Now you know…
Once upon an Old English time there were shires: Hampshire, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire etc. The Anglo-Saxons lived in these and kept the Hobbit population under control.
Each shire was ruled for the king by a shire-official, or shire-reeve, or scir-gerefa, or sheriff.
The Inky Fool explains all about shires, sheriffs, counties, counts, marches and marquises, here.
His book on rhetoric, The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth, is one of my favourite references for words, speech and writing.
Photo by Andy Newton on Unsplash