How were law and order enforced, 1530-1700?
Justices of the Peace (JPs)
Had the task of maintaining law and order during the 16th&17th centuries, they were appointed by the King and the job was unpaid. JPs were chosen from local landowners and, whose social status enabled them to command obedience through respect not force. The were responsible for enforcing local government legislation. JPs also carried out policiing duties, organising Parish Constable and the Town Watchmen in the maintainence of law and order. The attended Quarter Sessions which were courts held every three months.
Parish Constables and Town Watchmen
The Parish Constable was appointed by the JP and held the unpaid post for one year and were expected to do this as well as their day job. They did not have a uniform or carry weapons. Some duties of the Parish Constable include: watching out for vagabonds, carrying out punishments such as whipping, preventing tresspassing and poaching, keeping the peace and arresting those who broke the law. The Town Watchman was expected to patrol the streets at night and hand over any suspected wrongdoers to the Constable. Did not have a uniform but carried a bell, lantern and staff.
An Act of Council issued by King Charles II in 1663 created a force of paid nightwatchmen nicknamed Charleys. Their job was the same as a Town Watchman and they carried the same equipment however unlike the Town Watchmen the Charleys were paid a small amount but they were often discouraged from doing the job well.