The Mayor and The Sheriff

The Role of the Mayor

Mayor of Gloucester

The Mayor is the first citizen of the City of Gloucester and acts as Chair of the Council. The Mayor represents the Council and the City at civic, ceremonial and community events both inside the City boundaries and elsewhere.

By virtue of his/her office, the Mayor is in a unique position to relate the work of the Council to the community it serves. The long mayoral tradition in Gloucester is a vitally important link between the Council and the many organisations, voluntary and otherwise in the City.

It is important that the Mayor should be able to discharge the functions, responsibilities and duties of the office effectively and that there is a clear understanding of the mayoral and civic role. The Mayor and Sheriff are both appointed each year at the Council’s Annual meeting and serve for a period of 12 months; nomination rights for the offices of Mayor and Sheriff are rotated between the political groups on the Council based on the proportionality of seats held.​

These notes are intended to describe the office of Mayor and some of the more important aspects of civic procedure and protocol, which apply here in Gloucester. It is hoped that this handbook will be of help to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor/Sheriff as well as to those who support the civic leaders in carrying out their roles.

Inviting the Mayor or Sheriff/Deputy Mayor to events

If you would like to invite the Mayor or Sheriff/Deputy Mayor to an event, please email

When booking, please give no less than 10 working days’ notice from date of event.

The Right Worshipful Mayo​r of Gloucester 2022-23

Councillor Howard Hyman

Councillor Howard Hyman grew up in Manchester. He has lived in Nottingham, London, Herefordshire and has now lived in Gloucester for a number of years.

He served on Hackney Council for eleven years. For two of those years, he also served on the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority where he was joint chair of a review into equality, diversity, inclusion and retention in the Authority.

He has served six years on Gloucester City Council and currently sits on the Equality and Diversity Working Group.

He is a member of Amnesty International and is involved in LGBT organisations in this country and internationally.

He has worked in local government, the NHS and Transport for London. He has been a trade union representative and chair of a branch in London. He has served on a committee of the TUC.

He has also been a health and safety representative and became a qualified risk assessor for London Underground.

When he gets the time, he likes classical music, chess and reading.

Sheriff and Deputy Mayor of Gloucester

Councillor Joanne Brown

Joanne was born in a small town on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont in America, a short distance from one of the 7 great Ivy League schools, Dartmouth College. Growing up Joanne remembers endless joyful summer days at the local outdoor swimming pool contrasted with endless dark winter months, with snow all around but having no interest in skiing!

When Joanne was 12, the school she was attending closed.  There was, however, a silver lining and this event would prove to be pivotal in mapping out her life, leading to becoming the Sheriff & Deputy Mayor of Gloucester today, and previously Mayor of Gloucester for the 2018/19 Civic Year.  

At the new school the class teacher encouraged all students to engage with a penpal from overseas, although that was not meant literally!  Knowing only English, Joanne chose to write to a male, 2 years older than her, and from England. Contact was made and, to cut a long story short, Joanne and David (Sheriff’s Consort) became engaged and have now been married for more than 30 years! They corresponded by letter – in the days long before Facebook! - for 10 years before they eventually met, then took turns holidaying in the USA and then England together.  David moved to America in 1985 on a fiancé visa, they married in front of the Christmas tree in the house Joanne grew up in and where her mother lived until her death 2 years ago (at the age of 97). After 3 years together in New Hampshire, the couple moved to England, having no house, no car, no job and Joanne was six months pregnant.  After offers of various jobs in different parts of England and Wales, it was an easy decision to choose Gloucester as they could see the rich history and beautiful areas in and around.  Joanne and David fell in love with Gloucester from the very start.

Joanne has developed a great interest in Gloucester history, being a member of the Civic Trust, and also a lifetime friend of Gloucester Cathedral.  Joanne thinks it is also fitting the Sheriff & Deputy Mayor this year is a woman as it is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

After seeing all the good work a hard-working councillor can do for their ward, Joanne decided to become a British citizen in 2011 so that she could have the opportunity to stand for election as a ward councillor.  Joanne was elected to Gloucester City Council in Barnwood ward in 2016 and is enjoying working with the local residents.  Joanne is a member of the Planning Committee and the Licensing Committee.

