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Superintendent Adolphus Frederick Williamson (from Belton Cobb (1956) Critical Years at the Yard)

On 12th May 1869, Chief Inspector Adolphus ('Dolly') Williamson was promoted to Superintendent and head of an expanded Detective Department at Scotland Yard. At the same time, the man who was to become Williamson's deputy, Inspector George Clarke, was promoted to Chief Inspector during the most radical changes to the  detective force in London since 1842.

When the London Metropolitan Police Force was established in 1829, its principal role was crime prevention. Crime detection was given a lower priority, and the delay in establishing  a plain clothes detective force was also attributable to concerns that this would lead to a civilian-spy system similar to those found in some European countries. There were additional fears that men in plain clothes would also be more susceptible to corruption. Nonetheless, by 1842 the over-riding need for a detective force in London had become apparent and a small Detective Department  containing 8 men was established. The strong interest and support that the author and social reformer, Charles Dickens, displayed towards the new detectives probably helped offset some, though not all, of the initial public concerns.  Writing in Household Words (1850), Dickens commented:

Charles Dickens, 1868 (Wikipedia)
Charles Dickens, 1868; a fan of the Scotland Yard Detective Department (Wikipedia)

"The Detective so well chosen and trained, proceeds so systematically and quietly, does its business in such a workmanlike manner, and is always so calmly and steadily engaged in the service of the public, that the public really do not know enough of it, to know a tithe of its usefulness."

By 1862, when my great-great-grandfather George Clarke first joined the department as a Sergeant, there were 10 detectives at Scotland Yard. In November 1867, a further modest increase to 15 detectives had been approved by the Home Office at the time of the Fenian Conspiracy  but  was  not acted on until the long-serving Police Commissioner, Sir Richard Mayne, died in December 1868 and was replaced by a new broom, Colonel Edmund Henderson.

Colonel Edmund Henderson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1869-1886 (Wikipedia)
Colonel Edmund Henderson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner 1869-1886 (Wikipedia)

It seems that Henderson had fewer reservations about increasing the number of detectives in London and, on the same day that Williamson and  Clarke were promoted, Henderson announced that the Scotland Yard Detective Department would be increased to 27 staff including a Superintendent (Williamson), 3 Chief Inspectors, 3 Inspectors and 20 Sergeants.  In addition, a few days later, approval was given for a total of  180 new detectives (Sergeants and Constables) to be appointed across the Metropolitan Police's Divisions.  As a consequence, the number of detectives in the Force had, on paper, increased from 15 to 207.  The team of 27 at Scotland Yard  reported direct to the Police Commissioner, and the remaining 180 to their relevant Divisional Superintendents.  This divergence in line-management was to remain a bone of contention until the later establishment of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) in 1878.

An interest in matters criminal has thrived across several centuries.  The 'Detective Story' has become a very popular and entertaining part of modern literature; however, within this literature, it is the fictional detective that has predominated.  This contrasts somewhat with the Victorian age where news of the exploits of the real detectives fascinated not only Charles Dickens but, increasingly a high proportion of the population, through newspaper reports and word-of-mouth.

'The Chieftain' a biography of Detective Chief inspector George Clarke, published by The History Press, 2011
'The Chieftain' a biography of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, published by The History Press, 2011

The recent 'resurrection' of Inspectors Richard Tanner, and Jonathan Whicher, by the authors Kate Colquhoun ("Mr Briggs' Hat") and Kate Summerscale ("The Suspicions of Mr Whicher"), respectively, has provided a  fresh look at some of the realities of life for the Victorian Scotland Yard detective. My personal interest in Victorian detectives has been in unearthing the story behind George Clarke's detective career, now published in my biography of him, 'The Chieftain'.  However, I'm sure that further investigation of his colleagues in the burgeoning mid-Victorian Scotland Yard Detective Department would prove of equal merit.  By mid-1869, Tanner and Whicher were no longer at Scotland Yard, but 'Dolly' Williamson and  his senior colleagues were an interesting bunch and, in my view, worthy of further research in their own right. For that reason I've decided to provide brief pen-pictures of the men occupying these positions  in the hope of sparking further interest in them; starting today with Superintendent 'Dolly' Williamson. In future blog posts I intend to add similar pen-pictures of those men filling the ranks of Chief Inspector and Inspector at Scotland Yard during the 1870s.

Superintendent Adolphus Frederick Williamson
Superintendent Adolphus Frederick Williamson

Superintendent Adolphus  Frederick Williamson

Known to friends and colleagues as 'Dolly', Adolphus Williamson was a Scot whose father had been Superintendent of T Division (Hammersmith). His first job was as a temporary clerk in the War Department before he decided to follow his father into the Metropolitan Police in 1850.  Initially working as an assistant clerk in P Division (Camberwell), he gained promotion and joined the detective department as a Sergeant in 1852.  He later went on to become the Head of Scotland Yard's Detective Department, achieving the ranks of Chief Inspector, Superintendent and District Superintendent/Chief Constable en route.

During his long 36-year career at Scotland Yard Williamson was involved in many of the high profile criminal investigations of his day.  This included his early work with Inspector Whicher on the initially 'unsolved' case of the Road Hill House murder.  Once Constance Kent confessed to the crime several years after the initial investigation had failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion, it was Williamson as Head of Department who concluded the case. He was at the forefront of the Detectives' involvement in investigations of  Irish Terrorism on the British mainland, during the Fenian Conspiracy (1865-1868) and in the 1880s when a bomb explosion in London in March 1883 marked the start of another Fenian campaign. A 'Special Irish Branch' (the forerunner of Special Branch) was established under his leadership a month later. Well-liked and respected by his colleagues, Williamson's reputation was nonetheless fortunate to survive (apparently unscathed) when, in 1877, his Department's three Chief Inspectors (Clarke, Nathaniel Druscovich and William Palmer) were arrested and tried for corruption in the now notorious 'Trial of the Detectives'.

