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Police of the Exeter City Force in the 19th-Century

Page updated 10th December 2017

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Chief Constable Showers
Chief Constable Captain Showers 1889 from a photo by Denney. He was the Chief Constable when the Waterbeer Street Police Station was opened, and during the Theatre Royal fire.

Updated Page - This page is now based on research made by Peter Hinchliffe and David Cornforth. Police numbers did not appear in the rolls until 1847, when David Steel was appointed Head Constable. The ledger covering the period 1873 to 1918, has not yet been found, although a few known personnel are included in the list from my own research. The additional notes have been gleaned from the proceedings of the Guildhall court, as recorded by Trewman's Exeter Flying Post through the 19th-Century. (1) indicates additional details from records 1843 to 1845.

The old Sergeant-at-Mace and watchmen system of policing disappeared with the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835, that decreed that all boroughs create a Watch Committee of Councillors and Aldermen to oversee local policing, and that a Superintendent be employed to run the force. The system in Exeter was not well run in the first few years and it took Superintendent David Steele, who was appointed in 1847, to eradicate the drunkenness and laziness that was rampant in the force. By 1873, the City Police force had 30 constables covering 12 beats and 1,800 acres. There were four inspectors, two at night, two in the day.

Police helmets were introduced in 1873, and in 1888, a new, purpose built police station opened in Waterbeer Street, complete with a telephone line to the Devon County Police Station in New North Road. The first bicycle was purchased in 1899 and the first equipment for taking fingerprints acquired in 1904. The first police-dog was a gift from the Chief Constable in 1915.

Three City of Exeter police officers were killed during the First World War, and several men won awards for bravery. Police boxes were introduced in 1925, and a police van was purchased in 1933, along with a light motor-cycle. At the start of the Second World War, The City Police Force had 89 regular policemen, seven police reserves and 29 war reserve constables. Special Constable Harold Luxton lost his life in the May 1942 blitz and six other officers were injured, doing their duty.

The first female officer was PW1 Phyllis Wooldridge, who joined in 1949. The old faithful Waterbeer Street premises were vacated in 1959, and the force moved into the new Heavitree Police Station. The end for the Exeter City Police was in February 1966 when they merged with the Devon Police to become the Exeter City Division of the Devon and Exeter Constabulary. Also see the list of Exeter's Police post 1919.

See Full History of the Exeter City Police.

If you are descended from one of Exeter's 19th-Century Policemen why not email me with details of your connection

