Despite criticism, the Metropolitan Police Force in 1888 consisted of a fair few members who were determined to lead them in the right direction, and Sir Charles Warren was certainly one of them. In part one of two articles, we will be looking at his early years and ultimately his role during the Ripper murders.
Bangor, Wales is known to be the birthplace of Sir Charles Warren, and his father was a Major General in the army. After attending grammar schools in Shropshire and a brief stint at Cheltenham College, Sandhurst’s Royal Military College became his next port of call, followed by the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. In 1857, he graduated and received his commission, becoming a Second Lieutenant whilst in the Royal Engineers. Seven years later, Fanny Haydon became his wife, and he went on to father two sons and daughters.
He is noted for his work on surveying Gibraltar between 1861 and 1865, and for creating two eight-metre long scale models, one of which is still displayed today in Gibraltar. The model was praised for its scale and detail, and its accuracy covered the roads and buildings. He then spent two years assisting an instructor specialising in surveying at the School of Military Engineering, situated in Cheltenham, before being promoted to Captain.
Following this, Sir Charles Warren undertook archaeological work in Jerusalem, or the Holy Land, including a major dig. His discovery of a water shaft and chain of tunnels that lay beneath the Temple Mount is still praised today, and the shaft was named Warren’s Shaft in his honour. It has also resulted in the majority of books on Jerusalem name-dropping the Ripper investigation in their mention of Warren.
After his health had begun to deteriorate though, Warren was forced to resume a life in England in 1870, and it would not be until 1876 that he received his next foreign commission. The Colonial Office sent him to inspect land that lay between two states in Southern Africa.
He then fought in the Transkei War, where he was injured. Following this, he received a promotion to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel. In addition, he was commissioned to quell the rebellion and explore “native questions” in what we now know as Botswana, before being appointed Administrator of Griqualand West. He also had the town “Warrenton” named in his honour.
In 1882, he travelled to Sinai, with a goal of finding out what happened to the missing archaeological expedition led by Professor Edward Palmer (who led an expedition to gain the allegiance of the Arab sheikhs in Egypt and prevent them from joining the Egyptian rebels. That isn’t all though, as Palmer also aimed to prevent them from interfering with the Suez Canal – this meant they were carrying a large amount of money.
By the end of 1884, Warren had become a Major General, and was ordered to command what is now known as the Warren Expedition; a force of 4000 British and colonial troops, sent North from Cape Town. The idea behind this group was to affirm British authority in the region against German and Transvaal encroachments and to subdue a Boer rebellion. This mission saw the first ever use of observation balloons on behalf of the British army and managed to achieve its goals without carnage.
Other achievements by Warren included his Freemasonry, of which he was third District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago and the founding Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London. This is in addition to being made a Knight of Justice for the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
This isn’t to forget when he came forward for election to parliament in 1885, standing as an Independent Liberal. Though he came close, he lost the election by a total of 690 votes.
He also received many honours from the British Government including the Companion of St. Michael and St. George (CMG), Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG), Knight Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) and Knight Commander of Bath (KCB).
The Egyptian Government also made him a third class Mejidiye.
In 1886, Warren was appointed a Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis. During the Victorian era, and in the 20th century as well, it was believed that the favoured candidates for the post were often decorated military men.
Perhaps his investigation into Palmer’s fate helped put him forward as being the man for the job, facing a force that had suffered from the inactivity of his predecessor and had poor morale. This isn’t to forget bad economic conditions across London, which ultimately led to a number of demonstrations and political rivalries.
So, in our next character profile on Charles Warren, we will be taking a look at his role in the Jack the Ripper murders. Stay tuned or join us on one of our Jack the Ripper walks for the full picture!