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  • The Royal Pardon

    This isn't new information, but it still makes for good conversation.


    CRIMINAL LAW—THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS—A FREE PARDON.

    23 November 1888


    Mr. Hunter asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he is prepared, in the case of the Whitechapel murders, other than that of the woman Kelly, to offer a free pardon to any person not being the actual perpetrator of the crimes?


    THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. Mathews): I should be quite prepared to offer a pardon in the earlier Whitechapel murders if the information before me had suggested that such an offer would assist in the detection of the murderer. In the case of Kelly there were certain circumstances which were wanting in the earlier cases, and which made it more probable that there were other persons who, at any rate after the crime, had assisted the murderer.

  • #2
    July 18, 1889
    Mr. Montagu, Tower Hamlets - Whitechapel: I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will offer a substantial reward, accompanied by a free pardon, to anyone not in the police force and not the actual perpetrator of the recent crime in Whitechapel who will give such information as will lead to the conviction of the murderer; and whether he will sufficiently increase the number of detectives so as to prevent, if possible, further atrocities in East London?
    Mr. Mathews: I have consulted the Commissioner of Police, and he informs me that he has no reason to believe that the offer of a reward now would be productive of any good result, and he does not recommend any departure from the policy resolved on last year, and fully explained by me to the House. Since the occurrence of the outrages in the East End, a large number of men in plain clothes have been employed there, and I yesterday sanctioned an arrangement for still further increasing the number of detectives available for duty in Whitechapel.

    Comment


    • #3
      Whenever I hear talk about the Royal Pardon, I keep picturing Michael Caine portraying Abberline. Remember the scene when he held that document high in his hand and announced to Sir William Gull's coachman, "This is a Royal Pardon!!"

      Yeah I know it was a completely phony scene, but it's still memorable.

      What I'd like to know is how a Royal Pardon really worked. I don't know the mechanics of it at all. Was there an actual document that got handed to a person who was in need of the pardon? Did this person have to possess this document for it to be legitimately applied? Did the person's name have to be written on the pardon?

      Comment


      • #4
        For what it's worth, from Wiki:

        "The power to grant pardons and reprieves in the United Kingdom is known as the royal prerogative of mercy. It was traditionally in the absolute power of the monarch to pardon and release an individual who had been convicted of a crime from that conviction and its intended penalty. Pardons were granted to many in the 18th century on condition that the convicted felons accept transportation overseas, such as to Australia. The first General Pardon in England was issued in celebration of the coronation of Edward III in 1327. In 2006 all British soldiers executed for cowardice during World War I were pardoned, resolving a long-running controversy about the justice of their executions."

        More here.

        I note there's also a book Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest by Kathleen Dean Moore -- and it's available on Google Books

        There I told you up above there's be More, Joe!!!

        Chris
        Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
        https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
        Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks Chris. That was a lot of information.

          But I'm still puzzled over the question of whether or not a person who seeks the privileges of a Royal Pardon must physically have in his possession such a document.

          What I'm really driving at here is this:

          If Inspector Andrews wished to persuade a suspected Ripper accomplice into testifying, and this persuasion was by means of a Royal Pardon, then would it be necessary for the Inspector to tangibly hand over a Royal Pardon document to the suspected accomplice?

          In other words, which of these following two scenarios adheres to the actual procedure?

          1. Andrews comes to America and approaches a suspected accomplice and says, "Come back with me to England. Don't worry, you won't be prosecuted. Take my word for it. I know I don't have anything in writing to give you for assurance, but hey you don't need it. I'm verbally telling you that you have a Royal Pardon, and that's good enough for you. Now come with me."

          2. Andrews comes to America and approaches a suspected accomplice and says, "Come back with me to England. Don't worry you won't be prosecuted. Here is a Royal Pardon document with your name on it. Please be advised to file this with your attorney. This is your official ticket to freedom if you testify, so don't lose it."

          Comment


          • #6
            Joe:

            Just a thought here....good thread idea by the way.

            Would you trust anyone offering a pardon without the actual pardon in their hand, especially if the other party you were going to theoretically roll over on might want to drag you in with their legal problem and you without some sort of written protection ?

            I sure wouldn't.
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            • #7
              Neither would I, Howard.


              Let me present a scenario that consists of two main elements:

              1. A suspected Ripper accomplice made his way to America.

              2. And Scotland Yard hoped that the Royal Pardon would persuade the suspected accomplice into returning to London and testifying for the prosecution.


              Ok with that established we can now proceed. The next best course of action that Scotland Yard should take would be to approach the suspected accomplice in America and tangibly hand to him, or hand to his attorney, the Royal Pardon document. As Howard mentioned, I don't think a jaw-flapping verbal agreement will be good enough to convince this man to hop aboard the next steamer to London.

              Other questions that need to be asked concern the manner of how the Royal Pardon document should be delivered to America. Does the Scotland Yard Inspector simply pop the document in a London mailbox and have it travel over the ocean to some Scotland Yard official stationed in New York? And then that official in turn approaches the suspected accomplice with this paperwork.

              Or would a Royal Pardon not get treated in such a manner? Instead would the Scotland Yard Inspector in London personally deliver the Royal Pardon himself to his Scotland Yard colleague in America?

              Comment


              • #8
                I think the actual wording of the original document issued for the Kelly investigation suggests that the "'circumstances" that warranted the consideration of a pardon in this case may have been post murder circumstances....."at any rate after the fact"....and as such, would leave the offender a pardon for the Information regarding the criminal or the crime, not for committing it as an accomplice.

                I think Sarah Lewis's Wideawake Man had a lot to do with that ...it was issued November 10th in the afternoon... as well as the assumption that someone would have known after the murder based on the blood which had to be on that killer in particular.

                Best regards all.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've read a few times that Dr. Phillips was instrumental in getting the pardon put through. Anyone know the particulars?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Basically Joe, Her Majesty's Most Gracious Pardon could never apply, or even be a legal document, outside of Her Majesty's Realm. If the Pardon was to be served within Her Realm, as in the Colonies, then it would be issued by her legally appointed Crown Officer of that colony, and not by Her Majesty. This took place on several occasions in colonies like Australia, but the Pardon would have no remit and serve no purpose outside of the Realm.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
                      Basically Joe, Her Majesty's Most Gracious Pardon could never apply, or even be a legal document, outside of Her Majesty's Realm. If the Pardon was to be served within Her Realm, as in the Colonies, then it would be issued by her legally appointed Crown Officer of that colony, and not by Her Majesty. This took place on several occasions in colonies like Australia, but the Pardon would have no remit and serve no purpose outside of the Realm.
                      Technically, you are undoubtedly correct, AP, that a Royal pardon would not be legally binding outside the United Kingdom or the colonies. After all, the United States, for example, does not recognize any foreign potentate, and that includes the sovereign of England. In order to become a citizen of the United States you have to renounce all foreign rulers. (However, I am a U.S. citizen and a British subject and every night I salute the Queen just like you do, AP. )

                      Nonetheless, different nations do have extradition treaties and arrangements even if they do not recognize each other's laws within their borders. What is to stop a British law official saying to an accomplice in the Whitechapel murders, "If you were to return to London with me, we will guarantee that you will be immune from prosecution."

                      Chris
                      Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                      https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                      Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                      Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A.P.

                        Let's say a suspected Ripper accomplice fled to America, and then was handed a Royal Pardon to come back to London and testify against the suspected killer.

                        The accomplice accepts the offer and returns to London.

                        Are you telling me that the Royal Pardon really is of no use to the accomplice because it was physically handed to him while he was in a country that was outside of the Queen's Realm?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Indeed chaps, the pardon had no application outside of its jurisdiction, and could not have been offered to a person outside of that.
                          Just try posting a letter from the Bronx with Her Majesty's Most Gracious Portrait on it and see how far your letter gets.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would have thought that an offer of a pardon would still be valid if they wanted a suspect or accomplice to return to England, no matter where he resided

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hear Ye, Hear Ye. The trial of Jack the Ripper is now in session.

                              The Honorable Judge A.P. Wolf is presiding.


                              Prosecutor Joe: The prosecution calls Howard Brown to the stand.

                              Howard: Yes, I was an accomplice to Jack the Ripper. I set it up beforehand with Annie Chapman that she meets the Ripper in Hanbury Street. But hey, I've been given a Royal Pardon document. So I'll present it when need be and I'll walk away a free man.

                              Prosecutor Joe: The prosecution calls Nemo to the stand.

                              Nemo: Yes, I was an accomplice to Jack the Ripper. I set it up beforehand with Catherine Eddowes that she meets the Ripper in Mitre Square. But hey, I've been handed a Royal Pardon document. So I'll present it when need be and I'll walk away a free man just like Howard.

                              Judge A.P. Wolf: Not so fast. Where were you when you were handed the Royal Pardon document, Nemo?

                              Nemo: I was right here in London when it was given to me. And Howard was in Niagara Falls, New York when his Royal Pardon document was given to him.

                              Judge A.P. Wolf: In that case, yes you may walk away a free man, Nemo. After all, your pardon was handed to you when you were in London. But Howard, your Royal Pardon document is invalid because it was physically handed to you when you were outside of the Queen's Realm. A Royal Pardon document has no lawful application outside of its jurisdiction.

                              Howard: Are you stupid or something, Judge? The Royal Pardon is being applied here in England, not in America. You mean you don't have enough sense to differentiate between where a Royal Pardon document was received as opposed to where it is being applied?

                              Judge A.P. Wolf: I find you in contempt of court, Howard! And since you made me look pretty dumb here, I will sentence you to 10 years of hard labor. Or 10 weeks of eating home-cooked meals at Linford's house.

                              Howard: I'll take the 10 years.

                              Comment

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