The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown

British Army, Depression, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Metropolitan Police, Suicide Add comments

Richard Brown presents a most unusual case, for he was not only a seaman but a soldier
and a London policeman in consecutive order, and, as the old rhyme goes, Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor
. . . . Does his suicide by apparent self-inflicted gunshot in Hyde Park
at midday on Friday, 16 November 1888, 3 days after he was allowed to resign from the
Metropolitan Police and almost a week after the 9 November murder and mutilation of
Mary Jane Kelly, have anything to do with the Whitechapel murders? Could Brown even
have been Jack the Ripper? The Jewish Chronicle of 23 November, reporting on the
coroner’s enquiry into his death, tells us that ‘The deceased was a Jew, and before
joining the police force was a soldier in the British army. He served in the Egyptian
campaign and was decorated with four medals. It transpired that Sir Charles Warren
had shown him great kindness, and the deceased became very depressed when the
resignation of the late Chief Commissioner was announced.’ 

The reported facts about Brown’s Jewish religion and reported relationship with Warren
are tantalizing details that are left out of the reports of the coroner’s hearing published
in The Times, Lloyd’s Weekly News, and The Star at the end of November. The date of
Brown’s suicide fits the criterion many students of the case theorize for the supposed
conclusion of the Ripper’s murder spree—that the murderer did away with himself. 

‘. . . a steady, respectable man’

Brown joined the Metropolitan Police on 16 August 1886 as Warrant Number 72041 in E
Division, according to the ‘E’ Divisional Ledger. E Division covered the West End district
of Holborn with stations at Hunter Street, Gray’s Inn Road, Bow Street, and Waterloo
Pier. The division records give Brown’s birthplace as Adelaide, South Australia, his age on
joining as 32 years, and his army service prior to joining the force as Royal Artillery and
Army Reserve. His height is recorded as five feet nine and a quarter inches. P.C. Brown’s
resignation from the force was permitted on 13 November 1888; Police Orders for that
day reveal that the resignation was permitted under Consolidated Orders, Sec. IV., para
128 to 133, page 488, ‘Not parading on duty; and considered unfit for the Police Force.’
Pay was permitted ‘to the 11th [December]’.

Brown was let go on Tuesday, and on Friday, three days after being allowed to resign,
he apparently killed himself. After telling acquaintances of confused plans to leave
the country, the man shot himself with a pistol he bought on Thursday.

The coroner’s inquest into Brown’s death was held at St. George’s Hospital by Mr. John
Troutbeck, the coroner for Westminster. As recorded in the 20 November edition of The
Times
, Inspector Austin Askew, of Hunter Street Police Station, testified about Brown’s
termination from the police and his character:

[Askew] stated that the deceased was guilty of a slight breach of discipline, and with
others appeared before the Assistant Commissioner, who allowed him to resign in order
that he might preserve his testimonial, and he left the service last Tuesday. He… was
a steady, respectable man, and did his duty fairly well.

Askew said the breach of discipline was that the deceased ought to have gone on parade
for night duty at a quarter to 10, and he neglected to do so.

The Strange Death of Richard Brown

Louis Sidney Torre, of 3, Percy Square, King’s Cross, stated to be the deceased’s second
uncle, there being no other relatives, stated he had known Brown for ‘about ten years,
and last saw him alive on Tuesday, the 13th’ when he was at his house—the same day
Brown had resigned from the police, and thus a traumatic day for the former constable.

Torre said his relative ‘seemed rather despondent, but complained of no trouble.’ Brown
informed him that ‘he had resigned his situation in the police force’ and that he intended
to go ‘either to Mexico or to Africa.’ Torre said his nephew was ‘a sober, steady
man, and [that] he had saved about £130.’

William Richards, a pawnbroker’s assistant, of 34 High Holborn, said that Brown came
to his shop on Thursday and bought a revolver, saying he was going to shoot in a match
with a fellow constable. It was a pin-fire revolver with six chambers. Richards said
Brown loaded the weapon outside the shop. Did it cross the disturbed man’s mind
to commit suicide by shooting himself right there in High Holborn?

Harris Bloom, a dealer of 166 Drury Lane, said that the deceased had supper with him on
Thursday night. The former policeman showed him the revolver, which he said he bought
for protection. Brown told Bloom he was going to California. Note that Brown’s stated
intentions to the dealer in regard to the gun and on his plans to go after leaving England
(if indeed he really intended to leave the country) varied from statements he made to the
pawnbroker’s assistant, Richards, and to his uncle, Louis Sidney Torre.

