One of the first responsibilities of a new High Sheriff is to confirm the appointment of an Under-Sheriff, and to pass this information to the Privy Council.
For centuries the job of the Under-Sheriff was carrying out the execution of High Court Writs of Fieri Facias. These were Writs of Execution directing the Sheriff to levy a sum equal to the amount of a judgment debt and interest from the goods and chattels of a debtor. The Under-Sheriff then appointed a Sheriff’s Officer (a bailiff) to carry out the seizure of goods and to sell them. The Under-Sheriff also enforced Writs of Possession (for the repossession of land or property) and Writs of Delivery (to deliver up a specific item of property). With effect from 1st April 2004 the duty of executing High Court Writs and Orders was transferred from the High Sheriff to High Court Enforcement Officers.
The Under-Sheriff still represents an element of continuity in the office and is available to provide help and guidance to High Sheriffs.
The Under-Sheriff is treated as a Deputy for the High Sheriff in all matters apart from that as a Returning Officer at Parliamentary Elections.
In the case that a High Sheriff should die during his year of office, the Under-Sheriff would take over the responsibilities of the office and to maintain continuity in the name of the deceased High Sheriff until another High Sheriff has been appointed and has made the Declaration of Office.
The County of Buckinghamshire is extremely fortunate to have a permanent Under-Sheriff, Miss Sarah Plumridge. This gives the shrievalty within the county a reassuring experience and continuity, together with a great depth of knowledge about the office, more indeed than an individual High Sheriff could learn in a single year of service.There is no restriction on the number of years for which an Under-Sheriff can hold office.
When asked about her role, Sarah Plumridge maintained a firm view that the work of the Under-Sheriff should never be the subject of payment, and that it should be an honour to hold the office. To make it a paid job would change the relationship between the High Sheriff and the Under-Sheriff. There is a case for payment for the level of secretarial support from within the Under-Sheriff’s office and that is something being worked on by the Under Sheriffs Association, so that there is some national consistency according to the level of support provided.
Under Sheriff : Miss Sarah Plumridge.
Contact with the High Sheriff is customarily made through the Under-Sheriff's office:
The Under Sheriff
14 Bourbon Street
Bucks. HP20 2RS
Telephone: 01296 318500
Fax: 01296 318531