Constable (Fr. connetable, from Lat. comes stabuli, count of the stable, or master of the horse), a title of office borrowed from Byzantine and old French usage. The constable of France was an officer of the highest rank under the king, having the chief command of the army, the cognizance of military offences, and the authority to regulate all matters of chivalry, such as tilts, tournaments, etc. The office was suppressed by Louis XIII., but revived by Napoleon, and again suppressed at the restoration. In England the office of lord high constable is as old as the conquest, and was hereditary, with powers and duties corresponding to those in France. It was abolished by Henry VIII., and has not since been revived except for special occasions, as on trials of peers, coronations, etc. An office with a similar title has existed in Scotland to the present day, but it is now merely honorary. - From the same derivation comes the designation of an inferior common law executive officer in England and America. Constables in England are of two kinds, the constable of the hundred, usually called the high constable, and the constable of the vill or tithing, called the petty constable or tithingman.
Special constables are also sworn in by the justices on special occasions when a breach of the peace is feared or exists. Constables serve the process of justices of the peace, and they also act generally as conservators of the peace, and may arrest without warrant any person committing a breach of the peace in their presence; and on reasonable suspicion that a felony has been committed, they may arrest and detain for examination the supposed offender; but they cannot arrest without warrant for a mere misdemeanor not committed in their presence.