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The Thomas Barton Affair

In the Wood/Vanderlinden view of history, Inspector Jarvis had nothing to do with the arrest of Thomas Barton which occurred in January 1889.  All the work was done by the Pinkerton detective agency leaving Jarvis, says Vanderlinden, 'free to pursue other interests, if he had a mind to, while offering a plausible cover story (much as in Inspector Andrews' case) for the reason that he was travelling around the United States and Canada.'  For Simon D. Wood, 'All in all, Barton appears to have been nothing but a convenient cover for Jarvis's true business in America'.  It doesn't appear to have occurred to either of them that, if Barton was Jarvis' cover, that cover had been blown out of the water by the reports in the New York and Chicago newspapers on 16 December 1888 and subsequent furore  (see 'England Sends Her Spies').  How could Jarvis possibly have hoped to maintain a cover story when his supposedly true intentions had been revealed to the world?  Surely, all he could do was return to England in shame and leave Barton to the Pinkertons.  In fact, the reason why Jarvis did not come home in December 1888 is because he was then fully engaged in hunting Barton.

In respect of matters after Jarvis returned to England, Simon D. Wood leaves Wolf Vanderlinden way behind on the conspiracy theory front.  For Wood has it in his head that there was a huge, high level conspiracy to cover-up what Jarvis had really been doing in America.  It is a conspiracy, for Wood, that somehow involves the resignation of James Monro as Commissioner of Police (although Wood can never quite work out how this fits in but he seems to think it must do because of the timing).  In describing this cover-up, Wood bets the ranch on the accuracy of some allegations against Inspector Jarvis made by the Liberal Member of Parliament, Henry Labouchere, both in the House of Commons and in print.  It is strange that he does so because Labouchere was sued by Jarvis for libel and, rather than defend his allegations in court, he paid a sum of money to Jarvis to settle the action and admitted in public that he was mistaken.  For Simon D. Wood, such a simple and straightforward scenario cannot possibly be true.  No, Labouchere was 'manoeuvred into a retraction', although  Wood never explains how this was even possible.  But you see, according to Wood, Labouchere cannot have been mistaken; because Labouchere, protected by parliamentary privilege for anything he said in the House of Commons, would not have published his allegations in a weekly journal, 'if he hadn't been absolutely certain of the truth of his allegations.'  It is peculiar that Wood does not seem to be aware that many journalists publish false allegations and have done since the start of time. Even if Labouchere was, in his own mind, 'certain' of the truth of his allegations, it does not mean that they were correct.  We will see in this final article in the trilogy that they were, of course, false.


Thomas Barton was a hard man to find, no doubt because he moved around North America quite a lot.  According to his reported testimony following his arrest, 'after leaving Canada, he passed into Dakota, thence to Chicago, thence to New York and finally to Philadelphia.'  The time frame for these movements is not made clear (and one possibly inaccurate report said he had been in Philadelphia for a year before his arrest) but it is quite possible that he became spooked when he discovered that private detectives on behalf of the London and North Western Railway were asking questions about him and he went into hiding.  As we saw in 'England Sends Her Spies', the London and North Western Railway had not only obtained a description of Barton but had learnt of his alias, 'Cave', so those enquiries (which must have been made) might have become known to the fugitive.  He was initially believed to be in Philadelphia but Jarvis couldn't find him there so travelled to the British North West Territories in Canada and thence to Manitoba, where Barton's wife was believed to be living.

All went quiet for some time but there is an important letter in the National Archives from a Home Office official to the Under Secretary of State at the Colonial Office dated 29 December 1888 (CO 42/797) as follows (underlining added):


I am directed by Mr Secretary Matthews to transmit to you, to be laid before the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the enclosed authenticated copies of warrant for the arrest of Thomas Barton on charges of forgery and uttering, and of the information on which the same were granted, and I am to request that you will move Lord Knutsford to apply to the Government of Canada for the surrender of this man under the Fugitive Offenders Act 1881 in the event of his being found in that colony.

The accompanying copies of a letter [dated 28 December 1888 but not extant] from the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, and of a police report explain the circumstances under which it is believed Barton is in Canada.

A description of the accused is also enclosed.'

So, at this point in late December 1888, not only is Thomas Barton believed to still be in Canada but someone has prepared a police report explaining the reasons for this.  Now, which British detective would have prepared such a report?  Did Scotland Yard have a man in Canada?  Yes, they did!  Inspector Jarvis would almost certainly have been the author of this report for he was the man engaged on the mission of locating the fugitive.

We may also note that, with Barton having originally been believed to be in the U.S.A., warrants for his surrender had been sent to Washington but, as a result of Jarvis' investigations in Canada, a new set of warrants for Canada needed to be authenticated, which had been done, and it now remained for them to be provided to the Canadian authorities.

Then we have this from the Home Office to the solicitor for the London and North Western Railway dated 29 December 1888 (HO 134/10) to keep the company updated on the progress of the investigation:


With reference to your letter of 27th instant with regard to the case of Thomas Barton, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that the first papers in this case were received in this department yesterday evening, and that he has now forwarded them to the Colonial Office, and asked Lord Knutsford to apply to the Canadian Government for Barton's surrender under the Fugitive Offender's Act 1881, in the event of his being found in Canada.  Mr Matthews understands that Inspector Jarvis is now in Canada and is engaged in endeavouring to chase the fugitive.'

There we have the clearest possible contemporary evidence - sourced direct from the Home Office - that Inspector Jarvis was in Canada endeavouring to chase Thomas Barton at the end of December 1888.  That is exactly what he was supposed to be doing and exactly what we would expect him to be doing.  It is not surprising.

Also on 29 December 1888, the Home Office wrote to Robert Anderson (HO 134/10), as follows:


I am directed by Mr Secretary Matthews to return to you herewith the original warrants and information in the case of Thomas Barton which were submitted in your letter of yesterday, and to say that they have been authenticated in the usual way with the Secretary of State's seal. The copies have been forwarded to the Colonial Office with a request that the Secretary of State for the Colonies may apply to the Canadian Government for the surrender of Barton under the Fugitive Offenders Act 1881 in the event of his being found in Canada.'

On 2 January 1889, a warrant for Barton's arrest was sent to the Governor-General of Canada (CO 340/4).  On the same day, it was discovered by the Home Office that there was a problem with the warrants which had  previously been sent to Washington and forwarded from Washington to the British Consul in Philadelphia, Captain Robert Charles Clipperton. They had been returned by the Charges d'Affaires in Washington to the Foreign Secretary under cover of a letter dated 18 December 1889 (CO 42/796) which had stated as follows:

'My Lord,

With reference to your Lordship's despatch No. 17 Treaty of November 17 respecting the Barton Extradition case, I have the honour to inform your Lordship that it appears from Captain Clipperton's despatch [dated 14 December 1888], copy of which is enclosed, that the papers forwarded to the above mentioned despatch are pronounced by the Counsel engaged to conduct the case, to be defective in the instance of the certificates of the Home Secretary and of the United States Minister in London....The Counsel engaged in the present case requires an amended certificate from the Home Secretary and United States Minster...and I should be obliged if your Lordship will cause the certificates to be drawn out...and returned to me as soon as possible in order to allow this case being proceeded with.'

This led to a letter from the Home Office to the Foreign Office dated 5 January 1889 (HO 134/10) as follows (underlining added):


I have laid before Mr Secretary Matthews your letter of 2nd instant transmitting a despatch (herewith returned) from Her Majesty's Charge des Archives (sic) at Washington returning the documents sent in support of the claim for Barton's extradition and asking that an amended form of authentication should be adopted in this case, and I am to say for the information of the Marquis of Salisbury in reply to the inquiry in your letter that Mr Matthews does not consider it desirable to alter the form of certificate which was settled in 1883 on the advice of Mr Manbury, Counsel for the British Consul-General at New York, who was employed in the Wadge case, and who suggested this form in order to meet the difficulties that actually arose in that case and which has been accepted by the United States Courts in all subsequent cases.

I am to suggest that a copy of Mr Manbury's letter of 13th April 1883, a print of which is enclosed, should be communicated to Her Majesty's Representative at Washington in order that if the same point should be raised by Counsel in any other case it may not be necessary again to refer the question to this country.

I am to add that it is now believed that the man Barton has gone to Canada; and that application has been made to the Colonial Government for his surrender under the Fugitive Offenders Act, but the Secretary of State thinks the enclosed papers should be sent again to Washington in order that immediate action may be taken in the event of Barton's returning to the United States.'

So, as at 5 January 1889, it was still believed at the Home Office (and no doubt by Scotland Yard too) that Barton was in Canada but they wanted to keep their options open in case he re-emerged in the U.S.A.

At about this point, Inspector Jarvis appears to have devised a cunning plan to discover Barton's whereabouts. According to a story he told to a Daily Telegraph reporter on his retirement (Daily Telegraph, 21.11.1897):

'Barton was tracked by a trick.  A detective, disguised as a letter carrier, called on Mrs Barton [in Canada] one day, and pulling from his pouch a horribly scrawled registered letter, asked if she was expecting a communication from America.  On her claiming it she was asked what part of America, and replied Philadelphia.  To make the arrest then was a comparatively easy task.'

