The current NSW Police Force began with the passing of the Police Regulation Act of 1862.
Early Police Force
The earliest police in the colony were the convict night-watch of 1789. Prior to their unification in 1862 there were various police forces in the colony. These included the Water Police, the Border Police, the Native Police, the Gold Escort and the Mounted Police.
We hold Police service records: a great place to start your research is the online index to Police Service Registers (1857-1913).
John Vance Blain
For example we can find the entry for John Vance Blain, a native of Ireland, whose service number was 2481. (It is useful to note this number as it is repeated in other service records.) His entry in NRS 10943, Registers of police appointments c.1857-1913 is [8/3251] on Reel 3043.
Blain was a Foot Police officer (not Mounted Police). He was born in 1850 was 5 feet 11 and a half inches tall with blue eyes, fair hair, and a fair complexion. He was a native of Ireland, was single and was previously a farmer. His religion is given as Protestant. His general appearance was good. He was appointed to the Metropolitan District as Constable on 26 December 1874. Unfortunately for him he died on June 1877 after being wounded on duty at Woolloomooloo on 22 March 1877. He is renowned as one of the few police officers who was able to arrest his own murderer!
Also helpful are the NRS 10945, Registers of police, 1862-1904 (included in the Archives Resources Kit and on Ancestry.com.au). These registers provide details such as: date of appointment, age, physical description, marital status, native country, religion, education, previous occupation and where stationed. They also include demotions, discharges, deaths, and superannuation.
For those who served more recently there are the Police service cards, 1913-c.1986 [AK724]. This series provides details such as: name, date of birth, physical description, previous calling, marital status, examinations and qualifications, district and station, duty, and cause and date of leaving the force. Also held are the NRS 10950, Police service registers, 1927-80 and NRS 10956 Cadet registers, 1950-1977. Please note that records of police service are Closed to Public Access for 30 years from date of exiting the force.
- NSW Police Force for the Honour Roll
- National Police Memorial
- Trove for newspapers, and
- OpenGov NSW for Police Annual Reports
Content on this page was first published in the October 2012 edition of Now&Then (Issue 58).