Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 17, 2018
Webpage updated: March 31, 2018




The Devon County Constabulary was responsible was policing the parish and urban district of East Stonehouse and the districts of Plympton and Plymstock that are now within the City of Plymouth.

On January 6th 1857 the Court of Quarter Sessions for the County of Devon made a resolution that a County Constabulary should be formed and that it would consist of a Chief Constable; four Superintendents; nine Inspectors; twenty-three Sergeants; sixty First Class Constables; 130 Second Class Constables; and seventy-three Third Class Constables.  The Inspectors were to be mounted.  The Chief Constable, Mr Gerald de Courcey Hamilton, had already been appointed at am annual salary of 400 and by April 7th 1857 he had recruited 225 other ranks.  The Constables were to receive between 16 shillings and one pound a week and the Sergeants would get 1 3s.

The Devon Constabulary was divided into four Districts, with Plympton, East Stonehouse and Jump - later known as Roborough - included in Division C.  On June 30th 1857 it was recorded that...'in this parish constables have hitherto been appointed  under the act for lighting and watching and therefore until notice has been given by the Chief Constable that he is ready to undertake this charge, this parish is also exempt from police rate.'  On October 12th 1857 the Quarter Sessions ordered that cells, quarters for one Sergeant and other police rooms be provided in East Stonehouse; that a Petty Sessions court, three cells and quarters for two Constables be provided at Plympton Saint Mary; and two cells and quarters for two Constables be provided at Jump.  The subsistence allowance for providing prisoners with meals was 4d. per meal.  Subsequently they ordered that a Petty Sessions Court be added to the facilities at Jump.

On June 29th 1858 it was reported to the Devon Police Committee that a portion of the Saint George's Hall, in East Stonehouse, was to be rented as a police station at the rate of 40 per annum from August 2nd next (1858) until a more permanent arrangement could be arranged.

Today we know the village of Jump as Roborough.  Although it is outside the City of Plymouth, those readers who used to journey through the village before the by-pass was built will remember the Court House that stands on the eastern side of the Tavistock Road, near the Lopes' Arms Public House.  This was designed and erected by Mr George Marshall during the summer of 1859 and brought into use early in December.  The building contained twelve rooms, eight of which formed the residences for a Sergeant and Constable.  There were also two cells and a public waiting room.  Prior to the erection of this building any persons arrested in the area had to be taken to East Stonehouse to be kept in the cells and returned to Jump for their court appearance.

On June 27th 1864 the Chief Constable reported that the East Stonehouse District, part of 'H' Division, comprised a 2nd Class Sergeant and twelve Constables, two of whom were on loan in connection with military building at Staddon Heights. The Superintendent in charge of the Division, Mr George Ross, was based at East Stonehouse and he had 1st Class Sergeants at Plympton and Roborough plus seventeen Constables covering both places.

The Chief Constable reported on the strength of the Constabulary on March 31st 1878.  'H' Division, based at East Stonehouse, was headed by Superintendent Edward Brutton with 1st Class Sergeants at Plympton and Roborough, seventeen Constables and one vacancy at Holbeton. The East Stonehouse District was covered by a 1st Class Sergeant and thirteen Constables.

Helmets were introduced into the uniform in January 1879.

Mr Gerald de Courcey Hamilton, the Chief Constable of Devon, retired on December 31st 1891 and Mr Francis Randolph C Coleridge, formerly a District Inspector in Dublin, was appointed to replace him.

Although police whistles were issued in Plymouth in 1880 and became standard issue from September 1881, they were apparently not issued by the Devon Constabulary at East Stonehouse until after the end of June 1892.

From April 1st 1907 Captain Herbert Reginald Vyvyan took over as Chief Constable of Devon.

East Stonehouse became part of the Borough of Plymouth on November 9th 1914 and one Inspector, two Sergeants and fifteen Constables transferred to the Plymouth Borough Police Force. Only the biggest and strongest men were selected for East Stonehouse as they had to be able to deal with drunken sailors and this resulted in the pick of the Devon County Constabulary being moved to Plymouth.