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Alan Baird

PC 881 Edward Watkins City of London Police

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Hi Mike,

I bought the ''presentation tea set'' because nobody seemed interested in it and it was going very cheap.

I just loved the history behind the gift and was also interested in researching the Jack the Ripper connection from 1888. It is in a very nice condition especially for being approximately 115 years old and so it has been well looked after over the decades. It is a typical example a retirement gift that would have been given during this period. 

Unfortunately, my wife does not share the same passion for history so the ''tea set'' was banished to a box in the attic.

I have temporary brought the other pieces of the set down from the attic to photograph. Since these items have not been cleaned in years...….it is difficult to see his initials [JTC] marked on the hot water pot, milk and sugar dishes.

Alan.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi,

I think a ''Police Constable's retirement gift'' in the 1890's would have been selected from a small official range of gifts that were normally requested and would have been within a financial range appropriate to the rank. That would have been the same basic system for all of London's Police Constables ie City and Metropolitan forces.

But Police Constable Edward Watkins was different from the other Police Constables retiring during this period because he had found the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square, on the 30th of September in 1888. This particular event in history made him famous and a celebrity and therefore his retirement might have created a much greater deal of interest from his friends, colleagues, general public and the newspapers etc. That is just my opinion, as I have never researched this area.

Here is an original ''Testimonial to Inspector Frank Wells in 1891'' relating to his retirement from Hampstead or 'S' division. Inspector Frank Wells had spent the last 9 years of his service in this division and he had just completed 25 year total service with the Metropolitan Police.

Local individuals and traders subscribed to his retirement and he was given a presentation and ''Testimonial'' and a gold keyless watch and chain, a purse of gold and Mrs Wells received a diamond and ruby ring.

''Not a bad haul for 1891 - I think.''

[There is some staining to the ''Testimonial'' otherwise it is in nice condition especially for its age.]

 

 

 

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'Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins at the Police Court in 1871.'

An incident occurred on the night of the 7th of September in 1871 and which resulted in an individual being charged [drunk and disorderly] and was taken to the Police Court on the 8th of September in 1871 for the hearing/trial.

The disturbance occurred in 'Bishopsgate Street Within,' and City of London Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins arrested the individual involved, 'John Bass.'

Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins, at approximately 10.30pm, found the prisoner 'John Bass' in Bishopsgate Street was causing a disturbance. John Bass was in a dirty and wretched condition. Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins told the prisoner to go away and the prisoner then lay on the ground and began kicking with his feet and barking like a dog and pretending to be in a fit. The prisoner was then taken to the police station and charged.

John Bass had a record of numerous convictions and was sentenced to 7 days imprisonment with hard labour.

See the articles from the 'London Daily News' and the 'Morning Advertiser' for more on the story.

Interestingly, John Bass's brother James Bass who was also in a filthy state and was barely covered with clothes, was charged at the same Police Court with stealing two plates of fowl and ham. The plates of food were stolen from the 'Mitre Tavern' in Fleet Street. This occurred at approximately 10.30am that morning.

James Bass was found guilty and sentenced to 21 days imprisonment with hard labour.

I am sure the prisons in 1871 would have been very unpleasant places to be sent to but I suspect that these two brothers would have been better looked after in prison, in comparison to their lives on the streets of London.

I wonder if Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins was only concerned with carrying out his duties that night or did he also realise that John Bass would be better off in gaol.

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I found the following paragraph quite interesting and it comes from the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, dated the 2nd of October in 1888. It is only a small point but I think it is worth sharing.

A newspaper reporter passed the night away in Whitechapel after the murder of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square.

The reporter finds a positive aspect to the atrocity and this is that Jack the Ripper now has an additional ''900 City of London Policemen'' hunting him. The reporter also believes there is a new working relationship between the Metropolitan and the City of London Police Constabulary's and this also includes those leading these organisations ie Sir Charles Warren and Col. Fraser.

Further down the article it also confirms that Sir Charles Warren immediately reinforced Commercial Street Police Station with constables from both 'A' and 'B' divisions.  

 

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Hi,

Many cemeteries nowadays highlight their interesting and famous burials and I was curious to know if City Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins was in that category or did he just fade away with time.

From the England  Census of 1911, we know that 'Police Pensioner Edward Watkins' was residing at 1 Birds Cottage, Lowshoe Lane, Collier Row, in Romford, in Essex.

From the England & Wales death index, we know that Edward Watkins died in the first quarter [January to March] in 1913, aged 69 and in the registration district of Romford, in Essex.

By using other online search sites, it was established that Edward Watkins was buried on the 19th of March in 1913 and this fact was recorded in the London Borough of Havering.

