England Sends Her Spies
According to the Simon D. Wood/Wolf Vanderlinden view of the world, there were three detectives from Scotland Yard engaged in highly secretive espionage work in the United States during (at least) December 1888. Two of them had cover stories to explain their presence while the third, for some unexplained reason, did not need any form of cover story but brazenly landed in the United States before disappearing from sight. Another view - that of R.J. Palmer - is that one of these detectives was certainly engaged in some form of covert investigative work but that the work was more regular police work, involving research into a man considered to be the prime suspect for the Whitechapel murders. In a series of three articles - the 'Suckered!' trilogy ('England Sends Her Spies', 'The Third Man' and The 'Thomas Barton Affair') - we will be considering whether any of this is credible. In this first article, we will consider the case of Thomas Barton and the puzzle of the first two detectives who were said to have landed in America in December 1888.
For Wood and Vanderlinden, the case of Thomas Barton was, in 1888, a central feature in a high level conspiracy by which a contrived pursuit of a fugitive offender was used as cover to infiltrate a British detective onto American soil in order to perform covert investigative work on behalf of the Times newspaper in respect of the inquiry being conducted by the Parnell Special Commission. Upon examination, however, as we shall see, such a notion is revealed to be, to use Simon D. Wood's words (when describing Stephen Knight's book), 'elaborate balderdash', alternatively pure, utter and unmitigated nonsense - a complete fantasy invented or perpetuated by excitable and uninformed American journalists - and that the British detective who travelled to America to chase and locate Thomas Barton did just that and nothing more. It will be seen that modern writers have been suckered by a 127 year old fabrication.
A misunderstanding of the basic facts of the Thomas Barton case sets both Wood and Vanderlinden off in the wrong direction from the very start and things go quickly downhill from there. Simon D. Wood fails even to get the nature of Barton's crime right. In his 'Smoke & Mirrors' article ('Ripperlogist' 106, Sept 2009), as re-heated in his 2015 book, 'Deconstructing Jack: The Secret History of the Whitechapel Murders', Wood claims that Barton was 'wanted in England for forging London and Northwestern Railway company stock certificates.' He was not. His offence was forging signatures on paperwork relating to the transfers of stock certificates (including those of the London and North Western Railway Company). The difference is significant. Forgery of stock certificates might well have been viewed as a major crime. But forging some signatures on transfers of stock certificates was rather different and helps explain (in part) why it took so long for a Scotland Yard detective to be sent out to arrest him in America, bearing in mind that Barton left England in 1886 and no-one went to locate him until 1888.
This delay, for Vanderlinden, is built up into an entire mystery of its own. In the first of his two articles 'On The Trail of Tumblety?' in 'Ripper Notes' 23 & 24, July & October 2005, Vanderlinden draws attention to 'some curious aspects' to the arrest. Thus, he says:
'Barton actually fled for Canada in July, 1886 but Scotland Yard did not at that time send anyone after him, even though it was known that he had friends in Manitoba, Canada, his likely destination. Nor did they do so when Barton's wife and children left Cheshire for Canada in March of 1887 and moved to Brandon, Manitoba, where Barton was living under the name of "Harry Cave". Over two years had passed, therefore, before anyone was sent to find him.'
Furthermore, Vanderlinden asks why Scotland Yard even bothered to send anyone out to find Barton at all considering that they could have asked local police or instructed private detectives. The implied answer is that Scotland Yard was not in the slightest bit interested in Thomas Barton but simply needed a reason - a cover story - to send an inspector out to America to pursue Parnell related inquiries, with all expenses covered by a private company.
Had Vanderlinden taken the time to look at the facts of the Barton case he would have solved his own self-created mystery.
