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Houndsditch Murders and the Sidney Street Siege

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It will probably take me several inputs to add this story, as I am not a great typist so bare with me.


The Houndsditch Murders and the Siege of Sidney Street.


The following medals were awarded to City of London Police Constable James Frederick Amos and include the City of London Police Queen Victoria Jubilee medal for 1897, the City of London Police Coronation medals for 1902 and 1911. The inscription for the Jubilee medal is 'PC 753 J Amos' the Coronation medal for 1902 is 'PC J Amos' and the Coronation medal for 1911 is 'PC J F Amos.'

These medals were originally owned by Roger Perkins who is the author of the book, 'The Punjab Mail Murder,' published in 1979. Roger Perkins carried out the original research on James Frederick Amos's City of London Police career and the above medals in 1979/1980 and was a member of the, 'Orders and Medals Research Society.'

An important point regarding the, 'Houndsditch Murders and the Siege of Sidney Street,' is that James Frederick Amos was a Detective Constable stationed at Bishopsgate Police Station during this period. He was promoted to the rank of Detective Constable and transferred to Bishopsgate Police Station on the 4th of January in 1904 and remained there as a Detective Constable at Bishopsgate Police Station until he retired on pension on the 21st of August in 1919. 

By the time of the Houndsditch Murders in December of 1910 and the Sidney Street Siege in January of 1911, Detective Constable James F Amos was an experienced detective with approximately 7 years service in the C.I.D. department at Bishopsgate Police Station/division.

These two incidents, 'Houndsditch Murders and the Sidney Street Siege,' produced events and scenes never before witnessed by the horrified Londoners and the authorities.


In 1893, James Frederick Amos's physical description was stated as the following :-

James Frederick Amos was single.

Aged 20 years and 4 months old.

Was five feet nine and three quarter inches tall.

Had grey eyes.

Had brown hair.

Had a tattoo - blue ink 'anchor and J' on the left forearm.


In 1893, the conditions for joining the City of London Police were as follows :-

Must not be under the age of 20 or over the age of 27.

Must not be less than five feet nine inches tall.

Must not have a chest measurement less than thirty six inches.

Must not have more than 2 children.

Is not permitted to carry on any trade, nor will his wife be permitted to keep a shop.

Must be able to read and write legibly.

Must have satisfactory references.

Must be certified physically fit by the Police Surgeon.

Must declare any military service etc.

Must devote all of his time to the Police Service.


History of Detective James Frederick Amos.

James Frederick Amos was born in Holy Cross, Canterbury in Kent, in 1872. James parents were Charles and Sarah Amos and he married Mary Wright in 1904.

James F Amos joined the City of London Police on the 9th of March in 1893 and was issued with the warrant number of 6402. Police Constable James Amos was assigned to Cloak Lane Police Station, D division and given the collar number of 753.

On the 12/2/1894, Police Constable James Amos was placed on report for 'allowing his disused helmet to remain on a shelf in the dormitory in a dirty and untidy manner.' Guess what - he was 'pardoned.' 

On the 17/11/1896, Police Constable James Amos was placed on report for 'idling and gossiping with PC745 Shersby for approximately 5 minutes.' Guess what - he was 'pardoned.'

In 1897, awarded the Queen Victoria's Jubilee medal for being on duty during her Jubilee.

From 5/5/1893-4/5/1899 he progressed from the 6th rate of pay [25/- per week] up to the 1st rate of pay [36/3- per week].

On the 15/7/1899, James F Amos was appointed to, 'Plain Clothes Patrol,' and at a rate of pay of 41/3- shilling per week.

On the 15/1/1900, there is an Old Bailey trial case in which Percy Theo [29] was charged with stealing a coat and some other articles and City Detective James Amos gave evidence. The prisoner was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years penal servitude.

On the 2/4/1900, there is an Old Bailey trial case in which a Joseph Davies [47] was charged with maliciously wounding and occasioning actual bodily harm. James Amos Detective Officer gave evidence but the accused was found not guilty.

On the 10/7/1902, Detective Constable James Amos was reported for 'being inside a PH for the purpose of drinking whilst on duty,' fined 5/- shillings.

In 1902, awarded the Coronation medal for being on duty during the Coronation.

On re-organisation - on the 4/1/1904, Police Constable F Amos was promoted to Detective Constable and transferred to Bishopsgate Police Station/E division and given the collar number of 88.

On the 5/12/1907, Detective Constable James Amos was commended by the Judge at the C.C. Court and was awarded £1 and was also commended by the Commissioner for praiseworthy conduct displayed in the prosecution of 3 men for conspiracy and fraud.

