Every Midsummer Day the Liverymen of the City of London elect their Sheriffs for the coming year. This is a right that has been exercised by Liverymen since 1153. This week we held Common Hall in the Guildhall for this purpose. As Master I processed from the Crypt to the Great Hall with all the other Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff in order of precedence. There was then a second and very grand procession of the major officers of the City of London Corporation including the Sheriffs, the Aldermen, the City Marshal and the Lord Mayor.
After they were all seated the Common Cryer proclaimed silence and directed “all persons to be uncovered in the Hall”, and “all those who are not Liverymen to depart the Hall on pain of imprisonment”. He then opened Common Hall. The proceedings of the last meeting of Common Hall were then read out by the Assistant Town Clerk. Then the Recorder rose from his seat, went to the front of the Hustings and informed the Livery of the occasion of the meeting which was “to elect two fit and proper persons to act as Sheriff for the ensuing year”.
The Sheriffs, with the Common Sergeant advanced to the front of the Hustings and the Common Sergeant read to the Livery a list of those in nomination for Sheriffs, Bridgemasters, Akeconners and Auditors. The Common Sergeant declared the Sheriffs to be elected by Common Hall and the Common Cryer called upon them to come forth and declare their consent to take upon themselves their office.
Unusually this year the two candidates were both put forward to be Aldermanic Sheriffs. There are usually one Aldermanic Sheriff and one Non-Aldermanic Sheriff, i.e. the Aldermanic Sheriff is chosen from among the Aldermen, and the Non-Aldermanic Sheriff can be selected from a much wider group. But only Aldermanic Sheriffs can go on at a later date to be Lord Mayor. The clear implication was that the Aldermen wanted to see a wider pool of potential Lord Mayors.
Alderman Peter Estlin is an International Banker. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells and was admitted to the partnership in 1993. He later joined Salomon Brothers moving to Hong Kong in 1996 as their regional CFO. In 1999 he moved to New York as Citigroup’s investment bank CFO, moving back to London as CFO for the corporate and investment bank in 2004. He is now Senior Adviser at Barclays having joined them in 2008 as Group Financial Controller, having also been the Retail, Non-Core and interim Group CFO.
His community and charitable activities have included being a governor of King Edward’s, Witley, his own school, and Bridewell Royal Hospital since 1994, chairing the board for the last 10 years. He is an active supporter of Barclays Lifeskills, providing financial and enterprise skills for young people, as well as helping several education charities including Onside Youth Zones, Create and Tomorrow’s People.
He is an active Liveryman, being Middle Warden of the International Bankers, Court Assistant to the Chartered Accountants and to the Educators, an Ironmonger and the sponsoring Alderman for the Guild of Human Resource Professionals. He is also a member of the Guild of Freemen and City Livery Club. He was elected an Alderman in 2013 for the Ward of Coleman Street.
Alderman William Russell studied at Eton and Durham University graduating in 1987. He started his career at First Boston Corporation and then joined Merrill Lynch in 1992 with whom he also moved to Hong Kong in 1997, thence also to the USA, returning to London in 1999. His career has focused on the Equity side of Investment Banking, as a Managing Director of International Equity Sales. He is now Chairman of CDAM Asset Management and Senior Adviser to STJ Advisors, as well as being on the Advisory Board of Innovate Finance, the membership organisation which serves the Global Fintech Community.
He was elected Alderman for the Ward of Bread Street in 2013, succeeding Sir Michael Savory. He is also an active Liveryman, being on the Court of both the Haberdashers’ Company and the Feltmakers’ Company, as well as an Honorary Liveryman of the Paviors’ Company. He is a past Governor of Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Adams’ Grammar School and Abraham Darby School, all schools supported by the Haberdashers.
Outside of the City, he has been Chairman of the Royal Court Theatre Development Board. He is currently Chairman of Prostate Cancer UK and Deputy Chairman of Place2be, a children’s mental health charity. He is also Chairman of Knightsbridge School and a Director of Knightsbridge School International.
I know both men and believe them to be strong candidates and I was happy to join in the vote by acclamation which saw both candidates elected as Aldermanic Sheriffs to be installed on 28th September. While this vote was not contested there have already been three contested votes this century so it is a fully democratic process and is the largest of its kind in the world.
So what do the Sheriffs do? The life of a Sheriff is centred on the Central Criminal Court, better known as the Old Bailey. An important part of the role is “taking care of the comfort of Her Majesty’s Judges”, which takes the form of hosting daily lunches, one of which I attended in March. The rule of English Law is a significant factor for many foreign businesses choosing to locate in London, so inviting guests to these lunches provides a great opportunity to showcase the work of the most famous Courts in the world.
Three or four times a year the normal rhythm of the Bailey is interrupted to include a formal opening ceremony. The Lord Mayor, accompanied by the City Marshall, Sword Bearer and Sergeant-At-Arms, arrives at the ceremonial entrance on Old Bailey, the only occasions each year when this entrance is used. Led by Officers of the City of London Police he processes with the Sheriffs, the Recorder, and Secondary through Grand Hall to Court no. 1 to sit in a chair permanently reserved for him.
During their year the Sheriffs will attend hundreds of events with many banquets as well as those Old Bailey lunches. They will attend all the great ceremonial events in the City and on state visits will be presented to visiting Heads of State. Their role is ambassadorial as well as ceremonial and for an Aldermanic Sheriff it is also a kind of practice run should he or she go on to be Lord Mayor in a few years’ time.