Chief Constable of Birmingham who was involved in the Jack the Ripper investigations


Joseph Farndale CBE KPM
6 April 1864 to 22 February 1954 










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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB





Joseph Farndale son of Thomas Farndale, Inn keeper, Smith’s Arms, Thomas Lane, Wakefield, and Sarah Farndale formerly Bell, (FAR00344) born at Smith’s arms Wakefield. Registered Wakefield District 30 April 1864 by Sarah Farndale, mother, of Smith’s Arms, Thomas Lane, Wakefield.

(BC, BR and PR)

Joseph Farndale registered Wakefield District April to June 1864

(GRO Vol 9c page 29 - free BMD and 1837 online)


Joseph Farndale, son of Thomas and Sarah Farndale (FAR00344) married Emma Selby in June 1883. She died in 1936.



Florence Farndale, born Halifax June 1884 (FAR00600)

Eveline Farndale, born Halifax Dec 1885 (FAR00602).

Emma Farndale, born Halifax Jun 1893 (FAR00657).


Married 2

‘Mrs M Farndale, second wife.’



Joseph Farndale, became Chief Constable of York from 1897 to 1900, then Chief Constable of Bradford from 1900 to 1920. He was awarded the CBE.





Edinburgh Gazette, 2 January 1914




List of those to be Officers of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire




Edinburgh Gazette, 6 June, 1924


Joseph Farndale, died age 89, Claro District on 22nd February 1954, (ie born 1864/5)





Joseph Farndale CBE KPM (1864 – 22 February 1954) was a British police officer who served as Chief Constable of Birmingham City Police and, from 1900 to 1938, of Bradford City Police.


Farndale was born in Wakefield and educated at Field House Academy in Aberford. He joined the police at the age of twenty and later became Chief Constable of Margate Borough Police. Leaving Margate he took on the role of chief constable of Birmingham City Police from 1882 to 1899 before moving to Bradford in 1900 to succeed Roderick Ross, who had left for Edinburgh.


He was awarded the King's Police Medal (KPM) in 1914 and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1924 Birthday Honours.


KPM is the King’s Police Medal




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Records of his life



Leicester Daily Mercury, 15 August 1879

Leicester Police Holiday. On Thursday the members of the Borough Police force held their annual holiday at Great Glenn, the residence of the mayor. The band of the force proceeded by the conveyance, and a portion of the men went by the 9.30am train, another section following by the afternoon train. A substantial lunch having been partaken of, a cricket match was played between the Police Force and a team from Great Glenn., resulting in a victory for the former. … the party, which was subsequently joined by Mr Joseph Farndale, the Chief Constable.

Leicester Chronicle, 6 December 1879

Shocking accident at Groby Pool
A Young lady drowned.
On Tuesday afternoon, a shocking incident occurred at Groby pool, by which a young lady lost her life, and several other persons had a narrow escape.
[At the inquest] the following evidence was given:- Joseph Farndale: I am Chief Constable of the Borough of Leicester. I knew the deceased; she was the daughter of William John Bruis, of Leicester, shoe maker; she was 19 years old.”

Sheffield Independent, 5 February 1870

The Factory Act. Mr. Superintendent Joseph Farndale was appointed inspector for the borough, in accordance with the provisions of the Factory Act.










Chief Constables of Birmingham City Police included:


1839 – 1842: Captain Francis Burgess

1842 – 1860: Richard Stephens

1860 – 1876: George Glossop

1876 – 1881: Major Edwin Bond

1882 – 1899: Joseph Farndale

1899 – 1935: Sir Charles Haughton Rafter KBE KPM

1935 – 1941: Cecil Charles Hudson Moriarty CBE OBE CStJ

1941 – 1945: Sir William Johnson

1945 – 1963: Sir Edward Dodd

1963 – 1974: Sir William Derrick Capper


The Star
 Largest Circulation of Any Evening Paper in the Kingdom.


Front Page


We observe with surprise that the man Kavanagh who was charged with an attempt to murder, was not only acquitted, but was allowed to have his revolver back again without question. Now, this may be a strictly legal proceeding - although, as Mr. Kavanagh seems to regard the Strand as a kind of dependency of Texas, it was hardly a wise one. But if the police deal in this fashion with Mr. Kavanagh's property, why do they not measure out the same treatment to other kinds of property which come into their possession? Everybody acquainted with London police courts knows that it is the constant habit of the police to refuse to return property which has come into their possession and concerning which it has not been proved that others than those who claim it have a right to it. In some cases, indeed, a flagrant and cruel piece of robbery has been committed on unoffending citizens. The banners and musical instruments of the Radical processionists were impounded last November, and to this day have never been restored. What defence is there for this conduct? What defence can there be in view of the very different treatment of a Times rowdy?