St John Evangelist Church, Smith Square. Location of Williamson's funeral
St John Evangelist Church, Smith Square. Location of Williamson's funeral

Williamson is said to have had a great capacity for hard work, combining it with a dry sense of humour.  As a young man he was a powerful sculler and a devotee of the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race, but like Wilkie Collins' 'Sergeant Cuff', his principal relaxation was gardening.  He died on 9th December 1889, still in post, though for some months prior to his death his health had failed. The Home Secretary expressed his "...deep regret with which he hears of Mr. Williamson's death, and of his sense of the great loss which the Police and Public have sustained in being deprived of an Officer distinguished for his skill, prudence and experience and whose life has been unsparingly devoted to the Public Service." The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) expressed similar sentiments. Williamson's well-attended funeral service was held at St John Evangelist church in London's Smith Square (now a popular concert venue).



Having other commitments last night, I have only just been able to watch a recording of BBC2's "Murder on the Victorian Railway".  If I had known nothing about the case, I think I would have enjoyed it enormously.  It was wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully scripted and well-acted entertainment but I wish that the programme could have been longer, and the production team provided with a larger budget.  Why do I take that view? Essentially,  because I would have liked to have seen the moment portrayed on film when my great-great-Grandfather, Detective-Sergeant George Clarke, arrested Franz Muller in New York harbour on board the sailing ship Victoria.

Franz Muller, 1864
Franz Muller, 1864

Detective-Sergeant 'who' I hear you ask; surely it was Inspector Tanner who made the arrest? Not so, as the court transcript (and Kate Colquhoun's book on which the programme was based) reveal. The arrest, and its description in court was undertaken by Tanner's sergeant who had travelled with him to New York.  Tanner only arrived on the Victoria some hours later, accompanied by the witness John Death, to conduct an 'identification parade'.

George Clarke c. 1864; at that time, a Detective Sergeant. Photo courtesy of John Ashe

It is perhaps natural that my greatest interest in this case centres around the involvement of my ancestor, Detective-Sergeant George Clarke.  Undoubtedly, it was Inspector Tanner who led the murder investigation. But as we all know from 'Ripper Street' and 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher' all Detective-Inspectors are accompanied by a faithful Sergeant!

What is certain, is that the Thomas Briggs' murder investigation was  the high water mark in Tanner's detective career. In contrast, it proved to be the launching pad for Clarke's even though he was already some 12 years older than Tanner. By the time that Franz Muller was hanged for Briggs' murder, Clarke had already been put onto his next murder inquiry, the Plaistow Marshes murder.  In 1867, during his investigations into the Fenian Conspiracy, Clarke was promoted to Inspector and then in May 1869, at the age of 51, to Chief Inspector.  The outranked and younger Inspector Tanner retired a few weeks later in 1869 on grounds of 'bodily infirmity' and it does seem that poor health may have inhibited to some extent his progression within the Detective Department.  Nonetheless, Tanner still had sufficient energy in 'retirement' to run a pub in Winchester and to act as Secretary for his Fleet Street-based Lodge of Freemasons until his premature death in 1873.

Between 1869 and 1877, Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke was second-in-command of the Scotland Yard Detective Department, and tackled many of the major criminal investigations in that period, including several murders, serious thefts, arson, frauds and betting offences, the Tichborne Claimant case and the 'Balham Mystery' (the unresolved poisoning of Charles Bravo). Then, in October 1877 he found himself in the dock at the Old Bailey charged with corruption, alongside three of his Scotland Yard colleagues.  Though he was acquitted, there is little doubt that the notoriety surrounding the 'Trial of the Detectives' has placed Clarke's career in the historical shadows, or even (as in last night's programme) completely off the cast-list.

'The Chieftain' a biography of Detective Chief inspector George Clarke, published by The History Press, 2011
'The Chieftain' a biography of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, published by The History Press, 2011

Nonetheless, despite my personal niggle, last night's production team produced an entertaining programme of high quality.  I would like to see more of the same please, but an extended running time and a bigger budget for a larger cast, to ensure that the 'Sergeants' in this world (who may ultimately prove to be particularly interesting) also get a look-in.  In the meantime you might like to read Kate Colquhoun's excellent book 'Mr Briggs' Hat' to flesh out last night's progamme and, of course, my recent biography of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, 'The Chieftain'.

Some of my earlier blog posts have highlighted aspects of the career of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke who, between 1862 and 1878, served in the small team of London Metropolitan Police detectives based at Scotland Yard. By 1869, Clarke had become second-in-command of the detective branch, and was one of the best-known and trusted detectives in the force. His career is described in my recent biography 'The Chieftain'.

Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, 1877. Photo courtesy of John Ashe

However, 1877 was a particularly challenging year for Clarke, following his arrest in September on a charge of corruption which resulted in his trial at the Old Bailey, together with three of his police colleagues. The events became known as 'The Trial of the Detectives'.   Unlike his colleagues, Clarke was acquitted on 20 November 1877, and reinstated in his post by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Edmund Henderson.

Vanity Fair Caricature of Commissioner Edmund Henderson
Vanity Fair Caricature of Commissioner Edmund Henderson

But within days, Clarke retired and left the force, on 4th January 1878. By that stage he was 59 years old. Having served in the Metropolitan Police for 37 years, he was probably not too sorry to leave.  Despite his acquittal, his departure from Scotland Yard was driven through by the Home Secretary of that period, Sir Richard Assheton Cross, who appears from the documented archives to have deemed that the political embarrassment of the Trial of the Detectives was so great that Clarke had to be sacrificed, innocent or guilty. Like the Trial of the Detectives itself, Clarke's retirement became one of the main news items of the day.

Richard Assheton Cross; Home Secretary 1877
Richard Assheton Cross; Home Secretary 1877 (Wikipedia)

The digitised newspaper resources available today (e.g. at the British Newspaper Archive) make it clear that virtually every newspaper in the land covered, in great detail, the Trial and its subsequent political fallout, including Clarke's retirement. So for those members of the population who could afford newspapers, could read, or  listened to others talking about the case in the pubs and music halls, it was a major topic of conversation in polite (and impolite) society!

According to Haia Shpayer-Makov, in her recent book "The Ascent of the Detective"(p.237) there was a boost in fictional detective writing in Britain from 1878 onwards.  It seems to me that this is unlikely to have been a coincidence.  Could it be  that the corruption exposed in the Scotland Yard Detective force during 1877 meant that readers (and writers) needed to console themselves with fictional detectives now that their faith in the 'real' article had been sullied?  If so, what detective models did these writers (including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who produced his first Sherlock Holmes story in  1887) use to  flesh-out their police characters (such as the fictional Inspector Lestrade)?  I'll have to do some more reading, to see if I can detect any of the attributes of Chief Inspector George Clarke in their creations!

