Joseph Hunt was born on the 1st December 1870 at Dagnall, Buckinghamshire but not Baptised until the 20th April 1876 at the Wesleyan Methodist church, Dunstable.
His father, Thomas Hunt, was born in 1829 in Houghton Regis. He was an agricultural labourer and shepherd. He married Ann Brigginshaw on the 2nd March 1851 at Ivinghoe and they had six children:
1. Henry born in 1849 at Dagnall
2. Emily born in 1851 at Dagnall
3. George born in 1854 at Dagnall
4. Susan born in 1857 at Dagnall
5. Julia(na) born in 1860 at Dagnall
6. Lois born in 1866 at Dagnall
Sadly, Ann died in 1867 at Edlesborough, Leighton Buzzard. On the 15th September 1870 at Edlesborough, Thomas married Joseph’s mother, Elizabeth Maunders, who was born in 1828 at Edlesborough. They had one child their son Joseph.
In the 1871 census the family were recorded as living in Dagnall and Joseph is shown as being 4 months old. In the 1881 census Joseph and his parents were listed as living in Pound Bank Cottages, Dagnall and he is shown as a scholar. By the 1891 census Joseph had left home and joined the Army.
Joseph’s Army Service Record has survived and shows that he enlisted on the 10th March 1890 at Woolwich for short service of seven years in the Colours and five in the Reserves as Private 3172 in the 16th (The Queen’s) Lancers.
The following was recorded: He gave his name as Joseph Hunt and stated he was 20 years and two months old and was born in Dagnall, Hemel Hempstead. His trade was as a groom and coachman. He was not an apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never been in the Military before.
He was medically examined the same day and found to be fit for the Army. His description on enlistment was recorded as follows: Age physically equivalent to 20 years 2 months, height 5 feet 9 ¾ inches, weight 151 lbs, chest 35 inches, complexion fresh, eyes hazel, hair dark brown, identifying mark was a scar over his right eyebrow.
He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin were his parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Hunt of Dagnall near Hemel Hempstead.
His statement of service shows that he joined the Regiment at Aldershot and began his service at home. On the 3rd September 1891 he started his service in India. On the 10th March 1892 he was awarded his first Good Conduct Pay of 1d. per day. On the 10th March 1896 he received his second Good Conduct pay at 2d. per day. On the 24th January 1898 he returned to home service. Two days later he was transferred as a Private to the Army Reserve.
In all probability, anticipating that he was due to join the Army Reserve, Joseph applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary before he was actually transferred. His application was successful, and he became Police Constable 134 Joseph Hunt.
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 5th March 1898 under the headline Watford Petty Sessions Tuesday: Before Mr. J.F. Watkins (in the chair), Messrs. F. Sumner-Knyvett, C.P. Ayres, WR. Woolrych, R.W. Henderson, G. Rooper, W.T. Coles, and the Hon. A.H. Holland-Hibbert. New Constable. Joseph Hunt was sworn in as a Constable.
From this we can ascertain that James was Attested on Tuesday 1st March 1898 and as it occurred in Watford, he would have been posted to C Division. Based on his length of Service recorded when he retired it is possible that his date of Appointment was the 24th February 1898. He would have undergone his Probationer training within the Division by an experienced officer under the supervision of the Divisional Superintendent.
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.
Joseph’s Army Service Record shows that he was recalled to Army Service under a special Army Order of 11th November 1899 and on the 13th November, he joined the 12th (The Prince of Wales’) Royal Regiment of Lancers. The Regiment had left for South Africa during October and his Service Record does not show that he went overseas again. In fact, there is no record of what he did on his recall, it is possible he was involved with training as a Drill Instructor.
Re-joining The Police. A Transfer And A Marriage.
The date that James re-joined the Police has not survived but the following shows very clearly that by at least November 1900 he had resumed his Police Career in D Division. Joseph Hunt aged 29 years, a bachelor and a Policeman living in Hemel Hempstead, married Annie Nash Strutton, aged 31 years, a spinster living in Kensworth, Hertfordshire on the 29th November 1900 in the Parish Church at Kensworth. She was born in 1869 in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire and in the 1891 census she was a Nurse domestic servant in the household of Solicitor Henry Bartley living at 61, Finchley Road, Middlesex. They had two daughters both born in Hemel Hempstead:
1. Sylvia Irene Jane Hunt born on the 4th August 1901. Baptised on the 25th August 1901 at Kensworth.
2. Annie Grace Hunt Birth born on the 2nd November 1902. Baptised on the 28th December 1902 at St. Paul’s, Hemel Hempstead, St Paul.
