January 1, 1970

Crowle Association for the Prosecution of Felons.

By Angus Townley

I came across an interesting document titled “Rules, Orders and Regulations of Crowle Association for the Prosecution of Felons”. It is dated 1814 and was printed by W.A. Justice of Howden.

The introduction states that “Whereas Felonies and Misdemeanors of every Denomination have in the space of a few years increased to an alarming degree, and many persons have been deterred for prosecuting the Offenders by the great expense attendant thereon”.

The group was formed as effectively a mutual assurance society to enable local landowners to share the cost of a prosecution. The rules govern how much each member had to pay and when the Annual General Meeting would be held. If a public meeting were to be convened then this would be announced in Crowle Church on the previous Sunday.

The document appears to have been drawn up by Spofforth, Jun and Peirson, Solicitors. The document in the British Library has a hand written list of people who, I guess, were the initial subscribers listed on the back cover. They were:
Mr Glossop
Mr Watson,
Mr Ketley,
Mr Cowlam
Mr Cundall
Mr Nicholson
Peter Cranidge
Samual Brunyee
John Sayles
John ?

One assumes that the association was formed in 1814 but other than this one document I have not seen any other reference to this association so I do not know how long it lasted.

Such organisations were not unusual in the early 19th century and this was before an organised police force. One article suggested that there were possibly as many as a 4000 such organisations across the country by 1835. Many of these organisations offered rewards to persons who provided information that led to the prosecution of a felon – however the Crowle Rule book does not explicitly mention this.

1 Rules, Orders and Regulations of Crowle Association for the Prosecution of Felons. Howden, Printed by W.a. Justice. British Library 6059.ee.15. Request
2 Making Sense of English Law Enforcement in the 18th Century, David Friedman http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/England_18thc./England_18thc.html