Gatehouse, William Stanley, 118, Police Constable.

Paul Watts with thanks to Andy Wiseman

William Stanley Gatehouse Re-joins The Police
Herts Police Historical Society

Early Life.

William Stanley Gatehouse was born on the 9th April 1886 at Enfield and baptised on the 16th May 1886 at St. Andrew’s Enfield.

His father, Frederick William Gatehouse, married his mother, Alice Ethel Robbins, on the 2nd November 1884 at Edmonton. The 1911 census records that they had eight children, although only seven have been identified. Three died before the 1911 census although only two of those have been found suggesting that the eighth child may have been stillborn.
1. Alice Susan born in 1884 at Ross, Herefordshire.
2. William Stanley.
3. Henry Frederick born in 1888 Enfield.
4. Elsie Maud born in 1891 at Enfield.
5. Fanny Mercy born in 1895 at Enfield.
6. Joseph Ernest born and died in 1897 at Enfield.
7. Doris born and died in 1899 at Enfield.

During the 1891 census were recorded as living at St Andrews, Church Yard, Enfield and William’s father was shown as a timber porter. By the time of the 1901 Census they were living at 29, Churchbury Road, Enfield. William was shown as working as an apprentice Blacksmith and his father as a Gun Stock which may mean that he worked at making or fitting gun stocks at the Royal Small Arms factory in Enfield.


William married Alice Maud Pegram on the 9th November 1907 at Enfield. They had three children:
1. George Stanley born in 1910 at Hertford.
2. Reginald born in 1913 an died in 1914 at Hertford.
3. Evelyn Maud born in 1919 at Hertford.

Little else is known about William’s life during this period other than he worked as a Blacksmith for a G. Nifton of Upper Edmonton. Then he applied to join the Hertford County Constabulary.

Police Service.

William’s Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows that as part of his application process he was Medically Examined by the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters, Hatfield on the 18th July 1908 to ensure he was fit enough for Police duties. He would also have been interviewed and then told to wait for a vacancy.

The following was recorded. William said he had been born on the 9th April 1886 at Enfield. His height was 6 feet ¼ inch, chest 38 inches, complexion fair, eyes, grey, hair light brown and he had tattoos on both forearms. He said he could both ride a pedal cycle and swim and gave his next of kin as his wife.

He had to wait for quite a while as he did not start his training until the 18th March 1909. He was posted to C Division at Watford and he would have undergone his Probationer training there by a senior experienced Constable under the supervision of the Superintendent.
He was Appointed as Constable 118 on the 22nd April 1909 and taken on the Roster at F Division at Hertford. He was Attested two days later. General Order 14 of the 8th May 1909 announced this stating PC Gatehouse 118 F is appointed on 23/11 per week from 22nd April 1909.

General Order 33 of the 9th November 1909 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 23/11 to 25/8 per week from 21st October 1909.

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 excerpts refer to William.
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
F PC 118 Gatehouse W. S. Hertford Hertford
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
F PC 118 Gatehouse W. S. Hertford Hatfield
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
F PC 118 Gatehouse W. S. Hertford Hemel Hempstead

In May 1910 William 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 Electoral Roll of 1910 lists William Stanley Gatehouse as living at 7, Baker Street, Hertford is. He is till at the same address during the census of 1911 together with his wife and son George.

His father died in 1910 at Edmonton and in the 1911 census his mother Alice and sisters Elsie and Fanny were recorded as living at 19, Ridler Road, Enfield.

General Order 16 of the 24th May 1911 informed William that he would receive an increased rate of pay from 25/8 to 26/10 per week from 4th May 1911.

The Electoral Roll of 1913 still list William as living at 7, Baker Street, Herford.

Drunken Behaviour.

Published on the 26th April 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Hertford Borough Sessions. Thursday. Before the Mayor (Frank Page, Esq.); J.R. Cole Esq.; G.E. Palmer Esq; and W. Burgess Esq. Drunkenness: William Smith, a navvy, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a horse and cart in Fore Street on April 9, and was fined 15s. It appeared that the horse and cart did not belong to him. He saw it standing outside a tradesman’s shop and jumped in and drove off not knowing what he was doing. He went along Fore Street until the trap collided with one of the trees near Christ’s Hospital, which brought it to a standstill. PC Gatehouse then locked prisoner up for the night. Louisa Seymour, of Little Berkhamstead, also pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly in Ash Street on Saturday. She said she did not remember anything about it as whenever she came to Hertford, she always had drink given to her. PC Gatehouse and PS Palmer gave evidence to the effect that the defendant had been a frequent nuisance to them when she came into the town on Saturdays, and as there were numerous previous convictions and fines which had not had any deterrent effect upon her she was sent to prison for fourteen days with hard labour.

