Durkin of the Yard …

The Victorians loved a good murder, especially where one involved the aristocracy, financial malfeasance, and a dash of illicit sex.

And murders like these were reported in the newspapers of the day with great gusto, because murders sold newspapers, especially if there were any salacious details to report.

If you read enough of the reports you also realise that many of the novel writers (Wilkie Collins, the Woman in White anyone?) drew the inspiration for their plots from the newspaper reports of the time

If you go through the murders of the 1860’s  in London, one name keeps on coming up, Inspector, later Superintendent, Thomas Durkin of Scotland Yard – the frequency of occurrence of his name in reports of the time suggests that he was the go-to man to lead investigations of nasty murders.

I sort of assumed that there would be a Wikipedia stub about him and his career, but, strangely, there isn’t. I couldn’t find a biography either, just snippets here and there.

What there is, however, is a fairly comprehensive entry on Find a Grave, which not only gives an outline of his career, but also that he was born in Gibraltar – I’d guess that his father was in some way connected with the garrison there – and that he was career officer, joining the police in 1835, and retiring after 33 years service in 1868 with a comparatively modest pension of GBP 216 (about AUD45000 or GBP25000 today or about what a junior army officer, or a middle level clerk in the Civil Service might have expected to earn).

Despite his prominence, he certainly wasn’t wealthy – his pension would have been enough to live comfortably on by the standards of the time, but no more.

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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