Thomas Heaton (1809-1883)

This page is a bare-bones entry for a specific person. More in-depth information may eventually be added. If you have any further details relating to this person, please leave a comment or get in touch!

Thomas Heaton was the Superintendent of Police for the Upper Agbrigg Division of the West Riding from 1857 to 1875.


He was born on 9 March 1809, the son of John Heaton and his wife Mary (Gill), and was baptised 17 June 1810 at All Hallows, Almondbury. John Heaton was the Sexton of All Hallows for around 40 years.

It is believed he married four times:

  • 27 August 1832 — Rachel Heaton (died 7 February 1838)
  • 23 August 1838 — Mary Lodge (died 2 February 1841)
  • 17 October 1841 — Jane Oldfield (died 1863)
  • 26 August 1863 — Elizabeth Hall

He had three known children from his marriages:

  • Mary Jane Heaton (c.1834-?)[1]
  • John Lodge Heaton (1841-1916)[2]
  • James Henry Heaton (1843-1847)[3]

He held the role of Superintendent Constable of the Upper Agbrigg district from June 1848 to December 1856, before becoming Superintendent of the new West Riding County Constabulary from 1857 until his retirement in 1875 on an annual pension of £95.[4]

The 1851, 1861 and 1871 Census returns record Heaton residing at the Country Police Station on Princess Street.

In his book on the early policing of Huddersfield, David Taylor notes:

The central role of superintending constable was challenging and Heaton, though relatively old and inexperienced on appointment, proved to be a highly active police-officer. To dismiss him simply as a "neighbourhood pest" does not do justice to the scope of his activities, nor to his beliefs about the causes of crime. He was undoubtedly greatly exercised by illegal, out-of-hours drinking and "unacceptable" working-class leisure activities. In particular, he set his sights on those "vile places, [the] sinks of iniquity and vice", the beershops in Castlegate but his net was cast wider. Success was hard come by. [...] His pre-occupation with breaches of the licensing laws, especially at Easter, Christmas and during local feasts; his determination to stop young men taking part in "nude" races or playing pitch-and-toss in the highway; and his willingness to use arcane and ancient pieces of legislation to prosecute make him appear a driven and somewhat ridiculous figure. Above all he kept a close eye on publicans and beer-house keepers who sold liquor outside licensing hours (and particularly during the hours of divine service), along with their customers, and brought many of them to court.

Thomas Heaton died on 7 April 1883 and was buried on 10 April at Edgerton Cemetery. His estate was valued at £1,466 1s.

Notes and References

  1. Married 27 December 1854 to John Cocking and they had 4 children. Information kindly provided by Stuart Heaton.
  2. Born 20 January 1841. Married 7 March 1866 to Elizabeth Ann Akeroyd. Worked as a druggist and grocer (1881 Census). Died 24 August 1916.
  3. Born 9 November 1843. Died 31 October 1847.
  4. Leeds Mercury (12/Apr/1883).