On the 23/3/1909, Detective Constable James Amos was involved in another Old Bailey case involving deception and forgery.

On the 21/7/1909, Detective Constable James Amos was commended and awarded 7/6- shillings for vigilance and discretion in connection with the arrest of 3 men for robbery.

On the 16th of December in 1910, saw the cold blooded murder of Sergeant Thomas Charles Tucker, Sergeant Robert Bentley and Police Constable Walter Charles Choat. They had attempted to stop a burglary by a gang of anarchists, at 11 Exchange Buildings, in Houndsditch. Two other City of London Policemen were also shot and wounded and these events were a heavy blow especially to their colleagues at Bishopsgate Police Station. Every City of London Detective joining the hunt for the killers was armed with Army Service revolver and the City of London had approximately 100 detectives on the case and that must have been their entire establishment. It is interesting to note that the killers were suspected to have left the City of London's area and were believed to have gone into hiding in the Metropolitan district of Whitechapel. About 90 detectives were scouring these East End haunts and that most of these Detectives were City Detectives, like Detective Constable James Amos. The Metropolitan Police also pulled out all the stops to ensure these individuals were caught.

 On the 3rd of January in 1911, two members of the gang which had murdered the 3 City of London Police officers were found hiding at 100 Sidney Street, in Stepney. Thus began the 'Siege of Sidney Street,' and although this was Whitechapel or 'H' division's area, of the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police Detectives were there and assisting their colleagues. The Army were also called in to assist and the 2 anarchists were killed and the building was destroyed by fire.

In the Census of 1911, we find that James F Amos [38] is recorded as being employed as a 'Detective Constable' and is residing with his wife Mary Amos [29] and his daughter Evelyn Mary Amos [6] at 2 Belton Road, in Tottenham.

In 1911, awarded the Coronation medal for being on duty during the Coronation.

On the 2/7/1912, Detective Amos is in another Old Bailey case involving theft and receiving and the prisoner receives a sentence of 3 years penal servitude and 5 years preventive detention.

On the 31/8/1914, Detective Constable James Amos was given 'Rent Aid - New Merit Class,' of 3/- shillings per week and it also records he was receiving a Detective allowance of 8/- shilling per week.

On the 8/5/1918, Detective Constable James Amos was commended for initiative, resource and attention to duty in arresting two men for larceny.

On the 21/8/1919, Detective Constable James Frederick Amos retired on pension from Bishopsgate Police Station and the City of London Police. His weekly rate of pay was, at that time, 95/- shilling per week and with a 3/- shillings rent aid. James Frederick Amos's annual pension amounted to £165.5s.8d.

In the Census of 1939, James F Amos is residing at 10 Marlborough Road, Ilfracombe, in Devon and is recorded as being a retired City Police officer.

In 1941, between January to March, James F Amos dies and the death is registered in Barnstaple in Devon.







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'The Houndsditch Murders.'


Basically at approximately 11pm on Friday the 16th of December in 1910, 5 uniformed City of London Police and 2 City of London Police Plain Clothes officers from Bishopsgate Police Station, attempted to stop a burglary from taken place at the rear of 11 Exchange Buildings, in Houndsditch.

The anarchists/Latvians plan was to use one of the empty premises and from the rear of the Exchange Building to break into a jeweller's shop and then gain access to the shops safe which was thought to have tens of thousands of pounds of jewellery inside the safe.

The gang were rumbled and decided to shoot their way out of the situation, killing Sergeant Bentley, Sergeant Tucker and Police Constable Choat. They also wounded 2 other policemen and although they recovered from their wounds, they had to be pensioned out of the service due to their injuries. 

The bravery of these Police officers was so admired, that the authorities instituted the 'Kings Police medal' especially to acknowledge such brave acts.

There was a huge public outcry over the cold blooded killings of these Policemen and money started to pour in to help the families of the dead policemen.

The funerals of Sergeants Tucker and Bentley were held in London and approximately 750,000 people lined the route to the funeral procession.

Police Constable Choat was buried in his home town to another huge official event.



'The Sidney Street Siege.'


The 'Siege of Sidney Street,' is also known as the 'Battle of Stepney' and was a battle between the Police, Army and the Latvian anarchists or revolutionaries.

The Metropolitan and City of London Police identified individuals involved in the murder of the 3 City of London Policemen and 2 of these individuals were discovered hiding at 100 Sidney Street.

On the morning of the 3rd of January in 1911, an initial force of some 200 Metropolitan and City of London Police descended on 100 Sidney Street.

