Somerset High Sheriffs

We recently had an excellent talk from David Pugsley on the Somerset Assizes in the 18th century. In recent years Langford has provided more than its fair share of High Sheriffs, with John Alvis and Ian Hoddell being the most recent in 2009 and 2002.
This led us to wonder if there were other Langfordians who had shared this high office.
Here is a list of  High Sheriffs of Somerset  compiled with the help of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The list is incomplete, but goes along way back!
I have spotted at least three other Langfordians on the list, can you spot them and maybe some others? Also, if you are able to add to the list, please do get in touch using the “Contact Us” page. You might like to regard this as a  rather highbrow end of the year quiz!! Answers in 2011.

  • c1061 Godwine
  • 1066-1068 Tovi or Tofig
  • 1083-1086 William de Moyon
  • c1091 Aiulph
  • 1123-1130 Warin
  • 1155 Richard de Monte Alto
  • 1155 Richard de Raddona
  • 1157 Warner de Lisoria
  • 1162 Robert de Beauchamp
  • 1163 Gerbert de Parcy
  • 1167 Robert Pucherel
  • 1169 Alfred of Lincoln
  • 1175 Robert de Beauchamp
  • 1182 William de Bendeng
  • 1184 Robert Fitzpain
  • 1188-1189 Hugh Bardulf
  • 1189 John, Count of Mortain
  • 1194 William earl of Salisbury
  • 1197 Peter de Scudamore
  • 1199 Robert Belet
  • 1200 Hubert de Burgh
  • 1204 William de Montacute
  • 1204 Osbert de Stoke
  • 1207 William Brewer
  • 1209 William Malet
  • 1377 Sir John Delamare
  • 1428-1431 Sir John Stourton, of Stourton, Co Wilts and of Stavordale Co, Somerset, High Sheriff of Somerset “In direct descent of the King, and entitled to quarter the Plantagenet Arms”
  • 1485: Amyas Paulet
  • 1495 Sir Edmond Gorges of Wraxall
  • 1504 Sir Henry Uvedale
  • 1515-16: John Seymour
  • 1519: John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath
  • 1528: John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford
  • 1536: Hugh Paulet
  • 1538: Henry Long
  • 1542–1547: Hugh Paulet
  • 1548 Sir John Thynne
  • 1592 Sir John Harrington
  • 1601 Sir John Mallet of Enmore ( Knight of the Bath)
  • 1602: John May
  • 1603 Sir Edward Rogers of Cannington
  • 1627 John Clark Symes
  • 1627: Sir John Latch of Over Langford Manor
  • 1628: Sir John Stawell
  • 1638: John Mallett
  • 1685 : Edward Hobbes
  • 1698:  Henry Mompesson of Corston, Wiltshire (1633–1715)
  • 1750–1752: Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bt
  • 1752: John Harding
  • 1775–1776: Thomas Champneys 1st Bt.
  • 1798: John Hurle, Brislington Hill House
  • 1830: James Adam Gordon, of Portbury
  • 1831: Thomas Shewell Bailward, of Horsington
  • 1832: Sir Henry Strachey, 2nd Baronet, of Sutton Court
  • 1833: George Henry Carew, of Crowcombe Court
  • 1834: Francis Popham, of West Bagborough
  • 1835: William Manning Dodington, of Horsington
  • 1836: James Bennett, of North Cadbury
  • 1837: Alexander Adair, of Heatherton Park
  • 1838: Robert Phippen, of Badgworth Court
  • 1839: Sir William Medlycott, 2nd Baronet, of Milborne Port
  • 1840: John Jarrett, of Camerton
  • 1841: William Francis Knatchbull, of Babington
  • 1842: Robert Charles Tudway, of the city of Wells
  • 1843: Hon. Philip Pleydell-Bouverie, of Brymore
  • 1844: John Fownes Luttrell, of Dunster Castle