Mr. Joseph Farndale, the Chief Constable of Birmingham, who is making the running for the Chief Commissionership, is an excellent officer. Birmingham got him from Leicester, where from working a beat he had risen to the position of head policeman. There was some talk of Mr. Farndale when Sir Edmund Henderson resigned, and the Birmingham Watch Committee - the Town Council Committee that has control of the police - were in despair. They would have been very glad for his sake if he had obtained promotion, but at the same time they fervently hoped that he would not be taken away from them.

Birmingham ascertained by sad experience the disadvantages of a military despotism. Major Bond, a gentleman who achieved some little distinction in Ireland, was Mr. Farndale's predecessor. He was a provincial Charles Warren, and it was not long before Birmingham rebelled against his iron rule. The police lost touch with the people, and neither the people not the police liked it. He had to go, and from occupying a position of honor and eminence he came to be an Irish resident magistrate. When the Major went the first qualification which the people and the press demanded in his successor was that he should be a civilian. Mr. Farndale had an excellent record, and has thoroughly justified his selection.

The secret of his success is that he carefully avoids any display of force. Shortly after the disturbances and the sacking of the West-end, there was some fear of a similar occurrence in Birmingham. The Chief Constable dealt with the situation in a very admirable manner. He did not attempt to interfere with the demonstration, and carefully refrained from crowding Costa-green with policemen or from irritating the people by any unnecessary display of authority. There was no bludgeoning, no violence, and the consequence was that the crowd, amongst whom were a good many bad characters who would have stuck at nothing in the way of plunder, gradually dispersed.

The Chief Constable himself preserved his good temper throughout, and was cheered by the crowd as he passed. He has the advantage of being a handsome man - a great point with the crowd. He looks remarkably well in his uniform and on horseback, and he is always in evidence whenever there is anything moving.

When the dynamite plot was discovered in Birmingham, the Chief Constable was in his proper place, and directed the investigations so well that not a mistake was made. Night and day he remained at his post until the right moment came, and then the police swooped down and captured the gang. The result was that the dynamite conspiracy, which had its head-quarters in Birmingham, was completely crushed out of existence.

Mr. Farndale looks something over 40. He is tall, broad-shouldered, athletic, has good features and looks like a gentleman. He has the bald head that comes of wearing a constable's helmet.
Birmingham Daily Gazette, U.K.
8 October 18

At The Birmingham Public Office on Saturday, before Messrs. J.D. Goodman and W. Holliday (magistrates), Alfred Napier Blanchard (34), described as a canvasser, of 2, Rowland Grove, Rowland Road, Handsworth, was charged on his own confession with committing the Whitechapel murders.

Detective-sergeant Ashby said that on Friday night the prisoner was in a public-house in Newtown Row, and he told the landlord that he was the Whitechapel murderer. He repeated the statement to several people and witness arrested him. When at Duke Street Police Station he denied being the murderer, but witness thought proper to keep him in custody. The police had not yet had time to make inquiries, and knew nothing of the prisoner's antecedents.

Richard King, landlord of the Fox and Goose, Newtown Row, said the prisoner came to his house about eleven o'clock on Friday morning, and remained till about a quarter past eight at night. During his stay in the house he drank about five and a half pints of beer. About half-past twelve o'clock he asked witness what kind of detectives they had in Birmingham. Witness told him he believed them to be very clever men. Prisoner said that it would be a funny thing if the Whitechapel murderer were to give himself up in Birmingham. Witness acquiesced, and prisoner continued, "I am the Whitechapel murderer." Turning round to an elderly gentleman sitting in the bar, prisoner said, "Look here, old gentleman; perhaps you would not think there was a murderer in the house." "I don't know about that," replied the customer; "you might not look unlike one." Prisoner said, "I am one, then." Later on the old gentleman asked prisoner had he got the knife with him, and he answered that he had left a long knife behind him. Someone asked prisoner how he did the murders without making the victims scream. He explained that this was done "simply by placing the thumb and finger on the windpipe and cutting the throat with the right hand." He said he had "done six of them in London." He was sober when he made this statement. Turning round to witness prisoner said, "You are a fool if you don't get the thousand pounds reward offered for me; you may as well have it as anyone else."