After approximately 6 hours, the 2 Latvian criminals were dead and the building had been burned down to the ground.




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'The Investigation.'


At the end of 1910, City Detective Constable James Frederick Amos was a very experienced Detective Constable stationed at Bishopsgate Police Station. Detective Constable Amos had approximately 7 years service in the Bishopsgate C.I.D. and had been on 'Plain Clothes Duties,' with the City of London Police since July of 1899. Detective Constable James Amos had official commendations and there was also a number of Old Bailey trial records which also evidence his successfulness as a City of London Detective.

Therefore, especially with Detective Constable James Amos being attached to the home station of the dead policemen and having known them and worked with them and his knowledge and experience with the local population and area - these qualities would have been invaluable in the investigation into the murders etc.

It is recorded that the City Detective were not taking any leave over this period and they were working very long shifts to ensure their colleagues killers were caught.

It appears that the two London Police Forces worked well together and this can be evidenced by the use of very large numbers of City of London Detectives scouring and flooding into Whitechapel in the search for the murderer.  



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The first photograph - is portraits of Sergeant Tucker, Sergeant Bentley and Police Constable Choat.

One of the sergeants, I suspect it was Sergeant Tucker, should have retired on pension but decided to sign up for another year so that he could assist in the Coronation of 1911. A decision that cost him his life.


The next 3 photographs are of the funeral parade through London for Sergeant Tucker and Sergeant Bentley.


The last photograph is of the book, 'The Punjab Mail Murder,' by Roger Perkins. A collector and researcher of medals and stories. In 1977 whilst in a bric-a-brac shop he found an ''''Indian General Service medal [1908-1935] with the single clasp for North West Frontier 1930-31 and which was awarded to 2/Lt G R Hext 2/8 Punjab Reg.'''' From researching this medal he was able to piece together the whole story of the murder of 2/LT G R Hext. 

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Here are some items that relate to the 'Sidney Street Siege.'


The first 2 photographs show 2 original newspaper publications covering the siege.


The next 2 photographs are 'film stills' advertising the film 'The Sidney Street Siege.' I can't remember but I think the film might have produced in 1960. Some people might even recognise the actors and actresses.


The last photograph is a standard article that would have been used in various magazines. 

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Great material, Alan, and very good topic. On a related matter, anybody who is a member of OMRS should have a look at the recently released 'Webinar' presentations and also the on-line topis presented by various members, including one on the Houndsditch Murders' by James Kemp.


OMRS usually has a physical convention at this time of year but have postponed it due to Covid- instead releasing two (so far) Webinars (a downloadable filmed presentation by various leaned people on medallic topics) with more to come each week, and also some viewable files on various topics.

Well worth a look and extremely interesting material.

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William PRICE

Born 01/08/1884 Highgate London

Bricklayer before he joined the Met (employed by an A Chapman of Noel Park Estate, Wood Green).

Joined 19/02/1906 as a PC in H Div (Warrant No 92896),

Height 5' 10 1/2" 

Weight 11 st 2lbs

Complextion dark

Eyes brown

Hair dark brown

Single man when joined. His address then being 38 Eleanor Road Bowes Park.

William & Martha Jane nee Gibbons, married on the 20/11/06, at Ferme Park Baptist chapel, Hornsey.

Awarded the 1911 Coronation Medal.

Remained at H Division until the 04/04/1914 when he was posted to K Division.

The Sidney Street Siege, took place during William's service in H Division, around 200 officers from the Met & City police involved. Given his address at the time it is highly likely that he took some sort of part in the events.

He was promoted to Station Sergt in 1923 served there as both a PS and SPS in K Div. 

21/09/1923 92896 William PRICE from PS101K To SPS.

Posted to J Division as Insp on the 26/02/1926

Pensioned 16/03/1931 as an Insp in J Div

Recalled as reserve officer 31/08/1939 and joined K Div (Bow) which is next to his old J Div – he was living in Dagenham in 1939. 81 Oval Road South Dagenham (with Martha).

He resigned as Insp in K Div on the 31/07/1942 - his police service was one month short of the three years for a Defence Medal 

On the 1911 census he is listed as living at 37 Dellow Buildings Dellow Street, Shadwell, with his wife Martha Jayne (26) and two sons William George (3) born Whitechapel and Alfred Frederick (1) born Stepney. 

Another son, Stanley was born 1912.

Martha died in Norfolk 1962.

William died at 3 Kirkley Park Road, Lowestoft, on the 10th July 1963.

The first picture is a famous Sidney Street siege photograph. I believe William Price is the Bobby identify as 3.


