Comparison between four reports of Robert Sagar's retirement

Blue numbers indicate the order in which text occurs in the original reports.

City Press, 7 January 1905. Morning Leader, 9 January 1905. Daily News, 9 January 1905. Seattle Daily Times, 4 February 1905.

By the retirement, after 25 years' service, of Detective-inspector Robert Sagar, the City of London Police Force loses one of its ablest detectives. His absence from the hive of activity in the Old Jewry will be marked, and is already regretted, as Mr. Sagar has for many years been one of the most popular figures in the detective department at the City Police headquarters. The interesting history of his early association with the City of London Police has yet to be written, and it could only be written by one man, and that man Mr. Sagar himself.

Detective-Inspector Robert Sagar, of the City Police, familiarly known as "the Doctor," who has run to earth all sorts and conditions of criminals during his 25 years' service with the force, has just retired on a pension.

The circumstances under which Mr. Sagar became a detective are romantic and unusual.

After 24 years' service in the City of London Police Mr. Robert Sagar, Detective-Inspector at Old Jewry, has retired. Last Wednesday he bade farewell to his colleagues, and to-day he leaves the comfortable quarters in Rose-alley, Bishopsgate, which he has occupied for so long. The ex-detective is still a young man as men go, and his absence from the scene of his former activities is already keenly regretted.
Robert Sager Quits Force After Twenty-Five Years' Service.
The Times Special Service.

LONDON, Saturday. Feb. 4. - One of London's best known and most successful detectives, Inspector Robert Sagar, of the city police, has just retired on pension after twenty-five years spent in tracking some of the most noted criminals of the day.
A Lancashire man by birth, he was educated at Whalley Grammar School, and found himself, as quite a young man, in London, with the aims and aspirations of a medical student. He became attached to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and intended prosecuting his studies there with all the vigour which he subsequently displayed in quite another and surprising direction. He took apartments in Bartholomew Close, in the house of a celebrated City detective named Potts, who seems to have been a first edition of Sherlock Holmes. The mind and imagination of the young medical student became diverted from the study of surgery and medicine to the fascinating problem of criminology, and the varied means which a quick intelligence offered for the detection of crime. Hence it was that while engaged as a student at St. Bartholomew's, he became imbued with the instincts of a detective, and so successful was he in that direction that he appeared in a great number of prosecutions of criminals at the City Police Courts and at the Old Bailey. Young Sagar's ability attracted the attention of the late Sir James Fraser, who was that that time the Commissioner of City Police, and he called for a special report with respect to the many cases in which the young medical student had been engaged. The report was of so complimentary a character that the Commissioner suggested that Mr. Sagar should join the police force. In the event of his declining to do so, a handsome cheque was ready as payment for his past assistance to the police. Mr. Sagar thereupon resolved to abandon the dull routine of the medical profession in favour of the more exciting, but less remunerative, life of a detective. The circumstances of his joining the police force were, therefore, peculiar, A Lancashire man by birth, he was educated at Whalley Grammar School, and found himself in London, as a young man, with the aspirations of a medical student.

He became attached to St. Bartholomew's Hospital; and, in order to pursue his studies there, he took apartments in Bartholomew-close, in the house of a celebrated City detective named Potts, who seems to have been a first edition of "Sherlock Holmes."

From Medicine to Thief-catching.

The mind and imagination of the young medical student were diverted from the study of surgery to the fascinating problems of criminology. He had all the instincts of a detective, and so successful was he in that direction that, while a student in "Bart's," he appeared in a great number of prosecutions of criminals at the City police-courts and the Old Bailey.

Young Sagar's ability attracted the attention of the then Commissioner of the City Police, Sir James Fraser, who suggested that Mr. Sagar should join the police force; offering, however, a handsome cheque as payment for his past services if he declined to do so.

Mr. Sagar at once decided to abandon the medical profession for the more exciting, if less remunerative, life of a detective.
"I am a Lancashire man by birth," he told a representative of "The Daily News" on Saturday, "and was educated at Whalley Grammar School. When quite a lad I came to London with the intention of studying medicine. To that end I became attached to St. Bart's. As it happened I went to lodge at the house of a detective then living in Bartholomew-close. Before long I found that the study of criminology had more fascinations for me than medicine or surgery, and as a consequence I was more often to be found in the well at the Old Bailey than in the laboratory at St. Bart's.

"Sir James Fraser, then Commissioner of Police, interested himself considerably in my work, and as the result of a special report he suggested that I should join the force. That is how I came to be a detective, although I had not previously belonged to the police. In that way my position was unique,
A Lancashire man, and educated at a grammar school in his native county, he first saw life and London as a Bart's medical student.

