Police records at Shropshire Archives
In the last 12 months, Shropshire Archives received funding from The National Archives. The award of a National Cataloguing Grant enabled an archivist to catalogue Shropshire Constabulary records dating to the C19th, making some new material available to the public and older material more accessible. The Latest collections that have been catalogued are 9303 Papers of Richard Noel Blythe, police officer and 7175 Shropshire Constabulary.
The papers of Richard Blythe cover his career in the Shropshire Constabulary, in particular his role in training police officers. The cataloguing of the Shropshire Constabulary records, transferred from the West Mercia Police headquarters at Hindlip Hall, Worcester; has enabled us to gain a fuller picture of papers in other police collection – for example in the curious case of Emma Peel below.
The list of the Constabulary Papers is online here and the other lists will be available on our online catalogue shortly.
Stories from the police records: Emma Peel
Two letters in 1904 relate to a woman named Emma Peel (a real one; not the crime fighting karate-kicking Avengers one). One letter, 1904/71 from the Superintendant’s Office at Tredegar 2 July 1895, refers to “Emma L Peel” wanted on warrant that the information supplied by Supt Edwards of Wellington will be circulated. A second letter at 1904/70, form the Chief Constable’s Office in Corporation Street, Birmingham, 16th June 1895 states that Emma Peel had called at 21 Leamington Street, Sparkbrook “[…] early one morning about a fortnight ago, having ordered a cab left within half an hour taking with her the child that she had left in the care of Mrs Lowe.”
The recent catalogue of 7175, has given us a fuller picture of Emma Peel (section 7175/10/1). A police notice from Oakengates, June 29th 1895, describes her as being wanted on warrant for the theft of £10.10 s from the Shropshire Lodge of Free Gardeners. Emma was 5ft 3, with sandy hair, frizzed at the front wearing a “[…] black jacket, brown dress, black sailor hat, walks lame in the left leg from an ingrowing toe nail”.
Emma was twice widowed, and was originally from Tredegar where her parents still lived and where she was believed to be headed. She lived at 21 Leamington Road Sparkbrook, and had been corresponding with Mrs Lowe of the same address. She was previously a publican at Icknield Street Birmingham, and her husband had been a jeweller.
She was missing “Along with her daughter Julia, who is 5 or 6 years of age”.
A letter from Durham Constabulary, dated 13th June 1895, states that she was “[…] known at Park Place” and that “If she is seen here she will be arrested”. Emma’s sister, Mrs Newton, resides at 85 Park Place, Darlington.
A curious letter from Worcester, dated 13 June 1895, states that the person that she had been corresponding with as John Martin, “[…] is named Julius Hoffman of 16 Sansome Street Worcester”.
Mr Hoffman said that “Mrs Peel had answered an advertisement of his about 29 April and he wrote to her at 21 Leamington Road, Sparkbrook […] he has never seen her […] and knows nothing of her”.
Although bringing these documents together has given us a better picture of Mrs Emma Peel, we are still left wondering what might have happened to this young widow on the run with her little girl….waiting for another collection to be catalogued and discovered!
With thanks to Gillian Roberts of Worcestershire Archives for her dedicated work on these records.