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Sergeant Stephen White

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  • Sergeant Stephen White

    Biographical details and Photos:

    Stephen White c1900 (copyright Delia Lorensen)
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    Stephen White from 'The Peoples Journal' 27 September 1919
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    Son Percy (copyright Delia Lorensen)
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    Daughter Edith (copyright Delia Lorensen)
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    1854 Born 25th May in Oare, Favisham district, Kent.
    Son of George White, Labourer and Hannah White (Born Kennett also married previously to somebody named “Sparks”).

    1861 Living in Standard Square (presumably No. 5), Faversham, Kent with parents, brother George age 10 (this is possibly George Sparks), Alfred age 5 and sister Esther age 1.

    1871 Living at 5 Standard Square with parents, sister Esther age 11 and brother Alfred age 8.

    1875 23rd April married Olive Fletcher, Living at 5 Standard Square, Faversham, Kent.

    11th October, Joined Police, Warrant no.59442. Stationed at L Division, Kennington, Lambeth.

    1878 7th February, Daughter Edith was born, living at 28 Henry Street, Upper Kennington Lane, Lambeth.

    1881 Living at 28 Gilbert Road, Lambeth, Surrey, England. Living with wife Olive White, Daughter Edith White and Lodger James Taylor who was 43 and occupation was Time Keeper.

    26th July, promoted to Police Sergeant, Third Class.

    4th August, Transferred to H (Whitechapel) Division,

    1882 17th February, Son Percy was born, living at 77 Rutland Street, Mile End.

    1886 4th November, promoted Police Sergeant, Second Class.

    1888 Part of the detectives that investigated the Whitechapel murders.

    30th September, sent by Inspector Abberline, and in the company of P. C. Dolden, made house-to-house inquires in Berner Street, Interviewed Matthew Packer.

    4th October, re-interviewed Matthew Packer.

    19th NOVEMBER 1888


    On Saturday afternoon the Birmingham detectives informed the police at Scotland-yard that a man suspected of being concerned in the Whitechapel murders had left that town by train for London. Detectives Leach and White, of the Criminal Investigation Department, proceeded to Willesden junction and Euston respectively, and at the latter station Inspector White detained the person in question, and conveyed him to Scotland-yard. It was stated that he had been staying at a common lodging-house in Birmingham since Monday last. The suspected person was a medical man who was some years ago practising in London, He was of gentlemanly appearance and manners and somewhat resembled the description given by witnesses at the late inquest. After being closely questioned as to his whereabouts at the time of the murders, and supplying a satisfactory account of himself, he was liberated.

    1891 Living at 55 Bromehead Street, Mile End. Living with wife Olive, son Percy and daughter Edith.

    1891 26th December, transferred to S (Hampstead) Division. Police Sergeant, First Class.

    1893 24th April, transferred back to H Division.

    1895 9th December, Promoted to Local Inspector. H Division.

    1896 17th December, Daughter Edith married Alfred Clark.

    1900 12th October, retired.

    Pension details:

    Age on Resignation: 46 years

    Length of Service: 25 years 4 days.

    Remuneration at date of retirement: £3 and 19 shillings per week.

    Height: 5ft 10 1/2 inches

    Hair: Grey

    Eyes: Brown

    Complexion: Fresh

    Particular Mark, Defect or Infirmity by which he may be identified: Nil.

    16 October 1900

    Inspector White Retires.
    East End Police Memories

    In Inspector Stephen White, of the Criminal Investigation Department, who retired from the service on Saturday, London loses one of the smartest detectives the force has ever known. Mr. White joined the police 26 years ago, and was first stationed in the L division at Kennington. His abilities were soon recognised, and he became a member of the old detective force. When Mr. (now Sir) Howard Vincent took office as the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Mr White was promoted to sergeant, and in 1880 was transferred to Leman-street, Whitechapel, the head quarters of the H division, where he passed through all the grades until he became the chief of the local staff, and now retires on a full pension, and with the respect and best wishes of all his fellow officers. Among a few of the important captures made by Mr. White were those of the dynamitards, Cunningham and Burton, at the Tower of London, at the time of the explosion there, for which services he was rewarded and commended by the Home Office. In 1879 he discovered a Fenian Arsenal in the New Cut, Lambeth, and captured the proprietor, who received a long term of penal servitude. He has had, perhaps, a greater experience of murders than any other officer in the department, being engaged in the whole of the "Jack the Ripper" crimes in the East End. He was also connected with the notorious cases of Harry Alt, who murdered a German baker in Turner-street; Sullivan, the St. George's murderer; Cronin, the Limehouse assassin; Ronin, who committed murder in Angel-court, Whitechapel; Seaman, who killed an aged Jew and his housekeeper in Turner-street; Karaczewski the Pole, who shot a man and woman dead in Brick-lane; Kate Marshall, who killed her sister in Dorset-street, in the very same house where the last Ripper murder was committed. Keepers of private stills, which at one time were very common in the district, had good reason to fear Mr. White, his record of the last year alone being 16 prosecutions. A clever musician, a witty and fluent speaker, he has contributed as an entertainer to the enjoyment of many thousands in all parts of the country, and many a thief who considered himself an expert in palming has had reason to regret that Mr. White was a professor in the art of legerdemain.