This grave is not only the final resting place of Edward Watkins but his daughter 'Julia Ann Meek' [nee Watkins] was also buried in the same plot on the 7th of September in 1931.

The 'Register of Burials in the Burial Ground of Romford, in the County of Essex,' lists entry number 7105 as referring to Edward Watkins, Police Pensioner and with the death occurring in Collier Row and the burial taken place on the 19/3/1913.

Therefore Edward Watkins interment details are as follows :-

[a] Authority  -  London Borough of Havering.

Cemetery  - Romford Cemetery.

[c] Grave Ref. - BB/69.

At present, I do not know if the Romford Cemetery are aware who 'Edward Watkins' was and his relevance especially to London's history or if his grave has a marker or what condition the burial plot is in.

Maybe at a later date these questions will get answered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alan, 

I don’t believe WATKINS has a marked grave.

In Amanda Pulse’s book Jack and the Old Jewry, there is a photograph of the plot (general area) where he is buried. 
 

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it, she documents the lives of all the City Bobby’s with a connection to the Ripper. 
 

Gordon. 


 

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Edited by bigjarofwasps

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Hi Gordon,

That's great and I have already ordered a copy.

Many thanks because I did not know about this book and it sound an extremely interesting read. 

The photograph of the cemetery also helps to put things into prospective.

It is a pity a headstone was not erected for his daughter's burial in 1931. Maybe 'Julia Ann Meek'  could not afford the cost of such a thing? 

Alan.

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Hi,

Edward Watkins was buried in grave BB/69 in Romford Cemetery, in the London Borough of Havering. Julia Ann Meek [nee Watkins] who is Edward Watkins daughter is also buried in the same plot.

The following is some general information on his daughter, Julia Ann Meek and her sons.

In the England Census of 1911, we find that Julia Ann Meek and her four sons are residing in the family home at 70 Ranelagh Road, in Tottenham. Edward Watkins grandsons are Charles Edward Meek [13], Harold Victor Meek [10], Stanley Gordon Meek [8] and Edward Arthur William Meek [3].

On the 13th of July in 1925, Harold Victor Meek who was employed as an assistant steward in the Merchant Navy is admitted to the ''Dreadnought Seaman's Hospital'' for treatment.

Another grandson, Stanley Gordon Meek, is also serving in the Merchant Navy as a Chief Steward. On the 10th of August in 1940, Stanley Meek was drowned in the Thames River, in London and was 37 years old. The UK Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939-1953 records, list Stanley Meek's death as suicide by drowning and whilst being of unsound mind.

The family connection with Romford appears to have been maintained and this can be evidenced by Julia Ann Meek's burial in Romford in 1931 and with her son, Edward Arthur William Meek's marriage in Romford in 1951. Edward Arthur William Meek's death aged 74, is also recorded in the registration district of Havering in 1981.

 

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Hi,

Why was Edward Watkins wife, ''Augusta Ann Watkins,'' not buried in the family grave with her husband ?

 

Edward Watkins married ''Augusta Ann Fowler'' and she obviously then became ''Augusta Ann Watkins'' but latter Watkins family England Census records indicate that she reverted back to using her maiden name of ''Fowler.''

In the England Census of 1911, Edward Watkins and Augusta Ann Fowler are residing in the family home but she records her marital status as being ''single'' whilst Edward Watkins records his marital status as being ''married.'' Their children have long since flown the nest.

It may be they had grown apart but remained together for other practical reasons.

Edward Watkins died in 1913 and Augusta Ann Fowler died in 1922 and both of these events occurred in Romford but Augusta was not buried alongside her husband in the family grave and this may indicate the above theory is correct. When Augusta Ann Fowler died in 1922, a family member or members recorded her death twice, once as ''Augusta Ann Fowler'' and secondly as ''Augusta Ann Watkins'' and this was done in the registration district of Romford.

It was only when ''Julia Ann Meek'' their daughter died in 1931, that the grave was again reused.

Augusta Ann Fowler may have also been interned somewhere in Romford Cemetery but at this moment we cannot confirm this fact. This part of the family connection with Romford continues.

 

 

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What a curious situation!!
 

Wasn’t WATKINS disciplined first having sex with a woman on his beat?
That might have had something to do with the split? 

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Hi Gordon,

The incident of being caught having ''sexual intercourse with a woman on his beat'' occurred in 1871.

Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins was 27 years old and he was a married man with two young children and had served approximately 15 months with the City of London Police. I doubt he ever told his wife why he was fined ''3 shillings and 6 pence'' or why he was reduced to a ''Constables 3rd class rate of pay''.