Thomas Barton was the son of Samuel Barton, the Mayor of Macclesfield, who made his fortune in the manufacture of silk. When Samuel died in 1870, his family (including Thomas) inherited his wealth which included shares in a number of railway companies. Sixteen years later, in June 1886, Thomas was discovered by his family to have forged signatures on paperwork from the 1870s and 1880s which had allowed him, without his family's knowledge, to sell the family's shares in three railway companies: the London and North Western Railway Company, the North Staffordshire Railway Company and the Scinde Punjab Railway Company, and to pocket the proceeds - some £20,000 in total - for himself. Most of it had been speculated away on the stock market and he was now virtually penniless. The primary victim was a little old lady, Barton's step-mother, Ann, who was aged about 75 at the time. He confessed to her what he had done and gave her the little money he had left. It seems that Ann Barton informed the Macclesfield police of Barton's crimes but it was always going to be hard for them to prove that he had committed the forgeries, and it seems that the police intimated to him that they would not prosecute if he quietly left the country (or at least that is what Barton claimed when he was recaptured).
In any event, Barton left for America in July 1886. He was not a hunted fugitive. There was no national outcry in the newspapers, let alone a local outcry. The Macclesfield papers from 1886, such as the Macclesfield Advertiser and the Macclesfield Chronicle, do not even mention Barton and his alleged forgeries nor his supposed flight from justice. The victims of the crime existed only within the Barton family; and the defrauded shareholders were essentially Mrs Barton and her daughter. No-one was interested in Thomas Barton. No-one cared where he was.
The reason why this all changed in 1888 was due to a little old lady's determination to get her money back. Mrs Barton was never going to receive compensation from Thomas, who was broke. But there were questions to be answered by the big railway companies as to how they had allowed her son-in-law to transfer her shares on the basis of forged signatures on the paperwork. Starting in December 1886, Mrs Barton commenced legal proceedings against the railway companies, claiming that she should be restored to rightful ownership of the shares. If she won her claim, it was going to prove very costly for the railway companies, especially to the London and North Western Railway Company, whose shares comprised the majority of those alleged to have been sold fraudulently by Thomas.
Mr Justice Kay handed down his judgment in a hard fought action against the North Staffordshire Railway Company on 15 March 1888 (Times, 16.03.1888). He found in favour of the Barton family, declaring the sales of shares invalid and ordering the company to register Mrs Barton and her daughter as the true owners of the stock, ultimately requiring the railway company to compensate the Bartons to the tune of some thousands of pounds. Crucially, the judge found as a fact that Thomas Barton had forged the signatures on the stock transfers, something that the railway company had bitterly disputed.
The legal proceedings between Mrs Barton and the London and North Western Railway Company continued but the ruling of Mr Justice Kay had come as a shock to the defendant in this action. The railway company's defence, like that of the North Staffordshire Railway Company, was that Mrs Barton had signed all the paperwork herself so that the stock transfers were legitimate. The company had thought she was lying about her son-in-law being a lone forger and were alleging that she was a party to the fraud. Now that a judge had found as a matter of fact that the shares had been wrongly transferred due to Thomas Barton's forgeries they needed to reconsider their position but they did not immediately accept the judge's ruling. On the contrary, they made an application for the judge to recuse himself from the proceedings on the basis that he could not be impartial, considering that he had already decided that Thomas Barton had been responsible for the forgeries. On 9 November 1888, Mr Justice Kay reluctantly allowed the application and the case was remitted to another judge for trial (Times, 10.11.1888).
Clearly, it was very important for the London and North Western Railway Company, on the hook for most of the £20,000, to locate Thomas Barton and obtain his evidence. If he said that Mrs Barton had known he was selling the stock, and that the signatures on the transfers were genuine, it would greatly assist their defence. Even if he admitted to the crimes himself, they would still probably have needed to satisfy their shareholders that they had done everything possible to trace him.
Thus it was that the London and North Western Railway Company initiated the hunt for, and extradition of, Thomas Barton. Documents at the National Archives reveal that, on 12 November 1888, a form of indemnity (to cover Scotland Yard's costs) was lodged with the police and a description of him was provided, along with information that he was living under the name of 'Cave' (HO 46/93). This suggests that the company had already hired private detectives to do some preliminary investigative work. The description provided to the police would no doubt have stated that Barton, aged about 46 years old, was five feet five inches in height, proportionately built, with golden grey hair and beard. At this stage it was believed that he was living in the United States, probably in Philadelphia.
The London and North Western Railway Company was a large company with influential friends. It supplied the royal carriage for the Queen for her bank holiday departure to Scotland in May 1888 (Times, 22.05.1888). The company chairman, Sir Richard Moon, met the Duke of Cambridge in June 1888 when the Duke came to visit Crewe (Times, 11.06.1888). If the company wanted the police to find Thomas Barton then that was what the police were going to do. Furthermore, it is clear that the hunt for Barton was directly in the interests of the London and North Western Railway Company and was extremely important for that company in its ongoing legal battle with Mrs Barton. Wolf Vanderlinden hints at some form of complicity in a conspiracy by the railway company when he says in his 'Ripper Notes' article that, 'It would be interesting to find out what, if any, connections there were between that company and the Tory Party and/or the Times of London newspaper.' Such a line of thought will only take one down a blind alley. The facts, as we have seen, reveal that the company was in no way part of a conspiracy to send a British detective to America under false pretences; moreover that such a notion is ridiculous.
Events moved quickly. On 13 November 1888, a series of warrants was granted against Barton by the Chief Magistrate, James Taylor Ingham, and certified as authentic by the Assistant Under Secretary of State for the Home Department for the purpose of extradition under an existing Extradition Treaty between Great Britain and the United States (HO 134/10). At the same time, a request was made by an official at the Home Office to the Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office that Lord Salisbury, the Foreign Secretary, would 'make application to the Government of the United States for the surrender of this man under the provisions of the Extradition Treaty' (HO 134/10).
The letter from the Home Office to the Foreign Office of Tuesday, 13 November 1888 concluded:
'A description of the accused is attached, with particulars of the place he was last heard of but I am to say that it is proposed that Inspector Jarvis of the Metropolitan Police accompanied by a person who can identify Barton should start from this country on Saturday next [17 November] for the purpose of assisting in tracing and discovering him, and that it is not desired that any action should be taken, beyond making the form of application for his surrender, before their arrival in the United States. Inspector Jarvis will take with him the originals of the warrants of arrest and the information.'
So, within twenty-four hours of the indemnity being provided by the London and North Western Railway Company, the Home Office had moved fast and decided that it was appropriate for a Scotland Yard inspector to take charge of the investigation and leave almost immediately at the weekend.
On the same day, the Home Office informed the London and North Western Railway Company that the papers in the Barton case had been forwarded to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who had been asked to make application to the United States government for Barton's surrender (HO 134/10). After having been authenticated by the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, and the United States Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St James in London, Edward Phelps, the documents were duly despatched to Sir Michael Henry Herbert, Her Majesty's Charge d'Affaires at the British Legation in Washington, on 17 November (HO 46/93; FO 5/2040).
As planned, Inspector Fred Jarvis sailed for America on Saturday, 17 November 1888, and arrived in New York on Tuesday, 27 November (Philadelphia Times, 21.02.1889). The man chosen to accompany him for the purpose of identifying Barton was Edward Plant, the son of police inspector William Plant of Macclesfield and someone who had known Barton all his life. We know from documents in the National Archives (as will be seen in 'The Thomas Barton Affair') that Inspector Jarvis spent the first week of December 1888 in Philadelphia, where Barton was believed to be living.
It was essential that Inspector Jarvis' mission was kept secret because it would have been obvious that if Thomas Barton knew that there was a Scotland Yard detective hunting for him in America he would go to ground. As it transpired, he could not be located in Philadelphia. Instead, Jarvis received information that Barton, or Cave, was living in Canada, probably in Manitoba. Hence, on 7 December 1888, Jarvis travelled to Canada, stopping en route for one day in Chicago. At some point, Inspector Jarvis might have sought the assistance of the Pinkerton agency in the hunt for Barton (although we have no evidence that he did so at this early stage). It was always going to be difficult in a country the size of America for a single police detective to hunt down an individual fugitive, especially as it wasn't even clear whether he was in the United States or Canada.
