[Editor: This untitled letter to a newspaper (from an ex-policeman), advocating a reduction of numbers, and of pay, for policemen in Tasmania, was published in The Advertiser (Hobart Town, Tas.), 22 April 1862.]
[Having observed that a meeting]
Mr. Editor, —
Sir, — Having observed that a meeting of the Municipal Council of the City of Hobart took place on Thursday last, the 17th instant, to take into consideration how the expence of lighting the City was to be defrayed without adding any additional taxation upon the inhabitants, when it was proposed by Alderman Murdoch to reduce the number of police and to reduce the pay of those who were actually required for the protection of life and property, which in the opinion of all wise and honest men, upon due consideration, would be found much more advisable than imposing an extra tax upon the inhabitants.
For instance, I as one individual who performed the duties of a Chief District Constable in this Colony for a period of nineteen years in a Country District, was appointed on the 15th January, 1820, at a salary of £15 per annum and rations for myself, half ration for my wife, and quarter ration for two children, had to find my own lodgings, clothing, &c. until 1825, when my pay was advanced to £50 per annum, without rations or any other emolument, further than being appointed Poundkeeper, and £18 5s. added to the £50 as watchhouse keeper, from which I continued until the 9th January, 1835, when I resigned the office owing to family affliction.
I again joined the police at 2s. per diem with rations on the 6th March, 1846, and continued to 18th September, 1848, when I got transferred to the Sheriff’s department at a salary of £70 per annum with quarters, fire, and light, with a wife and two children to provide for, and the necessaries of life very much higher than they are at the present moment.
In the township I now reside there are three or four petty constables strutting about with but apparently very little to do upon 5s. per diem, when the hard working day labourer can scarcely find employment at 3s. 6d. to 4s. per diem at most, and several glad to be employed at even less, when they are hard at work from 6 o’clock in the morning to 6 o’clock in the evening, with an hour allowed them for breakfast and dinner.
For instance, in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness the pay of a constable in those cities is one guinea per week, and has been during the last fifty years. Many of them rear large families respectably, although provisions in general, especially tea and sugar, are higher in price than they are here. It is true the Scotchmen are no beefeaters, their general subsistence is oatmeal and milk, and the Irish men, potatoes and butter milk with plenty of butter and eggs, added with a due proportion of excellent bacon. At this present moment there is more butcher’s meat consumed by the population of the City of Hobart Town in one year than there is in the City of Glasgow in two years according to the population of that great manufacturing town.
The natives of Tasmania are generally termed gumsuckers, instead of meat suckers, as I have often seen a child of three or four years of age knawing away at at least half a pound of beef or mutton, and even licking up the fat from the frying pan, which in a certain measure accounts for their rapid growth, as a female at thirty years of age born in Tasmania looks older than an European female of fifty years old.
There is another grand cause for the very great consumption of meat, especially mutton. The wool kings will not admit of an industrious small farmer being near them, and those are the very class of men who would very soon alter the great consumption of meat, as they would produce cheese, butter, eggs, cider, and bacon, but of course that would not suit the reigning powers that at present exist, as there would be no consumption for the old ewes that had lost their teeth, nor the ram stags although the middle and labouring classes would benefit much by the change.
However crime is and has been during the last ten or twelve years on the decrease, consequently a reduction should also take place, and their pay regulated by the daily day labourer or the farm servant, but at all events a guinea per week should be ample pay for any petty constable throughout the Island, and £100 per annum to each of the District Constables, with forage for his horse and quarters, with fuel and light, and the same to Council or Police Clerks in the interior, and the Wardens of the several Municipalities should be independent gentlemen, able and willing to devote their time and talents for the benefit of society without fee or reward, as they do in the provincial towns in the kingdom of Scotland. In that country all the licensed victuallers act as special constables.
It is to be hoped His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Hobart Town will come to an amicable arrangement and let the City be well lighted during the winter months without burthening the inhabitants with any further taxation.
I am, Mr. Editor,
Your very humble servant,
ONE OF THE PEOPLE.
19th April, 1862.
The Advertiser (Hobart Town, Tas.), 22 April 1862, p. 3
This letter was inserted (apparently incorrectly) in an advertisements section of the newspaper.
&c. = an alternative form of “etc.”; an abbreviation of “et cetera” (also spelt “etcetera”), a Latin term (“et” meaning “and”, “cetera” meaning “the rest”) which is translated as “and the rest (of such things)”, used in English to mean “and other similar things”, “other unspecified things of the same class” or “and so forth”
burthen = an archaic spelling of “burden”
emolument = recompense; compensation, fees, payment, profit, salary, tips, or wages arising from one’s employment or from fulfilling the duties of an office or post
expence = an archaic spelling of “expense”
knawing = an archaic spelling of “gnawing”
guinea = a gold coin produced in the United Kingdom 1663-1814; guineas contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold; the name derives from the Guinea region in West Africa, the original source of the gold used to make the coins; although nominally worth twenty shillings, the worth of the coin changed at various times, due to fluctuations in the price of gold, however, in 1717 the coin’s value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings
per diem = (Latin) per day; in each day, for each day (in financial terms, an amount that is earned, paid, received, sold, spent, or used each day)
petty constable = a peace officer, or officer of the law, whose role was to keep the peace, maintain the law, and carry out minor administrative duties in a village, local area, or tithing (a “tithing” was a British rural subdivision, originally an area comprising ten households or ten families, being a tenth of a “hundred”); petty constables were ranked under chief constables or high constables, who kept the peace in the hundreds (a “hundred” was a British rural subdivision, originally an area comprising a hundred “hides”, each “hide” being an area of land which was capable of supporting one peasant household or family)
s. = a reference to a shilling, or shillings; the “s” was an abbreviation of “solidi”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
victualler = an innkeeper, a licensed seller of alcohol; someone who provides or sells supplies or victuals (food, provisions), especially to a military force; someone who provides or sells grain; a supply ship, especially a ship carrying food supplies
[Editor: Changed “Aderdeen” to “Aberdeen”, “h April” to “19th April” (the date is missing from the letter, presumably due to a printing error; the date could be between the 4th to the 19th, but since it was printed in a daily newspaper, the 19th has been selected as the most likely date).]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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