University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

A Certain Share of Low Cunning: A History of the Bow Street Runners, 1792-1839

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  • 905533

    Final published version, 43 KB, PDF document

  • Matthew White
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)188-190
JournalUrban History
Journal publication dateMay 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


That the term ‘Runner’ –which carries with it overtones of menial subservience – is still used so widely to describe the forces that operated from London’s famed Bow Street magistrate’s office says much about our present misunderstandings of this stout body of men. Much-maligned by contemporaries for their complicity with the criminal underworld, or otherwise disparaged for their pursuit of personal gain and prestige, the image of the patrols and officers that operated from that establishment remains a blend of corruption and blundering amateurishness; of a motley band of meddling ‘myrmidons’ who were viewed with suspicion by most Londoners and labelled ‘pigs’ by many others (p. 42). In this long overdue book (which is, surprisingly, the first authoritative volume on this fascinating
subject) David Cox makes a dramatic revision to these ill-informed caricatures by offering instead a fresh portrait of the Principal Officers who operated from Bow Street. Through ameticulous examination of press reports, court cases, Home
Office papers and autobiographies detailing their work, Cox has provided a farranging account of their complex dealings there, revealing along the way a rich description of relatively sophisticated police work, much of which has hitherto
remained largely neglected by historians.


Original review can be found at : Copyright Cambridge University Press

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