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William Man Godschall, A General Plan of Parochial and Provincial Police (London: Printed for Messrs. T. Payne and Son [etc.], 1787), pp. iiixii, 115.

William Man Godschall (17201802) was a justice of the peace for Surrey.1 The text excerpted here, which appears to be his only publication, is addressed to the Home Secretary Lord Sydney and was prompted by the Kings Proclamation issued in 1787 for the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue and for Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness and Immorality. The proclamation was issued at the behest of William Wilberforce, who, as we saw in the previous selection, was the prime mover in the Proclamation Society. Like Zouchs, Godschalls vision of police forms part of the broad movement for moral reform that marked the latter part of the century.2 The original text was composed of several parts which, as the author makes clear, were submitted to and discussed by the Surrey magistrates in response to the large number of crimes recently committed. They were then circulated to magistrates and explained to their audience. One of Godschalls most important claims is that, although he admits the general plan is relatively untested, the Surrey bench had tried the methods presented and found them effective in reducing the level of crime in the area. It is interesting that in contrast to many contemporaries, and, indeed, many modern historians, who see this as the prime mover in police reform across the century, Godschall explitily denies any link between demobilization and the crime wave they had been experiencing.3 He notes that soliders and sailors were not among those arrested and attributes the rise in crime simply to general depravity. His solution to this is a general plan of moral and economic regulation. Like Edward Sayer he conceives of police as a very broad system of government encompassing vagrancy and the poor laws, including the regulation of workhouses; proper suprevision of the young and apprentices, separating children from the bad influence of their parents if needs be; illegitimate gain by chapmen, gleaners, smugglers and poachers; the problem




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of alehouses, gambling and their effect on the industry of the poor; lack of religion, Sabbath breaking, prostitution; and market offences. He also circulated as part of all this a general guide for the work of the surveyor of the highway, which should be concerned with maintaining the conditions, passability and safety of the highway. This might seem peripheral to police but in fact these elements were to be central to the idea of police in the broadest sense as it continued to develop in England and Scotland.4 Notes
1. His portrait by John Russell, along with that of his wife, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: see [accessed 30 September 2013]. Once again, see J. Innes, Inferior Politics: Social Problems and Social Policies in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 179228 or J. Innes, Politics and Morals: The Reformation of Manners Movements in Late Eighteenth-Century England, in E. Hellmuth (ed.), The Transformation of Political Culture: England and Germany in the Late Eighteenth Century (Oxford and London: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 57118; and A. Hunt, Governing Morals: A Social History of Moral Regulation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 5776. See J. M. Beattie, The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 17501840 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) and N. Rogers, Confronting the Crime Wave: Demobilization and Disorder in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England (London: Yale University Press, 2012). F. Dodsworth, The Idea of Police in Eighteenth-Century England: Discipline, Reformation, Superintendence, c. 17801800, Journal of the History of Ideas, 69 (2008), pp. 583604; W. M. Godschall, A General Plan of Parochial and Provincial Police (London, 1787), pp. x, 4, 10, 234, 268, 34, 413, 5865. On police and the urban environment see F. Dodsworth, Mobility and Civility: Police and the Formation of the Modern City, in G. Bridge and S. Watson (eds), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (Oxford: Blackwell, 2011), pp. 23544; D. G. Barrie, Police in the Age of Improvement: Police Development and the Civic Tradition in Scotland, 17751865 (Cullompton: Willan, 2008).


3. 4.

William Man Godschall, A General Plan of Parochial and Provincial Police (1787), excerpts

to the right honourarle THOMAS LORD SYDNEY,1 one of his majestys principal secretaries of state, &c.
My Lord, Your Lordships obliging acceptance of this Attempt toward Police and Reform, can only be attributed to your particular Regard for Subjects so useful and beneficial; and to a Desire of promoting / the gracious and seasonable intention of his Majesty; whose Proclamation commands,2 what his Example excites; and tends to enforce a Truth, acknowledged in all Ages; That the Happiness of a People depends on the Practice of Piety and Virtue, and being restrained from Profligacy and Vice. Your Lordships Department in the State being to countenance and encourage the former, and obviate and avert the latter, an Address for such Purposes, could, with Propriety, be made only to your Lordship, in whom Station and Principle so happily unite, to obtain such desirable Ends. That / your Exertions may be attended with the Success I am sure they will deserve, is the very ardent Wish of, My Lord, Your Lordships Most obedient, Humble Servant, WILLIAM MAN GODSCHALL. Weston House. Aug. 10, 1787. /




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In a nation like this, where commerce and riches furnish the means of luxury and indulgence to many, and beget a temptation to them in the minds of all; a publication of this kind could scarcely ever have been unseasonable; but becomes especially necessary, when his Majestys paternal regard to the welfare of his people has warned them, that an extraordinary exertion of the civil magistrate is at present necessary, to stop the progress of profaneness and immorality, too visibly increasing in many parts of this kingdom; the cause of which seems not so much owing to a defect in the laws, as to a negligent execution of them. Inattention and dissipation are too prevalent. /
The rich, and they that have an arm to check, The licence of the lowest in degree, Desert their office, and, from facile indolence, To all the violence of lawless hands Resign the charge their presence would protect. Cowper.3


