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Posted by andrew west on
Wonderful historical research Chris. My father's close friend, who we called an uncle, was born in Bermondsy in the forst decade of 1900 and his tales of growing up in East London parallel your own findings on Charlie's life. As a londoner myself I find your work very appealing.
Posted by chris on
Thanks Andrew. Always good to hear from people with common interests. I'm still researching Charlie, mainly now concentrating on his experiences in the First World War. Had a great trip to France in October, trying to 'follow in his footsteps' in the area of the Battle of Cambrai (November 1917). I must get around to loading up more of his diary on the website. I've been side-tracked onto publicity for the book I wrote about Charlie's grandfather, George Clarke ('The Chieftain'). If you are interested in Victorian London you may well enjoy that as well (subtle hint!).
Posted by chris on
Have just 'cleaned up' the Guestbook', but don't let the blank space put you off leaving a comment or question. For the most up-to-date information on my research please visit my Home page and my Blog. Cheers, Chris Payne
Posted by admin on
Anyone interested in dating old photographs has the option of a number of books and websites that can be helpful. Thanks to my cousin, Mike, I've recently inherited a number of 'new' family photographs including a substantial number of my great-grandmother, Clara Smith (nee Stanbridge). Clara seems to have enjoyed being in front of a camera and I have photos of her (most of which can be dated with reasonable accuracy) taken between 1883 and 1940 which I have now assembled into a small chronological photo-gallery. If you are interested to see the styles of clothing worn during that era, or are simply interested in looking at old photographs, please go to
Posted by chris on
I have just added an edited version of an interview about 'The Chieftain' to this website. It can be accessed via the Home Page and the True Crime Page.
Posted by chris on
Anyone interested in researching individuals who served in the First World War might be interested in my most recent blog post on 'War Diaries', posted today.
Posted by Bonnie MacBird on
Fascinating, informative site. Enjoyed your well documented research, and the historical photos as well. I will check out your book, The Chieftain!
Posted by chris on
Today's new addition to the website is a podcast narrative of the Preface to The Chieftain. This provides the opportunity for you to hear more detail about the background to the book. Links to the podcast can be found on the Home and True Crime pages
Posted by chris on
Glad you enjoyed the site, Bonnie. Am always updating and adding to it so please come back! 'The Chieftain' is available internationally through Amazon and a number of other online booksellers, as well as from bookshops.
Posted by chris on
A new blog post on the subject of reviews and features on 'The Chieftain', is now available at 'My Blog'.
Posted by chris on
Were the Victorian Scotland Yard detectives bumbling, incompetent and uninteresting, as sometimes portrayed in fiction? Think again! Read my latest blog posting at!
Posted by chris on
Three new video-podcasts dealing with some of the experiences of a conscripted British soldier during the First World War have now been posted at
Posted by Chris Payne on
See my latest blog post about significant moments in history that occurred in the week beginning 16 July (in 1870 and 1918), seen through the eyes of Chief Inspector George Clarke ('The Chieftain') and Private Charlie Payne
Posted by Robert Bartlett on

I have not yet bought a copy of The Chieftain but will

Thought you might find my site interesting

Have you any research of cases that spilled over into the Surrey Constabulary area?

I am happy to get details of your book published in our electronic newsletter that goes out at the end of each month - no cost to you

