Mr. Fielding's men
Posted by Carolyn B on March 24, 1998 at 21:49:12:
In response to From Runners to Peelers . . . ?, written by Woodhouse on March 23, 1998 at 07:55:34
] Weren't the Fielding Bros. considered the founders of the Bow Street Runners? I have been searching for a history of their development, and info on how they functioned. One thing that is not at all clear to me is how they were assigned, especially in the early years.
Henry Fielding started the runners who were called "Mr. Fielding's men" and John sort of inherited them when he took over Henry's position. They became known as the Bow Street Runners about 1785 or so (after both Henry and John Fielding had both died)
] As I understand it, the Victorian-era Peelers functioned much like today's police force but in the Regency-era Runners were more "for hire" by private individuals, and therefore available only to the wealthy. Is that right? I may well be misinformed. I would love to read the info you have, via e-mail or otherwise.
I see Capt. E has posted some info and I will add some more after a little checking. It will take me awhile because I made the mistake of trying to find some more information and looking at a second source which in some places contradicted the first and so I went to a third source which said something different (of course - isn't history fun!) Anyway, I've hauled out whatever I can find in my books to do with the Bow Street Runners, etc. and I will try to make some sense of it and post here.
] Can anyone recommend other sources of information on the topic of the Runners' development? Thanks very much.
I have a hard time finding books about the British police in the US so I have a hodgepodge picked up at used bookstores in hopes they would one day come in handy. (I'm really trying to find a good manual on modern British crime scene investigation, but I guess I'll just have to go across the herring pond or something.)
I have the aforementioned Scotland Yard Files which is a "popular" account so I'm reading it cautiously. (The authors also wrote "The Jack the Ripper A to Z" so presumably they have researched British crime/police)
The London Police in the Nineteenth Century by John Wilkes (Cambridge U. Press, 1977) which sounds impressive but is really a small pamphlet, part of the Cambridge Introduction to the History of Mankind Topic Books series.
"The History of the English Police" by Peter N. Walker (described in bio as "police inspector in the North Yorkshire Police") in Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion Dilys Winn, ed (1977)
And the only really academic book (footnotes and no attempts to entertain : )
Behind the Uniform: Policing in Britain and America By Ian K. McKenzie (former Superintendent in London Metropolitan Police and "Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Police Studies" U. Exeter) and G. Patrick Gallagher (St. Martin's Press, 1989). They compare the London and New York police systems but I'm finding a lot of historical background in the text (i.e., debate over whether British police should be armed, etc.)
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