Despite Inspector Jarvis' obvious hope that his work in America would be kept secret, it became known that he was in the country and, as no-one was aware that he was there to hunt Barton, this led to some wild speculation, particularly amongst the Irish Nationalists, that he was up to something to do with Parnell. During the previous year, a former Scotland Yard inspector, Maurice Moser, had become notorious following an evidently unsuccessful attempt to obtain information about Fenian activity while undercover in New York in the summer of 1887 before his cover was blown and he was exposed. The atmosphere of paranoia which existed in America during 1888 was a direct result of this fiasco and it was inevitable that any appearance of an English detective in the U.S. would instantly be connected with Moser's controversial activities.
A further reason for suspicion was caused by a standard adjournment of the Parnell Special Commission sittings on Friday, 14 December 1888 until Tuesday, 15 January 1889. This was essentially a planned recess due to the fact that the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Commission inquiry was being heard, did not sit from the end of the Michaelmas term on 21 December to the second week of January, when Hilary term would commence, and was effectively closed for the vacation. To the extent that the Commission stopped sitting a week before the end of term, this appears to have been explained during the final sitting of 1888 by the Attorney-General, acting for the Times, who said: 'There are three or four witnesses with respect to whom my learned friend has asked for the cross-examination to be postponed' (Times, 15 December 1888). Yet, it was widely believed by Irish Nationalist sympathisers that the recess had been orchestrated by the Times in order to allow itself more time to hunt for evidence against Parnell.
A story broke in the New York Herald on Sunday, 16 December 1888, and separately in the Chicago Daily Tribune of the same day, both stories apparently sourced from a single agency story (a 'special') of the previous day. The version in the Chicago Daily Tribune was an abridged version of the New York Herald story. It is worth reproducing the New York Herald story, headlined 'ENGLAND SENDS HER SPIES', in full:
'ENGLAND SENDS HER SPIES.
SCOTLAND YARD DETECTIVES HERE SEARCHING FOR EVIDENCE TO CONVICT PARNELL.
In connection with the real or supposed pranks of British detectives in America some queer things reach the HERALD office from time to time. Here is one of the last statements that comes from Kansas City, and is guaranteed by what must be accepted as competent authority on the Irish national side:-
Fred Jervis (sic), a well known Scotland Yard man, has been in America during the last couple of months. Mr Jervis, it seems, makes the same mistake that all his predecessors have made in this country - that of telling all about their mission, for the evident purpose of impressing the barbarians of this hemisphere with an idea of their importance and awfully imposing social position in England.
Mr. Jervis is reported to have committed the incomprehensibly grave offense of sneering at one Mozier [Moser], who it will be remembered, had to return to England discomfited, after failing in his mission, which was that of obtaining information about the movements of Irish-American conspirators, and particularly those of the dynamitards. Mr. Jervis is reported to have acknowledged that he was here, in fact, from Scotland Yard, and that he would succeed in getting evidence on behalf of the Times to connect Mr. Parnell and the Parnellites with the crimes charged against them.
A SCOTLAND YARD SWELL HERE.
It was known in New York on Friday last that Chief Inspector Shore, superintendent of the criminal investigation department of the London Metropolitan Police, arrived and proceeded without loss of time to Kansas City. There he was to meet with the representative of the Pinkertons and with Mr. Fred Jervis.
It has been ascertained beyond what is considered the possibility of a doubt that for several years back three of Pinkerton's detectives have been working in the Irish national secret societies, and that during the period of their services they have earned the salary of $15 per day each. One of these three is asserted to be a Mr. McParland, who got into the Mollie Maguire society some years ago and accomplished the breaking up of that organization through the hanging of several of its members. Mr. McParland, it is said, sends his reports directly to Scotland Yard. He is now in Chicago working up business matters there among such perturbed members of the Clann-ne-Gael and the traitors in its ranks as will listen to his wily insinuations.