Barton was located in Philadelphia and apprehended by a Detective Phillips of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency (HO 144/200/A47235).  He was detained in custody at the local office of the Pinkerton Agency.  On 10 January 1889, the British Consul in Philadelphia, Captain Clipperton, swore an affidavit for Magistrate Durham in respect of Barton's offences in England (Philadelphia Inquirer, 23.01.1889). This was submitted as evidence in support of an application for a warrant to arrest Barton until a formal extradition hearing. A warrant for Barton's arrest was issued by Magistrate Durham on the same day (HO 144/200/A47235).  This was in line with standard procedure in extradition cases between the United States and Great Britain whereby a person accused of a crime such as forgery could be detained on remand on the basis of information provided to a magistrate until the arrival of the papers from across the sea. For that reason, there were inevitably long remands in extradition cases to allow for sufficient time for the papers to arrive.  In this case, the magistrate set the next hearing for 22 January.  Barton remained in custody at Pinkerton's office in Philadelphia at his own request, preferring to stay there rather than the local jail.

It will be noted that the warrant for the arrest was not issued until after Barton had actually been detained.  The legality of this situation was highly questionable.  A private detective working for Pinkerton had no power of arrest on his own accord. 

Captain Clipperton informed the British Legation at Washington of Barton's arrest by telegram on 10 January 1889 (FO 5/2056). He also asked for the certificates of authentication of the relevant documents, as amended, to be returned as soon as possible for the purpose of the extradition proceedings.  Michael Henry Herbert, the Charges d'Affaires in Washington, telegraphed London by way of update on the same day and, on 11 January 1889, Godfrey Lushington at the Home Office wrote to Robert Anderson (HO 134/10) as follows:


With reference to your letter of 28th ultimo respecting the fugitive offender Thomas Barton from this country, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that Barton is reported in a telegram yesterday to be in Philadelphia.'

On Friday, 11 January 1889, Inspector Jarvis arrived at Pinkerton's office along with Edward Plant, to identify Barton, carrying forty-four warrants with him for Barton's arrest. Plant wasn't actually needed.  As soon as Jarvis confronted him with the warrants, Barton admitted his identity and confessed his guilt to the Scotland Yard man.

The arrest of Thomas Barton was reported by the Philadelphia correspondent of the Times and published in the Times of Monday, 14 January 1889:

'Thomas Barton, alias Cave, of Macclesfield, England, has been arrested here on the charge of forging stock transfers of the London and North Western Railway Company to the value of £20,000.  This arrest was effected through the skill of Inspector Jarvis of Scotland-yard, who came out for the purpose. The prisoner is held in custody pending an application for his extradition.'

It is to be noted that the Times' report does not say that Inspector Jarvis personally arrested Barton, only that the arrest was effected through his skill.  The fact that he was either in Canada or on his way to Philadelphia at the time of Barton's apprehension (on 9 January) does not mean that he was not a central part of the investigation in locating Barton's whereabouts from Canada and in passing on that information to the Pinkerton's agency to enable Barton to be physically detained.

That Jarvis was indeed the key to finding Barton is confirmed by a report in the New York Times of 23 January 1889 which said that Barton's wife was found 'after a long hunt' living near Brandon City, Manitoba, and that: 'Jarvis going there, secured information' which enabled the arrest to occur.  The New York Times said that Jarvis personally arrested Barton at a boarding house known as the 'Bradford Times' in Germantown, near Philadelphia, but this must be an error.

Simon D. Wood appears to suggest that Jarvis was not interested in Barton's arrest due to a report in the New York Times of 22 January 1889, supposedly filed from St Paul, Minnesota, on 21 January, which said that the inspector had stopped over in St Paul for three days on his way to Philadelphia as a guest of local police officials.  Unknown to Wood, this report was an abridged version of a longer report that had earlier appeared in The Manitoba Daily Press of 21 January 1889, with a filed date from St Paul of 20 January.  The Manitoba version says that, after the apprehension of Barton by R.J. Linden, the superintendent of the Pinkerton agency (who did not in fact actually apprehend Barton), at Philadelphia, the following occurred:

'In returning from Winnipeg, Inspector Jarvis who was then in no hurry, knowing that his man was safely bagged, stopped over in St. Paul three days, being the guest of the local police officials, and Supt McGenn [McGinn] of Pinkerton's St. Paul agency.  He was not travelling incog. and while here was introduced to many prominent citizens.  He made many friends.'

On the face of it, this report does not support Wood's thesis because it contains within it the explanation for Jarvis stopping in St Paul, namely that 'his man was safely bagged' so that he was in no hurry.  As Barton's first appearance before the magistrate was on 22 January 1889 - at which hearing Jarvis was certainly present because he was a witness - he would have known he had the luxury of plenty of time before he was needed in Philadelphia.  However, the story as filed cannot be true because Jarvis was present in Philadelphia on 11 January to formally arrest Barton on the English warrants (albeit that Jarvis, as an English officer, did not have any power of arrest in the United States). Jarvis could not, therefore, have stopped for three nights in St Paul en route from Winnipeg after Barton's apprehension on 9 January.  The information that Jarvis was in Philadelphia on 11 January comes from an unimpeachable source, namely the written judgment of Commissioner Henry R. Edmunds of the District Court of the United States, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, handed down on 25 March 1889.  His judgment states:

'On the eleventh day of January A.D. 1889, the defendant, whilst at the above named Agency [Pinkerton's], made a free, full and voluntary confession to Inspector Jarvis, admitting that he was the man named in the Warrants issued in London and that the crime of forgery charged and set forth in the Warrants, which were read and explained to him, was in all respects true as therein stated and enumerated. This confession was testified to fully by Jarvis, as will be seen in his testimony and corroborated in some respects by other witnesses.'

It may also be noted that the Manitoba Daily Press story of 20 January says that Jarvis was 'in St Paul two weeks ago.'  Taken literally, this would mean that Jarvis was in St Paul on 6 January and perhaps he did stop off there, in advance of the initial arrest, on the long journey from Winnipeg to Philadelphia (a distance of some 1,260 miles), having sent instructions to Pinkerton's that Barton was in Philadelphia.  It doesn't change anything.  As the Manitoba Daily Press report also said of Jarvis: 'His business had nothing to do with the London Times or Parnell.  He was in this country looking for Thomas Barton...'

According to Simon D. Wood, Jarvis was travelling on his own, having left Edward Plant behind in Philadelphia to be 'co-opted by the Pinkertons' but he does not provide a source for this and there is no reason to suppose that Plant was not travelling with Jarvis from Canada, having gone there with him for the purpose of formally identifying Barton once he was located.

Anyway, in the meantime, on 12 January 1889, Michael Henry Herbert in Washington wrote to the Foreign Secretary (FO 5/2056) in London saying:

'I have the honour to report that I have received a despatch from Her Majesty's Consul at Philadelphia relative to the extradition of Thomas Barton alias Cave, in which he states that should there be any extended delay in the receipt of the evidence from the Foreign Office, Barton may engage Counsel to apply for a writ of Habeas Corpus, a proceeding which would eventually result in his discharge from custody.  Captain Clipperton therefore suggests that his hands would be much strengthened, were he to receive a cablegram from Your Lordship giving him instructions to hold Thomas Barton for extradition and stating that papers had been forwarded.' 

Consequently, on 15 January 1889, the Foreign Office in London sent the following telegram to Captain Clipperton in Philadelphia:

'Hold Thomas Barton for Extradition. Papers forwarded.'

There is an revealing communication dated 15 January 1889 from the Home Office to the Foreign Office about this telegram, prior to its having been sent.  The Foreign Office had decided not to amend the form of certification as requested by the Charges d'Affaires in Washington (on the basis of an earlier request by a lawyer in Philadelphia working for the British Consul) and had suggested that the words 'but form of authentication cannot be amended as suggested'  be added to the end of the telegram to Captain Clipperton.  However, the Home Office believed that this would only confuse him because he did not know the full background to the issue.  Thus the Home Office wrote to the Foreign Office on 15 January 1889 (HO 134/10) as follows:


With reference to your letter of yesterday's date with regard to the case of Thomas Barton whose extradition has been claimed from the United Staets Government.  I am directed by Mr Secretary Matthews to acquaint you for the information of the Marquis of Salisbury, that he agrees to a telegram being sent out to Her Majesty's Consul at Philadelphia in the terms suggested by Mr Herbert but he thinks it possible that the addition suggested in your letter might lead to misunderstanding as it would state the fact that the certificate has not been altered without explaining the reasons of the refusal to alter it.  The objections the (sic) form of certificate were, the Secretary of State understands, made not by any United States Courts, but only by the Counsel employed by the Consul at Philadelphia who had not been informed of the reasons for adopting the form of certificate: and the Secretary of State is disposed to think that it's not necessary to mention the matter in this telegram now to be sent.' 

As it turned out, the lawyer in Philadelphia was right and the issue with the wording on the certificate would cause problems with Barton's extradition. Simon D. Wood is unaccountably concerned by the delay in effecting that extradition, with Thomas Barton not leaving New York until 9 April 1889 and thus not returning to England until 17 April 1889, when, accompanied by Inspector Jarvis, he arrived in custody at Liverpool on board the Guion line steamer 'Alaska' before being convicted at the Old Bailey on 6 May 1889.  It is not clear what the problem about this delay is for Wood.  He doesn't seem to be suggesting that the delay was engineered by the British authorities to give Inspector Jarvis more time to investigate Irish affairs in America.  Instead, his gripe seems to be with the following answers given by the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, in Parliament to questions by Timothy Healy, an Irish Nationalist M.P., on 24 June 1889:

'I am informed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police that Jarvis went to New York in November 1888.  His business was the extradition of Thomas Barton, whom he brought back to this country on 9th April 1889, and who was afterwards convicted at the Central Criminal Court of forging transfers of London and North Western Railway stock...[then in response to a follow-up question from Healy as to the reason for the four month delay] I have given the Hon. Member all the information I have'. 

Aside from the lack of information in the follow-up, this seems to be a bland, unobjectionable and factually correct answer.  Yet, Simon Wood is not happy.  In a Jack the Ripper Casebook forum post on 17 November 2010 ('Tumblety and Pinkerton' #68), he says of the last answer: 'Once again Matthews had been ill-informed by Robert Anderson'.  The point seems to be that Anderson, of whom Wood has intense suspicions about everything, wasn't telling the Home Secretary the full story.  A year earlier, in his 2009 Ripperologist article, however, it might not have been Anderson's fault, for Wood then said of this parliamentary answer: 'Matthews was stalling. Either he was remarkably ill-informed, or he did not want his parliamentary colleagues to know that Barton's extradition had been badly bungled'.'  And that supposed bungling is what Wood is focussed on here. 

One is tempted to ask: so what?  What if the extradition was 'badly bungled'?  What does it show other than incompetence of the British authorities?  And what if Home Secretary Matthews either did not know of this incompetence or had not been briefed about it?  What would it add to our knowledge of the activities of Inspector Jarvis in the United States?  The answer is: nothing. 

In any event, the delay between Barton's arrest and return to England was not necessarily caused solely by issues with the extradition paperwork.  Although Thomas Barton, worn down by the relentless pursuit of him, and in a rather desperate state by all accounts at the time of his arrest, initially confessed to his historic crimes in England, and seemed to want to go back home (New York Evening Telegram, 23.01.89), he subsequently obtained legal representation and challenged the extradition. There were ten legal hearings before the Commissioner alone after the initial hearing before the magistrate (HO 144/200/A47235).  According to the Cheshire Observer of 20 April 1889:

'Barton was arrested on 9 January last, but by appealing, as is usual with criminals in America, to court after court, he obstructed the extradition process until quite recently when he was successfully extradited.'

At the end of the hearing before Magistrate Durham on 22 January 1889, attended by Inspector Jarvis, who was accompanied to the court room by Superintendent Linden of Pinkerton's, Barton was formally remanded for his appearance before Judge Butler of the United States Circuit Court, when preliminary steps would be taken for his extradition (New York Evening Telegram, 23.01.1889).  The Philadelphia Times of 23 January 1889 reported that: 'Magistrate Durham committed Barton without bail to await the arrival of requisition papers from England, when he will be given into the custody of the English detective and cross the ocean to pay the penalty of his crime.'

On 25 January 1889, a petition of Captain Clipperton was presented to Judge Butler and this petition was referred to United States Commissioner Edmunds to hear the evidence and to report to court (Philadelphia Times, 26.01.1889).  On 29 January 1889, Commissioner Edmunds began taking testimony in the extradition proceedings (Philadelphia Times, 30.01.1889). Additional testimony was taken on 30 January 1889 (Philadelphia Times, 01.02.1889). On 20 February 1889, represented by lawyer J. Henry Williams, Barton was back before the Commissioner and 'protested against his being sent back to England' (Philadelphia Times, 21.02.1889).  His counsel argued that he should be discharged, claiming that the extradition papers did not establish a prima facie case (Philadelphia Times, 21.02.1889).  The specific arguments put forward on Barton's behalf were that: (i) there was not sufficient proof of identity (ii) there was no proof of the commission of a crime (iii) the certificate of authentication was defective (iv) some of the depositions put forward to support the extradition were hearsay (v) the court issuing the warrant in England had no jurisdiction (because it was issued in London rather than Macclesfield) and (vi) Barton's confession was inadmissible because it was made 'while he was under illegal arrest or illegal restraint'  (HO 144/200/A47235), a reference to the fact that Barton had been detained before a warrant for his arrest had been issued by Magistrate Durham.  The Philadelphia Times of 21 February 1889 also reported that, at this hearing on 20 February:

'Captain (sic) Jarvis testified that he had been detailed to come to America and capture the prisoner...'.

Clearly, Inspector Jarvis remained involved in the extradition proceedings in February.  This continued the following day when the Philadelphia Times of 22 February 1889 reported that the hearing of the extradition case continued before Commissioner Edmunds and that:

'The session was devoted entirely to the testimony of Scotland Yard Inspector Frederick S. Jarvis, as to the identity of the prisoner and the authenticity of the information, complaint, deposition and warrants he brought over from England and by which he seeks to secure the return to England of the prisoner.'

The proceedings rumbled on until Barton appeared for a final hearing before Commissioner Edmunds on 25 March (Philadelphia Times 26.03.1888) when the Commissioner rejected the defence arguments, saying that he found 'the evidence sufficient' to sustain the charge of forgery, and Barton was committed to the custody of the Marshal of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to await the action of the Secretary of State (HO 144/200/A47235).  

On 2 April 1889, Barton was 'sent to jail by Judge Butler of the United States Court, to await the action of the authorities at Washington as to extradition proceedings' (Philadelphia Times, 3 April 1889).  The judge said that 'the evidence was competent to warrant the commissioner's finding' (Bennington Banner, 04.04.89).

Finally, on 8 April 1889, Barton was 'handed over to the agent of the English government in New York'  (Philadelphia Times, 09.04.1889). As we know, he then departed from New York with Inspector Jarvis the following day.

The majority, if not all of the delay, therefore, was caused by the usual, run of the mill, legal objections to extradition, albeit that one of the objections related to a defective certificate of authentication.  As it happens, the Home Secretary could have answered Timothy Healy's question about the reason for the four month delay without having to rely on a briefing note from Robert Anderson because the answer was already in the Home Office files.  A report by the Philadelphia Consul, Captain Clipperton, dated 16 April 1889 - provided to the Home Office on 12 June 1889 - states (HO 144/200/A7235):

'The proceedings in this case were prolonged by the strenuous efforts of Barton's Counsel to effect his discharge on the ground, among others, of the informality of the certificates attached to the evidence by H.M. Secretary of State for Home Affairs and the U.S. Minister at London.'

It is certainly true, as Captain Clipperton records, that there was an issue caused by the refusal of the Commissioner to accept the form of certification which authenticated the papers presented by the British authorities and that this contributed to the delay. To that extent, the British authorities are open to criticism for not anticipating the advice given to them. The Commissioner did, in fact, accept the authenticity of the warrants but not the supporting documentation. The problem was considered sufficiently serious that a police report dated 20 April 1889, prepared by Inspector Jarvis, 're alleged defective certificates in Extradition cases from U.S.A.', with reference to the Barton case, was sent by Robert Anderson to the Secretary of State at the Home Office on 24 April 1889 (HO 46/96; HO 144/200/A47235).  However, from what is revealed by diplomatic correspondence about the issue (United States Department of State/executive documents printed by order of the House of Representatives for the first session of the fifty-first congress), it is not at all clear (or fair) that one can describe the extradition as 'badly bungled' by the British authorities.

On 20 June 1889, the Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, Sir Julian Pauncefote, wrote to the Secretary of State at the U.S. State Department, James G. Blaine, to complain about the problems that had arisen during the Barton extradition as follows:

'There is reason to apprehend that in future applications for the extradition of British fugitives from justice grave difficulties of procedure will arise in consequence of a decision recently given by Commissioner Edmunds, at Philadelphia, in the case of one Thomas Barton, whose surrender had been applied for by Her Majesty's Government on charges of forgery. It will be seen on referring to the proceedings in that case, which are no doubt in the hands of the State Department, that the form of certificate of authentication of documents which has been in use since passing of the act of Congress of August, 1882, was held by the Commissioner to be defective. That form was settled between the foreign office in London and the United States minister in 1883. The undersigned has therefore the honor to draw the attention of the Secretary of State to the decision in Barton's case, in the hope that the difficulty which it has created may receive his early consideration, with a view to the adoption of a new form of certificate, which, if possible may meet the requirements of section 5 of the act of 1882, and yet may not be inconsistent with the statement of British law contained in the certificate of authentication now issued by the under secretary of state for the home department in London.'

