The residents of the Hilderstone area have not always been law-abiding. In the past difficulties have been experienced both with villains and the system of administration of law in the locality. Interesting light on this is thrown in the Memoirs of Thomas Woollaston who occupied several roles in the Stafford police service during the second half of the nineteenth century.
An extract from Mr. Woollaston's Police Experiences, which was published in West Bromwich in 1884, follows. The description of events affecting Hilderstone follow the Introduction.
On commencing this narrative, my intention was merely to describe and give prominence to a few matters and occurrences that took place during my period of service in the Police Force.
As I proceeded, I found I could only make those intelligible and interesting by going somewhat more lengthily into subjects and details, than at first intended.
That has necessarily much prolonged the work. To accomplish this, ithas been my aim, even at the risk of being thought tedious, to endeavour to bring under notice, facts and circumstances, direct and collateral, in elucidation of the various subjects, and also with the object of showing that by patience, assiduity, and attention, added to energy and perseverance, rightly directed, many difficulties connected with Police duties may be met, and successfully overcome.
In saying this, I do not wish to be understood as dictating or even suggesting a course to be followed by others. My object in thus referring to matters here treated of, in which it has fallen to my lot to be engaged, is simply to show the means by which results have been arrived at, and the ends in view attained. The value of adhering to a safe (not to say unerring) principle of action has been abundantly exemplified and made manifest to my mind, during a somewhat lengthy and chequered career in the service.
In the earliest portion of this, when placed in a position of trust, and in charge of others, I became sensible of it. In my communications and Official correspondence, I took especial care to make all subjects on which I was engaged, clear and intelligible, and in the matter of offences and offenders, frequently and generally made suggestions with the object of assisting the labours of others.
I found great advantage in this, insomuch as to encourage me to continue and practice that course to the end.
Briefly reviewing incidents of the past, I would observe that I had much arduous and responsible work on my hands, a recapitulation of the whole of which would of necessity draw out my narrative to an undue length, and which might possibly after all be of interest only to myself.
Not having a register of cases and occurrences, many are necessarily forgotten and lost sight of, and consequently omitted. A portion only can therefore be given, the circumstances connected with which are yet fresh in my memory. A few of these, such as possess interest, and as having required and received more than ordinary attention, are thought of sufficient importance to be recorded. The various subjects treated of, appear somewhat out of their chronological order. That is, in a measure, due to my inexperience in a work of this description, and my not having the necessary data for reference.
In my notice of events and incidents, I may, inadvertently, have described some in terms which may appear somewhat objectionable as referring to individuals or subjects. If so, I beg to say I had no desire to be personally offensive, or obtrude unnecessarily on the patience of the reader, by giving undue prominence to any matter. The perusal of things past is necessarily dry if lengthy, or unavoidably prolix.
To obviate in some degree the tedium thus created, I have sought to introduce and invest my narrative occasionally with a slight vein of humour (if worthy of the name), hoping thereby to render the various subjects more interesting to the reader.
If that hope be realised I shall have attained my object.