It happened that in the house near Smithfield in which young Sagar took lodgings there dwelt a sergeant detective in the city police. The detective and the student made friends. The thrill and excitement of the former's work infected the younger man. Crime investigation became his hobby, and during his five years at St Bartholomew's Hospital he enjoyed the extraordinary experience of helping to arrest over a hundred wrongdoers.

Sees Many Daring Exploits.

To this day in those secret dens of the East End, where plots are planned and crimes coolly contemplated, Inspector Sagar is known as the "Doctor."

An exploit in which, while pursuing a burglar, he stumbled upon a pickaxe and injured his leg, brought young Sagar directly under the notice of Sir James Fraser, chief commissioner of the city police. Astonished at the young man's remarkable record, Sir James invited him to give up his idea of becoming a doctor, and in 1880 he joined the city detective force.
but that is not the only unusual feature associated with it, as Detective-inspector Sagar is the only officer of the City of London Police who has never donned a uniform. [7]
Mr. Sagar was said to be the only officer in the City Police who had never donned a uniform.
as it was also from the fact that I am the only City detective who has never been in uniform. [2]
A unique circumstance is attached to Inspector Sagar's career. So far as is known, he is the only police detective in the kingdom who has never worn the familiar blue uniform.
His First Case.

To a "Morning Leader" representative Mr. Sagar related some of his experiences.

He has captured evil-doers in many and varied circumstances, his last big thing being the arrest in Toronto of Anthony Rowe, the City man who was wanted in connection with the Great Fingall frauds.
He joined the service in January, 1880, as an ordinary constable, and, as usual, was required to undergo a month's probation. After having completed half that time, he was selected by the late Sir James Fraser to make an investigation into a particularly intricate case of forgery, in the task of unravelling which several others had tried and failed. Mr. Sagar at once responded to the call, and proceeded into the country for the purpose of securing his quarry. Fortune favoured him, and he was successful in bringing the forger to justice, a sentence of twenty years' penal servitude being the fate of the man who had so long escaped detection. Mr. Sagar then returned to the City and completed the remainder of the period of probation. His first case after he joined the City Detective Force in 1880 was that of William Waiter.

There had been a series of cheque frauds upon the Bank of England, and the case having been unsuccessfully handled for some time, it was turned over to the newest recruit, who was able, after weeks of careful watching, to make an arrest.

Waiter, who was sentenced to a term of 20 years' penal servitude, was a gentleman rogue. Irish by birth, he was well-connected, and possessed a large number of facilities for carrying out his plans.
I joined in January, 1880, on the usual terms of a month's probation. Fortune appeared to favour me during this period, for I was put in charge of a peculiarly intricate case of forgery which had baffled the ingenuity of my colleagues. In the end I succeeded and I ran my man earth [sic]. He was sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude.
In December, 1888, he was promoted to the position of sergeant, there being no vacancy on the detective staff. The title was one of an honorary character, and it was conferred by the Commissioner in recognition of special services rendered. In the following June he was appointed detective-sergeant, and in November, 1890, he was promoted to the post of detective-inspector. Three years later he was made a first-class inspector. In June, 1889, I was promoted to be detective-sergeant, and the following year to be detective-inspector. There's the whole story; what more could you want?"
In Many Disguises.

In various disguises Mr. Sagar has mixed with thieves.

In 1886, he and another officer, dressed as artisans, and wearing aprons, were successful in arresting two receivers and a thief in connection with some extensive drug store robberies in the City.

The two receivers had been previously arrested, but as there was not sufficient evidence against them they were discharged.

Mr. Sagar, however, was not convinced of their innocence, and he and his colleague travelled with them in a train to a certain place, and there saw them receive the goods from the thief. All three were quietly arrested.
It is a matter of some interest to know that, on the occasion of his joining the police force, he was rejected on medical examination, it being supposed that he was suffering from a varicose vein in one leg. There was no doubt that he had received an injury to one of his legs, and it came about in this wise: Before he joined the service he was in the City one day with the late Detective James Egan. He noticed a robbery from a shop in Fore Street, and both men started off in pursuit of the thief, who dashed down into Chapel Street. That thoroughfare was being repaved, and, consequently, they ran along the kerb. Unfortunately, one of the workmen had left a pick projecting over the kerb, and young Sagar, not seeing the obstacle in time to avoid it, had the misfortune to strike his shin against the iron point, the result being that a portion of the cloth of his trousers was driven into the hole caused by the displaced muscle. Nothing daunted, he continued the pursuit, and the thief was ultimately run to earth. The Commissioner of Police was struck by the exhibition of such tenacity of purpose in so young a man. Ultimately he passed the medical examination. [See [3] above:
An exploit in which, while pursuing a burglar, he stumbled upon a pickaxe and injured his leg ...]
On another occasion Mr. Sagar stopped two well-known thieves in Chiswell Street, and their agitation in answer to his questions convinced him that something was wrong; but he said nothing more, and left them. Soon afterwards a boy passed him wheeling a barrow, on which was a large case. From a point of concealment the dectective noticed that there was some connection between the boy and the men, the latter lagging behind in order that the boy and the barrow might come nearer to them in the Barbican. Procuring assistance, Sagar followed on their track, and arrested the trio in the Central Meat Market. Soon after they were brought into the police station a message was received from Bishopsgate to the effect that a case of boots had been stolen in broad daylight from Camomile Street. The case, on being opened, was found to contain the stolen property. The foregoing is one of many instances in which Mr. Sagar displayed his smartness.
Never Assaulted.

