Wakefield Family History Sharing


Extracts from

Walkers History of Wakefield

2nd edition 1939 (privately printed)

Chief Constables 1745 - 1848

Towards the end of the first half of the 1800's much dissatisfaction was felt in the streets of Wakefield in consequende of the inadequate government by the Streets' Commisioners. These men published no accounts as to how money was raised and even more upsetting how the money was spent. As a result of this streets were neglected, dirty and unsafe for people. Another cause for consern was that townsmen had no choice in the selection of these Commissioners who filled up vacancies upon death or removal at their own pleasure. 1847 saw a committee raised to prepare an Act for the better governing of the town. A public meeting held on April 21st in the Court House saw resolutions made for better paving in the street, draining, lighting and sanitary regulations and more especially the ineficient state of the police. This meeting resulted in an application for a Charter of Incorporation being forthwith made to the Queen in Council. The Queen had instructed the Privy Council that a petition being taken into consideration and as a result Wakefield was granted the Charter on March 15 1848. The Charter granted for a Mayor, 8 Alderman and 24 Councillers. The first election took place nine days later and resulted in George William Harrison being elected the first Mayor of the Borough and as a result the first borough police force came into being. Street Commissioners, however, still retained control of the streets and sanitary administration of the town until the Public Health Act of 1853.


Year Chief Constable Year Chief Constable
1745 William Naylor 1797 William Whitaker
1746 William Beatson 1798 William Whitaker
1747 William Beatson 1799 John Barker
1748 William Beatson 1800 John Barker
1749 William Nevison 1801 William Walton
1750 Joseph Willis 1802 Richard Earnshaw
1751 John Milnes, junior 1803 Joseph Tolson
1752 Robert Tidswell 1804 Michael Bentley
1753 Francis Norton 1805 Thomas Rishworth
1754 William Parker 1806 William J Kendall
1755 George Charnock 1807 William Burrell
1756 Matthew Burgin 1808 John Holdsworth
1757 Richard Wright 1809 Thomas Johnson
1758 John Buxton 1810 James Teale
1759 Jeremiah Naylor 1811 James Teale
1760 Samuel Zouch 1812 John Soulby
1761 Samuel Steer 1813 Robert Rayner
1762 Joseph Shepherd 1814 Harpet Soulby
1763 Giles Rickaby 1815 William Spicer
1764 Francis Maude 1816 William Barff
1765 Richard Tennant 1817 Joshua Swallow
1766 Westley Hatfield 1818 Jeremiah Todd Naylor
1767 Westley Hatfield 1819 Thomas Johnson
1768 Thomas Moyle 1820 Thomas Shaw
1769 Richard Stovin 1821 George Westerman
1770 Timothy Heald 1822 George Addey
1771 Edward Ridsdale 1823 James Rusher
1772 Daniel Maude 1824 Johnathan Barthrop
1773 Thomas Hardy 1825 Thomas White
1774 Matthew Craven 1826 John Barron Billam
1775 William Pindar 1827 William Holdsworth
1776 Joseph Hargreaves 1828 Laurence Hitchon
1777 John Bayldon 1829 Thomas Barff
1778 Francis Maude 1830 Joseph Gosnay
1779 Robert Lumb 1831 Joseph Holdsworth
1780 John Earnshaw 1832 George Craven
1781 John Naylor 1833 George Craven
1782 Charles Spencer 1834 Richard Dunn
1783 Joseph Walker 1835 John Barff
1784 Charles Rickaby 1836 George Green
1785 Benjamin Heywood 1837 Thomas Tootal
1786 Thomas Lang 1838 Richard Burrell
1787 Thomas Lang 1839 William Hansell
1788 Thomas Hardy 1840 James Thompson
1789 Richard Tennant, junior 1841 James Thompson
1790 Jeremiah Naylor 1842 James Thompson
1791 George Oxley 1843 Thomas Haigh
1792 William Steer 1844 Thomas Haigh
1793 Henry Andrews 1845 John Flatman
1794 Benjamin Kennett 1846 John Flatman
1795 Andrew Peterson 1847 Samuel H Armitage
1796 John Ridsdale 1848 John Flatman


The Chief or High Constable was elected on the first day of October each year from amongs the principal inhabitants of the town. After his election he attended the Moot Hall where he was sworn in by the Steward of the Manor. This was followed by a rather substantial luncheon at the Manor House Inn. When Mr William Holdsworth was elected to the office he gave a dinner at which a round of beef weighting 8 stones was roasted in one piece and a pine-apple weighing 7 1/2lb, obtained from the pinery of Sir John Lister-Kaye, Denby Grange was served with grapes and melons.

The Constables had great authority and the staff he carried, according to J W Walker, was no empty symbol. The duties of the Chief Constable included : execution of Magistrates' warrants, apprehension of prisoners, relief of vagrants and of returning them to other towns, the upkeep of the ducking stool, pillory and pinfold, the saver and the butts in the Ings and to ensure the pinder, bellman and the waits all carried out their duties.

In 1870 a notification arrived from the Home Office that a separate Commission of the Peace had been granted to Wakefield and the Lord Chancellor forwarded a list of new Justices : Samuel Holdsworth, Edward Alexander Mackie, Joseph Rhodes, William Hartley Lee, William Statter, Joseph Tolson White, Isaac Briggs, Samuel Bruce, Alfred William Stansfield, William Henry Bedford Tomlinson and Richard Holdsworth.

Wakefield as the civil and political centre of the West Riding had seen over the years various many uproarious scenes following 1832. To read fully the events read 'Wakefield its History and People' by J W Walker OBE FSA





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