BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

13 November 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us

Local history

You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Local history > A policeman's lot

Carol checks the history of Ripon's first Bobby

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.

“According to the records the Liberty of Ripon has, he was appointed as Ripon Liberty’s first Policeman and was paid a salary of over a hundred pounds, which was a lot of money in 1831.

Asistance was called with a rattle

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.

"we think he was a bit of a con artist really. It's strange that when he goes down on paper he seems to be something quite different"

Carol Sayner

“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
created: 31/01/2006

Have Your Say

Tell us what interesting facts you've found out about your relatives

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Cheryl Sanderson
I began researching my tree when I had a disc given to me by a Canadian (Moran) cousin with nearly 500 family members which he had researched, however, he came up against a brick wall when it came to our Irish born Grandfather, Patrick Moran. I had kept an old envelope for over 20 years from my Aunties belongings, with an Irish address on, and sent off a letter to it, hoping for some response. The result was that I now have regular contact with some Irish Moran cousins, had my first trip to Ireland, and seen the remains of the homestead where my Grandfather was born! I found that I have relations in New York, one of whom sadly lost his life in 9/11, but, I am now in regular contact with his brother and we chat and "swap" notes and family photos online. In the Wrightson (Stokesley) branch of the family I found a White Witch and a double bigamist and sadly, in the Cummings side, a suicide. There are so many stories and it is never boring, if anyone has doubts about researching their tree I'd certainly encourage them to give it a long as you have plenty of time to spare! :-)

You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Local history > A policeman's lot

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy