[Sir] Robert Anderson (1841-1918)

b. Dublin, ed. TCD, BA 1862; Bar, 1863; br. of Samuel Anderson (Attorney-Gen in the Irish viceregal government]; employed at Secret Service Branch of British Home Office, 1867, dealing with Irish affairs; adviser on political crime from 1868, investigating Fenians, and acting as ‘control’ for the IRB infiltrator Henri le Caron; supplied the Times with material on Fenian movement for Parnell Commission; produced second series of articles based on Henri leCaron’s materials [q.v.]; forced to retire from Dublin by exposure in leCaron’s Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service (1892); served as head of CID (London) during 1888-1901;
he investigated Jack the Ripper murders; also Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement (1906); Criminals and Crime (1907); The Lighter Side of My Official Life (1910); acted as Presbyterian preacher for 50 years and issued some 20 works on religious subjects including The Silence of God (1897); The Bible and Modern Criticism (1902); Misunderstood Texts of the New Testament (1916); KCB on retirement, 1901; d. London. DIB DIH DIW

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  • Human Destiny (Toronto: S. R. Briggs 1896);
  • Criminals and Crime: Some Facts and Suggestions (London: J. Nisbet & Co 1907), xii, 182pp.; Do., rep. edn. (NY: Garland 1984);
  • A Great Conspiracy (London: Murray 1910), 118pp.;
  • With Horace Plunkett in Ireland (London: Macmillan 1935), 293pp.; Do., rep. edn., with a foreword by William Ross (Blackrock: Irish Academic Press [1983])
Biblical studies
  • The Gospel and its Ministry(London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1876, 1901, 1903, 1907), vii, 151pp., 8°, and Do. (Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis [1922]).
  • The Bible and Modern Criticism: Letters from Professor Huxley, the Duke of Argyll, and Sir Robert Anderson, Exhibiting Professor Huxley’s Retreat from a Position he Maintained Against the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone in the Nineteenth Century (London: The Times Pub. Co. [1892]), and Do., with a preface by Rev. Handley C. G. Moule [2nd. edn.] (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1902), xvi, 278pp.; 8°; Do. [4th edn.] (1903), xvi, 281, [7]pp.; Do. [5th edn.] (1905), Do. [6th edn.] (1906), 23cm.; and Do. [7th edn.; based on 2nd edn.], with a preface by Handley C. G. Moule, D.D., / Bishop of Durham (London: J. Nisbet [1914]), xvi, 278pp.
  • Commentary on the 1st Chapter of Genesis: the deponent science summoned as witness to the truth of the Bible (Upper Norwood: G. Roberts 1889), 38pp., 8°;
  • The Bible or Church? [incorporating the greater part of the Buddha of Christendom (London 1899)]. (London: [Hodder & Stougton 1908), xi, 269pp., 8°; Do. [rep.] (London: Pickering & Inglis [1910]), xi, 269pp., 22cm; Do. [2nd edn.] (London, Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis 1924), xi, 269pp.;
  • Daniel in the Critics’ Den. A reply to Dean Farrar’s “Book of Daniel.” (Edinburgh & London: Blackwood & Son 1895), ix, 126pp.
  • Daniel in the Critics’ Den: a reply to Professor Driver of Oxford [i.e to his Commentary on Daniel in the Cambridge Bible] and the Dean of Canterbury [i.e. to F. W. Farrar’s “Book of Daniel”] (London: J. Nisbet & Co. 1902), xiv, 186pp.
  • Pseudo-criticism: or the higher criticism and its counterfeit (London: James Nisbet & Co. 1904), xiii, 165pp.
  • Unfulfilled Prophecy and “The Hope of the Church” [A treatise on Daniel IX] [Aids to Prophetic Study Ser..] (London: Prophecy Investigation Society [1917]), viii, 106pp., 8°; Do. (London: C. J. Thynne; J. Nisbet & Co. 1918); and Do. (London & Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis: [1922]).

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J. S. Crone, et al., “John Rutherford”, in The Irish Book Lover , Vol. I, No. 11 (June, 1910), gives a full account of the identification of the eponymous author of A Secret History of Fenianism and the Fenians (1896) with Sir Robert Anderson, later disproved. The notice takes the form of a series of comments and replies in to which Crone, as editor, appends his own account of the apology sent to the Star for the misidentification made in the Irish Book Lover, and finally an interview with Rutherford’s widow, establishing the true identity of the author, properly John Rutherford, aka “Thor Fredur”.[ top

Anderson and the IRB
There is an account of Anderson’s involvement in British government attempts to investigate the IRB in ‘Anderson, Monro and Jsfmboe [i.e., Ireland]’ by Martin Fido - online; accessed 21.09.2020. The article makes mention of General Francis Millen, a Mexican soldier and member of the IRB in NY who turned spy for the British authorities. Millen went to Ireland in 1864 to set up plans for an armed rebellion - but by 1866 he had quarrelled with the IRB and offered to reveal their organisational secrets at a meeting with the Mexican consul. This was sent to Dublin Castle where Robert Anderson was appointed to collate reports on the Fenians, listing Millen as “Informant M”, inkng inked out his name from all documents.

