Henry Matthews

Born: 13th January 1826.

Passed away: 3rd April 1913.

Buried: Clehonger, Herefordshire, on 9th April 1913.

Born to Henry Matthews, a judge of the Supreme Court and his wife, Emma, Henry had an education from the University of Paris as well as the University of London, where he gained his Bachelor of Arts and Law. He was called to the bar in Lincoln’s Inn in 1850 before he became the secretary to the Earl of Marshal eleven years later. By 1868, he had made it to Queen’s Counsel and by 1885, he had made a name for himself and was known to Queen Victoria by his cross-examination to Sir Charles Dilke in Charles’ famous divorce case, which ended Charles’ career.

In 1868, Henry became an MP for Dungarvan, Ireland, where he supported the separation of the church in Ireland and was sympathetic to the Home Rule Movement. This meant that in the future he was distrusted by the Unionists. In 1886, he became an MP for Birmingham East while also being appointed as Home Secretary and sworn into the Privy Council.

Things did not always go well for Henry. In 1887, he was involved in the Miss Cass Case, where a woman was identified by the police as being a prostitute when there was no evidence to state so. When Llewellyn Atherly Jones MP brought the issue up in parliament, Henry seemed flippant. Later, he was forced to launch an official enquiry into the case. Henry was also involved in the Bloody Riots of 1887, when the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Charles Warren, asked for Henry to ban all protests and meetings from being held in Trafalgar Square. However, Henry did not at first agree with doing this but when he did, Sir Charles Warren worked fast, leading to riots and many people becoming injured. It did not make Henry look good and in the year to come, when the murders of Jack the Ripper started, the public and press were not on his side.

Jack the Ripper Case: In 1888, it seemed as if Henry had to control the Commissioner of the police, Sir Charles Warren, at a time when he probably just wanted him to solve the Jack the Ripper case and stop highlighting himself to the press and the public.

The Assistant Commissioner, James Monro, resigned because of Sir Charles Warren’s treatment of him. Sir Charles probably thought he had managed to get rid of a man he did not like, however, Henry did not want to see James Monro go. Therefore, Henry appointed him head of the Special Branch Department, which was not in Sir Charles’ control, causing more issues within Scotland Yard.

Then, in October 1888, Sir Charles Warren wrote an article in Murray’s Magazine trying to defend himself for the actions he had taken in the Jack the Ripper case. This was something Sir Charles should not have done, so Henry had to formally reprimand him.

Henry also appointed Robert Anderson control of the Ripper case after the 'Double Event, which resulted in the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.

In 1892, Henry lost his post as Home Secretary and when the Conservative Party won, three years later, Queen Victoria wanted him to take up the post again. However, other members of the party stopped this from happening.

Being a Roman Catholic, Henry was heavily involved in the campaign for the building of Westminster Cathedral, which was eventually opened in 1903. Henry passed away at his London home at the age of eighty-seven years old, unmarried and without any children, on 3rd April 1913. He was buried six days later at Clehonger in Herefordshire.


 7 Days a Week

AT 5:00PM & 7:30PM

Tour Duration

1 hr 45 mins


The Jack the Ripper Casebook