Police Constable Duncan McKenzie, 593 A, described finding Brown’s body:

[McKenzie] stated that he was on duty outside the Hyde Park Police-station
at midday on Friday when he heard a whistle blown. It sounded like a
policeman’s whistle. Upon going along the footpath leading to the
Serpentine he saw the deceased sitting on a seat with the revolver
produced tightly clasped in his right hand and blood flowing from his
mouth. He was removed to the hospital. No whistle was found.
 

 Map of Hyde Park 1833

Map of Hyde Park, 1833, showing paths to the Serpentine

Lloyds Weekly Newspaper November 25 1888 

Report of inquest on Richard Brown’s suicide in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper,
Sunday, 25 November 1888  

 

Questions arise about this odd tale. Why did McKenzie say he heard a police whistle and
and not a gunshot? Who blew the whistle? Did Brown fire the fatal shot or did someone
else? If Brown did commit suicide, why at midday on Friday in a public park close
to a police station? Was the chosen location for suicide, if such it was, meant to
embarrass the police, or merely the product of a disturbed mind?

Mr. F. W. Parker, house surgeon, stated Brown died three hours after his admission; the
bullet entered his mouth and penetrated his brain. The jury gave a verdict of ‘temporary
insanity.’

A Mixed Army Record

With the help of genealogist Mark Andrew Pardoe, I have now obtained copies of
Brown’s army records. They reveal a mixed history despite his usual steadiness
while serving in the Metropolitan Police.

Brown joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner, regimental no. 4175, in the 11th brigade,
in Liverpool on 8 March 1878. At that time, his age was given as 24 years and 6 months.
He gave his occupation as sailor, his family’s address as 515 Pitt Street, Adelaide, South
Australia, and his father’s name as ‘John’ but, as noted below, research in Australian
street directory and genealogy records has not so far confirmed this information. Royal
Artillery records show Brown had a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, and
no distinctive marks except for a vaccination mark on his left arm from infancy. His
chest measured 38 inches, his weight 161 pounds, muscular development ‘very good’.

Unlike the 1888 Jewish Chronicle report of Richard Brown’s Jewishness, his religion
in army files is given as Church of England. Two days later, at the artillery depot
at Sheerness, Kent, he was diagnosed with ague and gonorrhoea, and was treated with
quinine and purgatives. He transferred to 11th brigade 12th battery on 15 May. The Royal
Artillery at the time had over 11 brigades with at least 6 batteries each of ca. 200 men.
Gunner Brown first served for 245 days in the unit, for he deserted the artillery while on
furlough at Sheerness on 11 November.

Astonishingly, Brown deserted not to quit the army but to join another army unit.
As noted on Brown’s Statement of Services, he ‘enlisted into 2/5 Foot [i.e., 2nd battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers] as No. 2091 Pte. Richard Brown on 12th
November 1878.’

Contrary to the statement made 7 months earlier on joining the artillery in Liverpool in
which he said he was a sailor from Australia, Brown gave his place of birth as Heligoland
and his occupation as a groom. Heligoland, an island off the German coast, today part of
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, was at the time still a British possession after capture by
the Royal Navy from Denmark in 1807. The land became German in 1890 in a deal
worked out under the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty whereby the British got the rich East
African island of Zanzibar in return for surrendering the coastal island to the German
authorities. The deal was apparently more to Germany’s advantage strategically than
for any intrinsic value that the low-lying windswept island possessed. The Germans
established a naval base on the island and a sea battle of 1914, the opening year
of the First World War in Europe, occurred off it. It could be that Brown’s turnaround in
saying he was from Heligoland might betray European or Eastern European origin rather
than birth in the Antipodes as he told the Royal Artillery in 1878, although it should be
noted that many seamen in this period listed their place of birth or home as Heligoland.

Within six months, the army learned that ‘Private Brown’ was a deserter from the Royal
Artillery. The miscreant was slapped in the guardroom at Chatham on 20 May 1879. He
became non-effective in the Fusiliers on 4 June and was transferred back to the Royal
Artillery while still remaining in custody. He was moved to the ‘Cells’ 24 June and
court martialed. He served 2 1/2 months in the Millbank Military Prison, London,
located where the Tate Britain Gallery stands today, his pay and pension forfeited
at the time of his conviction for desertion.

 Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Brown was released 10 Sept., when he rejoined the Royal Artillery’s 11th brigade and was
sent with the brigade to India, landing in India on 28 October.

Brown apparently stayed an exemplary soldier til the end of his army career in spring
1886, after which he joined the Metropolitan Police. His pension was restored 11 Sept.
1881, two years after his release from his time in the brig. 

