Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Constable, an officer to whom our law commits the duty of maintaining the peace. The Constable of England or Lord High Constable, as he was called, was an officer of high dignity and importance in this realm about the time of Henry VIII., but since that period this particular office has been disused in England, except on great and solemn occasions. He was then the leader of the king's armies, and had the cognisance of all matters connected with arms and war. He also sometimes exercised judicial functions in the Court of Chivalry, where he took precedence of the Earl Marshal. His jurisdiction is partly now vested in the Court of Admiralty. Constables are of two sorts - high constables and petty constables; the former are appointed at the court leets of the franchise or hundreds over which they preside, or in default of that by the justices at the Quarter Sessions, and are removable by the same authority that appoints them. They have the superintendence and direction of all petty constables within their district, and are in some measure responsible for these latter. They have also other duties such as serving precepts and warrants on certain occasions. But the utility of these officers having become questionable, the justices of each county were directed by statute 32 and 33 Victoria, c. 47, to consider and determine whether it was necessary that the office of high constable of each hundred or other like district within their jurisdiction should be maintained, and provision is therein made for the abolition of such office in certain cases and for the transfer of the duties thereof to the clerk of the justices in each sessional division. The duties of petty constables are subordinate to those of the high constable, and of a less important character. There are also constables of castles, who are governors or keepers of the same, and whose office is usually honorary.