xenith: (Hobart)
[personal profile] xenith
The Nanonovel just completed is a murder mystery set in Hobart in 1827, and the main character is a police constable, and pickpocket on the side. Which is all well and good, but now I need to know something about policing in Hobart in 1827. That's all.

In the 1820s, things were rather different to what we're used to. Rather than a centralised, professional police force, the job often fell to unpaid/poor paid locals, with no uniforms and not a lot of authority. In NSW & VDL, at least, the job was about maintaining order (and retrieving absconders) rather than investigating crimes.

It was also a time of change, and that meant change in what police meant. The London Metropolitan Police were established in 1829. Even in Hobart Town, there was a major restructuring in 1827 (one reason for my date).

It is also a time people don't feel a need to write about, for anywhere. The little I've found in secondary sources (books & online) has been about the organisation. And by "little" I mean I have about enough notes to fill about 1.5 word processor pages, from all the resources I've been able to find. Primary sources might be useful, if I can discover what they are and then get access to them :)

I did get lucky last week. I found Police Superintendent Humphrey's evidence to the Bigge Commission in Series 3, Volume 3 of the Historical Records of Australia (a rather dry looking series of volumes that cover three shelves in the library) and the very useful "Standing Instructions for the Constabulary of Van Diemen's Land in appendix 17 of the second volume of the three volume "Report from the Select Committee on Transportation". They being from 1820 & 1836 respectively, although the latter was issued under the same lt governor who did the restructure so it's particularly useful. (Those two reports are also full of other useful and/or interesting stuff, I should consult them more often.)

Still that's a good start, and I feel more confident about writing it now. There are big holes still. (Like where does the MC sleep at night? I'm fairly sure he's not in the prisoner barracks but the police barracks don't seem to have been built yet (I wish I hadn't come across that bit of information or I could have happily been sending him there each night.)) There's also more to be pulled from the newspapers on Trove, but that is time consuming and not frustrating because of things that are implied or hinted at but never explained. It's like doing a jigsaw with no picture and all the pieces have been mixed up with the pieces in other boxes.


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