Attempted Murder Of A Policeman

An example of the many dangers that were faced by the Victorian police constables as they went about their duty in London, especially in the early hours of the morning, was reported by The York Herald in its edition of Saturday the 4th of January 1851:-


On Tuesday morning, shortly after one o’clock, an attempt to murder a policeman was made by a man in High Holborn, nearly opposite Warwick Court.

It appears that police constable  A 332 (of the reserve force), was on duty near the spot indicated, when he observed a man coming towards him apparently intoxicated.


The next moment the fellow reeled up against the officer, who cautioned him to be careful, and admonished him that he did not believe he was so drunk as he appeared to be.

The man instantly turned round and threatened the constable that, if he interfered with him, he would do for him.

On the officer advancing towards him, he became more violent, and exclaimed, “I have a stiletto here which you know nothing about – your life is in my hands, and if you touch me I will nave it,” at the same time brandishing his hands and striking at the policeman.


The conduct of the fellow was observed by two or three persons, and one of them, remarking that he had some bright weapon in his hand, warned the constable to be careful, and ran off to obtain additional assistance.

Before he had gone many yards he met police constable 22 F who, on learning the circumstances, hastened to the assistance of his comrade, who was still parrying with his assailant.

Relying on their joint power they closed upon the fellow, and, during a violent struggle that ensued, the villain stabbed police constable 22 F in the groin.


The poor fellow cried out that he was stabbed, and the other constable, being assisted by two or three bystanders, succeeded in securing the prisoner, who was immediately taken to Bow Street Police Station.

On being charged before Inspector Dodd, the prisoner first gave his name as Chares Dunn, and afterward stated it to be Charles Smith.

He refused to give any other account of himself, and he behaved with great violence while the witnesses were giving their testimony.


The names of the witnesses are George Crow, a sailor boy, of No. 4, George Yard, Whitechapel, and Mr. Alfred Brimble, of King Street, Holborn.

The latter picked up and produced an open clasp knife, about five inches in length, which fell from the prisoner during his scuffle with the officers.


The wounded policeman was conveyed in a cab to King’s College Hospital, where, on a surgical examination, it was ascertained that he had received a wound in the groin, about an inch and a half long, and two inches deep, from which blood flowed profusely.

The house- surgeon stated that, had the knife entered an inch lower, it would have severed the femoral artery, and instant death must have ensued.