Checking the facts
A policeman's lot
As a child Carol Sayner remembers being told her ancestor was Ripon’s first ever policeman. Later, through speaking to her father, and by joining the Selby and District Family History Society, she found out it was true.
In 1829 Britain’s first Policemen – the Peelers - were formed and although they eventually became the model for the creation of all the provincial forces, none of their kind, at that time, patrolled North of Watford, let alone North Yorkshire.
But only a year later, in 1830, the streets of Ripon became the beat of Samuel Winn, Carol Sayner’s Great, Great, Grandfather.
Before the police whistle was the rattle
Accounts from the Chief Constable told of various jobs he’d done: counting the population, looking for bodies - and him and two other police constables were responsible for catching two notorious poachers who were transported to Van Diemens Land (the original name used by Europeans for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia). Then after that we sort of hit a brick wall”
So the trail ended and for the time being Carol gave up her investigation. But then she attended BBC Radio York's 'Who Do You Think You Are' event in York.
“We went over to the lady at the York Family History Group and asked if anything about Samuel would turn up and she found Samuel and his family receiving aid from the poor law people and that set us off again.”
Through the extra information prompted by the 'Who Do You Think You Are' event, Carol has now accumulated evidence of Samuel in 1841, discovered records of him in 1851 and found details of his family in 1861. But records of his death remain elusive and so far Carol's failed to reach the end of Samuel’s story, but she has discovered he led an incredibly varied life.
“He seems to turn up with all sorts of jobs: a railway ticket collector in Newcastle, Police officer, detective and inspector: a gentleman, a commercial man. So we think he was a bit of a con artist really. It just seems strange that when he goes down on paper he seems to be something quite different.”
So Ripon’s first ever Policeman, Samuel Winn, Carol's great, great, grandfather, went on from his career enforcing the law, to a variety of jobs. But her research points to him having also endured long periods of poverty and hardship.
Carol says it seem likely his life was at one of these low points when it ended,
“This last time we’ve traced him to a place in Newcastle, where he appears to be in a Master Mariner’s asylum, which was where poor people could rent rooms we think. We received a letter this week which confirms this – but we haven’t got any further.”
Carol intends to carry on digging and hopes she'll find the next clue she needs to re-open the case of Samuel Win, her Great, Great, Grandfather and Ripon’s first ever policeman.
last updated: 16/02/2009 at 14:58
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