Another Job Gone by the Wayside: Catchpole

The law-officer, whose business was to apprehend criminals, was long- known popularly as the "catch-pole."  But few remembered that he obtained that designation due to the fact that he originally carried with him a pole fitted by a peculiar apparatus to catch a flying offender by the neck.

The top picture, copied from a Dutch engraving (dated 1626), represents an officer about to make such a capture. The pole was about six feet in length, and the steel implement at its summit was sufficiently flexible to allow the neck to slip past the V-shaped arms, and so into the collar.  The criminal was then at the mercy of the officer to be pushed forward to prison, or dragged behind him.

This was the simplest form of the catchpole, sometimes it was a much more formidable thing, as will be more readily understood from our second cut copied from the antique instrument itself, obtained at Wurtzburg, in Bavaria.

The fork at the upper part is strengthened by double springs, allowing the neck to pass freely, but acting as a check against its return; rows of sharp spikes are set round the collar, and would severely punish any violent struggler for liberty, whose neck it had once embraced.

The criminal was, in fact, garrotted by the officer of the law, according to the most approved fashion of 'the good old times,' when justice was armed with terrors, and indulged in many cruelties now happily unknown.

Read more about other "Jobs Gone by the Wayside":

'Jack Tar': Not a Pleasant Smelling Job

The Knocker-Up

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Comment by Totally Irish Gifts on February 9, 2015 at 3:12pm

Thanks for posting Dee, never knew of this before, very interesting!

Shauna

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