The first Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, was appointed in 1551.
The Lord-Lieutenant and his Deputies were primarily military appointments, but they also nominated the Justices of the Peace (JPs) for selection by the Crown. Since 1737, all Lord-Lieutenants of Surrey have also been Keepers of the Rolls.
Increasingly the JPs took on responsibility for aspects of local government. No distinction was made between legal and administrative functions. Not surprisingly, a large number of manuals were published from the 15th century onwards to help the Justice of the Peace cope with the complexities of his duties.
Henry VIII adopted the church’s long-established system of parishes as the units for local government, administered by the JPs. The parish constables became their agents. The Surveyors of Highways, from 1555, also reported to them.
The Reformation and the attempt by Mary Tudor to restore the Roman church in England put the magistrates’ religious loyalties to the test. In Mary’s reign they were required to send Protestants for trial as heretics, and in 1555 two men from Godstone were burnt at the stake. Under Elizabeth, however, it was those who remained Catholics who were removed from the Commission.