The office of sheriff - derived from the term shire-reeve - probably dates back to early Anglo-Saxon period. He was essentially the king’s representative at county level with important legal, financial and military functions.
By the charter of 1445 Southampton was designated a county and allowed to choose a sheriff, Henry Bruyn being the first. Before the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835 the sheriff was chosen from amongst the burgesses by the mayor and burgesses. He had the same powers as a county sheriff, but because he was appointed by the town rather than the monarch his status was not their equal. His duties included attendance at the town and county assizes, and the quarter sessions, for each of which he summoned the juries. He held a county court when necessary and executed writs from the superior court.
A list of Southampton sheriffs from 1447 (before which bailiffs are listed) to 1882 was kept amongst the town records in the Audit House and is now in Southampton City Record Office.


Further reading:
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Plat, p12, 17, 57-59, 113, 165. (HS/h)
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p174-184. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Volume 1, by A. Temple Patterson, p15-16. (HS/h)
The Book of Remembrance of Southampton, vol. 1 by Harry W Gidden (ed), px-xvii. HS/l


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