Absalom Payne, Police Constable


Doc. Ref. D3891/6/45/2/11

Absalom Payne was born circa 1791 – 1794 in Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire.  On 14 Aug 1814 he married Gertrude Smith of Earls Barton, Northamptonshire and they had at least 2 children.

Gertrude pre-deceased her husband in 1855 and Absalom died in the December Quarter 1868 age 77.

Absalom Payne first came to our attention in August 1838 when he was paid 6s for “services” by William Williams the Parish Constable of Uttoxeter, who went to Northampton to “fetch John Buckley”. William Williams refers to Absalom Payne as “Police Constable”.

The 1841 Census reveals that Absalom Payne’s occupation was listed as “Night Police” whilst in the 1851 Census he is a “Police Constable”. By the 1861 census he had left the police Force and was working as a Baker.  (His son William was also a Baker)

Absalom must have been one of the earliest Police Constables according to a web site[i] about the Northampton Police which says:-

The Government passed an 1835 Act which gave town councils the responsibility of forming full-time professional police forces – this was six years after the creation of the Met Police in London.
As a result, separate police forces were created in Northampton and Daventry. The first chief constable of the Northampton Borough Police was the Northampton-born Joseph Ball, who remained in the position until 1851 when he retired with a pension of £35 a year. Initially, the Northampton force had one superintendent and 24 police constables, who worked in a primitive shift system and were paid either 12 shillings or 14 shillings a week, depending on the time of year. This was regarded as a low wage at the time, especially as the role involved working shifts at night.
The[ii] very first police station in Northampton was in Dychurch Lane, it then moved to Fish Street.
William Williams’ Bill for his expenses does not indicate if the 6 shillings to Absalom Payne was paid directly to him in addition to Absalom’s salary or paid to the Police Force itself.

[i] http://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/retro-history-of-northamptonshire-police-1-5801126

[ii] http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/the-chron-looks-back-at-what-life-was-once-life-for-northampton-s-prisoners-1-3482631

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