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Name Forename Number Joined Left Reason for Leaving if Known Other notes
ABRAHAM John 34 1867 William Howard and George Bickell were charged with rescuing a prisoner who been arrested by Abrahams for drunkenness in St Sidwell's. They encouraged a mob to harass the policeman, throw him to the ground and take the prisoner back from the constable. Bickell was fined 40s and Howard 20s.
ACKFORD 20 1847 1848 Resigned
ACKFORD 20 4.9.58 7.1.59 Resigned
ADAMS George 14 1872
ADAMS Thomas 27 1868
ASH John 30 1865 Resigned Ill Health "Daniel M'Lean was charged by P.C. Ash, with being drunk last night, at about eleven o'clock, in Guinea Street, and unable to take care of himself. The defendent said that he was a discharged soldier, and had been to visit some relatives at Plymouth. The Magistrates dismissed him with a caution." and "Susanna Berry and Jane Thomas were charged by P.C. Ash and Steer with fighting in the public street, shortly after one o'clock on Sunday morning. Berry was fined 10s, and Thomas 2s 6d."
AXFORD 17 1861 Dismissed "Jane Mardon, a fish-vendor, was brought up by P.C. Axford for committing a nuisance by throwing the entrails of a hake about the public street. He told her of the offence when she became abusive, and in answer to the officer, said she was, "Mrs. Come-and-go-again," and afterwards"Mrs Straw-mot." He then took her into custody, when she gave her correct name. Defendent said the officer told her of it, and she then went and picked it up again. She had been a vendor of fish many years and this was the first charge ever produced against her. Fined 2s 6d., and expenses, or a week's imprisonment." PC Axford gave evidence in several other cases, mostly of drunkennness and fighting between 1862/3 only.
BABBAGE Hiram 12 1869
BACK 22 3.3.55 11.2.56 Dismissed
BAKER 23 1847 1850 Resigned
BAKER 24 1847 1853 Dismissed Samual Shepherd was charged with being drunk and kicking PC Baker in 1874.
BAKER 29 ?.1.61 Dismissed  
BAKER William 37 1873
BAMLEY 16 2.9.54 6.1.66 Died "JOHN SAVERY, a youth of about eighteen years of age, a "lumper," was fined 5s. and expenses, or in default of payment to be imprisoned for a week, for illusing a half-witted lad, whose name did not transpire, on the Quay, on Thursday afternoon. P.C. Bamsey proved the offence."
BASSETT Joseph 31 1866
BEABLE 26 1861
BEAFORD 19 3.12.59 25.4.61 Resigned
BEATS John 1846
BEER George 30 1866
BEER James 10 1844
BENT Thomas Captain 1873 1886 Chief Constable Appointed as the Chief Constable in April 1873, winning 20 votes from the Watch Committee. Captain Urquhart was the next with 9 votes. Although considered a good Chief Constable, he resigned under a cloud, after the Watch Committee leaned on him, and was succeeded by Captain E M Showers.
BEST Robert 31 1867
BRICKNELL 25 1861 Dismissed
BICKNELL 33 1867
BIRD William Supernumary Inspector B Div. 7-1837 1-1845 Dismissed for drunkenness Listed in 1843 as a 38 year old married man with four children. Formerly a cordwainer.
BISSETT 28 1861 Resigned
BLACK 3
BLACK William 6-1832
BOLT 29 8-1858 1861 Resigned
BOLT John 9-1838
BOUNDEY John 5-1839
BRANSCOMBE 12 1862
BRANSCOMBE 22 3-1856 5-1859 Resigned
BRAY 22 1847 1853 Resigned
BROWN William 9-1837
BURGESS
BURNETT 19 1862 Allowed to resign
BURNETT George 32 1865 Dismissed
BUTCHER Henry 21 1866 Ill Health
CASLEY William Inspector B Div. 9-1839 Listed in 1843 as a 42 year old married man with one child. Formerly a labourer. (1)
CHURCHILL 27 1863 Allowed to resign
CLARK 4.2.59 1.9.59 Resigned
CLARK 17 11.4.60 ?.10.61 Resigned
CLARK 11 1864
COLEMAN 4-1837
COLES John 12 1847 1848 DismissedReprimanded for being drunk on duty. Made arrest in assault on the landlord of the London Porter House in 1847.
COLES 29 12.5.58 2.10.58 Dismissed
COOMBES 25 1846 1847 Dismissed
CORDING 18 3.12.59 4.10.62 Resigned
CROCKER 18 1864 1851 Dismissed