Mr. Farndale (Chief Constable) informed the magistrates that he did not attach the least importance to this arrest. At the same time prisoner had placed himself in a most serious position, and could not complain if the magistrates thought fit to remand him for inquiries. At present nothing had been ascertained with respect to him beyond information contained in some papers found upon him.

Mr. Goodman thought that some further inquiries should be made.

The prisoner asked if he might say a few words, and, having obtained permission, stated that he was stationed in London, and was a canvasser for a London firm. He had recently been working up North. He was now on his way to London, and when he made the statement incriminating himself was labouring under great excitement, having been previously reading the reports of the inquests. The statement was, on the face of it, ridiculous, and he was sure they would admit that. He could give them references in Birmingham.

Mr. Barradale (Magistrates' Clerk) told the prisoner that he could give any references he had to Mr. Farndale for inquiry. As the prisoner said he was a murderer, it was a question whether time should not be given to make inquiries.

Mr. Goodman: It is your own fault that you are in this position.

The prisoner said he was aware of this, but at the same time he was labouring under great excitement.

Mr. Barradale: Were you suffering from the drink?

Prisoner: Partly from drink and partly from nervousness. I had been drinking for two or three days.

The prisoner was remanded until to-morrow.

Mr. Barradale told him that if he wished any messages to be sent the police would assist him in every way. He could telegraph to anybody living away from the town and write to anyone he thought proper.

As he was proceeding towards the cells, prisoner said he had a favour to ask. Would the press be kind enough not to mention this case? It was a serious matter for him, and should his employer get to hear about it he would lose his situation.

Mr. Barradale: The magistrates have no power over the press.

The prisoner then went below 88

The Whitechapel murders




The Whitechapel murders were committed in or near the impoverished Whitechapel district in the East End of London between 3 April 1888 and 13 February 1891. At various points some or all of these eleven unsolved murders of women have been ascribed to the notorious unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

Most, if not all, of the victims—Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly, Rose Mylett, Alice McKenzie, Frances Coles, and an unidentified woman—were prostitutes. Smith was sexually assaulted and robbed by a gang. Tabram was stabbed 39 times. Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, Kelly, McKenzie and Coles had their throats cut. Eddowes and Stride were killed on the same night, minutes and less than a mile apart; their murders were nicknamed the "double event", after a phrase in a postcard sent to the press by someone claiming to be the Ripper. The bodies of Nichols, Chapman, Eddowes and Kelly had abdominal mutilations. Mylett was strangled. The body of the unidentified woman was dismembered, but the exact cause of her death is unclear.

The Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, and private organisations such as the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee were involved in the search for the killer or killers. Despite extensive inquiries and several arrests, the culprit or culprits evaded identification and capture. The murders drew attention to the poor living conditions in the East End slums, which were subsequently improved. The enduring mystery of who committed the crimes has captured public imagination to the present day.




























Alfred Napier Blanchard

Blanchard, a 34 year old canvasser, who resided at 2 Rowland Grove, Rowland Road, Handsworth, was arrested in the Fox And Goose public house, Newton Row Aston, Birmingham, on 5 October 1888 after being overheard describing how he had committed the Whitechapel murders. According to the landlord of the Fox And Goose, Richard King, Blanchard entered the pub on Friday morning at about 11 o'clock and commenced drinking until quarter past 8 at night. He consumed about 5 and a half pints of beer. While in the pub, Blanchard struck up a conversation with the landlord and asked him what kind of detectives they had in Birmingham, the landlord replied that he believed them to be very clever men, to which Blanchard replied, 'It would be a funny thing if the Whitechapel murderer were to give himself up in Birmingham', before declaring, 'I am the Whitechapel murderer'. Someone asked him how he had done the murders without making the victims scream, to which he explained that this was done by simply placing the thumb and finger on the windpipe and cutting the throat with the right hand, he also claimed he had done six of them in London. Blanchard said to the landlord, 'you are a fool if you don't get the thousend pounds reward offered for me, You may have as well have it as anyone else'.

When he appeared in court he told the magistrates that after drinking heavily and reading about the murders he had became excited and claimed them as his own. After police inquires, it was proved he was in Manchester when the Whitechapel murders occurred, and had been there for some two months prior to his visit to Birmingham.


