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Shire Court or Shire Moot was an Anglo-Saxon institution dating back to the earliest days of English society. The Shire Court referred to the magnates, both lay and spiritual, who were entitled to sit in council for the shire and was a very early form of representative democracy. The Shire Courts themselves met twice a year to allocate shire gold which had been collected by the Shire-reeve. The gathering was headed by nobility, usually Bishops, Earls, Abbots or Lords. The practice of holding shire courts began in Wessex and was later used throughout the rest of England. Similar models were introduced to Wales, particularly after the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284.
Initially the Court would travel and use different locations for its meetings, but after a while the name began to refer to the building or location where the court would usually meet. Amongst the lay and spiritual members of the Shire Court was the Shire Reeve the king's representative and chief administrative officer.
This whole system of government was replaced in 1889 with the introduction of county councils.