In this Blog I am continuing the series of articles about the experiences and events that my great-great grandfather, George Clarke, encountered in his working life as a detective at Scotland Yard during the mid-Victorian period. Today, I describe something of the new challenges that Scotland Yard  faced between 1865 and 1868. A much fuller account of these and other relevant events can be found in my recent book 'The Chieftain'.

James Stephens, leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1858-1866. (Wikipedia)

From 1865-1868,  the small Metropolitan Police Detective Department at Scotland Yard was in the English front-line of trying to deal with a resurgence of Irish Republicanism that had started to spill over from Ireland into mainland Britain. The organisation principally responsible for this was a 'secret society', the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), established on St Patrick's Day 1858 in a Dublin timber yard by the revolutionary republican, James Stephens. By 1865, supporters of the Society, commonly known as 'Fenians', had spread their revolutionary philosophy well beyond Ireland, to other countries containing Irish emigrants (including the London area), and particularly to America.  Although the American Civil War interrupted the recruitment of supporters, by 1865 this war was ending. The detectives at Scotland Yard became involved in investigations on the Fenians from about this time.

Underpinned by financial support from the Fenian Brotherhood (FB; based in America),  the IRB had been plotting an armed rising in Ireland. By the end of 1866,  nothing substantive had happened and Stephens' colleagues became dissatisfied with his lack of progress towards delivering an Irish Rising and replaced him as leader with an Irish-American veteran of the American Civil War, Thomas Kelly .  In February 1867 there was a Fenian plan to raid Chester Castle and remove arms and ammunition and transport them via Holyhead to Ireland. However, this  was halted before it started, by an informer in the Fenian hierarchy. Nonetheless, on 5 March 1867, 'The Rising' finally started in Ireland, but also quickly fizzled out as the same informer  had leaked information which enabled several of the leading participants to be arrested before events got underway. However, amongst the organisers who managed to escape arrest were the Fenian leader Thomas Kelly, and the Fenian arms organiser, Ricard O'Sullivan Burke.

Colonel Thomas Kelly; succeeded James Stephens as leader of the IRB in  December 1866

On the 11  September 1867  the police in Manchester had a lucky break when Thomas Kelly was arrested with a Fenian accomplice, following a policeman's observation that the men were acting suspiciously.   All that good work was undone when, despite the presence of at least one Scotland Yard Detective in Manchester (George Clarke's boss, Superintendent Williamson), Kelly escaped during a successful rescue bid conducted by a large group of Fenians,  who intercepted the prison van carrying Kelly on his way back to prison from a court appearance.  Kelly was never recaptured, but on 20 November 1867, the Fenian arms organiser, Burke, was arrested in Woburn Square, Bloomsbury by one of George Clarke's colleagues, Inspector James Thomson, following information received from another informer.

Ricard O'Sullivan Burke, Fenian Arms Organiser

After the successful Fenian rescue of Kelly  in Manchester, it was perhaps not unreasonable to anticipate that a similar attempt could be made to free Ricard Burke.  After his arrest, Burke was being held in London at the Clerkenwell House of Detention. At midday on 11 December, the Home Office received a detailed tip-off from Ireland that a rescue was planned:

“The plan is to blow up the exercise walls by means of gunpowder – the hour between 3 and 4 p.m.; and the signal for ‘all right’, a white ball thrown up outside when he is at exercise”.(From Jenkins, B, (2008) The Fenian Problem 1858-1874 pp. 148-9).

After its receipt at the Home Office, the information was passed quickly to the Metropolitan Police. From that point there are some significant discrepancies in the historical record with regard to the steps taken by the police. Suffice it to say that whatever precise steps were taken, they were inadequate, and misdirected. In what appears to have been farcical incompetence, the police took too literally the phrase “to blow up” (contained in the warning message), suspecting that it was the intention of the Fenians to blow up the walls (from underground) using mines, whereas it materialised that their plans were instead “to blow down” the walls using a gunpowder bomb! As a consequence, there was an insufficient police presence outside the prison walls to prevent the forthcoming events.

On the afternoon of 12 December, a man was seen by one witness to wheel a gunpowder barrel to the prison wall, and light a fuse. A white rubber ball was thrown over the wall and was picked up by a curious warder who pocketed it. Meanwhile, having seen the ball, Burke retreated to a corner of the exercise yard to await the blast, which never came because the fuse fizzled out. The barrel was wheeled away again.  The following day, the bomb was set successfully, but arrangements had been made for Burke to exercise at a different time and he was not in the yard. At 3.45 p.m. on 13 December 1867 the explosion blew down a length of the prison wall and demolished the fronts of many houses and shops in Corporation Row. No prisoners escaped or died but at least six deaths occurred amongst members of the public, as a direct consequence of the explosion, and  six more died through indirectly-associated causes; about 120 individuals were wounded.  Historical accounts of the event rarely agree on the final details of the damage caused.

Clerkenwell, 13 December 1867; firing of the gunpowder barrel and the explosion (Illustrated Police News)

Not surprisingly, criticism of the police came thick and fast, with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne and the detectives, in particular, being in the sights of the critics. Nonetheless, it was left to the Metropolitan Police to pick up the pieces from Clerkenwell and to trace those responsible for the explosion.

Immediately after the explosion had occurred, three people seen loitering near the Clerkenwell House of Detention were arrested.  These were Anne Justice, Jeremiah Allen and Timothy Desmond. Justice had been visiting the prison that day; Desmond came from an Irish community suspected of having strong Fenian connections, and Allen claimed to be working for the police. On 20 December, at Bow Street police court, a self-confessed Fenian, James Vaughan, implicated himself and gave evidence which implicated four others, Nicholas English, Patrick Mullany, William Desmond, and John O’Keefe, in the planning and execution of the bombing.

