Charles Warren bigraphy, stories - British archaeologist

Charles Warren : biography

7 February 1840 - 21 January 1927

General Sir Charles Warren, GCMG, KCB, FRS (7 February 1840 – 21 January 1927) was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount. Much of his military service was spent in the British South Africa, but in earlier life he was Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the head of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1886 to 1888, during the period of the Jack the Ripper murders. His command in combat during the Second Boer War was criticised, but he achieved considerable success during his long life in his military and civil posts.

Commissioner of Police

In 1885, Warren stood for election to Parliament as an independent Liberal candidate in the Sheffield Hallam constituency with a radical manifesto. He lost by 690 votes, and was appointed commander at Suakin in 1886. A few weeks after he arrived, however, he was appointed Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis following Sir Edmund Henderson's resignation.

The exact rationale for the selection of Warren for the post is still unknown. Up to that time, and for some time into the 20th Century, the heads of Scotland Yard were selected from the ranks of the military. In Warren's case he may have been selected in part by his involvement in discovering the fate of Professor Palmer's expedition into the Sinai in 1883. If so there may have been a serious error regarding his "police work" in that case, as it was a military investigation and not a civil style police operation.

The Metropolitan Police was in a bad state when Warren took over, suffering from Henderson's inactivity over the past few years. Economic conditions in London were bad, leading to demonstrations. He was concerned for his men's welfare, but much of this went unheeded. His men found him rather aloof, although he generally had good relations with his superintendents. At Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, the police received considerable adverse publicity after Miss Elizabeth Cass, an apparently respectable young seamstress, was (possibly) mistakenly arrested for soliciting, and was vocally supported by her employer in the courts.

To make matters worse, Warren, a Liberal, did not get along with Conservative Home Secretary Henry Matthews, appointed a few months after he became Commissioner. Matthews supported the desire of the Assistant Commissioner (Crime), James Monro, to remain effectively independent of the Commissioner and also supported the Receiver, the force's chief financial officer, who continually clashed with Warren. Home Office Permanent Secretary Godfrey Lushington did not get on with Warren either. Warren was pilloried in the press for his extravagant dress uniform, his concern for the quality of his men's boots (a sensible concern considering they walked up to 20 miles a day, but one which was derided as a military obsession with kit), and his reintroduction of drill. The radical press completely turned against him after Bloody Sunday on 13 November 1887, when a demonstration in Trafalgar Square was broken up by 4,000 police officers on foot, 300 infantrymen and 600 mounted police and Life Guards.

In 1888, Warren introduced five Chief Constables, ranking between the Superintendents and the Assistant Commissioners. Monro insisted that the Chief Constable of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), his deputy, should be a friend of his, Melville Macnaghten, but Warren opposed his appointment on the grounds that during a riot in Bengal Macnaghten had been "beaten by Hindoos", as he put it. This grew into a major row between Warren and Monro, with both men offering their resignation to the Home Secretary. Matthews accepted Monro's resignation, but simply moved him to the Home Office and allowed him to keep command of Special Branch, which was his particular interest. Robert Anderson was appointed Assistant Commissioner (Crime) and Superintendent Adolphus Williamson was appointed Chief Constable (CID). Both men were encouraged to liaise with Monro behind Warren's back.

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