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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

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 research the lives and experiences of my great-great-grandfather, Detective Chief Inspector George Clarke of Scotland Yard, and my grandfather, Charles Frederick Payne, who served in 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 write about 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 on the Western Front while serving in the 2/5th and 5th Battalions of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. 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 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! So,  for further information on the two main aspects of my research please visit my blog sites at and .

I have also decided to establish a third Blog page 'Chris Payne's Blog' to enable me to go "off-piste" from time to time, when the mood takes me.  What you will find on that page will be a selection of unrelated topics that variously amuse me, or enthuse me (and occasionally appall me). I hope that you will find something of interest in some or all of these.

Comments from Reviews and Features of  'The Chieftain' 

"A brilliant source of information. I loved it!  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. 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'. July 2017)

" Uniquely well-researched and objective biography. 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.  May 2014)

" Exceptional book on a sorely overlooked subject. 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. 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)


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