Picture 1 was taken around 1914

Picture 2 was taken in 1902

Picture 3 was taken in 1911



Picture 1 he would have been 18

Picture 3 he would have been 27






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Thanks for the information dpk and I had a quick look on the ''OMRS'' site and it is extremely interesting.


Hi Gordon - Since you are evidencing the photographs together with his detailed service with Whitechapel or 'H' division, during this period, I think the chances of this being the same person are reasonable/good but the chances of him having attended Sidney Street Siege are even better.


I would suspect of the 200 City and Metropolitan Police that initially attended Sidney Street, the greatest percentage of that number would have come from Whitechapel or 'H' division.

I don't know what Whitechapel or 'H' divisions uniformed establishment was in 1911 but it could easily mean a quarter of the entire division's men attended the siege.

I believe further reinforcements were requested later as the siege progressed but I am sure these would have been supplied by the other divisions nearby.

I believe I read somewhere that initially shotguns were given to Policemen that had served in the military but I am also sure they would have been issued to Policemen who had fired and had experience with shotguns ie those from estates and from the countryside. 

Anyway it is an interesting question - what was the total percentage of manpower supplied by Whitechapel or 'H' division. 


I remember reading the City of London Police had to commit 100 police officers to secure the ''Exchange Buildings,'' location after the Latvians anarchists/revolutionaries killed the 3 City Policemen.

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I have only read one book on the subject of the 'Houndsditch Murders and the Sidney Street Siege' and that was 'The Battle of Stepney by Colin Rogers' and I read that several years ago. But there is a short paragraph which I think helps imagine what it was like for Detectives, like Detective Constable James Amos'.......remembering the original murders were committed on the 16th of December in 1910.


'''''All City Police Christmas Festivities had been abandoned and all leave for the force's hundred-odd detectives cancelled. Not one was at home for his Christmas Dinner. Marathon spells of duty remained commonplace; food was snatched or gone without. With the holiday freedom of London's other citizens and the substantial reward on offer, hundreds of hours were spent investigating alleged suspicious characters.

The uniformed branch also had its troubles; the two Bank Holidays which followed Christmas Day brought thousands of sightseers into the Exchange Buildings neighbourhood.'''''



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Here is another example of a Whitechapel Policemen who might have been in attendance at the Sidney Street Siege. PC Edgar Greenacre was awarding the Metropolitan Police Queen Victoria Jubilee medal for 1897, Metropolitan Police Coronation medals for 1902 and 1911. 


Police Constable Edgar E Greenacre who joined the Metropolitan Police on the 10/3/1890 and was assigned to Southwark or 'M' division, warrant number 75404.

Awarded the Jubilee medal for 1897 whilst serving with Southwark or 'M' division.

Sometime between the last half of 1897 and the first half of 1902, PC Edgar E Greenacre transferred to Whitechapel or 'H' division.

Awarded the Coronation medal for 1902 whilst serving with Whitechapel or 'H' division.

Awarded the Coronation medal for 1911 whilst serving with Whitechapel or 'H' division.

1911......Sidney Street Siege.......was he there?

20/12/1920 Police Constable Edgar E Greenacre retires on pension from Whitechapel or 'H' division and the Metropolitan Police and in his pension records we find the following information :-


When PC Edgar Greenacre retired from the Metropolitan Police on the 20/12/1920, he was on 'Special Duties' attached to the 'Tower of London' and it was paid for by the 'Office of Works.'

This is confirmed in his pension records.

Special Duties are only recorded on the Metropolitan Police pension records when the individual was still employed on them at the time of leaving the police.

This special duty fell within Whitechapel or 'H' division's responsibility since it was within the divisional area.

Because special duties are only recorded on the pension records when the individual is still activity on them at the time of his retirement......this means they are harder to fine and evidence.


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Here we have another Whitechapel or 'H' division Police Constable who may have witnessed the Sidney Street Siege, first hand. PC John William Cole who was awarded the Metropolitan Police Coronation medals for 1902 and 1911 and served his entire pensionable engagement with the Police in Whitechapel.


John William Cole joined the Metropolitan Police on the 14/10/1901 and was assigned to Whitechapel or 'H' division and he was given the warrant number of 87893.


In 1902 he was awarded the Metropolitan Police Coronation medal for 1902 whilst serving in Whitechapel.


