Belfast Special Constables Papers.

Two volumes containing the reports of the Special Constables appointed in 1812 to patrol the streets of Belfast at night. The earlier volume, which is dealt with by George Benn in his 'History of Belfast' (pp. 504-6), covers the period 12 May to 27 November 1812, and 19 February to 15 May 1816; the later volume 16 May to 8 July 1816. Owing to the inability of the Watch to maintain order on the streets at night, a voluntary police force, the maximum strength of which was about 350 men, was established in 1812. The duties and conditions of this force are described along with the areas policed and refreshments provided. There are descriptions of malfeasances, and lists of the active members occur from time to time in both volumes. The catalogue of the papers contains an alphabetical names index for all the constables stating the page number(s) on which a particular officer is referred to.


These provide an interesting insight into social and economic conditions and the prevalence of crime in Belfast at the beginning of the nineteenth century before the formation of a regular police force.

Physical characteristics

Two volumes, May, 1812-July, 1816

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/46 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 09 February 2018