Mr William Chadwick, Chief Constable of Stalybridge


r. William Chadwick, Chief Constable of Stalybridge, was born in a small hamlet known as "The Haiah," in Cheshire, on the 24th July, 1822. When he was only

five years of age he had the misfortune to lose his father, and as he was one of a large family he was sent to work at an early age, his hours averaging thirteen a day. To attend day school was out of the question, and his early education was acquired at Sunday and night schools. In 1851 he joined the Metropolitan Police, and was stationed in the N Division, under Mr. Superintendent Walker, at Edmonton. Disliking the monotony of night duty, he left London after two years, and joined the Cheshire Constabulary, which at that time consisted of Special High Constables and petit Constables, who wore no uniform. He was stationed at Dukinfield, with Mr. George Dalgliesh, the late Chief Constable of Ashton-under-Lyne. The township was divided into two districts, so that each Officer had about 7,000 inhabitants to look after, and they had invariably from six to ten cases each at

Knutsford Quarter Sessions, besides attending Chester and other Assizes. They both held Excise Commissions, as in those days illicit distilling was carried on to a great extent in that neighbourhood, so much so that during the three years Mr. Chadwick was stationed in Dukinfield he and his brother Officer, Mr. Dalgliesh, were instrumental in convicting thirty-six persons for illicitly distilling and selling whisky. It was no unusual thing for them to patrol their districts together all night in what they called "still-hunting."


Shortly before the Consolidated Police Act came into force Mr. Chadwick was appointed Inspector in the Ashton-under-Lyne Borough Force. During his service in this Force he was engaged in many important cases, and upon leaving had a record of having convicted more thieves than all the other members of the Force put together.


In 1862 Mr. Chadwick was appointed Chief Constable of Stalybridge. About this time he was engaged, with other Officers, in investigating cases arising out of a strike of brickmakers. The strikers were in the habit of going about during the night to non-unionist brickyards damaging newly-made bricks, and maiming master brickmakers and horses. The strike did not terminate without loss of life. Two Officers of the Lancashire Constabulary, viz., Sergeant Harrop and P.C. Jump, were shot at early one morning while endeavouring to stop a number of the men; Jump was killed, and Harrop was injured. A brickmaker named Ward was afterwards hanged at Liverpool, and another named Burke, was sent to penal servitude for life for the crime.

It was no unusual thing for them to patrol their districts together all night in what they called "still-hunting."

Mr. Chadwick was also engaged, in 1863, in a case in which several thousand pounds worth of cotton were stolen from railways and factories. Through the American Civil War cotton became very dear, which tempted men to steal it, several men being sent to penal servitude for those offences.


At the time Mr. Chadwick was appointed to Stalybridge the Force consisted of one Chief Constable, one Inspector, one Sergeant, and eight Constables or Watchmen, as they were then called. Soon after his appointment what is still known in Lancashire as the Cotton Famine commenced. Nearly all the mills were closed, and the people thrown out of employment. A Relief Committee was formed, which doled out food and clothing to the people, who in a short time became dissatisfied with the way the Committee gave out the food and clothing. Some of the people got up an agitation against the Committee. Rioting ensued, and the relief stores were sacked and set on fire, and much damage was done to property belonging to members of the Relief Committee. The military, both horse and foot, were billeted in the town, but, notwithstanding their efforts, the rioting continued for some days. Several of the ringleaders were afterwards convicted at the Chester Assizes. This was rather a good beginning for the new Chief Constable, with his small handful of men.


In 1866, before Mr. Chadwick had got the Stalybridge Force into really good working order, the Murphy Riots broke out. A band of men, with a person named Murphy at their head, went about lecturing against the Roman Catholic priesthood. The inhabitants of the town were divided into two parties; the English supported Murphy and his party, and the Irish were against them. The lectures were continued, and the result was that fierce disturbances broke out in the streets. The windows of the Roman Catholic chapel were smashed, and the military had again to be called out. These riots extended to Ashton and other towns, and numbers of men were convicted at the Assizes. Mr. Chadwick seems to have been rather unfortunate in having to deal with so many disturbances. In 1890 a spinners' strike occurred, which lasted six or seven months. The workpeople had frequent collisions, and some forty or fifty extra Constables, twenty of them mounted, were requisitioned. This strike ended without serious consequences.


