The first Sheriff, John Mackaness, was appointed in 1823 under the provisions of the Charter of Justice, replacing the Provost-Marshall. (1 & 2)
The principal duties of the Sheriff were
. to execute all the judgments, decrees, and orders of the Supreme Court; in criminal cases
. to keep the body of the accused until trial and produce him in Court.
. to make a return of all prisoners the court on the first day of each term
. to be present at all criminal sittings.
. to carry out the death sentence and any minor sentence the court might pass. (3)
The Sheriff had civil duties, and was also to discharge the duties of Coroner and Marshall of the Admiralty.
In 1833 the Sheriff reported the following duties which had not been specified in the Charter of Justice:
. attendance at all executions throughout the colony;
. arranging for the transmission of prisoners under sentence to Iron'd gangs to the interior;
. the reception and further disposal of prisoners from the Hulk returned from penal settlements or being forwarded under sentence from other governments as well as those being sent board the hulks to be retransported;
. organisation of the iron'd gangs working on Goat Island and on the streets of Sydney;
. control of gaols. (5)
Harold McLean was appointed Inspector General of Prisons on 12 September 1865 (6)and Sheriff on 16 August 1864,(7) the former being answerable to the Crown Law Officers and the latter to the Chief Secretary.
This agency was abolished in 1874 when a Comptroller General of Prisons was appointed and the Office of the Sheriff was created. (8)
1. Charter Establishing Courts of Judicature in New South Wales, 10 October, 1823, s. 11 reproduced in HRA Series IV, Vol. 1 p. 513".
2. AA NSW. Concise Guide. 2nd Edition "Q - Sup", "Sheriff" p.71.
3. HRA Series IV Vol. 1 p.495
4. op.cit., "Concise Guide"
6. Public Service Lists, 1866, p. 23
7. Public Service Lists, 1865 , p.39.
8. Prisons Act, 1874 s.7,8
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