Bolter, Francis Leonard, 34, Police Constable.

Paul Watts

Francis Leonard Bolter PC 34
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

Francis Leonard Bolter was born on the 23rd July 1877 at Bennington.

His father, William Bolter a Publican and Farmer, married his mother, Eliza Sams, in 1866 at Hertford. They had nine children one of whom sadly died before the 1911 census.
1. Eleanor born and died in 1867 at Watton.
2. Helena born in 1868 at Watton.
3. Herbert Henry born in 1870 at Stanstead Abbotts.
4. Charles Ansell born in 1872 at Stanstead Abbotts. Served as Private 4704 1st Battalion, Border Regiment in Boer War.
5. Frederick William born in 1875 at Stanstead Abbotts. Served as a Private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry during the Boxer Rebellion and WW1.
6. Francis Leonard.
7. Ernest John born in 1880 at Bennington possible WW1 veteran.
8. Harriet born in 1882 at Bennington.
9. Gershom born in 1885 at Bennington. Served as Police Constable 92714 in the Metropolitan Police from 18th December 1905 to 21st December 1931.

During the 1881, 1891 and 1907 census returns the family are recorded as living at the Cricketers Inn, Bennington. Francis cannot be found in the census of 1891 or 1901.

Early Army Service.

Francis’ early Army Record has survived although he enlisted under a variation of his own name. The record shows that a Leonard Francis Boulter enlisted in London on the 15th June 1896 to become Private 326 in the Militia, 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. The following details were recorded: He said he was born in Bennington Herts. and he was 18 years 11 months of age. He said his address for the previous year was 2, St. Georges Building, Bourdon Street, Berkley Square. He was employed as a groom by a Mr. Croft of St. Margarets Bury, Herts. He was not an apprentice, was not married, had no children, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never been in the Military before.

He was medically examined the same day and the following recorded: Apparent age: 19 years. Height: 5 feet 7 inches. Weight: 115 lbs. Chest: 32 ½ – 34 ½ inches. Complexion: Fair. Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Black. Marks: Vaccination 4 left. Mole right shoulder. He said his religion was Roman Catholic.

His statement of service records that he served until the 28th August 1896 and then on the following day he transferred to the 9th Lancers.

His Army Service Record with the 9th Lancers has not survived but his Police Service Record shows that he served 7 years 225 days in the 9th (Queens Royal) Lancers with some of the time at Rawalpindi. He was discharged on the 25th January 1904 to the Army Reserves and discharged from the Reserves on the 28th July 1908.

It would appear that he continued to use the variation in his name as there is a Medal Roll listing of a Private 3943 L.F. Boulter of 9th (Queens Royal) Lancers who served in South Africa and was awarded the Queens South Africa medal with Clasps South Africa 1901 and 1902, Belmont, Modder River, Paardeberg Wittebergen, Relief of Kimberley and Transvaal.

There is no record of a Leonard Francis Boulter born in 1877 at Bennington and in the photograph, Francis can be seen to be wearing four medals, the first two of which clearly have clasps on the ribbons. On the balance of probabilities, the Militia Service Record and the Medal Rolls are those that belong to Francis Leonard Bolter.

Francis applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary soon after he was discharged from the Army.

Police Service.

Francis’ Hertford County Constabulary Form 3 Service Record has survived and shows him as, Frances Leonard Bolter. He said he was born on the 23rd July 1877 at Bennington. His height was 5 feet 9 inches, chest 36 inches, complexion fresh, eyes hazel, hair dark Brown and he had a tattoo on his right forearm. He stated his previous occupation had been as a groom and he could both ride a pedal cycle and swim.

As part of his application he was medically examined on the 2nd May 1904 to determine whether he was fit for Police duties by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters, Hatfield. He would also have been interviewed and then told to wait for a date to start his training.

He was posted to C Division at Watford on the 4th May 1904 and started his Probationer training under the guidance of a senior experienced Constable and supervised by the Divisional Superintendent. He was Attested on the 7th June 1904 at Watford and on the 11th August 1904 finally Appointed as Constable 34.

General Order 22 of the 23rd August 1904 announced that PC 34 Bolter was appointed on 23/11 per week from 11th August 1904.


Francis married Rosetta Paternoster on the 29th September 1904 at Bennington and they had four children:
1. Frances Violet born in 1905 at Watford.
2. Richard Leonard born in 1911 at Bishops Stortford.
3. Gertrude born in 1914 at Bishops Stortford.
4. Rupert born in 1916 at Bishops Stortford.

General Order 9 of the 7th February 1905 informed Francis that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 23/11 to 25/8 from 19th January 1905.

Sleepy Carter.