If you view the England Census for 1901 and 1911, this is when Edward and Augusta are getting older/retired and their daughters had flown the nest and it is my opinion, this is when things might have become more difficult. Remember this the Victorian/Edwardian period and you can imagine couples staying together just to survive and to try and stay above the poverty line and there is also the social pressures to see it through. 

No matter what their situation was between them, they successfully raised their family and remained together to the very end.

It would have been nice, to have had a greater insight into their personal lives and what it was like for them to live through period of time.

Alan. 

 

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Hi,

Edward Watkins wife ''Augusta Ann Watkins'' was buried in Romford Cemetery, Crow Lane, in Romford.

She was buried under her maiden name of '''Augusta Ann Fowler'' on the 27th of May in 1922.

I found her when I changed around her first and middle names during a search and there she was in Romford Cemetery ie Ann Augusta Fowler.

The grave reference is KK/378.

There is a second burial in the same grave but at present I do not know what relationship they are to one another. The second burial occurred on the 14th of November in 1964 and her name is '''''Collins, Alice Maud.'''''

So Augusta Ann Fowler used her maiden name, for some considerable time, before and after Edward Watkins death. 

 

 

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Hi,

This is jus a bit of fun but how could a box of chocolates in 2020 have anything to do with ''Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins.''

I had forgotten all about the chocolates but I had kept the cover of the box which I have just found.

The story started on Christmas day in 2019 when we shared the day with a family artist friend and his family. He always makes even the simplest of things special and he always makes you smile.  

He gave me a box of chocolates which was nice as I like chocolate but my wife said, ''take another look at and the box.''

There was Edward Watkins on the cover and somehow he had dressed me up as, ''Jack the Ripper.''

It did make me smile. 

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Alan,

The crime scene as of 11th Feb 2020. 

But not as Watkin’s would remember it 🙁.

Gordon. 

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Hi,

Nice photo but I thought they might have put a plaque up? The following is just an opinion or a thought...…..

 

'''Under pressure with JTR and the normal workloads.'''

This is just a small point, the Metropolitan Police and to slightly lessor extent the City of London Police, were under intense pressure to find '''Jack the Ripper''' but they were also required to effectively complete all their other duties and responsibilities.

Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins of the City of London Police would have also known of this intense pressure but it is Police Sergeant Hugh Gilbery of Finsbury or 'G' division within the Metropolitan Police, that I shall use as an example to explain what I mean. The local newspapers, politicians, clergy and the general public etc reserved their harshest criticism, for the continued failure to catch Jack the Ripper, against the Metropolitan Police.

Mary Kelly's mutilated body was found at 13 Miller's Court on the 9th of November in 1888.

On the 13th of November in 1888, people assembled in London to celebrate the first anniversary of '''Bloody Sunday in 1887.'''

The original event in 1887, saw 30,000 people assembled in Trafalgar Square to highlight the subjects of '''unemployment and the question of Ireland.''' Sir Charles Warren assembled a force of 2,000 policemen and 400 soldiers to contain the situation. Unfortunately things did not go well and over 400 were arrested and 75 people were seriously injured and this included 2 policemen stabbed and 1 protester bayoneted. Many of the protesters injuries were caused by police batons and their horses hooves and the rioters used iron bars and knives etc.

Therefore only a few days after Mary Kelly's murder on the 9th of November in 1888, you have this major anniversary falling on the 13th of November in 1888.

Police Sergeant Hugh Gilbery attended the '''Clerkenwell Green rally''' which was attended by approximately 5,000 socialists and radical clubs etc. There appears to have been quite a lot of incitement against the police presence and Police Sergeant Hugh Gilbery was kicked on the back of the leg and that person was arrested. There must have been a considerable police presence to ensure they did not loose control of the crowd and situation.

Basic details of PS H Gilbery, awarded the Queen Victoria Metropolitan Police Jubilee medals for 1887 and was engraved ''PS H Gilbery G divn.'' Joined on the 14/9/1868. Retired on pension 14/9/1892 as a Police Constable with Bethnal Green or 'J' division.

On the 15th of June, in probably, 1891 or thereabouts, Police Sergeant Hugh Gilbery was reduced to the rank to Police Constable and transferred to Bethnal Green or 'J' division. At this present time I do not know what his offence was which resulted in such a severe punishment just prior to retirement.

In the England Census of 1911, we find Hugh Gilbery is employed as a '''Hackney Cab driver and is recorded as being a Police Pensioner''' so he is doing just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Clerkenwell Green 12th Feb 2020.
 

The disorder during which Sgt GILBERY was assaulted took place here and no doubt would have centred around St James church, interestingly Constable PHIPPS lived at 26 St James’s walk Clerkenwell Green, which borders St James church. 