In January 1868, Patrick Mullany decided to volunteer information to the police to save his own skin. The information he gave was damaging to his co-conspirators, but Mullany also added a new name to the list of suspects; that of a man from Glasgow, calling himself Jackson, but whose real name was Barrett. According to Mullany it was Barrett who had set off the explosion. By coincidence, a man named Willy Jackson had been arrested in a Glasgow street in mid-January following the discharge of a firearm, and was still being held by the Glasgow police, who had regarded him with sufficient suspicion to inform Scotland Yard. Superintendent Williamson, head of the Scotland Yard Detective Department, with several others (probably including George Clarke) travelled to Glasgow and returned with Jackson, who was subsequently identified as Michael Barrett. Individuals who had known Barrett before in London, commented that he had changed his appearance between December 1867 and January 1868, by shaving off his whiskers, and some witnesses appeared to have difficulty in identifying him as a consequence.  Of course, the police had a very limited armoury of forensic techniques available at that time, and facial recognition was vitally important. This created problems for the police who were seeking witnesses able to place Barrett in London in December, and at the scene of the bombing at Clerkenwell. From the limited information of George Clarke’s involvement with the Clerkenwell enquiries, it appears that he helped to assemble identification evidence, as he is known to have interviewed at least one witness (Thomas Kensley) who later gave evidence in court of Barrett’s identity.

When the time had come for the Old Bailey trial of those arrested for the Clerkenwell Explosion, those in the dock on 20 April 1868, charged with the wilful murder of Sarah Ann Hodgkinson (one of the victims of the Clerkenwell explosion), were Anne Justice, Timothy Desmond, William Desmond, Nicholas English, John O’Keefe, and Michael Barrett, all of whom pleaded “not guilty”. Of those previously remanded, Mullany and Vaughan had turned “Queen’s Evidence” and appeared as witnesses for the prosecution. George Clarke was not called to give evidence and had been sent by Mayne to Cheshire to investigate a suspicious death.

'Fenian Guy Fawkes'. Punch magazine's perspective on the Fenian threat, December 1867.

The Clerkenwell Explosion trial lasted seven days and in view of the nature of the crime, and the subsequent public outrage it had created, was closely watched by politicians and public alike. Montagu Williams, who was defence counsel for Anne Justice, has left some first-hand recollections of events during the seven days at the Old Bailey (see Williams, M. (1890) Leaves of a Life; Vol 1 pages 182-203):

“To judge by the appearance of the prisoners, the Fenian movement must have been at a somewhat low ebb at that time.  With the exception of Barrett, the accused seemed to be in a state of extreme poverty….[Barrett was] a square-built fellow, scarcely five feet eight in height, and dressed like a well-to-do farmer….A less murderous countenance than Barrett’s,  indeed I do not remember to have seen….The only time I saw Barrett’s face change was during the examination of the informers, and the look of disgust, scorn and hatred that he turned on these two miserable creatures was a thing to be remembered.”

Victorian barrister, Montagu Williams: defence counsel for Anne Justice

Anne Justice was discharged on 23 April, when Lord Chief Justice Cockburn adjudged that the evidence against her was too slight to be sent to the jury and the prosecution case was also abandoned on the following day against O’Keefe, who was likewise discharged.  As his female client left the dock, Montagu Williams recalled: “She turned round to where Barrett was sitting, seized him by the hand, and with two large tears rolling down her cheeks, kissed him very gently on the forehead.  Then she hurried away.  This was not a very judicious proceeding perhaps – but how like a woman”.

On 27 April, the jury members retired, taking two and a half hours to reach their verdict, a relatively long time for Victorian juries. On their return, the Desmonds and English were declared ‘not guilty’, and Barrett ‘guilty’. Before sentencing, Barrett requested, and was granted, the opportunity to say a few words. He saved his strongest words for the police.  Referring to evidence given by a young witness, Thomas Wheeler, that it was Barrett who had lit the fuse of the bomb, Barrett stated that the witness had been intimidated by the police and that a ‘positive’ identification had been made only when: “a wretch wearing the uniform [of a police officer] brought the boy back and held him by the shoulder until he was compelled to admit that he knew me”. (Jenkins, (2008) loc.cit. pp. 179-208).

The police who had transported him from Glasgow to London, were also targets for his criticism: “I was hurried off to London where they knew I was alone and in their power.  Their nervous haste, indeed has subjected me to the most flagrant injustice. I do not allude to the higher authorities in Glasgow, but I do to the mean, low, petty, truckling creatures who hang about police courts and who would not hesitate to have recourse to the most vile and heinous practices to benefit themselves, or even to gain a smile of approval from their superiors.  They will now congratulate themselves on the success of their schemes”.(Jenkins loc. cit.pp. 179-208)

Finally, and anticipating the inevitable death sentence, he said “I will now seek that other land, where I trust to obtain justice”. Barrett’s ‘few words’, had lasted some 30 minutes and made a profound impression on those present including Williams, who later wrote that “I think I can safely say that there was not a dry eye in the court”. Needless to say, as only one of the six initially accused had been found guilty, the mood of the politicians, the press and the public was also to blame the police, though from a different perspective than Barrett. It was not a good time to be a policeman.

Despite a review of his case by the Home Office, Barrett was finally executed by hanging outside Newgate prison on 26 May 1868.  He was the last person in Britain to be executed in public. By then, the Fenian Conspiracy had essentially ebbed away; senior Fenians were either in prison, had fled into exile in France or America, or had simply had enough. One suspects that the Detective Department at Scotland Yard were mightily relieved. Between 1865 and 1868 they had taken on board nationwide information-gathering and surveillance operations of a nature, and on a scale, that they had never encountered before. At the same time they had to sustain a detective capacity to deal with more routine criminal cases, both in London, and when called upon, in the provinces.  It should not be forgotten that there were only 10 detectives at Scotland Yard (until late November 1867 when numbers were increased to 14). Criticism of  Commissioner Mayne is appropriate for his handling of some aspects of the Fenian Conspiracy, and particularly the Clerkenwell Explosion. However, it should not be forgotten that the Metropolitan Police was accountable to Government through the Home Office, and Mayne was poorly-served by his political masters.  If the Government wanted a different approach from the Police, politicians should have done more to help them deliver it.


The main protagonists in the Trial of the Detectives; the Detectives: Clarke, Palmer, Druscovich and Meiklejohn,  Froggatt and the principal prosecution witnesses, Benson and Kurr

In an earlier blog post in September 2012, I wrote about the events that had led to the arrest in September 1877 of my great-great-grandfather, Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke (aka 'The Chieftain') on a charge of perverting the ends of justice.  By late October 1877, events had moved fast. With his police colleagues, Inspector John Meiklejohn and Chief Inspectors Nathaniel Druscovich and William Palmer, Clarke had found himself in the dock at the Old Bailey in the first major Metropolitan Police corruption trial.  Edward Froggatt, a solicitor, had joined the policemen in  the dock, on similar charges.  The two principal prosecution witnesses were two notorious convicted fraudsters, Harry Benson and William Kurr, who appeared in court in their prison uniforms.