The licentiousness designed to be obviated by the Proclamation, hath its source in a want of attention to the conduct of the lower degree of the people, a want of discipline and employment for the adult, and of instruction for the infant poor; and, notwithstanding the rates for their maintenance are so high as scarcely to be tolerable, yet how few of those, who are best qualified, can be prevailed on to give their attention to those objects, though so important! But expences will ever increase from negligence; and profligacy must be wrestled with, and resisted; it will not be wished out of a country; action is as indispensable to prevent stagnation and corruption in the moral, as in the natural world. Without a steady superintendence we must forego all reasonable expectation of reformation and amendment. To obtain / these desirable ends, by exciting energy and exertion, is the primary intention of the following papers. The General Plan must answer for itself. Having never been tried, its effect cannot be ascertained. The experiment, however, seems worth the making. The other papers may be spoken of with more confidence. They were drawn up and submitted to a general meeting of the Magistrates of Surrey, called on purpose to consider of means to prevent in future such frequent burglaries and robberies as had then been committed, to the great injury and terror of the inhabitants; copies of instructions to overseers were distributed to the several benches, and explained by the respective justices; a repetition of these means, and continuing privy searches, have secured the county from any such like depredations from that time to the present. / The Instructions to Overseers, from the importance of their office, both with regard to morals and conomy, were thought necessary to be very precise and

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specific; especially that part relating to apprenticing the parish children, which was esteemed of the last importance. The Instructions to Constables, from the nature and importance of their office, were necessarily very full and explicit. The Monitions to Ale-house Keepers were found to be much wanted, and therefore every caution and prohibition were particularly mentioned. These Instructions were accompanied with such explanations and exhortations from the bench, as it was thought would have their weight in promoting the discharge of their respective duties. Such measures having been found efficacious in this county, there is great reason to / hope they may be so in others. They are equally practicable in all: and where the efforts of magistrates are strengthened by royal example, as well as precept, it would be blameable to despair of success. The Surveyors Guide being a branch of police, though not of reform, was thought necessary to be added, as being of constant use.


The lower order of civil polity in this kingdom is so little attended to, or so laxly administered, that, unless some method can be devised to give energy to the laws now in being, or perhaps to enact new ones, that reformation necessary to insure the peace, security, and property of the subject, can neither be obtained, nor rationally expected. Indolence and thoughtless inactivity, are not only utterly incapable of ever / being the occasion of Good; but, on the contrary, give constant opportunity for Evil, to exert its unrestrained, baleful influence, over the too favourably disposed minds of the greater part of mankind.

Our laws admit not horrid punishments.

Our laws and constitution happily admit not the horrid punishments and summary modes of conviction,4 that obtain in other countries: and, unless these properties are, in some degree, counterbalanced by a constant preventive attention, it is impossible but crimes must become more frequent.


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Late robberies not the effect of the conclusion of the war; 5 but from depravity and idleness. Means of prevention. Compelled labour necessary.
The robberies lately committed, do not seem to have been the effects of the conclusion of a war; for soldiers, or sailors, have not appeared concerned in them; but they rather / seem to have been occasioned by a diffused depravity in the minds of the offenders, and a general aversion to honest employment of any kind. The effects of depravity can only be encountered by punishment, or increasing the difficulty of commission; for which end, guards, bolts, bars, bells, and dogs, seem to be the most likely means; and, perhaps, a published description of the burglarious instruments made use of, might lead to the invention of others, that might resist, or diminish their powers. Honest ingenuity may be an overmatch for wicked invention, as it is easier to hinder, than to effect. Aversion to honest employment, the effect, if not the cause of depravity, must be got the better of by confinement and compelled labour, with humane usage; allowing a small share of the profits of the toil, where there are symptoms of desert. /


Beggars not to be permitted. Nor Petty chapmen, 6 poachers, nor smugglers. Vagrant act to be executed. Education of youth; to be separated early from their parents, and apprenticed.

When any one is suffered to live in idleness, his maintenance becomes an injurious tax upon the industrious. No beggar of any kind should be permitted; the indulgence of our law has superseded the necessity of it. He should immediately be sent to his parish, obliged to provide for him; which surely is more humane than suffering him to continue on a precarious subsistence in so uncomfortable a mode of life. Story. An Eastern prince ordered a bag of gold as a reward to a beggar, for having given him some wholesome advice: the money was soon spent in riot and debauchery, when the beggar appeared again at the palace-gate, asking alms; which the prince observing, said to his minister, You see the ill effects of my bounty to this unhappy man; riches have been to him the source / of vice and misery. No wonder, said the sage; since thou hast given to poverty, the reward of labour. All petty chapmen, pretending to trades merely ostensible, by which it is impossible they should make a livelihood, such as sieve and chair-bottomers, basket-makers, venders of matches, laces, and garters, if found wandering out of their own parishes, should be taken up and passed to them.7 Young able bodied men living at their own hands, without known means of subsistence; should (to save them from being poachers or smugglers, which lead directly to horsestealing, and the gallows) be compelled to work at the wages of the country. If

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men had not opportunity to be idle, they would not have leisure to be wicked. In short, every clause of the vagrant act should be put in strict and constant execution, which would do more toward reformation than all the convictions at the Old Bailey.8 The great Lord Coke9 says, upon making the 39 Eliz. c. 7. 10 and a good space after, whilst Justices of the Peace, and other officers were diligent and / industrious, there was not a rogue to be seen in any part of England; but, when Justices and other officers became tepidi or trepidi remiss, rogues swarmed again. The wisdom and experience of such an age, has certainly a claim upon the respectful notice of the present, when similar measures seem at least equally necessary. The same great authority says, in his exposition on the 7 Jac. c. 4. The education of youth, and setting to work idle and disorderly persons, are essential parts of the well-being of a commonwealth. The former is so indispensable, that, without it, punishment becomes not only useless, but cruel. Children should first be taught what is right, before they are corrected for doing what is wrong: poor infants are most likely to learn the latter, from their necessitous, negligent, and perhaps wicked parents, and should therefore by totally removed from them at a very tender age; certainly not later than ten; and apprenticed to all inhabitants in the parish, of good characters, who have occasion for servants. This, which, / Dalton11 calls a special work and seminary of mercy, seems to be the most probable means of infusing early habits of virtuous industry, which could scarcely fail of having a sensible and happy effect on the morals of the rising generation. This measure, so indispensably necessary, without which, it would be vain to expect any great or lasting amendment, hath, however, many difficulties, which prevent its being carried into general execution.

