Sir Charles Warren





This tale begins with a bark and ends with a bite. Bloodhounds have a sense of smell that enables them to follow trails up to two days old over difficult country. Their long noses are able to distinguish the scent of one individual from that of others.  The bark mentioned above appeared in the form of a letter to the Star newspaper.  The letter appeared on 8th September 1888, the day Ripper victim Annie Chapman was murdered.   The suggestion in the letter that bloodhounds could be used to help apprehend Jack the Ripper was not novel.  Bloodhounds have a sense of smell and so on.  In 1876 J H Ashforth of Nottingham had urged Lancashire Police to recruit bloodhounds. The dogs helped the police to convict murderer William Fish, so much for the rumour about cat food. The letter to the Star on 8th September alerted J H Ashforth. He raised his head, sniffed the air and wrote to the Commissioner Metropolitan Police, Sir Charles Warren. The Commissioner replied to the letter but took no further action. The letter from Warren has been described as courteous. Warren had consulted the police doctor. The view of Dr Phillips was that the bloodhounds would trace the blood of the victim rather than the killer.


The opinion of Dr Phillips did not settle the matter. The double slaying of Liz Stride and Catherine Eddowes on 30th September 1888 prompted an editorial in The Times the next day.  Readers were reminded about the success of the Lancashire Police when they had used bloodhounds. This inspired Percy Lindley to write to the newspaper.   Lindley, who just happened to be a breeder of bloodhounds, suggested that a couple of trained dogs be kept at the Whitechapel Police Station.   Lindley was not a lone voice.   H M Mackusick boasted he had the largest kennel of bloodhounds in existence. Mackusick added empiricism to the argument. ‘Ten well-trained bloodhounds would be of more use than a hundred constables in ferreting out criminals who have left no trace beyond the fact of their presence beyond.’ Not everyone agreed with top of the world Mackusick. Up in Yorkshire there was a long-standing suspicion of fancy ideas that were peddled by city types down south. Edwin Brough was a bloodhound breeder from Wyndgate near Scarborough. He doubted that English dogs were sufficiently well trained to operate in the crowded streets of Whitechapel.

Without ever being enthusiastic, Sir Charles Warren asked the Home Secretary Henry Matthews to approve a £50 purchase of a bloodhound and an additional £100 maintenance allowance for subsequent years. This would allow puppies to be trained and mentored by the original £50 bloodhound. Matthews approved the £50 purchase but refused to authorise the £100 annual allowance. In the money of today £50 is equivalent to £20,000.  Henry Matthews is remembered for his timidity as Home Secretary and even today the Home Office is not regarded as an example of streamlined efficiency.


Back in 1888 on 6th October no nonsense Yorkshire man Edwin Brough left the Yorkshire Moors and arrived in London.   Brough had two trusted companions. These were his bloodhounds Barnaby and Burgho.   Trials began in Regents Park two days later on 8th October.  Barnaby and Burgho were able to track for nearly a mile a man who had been given a fifteen minutes start.  In the evening there was a second trial at Hyde Park. The trials continued and were successful. There were six in total. The hounds were not quick, presumably because they were a bit sniffy, but Barnaby and Burgho were able to follow a scent and trace its owner.

But if there were a heaven, that place where good doggies go in the Elvis song Old Shep, someone would complain about the altitude. A less than principled journalist reported that the dogs had been lost on Tooting Common. This was not true. What happened was that on 18th October a sheep was killed on the Common and this incident inspired invention by journalists. The Press and its readers expected Barnaby and Burgho to be put to work.  Unfortunately, they were back up North with Edwin Brough and breathing fresh Yorkshire air.   Brough was not an enthusiast like top of the world Mackusick. His relationship with the Metropolitan Police soon became odorous. The Metropolitan Police were not quick in making payments to Brough for the use of his dogs, and Brough needed some brass to live on and perhaps buy more bloodhounds.  Burgho was versatile and had an alternative career.  He was put into a show in Brighton.



In the spirit of compromise Barnaby had been lent to a friend of Brough that lived in London. When Barnaby was summoned to assist in catching a burglar, Brough was unimpressed. Policemen had walked all over the burgled premises and ruined the scent. The burglary had also been committed at five in the morning and some hours before Barnaby was recruited to help. Brough did not receive any payment from the police for the efforts of Barnaby. Nor was he given assurance about compensation if Barnaby were injured by a criminal.

Meanwhile Warren was making limited progress. Matthews somehow relented and gave approval for Warren to pay for Barnaby to be insured and to cover the cost of hiring a puppy that could be trained with the accomplished bloodhound from Yorkshire.  By then, though, Brough had said enough was enough. He was almost as sniffy as his bloodhounds. By the time the money was approved Barnaby and Brough were already home in Yorkshire, two disillusioned creatures bored with fighting crime and dealing with what they regarded as southern softies.


