Richard III Research and Discussion Archive
As part of my 'task' for Carol I looked back at the Fine Rolls for this period and in particular at the High Sheriff situation. You'll recall that the post of HS was most important as it comes direct from the Sovereign and empowers the occupant to, amongst other things, muster troops as necessary.
High Sheriffs were normally appointed annually on 5 November. Edward IV made what were to be his final appointments on 5 Nov 1482. On 21 April 1483 these appointments were renewed, the only substitution being Gervase Clifton for Notts & Derby. The renewal must have been made by the Council, since neither Richard or the new King were due to arrive in London until early May (4 May). One wonders if Hastings urged that they be put in place again quickly?
On the day Richard was offered and accepted the Crown (26 June) he again re-appointed these same High Sheriffs (i.e. his brother's choice) and they remained in post until he renewed the list on 5 Nov 1483 - just after the Rebellions. Even then these new ones were 'seasoned' High Sheriffs who come from families who had served under Edward. It's in fact only in Nov 1484 that more Northerners such as Franke are drafted in to cover jobs in problem areas.
So what does it tell us (or me)?
1. Richard was signed up to continuity, a smooth transition from Edward to himself. He also employed Edward's servants. And he trusted them all to trust him.
2. None of these 'Edwardian' Sheriffs partook in the October Rebellions except William Berkeley, who would end up fighting for HT at Bosworth
3. If this had been a pre-planned coup then Richard would have had time to draw up a list of and court his own dedicated supporters. It took HT a month after Bosworth to shake-up the HS scene. Richard had had longer than that and knew them better. So no coup, sorry detractors!
I think we are building up quite a good case for the defence! Back to work. H