    1900 26th December, Son Percy (Percy was listed as a Policeman) married Caroline Annie Brown, daughter of William Brown, a retired Police Constable.

    1901 Living at 39 Senrad Street, Mile End. Living with wife Olive. There was a visitor Isaac Alfred Hopping (who was related to Olive White) aged 19, born in Kent. Occupation was Butler staying at the time of the 1901 census.
    Daughter Edith was staying at the above address also with husband Alfred and two children, Mina 4 and Stanley 2.

    Percy was living at 47 Arbour Square, Mile End. Occupation was Railway Detective.

    25 May 1901


    At Shoreditch, ex-Insp. Stephen White, of the Criminal Investigation Department, H Division Metropolitan Police was presented with a purse containing 100 guineas, subscribed by the local members of Parliament, tradesmen and friends, on his retirement from the Force after upwards of 25 years’ service. It was incidentally mentioned during the proceedings that Mr. White had recently been the recipient of a handsome gold watch from his colleagues at Scotland Yard, and a gold-mounted walking-stick from the officers who served under him whilst in the Force

    1919 17th September, died. Cause of death was Carcinoma of Prostate, for which he was operated on at the London Hospital 19(missing). He died at home which was still 39 Senrad Street. His son Percy was listed as informant, he was living at 220 Risley Avenue, Tottenham. Death was certified by Dr H Richardson M.R.C.S. there was no post-mortem.

    27 September 1919

    One of the smartest detectives the Metropolitan Police Force ever knew has passed away in exDetective-Inspector White who retired from the C.I.D. in 1900 after completing 27 years' service. After a few years he was promoted to a sergeant and was transferred from Kennington to Leman Street, Whitechapel.
    There he made several important captures, among them being the arrest of the dynamitards, Cunningham and Burton, at the Tower of London at the time of the explosion there, for which service he was rewarded and commended by the Home Office.
    In 1879 he discovered a Fenian arsenal in the New Cut, Lambeth, and captured the proprietor, who was sentenced to a long term of penal servitude.
    His experience of murders, was perhaps unique. He was engaged on the whole of the Jack the Ripper crimes which caused such a grim sensation among East Enders. One night he was on what appeared to be a certain clue to the mysterious murderer of women in the Whitechapel region. He kept watch in an East End street, but the murderer's movements were not in accordance with anticipation. For about ten minutes only he left the street, and to his amazement he found on his return that a woman had been stabbed. He saw no man anywhere, and the mystery became even more baffling. As is well known, Jack the Ripper was never discovered.
    Mr. White was also associated with the notorious case of Harry Alt, who murdered a German baker in Turner Street; Sullivan the St. George in the East murderer; Cronin the Limehouse assassin; Roman, who committed murder in Angel Court, Whitechapel; Seaman, who killed an aged Jew and his housekeeper in Turner Street; Karacrewski, the pole, who shot a man and woman dead in Brick Lane; and Kate Marshall, who killed her sister in Dorset Street, in the very house where the last Ripper murder was committed.
    It is interesting to note that a son of his is a detective at the G. P. O. The funeral took place on Tuesday.