A Decorated Soldier

Brown landed in India in late 1880 and would fight in Afghanistan, being awarded an
attestation and medal for bravery the Afghan campaign of 1878–1880. According to the
newspaper reports on the coroner’s enquiry, he reportedly won a total of four medals
although so far we have found record of only two. His ‘Military History Sheet’ confirms
that the other medal was awarded for his service in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt,
on 13 September 1882, described as ‘Medal for Egypt with clasp…Khedive’s Bronze Star.’
Although the note that Gunner Brown won this medal appears on his army history sheet,
mystifyingly, he is not listed in the medals list for the campaign (WO100, War Office:
Campaign Medal and Award Rolls (General Series) 56, Royal Artillery 14 Egypt, 1882).

The battle followed the overthrow of the the Khedive, the British viceroy in Egypt, by
a native force led by rebel Egyptian officer, Colonel Ahmed Arabi in May 1882. Arabi
and his rebel army’s aimed to take over the Suez Canal, recently built in 1869 to
facilitate communications to Asia, and to keep foreigners out of Egypt. After landing
at Ismalia in August and making a night march, British commander Lieutenant General
Sir Garnet Wolseley with 35,000 British and Indian troops surprised and destroyed
Arabi’s entrenched army at the Tel-el-Kebir and restored British rule. 

 The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir 1882

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, 1882

The redoubtable Scottish poet William McGonagall wrote one of his epic poems on the
battle, and it gives the flavor of the battle in which Richard Brown won his medal, even
if the Scottish bard appears, by my count, to underestimate the size of the British force!

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir

Ye sons of Great Britain, come join with me,
And sing in praise of Sir Garnet Wolseley;
Sound drums and trumpets cheerfully,
For he has acted most heroically.

Therefore loudly his praises sing
Until the hills their echoes back doth ring;
For he is a noble hero bold,
And an honour to his Queen and country, be it told.

He has gained for himself fame and renown,
Which to posterity will be handed down;
Because he has defeated Arabi by land and by sea,
And from the battle of Tel-el-Kebir he made him to flee.

With an army about fourteen thousand strong,
Through Egypt he did fearlessly march along,
With the gallant and brave Highland brigade,
To whom honour is due, be it said.

Arabi’s army was about seventy thousand in all,
And, virtually speaking, it wasn’t very small;
But if they had been as numerous again,
The Irish and Highland brigades would have beaten them, it is plain.

‘Twas on the 13th day of September, in the year of 1882,
Which Arabi and his rebel horde long will rue;
Because Sir Garnet Wolseley and his brave little band
Fought and conquered them on Kebir land.

He marched upon the enemy with his gallant band
O’er the wild and lonely desert sand,
And attacked them before daylight,
And in twenty minutes he put them to flight.

The first shock of the attack was borne by the Second Brigade,
Who behaved most manfully, it is said,
Under the command of brave General Grahame,
And have gained a lasting honour to their name.

But Major Hart and the 18th Royal Irish, conjoint,
Carried the trenches at the bayonet point;
Then the Marines chased them about four miles away,
At the charge of the bayonet, without dismay!

General Sir Archibald Alison led on the Highland Brigade,
Who never were the least afraid.
And such has been the case in this Egyptian war,
For at the charge of the bayonet they ran from them afar!

With their bagpipes playing, and one ringing cheer,
And the 42nd soon did the trenches clear;
Then hand to hand they did engage,
And fought like tigers in a cage.

Oh! it must have been a glorious sight
To see Sir Garnet Wolseley in the thickest of the fight!
In the midst of shot and shell, and the cannons roar,
Whilst the dead and the dying lay weltering in their gore

Then the Egyptians were forced to yield,
And the British were left masters of the field;
Then Arabi he did fret and frown
To see his army thus cut down.

Then Arabi the rebel took to flight,
And spurred his Arab steed with all his might:
With his heart full of despair and woe,
And never halted till he reached Cairo.

Now since the Egyptian war is at an end,
Let us thank God! Who did send
Sir Garnet Wolseley to crush and kill
Arabi and his rebel army at Kebir hill.

After Tel-el-Kebir, Brown returned with his Royal Artillery unit to India. During this
time, his medical history seems unexceptional except for a contusion obtained in an
accident on duty in Rawal Pindi in November 1882, and a 23-day episode of lumbago
while at Fort Attack in 1884.

Brown remained in India until returning to England on 20 April 1886 and
being transferred the First Class Army Reserve with the rank of gunner on 19 May,
three months before he joined the Metropolitan Police. On his discharge, his character
was noted as being ‘good.’ In his medical history, and the medical staff noted in their
‘General Remarks on his Habits and Conduct in the Service, Temperance, &c. . . Good,
Regular, Temperate.’ 

Where Did Richard Brown Meet Warren?

It is tempting to think that on one of his overseas tours of duty or even in England,
Gunner Brown’s path intersected with fellow British Army man General Sir Charles
Warren, but documentation of their association prior to both being in the Met in 1888
is so far lacking. In what manner did Warren show Brown kindness? And was that
kindness shown by Warren to the younger man while they were in the army or while
in police service? Possibly study of written army and police records, as well as the
papers of the coroner’s inquest on Brown, if still extant, will reveal these answers.