This led James G. Blaine to write to Robert T. Lincoln, who had replaced Edward Phelps as the United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, on 25 June 1889 as follows:


The attention of the Department has recently been called by Sir Julian Pauncefote to the late extradition case of Thomas Barton, who was examined in Philadelphia before a United States commissioner on a charge of forgery alleged to have been committed in England.  The prisoner, after much delay, was committed to await the action of the Executive, and was finally surrendered, but only upon the strength of oral proof of admissibility of some of the documents presented to the commissioner. All papers depending for their admissibility upon the authentication of the legation at London were rejected owing to the defective form of the legation's certificate. In order that a similar difficulty may be avoided in the future, I enclose herewith a blank form of a certificate, which is to be used by the legation hereafter in authenticating papers for use in extradition cases in this country.'

This letter produced the following response from Mr Lincoln.  On 11 July 1889, he wrote to Mr Blaine:


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instruction, numbered 25, of June 25, relative to the case of Thomas Barton, who was recently extradited from the United States on a charge of forgery, and to state in reply that the form of certificate transmitted therewith shall in future be used by this legation for the authentication of papers for use in extradition cases in the United States.

It is proper to add that the certificate attached to the papers in Barton's case was the same as that used by this legation under similar circumstances for several years.'

The correspondence concluded in the following year with a letter from Mr Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote on 15 May 1890 ostensibly about papers to be used in extradition proceedings to India but tying in with the Barton issue:


I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your note of the 10th instant, with which you transmit a copy of a dispatch from His Excellency the governor-general of India in council, forwarding forms of certificates proposed to be used in British India in authenticating papers in support of applications for the extradition from the United States of fugitives from justice.

As you observe, the form of certificate for the signature of the consuls of the United States is in accordance with that prescribed by this Department for the use of the legation in London, and it is believed that the form proposed for the signature of the secretary to the Government of India is in accordance with that employed by the home office in England. You inquire whether these certificates will be accepted as sufficient by the courts of the United States.  In reply to this inquiry, I have the honor to say that the form of certificate prescribed by this Department for the use of the legation in London rests on the authority of several adjudicated cases and is the best that could be devised under the circumstances.  It is proper to state that the Department was led to direct its employment in consequence of the decision of the commissioner in the recent case of Thomas Barton, who was examined in Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, on a charge of forgery alleged to have been committed in England. The commissioner rejected the documentary evidence for want of proper authentication, and the prisoner would have been discharged had it not been possible to adduce oral evidence.  This led the Department to formulate a certificate founded on the adjudications of the courts upon the act of Congress of 1882.  It is proper to say that this certificate was submitted to the commissioner in the Barton case, who stated that if such form had been used in that case he would have admitted the documentary proofs.

The Department will cause copies of this certificate to be sent to its consular representatives in those parts of the British Dominions in which they may be called upon to certify extradition papers'.

What is revealed from these diplomatic exchanges is that the British Foreign Office in the Barton case had been using a form of certificate that had been used without problems on many occasions since 1883 - one which was believed to comply with both the 1882 Act of Congress and with English legal requirements - but that the U.S. Commissioner disagreed and would not accept the certificate.  It is difficult to quantify the delay that was caused by this specific issue because there were a number of issues raised by the defence, and oral evidence to authenticate the warrants was accepted by the Commissioner.  In this respect, it would appear that the oral evidence which secured the extradition of Thomas Barton, and without which Barton would have been discharged, was the oral evidence of Inspector Jarvis given before the Commissioner on 21 February 1889.  As stated above, Jarvis was reported to have given evidence 'as to the authenticity of the information, complaint, deposition and warrants he brought over from England'.  Furthermore, in his judgment, the Commissioner gave great weight to the evidence of Inspector Jarvis that Barton had confessed his crimes to him.

In other words, as it turned out, the presence of Inspector Jarvis in Philadelphia was absolutely crucial to the successful extradition of Thomas Barton.  Far from him being able to leave it all in the hands of Pinkerton's, he was the vital linchpin ensuring Barton was brought back to England, the very mission he had been entrusted with by his boss, Robert Anderson.

But was that all he did?  What about the hunt and arrest?   Is it possible that Simon Wood's fantasy that Jarvis did nothing in the hunt to find Barton because he was too busy with Irish affairs can actually be a reality?  Of course not.  We don't have any surviving police reports so we can't say exactly  what Inspector Jarvis did but it is obvious that a manhunt of the type he was engaged in requires patience and dogged determination. That looks like just what we got from Jarvis.  We have seen that there was a police report provided to London in late December 1888 explaining why Barton was believed to be in Canada.  Than in January, as we have also seen, Jarvis appears to have been responsible for a clever trick on Barton's wife whereby his whereabouts were revealed and a message could be sent to Pinkerton's as to his location. 

The Macclesfield Courier and Herald of 20 April 1889 summed up the state of knowledge of Barton's arrest as follows (underlining added):

'For a long period the police had heard nothing of him [Barton] but eventually it was discovered he was in the United States.  Inspector Jarvis, in November last, went to New York for two months the officer tracked his man through different large towns in the Union. At length he ran him to earth in Philadelphia.'

Perhaps more importantly, the Liverpool Mercury of 27 April 1889 reported on the evidence given at Barton's committal hearing in London, at Bow Street Police Court, thus (underlining added):

'Inspector Jarvis, of Scotland Yard, was called, and the evidence given by him on the last occasion [i.e. at an earlier remand hearing], showing how he had traced the accused to Philadelphia and caused his arrest, was read over.' 

It is hard to know what more anyone could need for proof that Jarvis was working flat out on the Barton case while he was in North America and had 'caused' Barton's arrest.  Certainly, the judge and grand jury at the Central Criminal Court were in no doubt as to the important role played by Inspector Jarvis.  Thus, the Times of 7 May 1889, when reporting on the trial, noted:

'The grand jury made a presentment commending the conduct of Inspector Jarvis who arrested the prisoner, and the Recorder expressed his concurrence at the recommendation.'

Simon D. Wood would no doubt draw attention to the word 'arrested' in this commendation.  For his big point is that Jarvis gave evidence at the Bow Street Police Court that when he arrived in Philadelphia he 'found the prisoner in custody'.  Thus, says Wood in his 'Ripperologist' article, 'closer scrutiny reveals that Jarvis was not involved at all and it was all the work of the Pinkertons.'  So was Jarvis attempting to hoodwink the grand jury and the judge at the Old Bailey?  When one gives this question a moment's consideration, one will appreciate the utter implausibility of Jarvis having given sworn evidence at the police court that Barton was already under arrest but would then try and deceive the Old Bailey judge and jury into thinking that he had carried out that arrest. Surely the answer to this little conundrum is that Jarvis did arrest Barton but he wasn't the first to detain him in custody. 

The explanation for this is that Jarvis was carrying the arrest warrants for Barton from London.  A Pinkerton's detective, de facto, might have been able to detain Barton but they did not have the warrants or authority to actually arrest him for the crimes he had committed in England.  It may be a technical distinction but it must be what has confused Simon Wood.  In some respects, no-one arrested Barton.  He could not legally have been arrested by a Pinkerton's detective on 9 January and there is no evidence that the arrest warrant of 10 January led to a physical arrest (because Barton simply accepted his position and asked to remain in custody at Pinkerton's rather than go to jail).  Jarvis certainly read the English arrest warrants to Barton (see the report of Inspector Jarvis dated 20 April 1889 - HO 144/200/A47235 and the Judgment of Commissioner Edwards cited above) so if anyone arrested Barton it was Jarvis.   

We might also add that, regardless of any admission as to his identity, Barton probably could not have been arrested by anyone on the English warrants - as opposed to held - until being formally identified by someone who knew him (which he was by Edward Plant).  If Edward Plant was with Jarvis at all times, as it seems he was, then that is another reason why Barton could not have been truly arrested until Jarvis had arrived.  The Pinkerton's detectives did not need Plant, incidentally, to know they had found Barton.  Not only did they have his description and knew that he was calling himself 'Harry Cave' but Barton was a broken man when captured and probably confessed his true identity to them (albeit that such admission would definitely have been inadmissible in a court of law because there was then no U.S. arrest warrant in existence).


While Inspector Andrews was on his way back to England, and while Inspector Jarvis was still hunting Thomas Barton in Canada, fresh allegations surfaced in the American newspapers.   A report from Lincoln, Nebraska, on 25 December 1888 said that, according to the secretary of the Irish National League, 'four or five' Scotland Yard detectives passed through Lincoln a few days earlier.  On 29 December 1888 the Irish World (published in New York) picked up on the earlier allegations about Andrews in a story headlined 'EMISSARIES FROM SCOTLAND YARD' saying that Andrews:

 '...who is an inspector of the Scotland Yard detectives crossed the Atlantic ostensibly as an escort to a Canadian bank forger...But after delivering up his prisoner the detective visited various points in Canada and the Western States of the Union in order to obtain any evidence which his subordinates might have gathered which would help the case of the Times against Mr. Parnell and consult with them in regard to further efforts in the same direction.' 