Public Nuisance.

Published on the 3rd May 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline A Wanderer: George Bentley (50), of no fixed abode, was charged with being a wanderer without visible means of subsistence. The prisoner had a number of cuts on his face and forehead and was in a deplorable condition. He was so weak that he was allowed to sit in the dock. PC Gatehouse stated that at 9 o’clock that morning he found the prisoner in the garden at the back of the Misses Stokes in North Road, Hertford. He had frightened the two ladies by his conduct, and witness had great difficulty in getting him out of the garden. Prisoner had been in the town before and had given a lot of trouble, getting into people’s houses and refusing to go out. On this occasion he was sitting on the back doorstep, and although the ladies had given him bread and butter he refused to go away because they would not supply him with a cup of tea. Supt. Pear said the prisoner was well known to the police and was a nuisance to the neighbourhood, getting into the houses of defenceless ladies and frightening them; he had been in most of the workhouses in the neighbourhood, and the authorities could do nothing with him. He had recently been in the Stortford Union, from whence he was sent to his friends at Edmonton, but he would not stay there. On this occasion the man refused to go out of the town, and it was difficult to know what to do with him. Prisoner had some relatives at Ware, but they refused to help him or have anything to do with him. He got his living by begging and terrorising people. He was suffering from partial paralysis, but he made himself out to be worse than he really was. If he saw anybody in whom he thought, he could excite pity he became very much worse at once. Mr Button, relieving officer, said he could corroborate the Superintendent’s statement. Prisoner was remanded until Thursday for his condition to be inquired into.

An Assault Case.

Published on the 10th May 1913 in the Hertfordshire Mercury under the headline Charge of Assault Dismissed: Thomas Oakman, of Hatfield Hyde, was summoned for assaulting Arthur Read on April 18. He pleaded not guilty. Complainant, a labourer, stated that on the date in question he went on to the new railway line on the North Road, Hertford, to get his shovel. Defendant accused him of taking one away, and he said if witness did not get off the line, he would put him off. Witness did not go, and defendant knocked him down two or three times. He struck witness in the face and knocked him down a steep bank on to the railway line. As a result, one of his eyes was cut badly, and he had to go to the Hospital and have it stitched up. Witness had been out of work for a fortnight in consequence of his injuries. In cross examination witness denied threatening to bash the defendant’s head in with a shovel, or that he stood in the way of the men and prevented them doing their work. He admitted that he was not quite as sober as he might have been. Defendant was in charge of a gang of men, and he paid witness off on the day previous. PC Gatehouse said that on April 18 he saw Read in North Crescent, and he complained of having been assaulted. He had a bad cut over his eye and witness took him to the hospital. Complainant smelt of drink but was a long way from being drunk. Defendant said that Read had been on the railway at work, but he would not work more than two days at a time. On the night before Read left, they missed a shovel, and the complainant started swearing and said he would not work. Witness then paid him off. On the following day complainant came on the line, and as he would not go away, he (defendant) put him down the bank. Complainant threatened him with a shovel and a knife. A labourer named Beale corroborated. He heard Read, who was the worse for drink, abuse Oakman and threaten to push a knife into him. He denied that Oakman struck Read at all. George Rayment, another labourer, gave evidence to the same effect, and the Chairman said the Bench had heard quite enough of the case, and they dismissed it. Defendant stated that he had five witnesses present in all.

More Drunken Behaviour.

Published on the 7th June 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Drunkenness: Enos Wren, of Spencer Street was charged with being drunk and disorderly on May 31. He admitted he was drunk, but not in the street. PC Read stated that on Saturday at 11.15 p.m. he received information that the defendant was drunk and fighting his brother in Spencer Street. On going there, he found defendant in the house fighting his brother and smashing things in the home. His brother and mother put him out and refused to have him back. Defendant used most filthy and disgusting language, banged at the door of the house, and refused to go away. His face was covered with blood. He was eventually taken into custody and locked up for the night. On the way to the police station he was very violent and tried to trip witness and another constable. Defendant’s mother had had considerable trouble with him for several days and called in the police the previous night. PC Gatehouse corroborated and added the defendant’s brother threw plates and cups and saucers at him and got him down and thumped his face for five minutes. Defendant’s mother asked for the protection of the Bench and said she did not want him to go home again. She was informed that she need not have him in her house if she objected to his presence. A fine of £1 was imposed, and in default of payment defendant was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment with hard labour.

Obstructing The Highway.