As Jeffrey Bloomfield mentioned in a 2003 article in Ripperologist, ‘The Making of the
Commissioner 1886’, Warren was in Egypt in 1882, having volunteered his services
in the Egyptian Campaign. Did the two men meet at the time Gunner Brown won his
Khedive’s Bronze Star at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and possibly serve together in the
campaign? After Warren gained fame for tracking down the killers of Professor Edward
Palmer and his expedition in Egypt in late 1882–1883, the general was recommended as
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1886. He took over as Commissioner from
Sir Edmund Henderson on 12 March 1886. Was he instrumental 5 months later in August,
in recommending that Brown to be accepted into the police force? This could be a
possible channel for investigation.

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren 

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren

Brown was discharged from the Artillery on 19 May 1886 and transferred to the
Army Reserve. His discharge date, or rather his transfer to the reserve list, made it 
convenient for him for him to join Metropolitan Police. Of interest to Ripperologists is
an indication in the army records that, on leaving the Artillery, he stated that he was
going to live in London’s East End, since he gave the General Post Office at Bethnal
Green as his postal address. Where was he living while he was in the police, and
specifically during the time of the Whitechapel murders? Would his duties in E
Division have given him an opportunity to be in the East End on the nights of the
murders?  Or could he have been one of the policemen drafted into the East End
at the time of the Ripper scare? These questions represent other areas for research. 

Questions about Richard Brown’s ‘Australian’ Background

Enquiries made for me by Australian genealogist Andrew Peake in Adelaide records have
failed to find Brown’s family at 515 Pitt Street or a father named “John” at that address
as Brown’s army records indicate. The listings failed to disclose an individual or family
who remotely resembled someone connected to Brown. Pitt Street in Adelaide, it turns
out, is a short street connecting two main streets, today filled with commercial addresses
although in the 1870’s it had some private houses. Sydney’s “Pitt St.” is a longer street.
Mr Peake checked directories for Adelaide for 1876 and 1878 but failed to find a family
named Brown or a man named “John” who might have been Richard Brown’s father.

Conclusion

What is the real story of Richard Brown? Was there some type of link between Richard
Brown’s suicide and the Whitechapel murders? Could he even have been the murderer?
His death within days after the Kelly murder on 9 November 1888 and his Jewish
background, given the possible Jewish connections to the case, make the circumstances
of his life and death worthy of study. It is also perhaps odd to note that it was on
11 Nov. 1878 that Brown deserted the Royal Artillery and joined the Second Battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers, that it was also in November ten years
later that he failed to appear on parade as a police constable in E Division of the Met,
was let go from the police on 13 Nov. 1888, and committed suicide on 16 November.
Another oddity is that the contusion Brown received while serving in India in an  accident while on duty, noted on his medical record, occurred on 2 Nov. 1882.

Is it too much to think there may have been a psychological landmark in Brown’s
past that made the month of November traumatic and that caused him psychological
distress? Or do we take it at face value that his desertion at Sheerness in November
1878 and the accident in India in November 1882 had no connection to his actions in
November 1888, i.e., his failure to appear on parade and his later apparent suicide? Was
Brown, as testified at the coroner’s enquiry, really depressed about the resignation of
Warren as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police? Or is there a deeper story concerning
Brown connected to the series of murders that occurred in London’s East End in August
through November 1888?

It might be assumed that our inability to so far to prove his Australian background and
his motley career in the army calls into question a number of ‘facts’ that Brown told
about his background. It is my working assumption that the man’s real name was not
‘Brown’ but some Eastern European name. Research continues into the strange case of
P.C. Richard Brown.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the late Adrian M. Phypers for alerting me to the story of Richard
Brown. I also thank Alex Chisholm, Andy & Sue Parlour, Debra Arif, researcher
Andrew Peake, Bernard Brown, and genealogist and researcher Mark Andrew Pardoe.

Notes

Jeffrey Bloomfield, ‘The Making of the Commissioner 1886,’ Ripperologist 47, July 2003.

Battle of Tel-el-Kebir at http://www.national-army-museum.ac.uk/pages/sudan.html

British Army Records, PRO, WO 97 2388, Richard Brown, Gunner, Royal Artillery,
4175 Descrip; Medical History and Medical History; Record of Service (Proceedings of
Attestation).

Christopher T. George, ‘The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown,’
Ripperologist 49, September 2003. This blog entry is adapted from that article
copyright Ripperologist 2003. 

“Inquest,” Jewish Chronicle, 23 November 1888.

