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Parish Returns (required in terms of Statute) for Males resident in the Parish who were between 18 and 45 years of age and thus liable for Militia Service (unless they claimed exemption).The Loth Parish (1826) return was completed by the Schoolmaster and Constable together.In the 1843 Accounts however there appeared for the first time the word "Constable", in respect of Peter Mackay and George Mackay, Tongue and also "Donald Gunn, Constable, Strathhalladale".Each year, at its Annual Meeting, the Commissioners minuted the re-hiring of the Police Officer - and also of the Keeper of the Mound - and these persons appear to have been the only employees of the County, other than the Jailer.He therefore put pen to paper on the subject to the Commissioners, which resulted in the following minute: "The meeting thereafter took into their consideration a communication from Mr Sheriff Lumsden dated the 3rd January last on the subject of establishing a Constabulary Force in the County - and the Chairman having submitted to the Meeting the draught of an answer which he conceived would embody the sentiments of the Meeting, the same was approved of and he was requested to address Mr Lumsden accordingly." So what WAS the Chairman's response?Very likely it was a case of "thanks, but no thanks" - something along the lines of paying lip service to the proposal but saying that the Commissioners did not see the need at the present time for such a course of action.In 1844, at the meeting on 30 April, however things began to change.After confirming the retention for another year of "Philip Mackay, Police Officer" (and George Bell, the Keeper of the Mound), Mr Gunn of Meikle Swordale, who was Factor to the Duke of Sutherland, appeared before the Commissioners.
the salary of Twenty Five Pounds Sterling to James Stewart Police Officer for the year from Whitsunday 1828 to Whitsunday 1829." Unfortunately the previous volume of the Commissioners' Minutes is missing, so it is not known when 'Police Officer' was first used in Sutherland, nor how long Mr Stewart had been in office.
Perhaps there had simply been no criminal work to be done in Strathhalladale and Tongue in the period of the accounts?
The 'Serjeant Mac Leod' may well have been the Dornoch Burgh Officer, as municipal authorities tended to apply the title of Serjeant to their Council Officers, who usually had some local law enforcement responsibilities in addition to their other Council duties.
This, it will be noted, was £50, exactly double the sum paid to his predecessor.
One wonders why the massive increase for the new man.