Hyiatt, James, 91, Police Constable.

Paul Watts

PC 91 James Hyiatt

Early Life.

James Hyiatt was born on the 28th November 1872 at Waltham Cross and was baptised there on the 21st March 1875. Various records show that the family surname appears as Hyatt or Hyaitt as well as Hyiatt.

His father, Henry Richard Hyiatt, was born in 1842 at Enfield. He married his mother, Mary Wren, who was born in 1846 in Wareside. They had five children:

1.    Thomas Richard born in 1868 at Enfield.

2.    Eliza born in 1870 and died in 1875 at Waltham Cross.

3.    James.

4.    Henry Frederick born and died in 1875 at Waltham Cross.

5.    George Henry born in 1877 at Waltham Cross.

In the 1871 census the family are recorded as living at Albert Cottages, Albert Road, Cheshunt and James’ father is employed as a Carman. At the time of James’ baptism, they were living at New Waltham and his father was a labourer. During the 1881 census the family is shown as living at 4, Gertrude Cottages, Albert Road, Cheshunt. James was shown as a scholar and his father a general labourer. By the time of the 1891 census the family is recorded as living at Crescent Road, Cheshunt. James is working as a mechanic and his father as a coal carrier using a cart.

Army Service.

His Army Service Record has survived and shows that on the 12th June 1891 James enlisted for short service of 7 years in the Colours and 5 in the Reserves as Guardsman 8499 in the Coldstream Guards. His name was recorded as James Hyatt and he said he had been born in Waltham Abbey and he was 18 years 6 months old. He said his trade was a Machinist and that he was not an apprentice, was not married, and had never been sentenced to imprisonment. He stated that he had previously served in the 3rd Battalion, Middlesex Volunteers (this part of his record has not survived).

His description on enlistment was recorded as follows: Apparent age 18 years 6 months, height 5 feet 10 ¼ inches, weight 150 lbs, chest 35 ½ to 37 ½ inches, complexion fair, eyes grey and hair black. He had the following distinctive features: Moles on face, right shoulder and back of neck, tattoo of I love L.J.H. and an anchor on his left forearm.

He said his religion was  Church of England and gave his next of kin as his father Henry of 1, Crescent Road, Waltham, Essex.

He was medically examined and found to be fit for the Army on the 12th June at St. Georges Barracks, London.

On the 16th June he joined the Regiment at London commencing his service at home. On the 3rd January 1893 he was promoted to Lance Corporal, and  after 2 years’ service on the 12th June 1893 he received his first Good Conduct pay at 1d. per day.


On the 16th August 1893 at the Parish Church of St. Stephen, Westminster James Hyatt a bachelor, aged 21 years and a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards living at Wellington Barracks, married Elizabeth Page a spinster, aged 22 years and a domestic servant living at Victoria House. His father was Henry a labourer and hers was Zacharia who was a gardener. Elizabeth was born in 1871 at Spratton, Northamptonshire. In the 1891 census she was a domestic servant for the Rev. Bowley and his family at East Haddon, Northamptonshire. The 1911 census shows that she and James had two children one of whom, sadly, died before the census. Only their surviving daughter, Winifred Edith Hyiatt, who was born in 1905 at Hemel Hempstead, has been identified.

On the 20th December 1894 James was presented with a 2nd Class Certificate of Education. He was promoted again to Corporal on the 9th March 1895 and again on the 18th July 1895 to Lance Sergeant. On the 22nd January 1896 he was deprived of his rank and reduced to the rank of Corporal but the reason for this is not shown, however, on the 27th September 1896 he was again promoted to Lance Sergeant.

On the 12th June 1898 James was transferred to Section B Army Reserve on the expiration of his 7 years’ service.

Police Service.

In all probability, anticipating that he was due to join the Army Reserve, James applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary before he was actually transferred. His application was successful, and he became Police Constable 91 James Hyiatt.

His Police Service Record has not survived but from a series of newspaper articles and other sources we know the following.

Published in the Herts Advertiser on Saturday 2nd July 1898 under the headline Watford Petty Sessions Tuesday: Before Mr. J.F. Watkins (in the chair), Messrs. W.H.D. Culley, R.W. Henderson, G. Rooper, J.C. Benskin, W.T. Coles, and the Hon. A.H. Holland-Hibbert. New Constable. John Hyiatt was sworn in as a Constable for the county.

From this we can ascertain that James was Attested on Tuesday 28th July 1898 and as it occurred in Watford, he would have been posted to C Division. It is probable that his date of Appointment would have been before this. A pay increase in 1920 was awarded from the 23rd June and, as the date of the award normally followed the anniversary of the date of Appointment, it is possible that James had been Appointed on the 23rd June 1898.

He would have undergone his Probationer training within the Division by an experienced officer under the supervision of the Divisional Superintendent.