“Inquests,” The Times, 20 November 1888. A similar report on the coroner’s enquiry into
Brown’s death appeared in “A Constable Allowed to Resign,” The Star, 20 November
1888. The Star, 17 November 1888, carried a short report to say that Brown had been
identified as the man who committed suicide in Hyde Park on the preceding day.

Jill Stratton, ed. The Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885. Adelaide, 1986.

William McGonagall On-Line, “The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir,” available at
http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/poems/pgkebir.htm

Metropolitan Police, Police Orders, 16 August 1886 [‘Joined the force this day.— . . .
E 489-72041 Richard Brown’]; 13 November 1888 [Brown’s resignation permitted]

Street Directories for Adelaide, South Australia, 1876 and 1878.

32 Responses to “The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown”

  1. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Chris, thanks for recompiling all this information. Two things: Why did the Jewish Chronicles deem it necessary to comment on Brown at the end of December? Was there some mixing of the suicides of Druitt and Brown that made it necessary to bolster Brown’s character? Next, do you have any idea where Brown’s home was and if it fits into the idea of the Ripper being someone in the immediate vicinity.? OK, three things: Finally, this “slight” breach of duty that forces resignation doesn’t make sense and one wonders why these words were chosen when clearly, the author says that he was assembled with others who were guilty, yet no evidence shows that anyone else was forced to resign. What gives?

  2. admin Says:

    Hi Mike:

    I don’t think the timing of the Jewish Chronicle story had anything to do with Druitt. They probably didn’t know anything about Druitt. What has always intrigued me about this case is the old idea that the Ripper committed suicide after the Kelly murder, and the Jewish connection. Could Brown, for example, have been one of the coppers drafted in to do duty in the East End and saw something on one of the nights of the murders, or knew something about a Jewish suspect, if he was not more directly involved in the murders? The rather unsatisfactory story of his being allowed to resign, the circumstances of his suicide and the tantalizing idea that Warren showed him kindness all add up to make for a strange story that have more to it than we presently know. I will have to re-check the information but I think Brown lived in the East End.

  3. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Thanks Chris. I was only wondering why teh Jewish Chronicles article came out so long after Brown’s death, and it makes me think that some reference to him; something suspicious about him, may have been discussed and the Chronicles came to the rescue so to speak. I can imagine the two suicides and someone thinking Brown was being discussed when it was Druitt who was spoken of and the editor wanting to nip it in the bud. Just sme confusion.

    If you find Brown’s accomodations, please let me know. If it’s in Goulston Street, maybe I don’t want to know.

    Mike

  4. Mike Ebertz Says:

    A few more things: Though I’m not a fan of profiling in any sense of detail, Brown fits my ideas of a man who could be a serial killer. He had no family and no real ties to anything, save the military. It seems that he told several lies about himself. JTR specific, his age and height aren’t so far from some witness concepts and the Tabram/soldier thing kind of scares me a bit.

  5. admin Says:

    Mike:

    In the article, I wrote:

    “Of interest to Ripperologists is an indication in the army records that on leaving the Artillery, Brown stated that he was going to live in the East End of London, giving the General Post Office at Bethnal Green as his postal address. Where was he living while he was in the police, and specifically at the time of the Whitechapel murders?”

    Maybe some researcher can pin him P.C. Richard Brown’s place of residence at the time of the crimes.

    Chris

  6. admin Says:

    Hi Mike

    I have been thinking some more about your question in regard to the timing of the Jewish Chronicle report on P.C. Brown’s suicide, published on 29 December 1888, admittedly some time after the November inquest, and whether it had anything to do with Druitt’s suicide. Your thought being that perhaps the Chronicle were trying to deflect attention from Brown as a possible Ripper suspect. Remember that Druitt’s body was not fished out of the Thames off Thornycroft’s Torpedo Factory in Chiswick until Monday, 31 December, so there could be no direct connection between the timing of the Jewish Chronicle article and Druitt. At the time that the Jewish Chronicle article appeared, as far as the world knew, Druitt was merely missing and not presumed dead. And, further, as far as anyone knew, the Whitechapel murderer was just lying low as he had in October. The idea that the killer had done away for himself took some time to germinate and to become a fully fledged idea among various parties.

    Chris

  7. Jeff Bloomfield Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Two things before I comment. Thank you for citing my article on Warren. It is very possible that he may have met Browne in Egypt in 1882-83. Browne may have assisted Warren in that murky business of questioning the Arabs about who was involved in the massacre of the Palmer Party. Secondly, I am glad to see somebody on this board rescue from the dustbin of poetic history the “Great McGonagle”. I had heard his poetic lay to the fall (in 1878) of the unfortunate first Tay River Railway Bridge. This effusion to the bayonets of Sir Garnet Wolsey - Gilbert’s model for Major General Stanley in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, is just as incredible as “A beautiful bridge o’er the silv’ry Tay.”

