In the year 1800, Henry Goddard was born in Southwark. Following in his father’s footsteps as a fishmonger, he enlisted as a policeman in the Bow Street Foot Patrol on April 7, 1824. 2 By the end of 1826, he was transferred to the Great Marlborough Street Police Office as a plain-clothes Principal Officer (commonly known as ‘Runners,’ but such officers rarely, if ever, acknowledged to themselves as such, believing the term to be derogatory). This was a noteworthy achievement, as many constables in the London Police Office needed more than a decade to attain a similar promotion.
In 1834, he followed Sir Frederick Adair Roe, the Chief Magistrate of Great Marlborough Street, to Bow Street (which was considered primus inter pares in terms of the London Police Offices), where he served as a Principal Officer until the Bow Street policing system was deactivated in 1839, a decade after Peel established the Metropolitan Police.
During his time at Bow Street, Goddard had an exceptional reputation, having been praised on multiple occasions by magistrates in the provincial towns to which he had been dispatched to investigate major crimes such as murder and arson.
In his Memoirs, he writes that after a successful investigation of an arson case in 1836, a magistrate from Tunbridge Wells wrote to the Bow Street Chief Magistrate, praising his conduct, activity, and intelligence: Considering the very slight clue we had as to the offenders, the conduct, activity, and intelligence of Mr. Goddard cannot be too highly commended. The Bow Street Principal Officers were disbanded in August 1839, and the nine men either retired or looked for new work.
While most of his colleagues left the area of law enforcement, Goddard (who got a £100 annual pension following his forced retirement from Bow Street) appears to have elected to stay in it. As a result, he applied for the vacant Chief Constable job with the newly founded Northamptonshire Police.
First use of Bullet Comparison
In 1835, Henry Goddard (UK), a member of the Bow Street Runners, the first British police unit, used the technique of bullet comparison to settle an active murder investigation. When Mrs. Maxwell, a woman from Southampton, England, was shot and died in her home, her butler, Joseph Randall, claimed that a gunfight with burglars had occurred.
When Goddard examined Randall’s rifle and ammunition, he discovered an identical pimple on all of the bullets found at the scene, including the ones that killed Mrs. Maxwell and were allegedly fired at him by Randall. Goddard discovered a pinhead-sized hole in the mold from which the bullets were produced, demonstrating that Randell had carried out the murder himself.
Goddard’s Appointment and Relationship with the Watch Committee Northamptonshire magistrates were exceptional in their choice of candidate in that they chose Henry Goddard (1800-83), a former senior police officer who had previously served as a Principal Officer in Bow Street Police Office.
Although another former Bow Street Principal Officer, Joseph Shackell, did join the newly formed Metropolitan Police as an Inspector with the promise of rapid advancement, he was the only former Bow Street Principal Officer to become a Chief Constable. Nicholas Pearce, a former member of the less senior Bow Street Patrol, rose through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police to become a Superintendent. Goddard received positive recommendations from several magistrates from neighboring counties, and he was named Chief Constable of Northamptonshire on April 25, 1840. The magistrates in Northamptonshire appear to have thought that a man with such a long and successful career at both Great Marlborough Street and Bow Street Police Offices was excellently qualified for the new position.
Goddard had visited Northamptonshire several times during his time at Bow Street and was no stranger to the county. In 1837, he had successfully apprehended a deer-poaching gang, and the following year, he returned to the county to investigate the savage murder of Elizabeth Longfoot at Easton on the Hill. Goddard is listed as living at Albion Place in Northampton with four of his children in the 1841 census (the youngest of whom, Matilda, had been baptized in St Giles Church, Northampton on 25 November 1840). He spent no time in becoming active in local society; he was inducted into the Freemasons on March 18, 1841, at Pomfret Lodge in Northampton, and was characterized in masonic records as a ‘Gentleman.’
