High Sheriff of Lincolnshire ‘hand pricked’ by Queen at Buckingham Palace ceremony
THE Queen has put her own personal mark on the new High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, literally, by ‘hand pricking’ him as ready for action with a silver bodkin.
High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Mr Robin Battle.
In an ancient ceremony at Buckingham Palace last week, Her Majesty used the bodkin to prick the name of Toby Edward Drake Dennis of Rowston, along with the names of all the other men and women on an official list who are set to become the country’s high sheriffs this year and as such rank among the highest dignitaries in their counties.
The ceremony is one which down the ages has officially signified the reigning monarch’s approval of those nominated to become the country’s High Sheriffs – the oldest secular office in the country.
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Now, in the coming weeks the High Sheriffs will make declarations in accordance with the 1887 Sheriffs Act and take office after that.
Legend has it that the silver bodkin used to this day to “prick” the names of the Sheriffs on the list was originally used by Queen Elizabeth I, who was embroidering when she was asked to mark the names on the list. She couldn’t find a pen so used the bodkin instead to prick them.
Another story, however, has it that the reason the bodkin came to be used is because the list is traditionally produced on vellum and pricking the vellum is more permanent than making a mark with ink which could be tampered with.
The modern day form of the ceremony, carried out by the Queen at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace, dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria. But the office of High Sheriff, however, stretches back much farther.
‘Shire Reeves’ as they were originally known were appointed for each county and used to have to give account to the reigning monarch once a year of the money they had collected on behalf of the monarch.
These days of course the High Sheriffs no longer collect money for the monarch in the way their predecessors did in centuries past.
They also had many other powers but the majority of those have now been vested in Lord Lieutenants, High Court judges, magistrates, local authorities, coroners and even the Inland Revenue.
Today the functions of the post are now almost entirely ceremonial. The only significant legal functions relate to the enforcement of High Court writs.