    I do think that Browne may have been a favorite of Warren’s at the Yard. Given his own odd military record regarding the desertion and brief loss of pension and imprisonment, Browne may have been grateful that Warren befriended and helped him. The fall of Warren may have been too much for him to bear.

    I hope more information comes out.

    Jeff

  8. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Thanks Chris. I just remembered Druitt at the end of December, but not at the very end. As far as the article on Brown, another possibility is that his Jewishness wasn’t known by the Chronicles and the article could still be a deflection.

    Mike

  9. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Sorry, I meant maybe his Jewishness wasn’t known by the Chronicles until later and could still have been a deflection.

  10. admin Says:

    Hi again Mike

    Well I am embarrassed. For some reason, I had the wrong date for the Jewish Chronicle report on the inquest into P.C. Brown’s apparent suicide. In fact, the article appeared in late November and not on 29 December as I somehow thought. The reference is “Inquest,” Jewish Chronicle, 23 November 1888, and I have so corrected it in the blog posting. Please excuse my red face!

  11. admin Says:

    Hi Jeff

    Many thanks for your comments. I appreciate your thoughts on the relationship between Sir Charles Warren and P.C. Brown, and particularly how Brown might have taken the news of Warren’s resignation which seems to have led to his committing suicide in Hyde Park.

    All the best

    Chris

  12. Mike Ebertz Says:

    No, no Chris. That all makes sense then. It was a bit of an homage to a fallen comrade…yet… were there rumors circulating? There almost had to have been.

  13. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Does the resignation of Warren come before failure to report for parade? If so, the link is pretty strong if there was indeed some affection between them.

    Mike

  14. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Yes, the resignation was on the 8th and it looks like it was accepted on the 10th and published in the papers on the 13th. I think a great little book could be written with the Kelly murder as an example to the police of how much worse things will become because Warren resigned. I’ll think on that.

    Mike

  15. admin Says:

    Thanks again, Mike. You probably know of the dissertation here on Casebook “Crisis for Scotland Yard: A Crisis Management Based Analysis of the Whitechapel Murders” by Brian W. Schoeneman at http://www.casebook.org/dissertations/schoeneman-crisis.html

    I agree that the circumstances of Warren’s resignation and the bad blood between Warren and Home Secretary Henry Matthews, unrelated to the murders, did not help the Met’s investigation into the murders.

    Glad that you continue to be intrigued by the Richard Brown story. Inasmuch as the candidacy of the Jewish suspect Leather Apron was floated like a trial balloon in early September and Jews continued to be either watched or spoken about in witness sightings (e.g., the clearly Jewish looking man with Mary Jane Kelly described by George Hutchinson), the fact that Richard Brown was a Jew might come into play in such a fraught atmosphere.

    Warren tendered his resignation on Friday, 8 November 1888 before the murder of Mary Jane Kelly in Miller’s Court sometime on Saturday morning, 9 Noember. It’s not clear if the failure to appear on parade was before or after the Kelly murder or before or after Warren’s resignation. Yes, if there was some affection between the two men and Warren had persuaded the police to accept Brown in their ranks despite his mixed record as a soldier, Richard Brown could have been genuinely upset by the turn of events. It is indeed curious that his failure to appear on parade was only regarded as a “slight breach of discipline” — the incident doesn’t seem major enough to let the man go unless there was something else going on that we are not being told. Consider the multiple infractions by beat coppers chronicled by Rob Clack and Neil Bell in their series on City of London policemen — drunk on duty, having sex with prostitute while on the beat, etc., etc., and all they received was a demotion in terms their pay grade but remained on in the service. You are correct that the mention that Brown “with others [my emphasis] appeared before the Assistant Commissioner” — which would have been Sir Robert Anderson — is also perplexing. We can only infer that they were deemed guilty of similar offenses, and yet significantly P.C. Brown seems to have been the only one of that unknown number of Met coppers who was let go at the time, as far as I have been able to determine.

  16. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Thanks for the summary of thoughts. The circumstances of Brown’s death sound odd as well with a gunshot not being reported but the sound of a whistle being heard. There is indeed an exciting novel somewhere in here, and Brown is as likely a suspect as many others. If he could be pinpointed in Bethnal Green, he wouldn;t be far from the murders, and as I mentioned, the killing of Kelly in it’s extreme violence could be a one-off, though I have never actually thought so before, and tying her death to Brown in a fictional narrative doesn’t seem all that implausible the more I dwell on it. This is interesting stuff. It seems Brown received exactly one month of pay beginning with the infamous date of 11/11 from his past. What a horrible month for the man.

