Special Constable's Truncheon
George Herbert enrolled as a Special Constable in Saint George in the East in 1868 in the aftermath of the Fenian Rising and the subsequent Clerkenwell explosion, and this is his truncheon.
The Clerkenwell Explosion
In 1867 the Irish Republican Brotherhood organised an unsuccessful rebellion against British rule in Ireland, which became known as The Fenian Rising, and in November, Richard Burke, who had been employed by them to purchase arms in Birmingham, was imprisoned on remand in the Clerkenwell prison.
As a result of the general unrest, the British government, headed by the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, banned all political demonstrations in London in an attempt to put a stop to the weekly meetings and marches that were being held in support of the Fenians.
But the next day, 13th December, an attempt to rescue Burke by blowing a hole in the wall of his prison was seriously misjudged. It demolished not only a large section of the prison wall, but also a number of tenement houses opposite, resulting in 12 people being killed and over 50 suffering a range of injuries. An Irishman, Michael Barrett, was arrested, tried and executed on 26th May 1868, although it was later shown that he was not responsible.
The bombing had a traumatic effect on the population, resulting in a long-lived backlash that fomented much hostility against the Irish community, and turned public opinion in Disraeliís favour.
After the explosion the Disraeli Government quickly introduced greater security measures, and thousands of special constables were enrolled to aid the police to meet the Fenian threat.
Painted Truncheon made by Field of 233 Holborn with crowned Royal cypher (VR) and 'Special Constable Saint George in the East, Middlesex Police 1868í.
Length 16in (41cm)
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