The Bulkies: Police and Crime in Belfast, 1800-1865


Brian Griffin

This book tells the story of the ‘forgotten force’ of Irish police history, the Belfast Borough Police or ‘Bulkies’.


ISBN: 9780716526957 Categories: ,


In Ireland, the story of nineteenth-century policing has been dominated mainly by studies of the Royal Irish Constabulary and, to a lesser extent, of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. This book tells the story of the ‘forgotten force’ of Irish police history, the Belfast Borough Police or ‘Bulkies’.


1. The police in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Ireland

2.  The early years: 1800-1816
The 1800 police act
The 1812 voluntary watch
The 1816 voluntary watch

3. The policeman’s lot: duties and remuneration
Duties in 1816
Duties down to 1865
Development of the day police
Tenure and pay
Night work and day work
Sick pay, pensions and gratuities

4. Discipline
The role of the police board and the town council
Immorality and corruption
Neglect of duty
Attempts to tighten discipline
Drunkenness, sleeping on duty, absence without leave
Other offences

5. Crime in Belfast, 1816-1865
Prostitution and associated crime
Juvenile crime
Other crime
Repeat offenders

6. Police Response to Belfast’s growth
The growth of Belfast
The Irish Constabulary in Belfast
‘Bulky’ responses to Belfast’s growth: plain-clothes and detective policemen

7. The police and the public
Publicans and drinkers
Popular pastimes: children’s games and adult celebrations
Popular pastimes: blood sports
Popular pastimes: prize fights
Public resentment of the police

8. The Belfast police and the sectarian problem

9. The Bulkies depart: enter the Peelers
The end of the Bulkies
The constabulary take over

I. Extracts from Instructions to the Belfast police force, 1856

II. Extracts from Belfast borough police day book, 1860-1863