Published on the 28th June 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Obstructing the Highway: On Thursday, before the Mayor and other magistrates, William Taylor, of Bramfield, was summoned for obstructing the highway at Hertford, on June 14. PC Gatehouse said that on Saturday, June 14, about 6.50 p.m. he was in the Wash, and saw defendant in charge of a horse and cart. He pulled up between Mr. Illott’s mill and Messrs. McMullen and Co.’s premises, partially blocking the road. It was there for eight minutes, and witness moved the cart further down the road. When witness spoke to the defendant, he became very abusive. He had been cautioned twice before for the same thing. PS Hadder corroborated. Defendant said there was not a cart standing on the bridge. He went to but some meat, and on coming back he saw Gatehouse near the horse and cart. There was enough room for three horses and carts to pass. A fine of 5s. was imposed.

Fighting In The Street.

Published on the 9th August 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Fisticuffs: At an occasional Court on Tuesday Alfred Miles, jun., of Green Street, and John Casey, of no fixed abode, were charged with fighting in Railway Street, on Bank holiday. PC Gatehouse said he had to separate them several times and had to call assistance. Casey was ordered to pay 4s 6d towards the costs, and miles 5s., both were bound over to keep the peace for three months.

Theft Of Petrol And Coal.

Published on the 20th September 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Hertford Borough Sessions, Wednesday, Before Mr. W. Graveston. Charge of Stealing Petrol: Walter Cook, rag and bone collector, of no fixed abode, Alfred Miles, jun., labourer, of Green Street, and Stewart Simpkins, labourer, of Pegs Lane, were charged in custody with stealing three tins of petrol, valued at 15s. 6d., the property of the British Petroleum Company, at Hertford, on September 17. Edward Warby, an employee of the prosecutors, stated that he was in charge of a truck full of petroleum cans, and found, on Wednesday morning, that he was three short the case in which they were fastened having been broken open. PC Gatehouse stated that at 8 o’clock that morning he received information that three men, answering the description of the prisoners, had hidden three cans of petrol underneath the footbridge in Mead Lane. He proceeded there in company with another constable and found the three cans in a sack. About 9 o’clock he saw Miles and Simpkins and told them that he was making enquiries about three cans of petrol, and they replied that they did not know anything about them. They were taken to the police station and detained. At 9.30 he found Cook in Ware Road, and when questioned he at first said he did not know anything about the stolen petrol cans, but on the way to the police station he said: “I will tell you the truth about it. About 11.30 0r 12 last night me and Simpkins and Miles were going down Mead Lane when we found them. We slept in a haystack in a field in Mead Lane and we hid the petrol cans under the bridge this morning, I told them we should get in trouble over it.” When they were all charged at the police station, they said they did not know anything about it. The prisoners had nothing to say and were remanded in custody until Thursday.

Alleged Theft of Coal. Annie Paternoster, a single young woman living in St. John Street, was charged with stealing a quantity of coal, valued at 2s. 6d. the property of Robert McAlpine and Sons, at Hertford, on September 16. PC Gatehouse stated that on Tuesday, at about 7.30 p.m., he was on duty in South Street, when he saw the prisoner pushing a ‘pram’ with a quantity of coal in two sacks. He stopped her and said he suspected her of stealing it. She replied: “I have not stolen it. I had it given me by an engine driver on the new railway works belonging to Messrs. McAlpine.” He asked her to accompany him to the police station, which she did, and there made a statement in the presence of Supt. Pear. The statement was as follows: “I have been up to McAlpine’s on the new railway to get some firewood and went in at the Hertingfordbury Park entrance. There was a heap of coal lying there and whilst I was picking up the wood one of the engine drivers told me I could have some coal. I knew the engine driver had no right to give it to me.” There was about a hundredweight and half of coal in the prisoners ‘pram.’
Supt. Pear: Could she tell you the name of the driver? No, except that she said his name was Bill. When charged she replied that the boy who was with her ought to stand trial as well as her. It was a boy about 16 or 17. The coal has since been identified. William Brown, cashier in the employ of Messrs. McAlpine and Sons, said the coal was put right away from the road for safety, and anyone who went to it would be trespassing. It was steam coal, and a lot of it had been stolen. He identified the coal which the prisoner had in her possession as the same kind of coal. Prisoner was remanded until Thursday, bail being allowed.

Assault On Police.

Published on the 8th November 1913 in the Hertford Mercury under the headline Drunken Assault: Sidney J. Edwards, a carpenter, living at Hertford Heath, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly and assaulting PC Gatehouse on November 1, and was fined £1.


William was Commended by Chairman of Hertford Boro Petty Sessions and Chief Constable for exercising good observation in the case of Police v. Henry Harvey – Larceny which was heard at Hertford Borough Petty Sessions on the 23rd April 1914. Vide General Order 48/1914.

