Friday, September 9, 2011

Word origins: Bobbies

London Metropolitan Police got their nickname "bobbie" after Robert Peel, who is credited with conceptualizing the idea of the modern police department structure. He was instrumental in setting up the force in the early 19th century, as well as reforming the police system in Ireland.

The Right Honorable Sir Robert Peel was a very important figure in the United Kingdom in the first half of the 19th century, and famous for many other things besides police organization as well.

Without looking up his official biography, who can tell

1. What county he was from? (Hint: not the one where the above statue is located.)
2. Some of the offices he held in his lifetime?
3. Some of his many accomplishments?
5. What the corn laws were?
6. Were Irish police also called bobbies?
7. His early political mentor?
8. (extra points for extreme trivia) He was first elected at age 21 as MP from the rotten borough of Cashel, Tipperary. What is a "rotten" borough? Do you know how many votes there were in that borough when Peel was elected?


  1. 2 Prime Minister 1827 act created police 1829 the London police took to the streets. Called 'Peelers.'

    Ended the 'Corn Law' in spite of aristocratic opposition He was a land owner also) although he did what was best for the nation he lost his job.
    Split the party and allowed a Conservative Party to emerge under Disraeli (in time).

  2. The officer there, is he the one who got jailed and sacked?

  3. Without looking anything up, I know more about the extreme trivia.

    Apart from Adullamite's contributions I can offer that the corn laws were what made the potato famine in Ireland into a disaster because they restricted imports of grain.

    Rotten boroughs were constituencies with very few voters but they still elected a member of parliament. When you have only a handful of voters, bribery isn't too difficult. I expect PLENTY of extra points for that.

  4. Bobby, not Bobbie. Bobbies, not Bobbys.
    For my extra 500 points, I can tell you exactly where that statue is.
    I can tell you he was from the dark side of the pennines, where the rains fall.
    I'd say his accomplishments were mostly in battling bigotry, in laws enacted to better the working conditions of the poor, of children, and of women. Many people, including the students who regularly daub that statue with paint, think that because Peel was the man who created the first proper police force, and because he was an aristocrat, he must have been the enemy of the poor.
    Quite the opposite is true. He fought for them, not against them, making enemies of many of his peers.
    The corn laws, simply put, were protectionist laws, which forbade the import of corn at lower prices than home-grown. Thus, wealthy landowners could control the supply of what was seen as a vital commodity, and therefore the price paid.
    In years of poor harvest, the price soared, and the poor had no bread.
    When the Irish potato crop, a vulnerable monoculture, succumbed to blight.... oh, but we've done all that famine in depth.... Irelands estates were growing and exporting corn....

    I know he was prime minister, twice, and it was as home secretary he created the police.
    What other posts? umm nope.
    number of voters? none?
    Mentor? The Duke of Wellington, I'd guess, because the "Duke" was the pub in my old home village, and it had, amongst other Wellingtonian trivia, a picture of Wellington listening to a speech by Peel.
    The officer pictured is cop Ali Dizaei, whose career has seen corruption charges.
    Obviously, Mr Dizaei is a fine and upright citizen, a police officer to be proud of, because none of those charges has led to his downfall, well, one did, when he was jailed, but released on appeal...
    Let's just say, he and O.J. have a lot in common.
    The Metropolitan police don't seem eager to reinstate him, and another corruption enquiry beckons.

    I predict that there'll be no statue of Ali Dizaei joining Robert Peel, ever.

  5. @Adullamite - You are coming in garbled, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are talking about Peelers being Irish police. You also give short shrift to corn in your haste, but also I know what you mean so that's ok. And I translate your split "the party" to mean Torries. Disraeli was such a fine man. Don't you think? A close second to Parmeston or however you spell his name. Parmesan? The officer in the picture I don't know if he was jailed. Something about not promoting black officers or something. But if you are talking about the guy who resigned because of the recent Murdock wiretapping fun, I think that gent was a bit older and less muscular. But what do I know.

    @A. - I am always amazed at your knowledge of useless historical nonsensia, but I know you are much too modest in that you COULD tell much more than Adullamite ever imagined. About corn or anything else. BTW, may we please start calling corn "grain" as it should be? Thank you. You did good on rotten, too.

    @Soubriquet - So I left off the "s". Like you are a model typist. You know, I used to say "Bobby" but nobody ever corrected me. Now I know why. :)

    Lancashire. Is that the dark side? Why they put the statue where it is is anyone's guess. I'm sure you know, but just won't tell me.

    No other posts? How about that bit about being elected MP from the rotten borough? Doesn't that count? And he was Secretary of the Treasury (or X-checkered or whatever you call it) and Home Secretary. That there's probably what got him the statue up there if you ask me.

    He was, as you so soubriquetly pointed out, a world-class bigot bashing battler. Oh the stories I could tell.

    Duke of Wellington. 25 votes. But ran unopposed so it didn't cost him the customary 25 shillings.

    Peel is my idol. I guess you can tell. Him and Robert E. Lee.

  6. The questions on the next moderately obscure politician will be much more difficult.

  7. @A. - You DID say grain. I'm sorry.



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