In 1909, PC John William Cole married Rose Georgiana Darnell who was the widow of Police Sergeant William Darnell who had retired from the Metropolitan Police and Whitechapel or 'H' division on the 29th of July in 1907. Retired Police Sergeant William Darnell died shortly after retiring from the Police and this occurred in Bethnal Green in 1908. John William Cole was approximately 10 years younger than Rose Darnell and it would appear police widows regularly remarried other members of the police service.

There definitely appears to be a real family bond within the Metropolitan and City of London Police during these times and you can regularly see cases where police widows are then employed as cleaners/house keepers in various police establishment etc

The criteria for bringing back officers to assist with the Jubilee or Coronation Parades also appeared to favour their retired [pension] colleagues first and there are lots of examples of daughters marrying their partners who are already serving within the Police establishment etc.


In 1911 he was awarded the Metropolitan Police Coronation medal for 1911 whilst serving in Whitechapel.


On the 16/101927, PC John William Cole retired on pension from the Metropolitan Police and from Whitechapel division.




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This is the final presentation of '''''Detective Constable James Frederick Amos's medals''''' as it they now go into my collection. Their write-up is completed and all the information is placed into a folder and the medals are housed as shown in the photographs.

The presentation boxes and the padded insert can be found on ebay or by going directly to the company and they are made in China and of good quality and most importantly quite cheap to buy.  

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Very interesting point.........


I remember Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson for 2 reasons ;-


Benjamin Leeson's photographs, in my opinion, makes him look a very interesting character.


and existing copies of his book 'Lost London by an East End Detective,' which was published in the 1930's are always extremely expensive to buy. I just checked and there appears to be a copy on Amazon for over £300.


The big story within the book, always appeared to be that he has assisted PC Ernest Thompson at Francis Cole's murder in 1891. Although there was never any original evidence/record of him actually being at the site of the murder. 


Since he was still a Detective Sergeant in Whitechapel or 'H' division in January of 1910 [Houndsditch Murders] and January of 1911 [Sidney Street Siege], he must have recorded these events.


It would be interesting to know what he said about these incidents but not at that price for a copy of his book. 








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Found a couple of examples of his book ''Lost London by an East End Detective.' [£145 and £125, depends on condition] and Sidney Street is one of the sections mentioned. I would still like to read the story but it is still a bit too expensive for me.



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1 hour ago, Alan Baird said:

Found a couple of examples of his book ''Lost London by an East End Detective.' [£145 and £125, depends on condition] and Sidney Street is one of the sections mentioned. I would still like to read the story but it is still a bit too expensive for me.





99p on Amazon (Kindle)




I agree his Thompson/Cole’s connection was always a bit dubious. I seem to recall that he claimed to have seen the man from Swallow Gardens years later on a train in Australia, something along those lines anyway. 

Wasn’t he wounded at Sidney Street and that’s why he left the police?



ON a bitter night during the winter of 1890-91, I was patrolling the beat to which I had been transferred in the neighbourhood of the Mint. There was not a soul to be seen, when the stillness was suddenly disturbed by the shrill of a police whistle. Police whistles were often blown improperly, but I felt certain that this was a regulation blast, and, after I had made sure of the direction, I made off at top speed.

The call brought me to a place called Swallow Gardens, which is actually a railway arch running from Royal Mint Street to Chamber Street, Whitechapel, and though in the dim past there may have been gardens in the vicinity, there has certainly been nothing of the sort within living memory to justify the name of the place.

The call for assistance came from P.C. Thompson, 240, " H " division, whom I knew well on account of our serving part of our time together as recruits on the drill ground. When I reached the spot I found Thompson there with two night watchmen, one a plain-clothes policeman who had been patrolling the district.

About midway in the arch lay a woman with her head nearly severed from her body. She was still alive, but so large was the wound in her throat that articulation was impossible.

" What's up? " I asked.

" Murder," said my colleague in a hoarse voice, adding in a whisper, " A Jack the Ripper 'job."

Like myself poor Thompson was inexperienced, and had come across the body whilst working his beat. As we stood there wondering momentarily what was best to be done, I little thought that my pal was soon to be the victim of a similar tragedy; but so it was, for shortly afterwards Thompson was stabbed to death by a man named Abrahams in a coffee-stall brawl.

"Another ' Jack the Ripper ' murder ! " Only those who were living at the time and who were old enough to appreciate it can imagine what that meant. When that dread news was flashed round, not merely all London, but all England, was terrified.

The form lying in the roadway was that of a young woman. Her clothing was disarranged, and there could be no doubt that she had been brutally murdered. Apart from the fearful wound in the throat there were other terrible injuries about the lower part of the trunk. In the gutter by her side lay a little crepe hat.