CUMMING Hugh Superintendent (Chief Constable) 1836 1847   Cumming was the sword-bearer of the City when appointed, and he held both offices for a short time, before the office was abolished. The Watch Committee encouraged Cumming to retire as lazyness and drunken behaviour were still rife among the officers. Succeeded by Superintendent David Steele in 1847. He died in 1875.
DALGLISH 21 1847 1850 Resigned
DAMERELL Samuel 8-1842
DAVEY 9 1862
De SCHMIDT Eric 1911 1913 Chief ConstableAppointed from the Devon Constabulary where he served at Cullompton. He changed his name to Spence at the outbreak of war. He resigned to became Chief Constable in Carlisle.
DEACON Thomas 2-1844 11-1845 Dismissed by the Mayor
DIMOND
DOWN John 2-1844
DOWN 31 1863 Dismissed
DUNN William 32 1868
DYMOND John 13 1870 Detective Sergeant Dymond was awarded £7 for his diligence when working on a case of illegal betting. Detective Dymond was still serving in 1911 when he was awarded a medal on the occasion of the Coronation of George V. He was a detective by 1889.
EDMONDS Henry 38 1871
ELLER?? John 18 1868
ELLICOMBE James 1-1836 Joined the Day Police in 1836 and worked as a butcher. He was 33 years old and married with one child in 1843. Promoted to Captain of Night Police, B Div., 1843. Mentioned in 1847 in a case of eight stolen goldfish that were offered for sale by Visick the chemist. The fish were stolen from Knowle Cottage, Sidmouth the property of ... wait for it ... Mr Thomas L Fish. PC Ellicombe was inspector of the Lower Market and often prosecuted traders for unfit fish and meat. He was in the first intake of officers under Superintendant Steele in 1847. (1)
ELLIS John 1845
ELSTON 28 3.11.56 7.2.57 Resigned
EMERY Edward 9-1839
ENGLAND William 9-1839
ESSERY Thomas 32 1870 PC Essery gave evidence in court several times from 1874, mostly for drunkenness and fast driving. One case was for being "drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cab."
FALL 30 1866
FEY John 35 1869
FLETCHER William 37 1868
FOLLAND 30 1864 Dismissed
FORD Richard 25 1865
FOSLE 18 1862
FOSTER Thomas 1845
FOSTER George 18 1865 Dismissed
FOURACRE Thomas 1-1836 A former coach maker, Fouraker was 39 years old, married with three children in 1843. One of the last policemen to wear silver lace on his uniform. He became a sergeant-at-mace and died in 1883 to be replaced by William Shipcott. (1)
FULFORD 14 3.11.55 6.12.56 Allowed to resign
FULFORD William 11 9-1842 Inspector 1848 In 1843, Fulford was listed as a Day Officer of 32 years, married with three children. Promoted to Captain of the Night Police, A Div., in 1843. He joined the police in 1842 and was formerly a brick maker. Was an Inspector by 1848. Mentioned in a case regarding the theft of some lead and copper, and in 1847, a case of desertion from the 81st Regiment. (1)
GINGHAM John 1-1830
GITTISHAM James 1846
GITTISHAM 28 7.8.58 2.10.58 Resigned
GOODFATE 15 1847 1848 Resigned
GUPPY 17 1847 1852 Resigned
GUPPY George 28 7.2.57 Inspector 3.4.58
GUPPY John 38 1872
HALE 19 1847 1864 Resigned Ill Health Gratuity
HAMLYN Richard 7-1834
HARRIS 29 3.10.57 3.4.58 Resigned
HARRIS 15 1862
HARTSWELL 15 1862 Dismissed
HAYMAN 19 1861 Dismissed
HAYWARD William 9-1839
HILL New John James Harris 57 10-1886
St Thomas
10-1912 Retired Transferred to City of Exeter Force 8 November 1910 from St Thomas. Commended by Watch Committee for courageous and prompt action in stopping a runaway horse in New North Road on 27 June 1902: commended by Superintendent 'N' Division Devon Constabulary for meritorious conduct in apprehending three young men who had broken a shop window at Crediton and committed a robbery
HOARE John 8-1842
HOLE John 5-1836 Listed in 1843 as a 36 year old married man with one child. Formerly a gardener. (1)
HOLWAY James 11 7.2.57 7.5.57 Resigned
HOOKWAY James 6-1844
HOOPER Henry 6-1834
