Extracts from the Diary (1857-1860) of PC Phillip Davies, no 17, of the Cardiganshire Constabulary, stationed at Pontrhydfendigaid
Ceredigion Archives ADX/1405. Reproduced with kind permission of Ceredigion Archives
Page of Diary and Transcription
Tuesday 31st PC No 3 attended a Petty Sessions at Tregaron Magistrates present J.W Morris, J Hughes, T.Rogers Esqs a case in which David jones of Pantyboidy and seven others were charged with creating a disturbance at Llangeitho on the 5th of March last by carrying a ceffyl pren was dismissed, PC No 3, assisted by PC No 8 took an wooden horse from a crowd of about 2000 people. David Morgan of Treflyn and Thomas Williams of Tregaron carpenter and David Jones of Tregaron were the principal Ringleaders but they did not attempt to resist the Police.
This remarkable entry records the suppression of a ceffyl pren [wooden horse], a form of popular shaming punishment in Wales which involved 'riding' one who had offended the community on the 'horse', either in person or in effigy. The size of the crowd in the small settlement of Llangeitho is astonishing. 'Popular' and 'official' punishment could find themselves, as here, at odds and the practice (which had provided some of the symbolic methodology of the Rebecca riots) was supressed by the 'New' police. See Rosemary A.N. Jones 'Popular Culture, Policing, and the Disappearance of the Ceffyl Pren in Cardigan, c.1837-1850' (1988-89) xi Ceredigion p.19.
Page of Diary showing a Charge Sheet and Transcription of Charge Sheet
Facing Page and Transcription
Chief Constables Office
20th February 1858
Constables will in the future enter on their Charge Sheets in the Column No of Charge under the No of Charge , the Character of the Defendant under one of the following headings Viz Known Thief, Prostitute, Vagrant & Tramp, Suspicious Character, Character unknown, as is done on the foregoing page as a copy of a Charge Sheet a person cannot be put down as Known Thief unless previously convicted, Suspicious Characters are such as to the knowledge of the Constable are the associates of thieves and suspected of thieving themselves, though not previously convicted, All persons who reside in the County must have their Character mentioned - Should the Constable not be acquainted with them himself at the time of the Charge being made he must find out before sending in his Charge Sheet, and none but Strangers are to be put down as 'Character unknown',
This interesting copy of a memo and sample table (the rounded out ages and coincidence of representation of each 'class' suggest that this is merely illustrative of the technique to be employed) is included with other such general material in the rear of the diary, written with the book inverted: a practice also found in the Carmarthenshire force at the same period). This refers to the new method of recording crime intended to reveal more than simply the record of charge but also the character and details of the offenders. The change, which began in 1857, was fuelled by, and in turn fuelled, the fear of the existence of a 'criminal class' within Victorian society. The use of a 'Marine Store Dealer' to illustrate the 'Suspicious Character, category is not surprising: the trade was often associated with receivers of stolen goods.