Vivid description of PC Ryeland

Sometimes in my research I find something that makes me laugh out loud, as did this extract from Charles Booth’s notebooks:

Walk with police constable W R Ryeland of the Hoxton subdivision of the G or Finsbury division of the Metropolitan Policeā€¦..

Ryeland is a man between 40-45. Has been 20 years in the police force. Always in Hoxton. Was on the GWR before joining. Brown short beard and moustache, teetotaller, pay 34/- per week. Rather over medium height. Black soft felt hat. Knows district well. Offends a little by his self-conscious righteousness but is really good, I think.

Charles Booth researched his poverty map of London in 1898-1899 by walking the beat with local police officers and learning about the type of people who lived in each street. I’m not sure what value there was to recording such detail about a police constable. Perhaps it was to help remind himself of the place when he has returned to his desk to revisit his notes and complete his maps. Or perhaps it was simply for personal amusement?

The Charles Booth online archive holds digitised versions of the notebooks. These aren’t transcribed, but if there is a Metropolitan Police Constable in your family tree, and you know which division they served with, it might be worth browsing the notebooks to see if they met Charles Booth and what he had to say about them. Hopefully your ancestor won’t ‘offend’ at all!