Modern Street Ballads

The Modern Police is the outcome of the old Watch, which, always inefficient, had become so much so, as to necessitate its abolition, and, under the auspices of Sir Robert Peel* the “New Police,” as they were called, were formed, and they commenced their duties on September 29, 1829. Until a very recent time they wore swallow-tailed coats and tall hats, and were the subjects of good-humored witticisms from all. There is no doubt but that the change of costume to the tunic and helmet has induced a better class of men to join the force, and has raised its standard of efficiency immensely. Whitaker for 1888 gives the number of the Metropolitan Police as 13,855.

* Hence the names of “Bobby” and “Peeler” as applied to the Police.


Some Policemen are right honest men,
And some we know are gluttins,
Some cookey darling courting goes,
To taste her roasted mutton:

Some can twirl the rolling-pin
If girls should them draw nigh, sir,
Some are fond of rabbit skins,
And some of rabbit pie, sir.

A house the Sergeant had to keep,
At least for to look after,
He was a guardian of the peace,
And had a wife and daughter.

The Sergeant in the parlour lived,
And his lady in the kitchen,
And such a game they carried on,
Good lack a day, at Mitcham.

Such a lot of property was there,
Belonging to Captain Higging,
And so it seems the Sergeant and
His lady went a prigging.

They took the sofas and the beds,
The blankets and the cradles,
The silver plate, the chamber mug,
Chairs and mahogany tables.

Two hundred sovereigns worth of goods,
Pianoforte and shawls, sir,
And then for safety placed them in
The hands of Uncle Balls, Sir.

The neighbours say they had as much
As they could well desire,
And then to hide the wicked deed,
They set the place on fire.

The Captain of his rights,
They did so nicely fleece him,
But great suspicion fell upon
The Sergeant of Policemen.

The Sergeant thought to cut his stick,
And bolt across the water,
But Justice the Policeman caught,
His honest wife and daughter.

Alas! poor Bob has gone to quod,
And that I know won’t suit him,
They know him well at Mitcham, and
In Merton, and in Tooting.

For soon he will his trial take,
And hard bull beef be munching,
He’ll lose his lantern, coat and cape,
And curse his wooden truncheon.

To steal anothers goods his hands,
And fingers were a itching
And he will run and look so blue,
About the job at Mitcham.

Poor Sergeant Bob has gone to quod
A place that does not suit him,
They know him well at Merton round,
In Mitcham and in Tooting.

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