  • 1845: John Lee Lee, of Dillington House
  • 1846: Richard Meade King, of Pyrland Hall
  • 1847: John Matthew Quantock, of Norton-sub-Hamdon
  • 1848: Edward Ayshford Sanford, of Nynehead Court
  • 1849: George William Blathway, of Porlock
  • 1850: Langley St Albyn, of Alfoxton
  • 1851: Thomas Tutton Knyfton, of Uphill
  • 1852: Montague Gore, of Barrow Court
  • 1853: Francis Henry Dickinson, of Kingweston
  • 1854: James Curtis Somerville, of Dinder
  • 1855: George Barons Northcote, of Somerset Court
  • 1856: John Hippisley, of Ston Easton Park
  • 1857: Sir Arthur Elton, 7th Baronet, of Clevedon Court
  • 1858: Sir Alexander Acland-Hood, 3rd Baronet, of St Audries
  • 1859: Edward Berkeley Napier, of East Pennard
  • 1860: Robert James Elton, of Whitestaunton
  • 1861: Francis Wheat Newton, of Barton Grange
  • 1862: Ralph Neville-Grenville, of Butleigh Court
  • 1863: George Treweeke Scobell, of Kingwell
  • 1864: Sir Edward Strachey, 3rd Baronet, of Sutton Court
  • 1865: Sir John Henry Greville Smyth, 1st Baronet, of Ashton Court
  • 1866: George Bullock
  • 1868: Colonel Jones
  • 1871: Henry Cornish Henley
  • 1873: RKM King
  • 1875:  Mr Moysey
  • 18??: Edward Talbot Day Foxcroft (1837-1911)
  • 1888: Antony Gibbs, of Charlton House, Wraxall, Nailsea
  • 1898: Hon. Edward William-Berkeley Portman of Hestercombe, Taunton
  • 1899: William Long of Woodlands, Congresbury, Bristol
  • 1911: Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, Bt
  • 1928: Sir William Mason, Bt
  • 1960–1961: Sir Walter Luttrell
  • 1961–1962: Richard Cely-Trevilian
  • 1962–1963: Gilbert Poole
  • 1963–1964: Cecil Mitford-Slade
  • 1964–1965: Richard Hill
  • 1965–1966: Sir John Slessor
  • 1966–1967: Sir Edward Malet
  • 1967–1968: Sir Ian Lyle
  • 1968–1969: Sir John Wills
  • 1969–1970: W.Q. Roberts
  • 1970–1971: John A. Clark
  • 1971–1972: H.W.F. Hoskyns
  • 1972–1973: C.J.R. Trotter
  • 1973–1974: Gerald Hignett
  • 1974–1975: David Tudway-Quilter
  • 1975–1976: Matthew Waley-Cohen
  • 1976–1977: John S. Lloyd
  • 1977–1978: P.H. Daniel
  • 1978–1979: William Rees-Mogg
  • 1979–1980: W.K.B. Crawford
  • 1980–1981: John A. Lindley
  • 1981–1982: A.J. Greswell
  • 1982–1983: Peter Speke
  • 1983–1984: Charles de Salis
  • 1984–1985: C.E.B. Clive-Ponsonby-Fane
  • 1985–1986: J.S.B. White
  • 1986–1987: Ewan Cameron
  • 1987–1988: M.J.F. Carter
  • 1988–1989: William Theed
  • 1989–1990: R.W. Vivian-Neal
  • 1990–1991: Malcolm Henry Alistair Fraser
  • 1991–1992: Ian Crawford MacDonald
  • 1992–1993: William Sanford
  • 1993–1994: John Hedworth Jolliffe
  • 1994–1995: Lady Elizabeth Gass
  • 1995–1996: Roy Scrymgeour Graham Hewett
  • 1996–1997: Christopher Phillip Thomas-Everard
  • 1997–1998: Richard Stanton Roy Sheldon
  • 1998–1999: Micaela Elizabeth Benedicta Beckett
  • 1999–2000: Thomas Andrew Heath Yandle
  • 2000–2001: Angela Betty Yeoman
  • 2001–2002: Thomas Hugh Ruscombe Poole
  • 2002–2003: Robert Ian Hoddell
  • 2003–2004: Brian Michael Tanner
  • 2004–2005: Sandy Evans
  • 2005–2006: Fiona Densham
  • 2006–2007: Alastair Ian Hayward Fyfe
  • 2007–2008: David John Medlock
  • 2008–2009: Anne Caroline Maw
  • 2009–2010: John Alvis


At the meeting there was a question about lady high sheriffs, David has kindly written a piece on the subject!


