Straight from our manifesto launch in North Wales to the Shrievalty Service and Declaration Ceremony of my good friend, James Turner as The High Sheriff of Powys. James looked extremely pretty in his tights and finery. I resisted making any facetious comments about the new outfit at St. Mary's Church - probably because I was still feeling a bit chastened after my embarrassing mobile call to Brynle earlier in the day. (See previous post).
Actually, I felt rather privileged to be a guest. I'm a full blooded royalist and the post of High Sheriff is the oldest royal appointment of all. James had invited the children of my old school, Castle Caereinion Primary to attend the service. His Honour Judge Ian Trigger gave them a history lesson about the sort of things previous High Sheriffs had done to raise money for the monarch. It seems that it used to be common practice for High Sheriffs to kidnap the wives and mistresses of the clergy and demand a ransom for their return. Be interesting to know what performance measures were used as the basis for calculating the size of the ransom. Clearly, the clergy had things organised rather differently from today.
His Honour also told us about one High Sheriff who used to demand cockerels from all the farmers in his Bailiwick, supposedly as a gift for the monarch. No information on what happened to them. In those days one just handed over the ransom because the High Sheriff had full control over the important levers of power - or at least those that activated the gallows. But James Turner is an honourable and respectable man and there is no threat to the wives, mistresses and cockerels of the parish.