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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Police Officials and Procedures > Anderson, Sir Robert

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  #1  
Old 03-05-2009, 10:28 AM
Stewart P Evans Stewart P Evans is offline
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Default The Nature and Character of Anderson

Anderson is, once more, the subject of debate.

Sir Robert Anderson is a very important character in the Ripper story and every so often comes under the microscope. We are told that 'much depends on the character of Anderson...' and that 'next to no research has been done' in this respect [Sir Robert Anderson: 'A Source Analysis' by Paul Begg, Ripperologist issue 100]. In fact he has 'really only been assessed by author Martin Fido, a professional academic and specialist in the Victorian period who is blessed with an interest in and understanding of the eccentric religious beliefs of Anderson and their influence on his character...'

All well and good then. But is the reading of a few of Anderson's books on theology (several of which I have) really enough to see inside his character and nature. Obviously they will be revelatory as to his religious beliefs, beliefs which obviously will affect his character but may not actually reveal anything other than what he is prepared to show to the world.

I have already shown how wrong such character determination can be when Fido assessed Anderson and Henry Smith of the City Police as 'Neither can be imagined having any comfortable dealings with the other, or willingly exchanging confidences' [The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper, Martin Fido, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987]. In light of the letter (below, only two of four pages shown) written by Smith to Anderson in 1901, this assessment would appear to be very wide of the mark.

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So it is all very well relying on secondary sources to make your assessments, but they may not always tell you enough, or reveal too much. And should any of us presume to be declared a great authority on any person unless, perhaps, we have produced a detailed, comprehensive and well-researched biography of that person? I certainly would not, and I have only a specific, albeit comprehensive, knowledge of a small area reflecting on Anderson's character. In short I am no expert. To be continued...
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:55 AM
Magpie Magpie is offline
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Thank you SPE!

Very interesting letter
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Old 03-05-2009, 11:03 AM
Stewart P Evans Stewart P Evans is offline
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Default Another Aspect

Another aspect of Anderson that I don't recall Messrs Fido and Begg saying much about is his apparent 'kleptomania' as regards official documents. There are many examples.

Anderson was a long-time civil servant and would have known the rules backwards. Did he consider himself above the rules? Did he have no scruples in this respect? Did he think that he was doing no wrong?, surely not, he would have known it was wrong. Indeed it was a serious matter to personally retain official documents, one for which you could lose your job and your pension. To put a none-too fine a point on it, it was theft.

But this didn't stop Anderson, for his personal files contained many examples. Below is a letter that Anderson personally kept and was in his files when he died. It is a letter, n.d., from the statesman Gathorne-Hardy (first Earl of Cranbrook, 1814-1906), to Sir Adolphus Liddell (1818-1885) the Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, 1867.

This letter is not even one that had been written to Anderson and is on official Home Office embossed stationery.

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Surely this 'bad habit' of Anderson's reflects upon his character? And, don't forget, this is a man who was a paragon of virtue who would not lie. I'm sure he would have lied if someone had tackled him on nicking official documents. One thing that must be obvious is that there are many considerations to be taken into account when assessing the character of Anderson. To my mind this has never been done in a serious, and objective, manner. Indeed he was a complex character and much rests upon his words as regards any potential solution of the Ripper mystery.

This is not an exercise in character assassination and I don't intend it to be. I hope that it is objective, and if it isn't it would be nice to enlarge upon that. However, many of the past assessments of Anderson have been biased, one way or the other. But, surely, the more that is known about him, the more accurate any assessment will be.

I think it fair to say that he was a bit of a law unto himself.
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Old 03-05-2009, 03:51 PM
Stewart P Evans Stewart P Evans is offline
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Default Letter From an Old Friend

In the last year of his life Anderson received this letter of solace from his old Dublin friend 'Rathmore' (1838-1919. 1st Baron Rathmore, David Robert Plunket).

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Old 03-05-2009, 04:10 PM
ChrisGeorge ChrisGeorge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart P Evans View Post
Another aspect of Anderson that I don't recall Messrs Fido and Begg saying much about is his apparent 'kleptomania' as regards official documents. There are many examples.

Anderson was a long-time civil servant and would have known the rules backwards. Did he consider himself above the rules? Did he have no scruples in this respect? Did he think that he was doing no wrong?, surely not, he would have known it was wrong. Indeed it was a serious matter to personally retain official documents, one for which you could lose your job and your pension. To put a none-too fine a point on it, it was theft.
Hello Stewart

You make a good point about Anderson's apparent "kleptomania" as regards official documents and I agree that does say something about his character.

In keeping such documents, a beat copper could lose his job and his pension, but I wonder if in that day a senior official would? I also have in mind Macnaghten keeping photographs of the case to show visitors. . . .

All the best

Chris
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Old 03-05-2009, 04:41 PM
Stewart P Evans Stewart P Evans is offline
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Default Theft

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Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
Hello Stewart
You make a good point about Anderson's apparent "kleptomania" as regards official documents and I agree that does say something about his character.
In keeping such documents, a beat copper could lose his job and his pension, but I wonder if in that day a senior official would? I also have in mind Macnaghten keeping photographs of the case to show visitors. . . .
All the best
Chris
Keeping a few photographs, of which their were multiple copies (Anderson kept a set too), are a slightly different thing to official letters, each of which was unique and several nothing to do with him. Yes, he could lose his job for it - it was theft.
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Old 03-05-2009, 06:46 PM
jason_c jason_c is offline
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At this point we must remember that Abberline also purportedly kept documents and files. As disagreeable as it sounds, keeping police documents was probably not limited to only a few individuals.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:09 AM
Chris Chris is offline
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I wonder if anyone can answer a rather basic question for me: when was the serial version of Anderson's memoirs first referred to by a Ripper author? Obviously Philip Sugden (1994) discusses it, but was he the first?
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:40 AM
Stewart P Evans Stewart P Evans is offline
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Default Blackwood's

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I wonder if anyone can answer a rather basic question for me: when was the serial version of Anderson's memoirs first referred to by a Ripper author? Obviously Philip Sugden (1994) discusses it, but was he the first?
Chris, I haven't checked but I should think that credit for this goes to the authors of the A to Z. It's certainly in the 1991 first edition of their book. However, as the Blackwood's series is referred to in the 1910 press possibly others had seen this reference.

Incidentally I have a complete run of Blackwood's from 1909 to 1910 and the series abruptly ended in June 1910, well short of completion. No reason is stated but you have to wonder. Apparently there is a collection of correspondence from Anderson in the Blackwood's archives in Edinburgh.
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Old 03-15-2009, 02:02 AM
Rob Clack Rob Clack is offline
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It's mentioned in Martin Fido's Crimes and Detection book (page 123 Hardback) which is 1987.

Rob
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