  • #2
    The Peoples Journal 27 September 1919

    The Peoples Journal Article from 27 September 1919


    Saturday 27 September 1919


    Famous Detective Tried by Court of Anarchists

    “STEVE” White as we knew our deceased colleague, Mr Stephen White, believed to be the only man engaged in the hunt who met “Jack the Ripper,” was a detective of the old school who worked without the finger-print system and other devices favoured at the “Yard” to-day. For all that he had many years of good work to his credit, and when he retired he had the reputation of having run more dangerous criminals to earth than any other man employed as a police officer in London. The East End is easily the most dangerous place in the London area for the police officer, and White had more than his share of the danger. Anarchists were unusually active in London in the “eighties” and it was the duty of White to visit their dens and to be able to lay hands on some of the most desperate men in Europe. The Fenians and their successors, the Dynamitards, also flourished in his time, and they also found refuge in the East End, where their plots were hatched by night and day. In addition, there were the ordinary criminal classes to be watched, and on top of that the activities of the miscreant known as “Jack the Ripper” engaged the attention of the East End police during the decade under review.
    White was one of the officers who had to spend weary nights in different disguises loitering about the narrow courts and evil smelling alleys of the Whitechapel area on the offchance of detecting the murderer at his practice of decoying women to death and horrible mutilation.
    The Alley’s Grim Secret.
    One of White's reports on his nightly vigils contains the following passages: 
    “For five nights we had been watching a certain alley just behind the Whitechapel Road. It could only be entered from where we had two men posted in hiding, and persons entering the alley were under observation by the two men. It was a bitter cold night when I arrived at the scene to take the report of the two men in hiding. I was turning away when I saw a man coming out of the alley. He was walking quickly but noiselessly, apparently wearing rubber shoes, which were rather rare in those days. I stood aside to let the man pass, and as he came under the wall lamp I got a good look at him.
    “He was about five feet ten inches in height, and was dressed rather shabbily, though it was obvious that the material of his clothes was good. Evidently a man who had seen better days. I thought, but men who had seen better days are common enough down East, and that of itself was not sufficient to justify me in stopping him. His face was long and thin, nostrils rather delicate, and his hair was jet black. His complexion was inclined to be sallow, and altogether the man was foreign. The most striking thing about him, however, was the extraordinary brilliance of his eyes. They looked like two luminous glow worms coming through the darkness. The man was slightly bent at the shoulders, though he was obviously quite young - about 33, at the most - and gave one the idea of having been a student or professional man. His hands were snow white, and fingers long and tapering.
    Man With Musical Voice.
    “As the man passed me at the lamp I had an uneasy feeling that there was something more than usually sinister about him, and I was strongly moved to find some pretext for detaining him; but the more I thought it over, the more was I forced to the conclusion that it was not in keeping with British police methods that I should do so. My only excuse for interfering with the passage of this man would have been his association with the man we were looking for, and I had no real grounds for connecting him with the murder. It is true I had a sort of intuition that the man was not quite right. Still, if one acted on intuition in the police force, there would be more frequent outcries about interference with the liberty of subject, and at that time the police were criticised enough to make it undesirable to take risks.
    “The man stumbled a few feet away from me, and I made that an excuse for engaging him in conversation. He turned sharply at the sound of my voice, and scowled at me in a surly fashion, but he said ‘Good-night’ and agreed with me that it was cold.
    “His voice was a surprise to me. It was soft and musical, with just a tinge of melancholy in it, and it was a voice of a man of culture - a voice altogether out of keeping with the squalid surroundings of the East End.
    “As he turned away, one of the police officers came out of the house he had been in, and walked a few paces into the darkness of the alley. ‘Hello! what is this?’ he cried, and then he called in startled tones to me to come along.
    “In the East End we are used to shocking sights, but the sight I saw made the blood in my veins turn to ice. At the end of the cul-de-sac, huddled against the wall, there was the body of a woman, and a pool of blood was streaming along the gutter from her body. It was clearly another of those terrible murders I remembered the man I had seen, and I started after him as fast as I could run, but he was lost to sight in the dark labyrinth of East End mean streets.”
    White's description of the suspected murderer was widely circulated and used by the police at the time, but the man was never seen. It was White’s description that gave the late Sir Robert Anderson his conviction that the murderer was a Jewish medical student, who had taken this method of avenging himself on women of the class to which his victims belonged.
    The mystery, however, that baffled the police more than anything was how the murderer and the victim managed to get into the alley under the eyes of the watching police. It was clear that the couple had not been in any of the houses, and they were not known to any of the residents. Therefore they must have passed into the alley from the Whitechapel Road, and the two police officers were positive that in the four hours of their vigil not a soul had entered the alley. White had his own suspicions regarding the truth of this declaration, and his suspicions were shared by Sir Robert Anderson, who afterwards in comparing notes with White, expressed the opinion that the murderer and his victim had entered the close during the temporary absence of the two watching policeman. The men afterwards admitted that they had gone away for not more than a minute. It was a very short absence undoubtedly, but it was long enough to give the murderer time to walk into the alley with his victim.
    Among the Anarchists.
    White knew all the anarchists haunts of the East End, and when the police of the world were on the look-out for criminals of the worst type who had fled to London after committing murders and bomb outrages he was debuted to visit the dens to find traces of some of the most desperate men. On one of these occasions he found his way into the Commercial Road haunt of a particularly dangerous Anarchist group, and while they were talking of their plans for assassination of the Tsar of Russia and the President of France a woman rose and denounced the police officer, saying that she had recognised him in spite of his disguise.
    At first White tried to bluff his way out, but the Anarchists were not to be bluffed. He saw that the only course open to him was to confess, and he owned up. For nearly two hours that night the Anarchists discussed the fate of the spy, as they called him. He was put on trial in the manner made familiar by melodrama, and interrogated very closely concerning his object in “Spying” on the comrades. Some of the Anarchists insisted that he should die, and White thought for a time that death was to be his fate.
    He left on record this impression of his sensations while he was being “tried”:-
    “I was among wild beasts. I could see that there was little pity in the breasts of these men, and less in the breasts of the women. Indeed had it been left to the women. I should not have come out alive. One amiable ruffian stood a few feet away from me, with a revolver in one hand and a knife in the other, gesticulating wildly, and demanding from the President of this strange Council the right to put me to death as a traitor. I was more than a little anxious about my fate. And I watched anxiously for the first favourable opportunity of escape. None came to me, and, indeed the anarchists seemed to have taken the precaution to close all avenues of escape.
    Just when I thought that it was a choice between being turned over to the ruffian of the black beard and the knife and pistol, and being dealt with by the man who wanted to put me in a room with a bomb, to which a time fuse was attached, the weird-looking President spoke. “He told the ‘comrades’ that they owed much to British hospitality, and that if they punished ‘the traitor’ they would probably incur the wrath of the British Government, and might find it difficult to get fresh asylum anywhere. Therefore, he advised that I be liberated. This was a disappointment to the murderously inclined, and they murmured loudly, but, to my relief, I could see that the words were not without effect on the strange assembly. “One of the kind-hearted ladies there wanted to have me branded with the initial letter of the “spy,” so that if ever I fell into the hands of the ‘comrades’ on another occasion they could deal with me for all my offences. This was dismissed by the President as inexpedient, and it was finally decided to let me go. “Needless to say, I was pleased when I felt the cool, but not clean, air of the Commercial Road fanning my brows once more. In spite of that experience, I made many visits to the Anarchists Clubs and meeting-plates of the East End, but never afterwards was my disguise penetrated, though I once danced with the lady who had denounced me at that meeting.”


