Rough Justice is a history of policing and crime in early Newfoundland. It focuses on the period between the appointment of the first constables on the island in 1729 to the establishment of the Newfoundland Constabulary in 1871, now known as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. This makes the Constabulary the oldest continuous police service in Canada.
This book concentrates on regular constables and their lived experiences in the court system and in the community. These law officers, who were largely ignored by politicians at the time and by historians in recent decades, were critical to making that justice system work. This social and legal history brings their stories to life for the first time. Case studies provide fascinating glimpses into the dangers of law enforcement across the island, not just in St. John's and Conception Bay, but also in rural districts such as Trinity and Placentia.
These early policemen, mostly untrained amateurs, were officers of the court, but they also played important roles in some of the most notable historical events and social crises of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The establishment of the Constabulary in 1871 built upon that strong foundation of community service. Rough Justice weaves that narrative into the larger history of Newfoundland.