Sheriff of Nottingham

For the official position, see Sheriff of Nottingham (position).
The Sheriff of Nottingham
Alan Wheatley as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1950s television series, The Adventures of Robin Hood
The Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1973 animated film, Robin Hood

The Sheriff of Nottingham is the main villain 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 Gisbourne 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 the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Sheriff's influence has grown so great, he attempts to take control of the throne, due to his power outside the region of Nottingham.

In some versions, the Sheriff is 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.



  1. Thomas, Frank, Johnston, Ollie (1986). The illusion of life: Disney animation. Disney Book Group. p. 344.
  2. "Ethan Reiff -- Interviews in Sherwood".
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