HOOPER Henry Supernumary Inspector B Div. 6-1844 Listed in 1843 as a Supernumary Inspector of the Night Police. He was 23 years old, mariied. Formerly a coach trimmer. (1)
HOWARD Richard 1845 Mentioned in a case of assault in 1856 and was involved in checking weights at the Lower Market in 1861. Became a Sergeant at Mace.
HOWARD William Day Officer 4-1827 In 1843 Howard was a married man with five children, 61 years. Formerly a harness maker. (1)
HUTCHINGS 32 1863
JOHNS 28 5.6.58 3.7.58 Dismissed
JORDAN Robert 8-1842
JOSEPH B 11 4.8.54 28.12.54 Dismissed
JOSLIN William Inspector 7-1835 6-1846 DiedIn 1843 listed as a married day officer of 32 years, employed as a cordwainer. Promoted to Captain of the Night Police A Div., in 1843. (1)
KEEN John 2-1844
KERSWELL Charles 10-1844
KERSWELL John 8-1842 3-1844 Dismissed by Mayor - drunk
LABDON Joseph 15 1865
LAKE Issac 11(?) 7.2.57 Inspector Feb 1864
LAKE 22 5.2.59 1.10.59 Resigned
LAKE Thomas 12 1861 Dismissed
LANDEREY Joseph 1847
LANG William 22 12.1.53 21.12.54 Dismissed Supernumary policeman.
LASCELLES Henry Day Officer 9-1830   In 1843, Lascelles was listed as married, with four children and 40 years of age. He wasformerly a fuller. Became a Sergeant at Mace. (1) By 1847 he was a Sergeant.
Le MESSIER John 1888 1890 Chief ConstableFormerly of the Metropolitan Police, le Mesurier was a 28 year old Detective Sergeant when he was appointed Chief Constable of Exeter. He went on to became Chief Constable of Portsmouth.
LEWIS Samuel 20 1.8.57 4.9.58 ResignedDetective Sergeant by 1900. Inspector Lewis was still serving in 1911 when he was awarded a medal on the occasion of the Coronation of George V.
LEY Edward 1845
LEY Nicholas 1845
LEY Richard 1845
LIPPETT William 1846
LONEY James 6-1842 Resigned – neglect of duty
LUCAS Thomas 14 1847 1849 Resigned
LUXTON William 1846
MALLETT 20 16.6.54 Dismissed
MALTELL 5.11.59 3.12.59 Dismissed
MARE John 36 1867 Dismissed
MARKS Robert 1847
MARTIN Henry 27 1865
MARTYN 23 4.8.55
MEAD John 27 1866
MEARDON Thomas 15 1865 PC Meardon had Samuel Martin, dairyman, prosecuted for creating a disturbance and assaulting the officer, at the Rising Sun Inn, Russell Street. Martin "gave the officer a blow in the face and one or two kicks." Fined 10s and expenses.
MELUISH James 10-1843 1-1845 Dismissed for Drunkeness
MELHUISH William 1846
MELLISH John 14 1871
MERRIFIELD Thomas 16 1847 Resigned Rejoined as
Inspector 1850, Resigned “57
MERRIFIELD William Inspector - A Div 1-1830 Listed in 1843 as a 43 year old, married with five children. Formerly a brush maker. (1)
MILFORD George 32 1865 Allowed to resign
MILFORD 29 6.6.57 10.8.57 Resigned
MILLER Robert 1-1837
MILLMAN John 8-1842
MILTON Francis 8-1844
MITCHELL Henry 1846
MITCHELL William 1847
MOCK John 10 1872
MOGFORD Henry 28 1865 Died on Quay Aug 67 Life gratuityPC Mogford is mentioned in three cases at the Guildhall, all in 1867. All cases were minor including out of hours drinking at the Duke Of York Sidwell Street and leaving a horse and cart unattended. Superintendent Steel reported to the Watch Committee in October 1867 that PC Mugford had tripped over a large block of mahogany and fallen into the quay and drowned.
MOORE George 11 In 1854, William Hore was marched to the police station by his mother after he showed her a dagger, which he claimed to have purchased from Robert Cockram for 4½d. PC Moore discovered the dagger had been taken from Mr Ebenezer Greenslade's shop window in North Street. Cockram was charged with the theft and "sentenced to a week's imprisonment with hard labour and to be once flogged".
MOORE 28 2.10.58 7.7.60 Ill Health £10 gratuity
MOORE 30 1863
MOORE George 1846
MORGAN William Day Officer 6-1816 Married man with four children of 61 years in 1843 - cordwainer by profession. (1)
MORTIMER John 21 1872
MORTIMORE 11 3.3.55 17.7.56 Dismissed
NEWBERRY 4.8.54 8.8.54 Resigned Also served in St Thomas with the Devon Constabulary
NEWTON 31 1866
