An English magnate, originally commissioned to muster, administer, and command the militia of a specified district in times of emergency. Henry VIII was the first to appoint them, and in 1551 during Edward VI's reign there were attempts to establish them on a permanent basis. From 1585 it became usual for every shire to have a lieutenant, and deputy lieutenants, and by the end of the 16th century they assumed additional roles, exercised on behalf of the sovereign, including the appointment of magistrates. They lost their military responsibilities in the army reforms of 1870–71, but still represent the crown in the counties.
Subjects: Regional and National History.