Dornoch Historylinks Image Library

The Sutherland Constabulary at Dornoch
The Sutherland Constabulary at Dornoch

Black and white photo of a group of 16 policemen taken outside what appears to be a church or church hall. Named on reverse: standing L to R ~ Sgt.Will, C.H.Tyrie, W.McLeod, A.McLeod, S.Calder, P.Sutherland, Donald Forbes, R.Oliver, Chief Constable Chisholm; seated L to R ~ A.J.Thomson, R.McBain, William McDonald, Alexander Ross, McAulay, W.Fraser, Mackay.
This is the same photo as 2004.013 picture #10984
Picture added on 24 April 2008
Hugh Chisholm served as Chief Constable of Sutherland from 1906 to 1933. Sgt Alexander Will was promoted to Sergeant in 1922 and retired in 1937.Charles FYRIE joined in 1921, and William Fraser retired in 1927.

The force had an establishment of 17 from 1912, increased to 18 in 1925. There is no Inspector in the photo, (possibly absent due to illness?) so perhaps this is the complete force?

So this photo must have been taken in the mid-1920's - probably on the occasion of the Annual Inspection by HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, which would have been conducted in a suitable hall.

I would be most interested to learn of any other individual or group photos of the sutherland Constabulary for my research.

Dave Conner
Police Historian
(stationed at Helmsdale 1982-85)
Added by Dave Conner on 02 November 2008
I am the great great grandson of Sgt Alexander Will, and have recently found out that his son also joined the constabulary.

I would be very grateful for any further information regarding their service.
Added by Alasdair Will on 19 December 2012
ALEXANDER WILL (born 1853)- the FATHER of Sgt Will in the photo - served as a Constable in the Sutherland force from 30 September 1880 until 31 May 1913 when he retired on pension at the age of 60. He died in 1923.

It would appear that the vacancy in the small Sutherland force which was created by the retirement by Constable Alexander Will was filled by none other than ....... Constable Alexander Will. This latter was ALEXANDER INNES WILL (born 1887)- son of the first PC Will.

PC Will (the Younger) had served in Edinburgh City Police (he probably "transferred" up to Sutherland on learning of the vacancy caused by his dad's imminent retirement), and after service at Rhiconich until 1919 he was transferred to HQ at Dornoch. In 1922, following the retirement of the force's (then only) Sergeant, PC Will was promoted to that rank in 1922. The small force only had 3 promoted ranks, 1 x Sgt, 1 x Inspector and the Chief Constable.

Sergeant Will retired on 31 December 1937, aged 50, with 24 years of service in the Sutherland Constabulary. He must have served for at least one year - and probably as much as six years - in Edinburgh City Police, to enable him to retire with a pension at such a young age.

Sgt Will's brother Alfred (born 1892), also served in the force from Sept 1914 to June 1915 as supernumerary officer, before leaving to join the Army for the duration of the war. Sadly he did not survive the war.

Sgt Will died on 20th January 1943 and according to his obituary published in the Northern Times", one of Sgt Will's sons was then a member of the Edinburgh City Police.

Many thanks for all the information on the Will family - Administrator
Added by Dave Conner on 21 December 2012
Could it possibly be that the Hall or building may well be in Inverness for this Inspection, the windows appear very similar to those in picture #10051 (B Company 1st Sutherland H.R. Volunteer teem meeting).

Many thanks for your comment, it may well be that the Inspection was not in Dornoch - Administrator
Added by Alasdair Will on 16 May 2015
Highly unlikely the whole force would have been shipped down to Inverness for inspection - it would have taken some of the Sutherland men a whole day to get to Dornoch, without denuding the whole county of its police force for another day to get them to Inverness. In point of fact the HMI did inspections in THREE locations for Ross & Cromarty (Dingwall, Tain and Stornoway) and FOUR for Inverness-shire (Inverness, Ft Wm, Portree, and Lochmaddy) to keep officers' travel to a "minimum". I think the photo was taken in Dornoch, (whichever hall was used) at same location for the Army Volunteers (before they set out to Northern Meeting). HMI also needed to inspect the cells, books etc and meet local Police Committee - so it needed to be "on site".

Many thanks for your comment, in the police diary we have for 1874-8 there is an inspection mentioned twice and both time the Constable is in Dornoch both before and after so he didn't travel very far. I have not yet been able to identify the building even with the distinctive windows - Administrator
Added by Dave Conner on 18 May 2015
Thanks Dave, that makes perfect sense, think I got a bit carried away with the windows on the hall looking so similar, that'll teach me for not looking at the bigger picture!.
Added by Alasdair Will on 22 May 2015
I think "MacKay" seated, end right, is Alexander MacKay who was a Police Constable (see photo numbers 575, 576, 577 and 8283). He was my 1st cousin 3x removed. He was born in 1873 at the Poles. In the 1901 census he was a Police Constable at Kinlochbervie. In the 1911 census he was a Police Constable living in Dornoch at 97 North Street. I agree that this photo must be from the 1920s as he looks to be in his 50s (as opposed to being in his 20s if this was in the 1890s).~ Many thanks for your comment. ~ Administrator
Added by Masis Panos on 06 July 2018
Re: Masis Panos' message, Alexander MacKay was not in the force when this photo was taken. PC MacKay resigned from the force in July 1913, whereas Alexander Will was not promoted to Sgt until 1922.

Added by Dave Conner on 10 July 2018
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