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Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

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Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby clarksclerks » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:17 am

I'm trying to sort truth from fiction about a miniature my family has had since at least the 1880s and possibly much earlier, and which might be of my 3g grandfather, who according to the 1841 census was an auctioneer in London. The man in the portrait is wearing an unusual blue and white striped scarf, very long, with the stripes going lengthways, and I've been told that this denoted that he belonged to one of the 'bands' of businessmen who would patrol the city to prevent theft. Each band had a distinctive scarf so others would know whether he was friend or foe. I've read a bit about the Bow Street Runners and the Peelers, but neither of these seems to fit with the story.

Is there anyone who has heard of these 'bands' or knows where I could find more information? Are there likely to be any records of membership?
Thanks
Eileen
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Re: Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby brunes08 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:05 pm

My 2xgt grandfather had two brothers who were both policemen in the early days of the Metropolitan Police. I have had a rummage through all my information on early policing in London but it is too late in date for your issue. I suggest you contact the London Metropolitan Archives. They have an enquiry service on ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk or telephone 02073323820. You could look yourself on search.lma.gov.uk. Good luck.
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Re: Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby clarksclerks » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:25 pm

Many thanks. I'll follow the lead and post again if I find anything.

Best wishes
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Re: Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby sparrow » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:10 am

This is a good overview of early policing in London.
https://www.londonlives.org/static/Policing.jsp
(Whole site is brilliant if you have London ancestors).
However nothing even obliquely about scarves.
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Re: Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby clarksclerks » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:53 am

Thank you for the suggestions. The Help Desk at LMA found a description of the 'trained bands' that was consistent with my great aunt's story about the miniature but there was no reference to scarfs. Perhaps it was just a cold day when the portrait was painted! We have no way of knowing whether it is my 3 g grandfather, but he was a businessman in the City at the time of the 'bands'. Even so, it is nice to know a little about a painting that has been in the family for several generations and which survived the London Blitz and several house moves.
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Re: Unofficial London 'police', late 1700s

Postby sdup26 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:53 am

If the LMA has records of the trained bands, but no mention of scarves, maybe the scarf-wearing was agreed among the bands to distinguish them, as you suggest, but was kept quiet, to avoid copy-cat wearing by 'foes.'
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