It noted, however, that: 'the cunning professional spy found at length that all his movements had been watched and noted by honester and sharper men, that the names and locations of his accomplices were known, and that his mission for the purpose of procuring criminatory evidence against the Parnellites had proved aggravatingly unsuccessful', concluding that, 'The efforts of his associates, JARVIS, SHORE, and the rest will prove as barren of tangible results as have his own. and perhaps their wisest course would be to follow him back to Scotland Yard as speedily as possible.' 

Then, in the new year, a ludicrous report appeared in the New York Herald - no doubt from the same source who gave that newspaper its story about Superintendent Shore - alleging that Scotland Yard detectives had been involved in a plot to blow up a trans-Atlantic steamer in New York harbour.

In the meantime, elements of the supposed original conspiracy in America had filtered through into the London press.  The London Evening Post of 5 January 1889 reproduced the allegations in a story entitled 'SEARCH FOR TIMES WITNESSES'  saying that Inspector Andrews 'has been employed in Canada for the purpose of working up evidence for the Parnell Commission' and repeated the fallacy that he had had a conference with Fred Jarvis and 'Chief Inspector' Shore at Niagara.  It wasn't long before British politicians in London were asking questions about what these Scotland Yard detectives had been up to in North America.

First out of the blocks was Timothy Healy, the Irish Nationalist Member of Parliament for North Longford, who, on the day after Robert Anderson's defence of his actions in respect of the Le Caron correspondence had been published in the Times (as referred to in part 2 of this trilogy), asked the Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 22 March 1889, if Inspector Andrews had visited America since the passing of the Special Commission Act (in August 1888) and whether his business there was connected with the Parnell Special Commission.  The Home Secretary, Mr Matthews, confirmed that Andrews had been in America but said that his visit there had not been connected with the Parnell Commission.  When taken by surprise and asked if Andrews saw Le Caron on his visit, the Home Secretary could only say that he was 'not aware' whether he did nor did not (although such a thing was impossible for Le Caron had left New York for England before Andrews had even arrived in Canada).  

Later that same day, as a supplementary to a written question put down by the M.P. for Northampton, Henry Labouchere, regarding Robert Anderson's letter to the Times, Healy asked the Home Secretary whether Andrews had helped the Times with the American part of its case against Parnell.  Henry Matthews replied that: 'The question with respect to Mr Andrews does not in any way arise out of the question on the paper' and he asked Healy to put his question in writing.  Of course, he had already answered the question earlier in the day but such apparent stonewalling type responses were nothing more than fuel to the suspicions of those members of Parliament, such as Healy and Labouchere, who sympathised with the Irish Nationalist cause and were distrustful of the police in the extreme.  They were not going to let the matter drop.


We now come to Simon D. Wood's coup de theatre, the allegations of Henry Labouchere and subsequent libel proceedings commenced against him by Fred Jarvis, leading in some unexplained way to the resignation of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.  It is noteworthy that, to this day, Simon D. Wood accepts the entirety of Labouchere's nonsensical allegations despite the fact that Labouchere gave two contradictory accounts of the information that he had obtained about Jarvis and despite the fact that it took him some fifteen months to raise those allegations.  Normally, this would be enough for Simon D. Wood to dismiss a story with a one line caustic remark but, for some reason, Labouchere, for Wood, is a paragon not only of truth and honesty but of accuracy, despite his information being third hand at best.

In the first version of his story, as told in the House of Commons on 11 March 1890, Labouchere claimed the following in response to having heard reports in the middle of December 1888 that Patrick J. Sheridan, believed to have been involved in the Phoenix Park murders of 1882, was being offered money, at his Del Norte ranch in Colorado, by an agent of the Times (who turned out to be a Canadian detective called Kirby) to induce him to provide evidence linking Parnell with those murders:

'I had a little pardonable curiosity as to what was taking place, and, as I had the advantage of knowing a good many gentlemen in America, I telegraphed to one of them, in order to see whether he would be good enough to observe what was taking place.  My friend immediately started for the West, and at Kansas City he came up with two of Pinkerton's men and a man named Jarvis, who was a constable employed by the British Government....I gathered that there was an interview at Kansas between Jarvis and Shaw (sic), another British constable who had been sent out to see Jarvis. Afterwards Jarvis went on and my friend followed him, running him down at a place within a few miles of Sheridan's ranch. I am prepared to prove by any amount of evidence that Jarvis, who was a British constable, did go to this place on the 20th or 25th of December.'

For Labouchere, this proved that the Government and their agents, the Metropolitan Police, were aiding and abetting the Times in the attempt to turn Sheridan into an informer or witness for the newspaper.   Specifically, it was alleged, Jarvis had arrived to take over from Kirby after Kirby had left for England on 24 December. Thus, said Labouchere:

'No sooner did Kirby disappear than Jarvis turned up to keep guard over Sheridan, and a short time after Jarvis withdrew.'

It has to be said that the story doesn't make sense on the face of it.  How was Jarvis going to 'keep guard' over Sheridan at a place 'a few miles' from Sheridan's ranch? And why the uncertainty of the dates?  Did Labouchere's friend not know whether he had seen Jarvis at Del Norte on 20th or 25th December?  And there are a number of unanswered questions such as: how did Labouchere's friend manage to identify the man he had supposedly followed as Inspector Jarvis of Scotland Yard?  How did he know he was speaking to another officer called 'Shaw'  (presumably supposed to be Shore)?  It also seems odd that in a large city like Kansas, Labouchere's friend, having made this long sounding journey 'to the West' managed to find Jarvis so easily.

But it gets worse, much worse.  Because Labouchere later wrote to the Times with a more considered and detailed explanation as to how he came by his information which is different in a number of material respects to what he said in the first version of the story.  Here are his exact words in his letter dated 20 December 1890 (and published in the Times of 23 December 1890):

'This is what happened. I heard that the Times was endeavouring to induce Sheridan to come forward as a witness before the Royal Commission.  On this I telegraphed to some friends in America, who were Home Rulers, to find out what was (sic) doing. On receipt of my telegram they set out for Del Norte, in the vicinity of the place Sheridan was residing.  At Kansas City they received information which led them to conclude that two persons connected with the police agency that was employed by the Times had been there, and that they had with them a third person, who from the description given, they thought was Inspector Jarvis.  This third person, they were informed, had left by train for Del Norte.  On this a detective, who had often met Jarvis in London, was sent to Del Norte.  The detective on his return reported that he had seen in that city a person whom he recognised as Jarvis.'

And that was it.  The mystery solved.  Hearsay upon hearsay.  But very different to the original telling.  For in this new version, it was not one friend who went to Kansas, it was a number of Labouchere's friends. Critically, they never actually saw Jarvis, either in Kansas City or in Del Norte.  Consequently, they never followed him anywhere. They merely received 'information' from a source who is not identified by Labouchere that an unidentified 'third person', whom they thought was Jarvis, had already left Kansas by train for Del Norte.  More than that they did not know, so they didn't even know if this individual went anywhere near to Sheridan's ranch.  The supposed identification of Jarvis in Del Norte (but again not near Sherdian's ranch) was made by an unidentified detective who was 'sent' to Del Norte (but by whom exactly, and who paid his expenses, is not stated) and there recognised him as a man he had met in London as Jarvis.  And 'Shaw' is not even mentioned.

We may note that, in the same letter, Labouchere said that, since his allegations had been challenged, he had caused full inquiry to be made in America and that:

'I came to the conclusion that it was probable my American friends had been misled, and that it was a case of mistaken identity.'

On that basis, we can safely conclude that the part of Labouchere's new story involving a detective (who knew Jarvis) being sent to Del Norte to identify him is a fictional addition, to show that at least some kind of proper attempt had been made to identify the Scotland Yard man before the false allegations were made.  We can also probably conclude that the entire story was a hoax from start to finish, no doubt based on the newspaper reports on 16 December 1888 that Jarvis and Shore had met in Kansas City. 

Yet, despite the flimsy nature of the information provided to Labouchere, he was, between March and May 1890, happy to make repeated allegations about Jarvis based on that information in the House of Commons and in his weekly journal, ironically titled 'Truth'.

Others followed up his allegations too.  On 15 March 1890, William Macartney, the Irish Unionist member of Parliament for South Antrim, tabled the following written question to the Home Secretary:

'To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there are two constables, named Jarvis and Shaw, in the employment of the British Government; and, if so, of what force are they members; Whether it is the fact that they were employed by the "Times" for the purpose of procuring evidence or the attendance of Sheridan or other witnesses before the Special Commission; Whether, if so employed, they were at Kansas City during the month of December 1888; And whether they, or either of them, were at any time in communication with Sheridan.'

Upon receipt of this question, the principal private secretary to Henry Matthews, Evelyn John Ruggles-Brise, wrote to Sir Alexander Carmichael Bruce, one of the Assistant Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police (HO 144/478/X27302) asking him:

'Are these men in the Met Police? And do you know anything of the facts referred to?'  

