM The Queen literally pricking a hole through the nominee's name on the Roll with a bodkin is perpetuated
  • The Office of High Sheriff is non-political and unpaid, and no part of the High Sheriff's expenses falls on the public purse
  • The Appointment runs for one year starting in April
  • Any citizen of good character owning property within the Isle of Wight may be appointed.


  • The High Sheriff's Court Dress dates from Victorian times and is a modification of an eighteenth-century costume.

Further information on the Office of the High Sheriff.