McCormack, M. (2010) Supporting the civil power: policing, soldiering and citizenship in 1780's England. Invited Presentation presented to: War and British Culture, National Army Museum, London, 06 July 2010.
Britain prides itself on its civil tradition of policing: the British police constable is supposed to embody the civil qualities of restraint, respect and public service – in implied contrast with the more martial masculinity of the continental gendarme (literally, ‘man of arms’). In the century that preceded the introduction of a professional police force, however, the military were routinely involved in maintaining public order. During the Gordon Riots of 1780, for example, the regular army, nine militia battalions and regiments of volunteers such as the Honourable Artillery Company were deployed in London to quell an anti-Catholic mob. This chapter will focus upon the role of militias and volunteers in this episode, as it occasioned much subsequent debate that went to the heart of the issue of how citizens should maintain law and order. In an age when the standing army was distrusted as a threat to liberty, the part-time civilian soldier was in theory both safer and more zealous, as he was motivated by the ‘natural’ masculine desire to protect his family and community. As writers such as Sir William Blizard and Sir Bernard Turner argued in the 1780s, this manly ideal coincided with that of the constable, a substantial citizen whose property ensured his independence and vigilance: the militia should thus be involved systematically in activities such as the watch. This paper therefore explores the ideal of the masculine citizen-soldier in the theory and practice of British policing, at a crucial juncture in its development
Conference or Workshop Item (Invited Presentation)