The Queen Of Lady Detectives

It was suggested several times during the period of the Jack the Ripper murders that a sure-fire way to catch the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities would be to employ the services of female detectives.

Officially, of course, this would be an impossibility, since, in reality, the Metropolitan Police, didn’t actually have any lady police officers.

However, the subject of women as police officers was certainly being raised before the onset of the Jack the Ripper murders, and several newspapers were sufficiently interested in the concept to publish articles about female detectives employed in the private sector throughout the world.

The South Wales Echo, on Wednesday, 30th May 1888, published the following article:-


Chicago has many female detectives, but they are not known as such. Their identity is successfully concealed.

Her evidence is carefully collected and then corroboration secured before the case is brought to trial.

There are so few female detectives that it would not do for them to become known. Their occupation would be gone, and it would be a difficult matter for their employers to fill their places.


The queen of the female detectives in Chicago is a motherly woman, perhaps 50 years of age.

“I have lived out,” she said, in beginning her story, “as a domestic, just to get into a house and see what took place there, and who called in the absence of the husband.

For the same purpose, I have acted as a strolling fortune teller and as a book agent and a pedlar of patterns.


No one can have any idea how many cases there are of domestic misery, and how much deception and misery there is in the world, and generally, what is termed the fashionable world.

Women will suffer every imaginable indignity and insult rather than let the facts be known, for exposure means almost invariably the loss of social position-dearer to most women than life itself.

There are many divorce cases reported in the papers, but there are many more which never come to light, and of which the public never hears.”


The Hampshire Telegraph, on Saturday, 1st June, 1895, published the following story about a private female detective who had, evidently, gone rogue:-

“In the Queen’s Bench Division on Thursday, before Mr. Justice Cave and a Common Jury, Mrs. Paulowna Upperley, a private detective known as Mdme. Paul, brought an action against Captain Robert Albert Price and his wife, residing at Shaftesbury Villas, Allen Street, Kensington, to recover £81, money alleged to have been lent to the defendants, and for services said to have been rendered.

The defendants denied the plaintiff’s allegations, and said that the case was a trumped-up one, and that it had been brought for the purpose of annoyance and blackmail.


The plaintiff, a Polish lady, said that she was the wife of Major Upperley, of the Bengal Cavalry.

In her business as a private inquiry agent, she went by the name of Mdme. Paul.

In 1891 she received instructions from Mr. Albert Cole to make certain inquiries which had reference to Mrs. Price, who was living at Clifton.

Subsequently, she became very friendly with Mrs. Price and her husband, and between November, 1891, and March, 1892, they borrowed £72 from her. It was also arranged that the witness should assist Mrs. Price in the domestic work, for which she was to have 10s. 6d. a week.

She continued these duties till defendants removed to London, and she claimed £9 9s. from them.


Mr. Kemp, for the defence, said that the claim had not the slightest foundation, and explained that Captain Price would have been present to give evidence, but, unfortunately, he was lying paralysed, and probably on his death bed.

At one time Captain Price thought that his wife and Mr. Cole were too intimate, and he commenced divorce proceedings.

He became convinced that his suspicions were altogether unfounded, and he and his wife had lived happily ever since.


This circumstance came to the knowledge of the plaintiff, who was at that time pretending to be a friend of Mrs. Price, while she was merely worming herself into her confidence, and having become aware of it, she attempted to make use of it for the purpose of getting money.

The defendants, who were people of position, did not borrow money from the plaintiff, and as to the claim for 10s. 6d. a week, the plaintiff, who was a guest in her house, volunteered to assist Mrs. Price when her servants left, and her temporary services were accepted.

Mrs. Price gave evidence bearing out her counsel’s statement.


Mr. Kemp, in addressing the jury on behalf of the defendants, said that the story told by the plaintiff was a very curious one.

She believed that she was married in Scotland and her husband, who belonged to an Indian regiment called the “Yellows,” resided somewhere in Brixton, while she lived in Charlotte Street, Russell Square.

At one time she passed as the Baroness Zehrneditszky.

He submitted that the action was an attempt to levy blackmail upon a lady who did not owe a single penny.

A verdict for the defendants was returned.”