|The office of Sheriff is a vestige from tenth century England and was
rooted in the common law. The title derives from the term "shire"
meaning county and "reeve": meaning a bailiff (keeper). The
"shire-reeve" was the local representative appointed to represent
the kings interest. His responsibilities were to preserve the peace,
which meant the arrest of law violators, be responsible for their detention
and see that they went to trial.
The office of sheriff survives today with unique responsibilities which
fall under both criminal and civil law. The powers and duties of the Sheriff
have changed but the historical functions remain.
The American Colonies adopted the office of sheriff from Mother England. Today,
the office of sheriff exists in all states except Alaska and Hawaii. It
is a constitutionally designated office in thirty-five states, including
Vermont. Traditionally, the Sheriff is an elected official and in most
states, serves four year terms. There are in excess of three thousand
counties in the United States and sheriffs exist in nearly all of them.
The responsibilities of the office varies between and within the states
though similarities do exist throughout the country. The office of sheriff
is unique in that it has responsibilities in all branches of the criminal
There have been thirty-four sheriffs in Franklin County, Vermont, since
1769. Some noteworthy sheriffs in the past include: Sheriffs Prince B.
Hall (the first sheriff) and Thomas Russell (the second) who administered
time in stocks and whippings in (presently) Taylor Park for misdemeanor
crimes, Sheriff Solomon Walbridge (the fifth sheriff) who fought in the
Battle of Bennington in August 1777, Sheriff Shiverick Holmes (the eighth
sheriff), who was the only Franklin County Sheriff to hang a man (in 1820),
and Renesselaer R. Sherman (the eighteenth sheriff) who served at the
time of the St. Albans Raid in October 1864. He returned to the village
and found his 15 year old son about to go on one of the posse's, chasing
the St. Albans Raiders. Sheriff Sherman locked his son up in his jail
and he went with the posse.
There have been six county jails in St. Albans with the present being
built in 1893. Sheriffs to Sheriff (Senator) John Finn lived in the jail
until 1969. The State of Vermont closed most of Vermont's fourteen county
jails holding prisoners in the 1970's.
Sheriff Robert Norris assumed office in 1999. His responsibilities include
furnishing security for the Franklin Superior Court and Vermont District
Court, serving civil and criminal papers, transportation of prisoners,
patrolling towns, motor vehicle and snowmobile enforcement, and furnishing
security for special events.