More About The Bloodhounds

One journalist who frequently commented on the Whitechapel Murders was George Sims (1847 – 1922), who used his “Mustard And Cress” column in the Sunday newspaper The Referee make numerous observations on the case at the time of the murders, and who continued to comment on the mystery of who the murderer was for many years after 1888.

As a personal friend of Melville Macnaghten, George Sims was privy to the direction that the police investigation was taking throughout the early 1890’s, and he continued to receive tip-offs and other facts about the mystery for many years later.

In 1897, a Bloodhound Club was formed in London, and this news inspired Sims to look back on one of the best-known, and most frequently misreported aspects of the Jack the Ripper case – the idea that bloodhounds might be brought in to help track the perpetrator of the atrocities.

A photograph of George Sims.
George Sims.


In his musings in his “Mustard and Cress” column on Sunday, 18th April, 1897, George Sims looked back on the autumn of terror, and revealed to his readers what he actually knew about the time when bloodhounds were brought in in the hope that their superior sense of smell might provide the breakthrough in the hunt for Jack the Ripper :-

“There is an interesting article in the Daily Mail on the formation of the new Bloodhound Club. The Bloodhound Club intend to have Man Hunts. When they do, may we be there to see?

That doubtless sounds bloodthirsty, but it is not really so. The bloodhound would not do the men any harm – certainly not in the hunt as arranged under Kennel Club rules.

The bloodhound is not called so because he thirsts for blood, or has a special gift for following a blood trail, but because be is “a hound of blood.” The bloodhound is reputed to have the quickest scent of all dogs, and that is why he has been employed in following a blood trail.


One of the most interesting bloodhound trials that I can remember took place during the Jack the Ripper scare.

Sir Charles Warren was advised by Mr. Alfred Sewell and Mr. George R. Krehl to put the bloodhounds on, and Mr. Brough, the world-famed bloodhound breeder, agreed to send the animals to London.

They were duly forwarded to Leman Street Police Station.

A portrait of Sir Charles Warren.
Sir Charles Warren, The Metropolitan Police Commissioner. From The Illustrated London News, 1st May 1886. Copyright, The British Library Board and The Mary Evans Picture Library.


Sir Charles Warren’s first request was that he should have a proof of their skill.

Accordingly one day, at four o’clock in the morning, Sir Charles proceeded to Hyde Park and immediately afterwards the dogs were driven up in a cart.

Sir Charles then started off as a supposed fugitive, and after a time the dogs were put on his trail. They ran him down in a very short space of time. In order to express their delight at having found the object of their search, the great dogs leapt up to lick his face.

Sir Charles, who was not quite sure what bloodhounds did when they had secured their quarry, behaved with admirable presence of mind until the dogs were called off, but he told a friend of his afterwards that it was not the happiest five minutes of his lift.

The two bloodhounds are released.
The Bloodhounds Are Released. From The Illustrated London News, 20th October 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board and The Mary Evans Picture Library.


The dogs’ conduct having secured Sir Charles Warren’s approval, they were sent back to Leman Street Police Station.

The fact that they were there was made widely known, and the police had strict instructions on what to do with regard to the “trail” in the event of another murder occurring.

Now here is a remarkable fact.

During the time the dogs were in Whitchapel, and their readiness for the fray the subject of public and journalistic comment, not a single attempt was made by ce cher Jack to indulge in his favourite pastime.


But, one day, the dogs left, and this is how their leaving came about.

Mr. Brough, finding the authorities intended to retain and use his dogs, wrote a polite letter to Sir Charlie Warren saying that the police were quite welcome to their services, but that he would like an undertaking from them to compensate him should these valuable animals be injured or killed by Jack when they came up with him.

The police were exceedingly sorry, but they were unable to give such an undertaking. There were “no funds” on which they could draw for such a purpose.

Thus the dogs were returned to their owner a day or two after and it was announced in the press that they had left Whitechapel.

The to bloodhounds.
The Detective Bloodhounds. From The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 20th October 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


That very night Jack the Ripper committed the Mitre Square murder.

This is not fiction, it is history. Had the dogs been put on the blood scent then they might have run the famous Jack to earth.

The chance of discovering the identity of one of the most remarkable miscreants of modern times was lost forever because the police had no funds at their disposal with which to indemnify the owner of valuable bloodhounds in the case of injury to the animals.


When the new Bloodhound Club has its Man Hunts I hope an opportunity will be given to the general public to witness them.

They might, with a little stage management, be made exceedingly dramatic and interesting, and then they would draw a huge gate, and the money might go to the great dog charities.

These Man Hunts will also settle another question.

There are cynical dog fanciers who declare that the bloodhound business is all spoof and that they would be absolutely useless in the tracking of a murderer.

Messieurs the members of the Bloodhound Club, let us have that muzzled at once, please.”