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Department History

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ACSO PatchThe Office of Sheriff in Augusta County was established in 1745. Sheriff is both a political and a legal office held under English common law, Scots law or U.S. common law, or the person who holds such office. The term "sheriff" originates from the older office position of "shire reeve".

 In the United States a sheriff is generally (but not always) the highest, usually elected, law enforcement officer of a county and commander of militia in that county. The political election of a person to serve as a police leader is an almost uniquely American tradition. All law enforcement officers working for the agency headed by a sheriff are called sheriff's deputies or deputy sheriffs and are so called because they are deputized by the sheriff to perform the same duties as he The second-in-command of the department is sometimes called an under sheriff or "Chief Deputy". This is akin to the deputy chief of police position of a police department.

The position of sheriff is established by the Virginia Constitution, with the sheriff and his deputies having both civil and concurrent criminal jurisdiction countywide. Sheriff’s terms are for four years and are not term limited. A sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of a county or any area that does not have an established police department.

All sheriffs are responsible for civil process, jails, serving levies and holding sheriff's sales to satisfy judgments. Since 1983, when the General Assembly passed legislation allowing counties to establish police departments by referendum, only seven counties have done so. In most of those counties, such as Henrico and Chesterfield, the sheriff’s offices exercise criminal enforcement authority sharing it with the county police, but generally let the county police investigate most crime.

In the early 1990's the General Assembly mandated the uniforms for all sheriffs as being dark brown shirts with tan pants that have a brown stripe. Sheriff's office vehicles were to be dark brown with a five point star on the front doors and "sheriff's office" on the trunk. The five point star must have the jurisdiction's name in a half circle on the star and "sheriff's office" in a half circle under that. In the early 2000's, legislation was passed to allow sheriffs to purchase white vehicles, and allowing sheriffs' deputies to wear any color uniform the sheriff chose. Sheriffs' vehicles still must have the star on the front doors and markings on the trunk as before.

County and Sheriff Notes

During the years of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, many Counties in Virginia were forced to issue as currency, notes or scrip in sums equal to the amounts authorized for arming and equipping their volunteers, to support the families of those indigent and in and in service, and to replace the coins that rapidly disappeared from circulation. This action was authorized by Acts of the General Assembly passed on March 29, 1862. Prior to this, the sheriffs of many counties issued notes or scrip to meet the emergency or to carry on business.

Most of these county and sheriff notes are typeset and were printed locally on any type of paper that was available. You will find some printed on circulars and others on the back of bank notes and bills of exchange. Paper was a very scarce item during this period.

The General Assembly passed an Act on September 22, 1863 to suppress the further issuance of small notes to be used as currency by the Counties of the Commonwealth.

 Sheriff's note 1861

1861 Sheriff's Note signed by Sheriff Henry Peck

County Note 1862

 1862 Augusta County Note



Past Sheriff's of Augusta County

  • James Patton 1745-1749
  • Robert McClanahan 1749-1755
  • Robert Breckenridge 1755-1760
  • William Preston 1760-1766
  • Andred Lewis 1766-1768
  • John Bowyers 1768-1770
  • George Matthews 1770-1772
  • Daniel Smith 1772-1775
  • John Christian 1776-1776
  • Archibald Alexander 1776-1778
  • John Poage 1778-1780
  • George Moffett 1780-1784
  • William McPherson 1784-1787
  • William Bowyer 1787-1792
  • James Bell 1792-1794
  • John Tate 1794-1796
  • Robert Porterfield 1796-1802
  • James Ramsey 1802-1804
  • Joseph Bell 1804-1806
  • James Berry 1806-1807
  • Joseph Bell 1808-1812
  • Alexander St. Clair 1812-1816
  • William Wilson 1816-1816
  • David Parry 1816-1818
  • James Cochran 1818-1820
  • James McNott 1820-1824
  • Robert Doak 1824-1828
  • William Boys 1828-1830
  • Claudia Buster 1830-1832
  • James Bell 1832-1834
  • William Sproul 1834-1836
  • Jacob Leas 1836-1842
  • James Mccue 1842-1850
  • Lyttelton Waddell 1850-1852
  • Moses H. McCue 1852-1854
  • Lewis Wayland 1854-1860
  • Henry Peck 1860-1864
  • Samuel Paul 1864-1866
  • Andrew Lewis 1866-1868
  • George McCutchons 1868-1870
  • William Mowry 1870-1878
  • John Tarberman 1878-1880
  • Alexander Lightner 1880-1884
  • James Hengent 1884-1885
  • Thomas R. Speck 1885-1891
  • Newton Watts 1891-1906
  • W. A. Willson 1906-1920
  • John F. Taylor 1920-1928
  • Walter B. Wilson 1928-1932
  • G. M. Gilkeson 1932-1948
  • R. L. Shaver 1948-1957
  • John E. Kent 1957-1984
  • Glenn P. Lloyd 1984-1998
  • R.D. Fisher 1998-2016

