James Saunders Watson, Esq., D.L. made his Declaration as the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire at the Northampton Combined Court Centre on 28th March  2018.

My early childhood was spent following my father’s naval career, including two formative years in Bermuda. I moved to Rockingham Castle in 1971, when my father took on the estate on the death of his Uncle. From school I joined the Royal Navy and spent 10 years as a Seaman officer, culminating in navigating HMS Amazon. After the Navy I completed a MBA at Warwick University and then joined Robert Fleming & Co in the asset management business. I have continued to work for the bank and its successor owners Chase Manhattan and JP Morgan.

In 1999 Lizzie and I moved to Rockingham and took over running the estate, when my parents retired. We have three children; two daughters who are at university and a son who is still at school.

I have been actively involved with the growth of Corby and North Northamptonshire and was a director of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership until it merged into SEMLEP in 2016. I am also very interested in the cultural heritage of the County and have responsibility for representing the Lieutenancy in this area.

I am actively involved in a number of national charities, particularly those related to the maritime sector and am currently a council member of the White Ensign Association.

It is a great honour to be appointed High Sheriff of Northamptonshire and I look forward to supporting the police and the courts in their vital work and spending time with those charities that operate in the fields of mental health and the rehabilitation of offenders. In particular I am keen to work with the Teamwork Trust, a charity based in Kettering, Wellingborough and Corby specialising in mental health issues.

Apart from the Monarchy, the office of High Sheriff is the oldest in the land with origins that can be traced to Saxon times.

High Sheriffs continue to represent the Sovereign in their counties on matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order and their responsibilities are conferred on them by the Crown through warrant from the Privy Council. At the annual nomination ceremony on 12 November in the Royal Court of Justice, three names are put forward for the office of High Sheriff in each county. Subsequently, the selection of a new High Sheriff is made from these names in March each year in the Privy Council by the Sovereign who, by ancient custom, pricks a hole beside the appointed name with a bodkin.

Today, High Sheriffs aim to support voluntary and statutory organisations engaged in aspects of law and order in their county. They have a particular role in supporting the Judiciary and take a special interest in the activities of such statutory bodies as the police, the prison service and the probation service. Under the Criminal Law Act 1826, they are required to give monetary awards to people who, in the opinion of Judges at a criminal trial, have been active in the apprehension of an offender.

Sheriff Photo