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The High Sheriff of Mayo was the British Crown’s representative in the county from the post’s creation in 1583 until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. In a country where ownership of land carried huge prestige, the landed had to protect what they held by securing positions of power. So it was in County Mayo that the dominant families of Browne, Bingham and Gore isolated the role of High Sheriff largely for themselves up until the 19th century at least, from which time family names such as O’Donel, Knox, Blake and others appear in the records as holders of the office.