  17. Phil Carter Says:

    Hello Chris,

    I am going to throw something out into the water here, but leave no apparent weight on the idea.. I must stress this.But my goodness doesn’t this sound tempting?

    Let us say, for the sake of argument, that this policeman killed Mary Kelly. He died shortly after the murder.. a comment made by many an official commentator on the personage of JTR. Now let us presume as well that the Police knew that this man may have been Kelly’s killer.. and the suspected info from the “family” re the MM, was nothing to do with Druitt at all, but with this policeman’s family.

    Now I am willing to bet that at the time, the chances of ANYONE within the Met Police/City Police actually admitting that Mary Kelly’s killer was a policeman, was a total non-starter. It would lead straight away to Jack the Ripper being a Policeman.. and that would have caused hell to freeze over in the hallways of Scotland Yard and Parliament. It would explain why MM wrote of three people that were no more suspected killers than you and I, it would explain why he chose three examples without a realistic clue of them being chased down by anyone, and it would be the perfect way for ANY deflection from anyone to cover it all up. Think about this point.. all the top cops decided on a DIFFERENT theory… it is perfect scattering away from the truth. It is the one reason in fact, that isn’t Royal, Lord, or Governmental linked, but WOULD require a cover up. In the same thought as the rest of this…
    Forget the Warren taking pity and befriending the man side of this.. that sounds to me like a red herring.

    As I said.. no weight but my goodness it would tell the truth and explain a lot of holes. You see, Anderson “in the interests of his old department” “Swanson’s maginalia” and MM3, Abberline’s comments, Reid’s comments, Major Smith’s comments, Sims’ comments.. all deflecting away from a lonely, depressed and possibly mentally troubled man who happened to be a policeman. It would also explain why so many papers were missing, and especially the Kelly papers. If the Police had finally got on the scent of the man and were closing in… I can see this being covered up.

    As I said.. without proof, I see nothing in all of this and add no weight to it.. but my goodness it is an intruiging thought, isn’t it?

    kind wishes

    Phil

  18. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Phil,

    The biggest problem then has to do, as it always does, with the Seaside Home incident that took place years after Kelly’s murder and the emphasis Swanson and Anderson put on it happening. This would then be a cover-up of monumental proportions. Yet, I am still interested in Brown as a suspect. I just can’t reconcile all those memorandums and marginalias.

    Mike

  19. Mike Ebertz Says:

    In addition: If Kelly was a one-off and Brown was trying to show the police and the public that Warren being asked to resign was a huge mistake, Kelly’s death may have been such a warning. It is a good book if nothing else.

    Mike

  20. Jeff Bloomfield Says:

    There is a serious problem regarding the death of Brown signalling a cover-up in Scotland Yard of a potential Mary Kelly suspect or Ripper in general suspect. The Yard (believe it or not) did not ordinarily do it. I wrote an article a number of years back about an 1893 case wherein a good police constable named George Cooke had tried to save a prostitute he loved from her alcoholism and lifestyle. It didn’t work, but the vicious prostitute kept after Cooke after he stopped having relations with her. Eventually he killed her while on duty near Wormwood Scrubs prison, and was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed. No attempt was made by the police to stop this trial or execution, even though many civilians felt Cooke had been driven to distraction by this woman - hence his act of desperation. Interestingly enough, Cooke was enough of a good cop that he completed his normal rounds that night after battering his ex-lover to death.

    Jeff

  21. Mike Ebertz Says:

    Jeff,

    I remember this article and a good one it was. It differs a lot from Kelly, however, in that she was considered a victim of the Ripper and not a one-off. In my opinion, that changes the idea of a cover-up completely, though I am not and have never been a believer in conspiracies. In this case, I cannot but be fascinated by several coincidences which may or may not be in the realm of normalcy.

    Mike

  22. Jeff Bloomfield Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Well there is always a possiblity of some odd connection. I also realized after I wrote the squib about P.C. Cooke that there had recently on these boards been extremely good work showing the police connection between suspect Thomas Cutbush and the police. So, despite my own questionings (and I don’t like conspiracy theories either) obviously we only have more to gain to learn more about the unfortunate P. C. Browne.

    Jeff

  23. Jeff Bloomfield Says:

    Sorry, err P. C. Brown.

