1813 Establishment of a Night Watch

Historical period: Fire Insurance Companies

• Starting on December 19, 1812, the quarterly meetings of the Firewards were held at the Exchange Coffee House instead of the Mason Hall. At one of those meeting on January 14, 1813, some witnesses said, under oath, that:


a quantity of combustibles consisting of gun powder, matches, straw and papers was discovered this morning under the sill of the ordnance store adjoining the building of Messrs. Carritt and Alport, apparently with a design of setting the same on fire.

• As a result, they put forward a resolution to have a night watch established in the town, to be under the command of the militia. This night watch would go on for many decades. On June 18th, they decided to further limit the quantities of gun powder allowed in any building (first restricted in 1785), and to make it illegal to have bonfires or to launch fireworks. The same day, they also agreed to draw up rules and regulation for the sweeping of chimneys and the granting of licences for that purpose.


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