The trial was the public sensation of the year and was, in its time, the longest trial that had taken place at the Old Bailey.  By early afternoon on 20 November 1877, the judge, Baron Sir Charles Pollock, had almost completed his summing-up before asking the jury to consider their verdict. With such trials providing the spectator-sport of their day, the Daily Telegraph produced a vivid  report of the events that followed:

Punch magazine's perspective on the Trial of the Detectives. John Bull pushes open the door to the Scotland Yard Detective Department, while holding the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Edmund Henderson, in his spotlight.

"The summing-up was anything but interesting even to the judicial mind.  The evidence was wearisome from repetition, and the judge’s system necessitated constant allusion to the same circumstances. However, there were the prisoners exposed to the public gaze, and subjected to determined scrutiny. Whenever Druscovich stood up, whenever Froggatt sat down, whenever Clarke leaned upon his elbow, whenever Meiklejohn scrunched up a pen in his strong fingers, whenever a note was passed down from the dock to the barristers or solicitors, each one of these facts was duly recorded and whispered about by the unprofessional spectators in court.  But as the lengthy list of witnesses was wearily exhausted, on one face only was seen a sign of expectancy or a ray of hope, and that was the face of Inspector Clarke.  Anxiety seemed to fade from him as the end drew near.  Meiklejohn never stood for a second.  His features never relaxed their gloom. Druscovich and Froggatt were nervously anxious and apprehensively fidgety, were often whispering and constantly writing during the early morning hours.  But Clarke’s face was comparatively cheerful and illumined with hope. When the hour for the adjournment came the case of the detectives was summed up and finished. The jury was fully charged as far as four of the prisoners were concerned.  Froggatt’s was purposely kept apart by the judge all through, and this was taken after luncheon. And so without much solemnity, and with scarcely any deviation from an even and unruffled course, the jury retired to consider their verdict at twenty-five minutes past three.

Court-room sketches of the Trial of the Detectives published in the Penny Illustrated Paper, 3 November 1877

The court was now full to overflowing.  There were more people present – many more – than when the Penge convicts [the murderers of Harriet Staunton] were sentenced to death.  At the entrance to the bench there was not standing room.  Barristers struggled to their seats with difficulty.  Every avenue was blocked, and there were almost as many visitors standing as sitting. The counsel connected with the case returned to their seats, and all was anxiety, crowd, confusion, intolerable heat and expectancy.  The jury only asked, through their foreman, for some documents to verify the handwriting of Palmer, and then they retired.  At this moment there was – naturally perhaps – some little hesitation on the part of Clarke and Froggatt in following the other prisoners down the stairs into the gaol.  Hitherto they had been on bail and up to this moment they were free men.  Going down those stairs accompanied by the warders, certainly looked like going to prison, and both Clarke and Froggatt hesitated.  They did more: they looked appealingly to Mr. Sidney Smith [Governor of Newgate Prison], who was in his old painful corner in the wide dock, as if to ask protection from this first step to gaol. But it could not be, and it was far better as it was; for who would willingly expose himself to the cruel gaze of a crowded court during those dread moments, when the jury is deciding the fate of prisoners? For then, when the judge is absent, when formality is comparatively at an end, the long pent up silence gives way to a period of what looks like heartless animation.  There is a buzz of conversation, the usher indignantly calls to some daring personage instantly to remove his hat, the ladies are escorted into inner apartments for consoling cups of tea, there is an in-coming and out-going of City magnates in purple robes and chains of office.  Anything but solemnity prevails while the jury deliberate in their room, and the prisoners wait below with visions of the treadmill and oakum-picking before their eyes. The more crowded the court the greater the gossipping; and if in a murder case actual levity is not restrained, how much less can silence be expected when it is whispered about that “after all they can only get two years”. Painters have given to us scenes of intense dramatic effect as conveying the horror and despair of those who “are waiting for the verdict”. But they are ideal.  They do not occur at the Old Bailey when the rope is dangling in mid-air, and they are not expected when the ultimate doom will only be the crank and cropped hair [these comments refer to the fact that the potential sentences for anyone found guilty on the charges in this case would only receive imprisonment with hard labour and not the ultimate sanction of capital punishment by hanging, which would only be handed down for offences such as murder and treason] .

The fraudster William Kurr on the front cover of the Police News coverage of the Trial of the Detectives

The prophets were true who anticipated that the deliberation would not be long. There had been plenty of time to consider the case in all its bearings before this, and there is one consolation in a long trial.  It means a short deliberation. So the five o’clock tea was curtailed and the fashionable gossip was cut short by the arrival of the usher, who, fighting his way through a desperate crowd, announced that the jury would be back in three minutes.  Back came the ladies, off went the obstinate hats, silence was emphatically pronounced, and at seventeen minutes past four the jury had returned, preceded by the young foreman, who held in his hand an ominous paper.  This was the verdict. He had not returned to ask any questions as some asserted. The fate of the prisoners was now in the foreman’s hands. But now there was a painful interval. The prisoners were arranged in front of the dock, all terribly distressed and nervous. But the judge had not returned. It seemed a long time this delay to all in court. It must have seemed hours to the accused. The longer the delay, the more the whispering, and once more, when the red curtains were parted and the judge appeared, it was necessary to command silence authoritatively.

