At the time of writing this article (29 March 2020), the world, including Bermuda, is in the grip of the COVID-19 virus.
In 2017, the Executive Committee of the Ex-Bermuda Police Association (XBPOA) tasked me with merging about six lists of former Police Officers into one List. I was told that the result would be an incomplete list. There were several reasons for this; some records had been destroyed in two major fires (The Hamilton Hotel in 1955 and the Bermudiana Hotel in 1958 which were both used to store Government records) and other records have suffered from the humid conditions in Bermuda.
The backbone of the first merged list was ‘Coops List’, a list of members compiled by Detective Constable David Cooper in 2003. Other lists included membership and contact lists created at various times by the XBPOA. It was obvious there were many names missing from the merged List.
It was decided that the Main List would contain the Full Name, Rank, Date of Birth, Date of Joining and Date of Separation of the member. It has now tripled in size and contains well over 3,000 individual names.
The List on the website only contains the Full Name, Rank and Dates of Service. This is in light of data protection legislation and to protect our members against Identity Theft. These are also the reasons why we only record on the website the first 100 years of the Bermuda Police. Once life returns to normal, we will review this policy and maybe add more records from recent years.
Where a member has two or more periods of service, each period is given a full entry. As noted, some names are believed to be missing and many dates are missing. They will be added as they are discovered. If a member died in service their Date of Separation is in bold.
The Master or ‘Full’ List is an on-going project and will be for as long as the Bermuda Police Service exists. One of it’s earliest entries memorializes the first recorded murder of a Police Officer in the Colony, Constable Thomas Burrows Brown who was killed whilst on duty on 26th March 1867, 12 years before the Bermuda Police Force was formed.
During research it was realized that in teasing out the required information from many sources, that a lot of other information was being revealed. It became apparent that the List could become a valuable resource to future researchers as an ‘Index to Sources’ and so sources of information are now included in the unpublished Master List. It is also for this reason that when details of civilian staff and the Dockyard Police (which ceased in 1953) are found, that they are included in the Master List.
Once the first merged List had been compiled, the main resources used in compiling this List were the Bermuda Government Archives, the Bermuda National Library, the Bermuda Police Administration Department and the website of the Ex Bermuda Police Association. Local media and other sources are used to be kept informed of current members of the Service as they are our future members.
In addition the researchers have used their personal subscriptions to various genealogy research websites.
With the end of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1948, some 2,400 British police officers were made redundant. About 40 of them came to Bermuda. Many were missing from our original merged list. Our thanks go to Mr. Martin Higgins of the British Palestine Police Association (son of one of the 2,400), who provided a wealth of information about the Ex BPP personnel who came to Bermuda.
Our thanks also go to the staff of the Bermuda Government Archives, the Bermuda Library and the Bermuda Police Administration Department for their unstinting help and assistance.
One source that has been largely untapped is the Collection of Bermuda Police Magazines which is now held by the Bermuda Museum. A near duplicate set is held by the Bermuda Police Museum (located at the Senior Officers Mess at Prospect). These will be a valuable resource for more in depth research.
Presentation to the Bermuda Police Museum
On 18th January 2020, at the XBPOA Annual Cocktail Party, Commissioner of Police, Mr Stephen Corbishley unexpectedly presented Commendation Certificates to ex-Chief Inspector Roger Sherratt, the webmaster of the XBPOA website, ex-Superintendent George Rose, who researches in-depth articles for the XBPOA, and to myself for our services to the Association and the Bermuda Police Service for researching and preserving the history of the Bermuda Police.
Here I must give my personal thanks to Roger and George for their support and assistance in this particular project. It has been invaluable.
Sincere thanks also to retired P.C. David Kerr who is literally a "walking book of knowledge" armed with his phenomenal memory for names and numbers!
On the same occasion, the XBPOA presented to the Commissioner a folder and a set of DVDs for retention by the Bermuda Police Museum. The folder contained a printout of the Full Name, Rank, Date of Birth, Date of Joining and Date of Separation of members of the Bermuda Police from 1st October 1879 to 30 September 1979.
The DVDs contained the resource files (Photographs of documents, relevant emails and other references) used to compile this List. The DVDs also contains the ‘full’ List. ‘Full’ because it is recognized some data is missing and as time progresses this will hopefully be discovered and entered.
The ‘full’ List records the earliest date of joining the Police as of 1860. There were Police Constables in Bermuda for many years before this date and some were retained by the new Bermuda Police Force. However this List officially starts with the formation of the Bermuda Police Force. It also includes Civilians, secondees, and Cadets. It does not include members of the Bermuda Reserve Police as they are believed to be compiling their own list.
Access to the Folder and DVDs is available to genuine researchers through the Commissioner's Office.
Some Interesting Facts from early History
Prior to 1st October 1879, Bermuda had Constables but further research is needed to ascertain their numbers and duties.
1st October 1879 saw the formal creation of the Bermuda Police Force with one Superintendent, one Chief Police Constable and eight Police Constables. The Constables were paid 60 pounds per year. In addition there were two or three Parish Constables in each Parish. The Parish Constables were part time and were elected annually at the same time as Vestry members and other officials of the Parish. They were paid less than their regular colleagues but were able to charge Government for certain services.
Starting about 1889, long serving Policemen were granted pensions but each one pension had to be enshrined in an Act of Parliament and voted on by the Legislature.
In 1901 there was an extensive debate in the Legislature about Police reforms resulting in The Police Establishment Act, 1901, which came into force on 1st June 1902. Under this Act the Police Force would consist of an Inspector of Police, three Chief Police Constables, ﬁfteen Police Constables and twenty-one Rural Police Constables all of whom are to be appointed by the Governor. In addition the Governor was authorized to employ up to 20 of Extra Police Constables in case of emergency or other necessity.
On 5th September 1903 the Royal Gazette reported four additional constables for Hamilton and three for Somerset were sworn in before the Magistrate (the Wor. R. W. Appleby). The Gazette stated: ‘Two or three of them were evidently not sons of Anak; on the contrary, they were quite Lilliputian. Three were men of colour.’
By 1914 the starting salary had increased to 74 Pounds.
In 1st November 1919 the Royal Gazette reported that The Police Establishment Act of 1919 comes into force today….it is hoped that (it).. will result in the Force becoming an even more efficient factor than it is now. Mr. J. H. Sempill is promoted from Inspector to Chief of Police. The rank of Chief Constable has been abolished, and the appointment of Inspector substituted. The next position is that of Sergeant-Major. The Gazette then reported the next rank as Sergeant and ‘that the post of plain clothes constable will continue to be held by Mr. Charles Edward Simons’. Mr Simons was eventually given the title of "Detective Officer" and the story of his life as an outstanding police officer is told in our "Hall of Fame" which you can view at http://recovery.expobermuda.com/index.php/latesthof/308-dosimons
In 1920 the position of Parish Constable was abolished and some were absorbed into the regular Police.