John Raymond, Dorset High Sheriff.
Dorset's High Sheriff
It's no longer the most powerful job in the land, but the role of Dorset's High Sheriff continues a tradition which dates back more than a thousand years and John Raymond from Witchampton is the latest to take office as the High Sheriff of Dorset.
In years gone by the High Sheriff was one of the most feared men in Dorset collecting taxes and enforcing law and order. It was also a dangerous occupation - a previous High Sheriff was once killed by a Viking in Weymouth.
Today though the job is rather more sedate.
Retired Solicitor John Raymond was made High Sheriff of Dorset in April 2008 at a ceremony at Athelhampton House.
Dorset High Sheriff's badge
He has a variety of roles including presenting certificates of commendation to members of the public who have helped apprehend criminals and to the Police and Fire service for acts of bravery.
He also presides over citizenship and other public ceremonies and can act as a Parliamentary returning officer during elections.
Mr Raymond undertakes 4-5 engagements a week and continues in the post until April 2009.
The post lasts for one year and receives no financial allowance.
1,000 years of history
The Shrievalty is the oldest secular office in the United Kingdom after the Crown and dates back over a millennium.
Mr Raymond said: "Knowing you are in an office that goes back over one thousand years, one is very conscious of the history and I am honoured to have been asked to be the High Sheriff of Dorset".
The term "sheriff" comes from the ancient position of the "shire reeve" who was elected annually by the peasants to supervise lands for a lord.
The term was adopted by the Americans after independence for their law enforcers, a term that still survives today.
By royal appointment
The office of High Sheriff is a nominated position with all nominees names written on a roll of vellum (a sort of processed animal hide).
The Queen then pricks the first name on the list with a sharp bodkin and the high sheriff for the County is then appointed.
last updated: 13/06/2008 at 11:40