The amazing part of it all was that, although this ferocious attack could not have taken place more than a few seconds earlier, Thompson had neither heard nor seen anything of the woman's assailant. The archway was empty. The constable was wearing rubber heels that night and had approached the spot absolutely noiselessly, yet the murderer had apparently vanished into thin air. Small wonder that there were many people living in the East End at that time who were quite prepared to believe that the " Ripper " crimes were not the work of any human agency.

In answer to our whistles other and more experienced officers were soon on the scene, and indeed I was not sorry. This was my first acquaintance with anything in the nature of violent death, and I'd had enough for one night.

The poor mutilated body was taken to the station, and soon Dr. Phillips, the police surgeon, was examining another fearful example of the work of the man whom the police could not catch, for the revolting nature of the woman's injuries left no doubt as to the author of the crime.

The hunt for the murderer began at once, and I was only one of the hundreds of police and civilians who took part in the search.

Small parties of men were organised, and night after night they scoured alleys, archways and passages in which the assassin might lurk.

On the night of the murder every house in the district was searched. If, as it was assumed, the murderer had been disturbed at his ghoulish work by the arrival of P.C. Thompson, it seemed that the only possible way in which he could have escaped was to have taken refuge in one of the houses quite close to the scene of the crime. But the search yielded no result.

As a further precaution, a cordon of police was drawn round the docks. Boats were not allowed to leave till every member of the crew had been examined and had satisfied the authorities as to their innocence.

It should be added that the railway arch in which the body was found ran under the Great Eastern goods yard and extended for fifty yards into Royal Mint Street, coming out just opposite the Royal Mint refinery, and here a policeman was on duty all night. But he, too, had neither seen nor heard anything unusual until the blowing of the police whistle. It was uncanny.

The victim was soon identified as Frances Coles, of Thrawl Street, Spitalfields, a district incidentally in which several of the other " Ripper " crimes had taken place, and where the victims lived.

Frances was young and pretty, and the deputy at the house at which she lodged spoke very highly of her, describing her as a young woman of a superior type. There was no doubt, however, that she had recently taken to leading an immoral life in the East End.

We got what was thought to be a good clue, one, in fact, which for a long time looked as though it would lead to the solution of the biggest problem with which the Whitechapel police had ever been faced.

This was an old black hat which was found pinned underneath the shawl which the woman was wearing. She had apparently just bought the hat which we found lying in the roadway, and had pinned the old one to her dress after having made the purchase.

The Spitalfields district was combed for the seller of the hat, and the search was successful, for not only was the little shop found, but what appeared to be very important information about the buyer was also obtained.

The story told by the woman shopkeeper was that Frances had bought the hat the previous afternoon for five shillings. Earlier in the day she had tried to get the hat by paying a small sum down, but being unsuccessful had gone away, to come back later with the full amount, saying she had found a friend who was willing to lend her the money.

More than this, the milliner had noticed a man loitering about outside whilst Frances was in the shop, but as he had kept his head averted, she was only able to say that he was middle-aged, thick-set, and fairly well dressed. After buying the hat, Frances had remarked that the old one might come in useful, and thereupon had pinned it carefully to her dress under her shawl. On leaving the shop, she was joined by the middle-aged man some distance down the street.

Needless to say, the police were most anxious to make the acquaintance of this man, and a strange sequence of events led to his discovery and arrest.

Earlier on the night of the tragedy, a man was found to have called at Frances Coles' lodgings, and to have asked for her. His hand was bleeding badly, which he explained by saying that some roughs had knocked him clown, and had stolen all his money. He stayed with Frances for an hour, and was heard to leave at 1 a.m. Half an hour later, Frances went out on the errand from which she never returned. Far more significant was the discovery that the man returned again to the woman's lodgings at 3 a.m. He was then excited and covered with blood.

" I've been knocked down and robbed in Ratcliffe Highway," he told the deputy of the lodging house, and when asked how that could be, considering he was supposed to have lost all his money in the assault the previous night, he said: " They thought they were going to get something, but they were mistaken."

The man wanted lodgings, but on account of his appearance he was refused, and advised to go to the London Hospital. At the hospital the police found that a man had called there in the early hours of the morning, complaining of an injury to his ribs, but the only injury the doctor could find was a cut over the right eye, which must have bled very freely indeed to account for the saturated condition of his clothing. The man had been treated, and left after an hour. The hospital people gave it as their opinion that lie was a seafaring man.

There was tremendous excitement now among the police engaged on the case, as it really looked as though they were hot on the trail of the Terror. Next day the excitement spread to the people outside, and big crowds assembled in front of Leman Street Station waiting for the news that " Jack the Ripper " had been laid by the heels at last.