An Irish nationalist paid a visit to the Pinkertons' office, in this city, yesterday. He found it under the direction of Manager Bangs, who, however, did not know the nationalist. The Irishman wanted some extraordinary business attended to, which could not go through without reference to Mr. Shore. This delicate point of reference had the desired effect of suddenly releasing the cat from her proverbial bag. Mr Bangs acknowledged that the Pinkertons are in the habit of doing business (Irish included) with Scotland Yard through the medium of Inspector Shore.
DEVELOPMENTS TO COME
So far as may be predicted from the present outlook there is a good chance of some rare developments taking place soon in connection with the junketings of Scotland Yard men on this side of the ocean. The detectives are thought to have brought over loads of gold with them from the hoarded treasures of the Bank of England, and to be prepared to pay it out without stint for such evidence as may contribute to the conviction of Mr. Parnell.
It is believed that the adjournment of the Parnell Commission until after New Year has an object in view that the Parnellite lawyers did not immediately perceive. The fact appears to be that the Times' side of the case had exhausted its evidence - that is, evidence of any primary importance - and it became necessary for that "party of the first part" to call a halt, so that the scattered forces of the prosecution might be rallied and reinforced by recruits from America. In other words, the Times' lawyers are waiting for the results of the detective work which is now being so actively carried on in this country.
IS IT PHELAN THEY WANT?
One can, of course, imagine how a city like Chicago, because of its population and the large number of Irish citizens who live there, might well be the theatre of criminal investigation by foreign police agents; but Kansas City? One would think that she was above suspicion when it is considered that her Irish population amounts to little more than a corporal's guard. Yet here are the astute police agents of England and the Pinkerton men nosing around that cold little Western town as if they were about to get a prize of the first magnitude. The only prominent Irishmen who live out there now are Captain Phelan (who some time ago came near being carved into mincemeat by Dick Short in O'Donovan Rossa's office) and Colonel Mike Boland, whom everybody knows. The doughty Captain is now out of Irish national politics.'
For the purpose of completeness and comparison, the shorter Chicago Daily Tribune version of the story was as follows:
'EVIDENCE AGAINST THE PARNELLITES
Scotland Yard Detectives Said to Be at Work In This Country
NEW YORK. Dec 15 - [Special] - Several Scotland Yard detectives are in this country looking up evidence for the Times suit against Parnell. Fred Jervis of Scotland Yard has been in this country and he is now at Kansas City. It was known in New York Friday last that Chief Inspector Shore, Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department of London Metropolitan Police, arrived and proceeded without loss of time to Kansas City. There he was to meet with the representative of the Pinkertons and with Fred Jervis. It has been ascertained beyond what is considered the possibility of a doubt that for several years three of the Pinkerton detectives have been working in the Irish National secret societies, and during the period of their services they have earned a salary of $15 a day each. One of these three is asserted to be a Mr. McParland, who got into the Mollie Maguire Society some years ago and accomplished the breaking up of that organization through the hanging of several of its members. Mr. McParland, it is said, sends his reports directly to Scotland Yard. He is now in Chicago, working up business matters there among such perturbed members of the Clan-na-Gael and the traitors in the ranks as will listen to his wily insinuations.'
There are a number of points worthy of comment arising out of the much longer New York Herald story. The first is that the editor does not appear to be sure whether it is based on truth or not, thus referring to 'real or supposed pranks of British detectives.' Furthermore, the source of the story is said to be an Irish Nationalist from Kansas City, which should raise all kinds of red flags.
It is fair to say that the New York Herald story is based on at least one germ of truth in that Inspector Jarvis had been in the United States (even if, at the time the story was published, he was in Canada). This fact does not appear to have been previously reported (or at least no record of it has so far been found) so that this single true fact could be said to give the story some credibility. At the same time, the notion that Jarvis had 'brought over loads of gold' from the 'hoarded treasures of the Bank of England' reveals that a certain amount of imagination has been incorporated into the piece.
The author of the article was simply wrong to say that Jarvis was after information about the movements of Irish-American conspirators. He was there to find Thomas Barton. That was his mission and it was a very important one, having been assigned to him by the Home Office on behalf of a wealthy and influential British corporation. Whether he had attempted to mislead naïve Americans into thinking that he was doing something else or whether those Americans put two and two together to come up with five is something we cannot know but the inspector would surely not have been too unhappy to find that misleading information about his mission was appearing in the American press.