Difficulties in 43 Eliz. A new act. Necessity of reform.12

The clause of the 43d of Eliz. is so worded as to make many think, that apprenticing the infant poor is a matter of choice: overseers imagine they are not compellable; they object that the burden is unequal, and ought to be laid in proportion to the quantity of land rented. Tradesmen, and other inhabitants, have similar objections; and also say, that the term till one and twenty is so long as to be tiresome to the master, and injurious to the apprentice. If there is any weight in / these objections, they might be removed, by a new act, when perhaps it would be better to transfer the execution of the law, from the overseers to the justices, with appeal to the quarter sessions. Some apportionment as to rents might be found out; and, if altering the term of continuing an apprentice to eighteen years of age, would obtain a good liking, so as to bring the act into general use, it would be very well worth trying. The doors of the play-house, and the scaffold at Newgate,13 are scenes that sadly solicit radical and effectual reform; and the number of boys and youths, who, for want of being early initiated into habits of


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Ale-houses to be decreased; their mischiefs; blind ale-houses; intent of ale-houses; none in seventeen parishes in Essex; to be decreased gradually.

virtuous industry, have fallen victims to the laws of their country, plead feelingly for adopting a measure the most likely to lessen the number of such melancholy examples. Beside, that capital punishments dont seem to answer their end; transiency, frequency, and want of solemnity, diminish their effect; they also savour somewhat of despotism, and dont seem at all congenial with the general mildness of our government: perhaps treason, / murder, house-breaking, forgery, and highway robbery, are the only crimes for which they ought to be inflicted; for other transportation, solitary prisons, and public or private labour, would be adequate, and probably more efficacious. The hardened wretch, who can expect no comfort in this world, will not have much fear or regret in quitting it. A momentary death has little terror for him; labour, solitude, or an inhospitable clime, would be far more dreadful. But, after all, prevention should be the great object; it is the duty of every government to protect their subjects, not only from others, but themselves. A watchful attention to infancy and youth can only effect this; which would be, wisely and humanely to begin at the beginning; and it might be well worth considering, whether parish schools, at public or parochial expence, would not be a very salutary institution. Rigid age is not easily amended. Our hope must arise from a care and attention to youth. /

The next measure, necessary toward reformation, must be to diminish the number of ale-houses, and to keep the remainder strictly to the regulations the laws have laid them under; and to license none in obscure and sequestered situations, where thieves may meet securely to concert their depredations on the public; and where improvident labourers, unobserved, may spend their time and money to the distress of themselves and families. The abundance of ale-houses, especially blind ale-houses, as they were called, was a subject of animadversion from the King himself, so long ago as the year 1616; but they are now so increased, that an honest peasant, who would spend his money with his family if these temptations were less obvious, must have a more than ordinary share of self-denial, if he escapes such numerous attractions. The original design of those / places was not to continue drinking in, but merely for the transient refreshment of travellers and labourers; and perhaps occasionally for transacting parochial public business. A few will answer these purposes; and one more than sufficient for that end is not only unnecessary, but hurtful. Might there not be some legal distinction between inns and ale-houses? The first are not so generally tipling shops, but the latter are dreadful in their consequences; and it would tend very much to dimin-

Godschall, A General Plan of Parochial and Provincial Police


ish their number, if no common brewer was permitted to have any property in an ale-house. The legislature has done something analogous, in prohibiting even justices, who are distillers, from licensing; but wealthy brewers impropriate a number of these houses, and solicit gentlemen of influence in counties and boroughs to licence them. Legal incapacity would relieve both the one and the other; for there are many instances embarrassing to each. Near Dunmow, in Essex, there is a district of seventeen parishes without one ale-house, which is proof positive that they / are not universally necessary. However, the reins of reformation should be gently gathered up: lasting amendment is generally gradual, and if the present enormous number of ale-houses was diminished by degrees with judgment and discretion, the good effects of such a measure would soon be seen in the amendment of the morals of the poor, and the decrease of the rates of the parish. /

THE foregoing are the means which, after very deliberate consideration, seem the most likely to establish that peace, order, and security, which constitute the happiness of the subject, and is the constant aim and endeavour of every wise and indulgent government. But these means will not execute themselves: they must be put in motion by some anxious and active principle, and continued so by a constant superintending care and attention; which are qualities not to be expected from a numerous unconnected body of men, but may be exacted from an officer created on purpose, to prevent the stream of justice from stagnating, and to continue its course uninterrupted from the supreme executive power, to the subordinate magistrates, and thence through the lower officers and ministers to the people. In all great cities, where crimes have been found to increase from a languid execution of the law, one or / more officers of this kind would be found efficacious, to give vigour to the laws, and restore relaxed discipline; and in counties and districts next adjoining to the metropolis, a magistrate of this sort will be absolutely necessary, to co-operate with, and assist his neighbours, and also to repel or secure the number of rogues his district will otherwise be over-run with: without one or more such immediately responsible officers, this plan can certainly never be executed, the law must continue a dead letter, offences and enormities will continue and increase; but if, in every county, according to its size, there were two, three, or four justices, elected by a majority of the acting magistrates approved by the king, with instructions from the secretary of state for the home department to view their respective districts twice every year, and to take especial note of roads, bridges, ale-houses, gaming-tables, profanation of the Lords day, tippling in time of divine service, drovers of cattle, horse-coursers, stage-coaches, and waggons, and every article of discipline and police, and report them / to the secretary of state, and to the Christmas and Midsummer



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sessions,14 their exertions must be generally beneficial. These officers might be stiled justices general, should attend all benches in the county,15 and communicate to their brethren whatever they observe worthy of notice. So systematic a regulation would demonstrate, that government was earnest and anxious to reform the manners of the people, and would excite in magistrates an activity and emulation to promote so desirable ends. Such measures would give new life to the law, and bring justice and justices much into fashion. However, the whole is submitted to better judgments, with a very sincere wish that such means may be adopted, as may be most beneficial to the public.



