The Rise of Scotland Yard: A History of the Metropolitan Police

The Rise of Scotland Yard: A History of the Metropolitan Police

The Rise of Scotland Yard: A History of the Metropolitan Police

The Rise of Scotland Yard: A History of the Metropolitan Police

Excerpt

Several years ago my friend Ralph Straus began a history of the Metropolitan Police. He had the generous help of the authorities at New Scotland Yard in being given access to the records without which such a work as he contemplated could not have been undertaken. This privilege was later extended to me, but I would like to make it clear to my readers that, unless otherwise stated, expressions of opinion are my own and must be accepted as such. As Ralph's health began to fail he found the double task of research and composition too much for him, and he asked me to help him with what had become the labour of writing. Before we had really got down to things together he went into hospital for the last time.

His completed text had brought the narrative only to the year 1850. A few pages of the chapter entitled " 'King' Mayne" were in typescript, and he had left some notes for this and later chapters. More than a hundred years, therefore, remained to be covered when I took up the task.

Ralph had the instincts and patience of the scholar, and in his small, neat handwriting he had filled several foolscap books with notes on the early history of London's police, including the first twenty-one years of his main theme. He had collected a small library of printed works, some of them rare, dealing with his subject. Had he lived to finish the book, as no doubt he realized, he would have had to compress his valuable introductory chapters, going back to Saxon times. To cut and summarize so much conscientious work was a difficult undertaking for his successor; and, once accomplished, it merely raised another problem. Ralph's text had been retained, whenever possible, and at an early stage of the book there was an obvious change of style. With the agreement of all concerned, to achieve unity, I tackled these chapters once more, and put them in my own words.

In doing so, however, I have endeavoured, as throughout the book, to hold fast to Ralph's original design. He did not intend to write a chronicle of police work, except where this was necessary to illustrate his theme, which was the development of a unique but typically British . . .

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