Source 2b page 1

A letter of response by the committing magistrate, William Ballantine at the Thames Police Office about Robert Brown to the Home Office, 2 August, 1838, Catalogue ref: HO 17/121/54



Thames Police Office

1st August 1838




Colonel Wilthew has called upon me respecting a black Boy, named Robert Brown, who was committed by me on the 26th June, to the House of Correction [prison] at Coldbathfields, for unlawfully possessing two pairs of trousers which has been stole on board a ship in the West India Docks. He informed me that wishing to take the Boy …


[S. M. Phillipps Esq.]


… out with him, in order to send him to his friends in Jamaica, he has applied at the Home Office to obtain his release, and that it was there suggested, that he should request a communication from me to bring the matter before Lord John Russell. I am not desirous of putting any difficulties in the way of the Colonel, and therefore beg to state that so far as I am concerned I see no objection to the release of the boy, but on the contrary think it better on every account that he should be safely disposed of. The Colonel is unknown to me, and will of course satisfy you as to the object which induces him to seek the boy’s discharge or give any explanation that you may require.


I have the honour to be



Your most obedient Servant

William Ballantine.


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Task Source 2b

  • How many people were needed to approve the case of Robert Brown?
  • What does this case reveal about the opportunities and limitations within the judicial system?