The Norman Sheriff

The Sheriff’s office under the Norman Kings fulfilled its duties of Saxon times, writes Irene Gladwin, and was awarded to the magnates among the Conqueror’s supporters.

The sheriff’s office passed into the Norman era with all the fundamental characteristics, functions and duties it had possessed under the Saxon kings. It suited William the Conqueror’s purpose well that the old-established forms of local government should be preserved without interruption for; it heightened the illusion that everything was normal, and that all that had happened was that he, the rightful heir, had at last entered into his inheritance.

Consequently, he retained the services of many former English sheriffs who were not actively hostile to his cause, such as Edric of Wiltshire, Tofi of Somerset, Toli of Norfolk and Suffolk, Elfric of Huntingdonshire and Aethelwine of Warwickshire. Wiggod of Oxfordshire was marked out for special preferment because he had been the first official of high rank to submit to William and had actively assisted him in the first crucial days after the Battle of Hastings.

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