An arrest was made that night. Acting on the strength

of a valuable clue they had picked up at the docks, two detectives walked into a Whitechapel public house, and after questioning a short, well-built man, took him to the police station.

Whitechapel went mad that day. The news of the arrest spread like wildfire and everyone seemed to take it for granted that the " Ripper " was safely under lock and key. Tremendous difficulty was experienced when the man was brought up in court. Outside, the crowd was demanding his blood, and I am perfectly certain he would have been lynched if the mob had succeeded in getting hold of him.

Things certainly looked black against the prisoner. A married man with five children, but living apart from his wife. He vigorously protested his innocence from the first, and when the police came to investigate his story they found that the evidence against him was far front being as conclusive as it had appeared at first.

The man did not deny that he had met Frances Coles. He admitted buying her the hat, but he stoutly maintained that he had not seen her again after leaving her lodgings at twenty minutes to one on the fatal evening.

It was the most improbable part of his story that saved him. It was established beyond all doubt that he had been twice attacked that night, and the wide gaps in the chain of evidence were such that there was nothing for it but to discharge him.

After this a story circulated that the " Ripper " was a butcher, who wore blue overalls and a leather apron, and an English Jew named Jacobs, a perfectly harmless man, somehow attracted suspicion to himself. Possibly because, working in a slaughter-house, lie always wore a leather apron.

People would point Jacobs out in the street as the suspected man, and more than once he had to run for it. I myself was often obliged to take him into the police station for protection. The thing so preyed on the poor fellow's mind that it finally caused him to lose his reason.

I am afraid I cannot throw any light on the problem of the " Ripper's " identity, but one thing I do know, and that is that amongst the police who were most concerned in the case there was a general feeling that a certain doctor, known to nee, could have thrown quite a lot of light on the subject. This particular doctor was never far away when the crimes were committed, and it is certain that the injuries inflicted on the victims could only have been done by one skilled in the use of the knife.

Many stories and theories have been put forward, but, with one exception, I doubt if any one of them had the slightest foundation in fact. The exception to which I refer was that of George Klosowski, alias Chapman, the South London wife murderer.

About the period of the " Ripper " murders Chapman lived in Whitechapel, where he carried on a hairdresser's business in a sort of " dive " under a public-house at the corner of George Yard, that notorious locality to which I have referred in previous chapters.

I have no data to assist me, but I remember that there were-in addition to the one I have been dealing with-a dozen murders attributed to " Jack the Ripper " during the years 1888 and 1890, and so far as I can ascertain Chapman was in London for nearly the whole of that period. He left before the end of 1890 and went to America, where it is believed he was responsible for several murders. As far as my information goes, he had not returned to England in 1891, the year in which Frances Coles met her death.

There was, moreover, a complete difference in the methods employed by the two men, for while Chapman slowly poisoned his victims, the " Ripper " resorted to the worst possible use of the knife, horribly mutilating the bodies, and in one instance cutting his victim into fifty or more pieces, distributing them about a room, afterwards securing the door and making his departure through the window.

So far as the evidence goes, robbery was not the motive in the case of either Chapman or the " Ripper." Lust was the deciding factor in the case of Chapman, for while he was tiring of one " wife " he was preparing another. He was a Bluebeard, and his story is known. But nobody knows and nobody ever will know the true story of " Jack the Ripper."

He never returned, and was never heard of again after the Swallow Gardens murder, and that, as far as we know, was the last of his many crimes.

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I will need to get more up-to-date with things. I have always preferred a book to a kindle but 0.99 pence to read 'Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson's story'......is such a great offer.


I enjoyed reading the Jack the Ripper chapter, many thanks for that.


It is a couple of years since I read the book 'The Battle of Stepney, and so I forgot all about 'Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson.'

When the Latvian anarchists repeatedly shot Police Constable Choat at the Exchange Buildings.....it was because he would not let go of one of their gang - 'George Gardstein.' The gang then accidently shot George Gardstein whilst trying to kill Police Constable Choat.

Later information came to the Police's attention, that his body could be found in certain rooms within the district and 40 Metropolitan and City Policemen descended on the house in question. Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson was in the vanguard of this group.


Later and at the beginning of the 'Sidney Street Siege' Police attempted to make contact with the anarchists at 100 Sidney Street and even threw pebbles at the first floor window panes to gain their attention. This was answered by a volley of fire from those inside and Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson was shot in the chest and in the foot. Detective Inspector Hine returned fire and the fight was on.