By David O’Flaherty
“What a foolish man you have been.”
 – T.M. Colmore to Alfred Blanchard

False confessions are curious by-products of many “celebrated” murder cases, and the killings in Whitechapel were no exception. In any casual reading of the contemporary press, readers are likely to encounter the exploits of men like John Fitzgerald, Benjamin Graham, William Bull, and the unnamed individual who, following John Kelly’s identification of Catherine Eddowes and while he was making his statement, burst into Bishopsgate station and confessed his responsibility. These men were “mad drunk” at the time they made their confessions.1 Although all were ultimately cleared, these were no harmless cranks-the authorities had to check the validity of every statement, the background of each confessor. Faced with locating the actual Ripper and other legitimate criminals in Whitechapel, the growing public anxiousness over the Ripper crimes, and increasing criticism from the press that the investigation was being botched, police found their resources stretched thin. False confessions only drained them further.

The contemporary press seems to have blamed overindulgence in alcohol as the primary force moving these would-be Rippers, and most recanted their confessions as soon as they were sober. How accurate is this belief? Certainly, drink played a role in producing these confessions, but might there be a darker force at play? Perhaps in the murky corners of England’s pubs, there were men who silently applauded the Ripper, maybe even envied him. Readers will be more familiar with the public’s outrage over the murders-the idea that there were those who were simpatico with the Ripper is a disturbing one.

To explore this idea, it is worthwhile to examine one incident in detail, and the false confession of Alfred Napier Blanchard affords us an opportunity. The Blanchard incident took place on 5 October 1888, in a tavern called The Fox and Goose, which was located in tiny Aston, England, today a part of Birmingham. Birmingham (Blanchard was actually lodged in Handsworth, also now a part of Birmingham) was only a pit stop for Blanchard, who was making his way down from Manchester to London, where he was employed as a canvasser by a London firm.

What was Blanchard’s business? Canvasser, defined by Maunders’ Treasury of Knowledge (1831), as “he who solicits anything” is an exceptionally broad term. There is also a political connotation to the word, not only in modern times, but during the time of Victoria as well-Maunders also defines canvass as “to sift, to examine, to debate, to solicit votes, to sue for honors.”2 In 1888, parliament had passed the Local Government Act, which established county councils to administer the “business of the county justices in quarter sessions as well as significant highway functions.”3 The electorate created these councils, and elections were held throughout Britain in 1888, specifically in Birmingham in October or November.4 However, since Blanchard’s business seems to have been in Manchester and Handsworth only a stopping point, it seems doubtful that he would have had any political concerns there, although this idea might hold true for Manchester.

Another equal, perhaps more likely, possibility is that Blanchard was a traveling salesman. Hardware traveler was his occupation in 1881, and Blanchard’s younger brother Augustus was involved in sales, too.5

Returning to definitions for a moment, Wordsworth’s Dictionary of the Underworld (1995 reprint of a 1950 edition) takes a more sinister view of canvassing: “the talk used by a racketeer in interesting, convincing, and ‘selling’ a prospective sucker” and “the smart talk, of a racketeer operating a short-change swindle.”6 While there is no evidence to suggest Blanchard was a con man, such shadowy shadings seem apt considering Blanchard’s subsequent arrest.

Undoubtedly, knowing which London firm Blanchard worked for would clear up the mystery. It is likely that police would have recorded the firm’s name in the report of Blanchard’s arrest, or perhaps there was mention of it in the Birmingham court archives, where Blanchard made his appearances. This writer attempted to find both. At this time, it is unknown where the police archives are. As for Birmingham’s court archives, no record of Blanchard’s appearance has survived. There are no records in the City’s holdings for the Petty Sessions before 1899. Minute books for the Quarter Sessions have survived, but there are no references to Blanchard’s case. Since it appears that authorities only detained Blanchard while checking his background, and brought no actual charges against him, archivists feel that it is unlikely any record of his court appearance would have been kept.7

Yet we do have contemporary press reports. The Star (6 October 1888), The Manchester Guardian (8 October 1888), and The Times {London} (8 October 1888) all carried abbreviated versions of Blanchard’s arrest the evening of Friday, 5 October. Birmingham’s local press provides more detail, particularly The Birmingham Daily Gazette, which covered Blanchard’s appearances in court. Here then, is an account of what occurred, from the paper’s 8 October 1888 edition.