THE Ambleside Association for the Prosecution of Felons came together in time-honoured fashion for the 192nd annual dinner at The Salutation Hotel, when 98 members dined on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce.
Many areas had similar prosecution bonds but Ambleside’s all-male association is probably the oldest-surviving Felons Bond, having lasted continuously since 1813.
Founded 40 years before the introduction of a regular police force, local crime at that time was dealt with by magistrates and village constables.
The constable’s job was to arrest, detain and bring before the magistrate anyone accused of a felony.
However, securing a conviction depended entirely on witnesses coming forward and appearing at court.
For this, they were paid a reward and their expenses, both funded by the subscriptions of association members. Petty crime and vagrancy were particularly prevalent at the time, when jobless returning soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars roamed the countryside.
Association chairman Judge Anthony James presided over the dinner, during which fines of ‘half a crown’ were paid on behalf of 91 absentees. The Toast to Town, Trade and Farming was proposed by Bond member Richard Brownson and to the Prosecution Bond toast by Andrew D. Pike.
Members remembered Bondsmen Don Brookes, Peter Edsforth, Derrick Clark and John Dewhurst who died in the past year.
Five new members, who had been on the waiting list to join for some years, were welcomed to the Bond.