Every manor had one and continued to have one (albeit a parish appointment in many places by the 18th century) until the 19th century saw the formation of county police forces. His face was a familiar one and often in other parishes as well as his own. This happened because of his manifold duties: apprehending law breakers was an obvious duty; but he also acted as parish officer for collecting county rates and, indeed national taxes (e.g. hearth tax) -- and taking them and his accounts to a central point (in the case of Alcester's Stratford and Warwick would see a lot of him). His duties included ridding the parish of vagabonds and taking in person those commanded by Quarter Sessions to be settled elsewhere. Quarter Sessions in Warwick would often see him as he accompanied malefactors not dealt with in the local manor court.
Constables were unpaid but could not refuse election by manor court or vestry: they could claim expenses. Those of larger settlements like Alcester or Studley would become well- known over a wide area. They were not uniformed but in their own parishes had a sign of office -- a thick stick which were later called truncheons.
Summer 1991 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991