Joanne has seen the wonderful work carried out by many volunteer groups and local charities and, in her role as Sheriff & Deputy Mayor, Joanne wants to provide as much support as possible in their efforts to help others.

Joanne’s focus over the coming year, as well as to support the Mayor of Gloucester, will be to promote all that is good about Gloucester, to celebrate our many diverse cultures, to promote local business and to support others who already do a wonderful job in promoting our fine history and wonderful buildings. In the role, Joanne will work closely with charities and organisations within Gloucester to build on their already tremendous work and enthusiasm.

As the second of five children in a working-class family Joanne took education very seriously and has attained qualifications while working in finance before moving to England in 1988.  Since then, working in the school library system and at Gloucester Prison library, Joanne earned the qualification of Chartered Librarian.

Joanne’s hobbies include walking, cycling, reading, wine-making and crafts.  Joanne also has a keen interest in amateur dramatics and attends the King’s Theatre in Kingsbarton Street as often as she possibly can.  She has even been known to ‘tread the boards’ at the King’s Theatre whilst a member of a theatre group.

Family is very important to Joanne.  She has two adult children (Emily and Thomas) who live in the area, and has also gained a son-in-law, Paul.  Joanne is very fortunate that Thomas has a lovely partner, Charlotte, who fits into the family well.  Paul’s mother, Jacqui, has become a very special friend to the extended family. Although Joanne has a large family contingent many miles away, still living near the New Hampshire / Vermont border, fortunately many have had the opportunity to visit Gloucester many times over the years, with Joanne returning as often as she can.  In these days of Facebook and Twitter the family bond stays as strong as ever.

National Association of City and Town Sheriffs of England and Wales

For more information on this national association please visit​ the NACTSEW website.

A Brief History of The Mayor and Sheriff of Gloucester​

The Mayor

The first recorded Mayor of Gloucester was Richard the Burgess, who derived his authority from a royal order in 1228.

No other use of the title is recorded until the Letters Patent of Richard III in October 1483, by which time the burgesses of Gloucester were given the right to elect their first mayor. The first person to hold this position was John Trye.

John Trye's occupation is not recorded, but he left his estate to the Master and Wardens of the Weavers Company when he died, so he may have been a weaver.

The royal charter of 1483 also made provision for twelve aldermen, two sheriffs, 4 stewards and 22 others to manage the affairs of the area. To maintain the dignity of these new officers it also provided that the mayor should have a sword of state carried before him with two sergeants at mace to serve him.

The role of the Mayor was different to today as one of the main duties was to go to church twice a day in a procession. They were also responsible for dispensing hospitality to distinguished visitors and for the maintenance of civic property. They were a justice of the peace, presided at local courts and were responsible for the custody of prisoners. They also held the position of clerk of the market which meant they were responsible for seeing that weights and measures used in local commerce were correct.

They held the position of steward and marshal of the King's household, as far as Gloucester was concerned, and had seniority over the stewards and marshals of England within the bounds of Gloucester. They were also 'escheator' for the County of the borough of Gloucester which meant they were responsible for taking control of properties which were left without an heir.

John Trye died in 1485 but the position of Mayor has been held uninterrupted since that date.

The first woman Mayor was Mrs Lilian Embling who was elected to the office in 1965.

Carol Francis was the first black female Councillor for Gloucester City and became he first black Sherriff and Deputy Mayor of Gloucester in 2001.

Harjit Singh Gill became Gloucester's first Asian Mayor in 2007.

Paul James was elected to Gloucester City Council in 1996, at the age of 22, and became Sheriff and Deputy Mayor of Gloucester in 2002 making him one of Gloucester’s youngest known Councillors and Sheriffs.

The Mayor’s Chain and Badge

The Mayor’s chain and badge of office are of 18-carat gold, the form being a double row of a hundred horse-shoe links. The central link, from which depends the badge, bears a representation, in coloured enamel, of the cap of maintenance. The badge bears, on an oval shield within elaborate scroll-work, the arms of the City of Gloucester in red enamel, and the motto “Fides invicta triumphat”.