Bruce referred the question to Robert Anderson who produced the following detailed briefing note for the Home Secretary on 17 March 1890 (HO 144/478/X27302):

'This question is indirectly based upon Mr. Labouchere's statement in the House last Tuesday evening, that the two officers named were in Kansas during the 4th week of Dec. '88 in the interests of The Times.  

There is no foundation whatsoever in this statement.

Jarvis & Shaw are Inspectors in the Metro. Police Force.

Neither they, nor any officers in the Metro. Police, have been employed at any time, directly or indirectly, in procuring evidence for The Times in America. And at the date specified in this statement (Dec 20th-25th) there was no English police officer within the United States.

Shaw has not been in America at all in recent years.

Jarvis was in Philadelphia in the first week of Dec. '88 on an important extradition case. He left for Canada on the 7th Dec., stopping in Chicago for one day en route.  He was at no time west of Chicago, & has never been in Kansas City in his life.

He has not at any time been in communication with Sheridan.'

There we have the clearest possible response to Labouchere's allegations as written in private from the Assistant Commissioner to (in effect) the Home Secretary. 

We may note one point.  Robert Anderson was, of course, perfectly aware that John Shore was the superintendent of the C.I.D., not an inspector, and he would not have made a silly mistake of that nature.  The question had referred to an officer called 'Shaw' which, as we know from our knowledge of the American Papers was a corruption of the reports about a 'Chief Inspector Shore'.  Labouchere might well have intended to refer to someone called 'Shore' but the reports of his speech had translated this as 'Shaw'.  By pure coincidence, there was an Inspector Shaw in the C.I.D in 1888.  This was Local Inspector Edward Shaw of V Division (Wandsworth).  Robert Anderson, who was probably wholly unaware of what had been said in America about a Chief Inspector Shore, was answering the question that he had been asked but, to the extent that there is a question mark about Superintendent Shore being in the U.S., it will be noted that Anderson also informed the Home Secretary in the clearest possible terms that no officer within the Metropolitan Police had been procuring evidence for the Times and that there was no English police officer within the United States between 20 and 25 December.

Having thought a little further about his response, Robert Anderson wrote a letter on 17 March to Mr Ruggles-Brise (HO 144/478/X27302) as follows:

'Perhaps I should add for Mr. Matthews information in the event [of] any supplementary Q begin asked, that at the date specified there was another of my Inspectors across the Atlantic.  Andrews (since pensioned) had taken an extradition prisoner to Canada (as papers in H.O. will [explain]) but he was not in the United States at all.

The whole story is a stupid fabrication.'

So there we have official confirmation that Inspector Andrews never went to New York.

Bearing in mind the detail in his written briefing note,  Robert Anderson might have been a little disappointed with the Home Secretary's terse answer to Macartney in the House on 17 March 1890 which was:

'Jarvis and Shaw are inspectors in the Metropolitan Police. It is not the fact that they were employed at any time, directly or indirectly, by or for The Times in procuring evidence to the attendance of any witnesses.  The answer to my hon. friends remaining questions is in the negative.'

Two days later, on 19 March 1890, a person calling himself 'CURIOUS' wrote to the Times setting out the details of Labouchere's allegations and repeating the denial of the Home Secretary. CURIOUS concluded that:

' is clear that the entire story, including the presence of Jarvis at Kansas in December, 1888, which Labouchere is "prepared to prove by any amount of evidence" is a fabrication...'

Given that this letter uses the exact same word ('fabrication') to describe Labouchere's allegations that Anderson had used in his private letter to Ruggles-Brise two days earlier, Simon D. Wood may well be correct that Robert Anderson was the 'CURIOUS' letter writer, goading Labouchere to either repeat or withdraw his allegations. 

Labouchere wasn't going to withdraw anything and, on having read the letter from 'CURIOUS' in the Times of 20 March 1890, he tabled some new questions as follows:

'To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Frederick Jarvis is now an inspector in the employment of the Criminal Investigation Department, and is now in London: Whether he was in the employment of the Department in December 1888: Whether in that month of 1888, he was at Del Norte, Colorado, a town close by the ranch of P.J. Sheridan; and, if so, what was the object of his mission there; And, whether, if he does not personally know if Jarvis was at Del Norte in December 1888, and why he went there, he will cause inquiry to be made of Jarvis.'

Ruggles-Brice wrote immediately to Robert Anderson: 'Kindly favour S of S with observations.'  By memo of 24 March 1890, Anderson replied:

'Fredk Jarvis is an Inspector in the C.I.D., Metro. Police, & is now in London.  

He was in the employment of the C.I.D. in Dec. 1888.

He was never at any time at, or near, Del Norte, Colorado.

[In my memo of 17th inst. (on Mr Macartney's question) I gave particulars of Inspr Jarvis's mission to America  in 1888-89]':

In the House of Commons on the same day, Henry Matthews replied to Labouchere's questions on the basis of Anderson's briefing memo as follows:

'The answer to the first two paragraphs is in the affirmative.  I am informed that Inspector Jarvis was never at any time at or near Del Norte, Colorado.'

Labouchere then asked whether the Home Secretary's information had come from Inspector Jarvis himself to which the Home Secretary replied, 'I derived my information from the head of the Criminal Investigation Department to whom I submitted the hon. member's question this morning', which was, of course, true.

Following this answer, 'CURIOUS' was back writing to the Times in a letter dated 25 March 1890, continuing to goad his opponent, commenting that 'Mr Labouchere has not made much progress with the proofs of his story about Inspector Jarvis' and asking 'What is Mr. Labouchere going to do?'

Labouchere took the bait. Two days after publication of the letter in the Times from 'CURIOUS', Labouchere was at it again, tabling a virtually identical set of questions to the ones he had previously asked, despite having already been told that Jarvis was not in Kansas City or Colorado at the time in question:

'To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he will cause Frederick Jarvis, now and in 1888 in the service of the Criminal Investigation Department, to be asked whether he was, in November or December 1888, at Kansas City with two persons named Pinkerton, who had a private detective agency in the United States; whether he went with the two Pinkertons to Pueblo Colorado, whether he went himself to Del Norte, which is close to the ranche belonging to P.J. Sheridan. Whether his presence in Del Norte was in any way connected with the vicinity of that ranche to that town. And whether the Pinkertons' agency is employed by Her Majesty's Government.'

Again, this was forwarded to Robert Anderson for observations and it is fair to say that Anderson ducked the last question in his briefing note to the Home Secretary but this might simply have been borne out of frustration that Labouchere was otherwise repeating the same questions that had already been answered. Thus, Anderson said:

'I have only to repeat once again that Inspr Jarvis has never at any time been at or near Kansas City or Del Norte, Colorado.  The story of this officer's mission to Colorado is in whole & in part a fabrication.'

The Secretary of State's answer in the House of Commons on 28 March 1890 was as follows:

'I repeat once again that Inspector Jarvis has never at any time been at or near Kansas City, or Del Norte Colorado. The story of this officer's mission to Colorado is an absolute fabrication.  I make this information on the statement of Jarvis's superior officer, who, of course, has taken proper means to satisfy himself of the facts.'

Labouchere wasn't absorbing any of it.  He repeated the allegations about Jarvis in his weekly journal 'Truth' in its issues of 3 April as follows:

'If the exact facts were known it would be found that, in order to evade possible enquiry, Jarvis was at that time given a nominal leave of absence. That he should have betaken himself to Del Norte - a small town situated in a remote part of the State of Colorado - for his own private affairs or for his private pleasure, is simply incredible.  He went there in connection with the Times attempt on Sheridan, and I do not entertain a vestige of doubt that he reported - either writing or verbally - to his superiors what he did.'

Acknowledging that it had been officially denied that Jarvis was ever in Colorado, Labouchere also stated:

'The denial is important because it shows that the Government are fully aware how damning it is to them if it can be shown that one of their constables was aiding and abetting the Times in its attempt to induce Sheridan to come forward as a Times witness, and that it will stick at no suggestio falsi [false suggestion] or suppresio veri [suppression of the truth] in order to escape from admission of this. I again repeat that Jarvis was at Kansas City and at Del Norte at the time that I have mentioned; and I defy Mr. Matthews, or the Chief of the Investigation Department, to obtain a statement from him that he was not.'

It is clear that Labouchere was obsessed with the notion that no-one had directly asked Jarvis if he had been in Colorado whereas it is obvious that Robert Anderson must have done so.  Nonetheless, Labouchere continued his attack in the same issue:

'Mr Matthews persistently replies that the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department says that Frederick Jarvis was not there during that time. Asked whether he will cause inquiry to be made of Jarvis himself, he declines to do so. I do not exactly know who the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department is.  But this I assert: either that he has not inquired of Jarvis, and knows himself nothing of the movements of Jarvis, or he is deliberately telling us an untruth.'