  24. admin Says:

    Hi Mike, Jeff, and Phil

    First of all, Phil, thanks for expounding on that very interesting theory. Far fetched maybe, but it has the allure of all such conspiracy theories and does to an extent explain, as you say, why the various police ideas as to who the killer was are in no way consistent with each other. Smokescreen indeed! Yet as Jeff showed in his article about the murder committed by P.C. Cooke, the fact that that man was a serving policeman when he committed the murder did not stop his execution for the crime. Conceivably our laymen’s ideas of the sanctity of Scotland Yard and similarly of Royalty/Freemasonry, etc., help to fuel our desire to believe in conspiracy yarns. Still, Phil, if you wish to pursue that book and movie contract for us, I would encourage you to do so. :-)

  25. Debra Arif Says:

    Hi Chris,
    As I mentioned in my email yesterday; It’s possible that Brown was having mental health issues as far back as 1884, before he joined the Met.
    I posted an image of the relevant section of his army records to JTRforums on this thread where you previously discussed Brown:
    http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?p=152259#post152259

    Here’s is a transcript of the entry.
    Hope this is of interest.
    Debs

    Hospital-Fort Attack
    Date of arrival at station-18-7-84
    No.in admission and discharge book- 175
    Admission to hospital yy/mm/dd -84 9 18
    Discharge from hospital yy/mm/dd - 85 1 23

    Disease- No appreciable disease
    Duration of disease- 128 [days]
    treatement and observations [note spans both columns]- Full report of this case in casebook No.s 14 and 15 at Fort Attack Station Hospital. A.Kirwan surg. major
    (Had been under observation for”Incontinence of mind”)

    WO97/2388/1
    Richard Brown b 1854 Adelaide Australia
    Attestation date 8 Mar 1878
    Attestation number 4175

  26. admin Says:

    Hi Debs

    Many thanks for looking up Richard Brown’s army medical records. Unfortunately, as we discussed at JTR Forums, it appears that on closer inspection the entry actually reads “(Had been under observation for ‘Incontinence of Urine’).” This does though appear to be a different version of his medical record than the one found by my researcher, so I am interested to see it.

    One other thing, as I mentioned, I do have a copy of Richard Brown’s signature among his army records. To my mind it shows a rather primitive and immature hand, all lower case. I thought it shows something about the man’s character. I will try to scan it to post it.

  27. Mike Ebertz Says:

    I’d love to see the signature, and without sounding too far gone, I think the idea of someone immature and primitive lean a lot closer to my vision of a JTR type of killer than someone who was sophisticated and educated would.

  28. Martin Fido Says:

    A small point: the Assistant Commissioner hearing the disciplinary case against Brown would not have been Anderson, who was the junior of three Assistant Commissioners. AC C (Crime) was the most recently established of the three posts, and only had responsibility for managing the CID and Special Branch. AC A, Sir Alexander Carmichael Bruce was responsible for discipline in the uniform branch.

  29. admin Says:

    Hi Mike and Martin

    First, Martin, thank you very much for that important correction that it would have been Sir Alexander Carmichael Bruce, the Assistant Commissioner A for the Metropolitan Police responsible for discipline in the uniform branch, who would have been the Met commissioner before whom P.C. Richard Brown would have appeared, and not Sir Robert Anderson. Nice to see Sir Robert being let off the hook for something, ha ha. :) I will make that necessary correction in my notes on the case. Thanks for bringing your expertise to the board, Martin!

    Mike, I will look for Richard Brown’s signature on the copies of documents in my files and hope to post it soon.

    All the best

    Chris

  30. Pete B Says:

    I’ve just come across your very interesting site. I think I’ve spotted something of interest, which I hope hasn’t been discussed elsewhere.

    Further up this page there is a reference to “Louis Sidney Torre, of 3, Percy Square, King’s Cross” as identifying Brown’s body.

    Elsewhere on the site I came across this:
    “Evening News
    London, U.K.
    17 November 1888

    SUICIDE IN HYDE PARK.

    A man, since recognised as Louis S. Tauer, of Percy-square, King’s-cross-road, shot himself in the mouth with a revolver in Hyde Park, yesterday afternoon. He was taken to St. George’s Hospital still living, but died soon after admission.

    IDENTIFICATION

    The man who committed suicide in Hyde Park yesterday by shooting himself in the mouth with a revolver has now been fully identified as Richard Brown, a constable of the E division, belonging to Hunter-street Police-station.”

    Was the initial identification simply a reporter’s error? Or how about this - Tauer (or Torre) seems to have known a lot about Brown for a ’second uncle’ - like the exact amount of his savings. Could Brown have shot Tauer, then blown his police whistle and later posed as Tauer in order to identify the body as his own? He could then skip the country and escape justice for the Ripper murders. Just a thought!

  31. admin Says:

    Hello Pete

    What you suggest sounds a little too convoluted to be true. I believe the body was originally identified as Torre’s body because Brown had the man’s card, and it was at first thought that he was Torre. What you are suggesting rather stretches belief that it could in fact have been Torre’s body and that Brown used the incident to escape the country having done the Whitechapel murders. Not credible I think. Sorry.

  32. Billy Markland Says:

    Excellent article Chris! I’m rather late to the parade but better late than never.

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