W. H., Some Hints Towards a Revisal of the Penal Laws: The Better Regulating the Police, and the Necessity of Enforcing the Execution of Justice. By a Magistrate (London, 1787), pp. iiiiv, 523.

Neither the author nor the intended recipient of the letter are obvious; the author claims to be a magistrate, but also calls into question the qualities and actions of many magistrates in such a general way that even this is questionable. Nonetheless, the author is clearly educated and this text is one of the more erudite in the collection, drawing on a diverse array of sources from the classics through the Renaissance to the contemporary: legal authorities, moralists, philosophers and poets: Tacitus and Horace on the cover page and in the text Plato, Solon, Seneca, Lambarde, Hale, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Pufendorf, Addison and Pope. In general the text makes a claim for the importance of enforcing the existing laws with energy instead of creating a new system of innovation. The problem with the enforcement of the existing laws is laid at the door of a magistracy by no means presented in flattering terms, but it is also and particularly located in what the author defines as a false lenity in sentencing. Like the previous text, and in contrast to many contemporaries and historians, the author rejects the idea that demobilization is the principal source of crime, although its influence is acknowledged.1 Rather, the main cause of crime given is that under the existing system criminals have little expectation of being caught, and if they are caught they are well aware that they will almost certainly not be executed. The author cites Hale and Machiavelli on the importance of enforcing the law, both as a duty to the public and to establish a climate in which the certainty of severe punishment deters others from crime. This is a particularly interesting perspective because, as historians have demonstrated, the authors contemporaries particularly valued the discretion that the legal system gave them: it was the embodiment both of their power and their capacity for correct judgement.2 There is also a critique of the concentration of the law on property offences, recognizing that rewards for the conviction of highwaymen, but not for murder, suggest the law values property more than life.



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1. 2. 3. 4.

The authors position is complex. On the one hand, it is very sensibly pointed out in the midst of the period of moralizing, if not a moral panic, that characterized the 1780s and particularly 1787 and the Royal Proclamation discussed previously, that the depravity of the times has been the claim of all times.3 On the other hand, even if the contemporary period was not exceptionally vicious in the way proponents of reform imagined, the author still felt that the moral condition of the population should be a concern for governments because the common people constituted the principal national resource. The author also encourages attention to all inferior offences, which are offences against the peace. Likewise, in a final section that is not included here, despite the primary focus on enforcement of the existing laws, the author also suggests an array of improvements needed in the law itself, particularly those laws from an archaic age which no longer apply. Attention is paid to regulation of the number of horses stabled at inns; the power of magistrates over servants in husbandry, which ought to be extended to domestic servants to keep them within due bounds; the law on bigamy, which it is suggested is second only to murder as a social evil and should be punished with death (the author treats bigamy as rape by deception rather than by force); summary justice in the case of brothels; licensing for wine; measures to control pigs; the theft of trunks from coaches and the poor laws.4
Again, on this subject see J. M. Beattie, The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 17501840 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) and N. Rogers, Confronting the Crime Wave: Demobilization and Disorder in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England (London: Yale University Press, 2012). For different approaches to the subject of discretion see D. Hay, Property, Authority and the Criminal Law, in D. Hay, P. Linebaugh, J. Rule, E. P. Thompson and C. Winslow (eds), Albions Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, rev. edn (London: Verso, 2011) pp. 1763 and P. King, Crime, Justice and Discretion in England, 17401820 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). On the application of the concept of moral panic in this period see D. Lemmings and C. Walker (eds), Moral Panics, the Media and the Law in Early Modern England (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009). W. H., Some Hints Towards a Revisal of the Penal Laws ... By a Magistrate (London, 1787), pp. 2431.

W. H., Hints Towards a Revisal of the Penal Laws (1787), excerpts

The Author of this litle tract does not mean to throw any odium, or cast the least reflection on the respectable body of Magistrates (for the county of Middlesex) in general, to whom the public are so much indebted for their unwearied diligence and unremitting attention to the important duties of their office, and who deserve the greatest commendation and the thanks of all who prefer peace and good order to riot and confusion. The Authors seeming asperity on some parts of the Police, and the mal-administration so notorious in some of its conductors, is levelled at those only whom the cap fits. / Some apology may be thought necessary and due to those learned and truly respectable luminaries of the law, the twelve Judges, for whom the Author entertains the most profound veneration, as he is truly sensible they have never derogated from the honour and dignity of their elevated station, unless a too acute sensibility and feeling, in shewing mercy and pity to a set of objects, totally unworthy of either, may be deemed such. /

HINTS for REGULATING the POLICE, In a Letter to a Member of Parliament.

