Fielding Brothers

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Looking for the Bow Street Runners in literature

Many visitors to the Museum have heard of the Bow Street Runners, the popular name of the police force set up by Henry Fielding in 1749. This is usually because the name has appeared in a book or film. But when one delves more deeply, it is surprisingly difficult to find the Runners (properly known as Principal Officers) in major works of fiction, and even when they do appear they tend to be insignificant.

Law enforcers or spoilsports? 

When Henry Fielding began to build the Bow Street force, he focused on serious crimes like highway robbery. But when his brother John Fielding took charge in 1754, he was also expected to deal with societal problems like drunkenness and gambling (or “gaming”).