The press called him ‘Debonair’ Drew as he was the best-dressed and most elegant detective in Scotland Yard. The underworld called him ‘Tricky’ Drew because they both admired and feared him due to his detection skills and the many disguises he adopted. Unfortunately, there are no good photos of him and this one is from a newspaper in 1908 where he is escorting a witness to court.
Edward Drew started his career at Vine Street on 21 November 1881 and had served 27 years in the Metropolitan Police when he retired in October 1908 aged 49. His pension record shows that he was born on 19 March 1859, in Bow East London. He was 5ft 11, with grey hair and hazel eyes. He received an annual pension of £224 (worth about £24,000 today). His father Timothy Drew was born in Ireland in 1815 and became a Metropolitan police constable who left the service in 1861.
By 1891 Edward Drew now a Detective Sergeant, was based at the Islington Police Station in Upper Street. Ten years later he was an Inspector in Marylebone living at 24 Nottingham Street. In 1906 Drew was promoted to Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard.
Drew, who should not be confused with DI Walter Dew, the man who arrested Dr Crippen in 1910, was involved in several high-profile cases.
The Marquess of Anglesey’s Jewels
Henry Paget was an eccentric young man. When his father died, he became the 5th Marquess of Anglesey and inherited an income of £110,000 a year (today worth an astonishing £12M), from the family’s large estates spread around the country.
Henry loved to spend money and he was obsessed with jewellery. He spent millions on fancy dress, strutted the streets with pink poodles and adapted his five luxury cars so perfume would billow from their exhausts. He wore make-up to perfect his pale complexion while adorning himself with glittering jewels. He was known as ‘Toppy’ or the ‘Dancing Marquess’ from his habit of performing ‘sinuous, sexy, snake-like dances’ at his elaborate parties.
On 20 January 1898 he married his cousin the beautiful Lily Chetwynd. He was 22 and she was 21. On their honeymoon in Paris when Lily stopped to admire the window display of jewels in Van Cleef and Arpels, he bought the whole display. He insisted that she wore them to the races and at night she had to undress and cover her naked body with emeralds and diamonds. As an innocent young woman from a very sheltered background, she found the whole experience humiliating. She left him after six weeks and sued for an annulment as he was impotent, and the marriage was not consummated.
In September 1901 Lord Anglesey met a young waiter called Julien Gault in a Paris restaurant and offered him a job as a junior valet. He travelled to London with the other servants and they stayed at the Walsingham House Hotel in Piccadilly. On the evening of the 10 September Henry Paget went to the Lyceum Theatre to see the London opening of a play called ‘Sherlock Holmes’. This was written by and starred the American actor William Gillette and had already been a great success in his home country.
While the Marquess was at the theatre, Gault met a French prostitute in Piccadilly who asked him if he wanted to come back to her room. He said he couldn’t because his master would be returning later that night. He told her he was a valet for a fabulously rich Lord and she suggested that he should steal his jewels. She gave him her pink card which said, ‘Mathilde, 23 Halsey Street Lennox Gardens.’ The following night he took the jewels from their boxes and spent the night with Mathilde. The next morning, she talked to a ‘receiver’ who gave Gault £100 in gold wrapped in a handkerchief for the jewels.
When it was discovered that the jewels worth between £30,000 and £40,000 were missing (today equivalent to about £3.3M to £4.4M), Detective Inspector Drew was put in charge of the case. A chambermaid at the hotel said she saw Gault remove something from his master’s bedroom and one of the jewellery boxes was found in Gault’s room. There was a rumour that Lord Anglesey asked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for help to recover his property. Supposedly, he agreed to assist Inspector Drew in this real-life case and discovered the identity of the London ‘fence’. But we have found no evidence for this taking place. Apparently, Lord Anglesey asked Drew if he could follow him while he conducted some of his enquires.
Drew issued a warrant for Gault and he was arrested on 12 September in Dover as he was about to board the Ostend boat. He was wearing a false moustache which Mathilde had given him and £94 10s was found in a body belt around his waist. He admitted he had taken the jewels and given them to the woman at Halsey Street. Drew found that a Frenchwoman matching the description of Mathilde had been staying there with a man, but they had both disappeared abroad, taking the jewels with them. Hot on their trail, Drew travelled to France, but they alluded him and were never caught.
