A Sussex Policeman Part 1

Nearly 20 years ago I wrote an article for the Sussex Family Historian on the accidental death, by gas poisoning, of Albert Edward PLANK in 1912.  He was one of my Great-Uncles and the Inquest and Naval funeral (he was in the RNVR) were widely covered in the Brighton newspapers.

The Police Constable who attended the scene in Islingword St performed artificial respiration on Albert but to no avail.  He showed a neighbour, Mrs BRETT, what to do and, with the help of a Sergeant and Constable, Albert’s wife Ellen survived (but not their unborn child).

The inquest ended as follows:

“The Foreman added that the jury wished to commend Mrs. BRETT and P.C. TESTER.

The Coroner: I am very glad you have said that P.C. TESTER is deserving of praise for the way in which he discharged his duties in this case.   Not only was he energetic and prompt in endeavouring to restore animation, but he made an intelligent investigation, and prepared a plan which has been of considerable assistance to the Court.

Superintendent HALE promised to report the commendation to the authorities.”

So who was this policeman and what happened to him?  Census returns told me that his name was Llewellyn TESTER.  He was born at Mayfield in 1883, one of 10 children of Charles & Harriet TESTER.  Harriet’s maiden name was also TESTER but I have not yet determined if she and Charles were related.  It also turns out that TESTER is a commoner surname in Sussex than I thought.  Charles & Harriet had a thing about boy’s names beginning with an “L” as five of their seven sons were named Lemuel, Leonard, Lewis, Llewellyn & Luther.

Llewellyn is mentioned a number of times in the Brighton newspapers and, latterly, The Mid-Sussex Times, but most of the information I have about his Police career was obtained from the records of the Brighton Constabulary (held at The Keep):

11 Nov 1904 Llewellyn TESTER joined the Brighton Police Force.  He had previously been a bricklayer living in Ardingly.  His height was 5ft 11½ in; hair dark brown; eyes grey; he had a scar on his left hand.  He was single.

1905 He obtained the Ambulance Certificate.  Presumably this is how he, and his colleagues, knew about artificial respiration.

Nov 1907 - his pay was increased to 27s a week

20 Feb 1912 He was commended by the Coroner’s Jury, and the Coroner, for his “praiseworthy, energetic and prompt effort to restore animation in the case of Albert PLANK”.  He also received a commendation, and award of 7s 6d, from the Chief Constable.

13 Nov 1912 He was promoted to Sergeant (Office) at 36s a week.

13 Sep 1916 He was appointed Station Sergeant at 44s 6d a week.

12 Apr 1917 He was commended by the Coroner and Jury, and by the Chief Constable, for the able manner in which he prepared plans of No 2 Normanton St, the site of a double murder on 28 March.  Mrs Jessie WELLINGTON (or WALDIE), a widow aged 60, was found dead.  Her lodger, Mrs Louisa MOULDEN, also a widow, aged 61, was found with a fractured skull.  She died later of her injuries.  As far as I know these murders have never been solved.

Aug 1919 As a result of a new pay scale recommended by the Police Commission his pay was now 112s 6d a week.

2 Sep 1920 Took up duties of acting Inspector.

8 Sep 1920 Promoted to the rank of Inspector. Pay now £310 a year.

8 Nov 1920 Commended by the Recorder at the Adjourned Quarter Sessions on 2 Nov for his smartness and intelligence in apprehending James Richard CARE and William SHEPPARD, for stealing a pony and trap valued at £40, on 5 Oct.

8 Sep 1921 Promoted to 12 months (Insp) Class at £320 per annum.

24 Dec 1930 He retired with a pension of £233 6s 8d a year after 26 years service.

Outside of the police Llewellyn married Ellen HOLLINGDALE at St Luke’s Church, Brighton on 15 Jun 1907.  She was born at Brighton in 1884, one of fourteen children to Henry HOLLINGDALE (born at Rodmell in 1853) & Ruth WHITEWOOD (born at Benenden, Kent, in 1858).  They had three children: Bernard Llewellyn, Maurice Leonard & Joan.

After retiring from the police Llewellyn, Ellen and their daughter Joan, moved to Haywards Heath.  He then became the manager of the Perrymount Cinema in Haywards Heath and gave evidence against Mrs Nancy Guinevere WARD at Haywards Heath Police Court on Friday 19 Mar 1937.  Mrs WARD was the former manageress of the Perrymount Cinema Restaurant and was charged with embezzlement and committed to trial.  At the East Sussex Quarter Sessions at Lewes on 6 Apr 1937 she pleaded guilty to embezzlement of £3 10s and was bound over, in the sum of £5, for 12 months.  The Perrymount Cinema opened in 1936 so it is possible that he was the first manager but he left this post later in 1937.

After the outbreak of war in 1939, aged 56, he joined the East Sussex Police at Haywards Heath.  On 15 Sep he was appointed a First Reserve.  Unfortunately Llewellyn did not live to see the end of the war.

On Saturday 3 Apr 1943, just before 1.00 pm, he was cycling in Franklands Village, Haywards Heath, when he fell from his bicycle and suffered severe head injuries.  He was taken to Haywards Heath Hospital and then Hurstwood Park Hospital later that day.  There was an operation that night but while there were signs of improvement on the Sunday he died at 7.15 am on Monday morning.   The Mid-Sussex Times reported on the funeral at Brighton Crematorium and the Inquest (“Accidental death”).

Apart from family and friends there were more than 100 people from the Brighton Borough Police & Haywards Heath Police Division present at the funeral.  Six Sergeants, four from Brighton & two from Haywards Heath, were the coffin bearers.

There was also a floral tribute from the Worshipful Master, Officers & Brethren of the Burrell Lodge, Brighton.  So he had been a Freemason.

His widow, Ellen, survived him by nearly 30 years dying at the age of 86.

However Llewellyn was not the only member of the TESTER/HOLLINGDALE family to be a policeman.   In Part 2 I will look at the others.


Part 2