Until now, Labouchere's allegations had been made under the protection of parliamentary privilege but now he was open to proceedings for libel and the appearance of this issue of the 'Truth' prompted Godfrey Lushington to write the following note to the Home Secretary (HO 144/478/X27302):

'From an administrative point of view I should say there was no occasion for legal proceedings.  Inspector Jarvis' statement has been accepted & his conduct approved by his official superiors: that is enough for them & should be enough for him. The expressions in 'Truth' may well be disregarded.

But there are other & wider considerations in this matter. It might be a public advantage if Mr Labouchere was compelled to reveal his authority for these statements & the agency by which they were procured. On the other hand if there have been any questionable proceedings on the part of the Government or Police Agents, these might come to light in the course of the trial with damaging consequences. At all events the matter is one which concerns the Government with reference to the Fenian proceedings & on which I think you would wish to consult Mr Balfour.

If permission is given to Jarvis to bring an action, I suppose there would [not] be an absolute promise to pay his expenses; but merely a promise that when the trial is over if his report is found to be correct & his conduct to have been unexceptionable his necessary expenses will be paid.

There could also be a question whether the payment should be from the Police Fund or the Exchequer. I think it might [need] to be from the Exchequer. But if so Treasury sanction should be obtained.'

No proceedings were commenced at this stage but Labouchere was slowly digging a large hole for himself and further nonsense of the same nature appeared in 'Truth' of 17 April as follows:

'[Mr Matthews] asserted again and again that a police-detective in the pay of the Government was not in Del Norte. And yet there is no more doubt that he was there than that I am at this moment in England.'

This madness met with a response from the Commissioner of Police, James Monro, who, in a letter to the Times, dated 18 April 1890, stated:

'Since I became Assistant Commissioner of Police in 1884 until now, neither Inspector Jarvis nor any other officer of the Metropolitan Police has been at any time within many hundred miles of either Kansas or Colorado, nor has any officer of the force been in America assisting The Times, directly or indirectly, in connexion with their case before the Special Commission.'

It couldn't be clearer and the Home Secretary and Commissioner (and behind the scenes the Assistant Commissioner) had put their credibility on the line.  It would only need a few respectable witnesses to step forward to swear they had seen Jarvis, or some other officer, in Kansas or Colorado, and the lie, if it was a lie, would have been ruthlessly exposed.  But, of course, no-one ever did.

Not that this deterred Labouchere.   As he would later explain in his mea culpa letter to the Times: 'When Mr Matthews and Mr Monro denied that Jarvis had been employed to look up Sheridan, I did not regard this as proof that the inspector had not been at Del Norte, for I was aware that during a considerable number of years many details in regard to the action of our police in America were not communicated to either the Home Secretary or to the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.'

Consequently, Labouchere did not stop. In 'Truth' of 1 May 1890 he wrote:

'I make no doubt that Mr. Monro does not believe that Jarvis was at Del Norte. But I again repeat that he was. Will Frederick Jarvis himself deny on oath that I am correct? This I doubt. The fact is that I know a good deal more about Frederick Jarvis's movements when in America than Mr. Monro, for the plain reason that I had him followed when there, as I wished to find out what this intelligent police constable was doing in the Western states, and whether he was siding in getting up evidence for the Times.'

We may note here that Labouchere has here told a third version of the story.  He is now saying that he had wanted to know what Jarvis was doing in the United States and had him followed.  This is at odds with the other versions whereby he simply wanted to know what was going on with Sheridan and, in response, his friend or friends happened to discover that Jarvis was in Del Norte and made their own decision to follow him.

Anyway, Labouchere was clearly not going to be satisfied until he heard the denial direct from Inspector Jarvis.  And he was shortly to have his wish granted.

Having read the latest rubbish being spouted in 'Truth', James Monro, having taken legal advice, decided to write to the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office on 1 May 1890 (HO 144/478/X27302):


I have to forward herewith extracts from 'Truth' of this week's issue in which the editor distinctly charges Inspector Jarvis of the Metropolitan Police with having been at Del Norte in November or December 1888.  The statement has already been made in the issues of 3rd and 17th April and the truth of it explicitly denied by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons and by the Commissioner of Police in the public press.

The charge is undoubtedly injurious to Inspector Jarvis, involving as it does an accusation of gross violation of duty, fabrication of false reports and accounts and telling falsehoods to his superior officers, and if substantiated would lead to the instant dismissal of Inspector Jarvis from the force. As it at present stands, Inspector Jarvis is before the public accused of these serious offences. I forward the opinion of Messrs Wontner as to the legal aspects of the question.

I have carefully considered the question of how this grave imputation on an officer of the Metropolitan Police should be met, and I come to the conclusion that no alternative is feasible or desirable but to direct Inspector Jarvis to take proceedings against the publishers of this libel on his character.

I therefore propose to direct him to institute proceedings by an action at law, and the only point which I have to determine is whether he should do that at his own charges, or whether the expenses should be defrayed from the public funds.  The truth of the charge is most emphatically denied by Inspector Jarvis and looking to the character for truthfulness of that officer as compared with that of the publishers of the libel, I think he is deserving of support in every way. I am therefore of opinion that the expense of proceedings should not be defrayed by him.

Before giving the order to Inspector Jarvis to take this course, I shall be glad to have the sanction of the Secretary of State to this being done.  It is of great importance that proceedings should be taken at once, and I therefore beg that this may be treated as a very urgent matter.'

The response from the Home Secretary on 7 May would have been regarded by the Commissioner as disappointing (HO 144/478/X27302):


With reference to your letter of 1st instant (No 113928) I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that he has carefully considered the articles in "Truth" to which you refer and is of opinion that they do not convey libellous imputation upon Inspector Jarvis.  The charge is not in effect that Jarvis violated his duty, and incurred by his conduct the risk of discharge; but that, with the connivance of the Government (i.e. of the Secretary of State) he obtained leave of absence, and went on an errand for the 'Times' by the desire of his superiors. The foundation of Messrs. Wontners opinion therefore fails. In any case it would be very prejudicial to the success of an action for libel that the Plaintiff should be ordered to take proceedings.  The Secretary of State cannot therefore sanction the payment out of Police Funds of the expenses of an action likely to result in failure.  The articles in "Truth" are a libel on the Secretary of State and on the Attorney General'.

The notion that Jarvis had not been libelled was highly questionable although the point that Jarvis should not be ordered to commence legal proceedings was a good one.  Wontner & Sons, solicitors, responded to  the Home Secretary's letter in a letter to the Metropolitan Police Office on 8 May 1890 as follows (HO 144/478/X27302):


We have read the Secretary of State's letter and that of the Commissioner to which it is an answer. We fail to see in what way the foundation of our opinion fails.  It is distinctly affirmed in "Truth" of 1st May that notwithstanding the denial of Mr Monro and the Secretary of State that Inspector Jarvis was at Del Norte. We find it most distinctly stated in the letter of the Commissioner to the Secretary of State that if so Inspector Jarvis would have been guilty of misconduct which would render him liable to dismissal and "Truth" therefore defames him in a manner which may impair his trade or a livelihood and if true will undoubtedly do so. We see no reason therefore to expect failure if action should be brought.'

In addition to this bullish legal advice, Inspector Jarvis now sought permission himself to commence legal proceedings for libel against Labouchere, thus countering the point made by the Home Secretary that it would not be proper to order him to do so.  In a report to the Commissioner dated 10 May 1890 (HO 144/478/X27302) and counter-signed by Superintendent Shore, Jarvis wrote:

'With reference to the recent statements concerning me in "Truth" and more especially that contained in the issue of the 1st inst. where Mr Labouchere asserts that I was at Del Norte and Kansas City notwithstanding the positive denial of Commissioner that I was ever at these places, I beg to submit that the paragraph in question is decidedly libellous as it really implies that I have wilfully deceived the Commissioner concerning this question and accuses me of conduct which if true would render me liable to well merited dismissal. I feel sure the Commissioner believes in the truthfulness of my reports on the subject and in my integrity as an officer generally but at the same time statements such as this persistently published in a journal like "Truth" are calculated to injure my reputation both privately and as a police officer. Under these circumstances I respectfully ask the Commissioner's permission to take legal proceedings against Mr Labouchere in respect of these libellous statements for the publication of which he is responsible. This will bring the matter to an issue by affording Mr Labouchere an opportunity of learning the true value of his so-called information and at the same time give me the chance of dispelling any suspicion that might lurk in the public mind as regards my conduct.'

Despite Labouchere's confidence to the contrary, Jarvis was clearly very much prepared to state on oath that the M.P. was wrong.  Upon receipt of this report, Mr Monro drafted an order dated 10 May 1890 (HO 144/478/X27302):

'As Commissioner I have no right it seems to me to withhold permission for an officer who feels himself aggrieved by the publication of injurious statements regarding him taking any proceedings which he may be advised to take against the person who has made such injurious statements against his character and conduct.  I feel therefore bound to give permission to Inspector Jarvis to take such proceedings at his own risk.'