The 1901 census lists Police Constable Joseph Hunt and his wife as living at 21, Herbert Street, Hemel Hempstead.
On the 7th June 1902, his Army Service Record shows that he was discharged from the Army on the termination of his first period of engagement. His place of discharge was recorded as Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland. There were barracks here and it may have been where he served after his recall. His character on being discharged was recorded as being exemplary and his intended place of residence was the Police Station, Hemel Hempstead.
Published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 16th November 1901 under the headline Drunkenness: At the Magistrates’ Clerk’s Office on Friday last, before Dr. G.B. Turner, James Granger was brought in custody charged with this offence. Police Constable Joseph Hunt deposed that the previous day at 6.45 p.m., in the Market Place, he saw a crowd of children on the path around the prisoner; he had a bag amusing the children. Seeing that he was drunk he asked him to move on, but he would not. He again urged him to go and as he would not, he led him off the path into the road, and said. “Now. clear off,” but he would not and returned to the same spot. He was without any means. Fined 7s. 6d., including costs and in default, committed for seven days.
A Troublesome Drunk.
Published in the Watford Observer on Saturday 28th March 1903 under the same headline of Drunkenness: At the Occasional Court House on Tuesday morning last, before Dr. G.B. Turner, Peter Farquharson was brought up in custody, charged with drunkenness. Police Constable Joseph Hunt stated that the previous night, at 5.45 he was in High Street, Hemel Hempstead, opposite the Sun Inn. The prisoner came across from East, the tailor’s shop, to him, and commenced using profane language. Prisoner was drunk and was a stranger to him. He advised him to go home, but insisted upon following him about the street, all the time using bad language. He ascertained that had been discharged from his work at East’s for drunkenness. The prisoner was troublesome and drunk that he had to lock him up. In default payment of 8s. fine and costs, prisoner wan committed to St. Albans for seven days’ hard labour.
Promotion To Sergeant And A Transfer.
The record of exactly when Joseph was promoted has not survived but by the time of the 1911 census he had been transferred to A Division as he was recorded as being a Police Sergeant and living at Buntingford Police Station, which was at 95, High Street, together with his wife and daughters.
(Abridged) Published in the Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow on Friday 5th January 1912 under the headline Cottered Man Convicted Of Cruelty To Children: Frederick Gray, of Cottered, was charged with on Dec. 2nd and several dates prior thereto, neglecting his three children, Lily, aged 10; Daisy, aged 7; and Richard, aged 4. The Chairman, addressing the defendant, said he was charged with a serious offence, and if desired could be tried by jury. Defendant, however, asked for the case to go on.
PS Joseph Hunt said that on Oct. 26th he executed a warrant on defendant. There was no one in attendance, and when the children came home from school, there was not a scrap of food in the house. It was a wet, miserable day, and he gave a neighbour 1s. to provide some food for the children. The defendant here stated that on this day the elder boy had money for food but seeing the police at the cottage he was afraid to go home. The Chairman said he found the defendant guilty. The evidence showed that be had neglected the children. It was bad case, but as had not previously been before them they proposed to deal leniently with him. He would be fined £1 and 12s. 6d. costs or go to gaol for a month with hard labour. He was warned as to bis future treatment of the children and told that the authorities would keep their eye on him. On defendant’s application 7 days was allowed for payment.
Published in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer on Saturday 5th July 1913 under the headline Assault Case, at Ardeley: Ernest Paul, labourer, of Luffenhall, Ardeley, was summoned for assaulting Alfred Chalkley, a blacksmith, of the same village, residing in the hamlet of Cromer. The complainant said that on June 4 he went and had a pint of beer for his supper, and was returning home, just after 10 p.m. He stood against his gate, when the defendant came up and said, “You wanted to kick up a row with me last night. What have you been telling the parson about me? I have come on purpose to have it out and fight you.” He replied, “Don’t make a noise tonight, my wife is not very well.” The defendant took off his coat and waistcoat and set about and knocked him down and pummelled him all over the face for two or three minutes while on the ground.
