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A very interesting thread. I have also been looking at the activities of the Special (Irish) Branch (S.I.B.) and in particular at the members of the Irish Constabulary involved in Port Duties, both during and after the Fenian dynamite conspiracies.

You may be interested in this thread (click here) relating to the S.I.B. and which throws a few more names into play. 

Members of the R.I.C. present in British Ports and Cities can be found here. It's largely unstructured but is an attempt to record further names some of whom may well have worked alongside, or embeedded in, the SIB.

Melville gets a fair bit of a mention from one of my members - 


Melville, a baker in Lambeth, at 5' 8.5" became a Const in *E* Division [ Bow St   - then also the Met HQ] on Sept, 16,  1872, in a Force where 6% of the 8,000 were Irishmen. He was among 114 officers dismissed on Nov 20, 1872 for Insubordination related to pay grievances, because on Sat night Nov 16, 1872  they had refused to go on their beats for 2-3 hours. 71 were in his *E* and 43 in *T* Div.  Nearly all were reinstated on Nov 29. In 1878 permanent Detective Units were created in each Met Division and Melville became a Det Sgt in June 1879, in *P* Div [ Camberwell, Walworth and Peckham ], transferring to the new *Special Irish Branch* in March, 1883, created in response to a Fenian bombing campaign begun in 1881, and headed by Supt Adolphus Williamson from 1882-1887. Melville, aged 53, officially retired from the Met as a Supt in 1903, after 31 years service, having spent 20 of those years combating Fenian and Anarchist terror, eventually heading the Special Branch from Monday March 20, 1893, but in fact he at once transferred to the War Office, becoming the first spymaster of the emerging Security Service [ MI-5 ] where he served from Dec 1, 1903 to Dec 18, 1917 [ hence the designation *M* in that body ]. He died from kidney failure, shortly after finally retiring, on Feb 1, 1918.  He had been awarded both an MVO and MBE, and spent longer [ 14 years ] in MI-5 than as Head of Special Branch [ 10 years ]. While they presumably never met, perhaps Igoe could legitimately be termed Melville's spiritual son ? What did Igoe know of Melville before he left the RIC  ? The presence in Dublin Castle in 1920-21 of many men sent from or trained in London must have led to some interesting stories being exchanged over a glass or several, even if secrecy was never totally relaxed. The Igoe film could yet turn into a whole series.

Melville's younger son,  Sir James Benjamin Melville,  KC, a protege of Ramsay MacDonald, and originally a Liberal, became Labour MP for Gateshead and Solicitor-General in the 1929 Labour Govt but died in 1931.
As a Barrister in 1911, after the Siege of Sydney Street, where 3 police were murdered,  he successfully defended a future Soviet Cheka Deputy Chief, the Latvian revolutionary Yakov Khristoferovich Peters, 1886-1938  [ when he was executed in the Stalin Purges ]  - an ironic role for the son of a man who had battled such violent revolutionary gangsters for most of his career. James became a Major in WW I and his early death was due to his injuries at Salonika - rated as 50% disabled in 1918.
The 2004 book *M  MI-5's First Spymaster*  by Andrew Cook tells Wiliam Melville's story


Hope this adds a bit more to the mix.


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Hi Peter,

Your information is very interesting and much appreciated and everything adds to the story.

The information on Melville's younger son Sir James Benjamin Melville was fascinating and Andrew Cook's book appears to be a good read and I will definitely visit your site. 

Sometime in the future I will go back over the research for these individuals previously listed and usually you can find new information. 

many thanks,




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