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Sheriffs were first appointed for several ‘shires’ in Virginia in the year 1634 with the same powers as such officers had in England and in 1642-43 their term was restricted to one year The Assembly of 1655 enacted that the commissioners of every county should recommend three or more to the Governor and Council, who should select from those recommended the one they thought best fitted the job of “Sheriff”, and this course was pursued all through the colonial days and long after the independence of the states.

Norfolk’s 1845 City Charter mandated that the “Sergeant” be elected for a 3-year term. It appears that the term “Sergeant” came into use when Norfolk became a Borough (1736), and remained in use until the late 1960’s when “Sheriff” replaced it.

The following is the roll call of Sheriffs throughout the history of Virginia.

  • July 15, 1640: “Mr. Sawer” (possibly Thomas Sawyer/Sayer)
  • 1645: Capt. John Sibsey
  • 1649: Richard Conquest
  • 1656: John Porter, Jr.

No information available from 1657 through 1701

  • 1702: Samuel Boush
  • 1704: James Wilson
  • 1705: Matt Sperie
  • 1714: Jonas Holladay
  • 1716: John Halstead
  • 1726 - 1727: John Haire
  • 1728 – 1729: George Newton
  • 1730 – 1731: Nathaniel Newton


The Borough of Norfolk was formed in 1736, and “should” have had a ‘Sergeant’ or ‘Sheriff’ separate from the County Sheriff. In many of the following years, however, only the name of the County Sheriff is documented. The Sergeant’s duties are spelled out in the Borough’s council minutes.

  • 1738: William Portlock
  • 1740: Samuel Smith
  • 1741: William Portlock
  • 1744: Thomas Nash – Norfolk Borough (Council Order Book)
  • 1755: George Pool
  • 1755: Robert Tucker
  • 1757: Charles Sweny
  • 1761: Thomas Jones, “Sub Sheriff”
  • 1776: Thomas Veale
  • 1777: David Porter
  • 1784: John Willoughby
  • 1785: William Booker
  • 1788: John Boush
  • 1790 - 1791: George Loyall
  • 1792: John S. Calvert
  • 1793: George Loyall
  • 1794: 1798 – James Boyce
  • 1801: James Boyce
  • 1806: Samuel Moseley
  • 1812: James Williams
  • 1819: Arthur Butt
  • 1832: Mordecai Cooke
  • 1835: Holt Wilson


In 1845 Norfolk is incorporated as a city.

  • 1851 – 1854: William B. Lamb
  • 1855 – 1858: not available
  • 1859 – 1860: Thomas J. Corprew
  • 1861 – 1865: not available
  • 1866 – 1869: William B. Deggs
  • 1870 – 1871: James H. Calrow
  • 1872 – 1873: J. Richard Lewellen
  • 1874 – 1875, 1876 – 1877: W. H. Saunders
  • 1879 – 1880, 1883 – 1884: A. J. Dalton
  • 1884 – 1885, 1887 – 1888: Frank L. Slade
  • 1888 – 1889, 1890 – 1891: John A. Brimmer, Jr.
  • 1891 – 1892, 1892 – 1893: Thomas L. Dornin
  • 1893 – 1897: John E. Burke
  • 1898 – 1913: John F. Lawler
  • 1914 – 1917: Claude L. Huggins
  • 1918 – 1920, 1920 – 1921: William M. Hannan
  • 1922 – 1928 or 1929: Charles H. Tumbleson
  • 1929 or 1930 – 1938: Charles Francis (Francis ran for re-election in 1938, but died 2 days before Election Day.)
  • 1938 – 1955: Lee F. Lawler
  • 1955 – 1958: Hugh Lee Butler, Jr.
  • 1958 – 1981: Charles H. Leavitt
  • 1982 – 1993: David K. Mapp
  • 1994 – 2017: Robert J. McCabe
  • 2017 - present: Joseph "Joe" Baron

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