DEAR SIR, The multiplicity of our laws, says Montesquieu,1 is a price we pay for our freedom; and a heavy tax it is, while they remain so voluminous and complicate, unless they were better administered: though the fault is not so much in the redundancy of the penal statutes, as in the indolence and inactivity of those whose business it is to put them in execution. And I am sorry to say, what, from the ignorance of some, and something / worse in others, they are very far from



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answering the end of the Legislature, and require a serious and solemn investigation, which I fear nothing less will ever effect than the wisdom and interference of Parliament; where from the abilities and steadiness of that august assembly alone we can look up for a reform. When we seriously consider, that in a commercial nation like England, supported by trade, and an extensive and unbounded commerce to most parts of the known world, from which source its riches and acknowledged superiority are alone derived, offences will naturally increase in proportion as our trade increases, and we should be less surprised that our penal laws are so numerous; there must of necessity be a mode of punishment for every breach of the law, and the nature of every crime; and were but those modes of punishment more equally proportioned to the malignity of the offence, our grievances would in a great measure be redressed, with the help of an abridgement of some few of the penal statutes, which might be repealed without any injury to the law, or the constitution: though in fact our / laws (in some particular instances), however numerous, are not sufficiently adapted to the genius of our constitution; but that does not come within the bounds of my present intention. Some will pretend, that severity in law, like persecution in religion, will never make proselytes, or answer the end of preventing criminals from pursuing their depredations on the public; but I beg leave to differ from them in opinion, as I am firmly persuaded, that a false and mistaken lenity, which has too much prevailed of late, has produced a contrary effect to what was intended, and I am thoroughly convinced from fatal experience, that a false mercy has brought more men to the gallows, than it ever saved from it. It was an admirable saying of the great Judge Hale,2 When I find myself swayed to mercy, let me remember there is a mercy likewise due to my country. Plato says, A magistrate that punishes a criminal with death or ignominy, will never punish him so much for the past offence, for it is impossible for him to undo what is done already, but he will always regard what is to come, either to prevent the same offender from being guilty a second / time, or else to deter others from transgressing by his example. (Puffendorf,3 Book viii. ch. 3.) And were felons to suffer certain death, and led to execution within twelve hours after conviction and sentence passed on them, it would strike more terror on their minds than can be conceived. I have frequently given my present sentiments in the public papers on this subject, but as they seldom out-live the day, and are thrown aside unheeded, they have never produced the wished-for effects. If some of those salutary remedies prescribed by our worthy Chairman of the quarter-sessions for the county of Middlesex, in his late address to the grand jury, such as suppressing some notorious places of public resort, night-cellars, and regulating public-houses in general, were strictly adhered to, it would go a great way towards putting a stop to that rendezvous of robbers of every denomination, which are now grown to such an alarming and audacious height, that no person

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can lie down in his bed, but he is in danger of losing his life or his property before morning, or perhaps both. / It is a received maxim in physic,4 that all disorders are easier prevented than cured; the same will hold good in politics, and prove beyond a contradiction, that prevention is preferable to punishment. A magistrate whose ultimate wish is to execute the complicated duties of his office, with the approbation of his own conscience, and of real use to the community, will, you may believe me, find it an arduous talk to acquit himself to the satisfaction of both. From serious reflection I cannot but lament the daily increase of felons of every description, and tho some people will pretend it is owing to the great number of soldiers and sailors discharged since the last war, together from the want of employment for a large body of artificers, joined to the dearness of all kind of provisions and the heavy taxes, the necessity of the times have unavoidably loaded us with; which I readily grant may probably have influenced many; yet I am firmly persuaded, that far the greater number of those who break through the laws of their country, at the hazard of their lives, are tempted to embark in so perilous an undertaking / from their security from conviction, and from a tenderness and mercy, however unmerited, shewed to a number5 of those guilty wretches after conviction, which seldom answers any other end, as daily examples convince us, than returning like a dog to his vomit, to their old iniquitous courses; and I am very much inclined to think the maxim of that artful and wicked politician Machiavel6 but too true, Examples of justice are more merciful than the unbounded exercise of pity. Though God forbid that I should wish to shut out mercy from the royal breast, the sole prerogative of kings, and the brightest jewel in a monarchs crown, but I could wish it made use of with more circumspection and less indiscriminately. I am thoroughly convinced from observation, that not one in five hundred have shewn an example of reformation in their lives or manners, or become ever after useful members of society. The more than ordinary dissoluteness and depravity of the times, among the inferior class of people particularly, makes a reformation necessary, which cannot be effected but by an exemplary punishment, rather than a mistaken lenity. The natural end of / all punishment is to dispose men to obey the laws of their country, and in consequence to restrain them from actions contrary to it. Another evil which calls on those concerned for redress, is the loss of time, attending the sessions, together with the expence of carrying on a prosecution, with the difficulty of bringing a felon to conviction. Not many sessions ago, a prosecutor and three evidences were brought from the extremity of the county, and detained in London upwards of a week, at the expence of twenty pounds and more, for solicitors fees, &c.: and the prisoners on their trial acquitted of the felon, tho no one in court believed them innocent; but the evidence in the construction of the law was deemed incomplete. To obviate these inconveniences, to call them no worse, I could wish in future, that the days on which a prisoners trial was