Published on the 31st March 1905 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner: William Chalk, Martin Top Farm, Flaunden was summoned for riding asleep on March 19th but did not appear. Police Constable Bolter said that about 12.15 a.m. he saw a horse and cart in Watford High Street. No driver was visible, but on climbing on the cart he found defendant fast asleep. Defendant afterwards denied being asleep. Supt. Wood said that there wore previous convictions for a similar offence. Fined 19s, and costs.

Grievous Bodily Harm.

Published on the 17th November 1905 in the Buckinghamshire Examiner under the headline Serious Attack On A Lady: At Watford Petty Sessions on Tuesday, Reginald West, (aged 24) 64, Park Road, Bushey was charged with feloniously and unlawfully wounding Martha Anstee, with intent to do her some grievous bodily harm on November 6th. Mr. H. Lomas, solicitor, appeared to prosecute, and Mr. J.H. Murphy (instructed by Mr. Boydell) defended. Mr. Lomas, in opening, said that Mrs. Anstee was a widow lady living with her bachelor brothers at Cassio Bridge Farm. On this occasion she had been to London to visit a sick friend, and walked home during the evening, it being a bright moonlight night. When she got within a few yards of the farmyard gate she was set upon by defendant, who violently assaulted her.

Police Constable Bolter deposed that on Monday the 6th Inst. he received a complaint that a lady had been assaulted near Cassio Bridge. He went to Cassio Bridge Farm where he saw the prisoner detained outside a house. A complaint was lodged by several persons that prisoner was the man who had assaulted Mrs. Martha Anstee. Witness brought prisoner to the Police Station, and after his name and address was obtained, he was allowed to go. His clothing was covered with mud and it appeared as if he had been rolling in the road. There was blood on the back of both his hands. Witness asked him to account for the blood but made no reply. On the way to the Police Station prisoner said, “Let me go,” witness said, “No, I must do my duty and take you to the Police Station.” Prisoner said, “You can say that I escaped. I shall get a long time for this.” On Wednesday, the 8th Inst. witness received a warrant for the arrest of prisoner and in company with Police Constable Pitcher, he went to No. 64, Park Road, Bushey. Witness knocked at the back door and prisoner opened it. Witness told him he was a Police Officer and held a warrant for his arrest. Witness then went inside the house, read the warrant, and cautioned the prisoner, who replied, “I admit the first part. I was intoxicated and did not assault anyone to my knowledge.” When formally charged at the Police Station prisoner made no reply. When witness saw the prisoner on Monday, he had been drinking but was not drunk.

Martha Anstee, who appeared very weak, was accompanied by a nurse, and accommodated with a chair. She said that on November 6th she arrived at Watford Station about a quarter to seven in the evening and started to walk home to Cassio Bridge Farm. When she arrived within a few yards of the house a man came out from the orchard hedge. He put his hand on her right shoulder and struck her with his fist behind the left ear. He said something to her. (Witness wrote down the words which were handed to the Bench.) Witness thought she tried to strike him and said, “How dare you I live here,” She tried to get away and he then hit her on the other ear as hard as he could, knocking her down. When she was on the ground, he kept striking her with his fist. She endeavoured to protect her face with her fur and muff. He said, “Let me,” and she kept screaming and said, “No, no.” She thought she said she was a married woman. To stop her screaming he put his hand over her mouth. He also hit her on the mouth with his fist and put both his hands round her throat and tried to strangle her. Next, he started with his fists again and she thought he must have hit her forty times. Witness saw two people coming along and called out to them. They came and pulled the man away. She then got up and ran away home. Defendant was brought to her house later on and she identified him. She had never seen defendant before.

Medical evidence was given by Dr. Sharman to the effect that the lady was much bruised and suffering from a severe nervous shock. Defendant in answer to the charge pleaded not guilty. He admitted he was intoxicated on this evening, but he did not assault anyone to his knowledge or intentionally. He was extremely sorry if he hurt or frightened Mrs. Anstee. This was the first time he had ever been drunk and it would be the last. He promised to take the pledge and keep it. Character references were then given for the defendant by the Rev. G. Montague Hall, Rector of Bushey and Joseph W. Bennett, schoolmaster under the London County Council. After further evidence defendant was committed for trial and was allowed bail.


General Order 4 of the 8th February 1906 instructed Francis that he would be transferred as soon as possible from C Division at Watford to E Division at Hitchin as Constable Groom. His Service Record shows he moved there on the 16th February 1906.

The Assizes.

General Order 14 of the 18th June 1906 announced that a Mounted Detachment of one Sergeant and five Constables, including Francis, would perform duty at the Assizes at Hertford on 27th June 1906 as Judges Escort at an hour to be stated by Supt. Foster in due course. The escort was required every morning until the conclusion of the Assizes. Swords with white belts would be worn but not drawn and Serge Jackets.

In December 1907 Francis passed his Ambulance certificate, an important qualification which entitled him to wear a badge on his lower left tunic sleeve to show he was trained in basic First Aid.