The Mayor’s chain and badge were purchased by subscription at a cost of £220 and presented to the Corporation in April 1870.

In 1932/3 the mayor of the day, W.L. Edwards, had the horseshoes reversed. They had been mounted with their points downwards, and he had them replaced points upwards. This reflects the modern idea that the luck of horseshoes is trapped within the bowl formed by the bow of the shoe. Theodore Hannam-Clarke became mayor for 1933/4 and remembered the chain as his father had worn it – with the shoes pointing down. After a year-long debate, which attracted national media attention, and the discovery that there had been no council approval for the action, the chain was restored to its original form!

The Sheriff

The ancient office of Sheriff or Bailiff, as it was sometimes called, is perhaps the oldest of what are known as Civic offices, and usually many hundreds of years older than that of Mayor, in most towns and cities.

From 1066, towns and cities were administered for the king by a reeve - (the term Sheriff derives from Shire Reeve).

In Gloucester, our office of Sheriff is nearly 500 years older than the City Council. King John's Charter of 1200, at a time when local government in Gloucester was by the general meeting of the Burgesses, is the first to specifically give the right to have two bailiffs to perform the role of sheriffs.

We have a fairly complete roll of sheriffs from 1200 to the present day, and a complete roll of Mayors since the Charter of Incorporation of 1483. The first bailiffs/sheriffs appear to have been Walter Cadivor and Robert Calvus. The first sheriffs under the Richard III charter appear to have been William Francomb and John Poole.

The Sheriff was originally the agent of Royal jurisdiction in Gloucester. He presided over the local courts, he had powers of summons and distraint, he held prisoners and collected fines and taxes. He executed Royal writs, such as those to repair the castle and provision the army. Most of these duties continued into modern times - he remained personally responsible for the tax field until 1732, and summoned courts until 1974.

The 1483 Letters Patent of Richard III provided that there should be two Sergeants-at-Mace to serve the two Sheriffs. Ever since, on formal occasions they have joined the Mayor's macebearers and preceded the Mayor and Sheriff in procession. The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 reduced the number of sheriffs to one.

Since local government reorganisation in 1974 the office of Sheriff no longer has any duties in relation to attending the courts, collecting fines etc. It is purely an office of dignity, but the City Council wanted to preserve the office of Sheriff for historic reasons. The office of Sheriff was combined with that of Deputy Mayor in the late 1980s.

Fifteen towns and cities have retained the office of Sheriff (Gloucester, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton, Lincoln, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, Berwick-upon-Tweed, York, Poole, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Canterbury, Norwich, Lichfield and Chester).

The National Association of City and Town Sheriffs of England and Wales was founded in Gloucester 1985 by the then Sheriff of Gloucester, Councillor Andrew Gravells.

The Sheriff's Chain and Badge

The Sheriff’s chain and badge of office were presented to Mr Henry Jeffs by his brother Freemasons when he was Sheriff in 1883. Mr Jeffs gave the chain to the Corporation at the end of his term of office for the use of future Sheriffs.

The chain is made up of alternate links of garter and shield, with mural crowns at the top and blocks containing emblems of the Sheriff’s office in front, comprising the sword and fasces, with axe and mace. These are linked up with the national emblems of the rose, shamrock and thistle, joined together. The central link is a larger garter and shield surrounded with the royal crown, and bearing on the centre of the shield the monogram “HJ” in purple enamel and “Royal City of Gloucester” in the garter in blue enamel. On each side of this are the coats of arms of the See of Gloucester and of the old city of Gloucester, the former having in the centre the episcopal keys and the latter the old castle.

The badge consists of the City arms in repousse work, comprising a wreath of oak and laurel surrounding a garter and two rampant lions, with the Royal arms in red enamel at the top, and a ribbon bearing in purple enamel “Caer Glou”, the earliest known name of the City, and on another ribbon the City motto “Fides invicta triumphat”, also in purple enamel.

The sword and axes are in platinum and the whole of the other portions of the chain are made of 18-carat gold.

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