The Shooting Of Constable Whittemore

The Globe, on Monday the 17th of December, 1888, published the following account of the court appearance of Thomas Murphy who had been arrested and charged with having attempted to murder Police Constable Whittemore:-



Today, at the Hammersmith Police-court, Thomas Murphy, described as a labourer, living in St. Clement’s Road, Notting Hill, was brought before Mr. Paget, charged with being concerned with another man, not in custody, with being in the front garden of 58, St. Charles Square, for an unlawful purpose, and with shooting Police Constable Walter Whittemore, 879X with intent to murder.

The prisoner stood in the dock apparently unconcerned, and asked no questions.


Mr. Ivan Reuben Lunn, medical superintendent of Marylebone Infirmary, said that the constable, who was under his care, was suffering from a bullet wound under the knee joint. He had recovered from the shock of a blow on the head.

At the suggestion of Inspector Morgan, the witness was asked as to where he found the constable.

He said that it was in the front garden 58, St. Charles Square, at a quarter to twelve on the 14th. He was called and found him in the garden.

He took him to the infirmary in the ambulance.

A sketch showing the police constable struggling with two men.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 29th December, 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Mr. Paget:- “Is there a bullet lodged in the leg?”

The witness said that he had probed the wound, but could not find the bullet. He believed was in the leg, as there was no outlet. There was hole in the trousers corresponding with the wound.

Mr, Paget said that it showed that the weapon was fired close to it. The witness: replied that it must have been.


Inspector Morgan read a statement made by the constable in the presence of the prisoner. He said, “At 11 p.m. on the night of December the 14th I was at the corner of Bassett Road, Notting Hill, when I saw the prisoner and a shorter man. Knowing Murphy, I watched them.

They walked from one side of the road to the other, near the new buildings. They went to St. Mark’s Rad and then on to St. Charles Square.

The other man entered the garden, and in few seconds the prisoner followed after him.

I then entered the garden and caught hold of the other man, and asked him what he was doing there. He struggled with me, and struck me with his fist. I struck him with my staff.

The prisoner then struck me on the back of the head with something. I do not know with what, but it was not his fist. I did not fall. The prisoner came at me a second time, and I struck at him, but I did not hit him.

I heard a report, and saw a flash, and I think it was the prisoner who said, ‘Take that.”

I still had hold of the other man, and I am quite sure he had not fired at me. I fell down, and I remember no more until I found myself in bed in the infirmary.”


While the constable was making the statement the prisoner several times denied the truth of it.

The witness told the prisoner that he would be charged with shooting the constable.

He said, “I am not guilty it.”

The prisoner addressed the constable and said, “You will get your reward for this.”

The prisoner:- “Those last words are lies. I did not say, “You will get your reward for this”. I said it is a wonder you are not struck dead for telling lies.”

After some further evidence, the prisoner was remanded.”

Ultimately, it would transpire that Whitmore had not been the hero that he was portrayed as being by the press at the time of the shooting.

You can read a full account of what happened on this page.