A BRIEF HISTORY
March 12, 2012
Donna Fike, Butler County Sheriff Brigade
Shire n.1.A portion of Great Britain originally under the supervision of an earl; a territorial division, usually identical with a county
Reeve n.1.an officer, steward, bailiff, or governor; used chiefly in compounds; as, shirereeve, now written sheriff; portreeve, etc.
Sheriff n.1.The chief officer of a shire or county, to whom is intrusted the execution of the laws, the serving of judicial writs and
processes, and the preservation of the peace.
In 1856, John Bouvier published his work A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and laws of the United States He provides us with the following definition of Sheriff:
SHERIFF. The name of the chief officer of the county. In Latin he is called vice comes, because in England he represented the comes or earl. His name is said to be derived from the Saxon seyre, shire or county, and reve, keeper, bailiff, or guardian.
The general duties of the sheriff are, 1st. To keep the peace within the county; he may apprehend, and commit to prison all persons who break the peace or attempt to break it, and bind any one in a recognizance to keep the peace. He is required ex officio, to pursue and take all traitors, murderers, felons and rioters. He has the keeping of the county gaol and he is bound to defend it against all attacks. He may command the posse comitatus. (q. v.)
The office of Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement position in the United States. “When the first counties were established in Virginia in 1634, the Office of Sheriff in America began. Maryland soon followed this pattern, and in both states the Sheriff was delegated the same powers as the Sheriff held in England. As in England, respect for the Sheriff was strictly enforced by the law. A special seat was often reserved for the Sheriff in churches. Contempt against the Sheriff was an offense punishable by whipping. At this time, Sheriffs were responsible for both enforcing and punishing offenders. By the time of the American Revolution, all of the colonies had Sheriffs.” The Sheriffs Office In History
The Sheriffs Power