Thursday, 24 March 2016

Policing the Chartists: a special constable remembers

Here is a interesting if frustrating minor piece of Chartist ephemera – a note, handwritten and signed by one of the thousands of men who were sworn in as special constables to police the great Chartist demonstration of 10 April 1848.

In full, the note reads:
This is the Badge of the Special Police Officer of St James’s Westminster which I wore on the 10th of April 1848 on the occasion of
The Squad to which I was attached was drilled in St James’s church yard when in another squad at the same time was Prince Louis Napoleon afterwards Napoleon 3rd Emperor of the  French
Francis Cavendish
Napoleon III was Emperor from 1852 to 1870, so this piece of paper certainly dates from after 1852, and from the wording is most likely post 1870.

On the back is written a later note which reads
Armlet for special police issued at the time of the Chartist “Riots”
And what is frustrating about that? Apart from not knowing who Francis Cavendish might have been (no connection that I can find to the Dukes of Devonshire), the main problem is the lack of the badge.

Still, it is an interesting little document providing a link to the events of that day.

There is more here on Policing the Chartists.
And here on the events of 10 April 1848.

There is also a whole lot more Chartist memorabilia.

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