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Sheriff of Nottingham

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The Sheriff of Nottingham
Sheriff

Real Name

Unknown (may be William de Wendenal, Roger de Laci, or William Brewer)

First Appearance

Unknown

Created by

English Folklore

Origin

The Sheriff of Nottingham is an important figure in the legend of Robin Hood. The holder of the office of Nottingham's Sheriff, it is his task to capture outlaws such as Robin Hood, either to ensure the safety of trade routes through Sherwood Forest, or to keep them from poaching the King's deer. In some stories, the Sheriff of Nottingham is portrayed as having a lecherous desire for Robin Hood's lady, Maid Marian. He is widely considered to be the principal villain of the Robin Hood stories, appearing frequently alongside such enemies of Robin Hood as Sir Guy of Gisborne or Prince John (though rarely both).

The legends are generally set far from Nottingham, this fits the historical position of High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and the Royal Forests (from 1068 until 1568).

In some versions, the Sheriff is more a cowardly schemer while his assistant, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, is a more competent and determined physical threat to Robin. In other versions, the Sheriff answers to Prince John, who is the main villain.

The historical sheriff upon which the stories are based may have been William de Wendenal, Roger de Laci, or William Brewer.

Public Domain Appearances

Stage:

  • Robin Hood and the Sheriff

Film:

  • Robin Hood (1912)
  • Robin Hood (1913)
  • Robin Hood (1922)

See Also

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