Southwold Railway Trust Archive of Wenhaston

History Note #21: Law and Order

History Note #21: Law and Order
The earliest constables and the duties they performed

Keeping Law and Order was always in people’s minds. In 1272 Henry III ordered a watch to be mounted each night in every village by men from the village. One or two constables were to be appointed to carry out these duties. This was not a job that was very popular as only expenses were paid.

The earliest list of Constables in the Record Office show in 1680 Abraham Nolloth and John Spalding were the lucky ones! One could not serve two years running, but Abraham Nolloth drew the short straw again in 1695.

Many local laws were to be respected. Beatings to vagrants, not coming to church on four successive Sundays, hanging out a lantern without a light, selling ale without a licence, cutting turf on the common, making a dunghill and many others including abusing and beating the Constable!
They were responsible for the upkeep of the stocks, Whipping Post and Ducking Pond. Sometimes the Constables combined their job with that of Surveyors looking after the Highway. This system lasted until the 1850s when the County Police Force took over.