The other obvious point of interest in the New York Herald story is the mention of the arrival in New York 'on Friday last' of 'Chief Inspector Shore, superintendent of the criminal investigation department of the London Metropolitan Police.' This was clearly a reference to Superintendent John Shore of the C.I.D.
Without a second English detective, the story would not have worked. If the New York Herald had simply been reporting the arrival in the country of Inspector Jarvis there would, in truth, have been no story. It had to be in the plural so that the headline could refer to English 'spies' and 'Scotland Yard detectives' crawling around in the United States. Bearing in mind that the source of the story is an Irish Nationalist, can we rely on it as a statement of fact that Superintendent Shore was really in America in 1888?
We will see in 'The Thomas Barton Affair' that Robert Anderson, the Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, had no knowledge of Shore being in America at this time, and he would certainly have known, had the report been true. Those familiar with the story will be aware that the Pinkerton detective agency issued a number of denials that Shore was in America. What is generally not known is that the first of these denials appeared in print as early as 22 December 1888. In a response to the Chicago Daily Tribune story of 16 December 1888, William A. Pinkerton, the General Superintendent of the Western Division of Pinkerton's, sent the following letter to the editor of the Tribune dated 21 December (which was published in the newspaper of 22 December):
'The Pinkertons Not in the Case.
CHICAGO, Dec. 21 - [Editor of the Tribune] - In the issue of your paper of Sunday, Dec. 16, I noticed an article headed "Evidence against the Parnellites," purporting to be a copy of a "special" from New York of Dec. 15 in which it is stated that several Scotland Yard detectives are in this country looking up evidence for the Times' suit against Parnell, and that Inspector Fred Jarvis of Scotland Yard has been in this country and is now at Kansas City, and that Chief Inspector Shore, Superintendent Criminal Investigation Department, arrived and proceeded without loss of time to Kansas City, there to meet representatives of the "Pinkertons." The article goes on to say that for several years three of Pinkerton's detectives have been working in the Irish National secret societies. Now, I have to state that Pinkerton's National Detective Agency never did any work looking up evidence for the Times' suit against Mr. Parnell, and I wish here to contradict the above statement positively. The agency has never obtained a particle of evidence against Parnell and has never been requested to hunt up evidence by either the Times or the British Government. I know of my own knowledge that Superintendent Shore is in England at the present time, and that Mr. McParland, who, it is asserted in the article is one of my detectives looking up this evidence, is not doing so, but is located as superintendent of my branch office at Denver, Colo., and is there now and has been constantly there for nearly a year. We do not know where Inspector Fred Jarvis is. I take this occasion and means to contradict every statement in the above article. There is not a particle of truth in it, as we have never done any work on the matter.'
It does need to be borne in mind that Pinkerton was putting his own credibility on the line here. In saying that to his own knowledge, Superintendent Shore (whose rank he stated correctly) was in England, he was opening himself up to contradiction from anyone who had actually seen Shore in the United States. It is notable that no-one ever stepped forward to contradict Pinkerton, despite further denials in similar form being published in a number of other newspapers over the next few weeks. In the New York Tribune of 26 January 1889, a letter from Robert Pinkerton stated: 'I know of my own knowledge that Superintendent Shore has not been in this country for a number of years.' One should really pause and ask oneself, in view of Pinkerton's statement that there was 'not a particle of truth' in the Chicago Tribune report, whether the story about 'Chief Inspector Shore' was not a pure fabrication.
It is also notable that William Pinkerton did not say that both Shore and Jarvis were in England at this time. If he was lying, why would he have made the distinction between the two? How could he have known that Jarvis' presence in the country would one day be officially confirmed while Shore's would never be? The only sensible conclusion is that Pinkerton was telling the truth about Shore being in England.