In 1904 Edwin Brough became an author.   His book was titled The Bloodhound And It’s Use In Tracking Criminals. The pages are now dog-eared but this text remains valuable if controversial, something to chew on. ‘It is a very significant fact that at the time of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ outrages in the East End there were no murders committed during which Sir Charles Warren had arranged for a couple of Bloodhounds to be kept in London, but directly it was announced that the hounds had been sent back, another of this series of horrible murders was perpetrated.’

Aye, happen, as they say in Yorkshire. Liz Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered on 30th  September, and Mary Jane Kelly was murdered on 8th November, forty days or not quite six weeks later.   Brough, though, did not arrive in London until 6th October.  Bloodhounds were not seen on the streets of Whitechapel.  Barnaby was used in one instance and his purpose was to detect crime. The dogs were not a deterrent. But dog lovers may take offence and believe that it was Barnaby that drove the Ripper indoors to kill Mary Jane Kelly. When the police arrived at the home of Kelly after her murder, they waited outside her home for two hours before breaking down the door. The reported reason is that the detectives were waiting for Barnaby to arrive and to somehow detect the scent amidst the heat and carnage that was inside the home of Mary Kelly. No one, it appears had told the detectives that Edwin, Burgho and Barnaby were already in Scarborough.


The bite that ends the tale is this. The typical Ripper book is fattened with indexes that detail the various participants, victims and suspects. Reference is made to what happened to Brough, Barnaby and Burgho within the various accounts but their names are usually overlooked in an index. Brough was at least able to write a book and be remembered that way. Barnaby and Burgho were willing workers and compared to their colleagues in the Metropolitan Police the two bloodhounds had a special kind of integrity.   A mention in the index for Barnaby and Burgho is not too much to ask.

Howard Jackson has had seven books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories and collections of film criticism.   If you are interested in original horror and crime fiction and want information about the books of Howard Jackson and the other great titles at Red Rattle Books, click here.







Follow the money is a hackneyed phrase but it has merit. Money is important to those who have power and perhaps more important than anything else. Both the benevolent economic reforms that followed the Second World War and the oppressive neoliberal reaction thirty five years later were informed by a desire for the rich to make as much money as possible. But scale is important, and there is a big difference between growing a capitalist economy and offering a reward for information about Jack the Ripper. The amounts quoted for the rewards for assistance in his capture varied between £100 and £5,000. To understand why Home Office officials in 1888 were disinclined to offer a reward it is not necessary to follow the money.   There is little to follow.  None of the amounts considered would have meant a budget holder in the Home Office realigning expenditure priorities.

Politicians and senior bureaucrats are not without vanity and conceit.   The reluctance for Sir Charles Warren, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and his Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, to sanction a reward had more to do with a concern about prestige and status than forfeiting actual cash. The average wage in 1888 was around £50 a year. Even skilled men like masons and carpenters earned less than £75 a year.   Six days after the double event when Liz Stride and Catherine Eddowes were killed, Sir Charles Warren reacted. He had previously rejected the notion of a reward. His response to the escalation in violence was to raise the stakes and suggest a £5,000 reward.   Eddowes was killed in the City District of London, and the City Police had not prevaricated.  Sir James Fraser, Commissioner City Police, had immediately offered a reward of £500 for information about the killing of Eddowes. For a workman in the 19th Century, £500 would equate to what he would earn in ten years. £5,000 would feel similar to a life-changing win on the lottery today.


The use above of the word stakes is appropriate.   Policemen and politicians discussed whether a reward should be offered, what the amount should be and if the reward could be complemented with a free pardon for an accomplice who was not the perpetrator. Read today about those discussions and it feels like an analysis of a poker game.   Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary, worried about being described as incompetent by the Daily Telegraph. Weighed down by circumspect advice, Matthews can be forgiven for having difficulty in distinguishing the serious proposal from the bluff.  Perhaps Sir Charles Warren proposed £5,000 as a way of deterring a timid Home Secretary sensitive to the growing criticism in the daily newspapers. Warren may have been ruffled by the £500 reward offered by Sir James Fraser on behalf of the City Police. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner had already had an argument about the writing left on the wall in Goulston Street.  After the writing had been discovered there had been a test of strength between the Metropolitan Police and the City Police.  Perhaps Warren suggested £5,000 because only a large sum could reflect his importance to London policing.  At some point, though, Warren did change his mind about offering a reward.  Maybe he was convinced by his own arguments.  In October, a month after the double event, Warren wrote to Matthews and pleaded that the Ripper case was unique and required a reversal of previous Metropolitan Police policy not to pay rewards. The policy had been adopted in 1884. Warren argued that within the police he could only find one person who thought non-payment of rewards was a good idea.


