Westfarthing Shirriff

A Shirriff's feathered cap

The Shire of the Hobbits was largely unregulated, lacking a central authority and governed for the most part by common sense and common understanding. The longstanding peace  was maintained by a loose organisation of volunteer hobbits called the Watch. The larger branch of the Watch was composed of the Bounders, who patrolled the borders of the Shire, but domestic matters (or “Inside Work”) were tended to by a smaller branch, the Shirriffs. In all there were twelve voluntary Shirriffs, three for each of the Shire’s four Farthings, and the Mayor of Michel Delving held the position of First Shirriff. Since the Hobbits of the Shire were for the greater part peace-loving (no murder had ever been done in the Shire), the duties of the Shirriffs were mostly limited to settling minor disputes, acting as haywards, and deputising hobbits to serve as Bounders. The Shirriffs wore no special uniform, but each wore a feather in his cap to distinguish him from the general Hobbitry.

Lightfoot

This respectable hobbit is one of the three Shirriffs of the Westfarthing. Proudly wearing his feathered cap, he spends several hours each day strolling the local lanes, visiting neighbours, hearing all the farm and village news, and helping with problems and disputes as necessary. Quite often, it seems, his route takes him through the yard of the Bird and Baby pub in Michel Delving, where he ensures that all is in good order. After all, several kegs of good stouts and bitters stored out in the yard and it would be a terrible shame if anything should befall them. A quick ploughman’s lunch with a good mug and a pipe, and then he is back on his way!

All the stock seemed to be in good order

Looking back through my latest outfits, I saw that it was high time that we had a hobbit outfit (not to mention the return of chartreuse)! In this outfit, I’ve tried to balance chartreuse, white, and rusty brown elements into a pleasing overall effect. A touch of sky blue gives a little contrast and visual interest. In terms of this outfit’s context, the Shirriffs were of course the sheriffs of the Shire, their name given an archaic spelling by Tolkien to draw attention to the linguistic relationship between the name of the office and country it serves: the Shire. The term “sheriff” is a contraction of “shire-reeve”, which in turn is derived from Old English scīrgerefa. In the kingdom of England, prior to the Norman Conquest, shire-reeves were appointed to keep the peace of a shire or county on behalf of the king. It seems likely, therefore, that the Shirriffs of the Shire were originally established by the King of Arnor, in the same way that the office of Thain of the Shire was established as a representative of the king in the Shire. Just as the office and term shire-reeve survived the Norman Conquest in the Primary World, so too in Middle-earth did the Shirriffs continue to keep the peace in the Shire long after Arnor fell and no king ruled any longer in the North.

On patrol

  • Head: Lesser Voice of the West Hat (bartered — Harndirion novices quartermaster/tier 1 difficulty Minstrel’s armour), orange
  • Shoulders: Ceremonial Nenuial’s Shoulders (bartered — skirmish camp cosmetics quartermaster/Annúminas cosmetic clothing), gold
  • Back: Soiled Stone Giant’s Rag (looted — Iorbar’s Peak/Helf), yellow
  • Chest: Dwarf-make Scholar’s Armour (crafted — tailor T4; or looted — world drop), yellow
  • Hands: Durn-durnvol (looted — Rise of Isengard instance cluster), yellow
  • Legs: Ceremonial Nenuial’s Leggings (bartered — skirmish camp cosmetics quartermaster/Annúminas cosmetic clothing), white

Tips: If you prefer the same cloak with a hooded look, you could use Elrond’s Radiant Cloak or Elrond’s Exquisite Cloak (both quest rewards — epic [50] Volume 1, Book 12, Chapter 10: Half-truths).

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7 Responses to Westfarthing Shirriff

  1. Cennwyn says:

    I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: I always find these posts SO informative! The sherriff / Shire-reeve connection is fascinating. I love adding little bits of history into my understanding of Middle-Earth, AND I get to do it with pretty pictures!

    • Cennwyn says:

      Oh, and I can never have enough fingerless gloves. I’ll be going after these ASAP.

      • Haha, three cheers for fingerless gloves! 😀 I love ’em too. I’m always really pleased to hear when the little lore tidbits and history are enjoyed and add to the outfits — thank you, Cennwyn!

    • shipprekk says:

      Agreed completely! How you so smart, Starry?!

      Much like your post about the sons of Elrond, the fact that Shiriff-Shire connexion escaped me so long blows my mind. Well done.

      • Aw shucks. 😛 Like I was saying to Cennwyn, it’s really encouraging to hear that the text accompanying the outfits has value in its own right, so I thank you very much for your kind words, as always, Shipwreck! 🙂

  2. Scott says:

    “The Shire of the Hobbits was largely unregulated, lacking a central authority and governed for the most part by common sense and common understanding.”
    If only human beings could pull that off! Yet another reason I wish I lived in the Shire…

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