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Embodying the Militia in Georgian England$
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Matthew McCormack

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703648

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703648.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 January 2022

Supporting the Civil Power

Supporting the Civil Power

(p.156) 8 Supporting the Civil Power
Embodying the Militia in Georgian England

Matthew McCormack

Oxford University Press

One of the key duties of the militia was providing support for the civilian authorities. In the century that preceded the introduction of a professional police force, the military were routinely involved in maintaining public order. During the Gordon Riots of 1780, thousands of soldiers were deployed in London to quell an anti-Catholic mob. This chapter focuses upon the role of militias in this episode, as it occasioned much subsequent debate that went to the heart of the issue of how citizens should maintain law and order. In an age when the standing army was distrusted as a threat to liberty, the part-time civilian soldier was in theory both safer and more zealous as—like the constable—he was motivated by the ‘natural’ masculine desire to protect his family and community. This chapter therefore argues that the militia has a hitherto underestimated role in the history of British policing.

Keywords:   militia, army, civil power, policing, riot control, Gordon Riots

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