Mr. Chadwick has been connected with the Order of Freemasons since 1856, and is a Past Provincial Officer. Mr William Chadwick was the Chief Constable of Stalybridge from 1862 to 1899. (Police Review and Parade Gossip, 30 November 1894)


r. Samuel Kershaw, Inspector of Stalybridge, was born on the 28th September, 1840, at Denton, near Manchester. When 19 years of age he

joined the Police Force of the Borough of Stalybridge, on the 16th of January, 1860. On being appointed a Constable he thought he might as well ascertain what his wages would be, and, putting the question, he was told by the Chairman of the Watch Committee that he would receive 18s. a week, and "a thrashing now and then." The reply to this rather amused the Chairman. "Very well," said Mr. Kershaw, "I suppose I shall be there at the time."


Having had a pretty fair education, and being strong and active, he resolved to endeavour to rise in the rank, and so well was this resolution carried out that, by close and strict attention to duty and never giving his superiors the least chance of making a complaint against him, he, on the 6th October, 1862, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and Drill Instructor. This was the commencement of Mr.


Mr Samuel Kershaw, Inspector of Stalybridge Borough Police


Kershaw's success.


What were known as the "bread riots" began in Stalybridge on the 20th March, 1863, and continued for a week. So serious did these riots become that not only was the whole of the Stalybridge Police Force called out, but Officers from other places, as well as the military, were requisitioned. A large number of ratepayers were also appointed Special Constables, and such confidence had the Chief Constable in Sergeant Kershaw that he was ordered to take charge of them. During the whole time that the riots prevailed Mr. Kershaw was on duty day and night. His zeal led to increased confidence being placed in him by the Watch Committee, and to his further promotion on the 6th October, 1866, to the rank of Inspector. Five months afterwards the Watch Commitee of the Borough of Glossop required a Chief Constable to organise a, Police Force, and a member of the Stalybridge Town Council advised Mr. Kershaw to reply to the advertisement. Mr. Kershaw told him he thought he was too young, but was encouraged to apply for the position. He was successful, and was appointed on the 2lst of March, 1867, when only 26˝ years of age, and with only seven years service. Three years after this Southport was made a Borough, and out of 40 candidates Mr. Kershaw was selected as Chief Constable. At Southport he soon became popular amongst all, classes, especially with the men under him.


In marshalling processions, etc., Mr. Kershaw has had great experience, especially since his appointment at Southport, and on several occasions he has shown much tact in the handling of great masses of people. The largest processions he has marshalled were in 1890 and 1891, when the miners of Lancashire and Cheshire held their demonstrations at Southport, and on each occasion there were upwards of 40,000 people. The year 1889 was, in several ways, an eventful one in Mr. Kershaw's career. With the sanction of the Watch Committee he, during this year, introduced the eight hours' system, which has worked well, and is still continued. In the same year, with the sanction of the Watch Committee, he formed a Police Band, which has met with great success, and is well appreciated by the townspeople and visitors.


The Southport Police Force is fifty-five strong. For several years Mr. Kershaw was Superintendent of the Borough Fire Brigade, and during the time he held this position he introduced many important changes. In these days when many chief positions in the Police Forces of the country are being given to retired military officers, he is often asked by such gentlemen, in return for a pecuniary consideration, to give them a little tuition in the routine and management of a Force, but he has persistently refused to do any such thing, for he considers that such appointments are unjust to those in the ranks who are trying to work their way up. Mr. Kershaw is now 54 years of age, stands six feet in height, and has a military appearance. He is unassuming in manner, and is courteous and kind to all who come into contact with him. He is a very active man, and in September, 1885, at the Lancashire Constabulary Sports, held at Pomona Gardens, Manchester, he ran in the 150 yards race for Officers over 15 years' service, he having at the time served 25 years. The first day he won the second prize, and the second day he obtained the third prize. The first race was a very close one, there being only half a yard between the first and second, and a foot between the second and third. The time was 16 seconds.


Mr. Samuel Kershaw was the Chief Constable of Glossop from 1868 to 1870 and Southport from 1870 to 1896. (Police Review and Parade Gossip, 7 December, 1894)



Above: Civil Affairs Staff Centre Course, 1943. Stalybridge Borough Police Chief Constable S. Pickering, 1929-1947, second row, fourth from left. Also attended by the Chief Constables of Hertfordshire, Derby, Newark, Leicestershire, Blackburn and Warwickshire (Submitted by Ray Ricketts)

Copyright © 2019 British Police History. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use