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to come on were more regularly ascertained, to prevent a prosecutor and others concerned from so great a loss of time; and that the treasurer of the county be empowered to pay the expences of carrying on the prosecution (and that indulgence be no longer limited to paupers only), to prevent prosecutors / keeping out of the way, and never appearing, which is too often the case, whereby such a number of villains escape from the just punishment due to their atrocious crimes. These observations, furnished from the authors daily experience as a magistrate, and founded on truth, do not proceed from any spirit of misanthropy, but, on the contrary, from an universal benevolence to all mankind, particularly to those misguided youths, who from bad example, or their own imprudence and misconduct, are led to supply their wants and extravagances by unlawful and fatal resources. The shameful abuses (to call them by no harsher name) in the conduct of the Police in some parts of the metropolis, require a severe check from those who hold the reins of government, and at the same time, some of our penal laws, which abound with such a number of absurdities, will, I trust, undergo a severe scrutiny from the wisdom and attention of the Legislature; among a number of others is that of a reward being paid for the apprehension of high-way robbers, while the securing a murderer passes without recompence. / Thus rating our properties at a higher value than our lives, the conviction of a paltry thief is rewarded by a premium of forty pounds, whilst the murderer may make his escape, unless apprehended through the love of justice. It has been observed that the cause of frequent executions in England, which exceed in number those of all the rest of Europe put together (as I am well assured), is not the severity of our laws, or the more than ordinary depravity of the people, but the absurdity of the Police, which is not felt as a check upon the commission of a crime, but only as an engine to insure the punishment due to it, which is directly contrary to the intention of our laws, which are meant (as they ought to be) to prevent rather than punish crimes. The administration of the Police is still more wretched than the Police itself. It is entrusted to persons, many of whom have neither education or knowledge enough to qualify them for a proper discharge of the duties of their office; and the activity of their followers (if I am rightly informed) is to be set in motion more by the prospect of lucre7 and the temptation of rewards, than an honest / zeal for the security of the public, and the execution of the laws. I am as much an enemy to every species of punishment, that carries with it the idea of cruelty, as any man, but the necessity for justice will not suffer me, as a man, a magistrate, or a citizen, to be silent, while the wrongs of ten thousand of his majestys injured subjects call aloud for vengeance. I would not wound the mildness of our laws with a thought of any aggravation of punishment: I am an advocate only for a vigorous execution of justice agreeable to the laws now in

W. H., Some Hints Towards a Revisal of the Penal Laws


force, nor have we need of better than some of ours, were they rightly and duly administered. The following lines, which Mr. Addison puts into the mouth of Cato,8 are not altogether inapplicable:
See they suffer death, But in their deaths, remember they are men; Strain not the laws, to make their torments grievous. This base, degenerate age requires Severity, and justice in its rigour; This awes an impious, bold, offending world, Commands obedience and gives force to law. /

The depravity of manners, and the corruption of the present times, is the general complaint of all times; it ever has been so, and ever will be so, not considering that the wickedness of the world is always the same, as to the degrees of it, it only changes the nature of the vices. Discipline and fear may restrain and keep the vicious within bounds, but it is not to be thought they will ever be good of their own accord. Our government is unexceptionable, and our constitution admirably constructed, and our laws framed with wisdom, equity, and justice, calculated for the security of every individual in the kingdom from the highest to the lowest; would I could say they were as well administered, but they are of no force, without a faithful and vigorous execution.
For forms of government let fools contest, Whateer is best administerd is best. Pope.9


The author of these lines was far from meaning that no one form of government is, in itself, better than another, but that no form of government, however excellent or preferable in itself, / can be sufficient to make a people happy, unless it be administered with integrity: on the contrary, the best sort of government, when the form of it is preserved, and the administration corrupt, is most dangerous. Seneca,10 in one of his moral epistles, speaking of mercy, has these words: Now, though clemency in a prince be so necessary and so profitable a virtue, and cruelty so dangerous an excess; it is yet the office of a governor, as of the master of an hospital, to keep sick and mad men in order, and in case of extremity, the very member is to be cut off with the ulcer; all punishment is either for amendment or for example, or that others may live more secure. What is the end of destroying those poisonous and dangerous animals which are never to be reclaimed, but to prevent mischief ? It was a maxim in politics among the Romans, that to cause good justice to be administered, there must be good laws and good magistrates. But let the laws be ever so good, they lose all their force and effect without good and able magistrates


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for the execution of them; for / the magistrate is the soul of the law, who gives it vigour, action, and motion; and without which the law is but a dead letter. The public good ought to be the end of all laws, and is the best comment upon, and interpretation of them; and we do not desire the preservation of our laws merely for the sake of the laws themselves, but for the common interest and advantage of mankind. The Lacedemonians11 had a custom, contrary to the rest of the world, of punishing their criminals in the night, thinking perhaps that the darkness added something to the terror of the punishment. One of the ill consequences of false lenity, even in antient times, is related by Solon,12 the Athenian lawgiver, who gives us a story of a man, that, having begged for a pardon of the king of France for the seventh murder he was guilty of, and finding he could not obtain it, boldly told the king that he would only own the first murder to be his own proper action, and that the imputation of all the rest must lie upon the king himself, for that he should never have committed / the other, if the king had not given him encouragement by pardoning the first. But I am wandering from my subject. Among the many examples we have of the inequality of punishments in our penal statutes for crimes of a similar malignity, there are none more glaring and striking than that between those of rape and bigamy (as an ingenious observer remarks); which it is devoutly to be wished the proposed revision of the penal laws (if any such is seriously intended) may intirely rectify. The first of these is already capital, and is attended with the forfeiture of the criminals life the latter, indeed, is reckoned felony, but, since the time of Edward the VIth, has been admitted to clergy, and therefore the punishment is seldom more than burning in the hand, and perhaps twelve months imprisonment. The former, which is a direct violation of that chastity, which constitutes among nations, civilized and uncivilized, the honour of the female character, deserves the severest punishment which is permitted in a code of laws to be inflicted. In the latter, an unsuspecting and virtuous female is / betrayed by a specious demeanour, and fictitious pretensions, into a situation not less degrading than that of her who has suffered actual violence. The purity of her mind is equally injured. The offence is in truth a rape, committed by fraud instead of force, and is even attended with worse consequences. The subtle and deliberate villainy of the bigamist, whose schemes are calculated not merely to obtain possession of the person, but also of the property, frequently leaves the woman encumbered with issue, which maternal affection renders it impossible for her to desert. From a virtuous marriage, and a blameless conduct, she expected protection and peace, but she finds herself involved in ruin, and exposed to insult. She is injured in her honour, and deprived of her property, perhaps with the additional burthen of children to maintain, whom she has innocently brought into the world to be reproached by it

