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History of the Office  

A History of who held the office, and when...


1. Benjamin Whiting, Esq. of Hollis (1772 to 1775)

Original Deputy Sheriffs: John Holland, Robert Reed, Samuel Cunningham, Samuel Atkinson, Daniel Farnsworth and James Wilson. Sheriff Whiting was a loyal subject of the King of England as were most government officials at the time. As the political climate changed he was brought up on charges of, " acting against the best interest of his country" by a committee of revolutionary colonists. He was convicted without being present and his property and land were confiscated. He took his family and fled to England never to return to America.

2. Moses Kelley, Esq. of Goffstown (1775 to 1808)

At thirty-three years, Sheriff Kelley of Goffstown has the distinction of being the longest serving sheriff in county history. He owned a tavern and was a prominent local supporter of the "Sons of Liberty". He was a selectman and town moderator in Goffstown and was also a delegate to the county congress during the Revolutionary War. During the war he attained the rank of Colonel. Kelley Falls in Goffstown and Kelley St. in Manchester were both dedicated in his honor. His home is still standing and is the oldest house in the Pinardville section of Goffstown.

3. Benjamin Pierce of Hillsboro (1809 to 1813)

Sheriff Pierce served in the Revolutionary War from 1775 until 1784. He fought at Bunker Hill (1775), Saratoga (1777) and survived Valley Forge (1777-1778). Originally, from Chelmsford, Mass. he moved to Hillsboro after the war where he organized and commanded the Hillsborough County Militia from 1786-1807 rising to the rank of Brigadier General. He served in the N.H. Legislature from 1789-1802, a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1791,was a member of the governor's council 1803-1809 and 1814-1818. He was governor of New Hampshire in 1827 and 1829. In 1832 he was a Democratic presidential elector. He was the father of Franklin Pierce the 14th President of the United States.

4. Israel W. Kelly (1814 to 1818)

5. Benjamin Pierce of Hillsboro (1818 to 1827)

He is one of only two men to hold the Office of Sheriff on two separate occasions. Sheriff Pierce also had the responsibility of carrying out a death sentence, by hanging, on a man named Daniel Farmer for the murder of a widow named Anna Ayer of Goffstown around 1821.

6. Jacob Whittemore (1828 to 1836)

7. Frederick G. Stark (1836 to 1842)

8. Mace Moulton (1842 to 1844)

9. Elijah Monroe (1844 to 1856)

10. Charles P. Danforth (1856 to 1862)

11. Daniel L. Stevens (1862 to 1866)

12. Charles Scott of Peterborough (1866 to 1874)

He served a combined eighteen years as sheriff. Sheriff Scott was also Peterborough town moderator for over twenty years and was a retired Lt. Colonel from the Civil War. He was also a state senator for two years and was a judge in a local police court for five years.

13. Thomas P. Pierce (1874 to 1876)

14. Charles Scott (1876 to 1886)

Sheriff Scott is only the second sheriff to serve two separate terms. In 1877 the state legislature added county sheriff and county solicitor (attorney) to the list of county officials that were to be elected by the public, making Sheriff Scott the first elected sheriff in county history.

15. Daniel F. Healey (1886 to 1898)

He was also a Colonel from the Civil War. A new High Sheriff badge was given to him on January 1, 1890. This badge was made by Shreve, Crump and Lowe Jewelers in Boston and has recently come into the possession of the office historian and will be going on display at the sheriff's office in the near future.

16. Nathan Doane (1898 to 1906)

Sheriff Doane appointed the first female deputy sheriff in the state in 1906 and her name was M. Jenny Kendall of Nashua. A copy of her deputization papers is on file with the sheriff.

17. Fredrick K. Ramsey of Manchester (1906 to 1914)

In 1911 the state legislature expanded the authority of the 10 county sheriffs to give then state wide power not just in their respective counties as it states in the N.H. constitution. This change came about because of the invention of the automobile and the need to keep up with local criminals.

18. George L. Stearns of Manchester (1914 to 1918)

Sheriff Stearns was a deputy collector for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for thirteen years before being elected county sheriff.

19. John T. O'Dowd of Manchester (1918 to 1929)

He was a Manchester police officer for twenty-nine years, retiring in 1917 as a sergeant. He previously worked for the Manchester Fire Department for about seven years. He ran and lost a bitter campaign for sheriff in 1916 against Sheriff Stearns but finally beat him in 1918. Sheriff O'Dowd was a delegate to the Democratic conventions of 1924 and 1928. He was the sheriff until 1928 when he supported his son Richard to succeed him as sheriff. He then became the county jailer/deputy from 1930 until 1938. He was also a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1930.

