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.