The fourteenth-century sheriff : English local administration in the late Middle Ages
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the sheriffs appointed in fourteenth-century England, the period identified by both Stubbs and Maitland as having witnessed the shrievalty's final emasculation. This thesis is not a continuation of Morris' work on the sheriff, and neither is it directly concerned with the shrievalty's role in English constitutional history. Morris was a historian of administration rather than administrators. He excelled at unravelling the minutiae of procedure and the day-today routine of shire affairs. It is, of course, impossible to divorce officials from their work. Sheriffs appointed during the fourteenth century were a direct reflection of what the office entailed and its perceived place in the framework of shire administration: thus, Maitland's 'decline and fall of the sheriff' left the office in the hands of Cam's 'country squire'. However, the emphasis of this thesis is on the sheriff rather than the shrievalty. Sheriffs were a numerically select group, but who were they? Why were they appointed? What qualities, if any, set these men apart from their peers? Prosopography, rather than procedural history, holds the key to these problems and in terms of its methodology this study owes far more to McFarlane than it does to Morris.