The Early History of Constables

Early records indicate that the first constables were established in the year 871 AD by King Alfred of England. The Constable was the highest judge in the military offenses and in questions of chivalry and honor. He was also named by the King to be the supreme arbitrator in tilts, tournaments, and martial displays.

On June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta established justiciaries, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs. The Magna Carta was the institution of due process or the law and jury system.

Constables in Colonial America

The first Constable was appointed in Plymouth Colony in 1632. During that time, the leading official was the Justice of the Peace. The Justice of the Peace, assisted by the Constable, was in charge of the Colony Court which was both judiciary and legislative. The Constable enforced the orders of colonial and county officials in both civil and criminal matters.

Constables in Texas

While still a colony of Mexico, constables and sheriffs were first established in Texas when Stephen F. Austin wrote and proposed codes of criminal regulation. The Mexican government approved these regulations and added them to the established election by precinct for the constables.

In 1876, the Constitution of the State of Texas was adopted. It set forth the elected office of Constable, thus the present-day Constable office was established. The Constable’s term of office is four years. Constables must be a certified peace officer. The Constable appoints their deputies, who must also be certified officers.