At last the names of the jurymen are called over, and the Clerk of the Arraigns asks the dread question in order and in deep silence.  Meiklejohn? Guilty. Druscovich? Guilty. Palmer? There is an anxious hesitation, and the young foreman, who is terribly nervous, wishes to go back and recommend Druscovich to mercy. So Palmer’s fate hangs in the balance, and the presentment of the jury is made commending Druscovich to clemency. Once more the questioning begins again. Palmer? Guilty. Once more there is some hesitation. Clarke? No; the foreman wishes to do everything in order, and goes back instantly to Palmer. He, too, is recommended to mercy, because he was not bribed. And now comes Clarke’s turn, and apparently the most anxious moment of all, for the silence deepens. Clarke? Not guilty. The words were scarcely uttered before a burst of cheering rang through the court – not from one corner. Not from gallery alone, not merely the delighted relief of friends; but a sudden, strong, sympathetic cheer. The authorities of the court tried vainly to silence the noise, and it required the firm, indignant voice of the judge to restore silence. The court was to be instantly cleared if such indecent exhibitions of sentiment were heard again.  Instantly Clarke appreciated his position and fell back from the rank with a smile on his face. He looked young again, and beamed, as he stood back with folded arms, almost a free man.  Froggatt, terribly agitated with all this delay and excitement, closes up, and bows his head as the question is asked. “Froggatt?” “Guilty”."

'The Chieftain' my biography of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, published by The History Press, 2011


So, George Clarke 'got off' while his colleagues headed off to prison.  For the full background to this important case and the events leading up to it, as well as the subsequent repercussions, which included the establishment of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), please see 'The Chieftain' .


More detail on the 'de Tourville' case and George Clarke's numerous Victorian crime investigations can be found in my 2011 biography of Clarke: 'The Chieftain'

Today, I am continuing my series of blog posts on the investigations of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke of Scotland Yard.

On the evening of Saturday 28th October 1876, Henri Dieudonnee Perreau de Tourville  was arrested at his London home by George Clarke,  accompanied by Detective Sergeants George Greenham and Charles von Tornow.  De Tourville, born in France, but now a naturalised Briton and a qualified (but non-practising) barrister, was charged on an extradition warrant with the murder in Austria of his second wife. However, this was not the first time that  Clarke had encountered de Tourville.

Back in April 1868, just as the Clerkenwell Explosion trial was about to start at the Old Bailey, London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Richard Mayne,  sent Clarke to Lymm, Cheshire, to investigate the suspicious death of a rich widow, Mrs Elizabeth Brigham, who had died in her breakfast room at Foxley Hall from a shot to the head from a revolver.

A 'Penny Dreadful's' representation of the suspicious death of Elizabeth Brigham with Henri Perreau pictured left.
The Stelvio Pass, Wikipedia

Scotland Yard had not been called in to investigate this incident until after an inquest jury had already delivered a verdict of accidental death.  However,  rumours had emerged that  Mrs Brigham had been killed by her son-in-law, Monsieur Henri Perreau,  to gain access to her substantial estate. Despite their verdict, the inquest jury had  criticised Perreau for his 'great carelessness' in demonstrating his new revolver to his mother-in-law.  Perreau's claim  had been that, while showing her how his gun was loaded,  he had handed it to her at her request and at that point the revolver had been accidentally discharged at such an angle that she had been shot in the head. Clarke's investigations were hampered by the accidental death verdict, as he would need to find significant new evidence to take the case any further. In fact, he returned from his visit to Lymm expressing the view that there was insufficient new evidence to contest the verdict....and there matters rested until August 1876.

On 15 August 1876, Jonathan Oldfield, one of the trustees of Mrs Brigham's estate wrote to Clarke to ask if he had heard the news of the suspicious death in July in Austria of Madeline de Tourville (another rich woman), the wife of  'Henri de Tourville'.  Oldfield believed that 'de Tourville' was in fact, the man known to both Clarke and himself as Henri Perreau.

Madeline de Tourville had been found dead on the Stelvio Pass in the Austrian Tyrol in July 1876. The Austrian authorities had investigated her death, and had held Henri de Tourville for questioning for several days.  However he was freed by the Austrians after a Commission (effectively a Magistrate's court) had accepted de Tourville's argument that his wife had fallen accidentally from the road to her death while they were out walking.

Armed with the information from Oldfield, Clarke remorselessly pursued 'de Tourville', who indeed proved to be the same person as  'Henri Perreau'.  After conducting his own investigations, Clarke persuaded the Austrian authorities that there was a strong case to be answered by de Tourville for the murder of his second wife and, after some weeks, Clarke obtained their agreement to re-arrest de Tourville and to apply for his extradition for trial in Austria.

Victorian barrister, Montagu Williams: "Defender of lost causes" and a member of de Tourville's legal team.

De Tourville employed two of the most able  Victorian  barristers, Harry Poland and Montagu Williams in his defence,  but they failed to block his extradition. (In his autobiography, Williams commented that de Tourville 'was certainly not a very pre-possessing person'). The prosecution case was also assisted by the forensic interpretations of Dr Thomas Bond, later to become best known for his association with the 'Jack the Ripper' inquiries, and one of the first individuals to attempt offender-profiling.

Dr Thomas Bond; Victorian forensic pathologist and expert witness (Wikipedia)

The extradition of de Tourville was delayed by a few days by poor weather but early in January 1877, Clarke arrived in Hamburg and  handed his prisoner over to representatives from Austria.  Later that year,  Clarke and Sergeant  von Tornow attended de Tourville's trial at Botzen, Austria.  Amongst the items in Clarke's luggage was a section of the skull of Mrs Brigham which he produced as an exhibit when giving evidence in the Austrian court about the earlier death of de Tourville's first mother-in-law at Lymm! A guilty verdict with regard to the murder of Madeline de Tourville was delivered on 2 July 1877 by the Austrian jury with an 11 to 1 majority.

So was de Tourville a serial killer? Very probably.  It seems pretty certain that he killed his second wife, and  his first mother-in-law at least.  It is also clear from Clarke's original 1876 case notes (still available at the National Archives at Kew) that he was convinced of de Tourville's guilt in these two suspicious deaths.  In the early 1900s, some popular true crime authors contended that de Tourville may have murdered, or attempted the murder of, up to eight people.   However, most of those accounts contain a great deal of misinformation, including, for example the incorrect name of de Tourville's mother-in-law, the wrong location for the Lymm murder and the wrong name for the investigating detective, amongst other inaccuracies. Thus for my  full, and hopefully accurate, analysis of the case,  please see pages 106-108 and 187-198 of my book 'The Chieftain'.



In the following report, I am continuing my series of blog posts on aspects of Victorian crime investigated by Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke.  Today's item refers to his investigation into an increased incidence of damaging fires in Victorian London.