Bob Bartlett
Posted by Chris Payne on
Hi Bob. Many thanks for your interest in 'The Chieftain' and hope that you enjoy reading it. I would be most grateful if you could send out details of the book in your electronic newsletter; perhaps you could include a link to the most relevant page of my website which is probably the 'True Crime' page at You ask if any of the cases in 'The Chieftain' spilled over into the Surrey constabulary area. None immediately come to mind, though I am not entirely sure where the policing boundaries fell in 1876 in the case of the Poisoning of Charles Bravo in Balham (see 'The Chieftain' pages 170-184). Certainly it took 10-12 days before Bravo's death was notified to Scotland Yard. I have never found any information to suggest that another police force was dealing with the issue, but I guess that Surrey might have been the closest. Certainly George Clarke ('The Chieftain') was regularly involved in policing horse racing meetings at Epsom and Sandown Park. He did try to get permission to prosecute some landowners and bookmakers at Epsom for illegal betting (see 'the Chieftain' pages 125-126) but didn't get the necessary Home Office approval. Since I did my research on Clarke a new digitised newspaper database has become available (as you are probably aware) with a lot more local and regional newspapers represented. I have thought of doing further searches on Clarke using that extended database but I haven't yet got around to it as I'm concentrating on research on the First World War for my next book. I do however have some family interest in the Surrey Constabulary, having recently discovered that I had another great-great-grandfather (on my mother's side) in the Surrey Police. His name was Henry Stephen Smith and he was based as a PC at Godstone in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, and at Burstow n 1891 (but retired by 1901). I'll take a more-detailed look at your website for advice on how to find out more, but if you have any 'quick tips' I would be very grateful. His having the surname 'Smith' is not a very helpful factor!
Posted by chris on
Don't forget that you can sign up to receive email notification of my regular blog posts by going to my Blog page and in the right hand column (scroll down a bit) and insert your email address and click 'Subscribe'.
Posted by Chris Payne on
I have now accumulated a number of Blog posts over the last couple of months, dealing with aspects of Victorian police history, and aspects of the Great War. The most recent account, which I posted today is a description of the acquittal of Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke at the end of his trial for corruption at the Old Bailey in 1877. Go to my blog page (via the navigation bar at the top of this webpage) to locate this and many other posts.
Posted by Michael Ryan on
Dear Chris, just by sheer chance I came across a blog of November 28 2011. It concerned a search of Battalion War Diairies at the National Archives at Kew. You were looking for anything that would give some insight about your grandfather's brother-in-law Mike. For a very log time I have been researching my family tree, like many thousand's of others. Amongst this of course was my father's side of the family which involved his time in the force's. I have had help from various people but namely Graham Sacker who is one of the many that produce the Emma Gee magazine that is dedicated to the Machine Gun Corps of WW1. Most strange in my search for my father's army records was the fact that I found all of his three elder brother's but very little of his. I'm starting to ramble a bit now, so I'll say the main reason for getting in touch. The coincidence or sheer chance is that Mike, your grandfather's brother-in-law was in the same MGC the 193rd as my father. When you perused those War Diairies were there any significant names or actions written down or were there more that could be looked at concerning the 193rd Company?

With kind regards Mike Ryan.
Posted by chris on
Hi Mike. Thanks for contacting me. I'm not sure from your message whether you have researched War Diaries before or not. So here goes. The 193 Machine Gun Company war diary (covering the period 1 December 1916 to 28 February 1918, with daily entries) is available at The National Archives, Kew. Its reference number is WO95/2943/3. It does contain a good description of the actions that the Company was involved in (at least in the sections that I needed to look at). If your father was an officer, he may have been mentioned by name from time to time, but if he (like Mike) was one of the 'Other Ranks' it is very unlikely that he would have been mentioned by name unless he was awarded one of the medals for bravery. The war diary will generally tell you the approximate location of the Company on any particular day which always makes a trip to the battlefields more rewarding. Most war diaries will often give quite specific map references that would enable you to find the locations of the Company, or even specific MG teams, quite precisely. You will need access to trench maps to 'translate' these location references. I have found the The National Archives British Trench map Atlas DVD to be very good for that purpose (but it is quite a costly investment). I hope that this response helps. Please contact me again if you think I can help further. Regards, Chris Payne
Posted by Lynette on
Hello Chris,

I have just seen your post from Feb 2012 on the Nibbs family guestbook. My great-grandfather was William Nibbs born in Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire in 1809. He had a brother called John who may be the great-grandfather you are looking for. William was sentenced to death for his role in the Swing Riots but he had a reprieve and was transported to Tasmania. Our side of the family grew up in Tasmania but I am now living in England. It seems Williams & John's father was called Job Nibbs I hope this will help you with your search.