Henry Matthews was more inclined to accept the advice of the Civil Servants in his Department. On the 5th of October and before Warren presented his arguments Matthews wrote a memo to one of his four private secretaries. The chap who received the memo was called Evelyn Ruggles Brise.  In his memo Matthews suggested a house-to-house search in Whitechapel, not because he expected a positive result but because he realised some action was required from him. The house-to-house search was not an example of decisive action by the Metropolitan Police but a ruse by a politician designed to deflect public criticism. In the same memo Matthews stated Sir Charles Warren had ‘modified his opinion to a considerable extent’.  In the next paragraph in the memo Matthews revealed the real reason for his hostility to offering a reward. ‘Such an offer so far from conciliating public opinion (and that is admittedly the only reason for the step) would cover me with ridicule and contempt – as having given way to pressure….’

And there we have it. Innocent women were being slaughtered in Whitechapel but the number one concern for Matthews and his advisors with the fancy names was that the public would not realise that their Home Secretary was spineless. The first reward to be offered had been by the Whitechapel MP, Samuel Montagu.   The amount was £100. Montagu was born in Liverpool and educated at the Liverpool Institute, which is now closed but remains a landmark within the City.  Much later George Harrison and Paul McCartney were students at the Institute. Montague became a banker, established a bank in his name but, although rich, he was never as affluent as Paul McCartney.

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The abandonment of rewards in 1884 by the Metropolitan Police rested upon the belief that rewards encouraged people to give false information. The payment of rewards may also have required procedures that were difficult to control.   Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman had been murdered before the £100 reward by Montagu was offered. Nichols and Chapman were the first two victims in the arbitrary ‘canonical five’ but there had also been attacks on other women prior to these two murders. The offer of a reward by Montagu was a response to what was regarded as a murderous epidemic in his constituency.  The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee led by local businessman George Lusk paid for posters that promised ‘a substantial reward for information’. The same poster described the police as inadequate.  After Eddowes and Stride were murdered a £500 reward from the Corporation of London was approved by the Lord Mayor.


The newspapers in London supported the idea of rewards and believed that the policy adopted in 1884 by the Metropolitan Police should have been rescinded.   To journalists the absence of a reward was evidence that the Home Secretary was a ditherer and the Commissioner Metropolitan Police an unimpressive martinet and autocrat. The popular left wing newspapers argued that the refusal to permit rewards was a consequence of indifference to the plight of the poor.   At the inquest of victim Mary Nichols, the foreman of the jury had said ‘if it had been a rich person that was murdered there would have been a reward of £1,000 offered; but as it was a poor unfortunate hardly any notice was taken.’ George Lusk and Joseph Aarons on behalf of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph and expressed a similar grievance. They believed that a reward would ‘convince the poor and humble residents of our East End that the government authorities are as much anxious to avenge the blood of these unfortunate victims as they were the assassinations of Lord Cavendish and Mr Burke’. In the radical newspaper The Star, the Home Secretary was described as a man who would ‘pose and simper over the brink of a volcano’. The Telegraph concluded that Henry Matthews was a ‘fantastic failure’. Both right and left wing newspapers were united in condemning the reluctance to offer a reward. The division in the Press was geographical rather than political.   Northern newspaper editors were suspicious about money being given away to southerners and also inclined to be indifferent to London politicians.


Mary Jane Kelly was murdered on the 9th of November. Sir Charles Warren resigned the day before and he departed without a decision ever being made to offer a reward. The murder of Kelly was the most savage of all the Whitechapel murders but it astonished rather than inspired the press. Perhaps there was a consensus that Jack the Ripper had spent his desires and everyone really did expect that his crimes would cease. The silence that followed the murder of Kelly may have a more sinister explanation.   Conspiracy theorists have claimed that there were secrets to hide and politicians, police and the press suppressed additional news about the Ripper and his crimes. Whatever the reasons or circumstances the suggestion of the reward was, after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, no longer a subject for discussion and debate by the authorities.  Today the muddled history of the rewards that were offered, the crimes of Jack the Ripper and the odd silence that descended after the dreadful crime in Miller’s Court inspires more thought and argument than it did at the end of 1888.   It rained and there was no fog the night Mary Jane Kelly was destroyed.   There has been plenty of fog since and not all of it has been in London.

Howard Jackson has had seven books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories and collections of film criticism.   If you are interested in original horror and crime fiction and want information about the books of Howard Jackson and the other great titles at Red Rattle Books, click here.