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Edited by bigjarofwasps

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Nice photographs, they always help to make the story more interesting.

I would almost put a bet on it...…...that your '''Police Constable 882 Joseph Daniel Phipps''' knew '''Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins''' as they worked together, in the City of London Police, over the same basic period.

Police Constable 881 Edward Watkins collar number only changed to 944 near the end of his career.

If I remember correctly your Police Constable Joseph Phipps also kept the collar number of 882 throughout his career.

It would be nice if we could find something out there that connected the two of them together. 

 

 

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St James’s walk Clerkenwell 13th February 2020.

Number 26 childhood home of Constable PHIPPS, which is only a stones throw for where Clerkenwell Prison once stood. He was living there at the time of the Fenian bomb attack of 1868. 
 

No doubt Sergeant GILBERY would have had some involvement in the policing of that incident. 

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Edited by bigjarofwasps

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Hi,

Again nice photographs...……..

 

'''The death of Edward Watkins in 1913.'''

Normally I would not go to the extent of purchasing copies of death certificates especially as I consider it to be quite an expensive thing to do but I made an exception in Edward Watkins case.

We already knew but the death certificate also confirms that Edward Watkins, aged 69, died on the 12th of March in 1913. It also states that his occupation was a, '''City of London Police Pensioner.'''

 

There as two new details in the death certificate that are of interest :-

[a] Edward Watkins died of '''Carcinoma of the tongue and glands in the neck,''' cancer of the tongue/neck. It also records '''12 months''' in the same column which I would suspect means he had been diagnosed and had suffered from this cancer for a period of 12 months.

At the time of his death, his wife had been using her maiden name of '''Fowler''' for at least the last 13 years and she would continue to use her maiden name right up to her death in 1922. 

Under the column '''description and residence of informant''' it states that Augusta Ann Fowler was present at Edward Watkins death in Collier Row, in Romford. [They are residing in the family home.]

In the England Census of 1911, it states that Edward Watkins and Augusta Ann Fowler were residing at 1 Bird Cottage, Lowshoe Lane, Collier Row, in Romford.

Therefore it is reasonable to suspect that Edward and Augusta were still residing together, at this same address, in 1913.

There does not appear to be any records to suggest that Edward or Augusta were ever divorced. 

 

 

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Edited by Alan Baird
correct spelling

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That is grim and interesting Alan, you should put all this into a book!!!

 

Just out of interest for any further projects, if you ever research anyone who had any treatment in the London Hospital Whitechapel back in the day, you can get copies of their medical notes!! 

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Hi Gordon,

That is really interesting about the London Hospital Whitechapel and their medical notes but how would you go about researching this ie National Archives or another site etc?

When policemen retired on pension, around this time, their pension records always stated if they had received any '''on duty injuries'''  and I have seen examples of it recording the dates relating to the on-duty injury and stating how the injury was caused. Therefore in some Metropolitan Police cases, your London Hospital Whitechapel medical notes could be invaluable.

The attached photographs show the pension records of Police Constable James Edward Stoneham and it will show the section involved but in his case he had no relevant injuries to report.

He served from 1870 to 1895 and was attached to Bow or 'K' division.

I always found his situation quite sad, as in 1890 his wife Harriet was placed in the Essex Lunatic Asylum and he still had four children living at home, aged 16 and under. So for the last 5 years of his service he would have been under even more pressure than normal due to his family situation.

Harriet Stoneham actually outlived her husband in the asylum and died there in 1913. 

 

 

  

 

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Hi Alan,

The records are kept at the hospital itself if in recall correctly, you contact the museum and arrange to view them. I was going to do this for PC Chappell J Division,  but felt that his death certificate told me all I really wanted to know.... he died of some sort of constriction of his throat, I forget the actual medical term but it sounded awful!!! 

 

Also anyone in please correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that patients of an asylum back in the day, might not necessarily be subject to a mental health condition as per popular culture would portray. But that any long term debilitating physical illness, may result in being admitted to an “asylum”. 
 

Gordon. 

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Interestingly, James CHAPPELL was a patient in the London Hospital at the time of the 1911 census, so is documented there as apposed to his home address. 

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Edward Watkins had tongue/throat cancer and James Chappell had one of those illnesses that involved difficulty in swallowing, potentially chocking to death etc. Obviously there was a lot of respiratory deceases around in those days but maybe everybody smoking rough cigarettes, pipe tobacco or cigars..........made things a lot worse. [yes I am a reformed smoker from many years ago]   

Anyway I just had a look at the' ''The Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives site''' and it looked like an excellent museum and good potential source of information should it ever be needed. 

 

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