The 1908 Electoral Roll lists Francis Leonard Bolter as living at the Police Station, Bancroft, Hitchin.


His Police Service Record shows that on the 8th April 1908 Francis was transferred from E Division at Hitchin to B Division at Bishops Stortford.

Francis’ father died in 1909 at Hertford.

General Election.

General Order 2 of 13th January 1910 gave instructions to dozens of Police officers in connection with the General Election of January 1910. Voting was carried out over several days and schedules were drawn up detailing where and when officers would perform duty. The following excerpt refers to Francis.
Schedule A
Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Eastern or Hertford Division on Wednesday 19th January 1910.
Div. Rank No.          Name            Station                          Place for Duty
B PC 34                    Bolter F L      Bishops Stortford        Bishops Stortford

General Order 8 of the 9th March 1910 informed Francis that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 26/10 to 28/- per week from the 10th February 1910.

The Electoral Rolls of 1910 and 1912 to 1913 all list Francis Leonard Bolter as living at 19, Church Street, Bishops Stortford. The 1911 census shows Police Constable Francis Bolter and family at the same address. His mother, now a widow, was the Publican at The Cricketers Inn, Bennington.

A Violent Thief.

Published on the 31st December 1910 in the London Daily News under the headline Constable Uses Truncheon: Yesterday, at Bishop’s Stortford, when Harry White, labourer, was charged with stealing a bicycle lamp and assaulting Constable Bolter, the Constable said he arrested White outside the Rising Sun Inn, Bishop’s Stortford. When told that he would be handcuffed, the prisoner said, “You can put them on in the bar.” Witness allowed him to go into the private bar, and there tried to handcuff him. White then knocked him through a glass door, kicked him on the head, and pinned him against wall. Witness drew his truncheon and struck prisoner on the head. With the help of the landlord White was overpowered. Prisoner was committed for trial.

Published in the Chelmsford Chronicle on Friday 6th January 1911 under the headline: Fight in a Stortford Bar. Harry White, 25, a labourer, of Newpath, Bishop Stortford was charged on remand at the Herts Quarter Session with stealing bicycle lamp, value 7s. 6d., the property of Albert Scripps, Bishop Stortford, on December 21. The prisoner was also charged with assaulting P.C. Francis Leonard Bolter in the execution of his duty, at Bishop Stortford, on the same date. P.C. Bolter described the prisoner as a terror. Prisoner was found guilty of common assault and was sentenced to three months for stealing the lamp and nine months for the assault twelve months altogether.


His Police Service Record shows that on the 27th April 1914 Francis was transferred from B Division at Bishops Stortford to B Division at Albury.

A Minor Blemish.

General Order 91 of the 30th July 1916 reported that the Chief Constable admonished Francis and ordered him to move to Cottered at his own expense for being insubordinate to Sergeant 229 Lee at Bury Green, Little Hadham on the 16th July 1916. The very next Order, 92 of the 30th July 1916 instructed Francis to move on the 9th August 1916. However, his Police Service Record does not show that he did in fact move and the following Order six months later still has him at Albury.

General Order 5 of the 22nd January 1917 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 Enlistment in H.M. Forces: Consequent upon the demand for men of military age for service in H M Army the Standing Joint Committee have reconsidered the strength at which it is necessary to maintain the force and have authorised that a further 20 members shall be released for Army Service.
Of this number 5 have been accepted provisionally by the Army Council for service in the Military Mounted Police viz:
1. PC 11 Pearman C.H. A Div. Wormley
2. PC 34 Bolter F.L. B Div. Albury
3. PC 49 Smith A. C Div. Watford
4. PC 249 Burns A. E Div. Hitchin
5. PC 255 Stroud T. E. E Div. Graveley
Further instructions with regard to these men will be issued as soon as received.

The order then went on to list a further fifteen Constables who received similar instructions.

General Order 19 of 21st February 1917 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914 Police (Emergency Provisions) Act 1915 Enlistment in H M Forces. Reference Order 5/1917: The following Constables having now been called up for service in the Military Mounted Police, the Deputy Chief Constables hereby gives to them the necessary consent, as required by the above Acts, for the purpose of enlisting in HM Army.
1. PC 11 Pearman C.H. A Div. Wormley
2. PC 34 Bolter F.L. B Div. Albury
3. PC 49 Smith A. C Div. Watford
4. PC 249 Burns A. E Div. Hitchin
5. PC 255 Stroud T. E. E Div. Graveley
The Constables will be released from the Police Service on 28th February 1917 and will be paid up to that date inclusive. Each Constable is granted leave of absence on 27th and 28th February 1917 and will be required to report to the Recruiting Officer on the morning of 1st March 1917.

Army Service During The War.