In November 1901, at the Old Bailey Gault pleaded guilty to the theft. He said through an interpreter, that this was his first offence and he hoped Lord Anglesey would forgive him. Because of the high value of the jewellery, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. After his release Gault returned to France where he committed a murder during a burglary and was guillotined in 1911.
In 1902 a man in Paris offered to sell the Marquess one of the stolen jewels, the fabulous Paget Pearl worth £12,000 for £1,500. But he insisted on meeting the Marquess before he would hand it over. Inspector Drew suggested that the Marquess should send his secretary disguised as the Marquess, and a meeting was arranged in a Paris café on 27 July. When the man was satisfied, he left the café and returned with two other men and the pearl. Drew and the French police pounced and arrested them all. Drew was able to recover most of the missing jewellery which was returned to the Marquess. Although the Inspector was happy with this outcome, he was extremely frustrated because it proved impossible to get the French authorities to extradite the men. They were released because possession of stolen goods was not a crime in France.
Just two years later in 1904, Paget despite his huge income, was declared bankrupt with debts of £544,000, equivalent to £60M today. He died in Monte Carlo from TB on 14 March 1905 and the title passed to a cousin. Henry’s letters, diaries and papers were set alight and destroyed by the family. There is still debate about his sexuality.
The Conduit Street Raid
Messrs Knight, Frank and Rutley were auctioneers at 9 Conduit Street. Several jewellers deposited their goods in the company’s safe prior to an auction the following day. But when staff arrived on the morning of 16 October 1903, they found the safe had been opened and £5,000 worth of jewels stolen (worth about £550,000 today). Inspector Drew and his team found the thieves had left fingerprints on the glass skylight in the roof. When these were analysed at Scotland Yard, they were found to match those of a carman named Henry Elliot. The Inspector set up surveillance of Elliot and his gang. After shadowing them for several days, Drew and his officers disguised as milkmen, raided 250 Goswell Road in Clerkenwell early on a Sunday morning and arrested Elliot in bed. Then they arrested John Skegs, Robert Gray and Alfred Smith at other addresses in Clerkenwell.
|The four men in court, 1903|
At the trial there was insufficient evidence against Skegs and Gray and they were released. Elliot and Smith were sentenced to 12 months with hard labour. This was one of the earliest cases that made use of fingerprint identification.
Indecent Books and Images
In May 1908 Drew was the chief witness for the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Lotteries and Indecent Advertisements. He was the head of a team of police officers who pursued the dealers of indecent pictures and publications. In 1932 it became the ‘Clubs and Vice Unit’ based in Soho, and later Scotland Yard’s Vice Squad, a name that lasted until 2010.
Drew told the MPs that most of the dealers and publishers were based in Paris and posted the indecent material to England. He gave examples where members of his team, using assumed names, wrote to the dealers to try to catch them when they sent books and photos. They also raided shops in Charing Cross, Soho, and other parts of London, seizing large quantities of indecent material.
Drew described the activities of the notorious Charles Carrington, a publisher based in Paris for many years until the police and the Foreign Office persuaded the French authorities to expel him in 1907. However, Carrington moved to Brussels and continued publishing. He returned to France and by 1920 was reportedly blind from syphilis. His last few years were spent in poverty as his mistress stole his valuable collection of erotic books, and he died in a mental institution in Ivry-sur-Seine, south of Paris, in October 1921.
After his retirement in October 1908 Chief Inspector Edward Drew decided to set up a private detective agency. But he also played a role in creating the British Secret Service.
Secret Service Bureau
On 26 August 1909, a meeting was held at Scotland Yard in the office of Sir Edward Henry, who was the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1903 to 1918, to set up the Secret Service Bureau (SSB). Sir Henry recommended Edward Drew, late Chief Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department, as a suitable private detective, under cover of whose name the SSB could operate. Drew explained that he proposed setting up in business and had the option of leasing space at 64 Victoria Street. He asked for £500 pa for the office accommodation and the use of his name. It was agreed that the bureau should start operations as soon as possession of 64 Victoria Street was obtained in early October. The War Office representative was Captain Vernon Kell, who retired from the South Staffordshire Regiment. The Admiralty chose Admiral Mansfield Cummings who was in charge of the Southampton Boom Defence.