    • #3
      Tuesday 25th November 1902 at a school room in Dunkirk Village, Kent.

      Life in London:
      A Ramble round the East End with a Detective

      A Dioramic Entertainment

      (Late Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department, New Scotland Yard, London)

      Illustrated by nearly 100 MAGNIFICENT VIEWS from Original Photos and Sketches made by him during his work as a Detective for upwards of a Quarter of a Century amongst the Criminals of London.

      Abstracts from the press:

      “One of the smartest detectives the force has ever known. He has had a greater experience of murders than any other officer in the department.”-Lloyds News, October 15th, 1900.
      “During Inspector White's term of service he received 123 commendations from judges and others. “-Daily Telegraph, May 24th, 1901.
      "The first witness called at last Thursday's sitting of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration was Mr. Stephen White, a retired Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department and late Local Inspector of the ‘H’ (Whitechapel) Division of the Metropolitan Police. Mr White stated that he had been resident in the district many years and had had therefore considerable experience of it, especially with regard to criminal statistics. There had been a great many changes in the East End since his residence there, rents had been increased and key money largely demanded. Overcrowding was very excessive, and the witness proceeded to give numerous instances of this. The aliens, Mr White stated, had disregarded all sanitary laws and he illustrated this by cases within his own experience. With regard to crime amongst the aliens the witness mentioned gambling as being very prevalent, and gave a mass of interesting evidence dealing with East End life, at the conclusion of which he was thanked by the Chairman, Lord James of Hereford “-Jewish Chronicle, July 18th, 1902.
      Amongst other interesting subjects the Lecturer will describe

      A Visit to the Police Museum. Detectives and their work. A Night in a Thieves' Kitchen.
      A Raid on a Gamblers’ Den.
      Club Row on a Sunday Morning.
      How some of the Poor live.
      Spitalfields on a Saturday Night. A visit to an Opium den. Mile End Waste on a Saturday Night.
      Some dark deeds in the East-End.
      Criminals at work. The Jews’ Market, Petticoat Lane. Out of Work and in Work.
      A Visit to an East-End Shelter.
      Life in the Slums. A terrible crime. Arrest of the accused. The Prisoner’s first night in a cell. A death sentence. The condemned cell and place of Execution.
      London street scenes and characters.

