Special Constables

A List of Names of Special Constables within the Division of Holme Beacon, 1831

The Special Constables Act of 1831 "for the better preservation of the peace" empowered two justices of the peace to appoint as many special constables as they deemed sufficient to combat any "tumult, riot and felony".


This Act was in response to the government fearing a repetition of the notorious Gordon riots, and in the greatest example of over policing in history 170,000 special constables were sworn in and reported for duty to deal with a possible half a million rioters on Kensington Common, who were due to march on to Westminster. In fact, only 50,000 demonstrators turned up.


In the East Riding, at least in the Holme Beacon Division, it appears that the justices appointmented every able-bodied man, and so provides a mini-census in an important year, 1831, 10 years before the 1841 census (the first census in which names were collected).


The full list of Special Constables for the Holme Beacon Division, from which the extract below for the parish of Ellerton only is given, is held by the East Riding Archives, Beverley, under reference QAP/8/20.


HT = Head of Township


Hatfield, Peter (HT) Harrison, Matthew Selby, Richard
Adamson, Thomas Harrison, Thomas Sowersby, Richard
Blanshard, Thomas Johnson, William Stephenson, William
Blanshard, William Lee, Charles Tate, Thomas
Boast, William Mosey, William Wake, James
Brown, Robert Nutt, Robert Watson, John
Brown, William Pexton, Nathaniel  
Craven, William Richardson, William