Source Problems in English History


World History

IV. The Sources

1. Lambard:

Duties of Constables.


Page 5.

So then, the name of constable in a hundred or franchise cloth mean that he is an officer that sup porteth the King’s Majesty in the maintenance of his peace, within the precinct of his hundred or franchise; and he is many times called the high-constable, in comparison of the constables, or petty constables, that be in the towns or parishes within his hundred or franchise: whose part it likewise is, to maintain the peace within the several limits of their own towns or parishes. . . .

Page 12.

But now, for the better preventing that nothing be done against the peace, any of these officers aforesaid [constables, etc.] may take or arrest suspected persons, which walk in the night and sleep in the day. . . . Any of these officers may also arrest such strange persons as do walk abroad in the night season: and for that cause the said statute of Winchester did ordain that night watches should be kept yearly from the feast of the Ascension until Michaelmas, by six men at every gate of every city, by twelve men in every borough town, and in every other town by six men or four men, according to the number of inhabitants in the town, all the night long, from sun setting to sun rising. . . . And of these watches the officers beforenamed have the charge within the limits (or places) of their authorities. . . .

Page 19.

Albeit then, that their said officers [constables] be subject to the commandments . . . of other officers . . . yet because most commonly they are called upon by the justices of peace, they ought specially to show themselves obedient to their precepts, who (as it may appear by some old precedents) have authority to remove insufficient constables and borsholders, and to substitute able persons in their place. . . .

Page 30.

The constables of hundreds and franchises ought to make presentment to the justices of peace and to all other justices thereto assigned, of the defaults of watches, and of the defaults of the King’s highways, . . . and also of such as lodge strangers in uplandish towns, for whom they will not answer. . . .

Page 37.

In default of agreement of the parishioners between themselves, the constables and churchwardens of each parish (or the more part of them) may rate and allot within their parish their assessment for the stock of the shire wherewith that parish was charged at the Quarter Sessions: and they also may levy the same upon any parishioner, by distress, and sale of his goods, tendering the overplus unto him, 43. Eliz. cap. 2. & 3. . . .

Page 49.

Every city, borough, and market town, that have a constable, ought also to have common measures sealed, and also common weights sealed, at which the inhabitants may freely weigh. . . .

Page 50.

Those four justices of peace that be authorized by the statute to make taxation of money for the amendment of any decayed bridge in the highway, ought to make that taxation by the assent of the constables or two of the most honest inhabitants of every town or parish.

In all cities, boroughs and towns wherein no wardens of cowpers [coopers] be, [the constables or head officers] have power to search, view and gauge barrels, kilderkins, firkins and other vessels. . . .

Page 60.

The churchwardens of parishes be taken (in favor of the church) to be for some purposes a manner of corporation at the common law: that is to say, persons enabled by that name, to take movable goods or chattels and to sue and be sued at the law, concerning such goods for the use and profit of their parish. . . .

[If they wasted or misspent the parish money the parishioners might bring suit to force a reckoning and could remove them by the election of new churchwardens.]

Page 64.

All persons inhabiting within the King’s Majesty’s Dominion shall diligently and faithfully (having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent) endeavor themselves to resort to their parish church or chapel accustomed . . . [on penalty of fine].

Page 65.

The constables and churchwardens of every parish shall yearly . . . call together a number of the parishioners, and shall then elect and choose two honest persons of the parish to be surveyors and orderers of the works for one year, for amendment of the highways in their parish, leading to any market town; which persons shall take upon them the execution of their said offices [upon penalty of XXs]. And the said constables and churchwardens shall then also name and appoint six days for the amendment of the said highways before midsummer then next following; and shall openly in the church the next Sunday after Easter give knowledge of the same six days. [All persons holding land in the parish were to furnish service in men, horses and find carts ha proportion to the mount of land held.]

Page 67.

The churchwardens and four, three, or two others of every parish, appointed by the two justices of peace to be overseers of the poor there (or the more part of them), may by the consent of two justices, from time to time take order for setting to work all persons married or unmarried that have no means or ordinary trade to live by, and the children of such parents as shall be thought unable to maintain them. . . .

Page 78.

Every person or persons that shall not repair, ditch, or scour any hays [hedges], fences, ditches, or hedges adjoining to any highway or common faring way or shall not cut down or keep low all trees and bushes, growing in or next adjoining to any the said ways . . . shall forfeit and lose for every default Xs. . . .

Page 89.

And if any innkeeper, alehouse-keeper, or victualer shall at any time utter or sell less than one full ale quart of the best beer or ale for a penny, and of the small, two quarts for one penny, that then every such . . . shall forfeit . . . the sum of XXs. . . . All and every the said penalties to be levied by the constables or churchwardens. . . .


Download Options

Title: Source Problems in English History

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Source Problems in English History

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: "1. Lambard: Duties of Constables," Source Problems in English History in Source Problems in English History, ed. Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915), 248–252. Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: . "1. Lambard: Duties of Constables." Source Problems in English History, in Source Problems in English History, edited by Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915, pp. 248–252. Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , '1. Lambard: Duties of Constables' in Source Problems in English History. cited in 1915, Source Problems in English History, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.248–252. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from