The following abridged article from the Watford Observer published on Saturday 29th October 1898 shows that James had been posted to Rickmansworth and reported on a drowning under the headline An Unknown Man Discovered In The Colne: On Monday afternoon at the White Bear at Batchworth, Mr. Broad (Coroner) and a jury held an inquiry Into the circumstances attending the death of an unknown man, apparently about 68 years of age, who was found drowned in the river Colne on Sunday last.

Thomas Hawes, labourer, Batchworth, deposed that he was going along the lower Watford Road and saw the body of a man in the river Colne. It was near the bridge on the Watford side of the river. The body was stationary. As soon as witness saw it, he went and called lor Mr. Longthorne, of Lord Ebury’s Lodge, but he was out. Witness went to Rickmansworth for the police and went back with Police Constable Hyiatt and helped lift the body into a cart. The man was a stranger to witness.

Police Constable Hyiatt said that from information he received from last witness at 12.10 the previous day he went down lo the River Colne and saw the body of a man then lying in the water. Witness got it out on the bank, but life was extinct, and the body was cold. Witness sent for Dr. Stuart, of Croxley Green. He conveyed body in a cart to the White Bear. Witness searched the body, but nothing was found on it to lead to identification. He produced the articles found on the deceased. These included a pair of spectacles, two knives (pocket and table), three pocket handkerchiefs, an old piece of leather, a piece of flannel, buttons, a broken pipe, and two bunches of keys.

Coroner, “Can you form any opinion as to how deceased got into the water?” The Constable said that near to where the body was found there were several ricks, and from an examination of them be should think that someone had been sleeping there. Deceased might have been going there to sleep and missed his way in the dark and fallen into the water. A verdict Found Drowned was returned.

Recalled To The Army – Boer War.

Published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 18th November 1899 under the headline Policeman For The Fight: Three of the Constables in this Division of the Hertfordshire Constabulary have been recalled to the Colours. Police Constable Hyiatt (Rickmansworth) started for the Cape some weeks ago, and now Police Constable Hunt (Watford) and Police Constable Waller (Rickmansworth) have received notice from the War Office that their services will be required.

James’ Army Service Record shows that on the 9th October 1899 he was recalled to Army Service under a special Army Order of 7th October 1899 and he re-joined the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards as a Lance Sergeant.

To South Africa.

On the 22nd October 1899 he started his service in South Africa. The 1st Battalion sailed from Gibraltar on S.S. Malta and arrived at the Cape about the 16th November 1899. Along with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and 1st Battalion Scots Guards, they formed the 1st or Guards Brigade under Major General Colvile.

James did well and took part in the Battles of Belmont and Modder River. He then appears to have got himself into trouble as he was convicted by a Field General Court Martial for committing an act to the prejudice of good order and on the 18th December 1899, he was reduced to the rank of Private.

His conviction did not hold him back as on the 29th December 1899 he was promoted again to Lance Corporal. Further promotions followed with Corporal on the 29th June 1900, Lance Sergeant on the 19th July 1900 and Sergeant on the 15th May 1902.

Back Home.

On the 20th July 1902 James’ Service in South Africa came to an end and the following day he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion. On the 17th March 1903 he was again transferred to the Army Reserve on demobilisation. He was finally discharged as a Sergeant on the 11th June 1903 on the termination of engagement of his first period.

He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa War medal with clasps for Belmont, Modder River, Dreifontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Belfast and the King’s South Africa medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.

Re-joining The Police.

The date that James re-joined the Police has not survived and in the 1901 census Elizabeth, his wife, is recorded as living alone at Harefield Road, Rickmansworth, but from the following newspaper articles it is apparent that on his return James had been transferred to D Division at Apsley.

A Drunk.

Published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 14th January 1905 under the headline Drunk And Disorderly: Horace Claridge, of Hemel Hempstead, was charged with being drunk anu disorderly on the 3rd  inst. He pleaded not guilty. Police Constable Hyiatt stated that on the evening of the 3rd inst. he was on duty in the London Road, Apsley and found defendant drunk and rolling about the footpath. People complained of being turned off from the path, and when witness spoke to him about his conduct, he used abusive language, and gave a wrong name and address. Witness found the person whose name was given was a most respectable person. Defendant then gave his proper name. He was taken home by a female. Fined 5s. and costs, or seven days.

Another Drunk.

Published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 18th November 1905 under the headline Hemel Hempstead: At the Occasional Court House on Monday last, before Dr. G.B. Turner, Alexander McKenzie was brought up charged with drunkenness, Police Constable James Hyiatt, stationed at Boxmoor, stated that the previous day, at 1.50 p.m. he was on duty at Heath Park. He saw the defendant drunk just outside the Heath Park Hotel. He was behaving very disorderly, and going on like a maniac, cursing and swearing and shouting, running after females, and throwing his hat up In the air in front them. He arrested him and found 4s. 6d. on him, and a Post Office bank book with a few shillings to his credit. Defendant, who pleaded guilty, was lined 3s. including costs, or seven days.