Further: In 1867 Millen came to England, unsuccessfully seeking appointment as a permanent spy at a salary of £500pa. Samuel Anderson (Robert’s elder brother and the attorney-general in the Irish viceregal government) arranged for him to meet Sir Richard Mayne, the founding commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. But Millen was given no appointment, and Mayne and the Met were gravely discredited by a series of Fenian bombing outrages that culminated in the destruction of half a street in Clerkenwell in an attempt to free a Fenian leader from the prison exercise yard. In consequence Conservative Home Secretary Gathorne Hardy formed a Counter-Revolutionary Secret Service Department under Col. William Fielding, with Inspectors Adolphus Williamson and James Thomson seconded to it from Scotland Yard, and Robert Anderson brought from Ireland to act as its civilian secretary. The department was closed after five months, when the scare following the Clerkenwell bombing subsided, but Anderson remained at the Home Office and received reports from (among others) Thomas Miller Beach who had been recruited as a spy that year. / In 1868 Millen and Beach joined some breakaway Fenians who formed the new violent organization Clan-na-Gael. At the same time, Millen’s reports to London were dropped.


In 1882 in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Irish Nationalists assassinated Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke, the new (Liberal) Chief Secretary and Permanent Undersecretary in the vice-regal government. Parnell denounced the murders. Liberal Home Secretary Sir William Harcourt appointed former Cyprus Police Chief Col. Henry Brackenbury to organize secret police work in Dublin, and ordered Anderson to cooperate with him in London. Before the year was out, Brackenbury had been replaced by Edward Jenkinson, previously private secretary to the Liberal viceroy, Lord Mayo.

Meanwhile, in Scotland Yard the Special Irish Branch, or Section D was established with Adolphus Williamson in command. He was to liaise daily with Anderson and send all reports to him. In 1883, however, Jenkinson was transferred to London and as a fellow-Liberal had the ear of Harcourt. He told him that Williamson was the only worthwhile man at Scotland Yard, and they agreed that Anderson was merely ‘a second-class detective’. The reports from Williamson were re-routed to Jenkinson, who set about building up his own network of spies and informants. In 1884 Anderson was told that he was to have no further responsibility for Fenian activities in London. Although Beach continued to report to him and pointblank refused to trust anyone else in London, Anderson was officially downgraded to Secretary to the Prison Commissioners, and given a grant of £2,000 in 1886 to compensate him for the reduction of his salary. It was clearly Jenkinson’s intent to establish himself as a permanent Liberal presence in the Home Office where Anderson had hitherto been a permanent Unionist presence.

Anderson found, however, a new ally in Scotland Yard when James Monro was appointed Assistant Commissioner in charge of the CID and set about building his own Special Irish Branch. Monro was disconcerted to find Jenkinson in situ with a spy ring that he refused to share. But like Anderson, Monro was an Irish Protestant millenniarist and a firm Conservative Unionist. The two formed a friendship and cooperated to avoid being supplanted by Jenkinson. In the short run things went Jenkinson’s way. A power struggle in the Clan-na-Gael led to increased bombing and a growing supply of increasingly high-level dissatisfied informants that included General Millen. Jenkinson also used a network of disaffected IRB members and agents provocateurs to promote subversive activities that he could then uncover, making arrests which impressed Sir William Harcourt. Even so, he overreached himself by his repeated failures to let Monro know where his spies were operating, and was reprimanded for this. Some authorities began to perceive Jenkinson as reckless and scandal-prone, and he became increasingly eccentric, adopting wigs and false whiskers to practice his own amateur sleuthing. But Lord Mayo still trusted him, and Jenkinson continued to send reports to him even when the Liberal administration was replaced by a Conservative one.

[Further details the involvement of Anderson in the Piggott Forgery aimed at Parnell - and the return of Millen as an IRB bomber apparently in the employ of Jenkinson of the Scotland Yard Irish Unit. The narrative is interwoven with the name of Thomas Miller Beach (aka Henri le Carron) who moves between Dublin and London - and whose memoir like Anderson’s is the source of much information.]
— Martin Fido, ‘Anderson, Monro and Jsfmboe [i.e., Ireland]’ at Casebook: Jack the Ripper - online; accessed 21.09.2020.

J. J. Abraham, Surgeon’s Journey: Autobiography (London: Heinemann 1957) relates how Major Henri le Caron’s own autobiography revealed that the father of ‘a student dissecting with me [Abraham]’ had been the recipient of secret information on the Fenians from the author. The friend’s father gave Abraham some books which he had written, Daniel in the Critic’s Den and The Coming Prince, from which Abraham inferred that ‘he must be a bit cracked’. After le Caron’s revelations he realised that ‘the author of the religious books I had been reading, was no less a person than the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, and it was to him that le Caron had been reporting the Fenians’ secret proceedings for years.’ He continues: ‘It was amazing. People who knew him could not believe it. No one more unlikely to hold such a post had been imagined. But it was true! That, of course, was the beautiful cleverness of it. He was entirely unsuspected. The disclosure, naturally, destroyed the value of the secret and, soon after, he and his family left Dublin. Probably his life was not considered safe there any longer, and so he was moved to London, to take up a high administrative post in Scotland Yard. I believe he kept on writing more and more religious books. His name was Sir Robert Anderson. He died in 1918.’ (p.51.) [See Abraham, q.v.]

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