Who was Thos Ellerby of Barton, in 1809?
Was He Churchwarden or Parish Constable? Overseer or Parochial Officer? - the continuing story.


continuation of Mr Watkinson's article from issue 25 (November 2001).

One has only to look at Ellerby's Handbook to recognise how the ease of dissemination of legislation, of news by newspapers and much other informative material was changing the Country. (The small print and the need to substitute the letter "s" for the letter "f" demands the readers full and undivided attention. E.G. Affeffments for the fupport of etc.)
Not until 1839 was the Lincolnshire Constabulary established, (by the County Police Act of 1839). Barton Police Station was built in 1847. Before 1839 Lincolnshire was "policed" by Parish Constables appointed annually by the Magistrates. These Parish Constables could select and call upon suitable men within the community to act as Special Constables, should the necessity arise, they would assist in the maintenance of Public Order. To put into effect the age old system of "Hue and Cry". Form a "Posse Comitatus" (I hardly think it would be in the accepted Hollywood "Western" style. but that's where it came from. I think!)
In 1807, a Thomas Ellerby of Barton married Betty Pinder, by licence, at St. Peters Church, Barton. It is not reasonable to thinkthat he had become a Substantial Householder and eligible to be selected as a Parish Constable? I don't know if he did. The Cencus of 1801, & those of 1811,21,31 give only population counts. It is not until 1841 that names and addresses become available. Generally speaking every Householder, Inhabitant of the Parish and being of Full Age was liable to fill the office of Constable but by virtue 3 Co. 42 it was held that he should be of the "abler sort of Parishoner". Being more "likely to perform his duty with probity and discretion2". Some Authorities suggest the Yeomen, small Farmers and others who had some means and could afford the time and some expense were selected. There were many exceptions, lawyers, surgeons, the Milita and others. It is interesting to note that almost 200 years ago two authorities are cited as to the lawfulness of aq Woman being required to fill the Office in her turn but she would be allowed to appoint a deputy or procure one to serve for her and that person would be considered a proper Officer.
The law required that every person appointed to the Office of Constable should have:
First, the Honesty to Execute his office truly, without Malice, Affection or Partiality.
Second, he should have a sufficient knowledge of the law enabling him to understand what he ought to do, where his duty lay. (Is this Clavering giving his textbook sales a nudge?)
Third, "ability as well as in substance, or estate, or in body, that so he may intend and execute his Office diligently, and not through impotency of body, or want, neglect his duty".
Not a lot different to the standards set by Chief Constables in the 1930's. Or today come to that! I seem to remember that in 1949 I swore to carry out my Office as a Constable without Malice, Favour, Affection or Ill-Will.
There is much else whereby Henry Clavering Esq., Barrister at Law, extols the Virtues of the various Offices, particularily that of Parish Constable, and, of course, the necessity of having such an Assistant as this his Guide to enable Office Holders to perform their duties Adequately.
To enter into a full discussion of the development of the British Judicial System from the time of Saxon Frankpledge, via Tithings, Hundreds, Hue and Cry, the Statute of Winchester and, very importantly, the creation of Justices of the Peace, by the Justice of the Peace Act, 1361, not within the scope or intention of this article.
When Henry VIII broke with Rome, during the time of the Reformation, the Parish System was retained under the supervision of the Justices of the Peace. In this way was the basic Administrative Unit of this Country formed. The Reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I encompassed much Political and Social change and it is held by some that the stability of this Country during the Age of Revolution in Europe was due in no small part to the democratic framework so created and then supervised by the Justice of the Peace system. It is a fact that "most people comply with the laws because they believe them right and perceive that in the long run it is in everybody's interest to observe them". Is this still a true statement?
The duties and powers of modern day Justices of the Peace who preside in Magistrates Courts in England and Wales evolved from the duties and powers first bestowed on them by the Justice of the Peace Act, 1361.
Why then, should Thos. Ellerby of Barton, 1809, interest me?

When I was a small boy in the 1920's-30's, a Mr Ellerby had a small shop in Junction Square, Barton, he pedalled a carrier cycle about the town and district, selling a great deal of yeast, as I remember. Was he a descendant of the above mentioned Ellerbys? I want to think Thos. Ellerby was a Barton Parish Constable. Why? Because being a native of Barton and newly Sworn-in as a Lincolnshire Constable stationed in Barton in the years 1949 to 1953, I find myself drawing a comparison between this text book, I will call it "Clavering", and my text book of 1949, "Moriarty", which was the Vade Mecum of all newly sworn Constables of the Lincolnshire and other Forces when at Police Training Centres and, of course, a very useful source of reference subsequently.
Moriarty was a complete Guide not only to Arrest, with and without warrant, but also to Offences Against the Person, Sex Offences, Traffic, Epizootics, (Diseases of Animals)O and any other matters that might call for action by a Beat Officer.
Like Ellerby's "Clavering" it was a full clear, sound common sence exposition of his "law" and, in my case, of the then prevailing practical application of my "Law" and Regulations.
Back to Ellerby. Was he a paid servant of the Parish deriving his powers and the nature of his duties from the Juctices who appointed him? Did he have a distinctive form of dress, was he armed, carry a lantern? Perhaps he had handcuffs and a baton because these items are listed in the Lincolnshire Police Day Books of the 19th and early 20th Century as a charge on and a responsibi;ity of the Officers in charge of Divisions such as Barton, Winterton etc. Surely he had to work nights? Hed he too, patrolled the Barton Streets, the Butchery, Burgate, Sowtergate, Houndgate, Sheepdyke, checking his lockfast properties? Did he wonder if Sowtergate was indeed the site of the Cuckstooldike, where scolding wives were dipped? If there had been a cock fighting pit at the reaar of the White Lion?

(the rest of this article will hopefully appear in the next addition)

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