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THE POLICE GAZETTE:

Part 3: Issues for 1829, 1858, 1879-1881 and 1898 from the British Library Newspaper Library, London

Publisher's Note

“No complete run of the Police Gazette exists.   It is probable that this single fact alone accounts for the little use made of it by historians.   It contains a wealth of information relating to crime, to offenders and policing. The publication on microfilm of this source, compiled from a variety of different archives is to be welcomed as a little known but immensely valuable resource.”

Clive Emsley

Reader in History, The Open University

The Police Gazette can be used profitably by a wide range of scholars from the criminologist and social historian, to the sociologist and literary researcher.  Dating from 1752, it records crimes, criminals and deserters from the forces.  These descriptions vary in their level of detail from a brief one line entry concerning someone who has escaped from transportation, to a lengthy account of the items stolen in a burglary which casts light on property and consumption. 

There are portraits of many of the people sought by the police for their involvement in arson, burglary, fraud and murder.  Scholars can build up pictures of crime in particular areas, crime related to social and political issues and patterns of desertion from the army.  They can also examine issues such as:  How lawless was Britain in the late 18th century?  How accurately did Dickens depict the dark side of Victorian city life?

Despite the large number of copies produced of the Police Gazette and its predecessors, no complete run exists anywhere in the world.  The aim of this microfilm project is to assemble a 149 year run of the journal from 1752 through to 1900 by filming various scattered holdings.

Part 1 made available issues for 1866-1869, 1871-1878, 1882-1897 & 1899-1900 from the holdings of the Cambridgeshire Police Archive (covering 30 years, representing 20% of the total).

Part 2 made available issues for 1797-1810, 1828 & 1830-1840 (covering a further 26 years, representing 17% of the total) from the holdings of the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

This third part fills some important gaps in the coverage of the first two parts, offering issues for  1829, 1858, 1879-1881 & 1898 from the holdings of the British Library Newspaper Library, London.  This means that scholars can now examine virtually unbroken sequences of the Police Gazette from 1797-1810, 1828-1840 and 1866-1900.

The issues covered in this third part are:

  • Police Gazette; or, Hue and Cry (issued twice a week), Nos 101-151, 161-204, 2nd Jan 1829 - 30th Dec 1829 (July issues absent)
  • Police Gazette (issued three times a week), Nos 3003-3026, 2nd June 1858-26th July 1858
  • Police Gazette, (issued three times a week), Nos 6240-6709, 1st Jan 1879 - 30th Dec 1881
  • Police Gazette, New Series (issued twice a week), Vol XV, No 1463 - Vol XV, No 1566, 4th Jan 1898 - 30th Dec 1898

The Police Gazette originated from the work of Sir John Fielding (d1780), and his half-brother, the novelist, Henry Fielding (1707-1754) in Eighteenth Century London.  As well as serving as magistrates and presiding over the introduction of a small number of paid constables - the Bow Street Runners - they experimented in the apprehension of criminals through the use of public advertising and the circulation of details of offenders to other justices throughout the country.

In 1752, Henry Fielding used his own publication, The Covent Garden Journal, to invite victims of crimes to contact him with details of the crimes committed against them, properties stolen, and descriptions of the criminals involved.   Advertisements were then placed in the journal, usually with a reward attached, for the recovery of the property and the apprehension of the criminals.  The advertisements proved to be a success and paved the way for a succession of journals specifically devoted to the description of criminals and offences.  These range from Sir John Fielding’s Public Advertiser, to the Quarterly Pursuit and Weekly Pursuit, which were distributed to Mayors and Chief Magistrates far and wide.  Shortly afterwards, Lord North persuaded George III that the journal deserved to be published on an official basis and there followed, in succession, the Public Hue and Cry,  The Hue and Cry and Police Gazette and, finally, the Police Gazette.  Approximately 150,000 copies were printed of each issue.  The Metropolitan Police took over the publication of the Police Gazette from 1883, and from the same date illustrations start to appear in the text.  The journal continues today. 

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