SSB was the forerunner of MI5 and MI6. Kell and Cummings first met on 4 October 1909 and shared a room until the end of the year. But there was friction between the men. They were known as ‘Kelly’ and ‘Cunningham’ in the office (not very good cover names). Initially appointed for separate military and naval intelligence they found their work overlapped, so on 21 October they agreed a division between themselves, with Kell taking all the home-based work both military and naval, and Cummings all the foreign work. This division was formally agreed on 9 May 1910.
The site of Drew’s office opposite the Army and Navy Stores, proved difficult for private meetings and at the end of 1909 Cummings took a flat at Ashley Mansions in Vauxhall Bridge Road and conducted his MI6 work there. Kell continued to use Victoria Street until the lease expired on 21 February 1911 when he moved to 3 Paper Buildings Temple. MI5 moved from here on 28 Sept 1912 to Watergate House, York Buildings, Adelphi.
Edward Drew, confidential inquiry agency, was shown at 64 Victoria Street from 1909 to 1923.
The other Inspector Drew
It is said that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, but it is unlikely that Inspector Drew was happy about what happened in November 1921. A smartly dressed man walked into the Brownie Restaurant at 54 Victoria Street (only a few doors away from Drew’s inquiry agency), and told the cashier, Maud Kavanagh, that he was Detective Inspector Drew of Scotland Yard. He said he was looking for a man who was passing forged £1 notes and asked to see the bank notes in her till. Mrs Kavanagh was suspicious, she did not let him take any of the notes and telephoned the police telling them the man was coming back the next day. The following day Detective Sergeant Martin and DC Mcdouall waited outside the restaurant until the man returned. When they said they did not recognise him as Inspector Drew he suddenly pulled out a revolver and fired two shots. Luckily, he missed, and the two detectives managed to overpower and arrest him. At the Old Bailey Percival Lane was sentenced to twenty months with hard labour. The two detectives were awarded the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry.
Drew had remained a bachelor until 1904 when on 17 April at the Marylebone parish church he married Eleanor Maud Wood a 40-year old widow, he was 43.
She was born as Eleanor Maud Pooles in Penge, the daughter of a tea buyer. By 1894 she was living at 31 Fairfax Road in West Hampstead. On 2 October 1897 Eleanor married her first husband Welsh solicitor Edward Thomas Rice Wood in Paddington. He was the clerk to Rhayader council in Radnorshire Wales. By 1901 they had moved from No.31 to 14 Fairfax Road where Edward suddenly died of natural causes on 16 May 1901. He left £11,004 to Eleanor (today worth about £1.2M).
In August 1903 Inspector Edward Drew was on holiday at the Queen’s Hotel in Margate where he met Eleanor Wood. She was fascinated by the stories the famous detective told the guests. After their holiday, they continued to see each other and decided to get married in April the following year. Edward moved to Eleanor’s home in 14 Fairfax Road. From 1907 to 1922 they were living nearby at 16 Alexandra Road. All their West Hampstead homes have since been demolished and replaced by modern houses.
When Edward Drew retired from his practice as a confidential inquiry agent in 1924 the couple moved to Brighton. When he died from heart trouble on 8 Dec 1927 at 40 Harrington Road on the edge of Brighton, he was a wealthy man and left £25,573 (today worth about £1.5M). Eleanor stayed in the Brighton area and she died on 8 January 1952 at the Methuen Manor Nursing Home, leaving £1,440 (worth about £40,000 today), to her son Edward Hamilton Wood from her first marriage.
Because of his fame as a detective Drew did well financially as a private detective. But the work would have been mainly family disputes and divorce cases and was unlikely to have had the excitement of his work for the Met. Drew was known for his discretion and he did not write his memoires unlike many of his ex-Scotland Yard colleagues. But he did write an account of what he called his greatest case ‘The Marquess of Anglesey Jewels’, which appeared in the first issue of The Detective Magazine in November 1924.