Sir Edward Bradford

In June 1890, James Monro resigned as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Sir Edward Bradford (1836 – 1911) was appointed as Commissioner in his place.

Bradford’s is not a name that tends to be associated with the Jack the Ripper murders, in fact, it is Sir Charles Warren who is the Commissioner whose name is mostly connected to the crimes.

However, it should be remembered that, as far as the Whitechapel Murders are concerned, Warren was only the Commissioner for just under three months of the period over which they occurred.

Warren’s successor, James Monro, was in office from December, 1888, to June 1890, when he, like his predecessor, also resigned.

Sir Edward Bradford came into office in June 1890 against a background of constant disagreement between the Home Secretary, Sir Henry Matthews, and the two previous Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police, and spent more time presiding over the force as it investigated the murders than that spent by his two predecessors combined.

A portrait of Sir Edward Bradford.
Sir Edward Bradford.


Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, on Sunday, 22nd June 1890, provided its readers with an assessment of the new Police Commissioner:-

“Colonel Sir Edward Ridley Colborne Bradford K.C.B., the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police in place of Mr. Monro, is the son of the late Rev. W. M. K. Bradford, rector of West Meon, Hants, and was born in 1836.

Entering the army in 1853, he obtained his captaincy in 1865, was gazetted major in 1873, lieutenant-colonel in 1879, and colonel in 1883. He served with the 14th Light Dragoons in the Persian campaign from February 21 till June 8, 1857; was in the Jubbulpore district during the same year, and in the North-Western Provinces in 1853.

Colonel Bradford was also with General Michel’s force in Mayne’s Horse against Tantia Topee in the same year, was present at the general action of Scindwha, and the action and pursuit of Karai.

From December, 1858, to September, 1859, he served with General Napier’s columns in Mayne’s Horse, and was in several actions, obtaining a medal and being twice thanked in the despatches.

Sir Edward was Agent to the Governor-general of Rajpootana, and Chief Commissioner for Ajtuore in 1887.

He was appointed Secretary in the political and secret department of the India office, and Aide-de-camp to the Queen in 1889.


Sir Richard Temple has given a reporter the following critical view of the new Commissioner:-

“I have known Sir Edward Bradford nearly all my life. I saw a great deal of him in India, although we were not officially connected.

In my opinion his present appointment is a happy one.

He is a man of courage and energy and bonhomie. His manners are gentle and charming. I look upon him as a man of the very best Anglo-Indian type, one of the men who I will not say make empires, but help to sustain them. His temper is excellent, and he has always been renowned for displaying great self-command in moments of danger or of emergency. He was very much liked in India, where he held in succession all the higher offices. He is a wonderfully good man for a ‘row,’ and, like all Anglo-Indians, is an excellent horseman.

Sir Edward, personally, is a little man, and has lost part of one of his arms, which a tigress tore off; but, notwithstanding this, he manages his horse with extraordinary skill.”


The tiger story is told at length by the Pall Mall Gazette.

It appears that Sir E. Bradford’s gun missed fire. The brute, which had been wounded, thereupon sprang upon him, knocked him down, and bit his arm. After this, the infuriated animal stretched himself at full length by the side of his unfortunate victim. He remained twenty minutes, and during the whole of this terrible time Sir Edward Bradford retained full consciousness. Subsequently, the tiger was despatched by a native.

The accident occurred 76 miles from any doctor, sand Sir Edward Bradford had to be carried all this distance on men’s heads before he could receive any proper attention.

It was found necessary to remove the lacerated limb by amputation, and for a considerable time after the operation, the sufferer was in a state of perfect insensibility.


All the morning papers yesterday appeared with one consent to ignore the real reason for the appointment of Sir Edward Bradford to the Commissionership of Metropolitan Police. It is that he was recently the guide, philosopher and friend of Prince Edward, now Duke of Clarence and Avondale, during the visit to India of the heir presumptive.

He recently succeeded Major-general Sir Owen Burne, as secretary of the “Political and Secret” department of the India Office, where the pay is 1,200l. per annum, that of the Police Commissionership being 1,500l.

But he was recommended by the young duke for the post as a man of firmness as well as tact.”


The Worcestershire Chronicle Saturday, on 28th June, 1890, published a further assessment of the new man in the top job:-

“In the House of Commons, last Friday, the Home Secretary announced that Sir Edward Bradford had been appointed Commissioner of Police.

Sir Edward is a colonel in the Madras Staff Corps, but for many years he has worked in the Civil Service of India.

Since his retirement from India, he has been secretary of the Political and Secret Department of the India Office. He accompanied Prince Albert Victor through his Indian tour.


Sir Richard’s testimony to the qualifications of the new Commissioner is as follows:-

“I saw a great deal of him in India, although we were not officially connected. In my opinion, his present appointment is a happy one.

Sir Edward Bradford is a man of courage and energy, and I look upon him as a man of the very best Anglo-Indian type – one of the men, I will not say who make Empires, but who help to sustain them.”


The Standard says:-

“It is a matter for profound regret that the efforts which have been made to secure the reinstatement of Mr. Monro have proved ineffectual.

Sir Edward Bradford may yet show that he is a Heavensent Commissioner, and atone by his achievements for the absence of credentials.

But something is due in these cases to the public. They cannot be expected accept the signature of a Home Secretary as conclusive certificate of fitness; and certainly Mr. Matthews, of all Ministers, is not the one who would be recognized without demur as an infallible judge of character and capacity.”

The Daily News, alluding to Mr. Matthews’ action, says:-

“Unfortunately, he has succeeded in producing the impression that Mr. Monro was sacrificed to the alleged necessity of maintaining points which were conceded after his withdrawal.”

Mr. Monro took leave of the superintendents and chiefs of police on Saturday at his private residence, Eaton square.

At noon he visited Scotland-yard and received his successor, Sir Edward Bradford, who took over his new office.”