A man named Draper came up and pulled the defendant off, and another man, Manning, also came up. One of them asked, “What’s the matter with him?” and the defendant said, “I’ll break his **** neck if he comes up here.” Witness then went in and Chalkley went home. The defendant was asked whether he said he would break the complainant’s neck, and the latter replied “Yes.” This defendant denied and also that he came out of the public house in front of Chalkley.
PS Joseph Hunt said that on Friday, the 13th inst. Chalkley came to the Court and made application for a summons. Both his eyes were blackened, the left one more so than the right. Paul was then sworn and said Chalkley had been picking on him for three or four months, and on the second Saturday in May threatened to punch his head. Witness thought it was time to have a say as well as Chalkley, who had not the heart to go through with it and went and got a summons. Witness did not punch him when he was down, but struck him, and the complainant pulled him down. Chalkley told three or four in the public house that he would punch witness’s head, so he thought it quite the time to start.
The Chairman, who elicited that there was nothing against the defendant, said the case was proved, and a serious assault had been committed. It was difficult to know how to deal with it, but the defendant ought not to take the law into his own hands. A fine of 10s. would be imposed, with 7s 6d costs, or in default, fourteen days’ hard labour. The fine was paid.
A Tragedy And A Transfer.
During the first quarter of 1914, whilst still in Buntingford, Joseph’s wife Annie died at the age of 45 leaving him with his two young daughters. It appears that he was then transferred back to C Division at Watford, possibly in a Police Clerk role, on welfare grounds. At this time there were very few ‘civilian’ Police employees, and those that were employed were often related to Police Officers.
Joseph remarried at Watford at the beginning of December 1914, the Banns being read at Layston, Buntingford on the 8th, 15th and 22nd November. They showed that Joseph Hunt of Watford, a widower, was to marry Marion Elsie Davies a spinster of Layston Parish, she was born on the 31st December 1874 in Wolverhampton. Having previously worked as a Nursery Governess she enrolled on the 1st April 1911 on the Queen’s Nursing Institute Roll of Nurses, Roll No. 4706, having trained as a Registered Nurse and Midwife. On the 3rd November 1911 she started work at Buntingford. She was described as a capable, reliable worker, interested and tactful and much liked. She resigned from the list on the 3rd December 1914 to get married.
General Order 32 of the 27th February 1915 informed Joseph that he would receive an increase of pay from £1/15/0 to £1/15/7 per week from the 9th February 1915. Then, strangely, General Order 24 of the 28th February 1916 informed him that he would receive an identical increase of pay from £1/15/0 to £1/15/7 per week from the 9th February 1916. There is no explanation for this discrepancy. However, General Order 17 of the 21st February 1917 informed Joseph that he would receive an increase of pay from £1/15/7 to £1/16/2 per week from the 9th February 1917, which would appear to be the next step on his salary scale. All three Orders show that the increase would apply from the 9th February, which would be the anniversary of the date of his promotion, unfortunately with the discrepancy in the amount it is not possible to work out the year he was promoted.
The Electoral Rolls of 1920 to 1922 list Joseph and Marion as living at 26, St. James’ Road, Watford.
General Order 27 of the 21st February 1921 announced that Joseph had been certified as medically unfit by the Constabulary Staff Surgeon stating: PS 134 Joseph Hunt, C Division, having served 23 years 28 days would be paid up to the 23rd March 1921, inclusive, and his name struck off the strength of the Force on that date.
General Order 59 of the 12th April 1921 announced that Joseph had been awarded a pension stating: PS 134 J. Hunt, C Division, having completed 23 years 28 days of approved Service, his annual pension would be £152/10/4 commencing from the 24th March 1921.
On the 7th January 1923 Joseph Hunt, aged 52 years, of 26, St. James’ Road, Watford died. He left his estate to his wife Marion.
General Order 75 of the 21st April 1923 announced that Marion had been awarded a pension stating: Marion Hunt, widow, had been granted an annual pension of £30/0/0 commencing from the 8th January 1923.
Marion Elsie Hunt died, aged 59 years, in 1934 at Watford.