Despite the fact that he has laid by the heels all manner of thieves, Mr. Sagar has never met with violence at their hands.

"The professional thief will not do that sort of thing," he said, "if he is caught fair. He recognises that it is part of the game that his time will come."

But the officer was once in a tight corner. He and ex-Chief Inspector Davidson were in a pickpockets' den, and the latter kept them at bay by presenting his pipe-stem. In the uncertain light the pipe was mistaken for a revolver.
It was, however, in the detection of forgeries and the running to earth of the forgers that he showed his talents. In the great majority of bank note and other forgeries of recent years, he has taken a leading part. In particular he was instrumental in bringing into the dock at the Old Bailey a notorious gang of forgers of the most expert and dangerous type - all of them foreigners. It may be remembered that one of them shot himself in his cell at the Old Bailey after he had been sentenced. Two other clever forgers, a portion of the same gang, received their deserts only a few days ago. Mr. McWilliam, who recently retired from the head of the detective department at Old Jewry, employed Detective-inspector Sagar in making all the confidential inquiries which needed an exhibition of great tact, caution, and that subtle handling of facts and weighing of evidence which can only be possessed by long experience and careful training. Running Down Forgers.

Mr. Sagar has had a great deal to do with forgers, and did a large amount of the work in tracing Devonport, Barmash, and the others who sprang into notoriety through the medium of "flash fivers."
"I want you to tell me something of those very exciting adventures which must have been yours during the past quarter of a century. Were you not instrumental in bringing the Barmashes and Schmidt to justice?"

"Ah, yes; they were the bank note forgers, weren't they?
Inspector Sagar has achieved most of his fame by his successful breaking up of gangs of forgers operating in London.

The Devonports, of "forged fivers" fame; the Barmashes, the group of men who circulated false Spanish bonds in the city - one of them was paralyzed and heard himself sentenced at the Old Bailey while lying on an ambulance - have all had cause to regret his skill as a detective.
In the opinion of Mr. Sagar the king of forgers is George Johnson, who was sent into penal servitude in 1890 for forging letters of credit on a City firm.

Like the Bank note forger whom he arrested at the opening of his official career, this man was a "gentleman" who frequented expensive West-end restaurants. He always went home by a most circuitous and baffling route, and was eventually arrested - in Bethnal-green!

At this house there was a good deal of evidence to show that Johnson was an expert engraver.
Well, Schmidt was very clever, but the smartest man I ever knew at that game was an American named Johnson, who, together with a man named Phillips, was awarded seven years for forging letters of credit on a City firm. Johnson was most polished in his manners, and always dressed in the height of fashion. He spent most of his time in swell West-End restaurants, and was generally known as the "Captain." He would never let even his best friends know where he lived, and would dodge in and out of stations on the Underground if he found that he was being watched.

"One day we tracked him down at a house in in Bethnal Green. Whilst examining the premises I came across the head of a wire nail which had been driven into the partition on the stair landing. I had almost cut away the wood underneath the nail when I heard something drop on the other side. This I afterwards found was a bundle of the finest imitations of Bank of England notes I have ever seen."
"The notorious Schmidt," who figured in the last Barmash case two years ago, is held by many to be the cleverest forger in the world. "For my part," says Inspector Sagar, "I would give the palm to the American, George Johnson, who, with another man, named Phillips, was in 1900 sentenced to seven years for forging letters of credit on a well known city firm."
Great Pearl Robbery.

The retiring inspector was engaged in the "Great Pearl Robbery" sensation, and arrested Mrs. Osborne at Dover. Several years ago he came prominently before the public owing to the arrest of "Perfection Miller," who had a novel system of backing horses.
The inspector was also engaged in the "great pearl robbery" case, and brought the beautiful Mrs. Osborne from Dover to the Buildhall [sic] dock.
On one occasion the Bank of England wanted to transfer three millions in bullion to the Bank of France in Paris. Detective-inspector Sagar was at once instructed to take all the necessary precautions for the safe transit of so huge a sum. He accomplished his mission successfully, and "personally conducted" the last million to Paris. On one occasion he "personally conducted" a million pounds in bullion from the Bank of England to the head office of the Bank of France, in Paris.
His professional association with the terrible atrocities which were perpetrated some years ago in the East End by the so-styled "Jack-the Ripper" was a very close one. Indeed, Mr. Sagar knows as much about those crimes, which terrified the Metropolis, as any detective in London. [3]
"Jack the Ripper" Murders.
"What was the most sensational case with which you were connected during your official life?"