This order, together with Inspector Jarvis' report, was forwarded to the Home Office on 13 May 1890 under cover of the following letter (HO 144/478/X27302):


With reference to previous correspondence on the subject of the "Truth" libels on Inspector Jarvis, I have to acquaint you that the decision of the Secretary of State has been communicated to the legal advisers of the Police (Messrs Wontner) and to Inspector Jarvis.  Messrs Wontner have forwarded the attached letter, and Inspector Jarvis has also submitted a report, a copy of which I forward, with a copy of my order on the same. If Inspector Jarvis feels it incumbent on him to clear his character before the public by the institution of proceedings at his own risk, I feel that I have no right to refuse permission to him. A precisely similar case is now pending at the instance of Mr Howard against the clothing contractor, and I feel that it would be a very invidious proceeding were I to act differently in the case of an Inspector from that of a Chief Constable. Inspector Jarvis fully understands that he takes proceedings on his own responsibility, and not under direction of a superior authority.'

Across the road in Whitehall there was a certain amount of cynicism at the latest turn of events within Scotland Yard.  It seemed too convenient that Jarvis was now pressing to commence legal proceedings on his own accord when the Commissioner had been wanting to order him to do so a few days earlier. They thought they were being played.  Godfrey Lushington, the Under Secretary of State, noted the following in the file to Mr Matthews on 15 May 1890 (HO 144/478/X27302):

'It is ludicrous to suppose that Insp. Jarvis is moving from a sense of wounded honour merely to establish his character or that he is acting at his own cost.  He is being put up to play the political game of unmasking Mr Labouchere's informant, or of damaging Mr Labouchere. This may or may not be good  [indecipherable] I cannot say but this I should have thought was a question for the S of S to decide, the Commissioner being outside politics.  However, I do not know a case in which the Head of a Department has declined permission to a subordinate to bring a private action: so I think the proper course is to acknowledge the Commissioner's letter & to say that Inspr Jarvis is to be given plainly to understand that whatever may be the result of these proceedings which he is about to institute for his own private purposes no contribution will be made by Gov. towards his expenses.'

The Home Secretary responded to Lushington as follows:

'Mr Jarvis says he is anxious to take proceedings.  I do not feel sure that he requires any permission to do so.  At any rate, he ought to have permission without any consequences so far as his position in the force. Acknowledge the Commissioner's letter and say that as Mr Jarvis desires to bring an action at his own risk, it is quite right that he should not be prevented from doing so.'

The Home Office informed the Commissioner accordingly on 16 May 1890 (HO 65/69). Inspector Jarvis was free to commence proceedings for libel against Labouchere and he did so, with his solicitors issuing a writ which contained a claim for £2,000 in damages (Manchester Courier, 16.06.1890).

James Monro would have been perfectly happy with this outcome, so the fact that he resigned his post in June 1890 was nothing more than a coincidence and had nothing to do with Inspector Jarvis and the Thomas Barton Affair.

Yet Monro's resignation seems to have excited some of the Irish Nationalist M.P.s who speculated that perhaps it was connected with his statements that Jarvis had never been to Colorado which had now (they hoped) been disproved.  Monro's resignation was announced on 12 June 1890 and, eight days later, Timothy Healy made a rambling speech about the matter in the House of Commons, asserting without any evidence that Jarvis' life had been made miserable because he had been compelled to back up the Home Secretary and the Commissioner. He also attempted to find out who was funding Jarvis' legal action. The Home Secretary made clear that it was not being funded from the public purse and confirmed again that Jarvis did not go to Del Norte, Colorado. Healy nevertheless repeated the allegation that ,'this man was sent to America to do the Times' business.'

On 24 June 1890, in what was probably a desire to provide ammunition for Labouchere in the legal action, Healy raised the matter again in the House Of Commons when he asked the Home Secretary what Inspector Jarvis had been doing in New York.  This prompted a further briefing memo from Robert Anderson to the Home Secretary (HO 144/478/X27302):

'The business on which Inspr. Jarvis sailed for New York on 17th November '88 was the extradition case of Thos. Barton who was afterwards convicted at the C.C.Ct. of forging transfers of L & N.W. Railway Company stock for £22,500, an offence for which he was sentenced to 10 years P.S. on 7th May 1889.

Inspr. Jarvis returned with his prisoner on 9th April 1889.

I beg also to refer the S. of S. to my memo on previous questions on this matter. The present question is probably designed to assist Mr Labouchere in defending the libel action now pending against him.'

The Home Secretary answered the question based on the memo: Jarvis had been there to ensure the extradition of Thomas Barton.  However, he was unable to explain, in response to a supplementary question, why it had taken Jarvis four months to effect this, so, once again, those who were suspicious remained suspicious despite the Home Secretary's clear answer about what Inspector Jarvis had been doing in America.

With the libel action of Jarvis v Labouchere set down for trial in the Michaelmas Term of the High Court which would start on Friday, 24 October 1890, Henry Labouchere's mind suddenly became focussed on the accuracy of the information he had obtained from his friend or friends in America.  Faced with the evidence of Inspector Jarvis that he had never actually been in Kansas City or Del Norte, Labouchere realised that he had got it completely wrong after all.  As part of a settlement agreement with Jarvis, he agreed to pay him £100 plus all his legal costs and include a written apology in 'Truth'. This appeared in the issue of 'Truth' of 23 October 1890 as follows:

'On several occasions during April and May last I asserted both in the House of Commons and in the columns of TRUTH, that Inspector Jarvis, of Scotland-yard, was during the months of November or December, 1888, in the city of Del Norte, Colorado, and that he there saw Sheridan in connection with the inquiry before the Special Commission.  Both Mr Matthews and Mr Monro denied that he was ever there. I asked whether Mr Jarvis would himself deny on oath the truth of my statement. To this Messrs. Wotner wrote on his behalf to say that he never saw, or even sought to see, Sheridan and had no business in America, and conducted none, in reference to Sheridan or the Times, and added that he positively declared that he never was at Kansas City or Del Norte in his life, or within hundreds of miles of those places.

I replied to this that either Inspector Jarvis was there, or that it was "a strange and wonderful case of mistaken identity."  Messrs. Wotner on this issued, on behalf of Inspector Jarvis, a writ in the action for libel against me, and up to now in the matter has been drawing on its weary legal way.  I have, however, just ascertained beyond all doubt that Inspector Jarvis was, as a matter of fact, not at Del Norte, and that he consequently did not see Sheridan there, so that it was clearly "a strange and wonderful case of mistaken identity." I therefore take the earliest opportunity of giving this explanation and I unreservedly withdraw my original statement and offer my apologies to Inspector Jarvis.' (underlining added)

For reasons quite unfathomable, Simon D. Wood refers to this abject and humiliating climb down as 'wholly unconvincing'.  How Labouchere was supposed to have made a more convincing apology than the one he did, using the expressions 'beyond all doubt' and 'unreservedly withdraw' and 'offer my apologies', is not clear.  But we can certainly help Simon Wood to solve one puzzle.  He says that it is unknown what political concessions Labouchere won for making this apology and that: 'We can only guess at the nature of the quid pro quo'.  In fact, we don't need to guess at all.  The answer is obvious.  The quid pro quo for Labouchere in caving in, abandoning his defence, paying £100 to Inspector Jarvis in lieu of damages, paying all his legal fees and publishing an unqualified apology was that he did not get his arse served up to him on a plate in a court of law.  That in itself was quite a result for Labouchere.  Although he insisted in his letter to the Times of 23 December 1890 that he had a defence 'on a technical point of law' to the claim of libel because, while the specific allegations he made were false, British detectives had previously assisted the Times, the fact of the matter is that he would have been torn to shreds in the witness box under cross-examination due to the bombastic nature of his allegations against Jarvis.   His reputation and credibility would have been destroyed.  An out of court settlement was the best he could have hoped for. 

For Jarvis, who was having to pay his own legal costs from a police officer's salary, there was always a risk that a judge would rule that there had been no libel - which is what the Home Office seemed to think was the case - and, although the inspector would almost certainly have won the case at trial, the offer from Labouchere was too good to sensibly refuse. 


Simon Daryl Wood mentions approvingly the Gilbert & Sullivan song 'Things are seldom what they seem' (which he renders as 'Things are seldom as they seem').  That was from a musical based on fiction.  The dull and boring truth is that things are usually exactly what they seem.  Inspector Andrews seems to have escorted Barnett to Toronto, Inspector Jarvis seems to have hunted for Thomas Barton in the United States & Canada while Superintendent Shore seems to have remained in London the whole time.  These things are all as they seem.  To the extent that the newspaper did not simply invent its story, The New York Herald was suckered by mendacious or misguided Irish Nationalists in December 1888 into believing English detectives were conducting covert investigations across the continent, the Toronto Daily Mail and the Boston Globe/New York World/New York Herald (again) were suckered into believing Inspector Andrews was part of it (while others were suckered into thinking he was hunting Tumblety) and Henry Labouchere was suckered into thinking that Inspector Jarvis was working for the Times in Del Norte. Some modern researchers have, astonishingly, been suckered by all or part of this farrago of nonsense, this elaborate balderdash, but there is no reason to be suckered any longer.


First published: 25 May 2015

Republished: 30 August 2023

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