Legal Definition and Related Resources of Constable

Meaning of Constable

An officer employed by a government , municipal or county , whose duty it is to serve process for courts of justices of the peace .

Constable Alternative Definition

An ofilcer whose duty it is to keep the peace in the district which is assigned to bin). The most satisfactory derivation of the term and history of the origin of this office is that which deduces it from the French comestable (Lat. comes-stabuli) , who was an officer second only to the king. He might take charge of the army, wherever it was, if the Mng were not present, and had the general control of everything relating to military matters, as the marching troops, their encampment, provisioning, etc. Guyot, Rep. Univ. The same extensive duties pertained to the constable of Scotland.- Bell, Diet. The duties of this officer in England seem to have been first fully defined by St. Westminster (13 Edw. I.), and question has been frequently made whether the office existed in England before that time. 1 Bl. Comm. 356. It seems, however, to be pretty certain that the office in England is of Norman origin, being introduced by William, and that subsequently the duties of the Saxon tithing men, borsholders, etc., were added to its other functions. See Cowell; Willcock, Const.; 1 Bl. Comm. 356. High constables were first ordained, according to Blackstone, by the statute of Westminster, though they were known as efficient public officers long before that time. 1 Sharswood, Bl. Comm. 356. They are to be appointed for each franchise or hundred by the leet, or, in default of such appointment, by the justices at quarter sessions. Their first duty is that of keeping the king’s peace. In addition, they are to serve warrants, return lists. of jurors, and perform various other services enumerated in Coke, 4th Inst. 267; 3 Steph. Comm. 47; Jacob, Law Diet. In some cities and towns in the United States there are officers called “high constables,” who are the principal police officers in their jurisdiction. , Petty constables are inferior officers in every town or parish, subordinate to the high constable. They perform the duties of head borough, tithing man, or borsholder and in addition, their more modern duties appertaining to the keeping the peace within their town, village, or tithing. In England, however, their duties have been much restricted by Act 5 & 6, Vict. c. 109, which deprives them of their power as conservators of the peace. 3 Steph. Comm. 47. In the United States, generally, petty constables only are retained, their duties being generally the same as those of constables in England prior to 5 & 6 Vict. c. 109, including a limited judicial power as conservators of the peace, a ministerial power for the service of writs, etc., and some other duties not strictly referable to either of these heads.

Related Entries of Constable in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Constable in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Constable in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Constable in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Constable in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Constable, Lord High, Hundred, Precinct, Search Warrant.


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Related topics Constable in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Constable is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Constable in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of constable.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Constable

(You may find constable at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

c. 1200, “chief household officer, justice of the peace,” from Old French conestable (12c., Modern French connétable), “steward, governor,” principal officer of the Frankish king’s household, from Late Latin comes stabuli, literally “count of the stable” (established by Theodosian Code, c.438 C.E.), hence, “chief groom.” See count (n.1). Second element is from Latin stabulum “stable, standing place” (see stable; this term is also a noun.). Probably a translation of a Germanic word. Meaning “an officer of the peace” is from c. 1600, transferred to “police officer” 1836. French reborrowed constable 19c. as “English police.”


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Policeman
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

English Legal System: Constable

In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Constable :

See police officer.



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