General Order 56 of the 5th April 1915 was entitled Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act 1914, Special enlistment for the period of the war: In continuation of Order 148/1914 – 163/1914 – 165/1914 and 169/1914, the Army Council has decided that: Police Constable 118 “F”, W.S. Gatehouse and Police Constable 30 “C”, W.E. Wand may be considered as possessing qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits, enabling them to obtain the benefits of the above Act, upon enlisting in the Regular Army. These Constables enlisted in the Regular Army on the dates set forth below, and the separation allowances granted to their wives and families by the Police Authority will be paid from and including those dates. Police Constable Gatehouse 24th March 1915. Police Constable Wand 6th April 1915.

Constable Wand was the son of a Blacksmith, there is a distinct possibility he could have learnt the trade from him, and as William was a Blacksmith before joining the Police this may explain what their qualifications not possessed by ordinary recruits were.

General Order 118 of the 21st July 1915 is a list of 96 officers which included the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. William is shown as PC 118 Gatehouse W.S. F Division who enlisted in the Army Service Corps on the 24th March 1915.

Army Service During The War.

William’s Army Service Record has not survived but from his Police Service Record, his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls the following is known. He enlisted on the 24th March 1915 into the Royal Army Service Corps as Driver and Shoeing Smith TS/6728 and he landed in France with them on the 27th July 1915. He served for 3 years 11 months and was discharged on the 27th February 1919. He was transferred to the Army Reserve Class Z on the 13th March 1919. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

When William was demobilised from the Army like every other soldier, he would have been given 28 days leave. It would have been during this time that he started the arrangements to re-join the Police. He was medically re-examined on 28th February 1919 in order to determine whether he was still fit enough for Police duties.

Re-joining The Police.

General Order 57 of 1st March 1919 announced the re-appointment to the Force of ten men who had been released from H.M. Army. William was shown as PC 118 Gatehouse W.S. posted to F Division at Hertford from the 28th February 1919. 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. William was re-attested on the 1st March 1919.


General Order 92 of the 11th April 1919 instructed William that he was being transferred from F Division at Hertford to B Division at Little Hadham on the 24th April 1919. The Electoral Roll of 1920 lists William and Alice Gatehouse as living at the Police Cottage, Little Hadham.

Transferred Again.

The General Order has not survived but William’s Police Service Record shows that he was transferred from B Division at Little Hadham to E Division at Hitchin on the 27th February 1920. The Electoral Rolls of 1920 to 1924 show William and Alice Gatehouse as living at 24, Highbury Road, Hitchin.

The Last Transfer.

General Order 65 of the 25th April 1925 instructed William that he was being transferred on the 7th May 1925 from E Division at Hitchin to E Division at Royston, to occupy the cottage being vacated by Constable 211 Sturman, which the Electoral Roll of 1925 shows was 22, Green Street, Royston,

Accidentally Killed.

On the morning of Friday 17th July 1925, when aged 39 years old, William was tragically killed on duty when he was run over by a Ford motor lorry on Baldock Road, Royston. The inquest into his death was subsequently held at Royston Police Station. During which the driver of the vehicle, Mr. Sheridan Fairhead explained that he had been transporting a heavy load of furniture from Coltishall to Chesham. Whilst at Royston, he had spotted PC Gatehouse on Baldock Road and asked him for directions. Having helped Fairhead navigate his map, Gatehouse had asked for a lift up the road and said he was happy to stand on the running board, on the outside of the lorry. As the lorry made its way up the street, Gatehouse lost his footing, fell onto the road and the lorry’s back wheel passed over him. Realising what had happened, Fairhead immediately stopped and sent a runner to the Police Station to fetch help. Sergeant Megaughey was the first to arrive on the scene, where he found the badly injured officer laying in the road, semi-conscious. Gatehouse had suffered a multitude of internal injuries but managed to say “It’s all right sergeant, the driver is not to blame. I will tell you about it later”. He died in hospital a few hours later. The coroner concluded that Sheridan Fairhead was not at fault and placed on record the driver’s sincere expression of sympathy to Gatehouse’s relatives and colleagues. The fallen officer was buried in Enfield during a funeral attended by a large contingent of Hertfordshire police officers and former army colleagues. The last post sounded as he was carefully laid to rest. He was survived by a widow and two children.

General Order 144 of the 15th October 1925 announced that a pension had been awarded and would become effective on the date shown: Mrs. Maud Gatehouse, widow awarded annual pension of £30/0/0, children George S. and Evelyn M. Gatehouse awarded £10/0/0 per annum each all from the 18th July 1925.

This page was added on 26/04/2020.

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