Why I want to represent the City of London

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The reasons I wish to represent the City of London, including details of the history of the Shrievalty and the role of the Non-Aldermanic Sheriff

Why I want to represent the City of London

One of the great joys of my career is that it has increasingly centred around the City of London - its traditions, its internal networks and domestic community, as well as its international commercial role and global reputation.

Over time I have become more involved with The City at a community level. My involvement with some fantastic charities and over 25 years as a Liveryman, has meant this joy has been deepened by an increasing respect for its past as well as a passion for its future. I feel enormously lucky, and I hope to be able to do what I can for to advance the reputation of the City around the world as its next Non-Aldermanic Sheriff in 2022/3.

The history of the Shrievalty

The role of a Sheriff is a bit of a mystery to many. We all like to think we know about the Lord Mayor, and maybe about the Aldermen too, but what is a Sheriff when it’s at home? It’s important to look at the history of the Shrievalty to understand the significance of the role today and how it fits into the modern City.

As you may know, there are both Aldermanic and Non-Aldermanic Sheriffs in the City of London. I am intending to run for the latter position. Both Sheriffs are elected by members of the Livery at Common Hall on Midsummer Day each year.

What you may not know, is that the Shrievalty is older than the Mayoralty. The first Shire-reeves ("leaders of the county") date to the 7th century, and were Royal Officers appointed by the Crown - a tradition that continues today. The word 'Shire' because one was appointment per Shire across the UK. The Monarch ruled through these appointed Officers, who administering the law and collected taxes …no doubt conjuring in us images of Robin Hood's wicked Sheriff of Nottingham.

Despite the Norman Conquest, London remained virtually intact. William the Conqueror wasn't strong enough to sack it, so to get it on side he issued a Writ, which remains to this day, confirming The City’s specific rights and privileges. To this day he is still simply referred to within the City as King William.

It's thought that the system of having two Sheriffs started when Henry I gave the citizens of London the right to elect their own Sheriffs - one for Middlesex and one for London – with both doing exactly the same job. The right to vote for them was formally established in King John's 1199 Charter. This was followed in 1215 by the right to elect a Mayor each year. This was a time before Liverymen, so then it was specially selected citizens who were called upon to vote.

In 1475, Liverymen replaced this process and solely had the right to vote. This privilege of electing the Sheriffs was, and remains, exclusive to The City.

However, the Liverymen only freely elected one Sheriff - now described as the Non-Aldermanic Sheriff (or Lay-Sheriff). The Lord Mayor chose the other. Today the ‘other’ Sheriff -the Aldermanic Sheriff – is selected by the Court of Aldermen from amongst their number and recommended to the Livery for their approval.

So here are the key points:

  • The Non-Aldermanic Sheriff is elected by the Livery and warranted by the Crown
  • The Sheriffs no longer collect taxes and enforce the law directly, but they remain City men and women, committed to its fiscal success and its lawful community
  • They are part of the checks and balances of power and governance in The City
  • They support the Lord Mayor in executing their job as the international Ambassador for the financial and professional services of the City and the UK
  • They provide an official link between the City and Crown, and City and Parliament

Critically for those who want a say in the future of The City, the Non-Aldermanic Sheriff is the most senior person elected by the Livery in a free vote. Electing a fit and proper person to this role remains the key democratic right of being a Liverymen of the City of London.

Supporting change; maintaining stability

With that historic background in mind, it is no secret that The City of London is entering a particularly interesting phase in its evolution with the convergence of pandemic recovery and post-Brexit international relations.

I have recently discussed the variety of internal changes that The City’s own governance is facing next year. There are multiple elections, new policies, new people and the possibility of party politics entering the arena for the first time in over a millennium.

Over time, the role of Sheriff has increasingly evolved to focus towards representing the business City. However, it’s important to remember that all the Square Mile’s constituent parts contribute to the City’s ecosystem, its culture and community and this is what makes the place so special, - not just to those of us who are here, but to those around the country who depend upon it, and those around the world who seek to interact with the it.

Representing and marketing The City on that global stage, whilst at the same time honouring its heritage and dependable foundations, will be an honour, a privilege and a challenge for the two citizens elected as Sheriffs for the coming term.

The role of Sheriff and its evolution

Sir Michael Bear, Former Lord Mayor of London, recently summed up the role of the modern Sheriff, saying:

“Sheriffs need to have an outstanding CV. They are required to be good communicators, be good convenors and confident public speakers; have credible networks and successful business experience, and above all excellent Ambassadorial qualities.  A successful Sheriff will also have strong commitment to the Livery, the respect of the Corporation Officers and Members and support from their family home team. Andrew Marsden has all of the above in spades.”

The Non-Aldermanic Shrieval job specification for this upcoming election, whilst reflecting the traditional functions of supporting The Lord Mayor and of looking after the judges at the Old Bailey, has been updated to reflect the skills and professional experience necessary in a candidate for office today in order to be a credible ambassador for the City at home and abroad.

So why would anyone want to be a Non-Aldermanic Sheriff? It is a time consuming and unpaid role. There are no honours or specific rewards these days at the end of it. The only reason really is a love of The City and a desire to give something back.

I have served the Livery and The City for much of my career, but these institutions have also done much for me too; a gift I wish to pay forward. I am fortunately at a point where I have the capability to commit fully and without a personal agenda, to making a material contribution to the future of The City. I am from the Livery, for the Livery and for The City. I hope you will support me in achieving that goal.

If you would like to sign up to support my campaign, please follow the link below.