There is no named source confirming that the person apparently identified as Shore (assuming that there was any truth at all in the story) was in fact Superintendent Shore, as opposed to someone who looked like him, and we can see that Shore's rank is wrongly stated as chief inspector which should raise another red flag. We can also say for a fact that he could not possibly have met Inspector Jarvis in Kansas City because (as we shall see in part 3 of this trilogy), Jarvis never went to Kansas City at any time in 1888. Simon D. Wood, however, swallows this story in its entirety. He expresses absolutely no doubt that Superintendent Shore was in America at this time, even though there is not a single piece of reliable documentary evidence that he was there. He simply never questions the assumption but treats it as a matter of confirmed historical fact, as does Wolf Vanderlinden.
It seems unlikely that Shore was in America at any time during this period because the job of superintendent was to, well, superintend, and he had a very busy department - which was then hunting the Whitechapel murderer - to superintend.
But let us put to rest one canard, namely that a cover story was circulated in London that Superintendent Shore was sick when he was in reality gallivanting around in New York and Kansas City on behalf of the Times. In his 2009 Ripperologist article, Simon D. Wood, with reference to Tumblety's arrival in New York on what he evidently thought was 3 December 1888, says of Superintendent Shore, 'It cannot have been by pure chance that he arrived in New York just four days later'. Then, in a post on the Jack the Ripper Casebook forum dated 11 April 2010 ('Tumblety's Past; Not Tumblety Today - Andrews' True Agenda' #87), Wood, noting that Wolf Vanderlinden had written, 'Interestingly, however, when Sir Charles Warren resigned in November of 1888, Shore was away on sick leave', picked up on the conspiratorial implications of this and commented: 'What a fantastic coincidence, then, that Shore should arrive in New York on 7th December 1888. Factor in an eight or nine day voyage and that has him leaving London in late November.'
Despite saying confidently in the above mentioned 2010 posting that Shore arrived in New York on 7 December 1888 (on the basis of the Chicago Daily Tribune story of 16 December 1888, which said that Shore arrived in New York 'on Friday last'), in his 2015 book, Wood now suggests that a reference in a Philadelphia newspaper to a mysterious 'Detective Inspector Soyle', who is said to have arrived in New York aboard the SS Elbe on 21 November 1888, may in fact be a reference to Superintendent Shore. As Wood mentions in a footnote in his book, some of the biographical details provided by the newspaper, at least in respect of length of service in the force, are similar to Shore's. Wood includes in the footnote the fact that the Philadelphia reporter states that Soyle was meant to be heading west to visit his eldest son who was engaged in farming, although he omits to mention that the newspaper also reported that: 'His visit to the country is purely one of pleasure.' Wood notes without comment in the same footnote that the Times of 16 November reported Superintendent Shore to be on sick leave.
Where this leaves Wood's previous claim that Shore arrived in New York on 7 December - and especially where this leaves the credibility, in his view, of the Chicago Daily Tribune story - is unclear. Had Wood known in 2010 when he made his internet posting that the source of Vanderlinden's information that Shore was on sick leave at the time of Warren's resignation was the Times of 16 November 1888, he might not have been so confident that this was a 'fantastic coincidence'. As Wood now appreciates, the Times (and other newspapers) on 16 November 1888 reported a gathering the previous day, at Sir Charles Warren's private residence, of the superintendents of the various divisions of the Metropolitan Police in order to make a leaving presentation to their boss. The Times noted that, 'The only absentees were Superintendents Shore and Steel, who are on sick leave, and Superintendent Butt, who is out of London at present.'
It will be seen immediately that the timing does not work for Wood's original theory. If Shore arrived in New York on 7 December 1888, he would not have needed a cover story to explain his absence from work three weeks earlier on 15 November. In fact, as of 15 November 1888, the mundane truth is that Superintendent Shore was off sick from work with eczema. This is evident from his personnel file in the National Archives (MEPO 3/2 3/2883):
As can be seen, it is recorded that Shore took 17 days sick leave from 3 November 1888 to 19 November 1888.
