The office of Sheriff is the oldest in the City of London. The name derives from the Shire-Reeve who exercised the King’s authority over the citizens, collecting royal revenues and enforcing royal justice. Today their more modern duties involve speaking at Ward Clubs and Livery dinners, sharing the responsibility with the Lord Mayor.
They are elected each year on Midsummer Day by the City Livery companies at Guildhall at an event known as Common Hall. One must be an Alderman - the senior representative of one of the City's Wards, and another elected position - and both Sheriffs need to be members of a Livery company. Their tenure is one year and runs from September to September.
They attend the Courts of Aldermen and Common Council and occupy a central place in the assemblies of Common Hall. They also look after the Judges at the Old Bailey and make sure that the court's business runs smoothly. One of the Sheriffs must be present whenever the courts are sitting.
It is customary for one or both of the Sheriffs to attend the Lord Mayor on his official occasions at home and abroad. For the Aldermanic Sheriff the year’s tenure has even more importance as it provides an opportunity to see the Lord Mayor’s role at first-hand and what may be expected of them if they progress to that position.