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Maria Louisa Roulson (aka Old Ma Lechmere)

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  • Herefordshire Constabulary was established in 1857 - the situation in 1851 was from a more archaic tradition and the position of Superintendent Constable for the Division of Abbeydore was a relatively senior one. Herefordshire had been divided into thirteen divisions which carried over to the Constabulary, but the Abbeydore one was abolished in 1875.
    So I don't think that degree of patronage would still be in effect to assist young Thomas Cross
    But, any sort of influential reference would no doubt assist an application.
    Having said that, being the much younger suitor of a still married mother would not go down well in somewhere like small world Hereford one would presume, and references would not belong forthcoming.

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    • Although from 1835 there was also the City of Hereford Police, for the Borough and from 1836 Leominster Borough Police.

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      • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
        Herefordshire Constabulary was established in 1857 - the situation in 1851 was from a more archaic tradition and the position of Superintendent Constable for the Division of Abbeydore was a relatively senior one. Herefordshire had been divided into thirteen divisions which carried over to the Constabulary, but the Abbeydore one was abolished in 1875.
        So I don't think that degree of patronage would still be in effect to assist young Thomas Cross
        But, any sort of influential reference would no doubt assist an application.
        Having said that, being the much younger suitor of a still married mother would not go down well in somewhere like small world Hereford one would presume, and references would not belong forthcoming.
        The Hereford Borough Police Force merged with the Herefordshire Constabulary in 1946 I believe, and in addition the Cathedral had its own constable(s).

        The Rev. A. C. would almost certainly have been able to oil the wheels if he had thought TC was a deserving candidate. He was on the committee formed to organise the establishment of the County Constabulary in 1857.

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        • You are a young Herefordshire man who wants to join the police and you have your eye on a ‘widow’ with a small private income who has a connection to the Rev. A. C. who is on the committee responsible for setting up the Herefordshire County Constabulary - so what do you do?

          Move to the East End, marry the widow there and set up home in Tiger Bay!

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          • George Scudamore Lechmere doesn’t appear to have had any previous experience of being a policeman. I suspect his name may have come in handy when he applied for the job of constable in the Hereford Police.

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            • I'm not sure how difficult it would have been to become a policeman in the Hereford City Police or the Herefordshire Constabulary - the newspaper report, probably penned by a more affluent Lechnere I suspect, slightly sneered at those employed in the blue.

              The Met was made up in large measure, with rural farmer's lads, so on that level Thomas Cross was not unusual.
              But clearly he couldn't set up a bigamous home in Hereford with old Ma, nor join the local fuzz in such circumstances.
              I guess that underpins your interest. Thomas Cross must have known that she was still married and that he was entering into a bigimous relationship and that must have influenced his move to London and the Met.

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              • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                I'm not sure how difficult it would have been to become a policeman in the Hereford City Police or the Herefordshire Constabulary - the newspaper report, probably penned by a more affluent Lechnere I suspect, slightly sneered at those employed in the blue.

                The Met was made up in large measure, with rural farmer's lads, so on that level Thomas Cross was not unusual.
                But clearly he couldn't set up a bigamous home in Hereford with old Ma, nor join the local fuzz in such circumstances.
                I guess that underpins your interest. Thomas Cross must have known that she was still married and that he was entering into a bigimous relationship and that must have influenced his move to London and the Met.
                That’s the way I see it. At the very best, Maria must have thought it likely that her husband, a man in his thirties, was still alive and that if he was, evidence of the fact might turn up in Hereford at any time. Having one of his cousins as a local PC may have been a constant reminder of the risk she would run if she married TC and remained in Hereford. At worst, she knew JAL was still alive when she decided to marry TC and knowingly committed the crime of bigamy. Either way, the scandal that would have ensued in Hereford in the event that JAL turned up one day would have been something she would have wanted to avoid at all costs.

                As far as I’m aware, JAL himself did not commit bigamy. Although he set up home with a woman who passed as his wife, he never actually married her.

                I’m aware that the Met had a large contingent of lads from rural communites, but did they choose jobs in London over ones on their home turf?









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                • Does anyone know the minimum age for joining the Met in the 1850s? I wonder if that might explain the apparent age discrepancy on Maria and TC’s marriage cert (and his death cert).

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                  • I have seen the notice of Thomas Cross's death in police

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                    • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                      I have seen the notice of Thomas Cross's death in police
                      Police what…?

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                      • Sorry I got distracted

                        ...orders.
                        I also worked out to within a week or two when he joined based on his number.
                        Nothing seemed untoward but I haven't got my information to hand.

                        I guess some farmer's boys were attracted to the bright lights, big city and tawdry glamour of the Met... and some weren't.

                        There is a chance that Thomas Cross and Old Ma moved to the East End independently, didn't really know each other before, but hooked up by chance with their budding relationship cemented by shared memories and experiences in Hereford.

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                        • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                          Sorry I got distracted

                          ...orders.
                          I also worked out to within a week or two when he joined based on his number.
                          Nothing seemed untoward but I haven't got my information to hand.

                          I guess some farmer's boys were attracted to the bright lights, big city and tawdry glamour of the Met... and some weren't.

                          There is a chance that Thomas Cross and Old Ma moved to the East End independently, didn't really know each other before, but hooked up by chance with their budding relationship cemented by shared memories and experiences in Hereford.
                          If you could dig that out and share it, it would be most appreciated.

                          Ma leaving her native Herefordshire with all its useful connections and moving to the East End alone with her two small children in tow seems unlikely. Unless she thought she might track JAL down there.

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                          • Some things we will never know.
                            JAL was living openly in the centre of the shoe and boot industry in Northants.
                            Thomas Cross's family were involved in that industry as was Fosdike. It seems inconceivable that she didn't know where he was.

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                            • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                              Some things we will never know.
                              JAL was living openly in the centre of the shoe and boot industry in Northants.
                              Thomas Cross's family were involved in that industry as was Fosdike. It seems inconceivable that she didn't know where he was.
                              Do you imagine that every shoemaker in Northants was known to every other shoemaker in the land?

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                              • No but JAL was relatively prominent in that business for a while. The Hereford bootmaking fraternity must have been a small world and I'd guess they would cross fertilise to a degree with the Northants focal point and would would seep back about the Hereford guy now working in Northants via industry gossip.

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