What started as a seemingly simple request from Colorado into the career of an officer in the early days of the Constabulary (1840 to 1851) developed into an interesting story.
The original request
I am seeking information about: Warrant: 268 Joined: 12-5-1840 Name: SEABORNE Robert Age: 34 Height: 5 ft 10 Occupation: Weaver Where Born: Cam, Dursley, Glos Highest Rank: Constable Circumstances of Separation: Died.
Robert died on 6 March 1851 in Stonehouse. His cause of death is listed as Phthisis Pulmonalis also known as consumption or tuberculosis.
In her book The Seaborn Family: 1650-1992, Delma Seaborn Mink made following two comments about Robert on page 15.
- ROBERT SEABORN (son of George Seaborn and Elizabeth Clark) Christened 29th June 1804, Gloucestershire, England; died. 13 March 1851 at Stonehouse of injuries received while on duty as a policeman; married 25 September, 1828 to Elizabeth White; they were the parents of 11 children.
- ROBERT SEABORN was a policeman and was stationed at several posts in Gloucestershire, England. The diaries kept during his years of service can still be read. The police in those days wore top-hats and tails and rode horseback so Robert was no doubt an imposing figure as he was six foot, two inches in height. (There is no evidence to suggest that Robert patrolled on a horse, at the time constables and sergeants would have walked)
- This is the sort of uniform that was worn at the time.
(Gloucestershire Police Archives URN 7883)
Armed with this information we looked to see what else we could find out.
We were able to find a transcription of some of the details of the 1842 South Cerney Diary which mentioned Robert Seaborn but the original document is missing. We do know that on July 1843 he moved from South Cerney to Ashbrook or Ampney St Mary.
On 14th April 1845 he moved to Lechlade.
and on 7th November 1846 he moved to Tetbury
After the move to Tetbury we are unable to track Robert’s career as we have no further documents relating to the places that he served in.
But we did find the following information.
We are not sure why Robert gave up his job as a weaver to be a police officer in the new Gloucestershire Rural Constabulary (at that time, he and his wife, Elizabeth, had a full house. In addition to themselves, there were 6 children, and Elizabeth’s mother) but his wedding was witnessed by Edwin Riddiford who became a superintendent during his career.
Further research shows that Edwin and Robert joined the Constabulary within days of each other and it appears looking at the Riddifords marriage documentation alongside that of the Seabornes that the two wives may have been sisters.
A search of the newspaper archive brought up a case where a servant girl Ann Seaborn brought a case of rape against the Deputy Chief Constable of the time Charles Keiley. We were not sure if Ann and Robert were related in any way.
Another newspaper article of the time said that Ann’s father was a police officer. Search of the Lechlade station diary of the time (21st July 1845) shows an entry about Robert being given to leave to go to Gloster relating to the charge made by his daughter against the Deputy Chief Constable.
The charges were found to be not proven and so the Deputy Chief Constable was reinstated.
Charles Keily. Joined 1st December 1839, he was promoted to the rank of Superintendent 1st Class 12th December 1839. He was then promoted Deputy Chief Constable on 7th July 1840 with an additional salary of £20 per annum. Later he was dismissed on 24th June 1853 having absconded with £485 9/4d public money belonging to the county of Gloucester.
Robert died in 1851, his wife a couple of years later while Ann died in 1848 before them both.