High Sheriff of West Sussex
The office of High Sheriff, the oldest secular office under the Crown, has its origins in
Saxon times before the Norman conquest and originally held many of the responsibilities
that now rest with the Lord-Lieutenant, the judiciary, local authorities, coroners and
HM Revenue and Customs.
The office of High Sheriff remained first in precedence in every county until the reign
of Edward VII. In 1904 an Order in Council established the Lord-Lieutenant as the
Sovereign’s personal representative. The High Sheriff now takes precedence
immediately after the Lord-Lieutenant.
Please click here for a full list of High Sheriffs of West Sussex since 1086.
High Sheriffs serve for one year. A local advisory committee recommends individuals through the
Presiding Judge of the Circuit to the Privy Council. The formal selection of High Sheriffs is made annually at
a meeting of the Privy Council at which the Sovereign ‘pricks’ the list of forthcoming High Sheriffs with a bodkin.
The High Sheriff’s principal responsibilities are as follows:
To uphold and enhance the ancient office of High Sheriff and to make a meaningful contribution to the county during the year of office.
To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and other occasions as appropriate.
To ensure the well-being and protection of Her Majesty’s High Court judges when on circuit in the county and attending them in court during the legal terms.
To lend active support to the principal organs of the Constitution within the county – the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the police and other law enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, the church and faith groups.
To take an active part in supporting and promoting the voluntary sector and giving all possible encouragement to voluntary organisations within the county.
Acting as Returning Officer for Parliamentary Elections.
Responsibility for the Proclamation of the Accession of a new Sovereign.
The current High Sheriff
The High Sheriff of West Sussex for 2022-23 is Mr James Whitmore.
James Whitmore has spent most of his life in Sussex having been brought
up near Hartfield in East and lived near Pulborough in West for the past
James has been involved in residential property all his working life and for
the past 26 years has been chairman and managing director of his own
London based development company. The company purchases many
different properties but specialises in the redevelopment of listed buildings
enhancing them through planning permissions, careful refurbishments and
bespoke interior design. He is also involved in five further companies either
as an executive director or non-executive chairman. Prior to starting his own
company James spent nine years at Dorrington Plc, with the last four as a
main board director.
He has been a governor to two Sussex schools, most recently a donation
governor of Christ’s Hospital and is currently a governor of a school in
Northamptonshire. He also supports a number of charities and is a trustee of
a London based charity.
He is a member of the Court of The Worshipful Company of Grocers and was Master in 2018/19.
James is married to Sara and together they have three grown-up children. He farms, enjoys country pursuits
and has a passion for motor cars of all ages.
The High Sheriff can be contacted through his PA, Clarinda Snowball.
The High Sheriff is also supported by the Under Sheriff, Mr Kevin Smyth.
Telephone: 01273 841042 or 07711 031524