Police Constable Richard Denman

Part of the Crime & Punishment in Cocking in the Nineteenth Century” series

Richard Denman was the village police constable at Cocking from early 1864 to 1871, during which time his zeal brought several miscreants to court.


Richard Denman was born at Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, on 17 February 1839, the youngest of nine children born to Michael Denman (1793–1869), a farmer, and his wife Judith née Shaw (1797–1870).

On 16 November 1860, aged 21, he married 19-year old Jane Nash, a seamstress from Rudgwick near Horsham,  at Oakwood, near Guildford. At the time of the marriage, Richard was employed as a carter. After the marriage, the couple lived at Ewhurst, midway between Guildford and Horsham, where their first child, Charles Albert, was born the following summer. A daughter, Jane, was born at nearby Warnham in the spring of 1863.

On 3 January 1864, Richard Denman joined the West Sussex constabulary, and shortly after was posted to Cocking as the village constable.

During his 7 year spell at Cocking, he was involved in several court cases, including the alleged rape of Elizabeth Strotton by Edward Savage in February 1866, and many cases of drunken behaviour. In December 1864, he was prosecuted by Mary Ann Dudman for alleged assault –  the case was dismissed by the magistrates.

Four further children were born at Cocking:

Walter Nash, baptised on 1 July 1866

Richard, baptised on 17 June 1867, but died soon after

Kate Jessie Elizabeth, baptised 6 December 1869

Richard Percy, baptised 1 January 1871, but died at two months old.

Shortly after this sad event, Richard was transferred to Pulborough, where two further children were born:

Sarah Anne, born 25 July 1872

Arthur Clifford, born 27 January 1879.

By 1881, Richard had been promoted to sergeant, and transferred to Shoreham, where the family lived at the police station. Following further promotion to superintendent, he moved to Horsham where the family lived at Queen Street police station.

In 1892, he returned to Cocking while he was investigating the theft of a horse and cart at Hassocks and the disposal of a stolen harness and bridle at the Cobden Arms by the notorious horse thief, John Burnand.

Richard retired on a pension from the police force on 15 March 1895, having completed just over 31 years’ service. Sadly, his wife Jane died on 19 October 1896.

Richard re-married, to 39-year old Kate Littlefield at St Mark’s church, Horsham on 15 January 1898.

On 1 December 1898, he was appointed as a bailiff to the Horsham County Court, becoming chief bailiff the following March.

Richard Denman died, shortly after his 70th birthday, on 16 March 1909, and was buried alongside his first wife, Jane, at Denne Road cemetery, Horsham after a funeral service at Horsham Congregational Church, attended by many of his former colleagues from both the police service and the county court.




1841 England Census

1851 England Census

1861 England Census

1871 England Census

1881 England Census

1891 England Census

1901 England Census

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995

Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937

West Sussex, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813–1920

West Sussex, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754–1936

Mid Sussex Times: 23 March 1909. Deaths

West Sussex County Times. 27 March 1909. Funeral of ex-Superintendent Denman