The first Lady High Sheriff in England in modern times was Mrs Mary Dent-Brocklehurst in Gloucestershire in 1967. Wales had already had a Lady High Sheriff in 1943.

The Sheriffs Act, 1887, spoke of “fit persons”, not “fit gentlemen”; and the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919, confirmed that there was no legal objection to the appointment of a lady.

Ladies were elected in the cities of Canterbury in 1923 (Mrs Lucy G. Wells), Southampton in 1926, Norwich in 1928, and Nottingham in 1931 (Mrs Caroline M. Harper).

The possibility of appointing a lady High Sheriff of a county seems to have been raised for the first time by Mr Justice Darling in his charge to the county grand jury at Gloucestershire Assizes in 1922: “she would not only have to be in attendance on the Judges of Assize, but would also have to be prepared to ride at the head of a posse comitatus in the case of a civil disturbance.”

In 1934 the High Sheriff of Flint wished to put forward the name of Lady Kenyon, of Gredington, Whitchurch. The was a flurry of correspondence between the King’s Remembrancer, the Privy Council, the Lord Chancellor’s Department and the Home Office. On the whole no-one wished to commit himself. This was a matter for the Court or the Privy Council. It was even suggested that the King himself should be consulted. It was pointed out that the High Sheriff was responsible for executions and women would not be appropriate for that function. Finally Lady Kenyon withdrew in October before the Nomination Ceremony in November. Sir Claud Schuster, the Permanent Secretary in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, annotated the file: “Personally, I think that the position is a most unsuitable one for a woman, and I believe that most women – though not all – would agree with me.” But he did accept that feelings might change.

In 1936 the High Sheriff of an unnamed Welsh county reported to the Privy Council that he was having difficulty in finding suitable male candidates, though there were plenty of suitable ladies; but he did agree to put forward the names of two suitable gentlemen as well.

 In 1937 the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire wished to put forward the name of a lady. It was pointed out that it would be most unfortunate if a lady’s name were put forward publickly and she were then rejected by the Court or the Privy Council or even by the King. Her name was therefore withdrawn.

Finally in 1940 Mrs C. S. Way, of Garthmyl Hall, was nominated for Montgomeryshire. There is no comment in the Privy Council papers. She was duly pricked as High Sheriff in 1943. There were Lady High Sheriffs in Montgomeryshire again in 1946 and 1947 – twenty years before the first Lady High Sheriff of a county in England.

There was also a question on the sheriff’s fund…….


Mr SANFORD (HS 1848), in opposing the motion (to use police instead of javelin men) said the alteration was less required in this county than in any other, because, from a long-existing regulation, the expense of the sheriff was comparatively trifling. Gentlemen had only to belong to the sheriff’s fund, and pay £5 5s. a year, and they were exonerated from these expenses. Somerset County Gazette, 9 January 1858.

Motion withdrawn.

Colonel Jones (HS 1868; 997 acres, £2,250 pa.) regretted that the motion he was about to propose had not been moved by some person better acquainted with the different magistrates, and who might be of much more importance than himself. At the same time, when a bracket (sic) appeared last November in which he was detailed as a sheriff in prospect, he could not help experiencing a certain amount of feeling on the subject. In fact, he felt himself highly flattered that the chairman had done him the honour, as a new inhabitant in the county. But he had also the feeling in his mind that a toad would have under a harrow – (laughter). But the toad would have the best of it, and would hop out of the way, while he, unless he died, could not run out of the way…. The expenses of Col. Blathway (HS 1849; 5,043 acres, Somerset, 2,306 acres, Gloucestershire, £8,705 pa.), who was not a subscriber to the sheriff’s fund, amounted to £600. If he subscribed to the fund, he had a certain amount to pay at entrance, and a yearly blister of £5; but even then he could not be at less expense than £150 – he believed it had been placed much higher.

Mr WOOD was a subscriber to the sheriff’s fund, and it would be better for his own pocket if the motion were carried…. He thought that the expense of the shrievalty very moderate indeed, and that Col. Blathway had incurred unnecessary expense. It could not, he thought, be more than £200 or £250 to a subscriber. Somerset County Gazette, 7 July 1866.

Mr Nicholetts (Under Sheriff) informed the court that there was a contract entered into with the captain of the javelin men for two years longer, and he would have to be paid £200 each year from the Sheriffs’ Fund. Bristol Mercury, 7 July 1866.

