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The High Sheriff

david hempleman adams ce

Dr David Hempleman-Adams, LVO, CBE, KStJ, DL

Contact details

email: wiltshirehighsheriff@hotmail.com

Or contact can be made with the Lieutenancy Office, who will pass on details:

Lieutenancy Office

Wiltshire Council

County Hall


BA14 8JN

Telephone: 01225 713103

Email: jean.potter@wiltshire.gov.uk

Dr. Hempleman-Adam's will be supporting the Wiltshire Community Foundation during his year of office. He was born and raised in Swindon and Wiltshire, and while he has been privileged to see the four corners of the world, Wiltshire will always remain home.

  • 2001: Mr David Stratton
  • 2002: Sir Christopher Benson
  • 2003: Mr David Newbigging
  • 2004: Lieutenant Colonel James Arkell
  • 2005: Mr David Margesson
  • 2006: Mrs Geraldine Wimble
  • 2007: The Hon Peter Pleydell-Bouverie
  • 2008: Mrs Margaret Madeline Wilks
  • 2009: Mr Robert Floyd
  • 2010: Dame Elizabeth Neville
  • 2011: Mr Robert Hiscox
  • 2012: The Hon Lady Phillips
  • 2013: Mr William Wyldbore-Smith
  • 2014: Mr Peter Addington
  • 2015: Lady Gooch

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. The origins of the Office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.

The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the County for matters of law and order and the judiciary and consequently takes an active interest in the administration of justice.  The appointment is honorary and there is no formal qualification for the office, although certain people - Members of both Houses of Parliament, serving members of the armed forces, and certain government officials - are disqualified from taking office.

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 12 November in each year. Subsequently the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in a meeting of the Privy Council by The Sovereign when the custom of “pricking” the appointee’s name with a silver bodkin is perpetuated.

High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff’s year falls on the public purse.

Further information can be obtained from the High Sheriffs’ Association of England and Wales.


While the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the role today.  

Each High Sheriff will approach their year slightly differently depending on their particular skills, experience and their own areas of interest. The key objectives of the role can be summarised as follows:

  • To uphold and enhance the ancient Office of High Sheriff and to make a meaningful contribution to the High Sheriff’s county during the year of office
  • To lend active support to the principal organs of the Constitution within their county – the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the police and other law enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, and church and faith groups
  • To ensure the welfare of visiting High Court cudges, to attend on them at court and to offer them hospitality
  • To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and on other occasions as appropriate
  • To take an active part in supporting and promoting the voluntary sector and giving all possible encouragement to the voluntary organisations within a county

The principal formal duties of High Sheriffs today include attendance at royal visits in the county and support for Her Majesty’s High Court judges when on circuit.

In recent years, High Sheriffs actively lend support and encouragement to agencies around crime reduction initiatives and those involved in the voluntary sector, especially among young people. In this way they are able to raise the profile of local charities working with young and vulnerable people to support their valuable work in strengthening community cohesion.

badge of office sheriff of wiltshire

Uniform and Badge of Office

The ceremonial uniform that is worn by male High Sheriffs today is called Court Dress. It has remained essentially unchanged since the late 17th century and consists of a black or dark blue velvet coat with steel-cut buttons, breeches, shoes with cut-steel buckles, a sword and a cocked hat. A lace jabot is worn around the neck. Some High Sheriffs wear their military uniform instead of Court Dress. Today, lady High Sheriffs generally adapt the style of traditional Court Dress to suit their needs. Ceremonial uniform is worn at a wide variety of functions but when not wearing Court Dress, a High Sheriff will wear a Badge of Office on a ribbon.

Many High Sheriffs give their own personal awards to individuals during their year of office. These people are often unsung heroes within small voluntary groups, who have made an outstanding contribution in some way.

If you are aware of a deserving individual, please e-mail wiltshirehighsheriff@hotmail.com with details, providing the name of the person together with the reason for their nomination.


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Last updated: 7 December 2016