Posted by chris on
Hello Lynette. Many thanks for your message. I had spotted some internet information about William Nibbs and had rather presumed that he might be John's brother. But it's very useful to have your comments and the confirmation that their father was a 'Job' Nibbs. That would also fit with the fact that John Nibbs named his first-born son "William Job". John Nibbs was my 2xgreat-grandfather on my mother's side of the family. It would therefore seem that we are distantly related via Job Nibbs (my 3xgreat-grandfather). Nice to get to know you, cousin! Do you happen to know whether any photographs of William's and John's generation have survived in the family (I don't have any I'm afraid). Regards Chris.
Posted by Becka McClay on
Hi, I am a History student and am currently writing my dissertation on detectives in the Victorian period. I really enjoyed your book The Chieftain, and found it very useful! A bit of a long-shot but I was wondering if there was any chance you could give me some advice.. In your chapter on the Fenians you mentioned that newspaper and archival records were scarce and hard to come by in this area. My original title for my dissertation was "The detective and the Fenians: a chance to shine, or an institutional crisis?" however I am thinking of changing it into a study of corruption among detectives as I'm worried about the lack of primary sources. From someone who has spent a lot of time researching the archives/newspaper records, do you have any advice regarding this? Anything would be greatly appreciated.
Kind Regards,
Becka McClay
Posted by Chris Payne on
Hi Becka. Thank you for your kind comments about 'The Chieftain'. I hope that the following comments are of some help. Although I struggled to find many newspaper articles specifically mentioning the Scotland yard detectives and the Fenians, I was limiting my coverage to the period 1865-1870 or thereabouts. If you were planning to cover the 1880s as well, there is likely to be more information. In addition, for reasons of cost etc (I'm now retired) I did not personally manage to get across to Dublin to check out the substantial Fenian archives there. If you have the opportunity to go there, then you might well dig up more information, I think. On that aspect, Padraig Kennedy very kindly supplied me with some brief notes about George Clarke that he had spotted while undertaking research in Dublin for his 2003 paper: "The Secret Service Department: A British Intelligence Bureau in Mid-Victorian London" Intelligence and National Security 18 pp100-127". On the subject of the Police and the Fenians, Phillip Smith's book (1985) Policing Victorian Britain, was a very good starting point, and Jenkins (2008), O'Broin (1971) and Comerford (1998)...all listed in the Bibliography of 'The Chieftain, provided me with excellent background info. In addition Christy Campbell's book 'Fenian Fire (2002) contains quite a bit relevant to the 1880s, and provides details of his information sources. The archival references (National Archives, Old Bailey online records etc) that I cite in the 'Chieftain ( relevant to Chapter 3) you would also probably find helpful. Finally, Niall Whelehan has recently published a book from his PhD that is likely to be of interest (which I haven't read yet): The Dynamiters: Irish Nationalism and Political Violence in the Wider World, 1867-1900.

I found it a fascinating subject area and if your dissertation is of the final year undergraduate kind (rather than a PhD), I would think that you would not be short of information and opportunity to add to the existing knowledge and perspective of the role of the detectives (particularly if you explored both the Irish and English detectives) McCracken's book: Inspector Mallen: Buying Irish Patriotism for a Five pound note (2009) is of interest from the Irish perspective.

On the Detective corruption side of things, I have less to offer, although of course I have a reasonably detailed knowledge about the trial of my ancestor!!. I hope that these comments are of some help
Posted by Bryan Kesselman on
Dear Chris
I read your book The Chieftain, which I found excellent. My biography of Ignatius "Paddington" Pollaky will be published by the History Press next April, and I thought you would like to know that I have included The Chieftain in the bibliography.
Posted by Chris Payne on
Dear Bryan. Thanks for your comments and very glad that you enjoyed 'The Chieftain'. I look forward to seeing your biography of Ignatius Pollaky when it is published. From what little I know of him he seems to have been an interesting character and something of a thorn in the flesh of Scotland Yard!
Posted by Lesley on
Dear Chris
I have just come across your blog while doing some family history research. I look forward to obtaining a copy of your book "The Chieftain" because I am a great-great niece of Nathaniel Druscovich.
Posted by chris on
Hi Lesley. Thanks for your message. I hope you enjoy "The Chieftain", which is available in paperback and e-book formats. There are quite a few references to Nathaniel Druscovich in the book. In addition, when doing my research for "The Chieftain", I prepared a chronology of events (as a WORD Doc; about 300 pages long) which, although most of the references are about my ancestor Detective Inspector George Clarke, does also contain some additional info about Druscovich which I didn't include in the book. If you are interested I could send you that document as an email attachment or load it to the 'Cloud' and give you the link to access and download it. In addition, I have previously been contacted by another UK-based distant relative of Nathaniel Druscovich, who has recently had a 4-page article published about her research on Druscovich in the April 2014 issue of "Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine". I have her contact details (email) if you are interested. Regards Chris Payne
Posted by Glynis Greening on
Hi Chris,

It seems that we are related - George Clarke is my great great grandfather, I even have an oil painting of him hanging in my hall and lots of newspaper snippets about him in my grandmother's 'scrap book'. His great granddaughter, my mother, is still alive and well at 90. I've just downloaded your book and I'm very excited to see what I may learn about a branch of the family I had no idea existed.

I'm so looking forward to hearing from you,