      The whole forming a most interesting, Instructive and unique entertainment.


      • #4
        Thanks Rob,

        I don't really see why White's description would lead anyone to think the guy was a Jewish medical student. He didn't say anything about an accent so what about that would make one think he was a Jew and a foreigner? Also, if he was a medical student wouldn't he have had better clothing? I assume from the cul-de-sac reference that we are talking about Eddowes.
        This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

        Stan Reid


        • #5
          That's true Stan, all we've got is 'soft and musical'. I sometimes wonder that what we are reading is an edited account of a much fuller report.
          Eddowes would seem the most likely choice especially with the comment:
          "and I had no real grounds for connecting him with the murder".(reference to Stride?), but there is always the possibility that it could be Francis Coles.



          • #6
            Hi Rob,

            Yes, occasional references to Ripper murders are sometimes ones that we now consider as non-canonicals. There was an account on the previous boards where a woman said something about an ancestor investigating a JtR slaying and it turned out that it was probably the boy who was killed and who had his boots placed in his emptied abdominal cavity, a killing that was first thought to possibly be connected to Jack but now isn't by almost anyone.
            This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

            Stan Reid


            • #7

              Thanks for all that stuff on White, fantastic.

              Only thing, or two, amongst many, that puzzled me about this 'cul de sac' account. This passage that reads....

              ....At the end of the cul-de-sac, huddled against the wall, there was the body of a woman, and a pool of blood was streaming along the gutter from her body.
              I know of no victim who was 'huddled' against the wall, though both Stride and Eddowes were found close very to one. Then again, we could include Chapman I suppose.

              Also, does it state that the woman found was deceased?

              Just pondering.



              Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.



              • #8
                Unfortunately every time this comes up it needs to be pointed out that there's really nothing to support this alleged story. Earlier news reports about White have much more grounded information and nothing with this drama, police reports make no mention of anything remotely similar (other than bits of pieces of completely separate incidents), and the claim that "It was White’s description that gave the late Sir Robert Anderson his conviction that the murderer was a Jewish medical student" makes no sense in light of what we know about Anderson's claim of a witness refusing to testify because he spotted a fellow Jew.

                The whole thing sounds like nothing more than some journalist improving upon earlier rumors making the rounds related to the "White Eyes" doctor story and/or the man with "very peculiar eyes" reported by Thomas Bowyer and someone (White or a journalist) having switched around details of the Coles case, which did involve a police officer chasing after someone but no sighting.

                Dan Norder
                Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
                Web site: - Email:


                • #9

                  Im inclined to agree with you. As Ive mentioned, I have a fair few issues with this story. It would seem to be an amalgamation of fact, loose fact at that ans sensationalism.

                  RE Coles, someone chased after someone?




                  Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.



                  • #10
                    Hi all,

                    I always thought that White might have been the "City PC near Mitre Square" identified by Macnaghten as having seen a good suspect; assuming that MM got the "City PC" wrong like he did with the "Doctor" regarding Druitt.
                    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                    Stan Reid


                    • #11
                      Is it the top photo that was taken by Joseph Martin's brother, John?

                      And, I take that it is...

                      Could someone (RJM?) post a scan of the back of this photograph?


                      Last edited by jmenges; 02-18-2008, 09:25 PM.


                      • #12
                        Here's the back of the Stephen White photo:

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                        • #13

                          Now I know what to say to people showing off their new & shiny photo gear:
                          "Wow! But does it take Martinotypes?"
                          One explanation as regards the genesis of the White story (or ballad) could lie in his Dioramic Entertainment gigs.

                          The result: several stories -heard in by someone in some auditorium years before- jumbled together and told onwards.. with a journalist adding some icing on top.
                          Here's a press clipping on White's retirement:
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                          - - -
                          My favourite scenario as regards the story has Sgt White as "The Pipeman" and the thespian Mr Schwartz as "Mr Luminous Eyes".
                          Not that I believe in it - but there's at least some comic potential



                          • #14
                            Thanks Rob for posting the back of the Stephen White photo, which has a picture of John Martin on it. 2 for the price of 1!



                            • #15
                              I suggest that the topography of White's supposed sighting suggests Castle Alley more than any other Ripper-related site. But there is no mention of White's presence at Cly Pipe Alice's inquest, so as with Leeson's alleged presence at Frances Coles' murder site, we have an unsubstantiated copper-on-the-ground story, though in this case we have no evidence to suggest positively that it was White's unjustified boasting or exaggeration.
                              All the best,
                              Martin F