W. H., Some Hints Towards a Revisal of the Penal Laws


for illegitimate birth. The crime is not often a subject of prosecution; the delicacy of the female mind revolts from the idea of exposing her situation in a court of justice. But no example can be made of delinquents / without prosecution, and every honest woman, who has been thus injured, owes it not only to herself, but to the community, that such offences should not remain unpunished; and when it is considered with what deliberation this species of guilt must be contracted, with what artifices and fiction it must be conducted, and what tendencies it has to injure in the tenderest point the peace of individuals, the honour of families, and the public security, it surely ought to be classed, both with respect to criminality and punishment, amongst crimes of the first magnitude. Every laudable endeavour, calculated to work a reformation among the lower order of men (by far the most useful part of the creation, and not unworthy our protection), should be duly attended to, as they might, under proper restrictions and regulations, become a worthy body of people, and useful members of the community, instead of being a pest to society, a disgrace to humanity, and a reproach to the Police of a nation, whose laws are in general wisely framed for the protection of every individual, / and calculated to redress every grievance a nation like this is subject to, and stands in need of little more than a spirit of exertion in the due execution. But there are, I fear, few magistrates in comparison of the whole who regard the public good so far as to devote so large a portion of their time as a due execution of those complicated duties of that important office naturally require; their other avocations and connexions will not always admit of it without a material injury to their domestic concerns. There is nothing contributes so much to the well being of a state as a just and conscientious distribution of rewards and punishments; and were they properly administered, with a strict impartiality, it would strike at the root and almost extirpate in time every species of offenders against the laws of their country, except the few incorrigible, indeed, who are so hardened and hacknied in their vices as to be insenble to either. Rulers would then, in the strict sense of the words, be not a terror to good works, but to the evil, by punishing the guilty, relieving the oppressed and protecting the innocent, / always remembering that strict and solemn account which they themselves must one day give. The framing our laws is vested solely in the legislative body of the people, for very wise purposes; the executive part belongs to the magistrate, nor has he any authority to alter them: whatever defects there may be, they will not be imputed to him, nor do they lie at his door. It is his duty truly and indifferently to administer justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of true religion and virtue. This is the sole office of a just and upright magistrate, an office of which Lord Coke13 says (4 Inst. 170), the whole Christian world hath not the like, if it be duly executed. The trust reposed in the magistrate is of such a nature that he cannot make a substitute or deputy in his office, seeing



The Making of the Modern Police, 17801914: Volume 1

that he may not put over the confidence that is put in him. Great cause, therefore, have the Justices to take heed that they abuse not this credit; either to the oppressing of the subject, by making an untrue record, or defrauding of the king, by suppressing the record that is true and lawful. LAMB.14 63. 66. / The dignity of that important office is great, and the duties of it are manifold and extensive, when we consider the vast number of offences over which magistrates have jurisdiction given them by many statutes, and likewise over all inferior crimes within their commission, whether such crimes be mentioned in any statute concerning them or not, for that all such crimes are either directly, or at least by consequence or judgment of law, against the peace. I shall therefore conclude, with my ardent prayer and supplication to that great and exalted Being who sitteth on high, judging all the nations on earth with equity and true judgment, that it would please him to bless and keep the magistrates, giving them grace to execute justice, and to maintain truth. I am, dear Sir, yours, &c. W. H.



Notes to pages 17589 Public Benefits: Bernard Mandevilles Social and Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). the reception of strollers, who meet there in companies, by night: generally spend their sundays together: failure to honour the Sabbath was one of the principal targets of moral reformers; profaning the Sabbath was often cited as the first step on the road to ruin as becomes clear below. Quack-doctors, and Mountebanks: quack remains the slang term for a fraudulent doctor or fake medical knowledge; a mountebank is a more general term for a confidence trickster. earl of Mansfield: Lord Mansfield was Lord Chief Justice, Englands most senior judge and most prominent legal authority, see D. Lieberman, The Province of Legislation Determined: Legal Theory in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), particularly pp. 71143 and ODNB. Bailiffs: an administrative officer of the courts. 18 Geo. III. C. 19: Payment of Charges of Constables Act, 1778. Riding: due to its large size Yorkshire was divided into three Ridings or sub-units: North, East and West. The discourse on which this text was based was delivered in Pontefract, which was in the West Riding. Athelstan: grandson of Alfred and probably the first king to govern all of England after defeating the Vikings and conquering Northumbria in 927, ODNB. male-practices: malpractices.




11. 12. 13.

14. 15.

Godschall, A General Plan of Parochial and Provincial Police
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9.

THOMAS LORD SYDNEY: amongst other roles he was Home Secretary under Pitt from 1783 to 1789. Namesake of Sydney in New South Wales (ODNB). whose Proclamation commands: in 1787 George III issued a Proclamation for the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue and for Preventing and Punishing of Vice, Profaneness and Immorality. This followed the format of the proclamation from the reign of Queen Anne and which was reissued several times in the first half of the century. Cowper: William Cowper, pastoral poet of the second half of the eighteenth century who found evangelical religion and is particularly associated with Rev. John Newton of Olney and the Olney Hymns (ODNB). summary modes of conviction: in fact, as noted in previous documents, summary conviction by a justice of the peace without a jury had become a major element in English justice over the course of the eighteenth century, to the consternation of some; however, it applied only to relatively minor offences. conclusion of the war: it was often noted by contemporaries that crimes rose in periods of demobilization following the frequent wars of the eighteenth century. Some historians see this as the prime motive for the development of modern policing over the century: Beattie, The First English Detectives. chapmen: hawkers of chapbooks or broadside ballads, or simply any itinerant salesman. their own parishes passed to them: as described in previous documents, the poor law demanded that the poor in need of relief, vagrants and those without visible means of support should be conveyed to thier parish of settlement for relief. the Old Bailey: the central criminal court in London. Lord Coke: Elizabethan and Jacobean legal authority and Speaker of the House of Commons, Attorney General, Solicitor General and Lord Chief Justice, author of a collection

Notes to pages 18999


10. 11.

