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'The Chieftain' : Victorian Crime and Policing as it really was.


Available from all good bookshops and online book retailers. Both paperback and ebook versions are now available. For further information click on True Crime

Family History 

My historical research and writing is based mainly on the experiences of some of the C19th and C20th ancestors that I have 'unearthed'. Go to my Family History webpage for further information


Photos (1883-1940) that may help you date some of your own family history images. Click on Clara

True Crime and Military History

Research and writing have always been important to me; firstly as a biological research scientist, and most recently as a historian. The discovery of a Victorian hat-box full of family correspondence and photographs prompted me to explore my family history and to undertake detailed research on the lives and experiences of my great-great-grandfather, Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke of Scotland Yard, and my grandfather, Charles Frederick Payne, a clerk in the City of London before his conscription into the British Army during the First World War.

My interest in these ancestors has been to investigate their personal experiences during the Victorian and Edwardian eras in which they lived and to evaluate how they  coped with the extra-ordinary situations that they encountered during their respective lives.  George Clarke,  for example, found himself in the dock at the Old Bailey at the age of 59 in 1877, charged with perverting the course of justice, after a distinguished Scotland Yard career during which he had brought to justice numerous murderers, fraudsters and other "ne'er do wells". The background and outcome to these events is described in my first historical book, 'The Chieftain'. In 1916 my paternal grandfather, Charlie Payne, was conscripted into the British Army and soon found himself facing the multiple challenges posed by military service in the 2/5th and 5th Battalions of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment on the Western Front. I am now writing a book, based on his experiences in peacetime and war, which has the working title 'Charlie Payne's Hatbox'.

My reason for establishing this website is not only to promote an awareness of my research and writing, but also to highlight my enthusiasm to share information with others who have common interests. I am now of an age where the sharing of data that I have acquired is of more importance than simply accumulating it! Thus the information that I have obtained from various sources on Victorian detectives and in the history of the First World War  may be of interest to researchers on related topics. So if anyone is interested in any collaborative projects on other noteworthy, London-based, Victorian Detectives (including, for example, Chief Constable Adolphus (Dolly) Williamson, Superintendent James Jacob Thomson, etc. etc.), I'm your man! Likewise, I have much information to share on the men who served their country in the same battalion as Charlie Payne. For further information on my research please visit my blog sites at victoriandetectives.com and charlieshatbox.com .

Comments from Reviews and Features of  'The Chieftain' 

"A wonderful book overflowing with interesting and useful information, especially if you are researching the workings of the Victorian police and Scotland Yard. In truth a treasure trove. I heartily recommend it!" (Rosa. Amazon.com February 2018)

"Fact as riveting as fiction. Fraud, poison, conspiracy, murder. A fascinating look at Victorian Crime through the cases of Detective George Clarke. This really brings to life the time and intrigues of high and low society on the streets of a London in the 1860s and 70s. Couldn't put it down, a real page-turner." ('CTFO'. Amazon.co.uk July 2017)

" As well as a wonderful insight into crime in London during this important period in Victorian crime history, the author relates many other aspects of the Metropolitan Police and other parts of London life that were occurring at the time.  The book is really interesting throughout, flows well and is thoroughly recommended." (Alan Moss. Amazon.co.uk  May 2014)

" If you have an interest in Victorian crime, Victorian police, or simply enjoy a great non-fiction book, you should do yourself a favor and grab this. Rarely does the descendant of a historically significant person also turn out to be a fastidious researcher and talented writer, but Chris Payne is all of these things. The book was a true treat and worth more than the pittance I paid for it." (Tom Wescott. Amazon.com January 2014)

" ... superbly researched. Readers will find it offers great insights into crime and policing ...  a more than adequate replacement for detective fiction." (Rohan McWilliam, History Today August 2012)

".... a gripping account of the Scotland Yard detective's life and the crimes he was instrumental in solving (among them some of the most notorious of the late 19th century)."(Claire Vaughan, Who Do You Think You Are Magazine June 2012)

"Victorian Super Sleuth of the Yard....a brilliant detective who brought murderers to justice...and ended up in the dock himself." (Simon Edge, Daily Express 17 October 2011) [N.B. The photograph of a uniformed policeman in this otherwise excellent review, is not a photograph of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke.]

"...an exciting read for anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller." (Family History Monthly, January 2012)

"As an avid reader of crime novels and true crime alike I would thoroughly recommend this one....I much liked the way that the crimes and George Clarke's life are put into the perspective of the social and political history of the time." (Dr Martin Richards at Amazon.co.uk)

"A well researched factual book about an early Scotland Yard Detective, which flows like a novel....I would recommend this book to any one who enjoys a historical read." ('Anngenie' at Amazon.co.uk)

"The book is a must for the serious scholar of policing and life in Victorian England" (G C Thorburn at Amazon.com)

"Chris Payne has written a fascinating account of the life of one of the Detectives who became embroiled in the 'cause celebre' of the 19th century police corruption scandal, The Turf Fraud affair....I heartily recommend this extremely well researched and written book." (Chris Forester,Police History Society Newsletter March 2013)

"I couldn't put it down....This would make a gripping television series." ('Dainty' at Waterstones.com)

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