England & United States History


Old Jail

The county jail until 1931, this stone building housed a windowless
dungeon in the basement, a whipping post at the rear, and an
apartment for the jailer. The jail stood at the site of today’s
Stella Werner Council Office Building.

The Sheriff’s Office in Montgomery County is a direct descendant from Old England; the history of the Sheriff goes back some 1200 years.

The modern word “Sheriff”, which means keeper or chief of the County, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words “Shire-Reeve”. The Shire-Reeve, in the days of King Alfred the Great of England, in 871, was responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing the Kings Orders. The duties and the role of the Sheriff were better defined in 1215 when King John signed the Magna Carta.

The first Sheriff’s Office in America was established in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 1641. The Office of the Sheriff was set forth in the original Maryland Constitution and remains there today. The citizens of Montgomery County elect a Sheriff every four years. The elected Sheriff, is part of the Judicial Branch of Government.

According to historical records, Clement Bell became the first Sheriff of Montgomery County in the first year of the Independence of the United States of America, 1777. “This action was approved and ordered by the court. These Proceedings were witnessed by county citizens, Charles Jones, Elisha William’s, Richard Thompson, Edward Burgefs, Sam W. Magruder, William Denkins and Jas Offutt.” The citizens of Montgomery County depended on the Sheriff for all of its law enforcement until the early 1920′s when the Maryland State Police and the Montgomery County Police Departments were formed.




Elected by Voters to 3-year terms (Constitution of 1776, sec. 42):

1777-1780 Clement Beall
1780-1783 Simon Nicholls
1783-1786 John Haymond Nicholls
1786-1789 William Robertson
1789-1792 Benjamin White Jones
1792-1795 Solomon Holland
1795-1798 Benjamin Ray, Jr.
1798-1801 Benjamin White Jones
1801-1804 Solomon Holland
1804-1807 Benjamin Ray, Jr.
1807-1810 John Fleming (F)
1810-1813 William Candler
1813-1816 Robert W. Fleming
1816-1819 Arnold T. Windsor (F)
1819-1822 Brice Shelby (F)
1822-1825 William Clements (R)
1825-1828 Henry Harding
1828-1831 Thomas F. W. Vinson
1831-1834 William O'Neall
1834-1837 Richard R. Waters
1837-1840 William O. Chappell
1840-1842 Henry Lilly
1842-1843 Thomas F. W. Vinson
1843-1846 Daniel H. Candler
1846-1849 William O. Chappell
1849-1851 William Thompson

Elected by Voters to 2-year terms (Constitution of 1851, Art. IV, sec. 20):

1851-1853 Philip J. Connell
1853-1855 Matthew Fields
1855-1857 Silas Browning
1857-1859 John T. Benson
1859-1861 Samuel Gloyd (D)
1861-1862 John T. Baker
1862-1865 Perrie Leizear

Elected by Voters to 2-year terms (Constitution of 1864, Art. IV, sec. 49):

1865-1867 Zephariah N. Jones

Elected by Voters to 2-year terms (Constitution of 1867, Art. IV, sec. 44):

1867-1869 James H. Claggett
1869-1871 John T. Benson
1871-1873 Thomas S. Waters of S.
1873-1875 Edward H. Waters (D)
1875-1877 Hilleary O. Higgins
1877-1879 John Ambrose Clements (D)
1879-1881 John H. Kelchner
1883-1885 John H. Kelchner
1895-1897 John A. Collier
1897-1899 Horton G. Thompson
1899-1901 Arthur Williams
1901-1903 John W. Collier (D)
1903-1905 Arthur Williams
1905-1907 James P. Gott
1907-1909 George W. Mullican (D)
1909-1911 William Edward Viett (D)
1911-1913 Clifford L. Howard (D)
1913-1915 Benjamin Peyton Whalen
1915-1917 W. Frank Gaither (D)
1917-1919 William L. Aud
1919-1921 George R. Nicholson
1921-1923 Olvie A. Moxley
1923-1926 Clay Plummer (D)

Elected by Voters to 4-year terms (Constitution of 1867, Art. XVII; added by Chapter 227, Acts of 1922, ratified Nov. 7, 1922):

1926-1930 Joseph B. Pyles
1930-1934 Richard H. Lansdale (D)
1934-1938 George Edington Bell
1938-1942 H. Leslie Carlin (D)
1942-1946 Robert W. Farmer (D)

Elected by Voters to 4-year terms (Constitution of 1867, Art. IV, sec. 44, amended by Chapter 786, Acts of 1945, ratified Nov. 5, 1946):

1946-1950 Frank I. Davis (D)
1950-1954 Charles S. Lawrenson (R)
1954-1962 Luke J. Bennett, Jr. (D)
1962-1978 Ralph W. Offutt (D)
1978-1986 James A. Young (D)
1986-2010 Raymond M. Kight (D)
2010-2022 Darren M. Popkin (D)
2022-         Mawell C. Uy (D)



Information on these pages compiled by Chief Deputy Robert L. Keefer (retired) by way of memory, interview, the Sentinel Newspaper, the Brookings Institution, and old documents and Updated by Bruce P. Sherman, Assistant Sheriff unless otherwise stated.