ANDERSON, Sir Robert. A Great Conspiracy. An abridged edition of Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement. By Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B., LL.D. Formerly Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, and Head of the Criminal Investigation Department.
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London: Murray, 1910 pp. viii, 118, . Modern green buckram, title in gilt on red morocco label on spine. A very good copy.
Sir Robert Anderson, KCB (1841-1918), was born in Mountjoy Square, Dublin, the son of Matthew Anderson, Crown Solicitor, a distinguished elder in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, of Ulster Scots descent. He described himself as “an anglicized Irishman of Scottish extraction”. He was the second Assistant Commissioner (Crime) of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1888 to 1901, and was also an intelligence officer, theologian and writer. On leaving school, Anderson was an apprentice in a large brewery which he left after eighteen months. After studying in Boulogne-sur-Mer and Paris, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1862, and in 1863 was called to the Irish Bar. Anderson began to practise as a barrister. However, in 1865 his father showed him papers relating to the trials of Fenians and he too became involved in the operations against them, becoming the foremost expert on them and operations against them. In 1868, he was called to London, following the murder of Sergeant Brett in Manchester during a Fenian jailbreak in September 1867 and the bombing of Clerkenwell Gaol in another rescue attempt three months later. In April 1868 he was attached to the Home Office as adviser on political crime. In the early 1880s the Fenians became active again and in 1883 they commenced a bombing campaign in England. Anderson however was not very effective in combatting them, and in May 1884 he was forced to resign his Home Office post, to be replaced by Edward Jenkinson. But in 1887 Jenkinson resigned, and Anderson was once again the only man available with experience in anti-Fenian activities. He was asked to assist James Monro, Assistant Commissioner (Crime) at Scotland Yard, in operations related to political crime. In 1888, Monro was promoted to Commissioner, and Anderson replaced him as Assistant Commissioner, the post he was to hold for the rest of his career. The Criminal Investigation Department was then just starting the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders, which he thought were grossly over sensationalised. Almost immediately after being promoted, Anderson went on an extended vacation in France, leaving others in charge. He was called back after a month because of increased bad publicity over the Ripper murders. Anderson retired in 1901 and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB), having been appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1896. In the preface to this work Anderson states “in the past, defiance of the law in Ireland has generally been attributed to the weakness or incompetence of the Executive. But today the suspicion prevails that the government are deliberately playing into the hands of the agitators in order to convince the British electorate that ‘Home Rule’ is the only alternative to what is mis-named ‘Coercion’ … Indeed if the British public could be brought to regard the Maynooth priests as the educated Roman Catholic laity regard them, the Home Rule agitation on this side of the channel would collapse”. The chapters include: Ancient History; The Fenian Movement; The “F.B.” and the “Rising” of 1857; The Clerkenwell Explosion; The Phoenix Park Murders; The Irish National League; The Dynamite Campaign; The Special Commission; Why I was not a Witness; Le Caron and his Evidence; The Case for Home Rule, etc.
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