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reeve

reeve Anglo-Saxon gerefa). Reeve was the general medieval term for a supervising official and is found in a number of different contexts. The shire-reeve (scire-gerefa), appointed by the king, was for centuries the chief royal representative in the counties: the right to elect one's own sheriff was a valuable privilege, granted sparingly. The sheriff lost many of his judicial functions to the royal justices and the JPs and was superseded in the 16th cent. by the lord-lieutenant, though the post remains prestigious. The sheriff's deputy was the hundred-reeve, who held the hundred court. The term was also used for the chief officer of a town—a port-reeve or burh-reeve—until overshadowed in the larger towns by the office of mayor or lord mayor. The manorial reeve was one of the most familiar officials for most peasants. He was elected by the tenants but sometimes nominated by the lord, and was responsible for the organization of communal tasks, usually working with the lord's bailiff, and under the supervision of the lord's steward, who might have oversight of several manors. A notable description of the functions and duties of a manorial reeve before the Norman Conquest is to be found in ‘Gerefa’, a postscript to the tract Rectitudines singularum personarum (‘Rights and Ranks of People’).

J. A. Cannon

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reeve

reeve1 / rēv/ • n. Can. the president of a village or town council. ∎ chiefly hist. a local official, in particular the chief magistrate of a town or district in Anglo-Saxon England. reeve2 • v. (past and past part. rove / rōv/ or reeved) [tr.] Naut. thread (a rope or rod) through a ring or other aperture, esp. in a block: one end of the new rope was reeved through the chain. ∎  fasten (a rope or block) in this way. reeve3 • n. a female ruff. See ruff1 sense 3.

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reeve

reeve1 (chiefly hist.) in Anglo-Saxon times, high official having local jurisdiction; later, variously applied to local officers. OE. rēfa, aphetic var. of OE. ġerēfa, earlier ġirœfa, f. ġe- Y- + *rōf in seċġrōf host of men, stæfrōf alphabet = OHG. ruova, ruoba, ON. stafróf.

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reeve

reeve2 pt. and pp. reeved, later rove (naut.) pass (a rope) through a hole. XVII. perh. — Du. rēven reef, with shift of meaning.

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