Prince Edward Island. Sheriff

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Authorized form of name

Prince Edward Island. Sheriff

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When Prince Edward Island first came under control of the British, a Provost Marshall was appointed by the Crown to perform the duties usually associated with the role of a sheriff "before fit Persons could be had to fill and supply that Office". By 1786, government officials were becoming concerned with the stability of this position, in particular with the inadequate salary of the post which might lead the incumbent to resort to less honorable means of securing a living by being "induced thereby to practice Extortion, and to become variously oppressive to his Majesty's Subjects." To remedy this situation and, "to bring this Government, as near as may be, to resemble the envied and happy Constitution of our Mother Country," the position of High Sheriff was created by statute. The Chief Justice of the colony was authorized, on the third Monday in April annually, to select three qualified individuals from whom the Governor would then appoint one to the position of High Sheriff for the upcoming year. If the chosen individual refused to accept the office, he would be fined £10 and the Governor would then choose from among the other two candidates. No person was obligated to hold the office for more than a year nor to hold it again within the next seven years from having held it. By 1875, sheriffs were appointed for each of the three counties. The sheriffs, in turn, could appoint under-sheriffs, later known as deputies, to assist them. If a Sheriff should die or be removed before his year was out, the under sheriff would continue in his place until another was appointed. The sheriffs could also appoint bailiffs.

The sheriff were responsible for various duties arising from the actions taken by the various courts in PEI, including the Supreme Court, Court of Chancery, Commissioners' Courts for the Recovery of Small Debt, County courts, City Police Court, as well as actions initiated by the Justices of the Peace. The sheriffs were responsible for acting on any Writ, Process, or Execution delivered to them in due time or pay a penalty. They were to levy and receive monies collected from executions, writs, or processes issued by any court of record of the province. They were also responsible for summoning both Grand and Petit juries.

The Sheriffs were required to keep records, in the form of process, execution, and cash books, of the legal actions and fees for which they were responsible. At the end of each year, they were "to render to the Supreme Court in Charlottetown a true and faithful account of such debts, duties, fines, and forfeitures to the Crown as shall be levied by (the sheriffs) or otherwise come into (their) hands" together with the names of the persons involved. The Clerk of the Supreme Court was responsible for auditing and certifying the records. The outgoing Sheriffs were required to turn over to their successors, "all such prisoners, writs, and process, and all records, books, and matters appertaining to the office."


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