They had a difficult time trying to evacuation Detective Sergeant Leeson from the scene and to the hospital but they did it in the end.     



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Stirring stuff.........


The moment Detective Sergeant Leeson was shot, City of London Detective Inspector Hine opened fire to give cover to his colleagues caught out in the open street.


Leeson stumbled towards Inspector Wensley [H divn.] and the archway, calling out, ''I am shot.''

Detective Sergeant Richardson [H] supported him to the rear of the yard.

Leeson and Wensley had started out together as constables in Whitechapel in the late 1880's and were brother Freemason.

Inspector Wensley came to him at once, ''I am dying,'' the heavily built sergeant gasped.

''They have shot me through the heart. Give my love to the children. Bury me at Putney.''

''The two men embraced, ''I am with you to the last,'' said Wensley.

''I know that Fred'' Leeson answered.


After the shooting started and by 9am about 750 policemen, some of them mounted, were at the scene. The crowds already numbered several thousands.   


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After the Siege of Sidney Street was over, people had to be compensated for their losses ie all the residents of 100 Sidney Street which was now just a burn-out-shell of a building. Here is a small paragraph on how this incident impacted on Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson's life.  


'''''Detective Sergeant Leeson's experiences made him a ten-day celebrity. Sympathizers sent him and the hearthstone's victims a profusion of flowers, messages arrived from the King. Both the sergeant's lungs had been severely damaged and for some days pneumonia or bronchitis was feared. As with Sergeant Woodhams, his recovery was to be slow and difficult, not until 8th February was he considered fit enough to leave the London Hospital's Gloucester Ward for a convalescent home at Felixstowe. The Metropolitan Police upgraded him to first-class sergeant on the 10th of January and on 23rd February the newspapers announced a King's Police Medal for him, unhappily, the promotion only preceded his invaliding out and the story about his decoration proved false.'''''  


I think the ''hearthstone's victims'' would have been firemen. A heavy hearthstone coming down of them, would have  brought a lot of other debris with it. 


I almost forgot to say that after it was all over, the City of London Police announced its gratitude to the Metropolitan Police for all their assistance in helping to deal with such a difficult crime/major incident and awarded gratuities to :-


Chief Superintendent Stark £50.

Detective Superintendent Ottaway £40.

Detective Inspector Wensley £25.

Detective Chief Inspector Willis £12.10s.

Detective Inspector Thompson and Newell £10 each.

Detective Sergeant Leeson £10.

And 5 others £5 each.


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If at the height of the 'Sidney Street Siege' they had approximately 750 Police Officers in attendance from the Metropolitan and City of London Constabularies, then they must have pulled in every man available and probably some that were even off duty in the Section Houses etc. The reinforcements must have come originally from the nearest divisions to Whitechapel and worked there way outwards. 


It would be interesting to know the official establishments levels for Whitechapel or 'H' division and the City of London Police were in 1911. 

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20 hours ago, Alan Baird said:

If at the height of the 'Sidney Street Siege' they had approximately 750 Police Officers in attendance from the Metropolitan and City of London Constabularies, then they must have pulled in every man available and probably some that were even off duty in the Section Houses etc. The reinforcements must have come originally from the nearest divisions to Whitechapel and worked there way outwards. 


It would be interesting to know the official establishments levels for Whitechapel or 'H' division and the City of London Police were in 1911. 


Comparing the medals rolls for 1887, 1897 & 1902 (1911 don’t exist). H Division had around just under 500 Constables on each occasion. 

So working on 500, obviously not all of those could have been deployed as some would have been on duty elsewhere on the division or on nights. G Divisions section house was in fact on H Division, so some would more than likely have been summoned from there. The City & K Division clearly sent some, as I assume J Division would have as well. 

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Actually, if I remember right, there were a total of 7 uniformed officers and 2 plain-clothes patrolmen, that originally attended the Exchange Buildings. Obviously Detective Constable James Frederick Amos would probably have known them all. I am not sure if '''plain-clothes Patrolmen''' is the same as being officially attached to the C.I.D. in Bishopsgate Police Station. The 2 plain-clothes officers were Constable Martin and Constable Strongman. I think I read somewhere that some of the medals issued to those involved in the '''Houndsditch Murders''' case are to be found in the City of London Police Museum. 

Sometimes you can find at the best Auction Houses like ''DNW'' - medals being sold and have been sold to named individuals who were recorded as having been involving in the original incident.

Like this example :-

SS851381 (2).JPG

SS851383 (2).JPG

SS851384 (2).JPG

SS851389 (2).JPG

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