Tuesday, 11 July 2017

When the stresses of life led to committal

  A Metropolitan Police Peeler

Thomas Frederick GREY was born c. 1840/41 in the parish of Clonfert, Eyre Court, Ireland.  At the age of 20 he joined London's Metropolitan Police and was issued with Warrant No. 40333. On the night of the census he was listed with colleagues at the police station in Clerkenwell, North London.

By March 1865 he was a 3rd. class constable at Woolwich Dockyard earning 20 shillings a week.  A couple of months later he transferred from Woolwich to Hampstead Division and allocated the divisional number S748.

Police Orders dated 24th. November 1866 called for volunteers to serve in Hong Kong.  Successful candidates would act as sergeants and receive a starting salary of £130 a year.

Police Orders dated 19th. March 1867 published the names and date of resignation of the six successful volunteers.  Thomas' divisional number of S748 is shown with the letters AR appended.  These indicate that he was a member of The Reserve - elite officers who were the first to be called out in the event of an emergency.

Administrative matters had been going on behind the scene for the previous three months and it had been agreed that the men would sail on a P&O steamer leaving on 20th. March and that their rail fare from London to the port would be covered.  In addition they would each receive an advance of salary amounting of £20 towards the cost of purchasing their outfits.  During the outward voyage they would receive half salary.

The local Hong Kong press announced the arrival of the six police officers aboard the SS Carnatic and stated that "It is supposed they are to be promoted to the same rank as the present inspectors as they have been billeted off in the same quarters".

Thomas reached the rank of 1st. Class Inspector in February 1869.

By 1871 more police officers were needed and Inspector Grey was despatched to the UK (at 24 hours notice) to recruit 40 constables for duty in the Colony.  On this occasion both the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary declined to assist.  As a result the Crown Agents sent him north to try the Scottish Constabularies.  Here he was more than successful and managed to recruit a total of 45 men.  The first batch set sail on the SS Sarpenden on 2nd. December with the second batch, along with Inspector GREY, leaving on the SS Glaucus on 23rd. December.

In September 1878 Inspector GREY led a party of police against 80 armed men who were responsible for a sensational attack on a gold dealer's shop in Wing Lok Street.

Thomas was promoted to Acting Chief Inspector in April 1880 and for a six week period in 1881 was Acting Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Thomas took sixteen months Home Leave from August 1882 to December 1883 during which time he married.  Irish records show the marriage of Thomas Frederick GREY to Emily Barbara ALLT on 20th. September 1883 in the Parish Church of St. Peter, Dublin.  The register entry was altered to amend the spelling of Thomas' surname from Gray to GREY.  For some unknown reason Thomas stated his occupation as being Civil Service Clerk.

A son, Arthur Oveston, was born at Central Police Station on 6th. August 1884.  He was baptised at St. John's Cathedral on 17th. September.

A second son, Allan Frederick, was born at The Magistracy on 31st. October 1886.  He was baptised at St. John's Cathedral on 15th. December 1886.

Emily's name varies in the records - sometimes being shown as Emilia.

Mr. James PARKER had retired as First Clerk of the Magistracy in early October 1886.  Promotion opportunities to the senior ranks within the police force were few and seeing this as an opportunity for advancement Thomas applied.  There were several creditable candidates but as Thomas had the longest service he was recommended for appointment.  Unfortunately the responsibilities of the new office (and no doubt the responsibilities of a new family) played on Thomas' mind.  He suffered a nervous breakdown and the Colonial Surgeon advised that unless he was relieved of the responsibilities immediately he would have to be admitted to a lunatic asylum.  Life was so, so different back then.

The authorities agreed that Thomas should be granted leave without pay for three months in the spring of 1887 on condition that he resigned when the leave expired.  Thomas would be granted a pension for his 20 years service.

Pension papers show Thomas to be 5ft. 10 1/2 ins in height with a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.  His age was given as 47.  He stated that he would be drawing his pension in London and that his wife was living in Banagher, Ireland.

The 1891 census shows Thomas living with his family in Thorpe Road, Kingston, Surrey.  His age was given as 51.

In 1898 the Colonial Office received correspondence from the Office of Registrar in Lunancy, Four Courts, Dublin concerning Thomas GREY a former member of the Hong Kong Police Force.  Thomas had been admitted to the Dublin District Asylum as a dangerous lunatic in August and the authorities were seeking details of his pension.  His age was shown as being 55.

A month later correspondence was received from Offices of the General Solicitor for Minors and Lunatics in Ireland with a similar query.  The Colonial Office replied that the Crown Agents were paying £12 a year to the Richmond District Asylum in Ireland for Mr. GREY's maintenance with the balance of pension being paid to his wife.

How long Thomas remained in the asylum is not known but the 1901 census for Ireland shows him living at 118 South Circular Road, Dublin with his family.  His age was shown as 57.

Emily Barbara GREY died on 7th. October 1903 of enteritis tuberculous from which she had been suffering for 3 years.  Her death was registered by her son A.F. GREY.

The 1911 census for Ireland shows Thomas and his son, Arthur, boarding at 109 Circular Road, Merchants Quay, Dublin.  Thomas' age was shown as 70.

Thomas Frederick GREY died of broncho pneumonia on 25th. March 1919 at 25 Raymond Street, Dublin.  His age was shown as being 77.  The death was registered by his son, Allan F. GREY.

Ironsides - an officer with steely determination

The story of John Calder SWANSTON (1851 - 1891) 
Hong Kong Police Officer (1871 - 1891)
can be found on my Hong Kong Cemetery Blog: