Press Reactions

The enquiry into the arrest of Elizabeth Cass by Police Constable Endacott concluded on 26th July 1887.

If you missed our article n the enquiry, you can read it here.


The next day the newspapers began offering their opinions on how the inquiry had been handled, with several of them questioning the impartiality of Sir Charles Warren who, after all, was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner  – one of whose men was at the root of the scandal.

Ever since the arrest had been picked up by the newspapers in early July 1887, it was obvious that the press was firmly behind Miss Cass. The headlines in almost all the reports that had appeared throughout the  month referred to the case in terms such as “The Cass Outrage” or “The Police Outrage On Miss Cass.”

An Illustration showing Miss Cass and Police Constable Endacott.
Miss Cass and PC Endacott. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.

Now, with the inquiry over, the newspapers began giving their verdicts on the handling of the case; and there seems to have been a general consensus that there had been a whitewash.


“The Chief Commissioners enquiry into the arrest of Miss Cass was brought to a concluion yesterday nd, for all the goood that has come of it, might just as well never have taken place.

As matters have been managed it has only stirred up the mud without getting to the bottom of the mystery.

The whole enquiry seems to have been visited by two distinct mistakes, the one being the fact that no 0ath was adminsitered to the witnesses, the other that the presiding official was, of necessity, an interested person.

It is greatly to be feared that what has now occurred will have a bad effect upon the public, and shake their confidence, not only in the integrity of the police, but in the adequacy of any cases of alleged misconduct undertaken by the authorities of Scotland-yard.

It, we say, cannot end here; and that there will be a very general feeling of dissatisfaction if it does.

Anybody charged with the offence of which Endacott accuses the young woman should have some better means at hand of clearing her character than has been afforded in this particular instance.

Down to the present moment there has in the case of Miss Cass been a lamentable failure of justice.

There is no need to conceal the truth.

The Home Secretary blundered grievously in the first instance; that blunder has been followed by another, which has simply made confusion worse confounded. The public are disgusted with the management of the affair from first to last, and the sooner the Government take up the subject as one of real and pressing importance, the better it will be for them and for the interests of justice.”


” The obvious result of the whole inquiry is that nothing at all has come to light which could justify anybody in supposing that Miss Cass is otherwise than a virtuous, well-behaved girl, whose reputation, both in London and in her native place, would bear thorough scrutiny.

There seems now to be no logical alternative between the view that the constable who arrested Miss Cass is a perfectly honest witness, who, in spite of appearances to the contrary, spoke the truth as to what he saw, and the conclusion that he has been committing wilful and corrupt perjury.

The apparent outcome, obvious to every observer after the five days’ hearing, is that either the policeman or the girl has been guilty of gross and wilful falsehood.

And, having the evidence of that inquiry before them, the public cannot help seeing that Endacott’s character has come out not absolutely spotless, while Miss Cass has not suffered at all from the inquiries which have been made into her past history, or from the insinuations levelled against her by witnesses whose testimony is not, to say the least, of a convincing description.

The whole affair will end in a most lame conclusion indeed if the policeman be not now proceeded against in the regular fashion of law, with sworn testimony on both sides, and a proper prospect of punishment if he be proved guilty.”


The police have shown a commendable disposition to meet the requirements of public opinion.

The public must have expected a more serious attempt at personal vindication by Endacott, even though it had taken no better form than the frank admission of a mistake.

It is certainly not too much to say that Miss Cass has come victoriously through the ordeal, and that the proceedings leave her character where it was before the moment of the arrest.

No accused person could desire better witnesses than those who came up, one after the other, to testify to her thorough respectability.

Some of Endacott’s witnesses have undoubtedly received rather harsh measure, but the line of examination showed that they were suspected of belonging to that nondescript class who do the dirty work of the detective service without being attached to the force.”


“It was called a ‘court,’ but that was a mockery, for the so-called court had no power as such, though Sir Charles Warren of course was master, and could do as he pleased.

Every one but the Commissioner was present on sufferance, and was liable to be turned out at his pleasure.

There were no witnesses, for there was no one who had the power to administer the oath.

Every one might come and say what he or she pleased, and no one could he compelled to answer any question which he or she objected to answer.

Not a single word of what was said by the so-called witnesses was evidence, and a great deal of it would have been utterly inadmissible even if it had been said on oath.

The position would have peen in the highest degree ludicrous if it had not been in the highest degree deplorable.”


“The whole trouble is due to the absurd amount of power vested in the police, and also to the extraordinary behaviour of Mr, Newton.

I see that Sir Charles Warren has just issued a new order directing that no woman is to be taken into custody for accosting unless the person complaining attends at the station and presses the charge.

Had this sensible rule been in force before, we should never have heard of Miss Cass.”


However, what becomes apparent throughout the massive amount of newspaper coverage on the case is that nobody ever seems to have stopped to ask the question – did Miss Cass ever get the pair of gloves she went out to buy on the night of the 28th June 1887?