Francis’ Army Service Record has not survived but from his Police Service Record, his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Roll we know that he enlisted on the 10th December 1915, under the Derby Scheme, and immediately transferred to the Section B Army Reserve and returned to normal Police duties pending mobilisation. Every Section B Reservist was issued with an individually numbered Khaki Armlet with a red Crown displayed on it which was to be worn on the upper left arm to demonstrate they were a Reservist.

He was Mobilised on the 1st March 1917 as Lance Corporal P/8284 in the Military Mounted Police. He landed in France on the 3rd April 1917 and remained there until the 11th November 1918, although this appears to be an administrative date as the following shows.

On the 14th October 1918 Lance Corporal P/8284 Francis L. Bolter, Military Mounted Police was admitted to The County of Middlesex War Hospital, Napsbury, St. Albans suffering a simple fracture of the right tibia and fibula. On the 18th December 1918 he was discharged on furlough.

Francis’ Army Service number was P/8284, Constable Arthur Smith was P/8197 and Constable’s Charles Pearman, Archibald Burns and Thomas Stroud had consecutive Army Service numbers of P/8281 to P/8283, so they all clearly enlisted at the same time though other than their initial training, there is nothing to say they served together.

He was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

Like every other soldier Archibald would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to apply to re-join the Police. He would have had to have undergone a Medical Examination by the Force Surgeon to ensure that he was still fit enough for Police duties. Archibald was examined on the 10th April 1919. Having passed this, he would have re-joined on the day following the date of the end of his leave period

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 94 of 13th April 1919 announced the re-appointment to the Force of seven men who had been released from H.M. Army. Francis was shown as PC 34 Bolter F.L. posted to B Division at Albury from the 10th April 1919 on £2/11/0 per week. Each officer had to be formally re-attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report when this has been done providing the date and place of attestation and before whom taken. The Electoral Roll of 1919 lists Francis Leonard and Rosetta Bolter as living at Gravesend, Albury.


General Order 161 of the 16th July 1919 instructed Francis that he would be transferred from B Division at Albury to A Division at Standon on the 1st August 1919. This was then been amended by Order 167/1919 and instead of Standon he was posted to E Division at Pirton.

The 1921 census shows Police Constable Francis Leonard Bolter, his wife and four children all living in the Police Cottage at Pirton. Additionally the Electoral Rolls of 1920 to 1926 list Francis Leonard and Rosetta Bolter as living at the Police Constable’s Cottage, West Lane, Pirton.

General Order 153 of the 31st August 1921 informed Francis that he would receive an increased rate of pay from £4/10/0 to £4/12/6 per week from the 11th August 1921

Another Minor Blemish.

General Order 163 of the 8th December 1925 reported that the Chief Constable had reprimanded Francis for failing to attend conference points at Westmill and Highdown Farm at 11.30 p.m. and 12.45 p.m. respectively on the night of 12th- 13th November 1925.


General Order 118 of the 1st September 1926 instructed Francis that he would be transferred from E Division at Pirton to E Division at Royston to occupy a new cottage. His Service Record shows he moved on the 6th September 1926. The Electoral Rolls of 1927 to 1929 list Francis Leonard and Rosetta Bolter and their daughter Frances as living at Police Cottages, Priory Lane, Royston.

Another Minor Blemish.

On the 11th March 1927, the Chief Constable cautioned Francis for failing to proceed to the scene of a motor accident on the Royston Baldock Road when ordered to do so by Police Sergeant 98 Bateman at 8 p.m. on 3 March 1927.

Retirement And Life After The Police.

Francis retired as a Constable on the completion of his 25 years’ service on the 10th August 1929 on a pension of £115/11/3 per annum.

Published in the Hertfordshire Express on Saturday 31st August 1929 under the headline: Pirton. Retirement of former Pirton Police Constable. Police Constable Bolter who left Pirton three years ago after seven years service in the village has just retired after 25 years faithful service. He formerly served seven years and seven months with the ninth Lancers, most of the time in India and South Africa. He went through the Boer War and saw active service in the Great War. He joined the Hertfordshire Constabulary in May 1901 and was first stationed at Watford. He was at Hitchin as a Mounted Constable for two years, and then transferred to Bishops Stortford where he served for six years. He was  afterwards at Albury and seven years at Pirton, going from there to Royston, where he has been stationed since September 1926. He has two good conduct and efficiency badges. PC Bolter has carried out his duties in Royston, as at Pirton, with ability and tact, and earned the confidence and respect of all who knew him. It is hoped he will live long to enjoy a well-earned pension.

The Electoral Roll of 1930 records Francis Leonard and Rosetta Bolter as living at 6, Green Street, Royston but by the time of the 1939 Register they are shown as living at the Eagle Tavern, Barkway Road, Royston where Francis is the Licensed Victualler.

Francis Leonard Bolter of the Eagle Tavern, Royston died on the 20th March 1954 at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge.

This page was added on 13/05/2020.

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