Published in the Herts Advertiser on Saturday 5th October 1907 under the headline Apsley End. Police Changes: PC Hyiatt, recently stationed at Catlin Street, Boxmoor, has been transferred to Wilstone near Tring, and has been succeeded by PC Gillett, from Ware.

Transferred Again? Another Drunk!

James’ stay at Wilstone was apparently short lived as this article published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 20th November 1909 shows him working in Watford. Under the headline Watford. Drunk In The Churchyard: At an Occasional Court, Monday morning at the King Street Police Station, before Mr. E.M. Chater, John Wilson, of Fuller Street, Hendon, was charged with being found drunk on Saturday. The prisoner pleaded guilty. Police Constable Hyiatt stated that he found Wilson lying helplessly drunk in St. Mary’s Churchyard. The prisoner was fined 2s. 6d. and 4s. costs.

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 James:

Schedule B

Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Northern or Hitchin Division on Friday 21st January 1910.

Div.    Rank   No.    Name                    Station                   Place for Duty

C        PC      91      Hyiatt J.                Watford                 Hitchin

Schedule C

Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Mid or St Albans Division Tuesday 25th January 1910.

Div.    Rank   No.    Name                    Station                   Place for Duty

C        PC      91      Hyiatt J.                Watford                 St. Albans City

Schedule D

Return of Officers and Men detailed for duty in the Western or Watford Division 27th January 1910.

Div.    Rank   No.    Name                    Station                   Place for Duty

C        PC      91      Hyiatt J.                Watford                 Kings Ward

Another Transfer

The 1911 census records that Police Constable James Hyiatt, with his wife and daughter, were now living at 46, Amwell Street, Hoddesdon showing that he had been transferred to A Division.

Coal Strike.

General Order 16 of the 1st July 1911 instructed that a detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary would proceed to Cardiff on Wednesday 5th July 1911 for duty. It included one Inspector four Sergeants and 25 Constables one of whom was Alfred. They were given the following orders:

The Deputy Chief Constable will superintend the departure from Paddington Station. The detachment will parade in Paddington Station at 11 a.m. on 5th July. The train will leave at 11.30 a.m. arriving at Cardiff at 2.22 p.m. Every man will take a change of clothing, second suit of uniform, great coat, helmet, cape, leggings, night belt and lamp, truncheon & warrant card, whistle and chain and handcuffs. PC Reynolds will act as Clerk to the Detachment. The men detailed for duty have been carefully selected and any neglect of duty or misconduct tending to bring the Hertfordshire Constabulary into disrepute on the part of any Officer or Constable of the detachment while on duty in another County will meet with the severest notice of the Constable. Special arrangements will be made for the payment of fares to and from Cardiff. Inspector Sullivan will be given a special advance from which he is authorised to pay back officers a sum not exceeding 5/- per week and this advance will also be available for any necessary expenditure of an extraordinary nature. Receipts to be submitted to the office. The wives of officers proceeding with the Detachment will be paid £1 per week from the officers pay during their absence. Food and lodgings will be provided.

At Gilfach Colliery

The officers were detailed to perform duty at the Gilfach Goch Colliery. James can be seen in this photograph: Front row left to right: PC 91A James Hyiatt, Sergeant 55B Frederick William Warren, PC 174E Lewis Saunders. Back row left to right: PC 241D Ferdinand Whittaker Lilley PC 156D Alfred John Blake, PC 37C Alfred Ernest Cousins, PC 107E Edward Albert Payne, PC 26E Philip James Bradford.

The Electoral Rolls of 1914 and 1915 list James Hyiatt as living at 29, Amwell Street, Hoddesdon. There is no record of James being involved in the First World War, however, colleagues with a similar background to his were Drill Instructors helping to train the thousands of new Army recruits, and it is possible that he may have taken on a similar role.

The Electoral Rolls of 1919 and 1920 list James and Elizabeth Hyiatt as living at 24, Cross Street, Ware.

General Order 116 of the 12th July 1920 informed James that he would receive an increase in pay from £4/12/6 to £4/15/0 per week from the 23rd June 1920.

Retirement And Life After The Police.

General Order 19 of the 9th February 1921 announced that James was one of four officers who had been awarded a pension. The record has not survived but as he had not completed his 25 years’ pensionable service it can only be surmised that the Force Surgeon had declared him medically unfit for Police duties. Having served for 22 years he was awarded an annual pension of £118/17/9 commencing from the 2nd December 1920 meaning he would have retired the day before.

The Electoral Rolls of 1921 to 1930 still listed James and Elizabeth as living at 24, Cross Street, Ware.  James, Elizabeth and their daughter were still living there at the time of the 1939 Register. James was recorded as being retired.

James Hyiatt died aged 87 in 1960 at Ware.

This page was added on 24/10/2020.

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