A Gem in the collection – Royal Irish Constabulary

One of the many enjoyable activities of an archivist is finding gems in the collection such as rare photos, personal mementos or evidence of private memberships and professional associations. For us, serendipity unearthed this gem! It’s an original certificate for Constable William Murphy who was formerly a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and later became a member of the Queensland Police. It is important to note that not all Police Staff files in our collection have original certificates so to find one like this was a rare and happy moment!

This Parchment – as it’s officially called – is a Certificate of Character and is much like an employer’s reference in modern day terms.

William was sworn in as a Constable with the Queensland Police on 18 April 1904. Very sadly, William had an extremely short career with the Queensland Police as he died later that year in the November. This event was recorded by Inspector White as the “untimely death of a promising man [for which] I am very sorry”. There are no notes on how William met his demise, although other documents on William’s police staff file indicate he had a good education but was a terrible horseman – in fact his horsemanship was described as bad. So perhaps it was a horse riding accident that brought his career to an abrupt end?  A quick search didn’t find a will, intestacy or inquest file for William in our collection, so we have hit a roadblock answering questions about his untimely death. Perhaps one of our readers knows the answer?

Other members of the RIC are recorded in the QSA Imperial Pensions indexes. Search for your pensioner by name, get the details and look up their record, which will state the service from which they earned their pension.

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au.

4 Responses

  1. Bruce Andrew

    Greetings from the Emerland Isle.
    My GGrandfather Thomas McCormack service # 39,505 served in the RIC between 1873-1898, and retired after full service as Sergeant.
    I have been searching for his place of birth in Co Màyo, as his father William McCormick # 2687 was stationed at that time.
    Thomas joined from Mohill Co Leitrim and was recommended by Sub Inspector John McGavern.
    I have seen from a Certificate of Character on this site, that the exact place of birth (parish) xwas recorded.
    Any help with my search, gratefully received.
    Thanking you in anticipation.

  2. Bruce Andrew

    Hi there,
    I understand from your colleagues that you may be able to help me in finding the Birth place / parish of my G Grandfather Thomas McCormack.
    He retired from the RIC in 1898, and his service # was 39,505
    I have established that he was born in Co Màyo c 1850.
    His father was William McCormick and his service # was 2,687.
    Many thanks

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