NICHOLSON Arthur 1913 1931 Chief Constable
NORDEN 13 1863 Dismissed
NORMAN William 1845
NOTT William 16 1867 PC Nott prosecuted a cart owner for obstructing the highway at St David's Hill in 1868.
OAKFORD John 1847
OSMENT Samuel 1845
OTTERY 17 3.12.59 4.2.60 Dismissed
PACKER Joseph 27 1867 Dismissed
PALMER George 1846
PARK Charles 17 1868
PARNELL John 12 1865 Dismissed
PATEY John 37 1867
PEDRICK Bill 12 1867 allowed to resign
PERRIAM Henry 12-1843
PHILLIPS John 1845
PHILLIPS Henry 17 1868
PICKARD 19 1862 Ill Health gratuity £25
PIKE 14 6.12.56 17.8.57 Resigned
PLYMOUTH Robert 21 1867
POOK Bill 17 1866
PRATT John 27 1866
PRESTON 25 3.2.55 Inspector 1860
PROSSER John 24 1867 Dismissed
RADCLIFF William 1846
RADMORE John 12-1843
RAMBDOR 29 3.1.57 25.1.57 Resigned
READ George 1846
REDDAWAY Richard Inspector B Div. 9-1838 Listed in 1843 as a 40 year old married man with five children. Formerly a porter. (1)
RIDDLOR Ralph 37 1869 Dismissed
ROBERTS 28 ?.11.60 ?.4.61 Resigned
RODGERS 25 1862
RODGERS Edward 32 1867 Dismissed
ROWE 11 6.9.56 7.2.57 Resigned
RUBY William 28 1867 PC Ruby is mentioned in three cases at the Guildhall at this time. One case was "Edwin Rice, a youth, was charged with playing at pitch and toss on Saturday night. The defendent was seen by PC Ruby with a dozen other lads engaged in the game. Fined 2s 6d and expenses."
RUTLEY Bill 20 1871
SALTER James 19 1867
SAMPSON 36 1868
SANDERS James Night Policeman 3 1-1837 Listed in 1843 as a 40 year old married man with four children. Formerly a Tile cutter. (1)
SANDERS William Captain of Night
Police B Div
1-1830 6-1845 Dismissed by Watch committee A former cordwainer, Sanders was a 60 year old, married man with three children in 1843. Appointed as Inspector in 1841 to B Division. (1)
SANDFORD Joe 31 1866
SAVAGE Samuel 1845 11-1845 Suspended
SERCOMBE 18 1865 Allowed to resign
SERCOMBE Joseph Inspector B Div. 7-1832 Listed in 1843 as a 63 year old married man with four children. Formerly a tailor. (1)
SEWARD John 33 1871
SHEPCOTT 22 3.12.59
SHEPPARD 21 1866
SHORT John 29 1861 Became Chief ConstableRose through ranks to become Chief Constable in 1893. In 1879, he took the suspect Annie Tooke into custody for questioning; it was Annie Tooke who murdered a baby called Reginald Hide. Was commended for gallantry during the Theatre Royal fire of 1888 and presented with a 'Star of Silver Braid' to be worn on the left-sleeve.
SHOWERS Capt Edward 1886 1888 Chief ConstableAn officer of the 95th Regiment, he had served with the Devon Constabulary for two years, and was Superintendent at Bow. He tendered his resignation after two momentous years during which the police station at Waterbeer Street opened and the Theatre Royal fire killed 188; the role of the police during the fire was praised and the Chief Constable was given additional powers for checking public premises for fire risk. He left to become Chief Constable of Essex. He was succeeded by Mr H B le Mesurier.
SHUTE George 35 1867
SKINNER 12 1865 Inspector 1870
SKINNER 14 3.10.57 Inspector April 1871
SLOGGETT 10 1870
SMALE Thomas 9-1840 2-1844 Dismissed for drunkensess
SMALE Thomas 1845
SMYTHE 13 1847 1848 Resigned
SOPER James 1845
SPARKES 17 5.3.59 3.9.58. Dismissed
SPRAGUE John 9-1843
STANBURY James 21 1872
STANLAKE 28 1864 Ill Health
STEELE David 1847 1873 Head ConstableOriginally an officer in the Metropolitan Police, Steele was Superintendent of Barnstaple when appointed to Exeter, at the age of 29. He introduced many new ideas, and could be said, to be the first modern Chief Constable. However, towards the end of his tenure, bread riots in 1867 caused the Mayor to lose confidence in the City Police Force's ability to handle the situation. Along with this, the Devon Police Force had grown and Exeter was compared unfavourably in comparison. In all, it was perceived that the Exeter City Police was not as efficient as it should be. Steele was succeeded by Captain Thomas Bent.
