Nominations to the Office of High Sheriff are dealt with through the Presiding Judge of the Circuit and the Privy Council for consideration by the Sovereign in Council. The annual nominations of three prospective High Sheriffs for each county are made in a meeting of the Lords of the Council in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice presided over by the Lord Chief Justice on 12th of November each year when the names of all the High Sheriffs in nomination are read out by the Queen’s Remembrancer. Subsequently, the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in March, when the traditional custom of the Sovereign ‘pricking’ the appointee’s name with a bodkin is perpetuated. Eligibility for nomination and appointment of High Sheriffs excludes Peers of Parliament and Members of the House of Commons and, by extension, Members of the Welsh Assembly, full-time members of the Judiciary including Tribunal Judges, and Officers of the Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force on full pay. These provisions reflect the essential requirement that the Office of High Sheriff is a non-political appointment.
In March, one of those whose name has been read out is chosen by the monarch to be High Sheriff for the year. This occurs at a ‘pricking’ ceremony (a hole being pierced by a bodkin through the name of the person concerned). Following the ‘pricking’ of the High Sheriff in the Privy Council by the Sovereign a Warrant of Appointment is sent by the Clerk of the Privy Council in the following terms:
'WHEREAS HER MAJESTY was this day pleased, by and with the advice of HER PRIVY COUNCIL, to nominate you for, and appoint you to be HIGH SHERIFF of the COUNTY OF... during HER MAJESTY'S PLEASURE: These are therefore to require you to take the Custody and Charge of the said COUNTY, and duly to perform the duties of HIGH SHERIFF thereof during HER MAJESTY'S PLEASURE, whereof you are duly to answer according to law.'
The High Sheriff takes up appointment, usually in April each year with the making of a sworn declaration in terms set out by the Sheriffs Act 1887 before a High Court Judge or Justice of the Peace. The appointment is for one year only except in the event of something untoward happening to a High Sheriff’s expected successor, when a High Sheriff must remain in Office until the appointment of a successor is completed.
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