12. 13.



of Law Reports and the enormously influential Institutes of the Laws of England: see Pocock, Ancient Constitution and (ODNB). 7 Jac. c. 4: an act relating to vagabonds. Dalton: Michael Dalton was a barrister and legal writer most famous for The Countrey Justice (1618), a treatise on the authority of the justices of the peace that was reprinted through the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries (ODNB). 43 Eliz. A new act. Necessity of reform: An Act for the Relief of the Poor, 1601, one of the foundations of the Elizabethan poor laws that were still in force. the scaffold at Newgate: Newgate was the principal prison in London, situated next to the Old Bailey, the central criminal court. In 1783 the place of execution in London was moved from Tyburn to a new position outside Newgate to prevent the long procession through the streets attracting such great crowds; however, executions remained popular spectacles outside the prison. Christmas and Midsummer sessions: two of the four sessions of the peace that comprised the Quarter Sessions; the other two were Michaelmas and Easter in spring and autumn; the Christmas session was more commonly termed the Epiphany session as it took place in January. officers should attend all benches in the county: the bench signifies the seat of magisterial or judicial authority, i.e. they should attend sessions at all locations across the county.



3. 4. 5.


7. 8.


Montesquieu: Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu was the author of one of the eighteenth centurys most famous and influential political texts, The Spirit of the Laws, which appeared in English in 1750. Hale: Sir Matthew Hale, Lord Chief Jusice, an English judge and legal authority of the seventeenth century who wrote several legal treatises that remained fundamental to eighteenth-century jurisprudence, particularly the History of the Pleas of the Crown and History and Analysis of the Common Law, both of which were published posthumoulsy in the eighteenth century (ODNB). He was also the subject of a biography by Gilbert Burnet: The Life and Death of Sir Matthew Hale (1682). Puffendorf: Samuel Pufendorf, a German jurist most famous for his 1675 treatise on natural law De officiis hominis et civis, i.e. On the Duty of Man and the Citizen. in physic: in medicine. from a tenderness shewed to a number: in practice, although the death penalty was the standard sentence for most relatively serious and many less serious offences, in practice it was largely commuted in most cases with only a few serious or repeat offenders being hung as an example. Machiavel: Niccolo Machiavelli, Florentine statesman at the time of the fall of the Florentine Republic and assumption of Medici power. He was the author of two very different political treatises The Prince and Discourses on Livy. lucre: financial gain or money. Addison Cato: Joseph Addison was a prominent Whig author and, with Richard Steele, co-founder of The Spectator in the early eighteenth century. His most notable work was Cato: A Tragedy, written in 1712 (ODNB). Pope: Alexander Pope, poet and prominent Tory of the early eighteenth century. Pope was initially on good terms with Addison and Steele and wrote for the Spectator as well as writing a prologue for Addisons Cato before the two later became estranged (ODNB).

W. H., Some Hints Towards a Revival of the Penal Laws


Notes to pages 199212

10. Seneca: Seneca the Younger, Roman statesman and Stoic philosopher and tutor and advisor to the Emperor Nero. He committed suicide after being suspected of involvement in a plot for Neros assassination. His letters were amongst the most popular texts of the Roman moralists in the eighteenth century. 11. Lacedemonians: another name for Sparta, one of the most powerful of the Greek city states and which maintained a fierce independence through the complete devotion of its social and political system to training its citizens for combat in defence of the state. It frequently figured as a political ideal in eighteenth-century republican discourse. 12. Solon: Athenian statesmen who campaigned for moral, social and political reform and who was considered in the eighteenth century to have been the founder of the more democratic constitution of the later Athenian republic. 13. Lord Coke: Sir Edward Coke, jurist and legal authority during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. He served as Solicitor General, Attorney General, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chief Justice of the Courts of Kings Bench and Common Pleas. He was author of a collection of Law Reports and the enormously influential Institutes of the Laws of England, from which this is taken: see Pocock, Ancient Constitution. 14. LAMB: William Lambarde, an Elizabethan legal authority and author of Eirenarcha, or The Offices of the Justice of the Peace (1581) which seems to be the text referred to here.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Williams, Regulations of Parochial Police

Europe has been agitated: a reference to the French revolution. tempestuous horrors: the Terror of 17934. enfans de famille: children of the family, i.e. part of the family. Paper Circulation: the circulation of paper money. Jacobinism: the Jacobins were a radical faction during the Fench revolution who were responsible for instigating the Reign of Terror. 6. Bedlam: Bethlem hospital for the insane, which has operated in some form since the thirteenth century. In the eighteenth century it was located at Moorfields in London. 7. Moreaus first successes in Flanders, Robespierre: Jean Victor Marie Moreau was a French general during the revolutionary wars; Maximilien Robespierre was a prominent Jacobin who took command of the Committee for Public Safety, a body created by the National Convention and which essentially governed France during the Terror. Robespierre was himself executed in July 1794. 8. Militia Fencibles Volunteers: described in the introduction to this source. 9. Standing Army or Military Police: it was common to align the idea of an organized or paid police with a standing army which had, since the reign of Cromwell and the rule of the Major-Generals, been associated with potential dictatorship. There were significant debates about the threat of a standing army in the early eighteenth century. 10. A Magistrate: Patrick Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis (1795). 11. husbandman mechanic: a husbandman was a tenant famer, a mechanic was simply a labourer. 12. Marybone: Marylebone.