History of the office
The title of
reeve, evolved during the
Anglo-Saxon period of
English history. The reeve was the representative of the
king in a city, town or shire, responsible for collecting
taxes and enforcing the law.
 By the time of the
Norman Conquest in 1066, the
City of London had sheriffs, usually two at a time. The sheriffs were the most important city officials and collected London's annual taxes on behalf of the royal
exchequer; they also had
judicial duties in the City's law courts.
Until c. 1130, the sheriffs were directly appointed by the
king. London gained a degree of self-government by a charter granted by
Henry I, including the right to choose its own sheriff, a right which was affirmed in an 1141
King Stephen. By Henry's charter the Sheriffs of London also gained jurisdiction over the neighbouring county of
Middlesex, paying £300 per annum to
the Crown for the privilege.
 This did not make the county a dependency of the City but rather from that time the City of London and Middlesex were viewed as a single administrative area.
 an annually elected
mayor was introduced as
chief magistrate for the City of London (along the lines of some European cities of the time such as
Liege); this change was reaffirmed by a charter granted by
King John in 1215. As such, the sheriffs were relegated to a less senior role in the running of the city, and became subordinate to the mayor.
 The mayor (later
Lord Mayor of the City of London) generally served as sheriff before becoming mayor, and in 1385 the
Common Council of London stipulated that every future Lord Mayor should "have previously been Sheriff so that he may be tried as to his governance and bounty before he attains to the Estate of Mayoralty"; this tradition continues to this day.
In 1889 the jurisdiction of the sheriffs was restricted to the City. The
Local Government Act 1888 created a new office of
High Sheriff of Middlesex appointed in the same manner as other English and Welsh counties. At the same time, the most populous parts of Middlesex were included in the new
County of London, which had its own