20. Richard "Mac" O'Dowd of Manchester (1929 to 1944)

He was the son of John T. O'Dowd. Richard was a deputy sheriff from 1919 until 1929. In 1931 Sheriff O'Dowd enforced a court order out of Rockingham County to close down the Rockingham Race Track for illegal gambling. Sheriff Spinney (Rockingham County) was grateful the court had asked Sheriff O'Dowd to enforce this order since the track was quite popular with the people of Rockingham County. Sheriff O'Dowd resigned office to take a job with the N.H. Racing Commission. Later he was hired at the track and soon was its' general manager. Gov. Meldrim Thompson gave the eulogy at Sheriff O'Dowd's funeral in the early 1970's.

21. John L. Spillane of Nashua (1944)

He was a deputy sheriff under Sheriff O'Dowd who was appointed "Commissioner to Perform Duties of the Sheriff" in early 1944 until the election of a new sheriff in late 1944. He stayed on as a deputy under Sheriff O'Brien for a couple of years before retiring.

22. Thomas F. O'Brien of Manchester (1945 to 1969)

Sheriff O'Brien held office for twenty-four years, which makes him the second longest serving sheriff in county history. He was a deputy sheriff from 1930-1938 and served as county jailer from 1938 to 1944. While he was sheriff he lived in the wardens' quarters at the county jail in Manchester. During one election cycle he received the most write-in votes of any candidate in the state, which was a state record at that time. He didn't run for reelection in November of 1968.

23. Lawrence Shea of Manchester (1969 to 1981)

He was a lieutenant with the Manchester Police Department when he retired and ran for sheriff. Sheriff Shea also lived in the wardens' quarters at the county jail. During his term the legislature passed a law to create a separate county department of corrections for all ten counties. The Sheriffs officially gave up control of their county jails at that time.

24. James F. O'Flynn of Peterborough (1981 to 1984)

Sheriff O'Flynn helped put the Sheriff's Office on a professional track when he got the county to get rid of the "fee system"** for deputy sheriff's serving civil process. He appointed full-time New Hampshire Police Academy certified deputy sheriffs to fill positions in the office. He also appointed the first female court officer in the county's history to work at the Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester. Sheriff O'Flynn established the Hillsborough County Special Officers Certification School in 1982 in cooperation with the N.H. Police Standards & Training Council, the Hillsborough County Attorney and the Goffstown Police Department. During his watch in 1983 a deputy sheriff shot and wounded a state prison inmate trying to escape custody. The N.H. Attorney General declared the shooting to be justified. In late 1984 Sheriff O'Flynn was forced to resign do to charges of criminal wrongdoing related to his re-election campaign.

25. Donald Pereault, Esq. (1984)

An Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Hampshire, he was appointed "Commissioner to Perform the Duties of the Sheriff" for several months until the upcomming election. He currently has a private law practice in Manchester.

26. Louis Durette of Manchester (1984 to 1993)

He was a retired Manchester police officer. During his term in office a second county court was built in Nashua to handle the workload which was overwhelming the one county court in Manchester.

27. Walter A. Morse of Hillsboro (1993 to 2003)

Sheriff Morse is a retired New Hampshire State Police Captain. Under his administration the office has become a much more involved and visible partner in the law enforcement community. Except for the Criminal Division deputies, all deputies wear full uniforms and drive marked vehicles. In the past eight years deputies from the office have become involved in TRIAD, a nationwide senior citizen crime prevention program sponsored by the National Sheriff's Association. Deputies have been involved in several federal and state task force units fighting drugs, drunk driving and other crimes in our county. The office has also led and been part of several warrant sweeps in communities throughout the county. We have accomplished many of these efforts using grant funding received from the federal and state governments. Since 1993, Sheriff Morse has been asked by several communities in the county to have his deputies provide full law enforcement duties for them on a short-term basis. In the year 2000 the sheriff's office unveiled a new look for it's marked vehicles. In January of 2001 the office issued the first set of baseball type cards with staff pictures to be distributed by deputies to the public. Funds for the ball cards were received from the local business community.

28. James A. Hardy of Pelham (2003 to Present)

Elected in the 2002 Election, Sheriff James A. Hardy assumed office on January 8, 2003. Sheriff Hardy began his career with the Pelham Police Department, and then moved to the Sheriff's Office where he served for over 20 years before being elected as High Sheriff of the County. During his career he has received numerous awards, citations and honors, including the Silver Star for Bravery in Law Enforcement.

** Civil process was issued out by the sheriff to the deputies who received a fee per order served.

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