The Retirement Of Inspector Robert Sagar

Inspector Robert Sagar was a City of London Police officer who, having started off as a medical student at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, decided to become a detective.

Following the murder of Catherine Eddowes, on the 30th September, 1888, Sagar was one of the detectives who was tasked with liaising with the Metropolitan Police, in whose jurisdiction the majority of the atrocities had occurred.

According to Major Henry Smith, the Acting City of London Police Commissioner at the time of the Ripper murders:- “…a better or more intelligent officer than Robert Sagar I never had under my command.”

A photograph of Inspector Robert Saga.
Former Inspector Robert Sagar.


Following twenty-five years of service, Sagar retired from the police in 1905, and several newspapers looked back on his career.

The Manchester Courier published the following article about him on Monday, 9th January, 1905:-


“One of the most able and popular detectives is just now retiring from the London City Force on a pension after 25 years’ service, in the person Inspector Robert Sagar.

A Lancashire man, after being educated at the Grammar School of his native town he went to London to be a medical student, and became attached to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

But he took apartments in Bartholomew Close, in the house of a celebrated City detective named Potts, and detective work fascinated him.

It was particularly in the direction of forgers that he showed his talents. He was instrumental in bringing into the dock at the Old Bailey the Barmash gang quite recently.

He represented the City police in conference with the detective heads of the Metropolitan force nightly at Leman Street during the “Jack the Ripper” terror, and knows as much about those crimes as any detective in London.”


The Lancashire Evening Post, on the same day, Monday, 9th January, 1905, looked back on his time with the police and highlighted his reported theory on the identity of the Whitechapel murderer:-

“Inspector Robert Sagar, of the City of London Police – who has just retired on a pension after twenty-five years service –  is said to be the only police detective in the kingdom who has never worn the blue uniform.

A Lancashire man, he first saw life as a medical student. To this day in dens in the East End he is still known as “the Doctor.””


The Gloucester Citizen, on Monday, 9th January, 1905, had this to say about him:-

Inspector Robert Sagar, who is just retiring from the City of London Police, is entirely at variance with Mr. George R. Sims as to the identity “Jack the Ripper.”

I see that he has just stated, in an interview, that the City Police fully believed this man to be a butcher who worked in Aldgate, and who was partly insane.

It is believed that he made his way to Australia and there died.


Mr. Sims, from information which came under his notice, has told me on more than one occasion that he is convinced that these murders were committed by a medical man who afterwards committed suicide near the Embankment.

This man was well-known in London as being subject to fits of lunacy, and he belonged to one of the best families in town. It is out of consideration for his relatives which has prevented “Dagonet” from making full disclosure of such evidence as he possesses. How he was run down by the police when pursuing his investigation in the East End of London, and carrying a small black bag, is public property.


The third and last plausible story of the murderer’s identity was published by Mr. T. P. O’Connor, when he was editing the “Sun” a few years ago.

This was of a maniac in one of our public asylums whom the police went to see in order, if possible, to clear the mystery forever.

But the doctor in the Sims theory was never in the asylum.”


Robert Sagar died in December, 1924, and, following his death, the Burnley News published the following obituary of the late detective:-

The Burnley News, 17th December, 1924:-

“The Late Mr. Robert Sagar was educated at Whalley Grammar School, and afterwards practised medicine and surgery with Dr. Badeley, of Whalley, prior to proceeding to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, in London, as a young man.

During his residence in the city at the apartments of a celebrated city, detective, Mr. Sagar turned his attention to the study of criminology, and he appeared in a great number of prosecutions of criminals at the City Police Courts and the Old Bailey.


His marked ability attracted the attention of the late Sir James Fraser, who was at that time the Commissioner of City Police, and at the Commissioner’s request a special report was prepared of the many cases on which Mr. Sagar had been engaged.

The report was of such a highly complimentary character that Sir James Fraser suggested that Mr. Sagar should join the City Police Force, or accept a handsome cheque for his past services to the police.

Abandoning the medical profession in favour of the more exciting life of a detective, Mr. Sagar made rapid progress to the rank of Detective-Inspector.

It is stated that it was his theory of the notorious Jack the Ripper crimes that led to the cessation of the outrages.

Mr. Sagar had the exceptional experience of being the only member of the London City Police Force to go through 25 years’ of police service without having to walk a beat or wear a uniform.


On one occasion, Mr. Sagar was sent, with two other officers by the British Government to Spain to deal with a plot on the life of the present King of Spain, who was then a child. The conspirators were arrested, and Mr. Sagar and his colleagues were honoured by having a group portrait of themselves hung in the Royal Palace at Madrid.

He was sent several times on important official business to the U.S.A.

Years ago, when the great city house of Rothschild lent the French Government a huge sum, Mr Sagar was in charge of the transportation of the gold.”