STEER 9 3.1.57 27.5.67 Inspector 3.5.62
STEVENS John 16 1866
STONEMAN 31 1865 Allowed to resign
STONEMAN William 28 1872
STUCKES William Day Officer 1-1836 In 1843 listed as a married man with four children and employed as a joiner. Mentioned in a case at the North Bridge where a man was not in control of two horses and a wagon. (1)
SWAINE 12 3.12.59 3.3.60 Dismissed
TAYLOR James 1-1830
TAYLOR John Inspector - A Div. In 1837 when PC Taylor and Burnett were patrolling Fore Street "they were saluted with the liquid contents of some vessel, which descended from an upper window on their heads, gave rather an unpleasant turn to the current of thought, which was further heightened by a hearty laugh raised at he Dogberys' expense. On the part of the defendant it was contended that this christening was purely accidental." The defendant, John Strout was fined "2s. with expenses, which brought the amount up to a crown." In 1843 Taylor was listed as a 39 year old Inspector, married with 5 children. (1)
TAYLOR Thomas 1846
TILLEY Thomas 13 1871 Proof that even the gentry were hauled in on occasion "Mr. R. Thornton West, Streatham Hall, was summoned for permitting putrid matter to be drawn through the city at eight o'clock on Thursday morning. P.C. Tilley proved the case. Mr Shepherd, bailiff to Mr West, answered the summons. The Magistrates inflicted a penalty of 2s 6d and expenses."
TRAPNELL 26 1861 "Elizabeth Farley was brought up by P.C. Trapnell, charged with using obscene language in Fore-street, on Sunday morning about one o'clock. Defendent admitted the offence and said she was insulted first and then she returned it. On referring to the index book Mr Superintendent Steel found seven charges against her for similar offences. Sentenced to twenty-one days' imprisonment."
TREMLETT 8.8.54 5.2.59 Resigned
TUCKETT 19 2.1.58 3.9.59 Resigned
TUCKETT 15 1863
VAUGHAN Thomas 5 7-1807 If these are the
same man he was 72 yrs
Aged 68 in 1843, he was married with four children. He was a combmaker. One of the last policemen to wear silver lace on his uniform. (1)
VICARY John 10-1844
VICKERY Jack 27 1867 Dismissed
WAKEHAM Thomas 32 1869
WARE William Night Policeman 1 3-1836 Listed in 1843 as a 38 year old married man with three children. Formerly a labourer. (1)
WARREN William 8-1842
WARREN Borlase 1846
WEBBER John 1846
WEBBER 12 11.4.60 6.12.60 Resigned
WEBBER 27 1870
WEEKS 12 4.10.56 5.9.59 Resigned
WEEKS James 24 1867
WELLS Aron 31 1865 Allowed to resign
WHITBURN 18 1847 Inspector 1857
WHITE Charles 1847
WILCOCK John 17 1865
WILLIAMS William 27 1868
WILLIAMS John (Richard Llewellyn?) 1901 1911 Chief ConstableWilliams had to cope with the introduction of the motor car, and industrial unrest when his officers were seconded to police strike action elsewhere in the country. Finger print kits and mounted police were introduced under his watch. He died in office in September 1911.
WOOD 22 3.5.56 5.10.56 Dismissed
WOODWARD John 1845
WOODWARD William Night Policemen 2 1-1837 Listed in 1843 as a 32 year old married man with three children. Formerly a labourer. (1)
WOOLCOTT Frederick Inspector 9-1830 In 1843 he was listed as a day officer of 39 years old, married with five children, and a cordwainer. Mentioned in a case of goods stolen at the Globe Hotel, St Mary's Yard, the property of a travelling salesman. (1)
WOTTON George 23 1867 By 1894 he was a Senior Inspector.
WREFORD 10 4.3.54 Inspector 1870Elected as a Mace-Sergeant in 1882. Was commended for gallantry during the Theatre Royal fire of 1888 and presented with a 'Star of Silver Braid' to be worn on the left-sleeve.
WYATT 1-1838

Source - Roll of Exeter City Police compiled by Peter Hinchliffe with a additional notes by David Cornforth. No part of this list was sourced from the Devon and Cornwall Historic Police Archive.

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