Images from the Past

1900 Gallows behind the old jail


1957 Still raid in Mint Springs

1957-1 1957-2 1957-3 1957-4

1961 Arrest of New Hope Bank Robbers              

 1961 1961

1960's Search and Rescue in Craigsville



70 Mader


1975 Sheriff Kent with Ronald Reagan



80's Group 1980's1982 Lloyd


Chevy Torch Run 




Commending Virginia's sheriffs on the occasion of their 375th anniversary.

Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 20, 2009

Agreed to by the Senate, February 25, 2009

WHEREAS, in 1634 the Virginia House of Burgesses, following the form of local government prevalent in England at the time, created by statute the eight original shires of Virginia—Accomac Shire, Charles City Shire (now Charles City County), Charles River Shire (now York County), Elizabeth City Shire, Henrico Shire (now Henrico County), James City Shire (now James City County), Warwick River Shire, and Warrosquyoake Shire (now Isle of Wight County); and

WHEREAS, adhering to the system introduced by the Saxons, dating as early as the 7th century, and continued after the Norman Conquest of 1066, the principal officer created to administer the shires under this form of government was the "shire reeve" or "sheriff"; and

WHEREAS, William Stone became the first sworn sheriff in America when he was appointed the Sheriff of the County of Accomac, serving two consecutive terms in 1634 and 1635, going on to serve as County Administrator, and in 1648, after a distinguished career of public service in a variety of Virginia offices, moving to the Colony of Maryland, where he was appointed Governor by Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore; and

WHEREAS, by proclamation of the House of Burgesses, dated March 13, 1651, each county was required to choose a sheriff, and in an interesting departure from the previous appointment process, which would prove to be the prevailing custom over time, the Commissioners of Northampton County asked their inhabitants to elect their sheriff; and

WHEREAS, as recorded in the Northampton County record of 1651, “Lieutenant William Waters, a gentleman, according to the instructions directed to ye Commissions & Inhabitants of this County by plurality of voices was nominated & made choice to be High Sheriff of Northampton Counties from this present day during ye accustomed time," thereby establishing William Waters of Northampton as the first elected sheriff in America; and

WHEREAS, as the population of Virginia grew and spread out to the West, and the distance between the settlers and the provincial capital at Jamestown made communication difficult and time-consuming, making it increasingly difficult for the Governor to administer the affairs of the distant shires directly, the sheriffs were required to assume ever-expanding duties and responsibilities in addition to being the ranking police and financial officer, to include serving warrants, making arrests, operating jails, and most notably, collecting taxes; and

WHEREAS, by 1676, the sheriffs had assumed a plurality of indispensable duties and roles such that they evolved into the Crown's principal representative in each Virginia shire or county; and

WHEREAS, today, over 375 years since the first sheriffs took office in Virginia, they continue to proudly protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth in their principal roles of law enforcement, court security, service of legal process, apprehension of fugitives, prisoner transport, and jail administration; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend and congratulate the sheriffs of the Commonwealth of Virginia on the occasion of their 375th anniversary; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the President and Board of Directors of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for the loyal and dedicated service of Virginia sheriffs.