Motion carried, 19-17.

Mr Moysey (HS 1875; 712 acres, £1,145 pa.) said that no sheriff he had heard of had complained that he had not command over the men employed, he believed, since 1811.

Mr Wood said they, in Somerset, stood in a peculiar position: they had a sheriff’s fund which had been in operation for a number of years…. A contract was entered into with Mr Armstrong (the Captain of the Javelin men) for three years that he should provide a sufficient number of javelin men…. Were they going to interfere also with the arrangement made and confirmed by all the gentlemen who subscribed to the sheriff’s fund. He himself was a subscriber to that fund, and thought it a most admirable arrangement.

Mr R K M King (HS 1873; 1,748 acres, £4,740 pa.) then explained that each sheriff had £250 allowed him in gross in aid of the expense to which he was put. Somerset County Gazette, 5 January 1867.

Motion carried, 39-4 (reversing previous resolution).

Mr H W Hoskins said that in 1867 the Under Sheriff, Mr Nicholetts, was anxious that the corps of javelin men, the funds of which he administered, should be continued. But since then circumstances had changed. He said the corps was established in 1811 principally for the purpose of keeping order in court. Somerset County Gazette, 7 July 1877.

Motion carried: Javelin men disbanded.

John Hubert Hunt, of Compton Pauncefoot, was nominated as Sheriff in November 1810, 1811 and 1812. “Mr Lethbridge to Lord President, for excusing Mr Hunt for this year on the ground of his having only of late succeeded to his Estate, and the Expence of serving being not less than £800, a public subscription to defray which having been just instituted, but of which he cannot avail himself unless he is struck off the Judges’ Roll. Mr Lethbridge adds that Mr Ackland (second on the Roll) is, he knows, anxious to serve, is a young man of considerable Fortune, and belongs to the subscription alluded to. Privy Council Papers, National Archives, PC 13/4.

Hunt was nominated again in 1821 and 1825, but never appointed.

Sheriff’s expenses varied from £100 to about £700 or £800. In the case that I speak of, where it was £100, I rather think they had a sheriff’s fund in the county, to which each property liable to serve contributed. Charles Lennox Peel, Clerk of the Privy Council, Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on High Sheriffs (1888) p.7, qu.32. Somerset?

In the eighteenth century they had a system in Buckinghamshire under which all gentlemen of sufficient standing to be eligible as Sheriff belonged to an association to which they subscribed five guineas a year. When his year of office came, most of the Sheriff’s expenses were paid out of this common fund. Purefoy Letters (1931).

It is strange to find so practical and business-like a system in existence in the middle of the eighteenth century. I would suggest that it might be revived today in any county. On Circuit, 1924-1937, by MacKinnon LJ (1940), p.159.  


Latch Memorial at St John the Baptist Church, Churchill

There has recently been a most interesting email exchange with some of our members and Kirsten Uszkalo, a university lecturer from Edmonton, Alberta, concerning the Latch memorial!

Many of you will be familair with the memorial in the church which depicts a gentleman, supposedly Sir John Latch, gazing horror struck at the partially shrouded face of his wife, Sara, who has allegedly just died in child birth delivering her twelth child. The children are also represented in the memorial including the shrouded figure of the recently deceased last child. To help refresh your memories there is a photo of the memorial which is dated 1644 in the Gallery section.

The Latch family had a long association with Over Langford Manor, much of which is documented in Chris Lee’s excellent chapter on the house in “More Stories From Langford”.

The initials on the memorial appear to be JL and SL, and we have hitherto believed this to be Sir John and Sara Latch. However, Wallace Butler’s extremely erudite publication “Churchill People and Places” has a different take on the memorial. He believes the male figure represents Thomas Latch, Sir John’s son. Moreover there is a family tree of the Latches which would appear to identify all the children of the marriage between Thomas and Sara.

Wallace believes that it was Collinson’s guide to Somerset dated 1791 that started the myth that Sara’s husband was called John, and that he died of heartbreak on seeing the body of his wife.

We would be delighted to hear of your views on whether you think the gentleman in the memorial is Thomas or John Latch, and to see if we can find any compelling evidence that might throw some additional light on the subject! You can get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page.