HISTORY

The Office of the Sheriff is over 1000 years old and has a long and interesting history. Nearly as far back as the beginning of English and Scottish law, the Office was the center of local administration of justice.

 

The word "Sheriff" itself came about in an unusual manner. Originally the word "reeve" meant an administrative official who had the general duties of a steward, or overseer, or bailiff. His authority extended over various territorial area, sometimes called his "bailiwick." His title was often used in combination to indicate his jurisdiction. the reeve of a borough was called a borough-reeve; the reeve of a church, a church-reeve; and the reeve of a shire, the shire-reeve.

 

The shire was a territorial division roughly equivalent to a county. Eventually, a shire-reeve was shortened to sheriff, and the word survives to this day. The sheriff's principal function in the earliest days seems to have been to protect the interests of both the King and people against the powerful barons. He executed the King's writs and presided in the county court and the hundred court.

 

The Posse Comitatus is the entire body of people who may be summoned by the sheriff to assist in preserving the public peace or in executing any legal precept which is forcibly opposed. The term is still in use today, although almost invariably the comitatus is dropped, and we speak of the posse, or the sheriff's posse. Presiding at the courts and holding the power to call out the posse comitatus gave the sheriff more power than any other official in the county.

 

In the early days, the office was elective, but eventually the power to appoint sheriffs was invested in the Crown. In certain sections, powerful land owners became allied with the sheriff and they attempted to make the office hereditary.

 

At that period, the office was on a par with that of a member of Parliament, with the sheriff being a lord and holding a title. For a time, the duties of the sheriff included the collection of taxes within his shire. The sheriff also accompanied the judges of the assizes when they held court. Assizes are periodical sessions of the Superior Courts in the counties of England, held for the purposes of administering justice in trials. The office of the sheriff was brought to this country by the Pilgrims

 

The sheriff's responsibilities in the colonies were basically that of collecting taxes and overseeing local elections as the representative of the governor. Before the Revolutionary War, sheriffs were appointed by the Governor and held office at his pleasure. The State Constitution, adopted July 2, 1776, provided for the annual elections of sheriffs and coroners, who were ineligible for reelection after three terms. These were the only county officials elected by the people.

 

In the latter part of the 19th century, the Constitution was amended and sheriffs were elected for three-year terms.

SHERIFFS OF HUDSON COUNTY

2011 - Current

Frank X. Schillari

Democrat

2008 - 2011

Juan Perez

Democrat

 

1995-2008

Joseph T. Cassidy

Democrat

 

1986-1995

Edward Webster

Democrat

 

1983-1986

Dominick Pugliese

Democrat

 

1981-1983

Peter Dinardo

Democrat

 

1977-1981

John P. Gillen

Democrat

 

1975-1977

Frederick M. Stevens

Democrat

 

1972-1974

William J. Wolfe

Democrat

 

1972-1972

James Deevey

Democrat

 

1962-1972

George M. Bonelli

Democrat

 

1954-1962

William J. Flanagan
Democrat

 

1954-1954

Philip A. Healy

Democrat

 

1951-1954

William J. Kelly Jr.

Democrat

 

1945-1951

Thomas J. Fleming

Democrat

1942-1945

William J. McGovern

Democrat

1939-1942

Eugene Ertle

Democrat

 

1938-1939

Joseph J. McGurk

Democrat

 

1935-1938

Hugh F. Parle

Democrat

 

1932-1935

Joseph Colford

Democrat

 

1929-1932

William V. O'Driscoll

Democrat

 

1926-1929

John J. Coppinger

Democrat

 

1923-1926

John Hannan

Democrat

 

1920-1923

Thomas Madigan

Democrat

 

1917-1920

John Magner

Democrat

 

1914-1917

Eugene Kinkead

Democrat

 

1911-1914

Peter Wedin

Democrat

 

1908-1911

James J. Kelly

Democrat

 

1905-1908

John Kaiser

Republican

 

1902-1905

John Zeller

Democrat

1899-1902

Carl Ruempler

Democrat

1899-1899

Alex McLean

Democrat

 

1893-1896

John J. Toffy

Republican

 

1892-1893

Edward Stanton

Democrat

 

1890-1892

John McPhilips

Democrat

 

1887-1890

Robert Dorus

Democrat

 

1884-1887

Ferdinar Heintz

Republican

 

1881-1884

Cornelius Cronin

Democrat

 

1878-1881

John J. Toffey

Republican

 

1875-1878

Patrick Lafferty

Democrat

 

1872-1875

Jacob Reinhardt

Republican