Saturday, December 19, 2015

Henry Perryman: a parish constable?

The last post was about my ancestor's brother, Alfred Perryman. This one is about their father, Henry Perryman. Coincidentally the year 1842 features again.

Henry and Elizabeth Perryman lived in Buckinghamshire, England at Dorney or the hamlet of Eton Wick just down the road. Henry worked as a servant or agricultural labourer.

By 1842 (the year his son Alfred was in court for some shady dealings involving fish and his younger brother John was sent to jail for dangerous driving*) Henry was 50 years old. This notice appeared in the paper:
Windsor and Eton Express, 1 Oct 1842
It refers to a meeting of ratepayers in Eton for the purpose of agreeing on a list of 17 men in the parish recommended to the justices of the peace to appoint as parish constables. Henry Perryman is the last name on the list. After 1842 (The 'New Constabulary Act' mentioned in the headline above) Chief constables were appointed at the quarter sessions for each hundred and parish constables were appointed by the Justices of the Peace. A Parish Constable was unpaid (except for expenses) and it was an annual appointment. The position was almost obsolete because the Parliament in 1839 passed the County Police Act that gave counties the chance to create paid police forces throughout the country. Prior to this, for hundreds of years, constables had been appointed to help keep order in the parish. The job was actually onerous and unwanted because they could be called on to escort prisoners, collect taxes, police non-attendance at church, police alehouses, watch out for drunkenness, detain fathers of bastard children, appear at inquests and so on.

If the Justices approved Henry's appointment I wonder if this was the first time he had been called upon to act as constable. And I wonder if he welcomed the task. By 1842 his youngest child was 15 so he didn't have a large young family to support so he probably had more time to devote to the task. It would be interesting to have a look at the Parish Chest for the area because that's where the constables' accounts were kept.

Update: My friend Jo has found an article, published a month after the one above, that confirms Henry's appointment to the constabulary.

Windsor and Eton Express, 12 Nov 1842
* Read about it here

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