"Well, I can hardly say. Possibly that series of tragedies which came to be known as the 'Jack the Ripper' murders.
Has a Charmed Life.
The disguise of a laborer was used, too, when Mr. Sagar made investigations into the notorious "Jack the Ripper" murders. So effectual was his disguise that he was actually tracked himself by two police-officers, who thought they had reason to regard him as a suspicious character.
He was deputed to represent the City police force in conference with the detective heads of the Metropolitan force nightly at Leman Street Police Station during the period covered by those ghastly murders. Mr. Sagar represented the City Police at the nightly meetings which took place at Leman-st., Whitechapel, to consider what should be done to find the murderer. Inspector Sagar was the chief officer appointed to confer with the metropolitan police in the search for the terrible Whitechapel murderer.
Much has been said and written - and even more conjectured - upon the subject of the "Jack-the-Ripper" murders. It has been asserted that the murderer fled to the Continent, where he perpetrated similar hideous crimes; but that is not the case. Asked about these mysterious crimes, Mr. Sagar said, despite the many stories which are told, the police never had proof who committed them.
He believed the police were nearer to catching the "Ripper" on the occasion of the Mitre-st. murder than on any other. The woman Kelly, who was the victim, left Bishopsgate Police-station at 1 a.m. Three-quarters of an hour later she was found dead, and just before her body was discovered a police-constable met a man of Jewish appearance hurrying out of the court.
As you know, the perpetrator of these outrages was never brought to justice, but I believe he came the nearest to being captured after the murder of the woman Kelly in Mitre-square. A police officer met a well-known man of Jewish appearance coming out of the court near the square, and a few moments after fell over the body. He blew his whistle, and other officers running up, they set off in pursuit of the man who had just left. The officers were wearing indiarubber boots, and the retreating footsteps of a man could be clearly heard. The sounds were followed to King's-block in the model dwellings in Stoney-lane, but we did not see the man again that night. "We believe," he said, "that he came nearest to being captured after the Mitre Square murder in which the woman Kelly was the victim. She had been detained in Bishopsgate police station until 1 a. m. At 1:45 a. m. she was dead. A police officer met a well dressed man of Jewish appearance coming out of the court. Continuing on his patrol he came across the woman's body. He blew his whistle, and sent the other officers who rushed up in pursuit, the only thing to guide them being the sound of retreating footsteps. The sounds were followed to King's Block in the model dwellings in Stoney Lane, but the search got no further.
There was a peculiar incident in connection with those tragedies which may have been forgotten. The apron belonging to the woman who was murdered in Mitre Square was thrown under a staircase in a common lodging house in Dorset Street, and someone - presumably the murderer - had written on the wall above it, "The Jewes are not the people that will be blamed for nothing." A police officer engaged in the case, fearing that the writing might lead to an onslaught upon the Jews in the neighbourhood, rubbed the writing from the wall, and all record of the implied accusation was lost; but the fact that such an ambiguous message was left is recorded among the archives at the Guildhall.
The words "The Jews shall not be blamed for this," were found scrawled on a wall. The apron which had been worn by the unfortunate woman was found under the stairs in a common lodging house in Dorset-street, and on the wall over it were scrawled in chalk the words: 'The Jewes are not the people that will be blamed for nothing.' On the wall was found scrawled in chalk, 'The Jews shall not be blamed for this.'"
The police realised, as also did the public, that the crimes were those of a madman, and suspicion fell upon a man, who, without doubt, was the murderer. Identification being impossible, he could not be charged. He was, however, placed in a lunatic asylum, and the series of atrocities came to an end.
Who was the Murderer?

"We had good reason to suspect a certain man who worked in 'Butcher's-row,' Aldgate," he said, "and we watched him carefully. There was no doubt that this man was insane, and after a time his friends thought it advisable to have him removed to a private asylum. After he was removed there were no more Ripper atrocities."
I feel sure we knew the man, but we could prove nothing. Eventually we got him incarcerated in a lunatic asylum, and the series of murders came to an end." The theory of the city police is that "Jack the Ripper" was a butcher who worked in "Butchers' Row," Aldgate, and was partly insane. It is believed that he made his way to Australia and there died. "The police are satisfied as to the identity of the man," remarked the inspector, "but what became of him we don't know."
Detective-inspector Sagar, who has made several journeys abroad for the purpose of securing celebrated criminals, is none the worse for his many adventures. With all the great raids that have been made in recent years on gaming houses and so-called clubs in the City, Mr. Sagar, we may add, has been prominently identified. Into his retirement he carries with him the good wishes of all who enjoy his friendship, and have profited by his clever brain.