The County Constabulary is organized as follows: The Northampton Herald (hereafter Herald) reproduced Goddard’s first quarterly report as Chief Constable, which stated that there would be seven divisions, each with one Superintendent and five constables, with Goddard stating, “I have great satisfaction in stating that I have received all the support and assistance I could have hoped.” Goddard outlined the new constabulary’s guidelines in the same report, the most important of which are given below:
► Each Superintendent and Constable was required to ‘devote his entire attention to the service of the Police’ and to ‘follow the various regulations which may be issued from time to time, by the Magistrates gathered at Petty Sessions.’
► The Constables were to be paid fortnightly by their Superintendents from a Goddard check, and each Superintendent was to be given an occurrence book to submit at Goddard’s or a magistrate’s request.
► One of the new force’s primary responsibilities was to maintain public order, so each Superintendent and Constable were instructed to ‘become acquainted with the various houses of bad character, and pay particular attention to all the public-houses, beerhouses, and public lodging-houses in their district, and report the time each is closed, and how much houses are generally conducted.’
► ‘On no account, take up their permanent habitation at any public place or beer-house,’ the Superintendents and Constables were told.
► Constables were to be on duty from 5-10 a.m. and then patrol from 7 p.m. until ‘the beer-houses are closed, or longer if necessary, and report to the Superintendent any beer-house conducted in a disorderly manner, or found open after the hours regulated by the magistrates,’ according to an amendment to the original rules dated 15 June 1840.
► ‘All vagrants encamping or pitching tents, wherever located,’ they were also to pay special attention to and remove.
Goddard proved his detective abilities during his first year in office at Northampton by investigating and solving a murder on his doorstep. The Morning Post of 15 October 1840 reported on a poaching attempt earlier that month that resulted in the murder of one of the Marquis of Northampton’s gamekeepers, and stated that ‘the promptness of chief constable Goddard and his men to apprehend the perpetrators of this horrid deed reflects great credit upon them.’ In early 1841, his detective skills were once again called upon when a bank clerk named John Haslock absconded with 800 sovereigns from Whitworth’s Bank in Northampton. Goddard immediately went on the search, acquiring a passport and traveling to France, where he tracked out Haslock in Tours after a thorough investigation.
Goddard, on the other hand, was unsuccessful in his attempt to bring Haslock to justice in England; the suspect was caught in France for traveling under a fictitious identity and fined 15 francs before being released. ‘The most interesting feature of the affair was the refusal of the French authorities to surrender him to an English police officer, “as the English government could never be persuaded to deliver up a refugee from France under similar circumstances,” according to the Leicester Chronicle of 13 February 1841. Despite Goddard’s failure to send Haslock to England for prosecution, he was able to retrieve about £500 from the suspect and restore it to his lawful owners.
Goddard is recorded as giving evidence at several trials in both 1840 and 1841, for example, both the Morning Post 29 June 1840 and his Memoirs contain details of Goddard appearing as a witness in a criminal conspiracy case that took him to Rouen and Paris while ostensibly also fulfilling his duties as a magistrate. He requested (and was granted) a 10-day leave of absence in June 1842, apparently to examine a non-county matter.
Goddard was able to find a visible fault in the fired projectile and trace the mark to the manufacturer’s mold through a careful study of the physical evidence. He also determined that the paper patch used to create a seal between the bullet and the explosive was torn from a newspaper found in the servant’s quarters.
Resignation from post
Goddard abruptly and unexpectedly declared his intention to resign his office in early 1849, citing an “internal injury” sustained while performing his duties. With hardly veiled delight, the Herald seized upon this announcement right away. Goddard received a £150 gratuity for his injury at the next QS (April 1849); he claimed this was to support his family while he looked for new employment, and appears to have been paid with some reluctance, possibly due to the short notice he had given of his intention to resign, which had caused the magistrates a great deal of difficulty and inconvenience.
‘I observed no proof that Mr. Goddard had been hurt in the service,’ Reverend Litchfield replied simply. He found the surgeon’s certificate to be unsatisfactory. ‘The case was investigated by Henry Goddard, a member of the Bow Street Runners (an early London police agency).