PRIOR to the year 1800 there was no regular police
force in Glasgow; but the manner in which the duties of watching and
warding were performed in those early times is shown in a petition
presented to the Town Council in 1707, the year of the Sorrowfu’ Union.
Each master of a family was required to attend in turn, or send a
sufficient substitute, to do guard duty. The guard was divided into
companies, under a captain, each company being summoned by drum at two
o’clock p.m., and kept on duty from three till the same hour next day. As
there were then no public lights of any kind, on dark nights, in the
absence of moonlight, the duty could neither be easy or agreeable.
In order to keep the peace and preserve decency and
order, all women, boys, young men, and servants were prohibited from being
upon the streets "after cloud of night," at least above a certain number,
but it is possible, if not probable, that the danger of trouble and
disturbance lay rather with the members of the community who were not thus
restricted. The names of all strangers in the town, whether staying in
public or private houses, had to be handed in to the captain of the guard
by ten o’clock.