Sword, Dress and Badge

The High Sheriff's Sword

The High Sheriff's Sword is the symbol of the Queen's Justice.

The High Sheriff's Uniform: Court Dress

In 1869 the Lord Chamberlain's office issued new guidelines governing the wearing of Court Dress, and in an effort to standardise the appearance of gentlemen attending at Court, prescribed for the first time a suit of clothes cut from black silk velvet and trimmed with cut steel buttons. Hitherto Court uniform had consisted of a coat and breeches of superfine cloth worn with a floral waistcoat. This in turn had descended from the lavishly decorated court clothes worn during the reign of King George III.

The new, more restrained style of dress, became the regulation uniform for High Sheriffs and retained some of the elements of dress from a previous age. These included a species of folding cocked hat known as a 'chapeau bras', which had first made its appearance in the last years of the eighteenth century, and the black silk rosette, the last vestige of the bag wig of the 1740s. The coat itself echoed the style of the 1780s, though the advancement of nineteenth century tailoring techniques lent a more fitted silhouette to this later garment.

There are no precise regulations governing Court Dress for Lady Sheriffs. However, ladies are encouraged to wear Court Dress buttons and cut steel shoe buckles for their Shrieval outfits, along with a wigbag. Lady Sheriffs do not wear swords, though a cut steel sword may be carried before them in procession.

The High Sheriff's Badge

The High Sheriff's badge displays the swords of Mercy (curtana, with the point cut off) and Justice, both of which are carried at the Coronation of a sovereign, crossed in saltire and above them is the Royal Crown with an ermine border to symbolise the Judiciary.

The Heraldic description of the badge is as follows:

Two swords in saltire Argent hilts pommels and quillons or that in bend couped at the point charged upon an Oval Azure environed by a Wreath composed of Oak Leaves Gold with in chief and in base a Tudor Rose Gules upon Argent barbed and seeded proper and in the flanks two Leeks in saltire also proper the whole ensigned by the Royal Crown proper.

Find out about the Current High Sheriff here >>