King George III Painted Truncheon Dated 1816
A George III Police Truncheon, made from hard wood, weighted, painted and dated 1816.
At the turn of the 19th century, although parts of the United Kingdom had police forces, early 19th century London, with a population of nearly one and a half million people, did not. London was policed by 450 constables and 4,500 night-watchmen from different organisations. Because they were governed by different powers, their effectiveness was weak, and each were critical of the other’s powers.
However, although crime in London was rising, attempts by the government to set up a central police force for London was met with opposition. People were suspicious of a large force as they feared it could be used to suppress protest and support a military dictatorship. Also, Britain was at war with France from 1793 to 1815, so many people hated the idea of copying the French (who had an efficient police force) on principle. Another reason was that people believed it should be under local control and not the job of the government to set up and control a police force.
The Mayor and Corporation of the City of London refused to be part of a London-wide force until the late 1820’s when Robert Peel became Home Secretary. He had already set up a force in Ireland and brought his ideas to the capital. The Metropolitan Police Act was passed in 1829
Although I’ve had truncheons before, this is by far the oldest and most unusual. Although it is in a worn condition, you can still clearly see some of the markings.
The crown is visible at the top of the piece, painted in gold with two red flowers and three III’s to indicate King George III. Further down the shaft, St. S. and S. appear round a star, this could have been the police station. Towards the bottom, the year 1816 is painted. The background colour of black to highlight the gold paint is quite worn on the back.
The original brass loop is still in place on the bottom of the truncheon. A hole, presumably where a wrist strap would have been attached, has been drilled through the handle.
There are two large indentations and many smaller dents throughout the piece. The tip of the handle is rather worn. It measures approx. 53cm long and is approx. 4cm wide. This has obviously been much used.
A fascinating piece of police history.
Condition : Used
Product Code : 1997
Weight : 0.4kg