Ref NoD5917
TitleStrutt Mills, Belper: Town Watchmen
CreatorStrutt Mills, Belper: Town Watchmen
Organsation TypeBusiness - Commerce and Manufacturing
Official Bodies - Justice, Law and Order
Organsation Sub-TypeTextiles
Descriptionwatchmen's reports
Extent1 volume
Finding AidsFor a series of Watchmen's Reports for Belper, of which this must once have been a part, see D6948/11. For a description of this particular report book, click the link below.
Administrative HistoryAn ordinance of 1233 required that watchmen should patrol towns and villages overnight. The role continued to evolve for centuries, before being overtaken in the 19th century by the establishment of regular police forces. The watchmen whose regular work is recorded in this volume were employed by the Strutt Company of Belper.

An article of 1835, published in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Volumes 25-26 (J. Limbird, 1835), gives a detailed description of the system devised by William Strutt to ensure diligence among the watchmen employed by the company. The article states that the system had been emulated in Derby, and credits it with halving the number of watchmen required in that town, from twenty to ten. The men walked separate rounds from 11pm to 5am. Rather than carrying out the traditional watchman's function of calling the hour, they were instructed to proceed silently and to use their lanterns "on urgent occasions" only. In addition, the men's routes and timings were periodically changed, with a combined effect of making it harder to predict the arrival of the watchman, who should therefore be better placed to detect bad behaviour. The article continues (describing the system in Derby, modelled on that of Belper): "in order to compel each watchman to go the route that is fixed for him at the times appointed, watch-clocks are provided at certain stations. These clocks effect their object by means of certain pegs, each of which is required to be put down by a bolt within a quarter of an hour of the time fixed upon; and unless so put down, it remains up, and in the morning registers every quarter of an hour of neglected time. The clocks are examined by a steady, responsible man every morning, and the results noted down in a book under the same number and route of each watchman. If any one of them has omitted putting down a single peg, the superintendent copies the time and number of each omission in a book, which lies at the house where every clock is fixed, to enable the occupier of the house to examine if the superintendent enter [sic] those pegs right, which are missed, and into another book in which he copies all omissions and remarks. These omissions are explained by the watchman to the superintendent every morning at five o'clock, and if he gives an account of his his having taken up disorderly persons, of having watched suspicious ones, or having been otherwise properly occupied ... the omissions are allowed". This book, and the related series in D6948/11, are the products of this system.
Custodial HistoryAcquired by Derbyshire Record Office in 2003. Listed by volunteer Mavis Twyford
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