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A Certain Share of Low Cunning : A History of the Bow Street Runners, 1792-1839 - David J. Cox

A Certain Share of Low Cunning

A History of the Bow Street Runners, 1792-1839

Hardcover

Published: 1st February 2010
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This book provides an account and analysis of the history of the Bow Street Runners, precursors of today's police force. Through a detailed analysis of a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative research data, this book provides a fresh insight into their history, arguing that the use of Bow Street personnel in provincially instigated cases was much more common than has been assumed by many historians. It also demonstrates that the range of activities carried out by Bow Street personnel whilst employed on such cases was far more complex than can be gleaned from the majority of books and articles concerning early nineteenth-century provincial policing, which often do little more than touch on the role of Bow Street. By describing the various roles and activities of the Bow Street Principal Officers with specific regard to cases originating in the provinces it also places them firmly within the wider contexts of provincial law-enforcement and policing history.

The book investigates the types of case in which the 'Runners' were involved, who employed them and why, how they operated, including their interaction with local law-enforcement bodies, and how they were perceived by those who utilized their services. It also discusses the legacy of the Principal Officers with regard to subsequent developments within policing. Bow Street Police Office and its personnel have long been regarded by many historians as little more than a discrete and often inconsequential footnote to the history of policing, leading to a partial and incomplete understanding of their work. This viewpoint is challenged in this book, which argues that in several ways the utilization of Principal Officers in provincially instigated cases paved the way for important subsequent developments in policing, especially with regard to detective practices. It is also the first work to provide a clear distinction between the Principal Officers and their less senior colleagues.

'Cox's approach is so methodical and finely referenced that the reader is persuaded by his argument that the Runners have not, until now, had their due. [...] This book is long overdue, especially as the Runners have appeared in a number of recent works of fiction as Georgian quasi-James Bond characters. This revisionist account ensures that they will be better understood and may cease to be defined as hopeless failures in the crime-infested world we know through the art of contemporary caricaturists Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray. They were, as Cox admirably shows, heroes of their time.' -- Stephen Wade, University of Hull and the University of Oxford,

List of tablesp. xi
List of abbreviationsp. xiii
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Introduction: revealing an 'Eleusinian mystery'p. 1
Introductionp. 1
Geographical boundariesp. 5
Sourcesp. 6
The role of newspapers in the reporting of crimep. 6
Reasons for reporting casesp. 7
Levels of under-reportingp. 8
Development of Hue & Cryp. 10
Promotion of Bow Street Police Office through the publication of Hue & Cryp. 10
Limitations of sourcesp. 13
Origination of primary sourcesp. 13
Secondary sourcesp. 14
Notesp. 18
'Men of known and approved fidelity': the development of the Bow Street systemp. 26
Introductionp. 26
Formation and developmentp. 26
Efforts to distance and differentiate Principal Officers from thieftakersp. 28
The 'Police Act' of 1792p. 31
The functioning of Bow Street Police Officep. 32
Legal powers of Bow Street personnelp. 34
Differences between Principal Officers and other forces based at Bow Streetp. 36
Relationship between Bow Street and the other Police Officesp. 38
Social status and contemporary perceptions of Principal Officersp. 40
The Warwick Bank incidentp. 45
Evidence of the 1828 Select Committeep. 48
Financial standing of Principal Officersp. 48
Conclusionp. 55
Notesp. 56
'If the gentleman writes the gentleman pays': the employers of Principal Officersp. 66
Introductionp. 66
Cost of employing Principal Officersp. 66
Other benefits available to Principal Officersp. 67
Claiming of rewards by Principal Officersp. 68
Views of Principal Officers regarding their paymentp. 70
Comparisons between provincial and metropolitan employment of Principal Officersp. 72
Comparison of the types of employer in the provinces and the metropolisp. 74
Attitude of the Home Department to provincial authorities' use of Principal Officersp. 91
Conclusionp. 93
Notesp. 93
'Contending with desperate characters': the types of crimes investigated by Principal Officersp. 102
Introductionp. 102
Perceptions of crimep. 102
Provincial casesp. 103
Metropolitan casesp. 125
Conclusionp. 129
Notesp. 130
'Police officers for the country at large': the nationwide role of the Principal Officersp. 138
Introductionp. 138
The pre-1829 provincial policing situationp. 138
Attitude of local authorities to the use of Principal Officers in provincial casesp. 143
Nationwide role of the Principal Officersp. 144
Opposition to a national police forcep. 146
Location of reported provincial cases involving Principal Officersp. 148
Scottish casesp. 152
Welsh casesp. 153
Success rate of Principal Officersp. 156
Conclusionp. 158
Notesp. 159
'Domiciliary visits, spies, and all the rest of Fouche's contrivances': six case studies of provincial investigations by Principal Officersp. 168
Introductionp. 168
Fraudulent arson attack on the house of Reverend Robert Bingham, Maresfield, Sussex, January 1811p. 168
The robbery and murder of Mr Benjamin Robins of Dunsley Hall, Staffordshire, December 1812p. 177
The plundering of the Adamant, Newhaven, Sussex, December 1815p. 185
Poaching and murder on the estate of Colonel Berkeley, Gloucestershire, January 1816p. 192
The abduction of Miss Ellen Turner to the continent by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, March 1826p. 196
Attempted prevention of a prizefighting bout, Hanslope, June 1830p. 201
Conclusionp. 207
Notesp. 208
'More expert in tracing and detecting crime': the post-1829 situationp. 218
Introductionp. 218
Continued employment of Principal Officers after 1829p. 218
Relationship between Bow Street and the Metropolitan Police 1829-39p. 222
Conclusionp. 224
Notesp. 225
'Rescuing from a historical cul-de-sac': the legacy of the Bow Street Principal Officersp. 228
Introductionp. 228
Summary of findingsp. 228
Conclusionp. 233
Notesp. 234
Appendix: Service record of Bow Street Principal Officers 1792-1839p. 236
Glossaryp. 239
Bibliographyp. 242
Indexp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781843927730
ISBN-10: 184392773X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 1st February 2010
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.9  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.64
Edition Number: 1