At 12.55 a.m. on 20 September 1871, a fire was reported to Richard Gatehouse, ‘the keeper of the fire escape’ opposite Shadwell Church.  The informant, a young man, said that a fire had just broken out at Sufferance Wharf on Wapping Wall. The young man assisted the fireman, William Padbury and Gatehouse, with the fire engine. When reaching the fire, they found a waggon-load of straw ablaze on the ground floor, together with the upper floor of the warehouse above the wagon. The fire took about an hour to put out, at which point the young man assisted the firemen to convey the equipment back to Shadwell Church, where he was given the standard reward of half a crown (two shillings and sixpence in pre-decimal currency) for the call and his trouble, and he signed the receipt as ‘W. Anthony’.

A 2006 photo of the Thames-side Wapping Wall area, showing the historic pub 'The Prospect of Whitby'
After lobbying by insurance companies, a publicly-funded fire service in London had  been established after the passing of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act in 1865. Alongside the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the London Salvage Corps had started its operations in 1866; their responsibilities included salvage work after a fire had taken place.One of the Salvage Corps employees, a foreman named Thomas Meechan, had been investigating a number of fires of unknown cause, including one in July where the Holborn Fire Station had been called out by a young man living at 2 Parker Street, Drury Lane.  On the night of 26 September 1871, Meechan took the Shadwell fireman, Padbury, to Parker Street to see if the Holborn fire alert and the Wapping Wall alert might have given by the same man. Using the ruse that they had lost the receipt that had been signed by the young man at Wapping, they knocked at the door and found the man that Padbury recognised as ‘W. Anthony’. However, ‘Anthony’ said “You must be mistaken, I don’t know where Wapping is, I was never up there”.

Armed with this denial, that Padbury knew to be false, Meechan and his superiors decided to call in the detective police at Scotland Yard.  Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke picks up the story:

George Clarke c. 1864; at that time a Detective-Sergeant

“On 29th September, I received information about this fire at Wapping Wall, and next evening, Saturday, about 10 o’clock, I went with Meechan to the corner of Parker Street, near No. 2 – Meechan pointed out the prisoner to me as one of two men, and I went up to him and said “Anthony, I want to speak to you about some money you received for calling fires” – He said “What is it” – I said “I will tell you directly,” and I took him to the corner of Long Acre - I then told him I was an Inspector of police, and should arrest him on a charge of wilfully setting fire to a wharf in Wapping Wall on the night of 19th September – He said “I know nothing about it; I never was there” – He repeated that several times, and I took him to King David Lane Station [Shadwell], and charged him with the offence – After the charge was entered, the inspector asked him if he could read or write – he said “No”; and then, after some hesitation said “Only my name, I can write my name” – He did not write at the Station, he was not asked to do so. – He gave his name, William Anthony, Parker Street, Drury Lane, and said he was a blacksmith.” (Old Bailey Proceedings Online)

William Anthony, arsonist, from the Penny Illustrated Paper 2 December 1871

Anthony appeared  at the Thames Police Court, on 2 October.  In addition to Clarke’s preliminary evidence, P.C. William Waller (K Division) confirmed that he had seen Anthony opposite Shadwell Church early in the morning of 20th September.  Clarke also indicated that there was evidence (from other signed reward receipts) that Anthony had called out the fire brigade at thirty six fires, where the destruction of property amounted to £100,000 (equivalent to approximately £4.5 million in 2010).  Anthony was remanded to further hearings; by 17 October Anthony was suspected of having set fire to at least 109 buildings, houses, factories and other premises in London in the last two years.  Witnesses had also been located who recalled seeing Anthony near the scene of the Wapping Wall fire before he had called out the fire-escape.  Anthony, who represented himself, continued to deny the charges, saying that he had been laid up in bed with a sore throat on the night in question.

On 7 November additional detailed evidence was brought up that Anthony had called out the fire engine and helped in the pumping at a fire at some workshops in Hampstead, and at a corn-chandlers workshop at Chalk Farm.  By 29 November, Clarke’s enquiries had unearthed a total of 150 probable fire-setting offences, and he was engaged in the investigation of 85 others, or as the Prosecuting Counsel, Sir Harry Poland said:

Sir Harry Poland, barrister and Treasury Counsel

“Every day they obtained fresh information about the prisoner, who had in two years set fire to 150 places and caused immense losses.  Inspector Clarke, the detective officer, had been engaged in the investigation of those cases for six weeks daily, and had not done with them yet”

Anthony again claimed that all the witnesses were mistaken.

At his Old Bailey trial on 13 December 1871, Anthony defended himself against the indictment of setting fire to the warehouse at Wapping Wall.  After some legal discussion the Judge, Mr Justice Grove also allowed witness evidence on the association of Anthony with other fires. At the conclusion of the trial the jury recorded a ‘guilty’ verdict, and Anthony was sentenced to 12 years penal servitude.  The Pall Mall Gazette of 14 December 1871 was not happy:

“In the good old times arson was punishable with death, and now it is often visited with the punishment next in severity to hanging.  Sentences of penal servitude for fifteen or twenty years are ordinarily passed when there is no cause for believing that the prisoner has committed any further crime than that with which he is charged.  Where the crime has unquestionably been systematically carried on, it is surprising to find only twelve years’ penal servitude awarded; and William Anthony appears to have been thus affected, for he is reported to have addressed Mr. Justice Grove with a smiling countenance, saying “Thank you, my lord,” before he left the dock.  If there ever was an occasion for an exemplary sentence this was one...”

The Liverpool Mercury focused on a more positive aspect, noting that “whereas the fires from unknown causes in the metropolis had for some time numbered 25 or 30 per month, they had, since the apprehension of the prisoner, dropped to three”.

More of George Clarke's numerous Victorian crime investigations can be found in my biography of him

Today, it is likely that Anthony’s behaviour would be a source of some discussion amongst pyschologists.  In the 1870s it was assumed that Anthony ‘did it for the reward money’ but, if he did set 150 fires in 18-24 months and gained the maximum reward for each one, he would only have raised £18 15s. in total (equivalent to about £900 today), scarcely a fortune.  According to more recent analysis, arsonists usually cause fires to achieve significant financial gain, but pyromaniacs do not, as they prefer to start fires to induce euphoria, and often fixate on institutions of fire control like fire stations and firefighters, and they have a persistent compulsion to set fires.  Thus Anthony would appear to fit some of the criteria that are associated today with pyromania.  However, George Clarke was probably not bothered with Anthony’s psychological state but was simply happy to have ‘banged him up’.


Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke 1877. Photo courtesy of John Ashe

In a dramatic new development in the 'Great Detective Case', on Saturday 8th September 1877, Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke, 59,  was arrested by his friend and colleague, Superintendent 'Dolly' Williamson, and brought into the dock at Bow Street Police Court.  The small dock already contained three of Clarke's Scotland Yard colleagues, Chief Inspectors Nathaniel Druscovich and William Palmer, and Inspector John Meiklejohn, as well as a solicitor, Edward Froggatt.  All of these men had been arrested on 12th July 1877 and charged with "conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice". The Bow Street magistrate's hearing of the case, that had been held throughout July-September, was still unfinished, but had been the newspaper sensation of the summer .

Bow Street Police Court

The background to the case had started in September 1876 when a Scotland Yard investigation was undertaken into a complex betting fraud based in London that had targeted plausible members of the public in parts of France and had successfully and fraudulently relieved at least one lady, the Comtesse de Goncourt, of £10,000 (worth approximately £400,000 today). The investigation into the case had been led by Chief Inspector Druscovich, and progress had been slow; so slow in fact that the Comtesse de Goncourt's London solicitor had recruited private investigators to assist in tracking down the fraudsters. Of course at this time in history, the police had few forensic tools at their disposal and fingerprinting technology of any kind was not to become available for many years yet.  Thus, criminals were often able to successfully hide behind various aliases, and the fraudsters involved were highly adept at that art. Eventually, with the help of Dutch Police, three suspects were arrested in Rotterdam in December 1876 and extradited to the UK, and a fourth  was arrested just before New Year in London. They were eventually tried at the Old Bailey in April 1877, found guilty and sentenced to long terms of penal servitude.

'Penny Dreadful' coverage of the Great Detective Case

However, during the police investigations, Superintendent Williamson and officials in the Treasury Solicitor's office obtained information that at least two Scotland Yard detectives, Chief Inspector Palmer and Inspector Meiklejohn, had assisted the fraudsters to delay their capture, and in Meiklejohn's case at least, had taken money from them.  The two leading fraudsters Harry Benson and William Kurr, once convicted, also decided to 'sing'  in an attempt to lessen their gaol sentences.  Their information had led to the July arrests of Palmer, and Meiklejohn, as well as Druscovich and Froggatt.

During the Bow Street hearings against the four men in August, Benson and Kurr were brought into the court to give their evidence, clad in their prison uniforms, and revealing their shaven prison haircuts. During their evidence, both Kurr and Benson claimed that Chief Inspector Clarke was in their pay in addition to those detectives already in custody. Whether there was any truth in their accusations or not, when mud is thrown, invariably some of it sticks, and  Clarke was also arrested despite some Home Office concerns that the uncorroborated evidence of two convicted villains  would destroy the career of such a long-serving and trusted senior detective.

All the accused men found themselves facing a trial at the Old Bailey, which started in October and concluded on 20 November 1877. In my biography of Chief Inspector George Clarke, "The Chieftain", you can find more details about this highly significant and sensational case, which was the first major Metropolitan Police corruption trial. Chapter 7 provides details of the outcome of the trial, and its impact on the London Metropolitan Police Detective Department (including the subsequent creation of  CID - the Criminal Investigation Department).


On the evening of Wednesday 24th August 1864, Detective-Sergeant George Clarke of the London Metropolitan Police Detective Department, accompanied by a New York Police Officer, climbed on board the sailing ship Victoria, newly-arrived in Staten Island Bay from London.  For Clarke it had been a long wait.  Together with his senior officer, Inspector Dick Tanner, he had been in New York since August 5th when the two detectives had first arrived from Liverpool on board the Inman Line steamship, City of Manchester. Their quarry was  Franz Muller, who they had identified as the prime suspect in a murder committed on the North London Railway, an incident of particular concern to rail passengers as it was the first murder to be committed on a British train.

Franz Muller, 1864

At about 10 p.m. on 9 July 1864, at Hackney Wick station, a heavily-bloodstained First Class railway compartment, containing only a bag, a hat and a walking stick, had been found by boarding passengers. Later that night, the  almost lifeless body of an elderly man, Thomas Briggs, had been found on the railway line between Hackney Wick and Bow. Briggs died later the next day and Tanner and Clarke had been on the case since 11 July.  Between then and 17 July they had established that the hat in the compartment had not belonged to Briggs but that a 15 carat gold watch-chain belonging to Briggs had been pawned at a jewellers in Cheapside by a man with a foreign accent. There was however, no information about Briggs' missing watch. The real breakthrough came when, on 18 July, a cabman, Jonathan Matthews, identified the hat as having belonged to a German acquaintance of his, Franz Muller. Unfortunately, the detectives quickly found out that Muller had decided to emigrate to America and had boarded the sailing ship Victoria on 14 July. Arming themselves with arrest warrants, the two detectives and two of the principal witnesses travelled to Liverpool to catch a steamship which, hopefully, would get them to America well before the Victoria arrived.

America at that time was engaged in a bloody civil war and political relations between the Union forces in America and Britain were greatly strained. Despite this, the two detectives established a good working relationship with the New York police. Nonetheless, they were concerned that Muller might attempt to escape if he found out on arrival that British detectives were waiting for him. To reduce this risk, Clarke was sent by Tanner to Staten Island where he spent the next two weeks locating and offering rewards to the numerous ships pilots (any of whom might be engaged to navigate a safe passage for the Victoria into harbour) to ensure that they did not provide information that might compromise the planned arrest.

Fortunately the strategy worked, and when Clarke and Sergeant Tiernan of the New York Police boarded the Victoria, they found Muller unaware that the police were hunting him. After the arrest, Clarke searched Muller's box and amongst his possessions found a watch and hat believed to be those that Thomas Briggs had been carrying on the night of his murder. Extraditing Muller from New York was not straightforward but, on 16 September, Tanner and Clarke returned to  Liverpool with their prisoner. Within a British  justice system that was speedier and more draconian than today, Muller was tried at the Old Bailey, convicted of murder and executed in public by hanging.

For more information on this case and the many other Victorian crime inquiries that involved Detective Sergeant (later Detective Chief Inspector) George Clarke please see my recent book about his life. "The Chieftain".