The Lord-Lieutenant with Mayors and Chairmen at North Weald steam train.
HM Lord-Lieutenant Jennifer Tolhurst and HM High Sheriff of Essex Bryan Burrough with schoolchildren at Chelmsford Crown Court. The schoolchildren had been conducting and prosecuting mock trials.

The history of the role of Lord-Lieutenant

The post of Lord-Lieutenant is now an honorary appointment. The origin dates back to Henry VIII when its holder was made responsible for the maintenance of order and for the military measures necessary locally for defence.


By 1569 provision was made for the appointment of deputies. Although in 1871 the Regulation of the Forces Act removed the militia from the Lord-Lieutenant’s direct control, it was not until 1921 that the Lord-Lieutenant finally lost the power to call on all able-bodied men of the county to fight in the case of need.


The Lord-Lieutenants’ traditional links with the armed forces have been preserved in a modern form by their association with the Volunteer Reserve Forces. Lord-Lieutenants connections with uniformed organisations have led to links with other uniformed organisations, such as the police, fire and ambulance services and many voluntary bodies such as the Red Cross, the cadet forces and other national and local youth organisations.


In recent years Lord-Lieutenants have supported a wide range of matters, civil and defence, professional and voluntary and they can be effective largely because of their links to the Crown and also that their work is voluntary and not-political.


From the earliest days the Lord-Lieutenant has always been associated with the work of magistrates and until the 19th century would have been appointed the Clerk of the Peace.


Our current Lord-Lieutenant was a magistrate and now holds the ancient office of Custos Rotulorum, or keeper of the Rolls for Essex which is a largely ceremonial post but relates to keeping the County’s records. She is also chairman of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace in Essex which makes recommendations to the Lord Chancellor about the appointment of magistrates.

A painting of William Cecil 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil 1st Baron Burghley, by Unknown artist, oil on panel, after 1587. On display at the National Portrait Gallery.
Richard Griffin, 2nd Baron Braybrooke - engraving by Charles Turner published 1810

Past Lord Lieutenants of Essex

This is a list of those who have served as Lord Lieutenant of Essex.

Since 1688, all the Lord Lieutenants have also been Custos Rotulorum of Essex.