According to procedure, Shore's leave of absence was noted in Police Orders of 3 November 1888, which stated:
'MEDICAL AND SICK - SUPERINTENDENTS (Consolidated Orders, Sec II, par.21, page 455) -
C.O. (C.I.D.) Chief Inspector Greenham will have charge of C.I. Department (C.O.) during the illness of Superintendent Shore. - (R.A.)':
The Police Orders confirm that Shore was in London until at least 27 November 1888 because the P.O. for 24 November 1888 states:
'PERSONS - INJURY ON DUTY (Consolidated Orders, Sec IV, par.141, page 490) BOARD -
C.O.-C.I.D. A Board, consisting of A.C. Bruce Esq. (Assistant Commissioner), Colonel Roberts (Chief Constable), W.F.M. Staples Esq. (Chief Clerk), and Superintendent Shore (C.O.-C.I.D.) will assemble at Scotland-yard at 11.30a.m. 27th inst., to consider the case of Inspector Lansdowne.
The Inspector should be present if possible. - (A.C.B.)':
Self-evidently, therefore, Superintendent Shore was not the 'Detective Inspector Soyle' who arrived in New York on 21 November 1888. We don't even need to mention that Shore only had one son, John Willis Shore, a 21-year-old law graduate, who, a few weeks earlier, on 6 & 7 November 1888, had taken (and passed) his final law society examination (Times, 24.11.1888) and who, according to the 1890 Law List, was admitted to practise as a solicitor in February 1889.
There is no Police Order in December 1888 which categorically proves that Superintendent Shore was in London during that month but we should note the following in Police Orders of 19 December 1888.
'PERSONS - INJURY ON DUTY (Consolidated Orders, Sec IV, par.141, page 490 and P.O. 24th ult) BOARD -
C.O. (C.I.D.). The Board to consider the case of Inspector Lansdowne will re-assemble at Scotland Yard at 12 noon 20th inst.
The Inspector should be present if possible.'
So here we have an instruction that a Board, of which Superintendent Shore was one of only four members, should meet at noon on 20 December 1888. While it cannot be proved from the police orders that Superintendent Shore was in London between 28 November and 19 December 1888, it does not look like he was in America on 20 December at least, because he would have been at a meeting to discuss the case of Inspector Lansdowne (who wanted to retire on a special pension due to health issues relating to his nerves after a criminal he tried to arrest had attempted to murder him with a loaded revolver at the start of the year).
When we consider the New York Herald report of 16 December, we can see a chink of light as to how Superintendent Shore's name entered the frame. An Irish Nationalist appears to have made some enquiries at Pinkerton's detective agency and learnt that the agency conducted business with Scotland Yard through Superintendent Shore. This makes sense and we can perceive how, in the paranoid atmosphere of December 1888, with the Parnell Special Commission inquiry ongoing (but adjourned) and memories of Inspector Moser still fresh, the ghostly image of Shore was seen walking through New York and Kansas City. In the knowledge that Inspector Jarvis was (or was believed to be) in the country, it seems that a rumour, and it was nothing more than that, was created of the corresponding appearance of the superintendent - still believed to be a chief inspector (a rank he had not actually held since July 1886) - from Scotland Yard.
With the assistance of two influential newspapers, the story of these two Scotland Yard officers in America was now in circulation and nothing, certainly not Pinkerton's clear denial, was going to stop it from spreading and expanding. Everything that happened next was a result of this single story.
By unfortunate coincidence, there was, in fact, a second Scotland Yard detective in North America at the time of the publication of the New York Herald story. For any gullible Americans, of course, it would be the third detective. The American press hadn't appreciated the existence of this other detective at the time of the publication of the New York Herald article but, once it did, well it was obvious why he was there wasn't it? In addition to Jarvis, who genuinely was in North America, and Shore who was not, the Americans had found The Third Man.
We will see in 'The Third Man' that Inspector Andrews was not in fact the third man, or even the second man, in this supposed trio of Fenian hunters, but he was in Canada to transport a prisoner in custody from England, exactly as he was supposed to be doing.
First published: 21 May 2015
Republished: 30 August 2023