Constable George Anderson – Lanarkshire Constabulary
CONSTABLE GEORGE ANDERSON
LANARKSHIRE CONSTABULARY 1891 to 1903
George was born on Sunday September the 11th at Mains of Laither, Turriff, Aberdeenshire.
He was the son of George, a farm worker & Agnes Anderson. They lived on Mains of Laither Farm.
George & Agnes were married on the 5th of December 1863 in Darra Parish, Turriff. At the time of their wedding George was a farm servant and Agnes a domestic servant.
In 1871 the family were still residing at Mains of Laither and at that time George & Agnes had three children:
William – 6 years
Elsie – 2 years
George – 6 months
By 1881 the family had moved to nearby Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, again residing on a farm. The family had grown and is recorded as:
George Anderson – 43 years – Farm Servant
Agnes – 40 years
Elsie – 12 years
George – 10 years
James – 7 years
Alex – 5 years
William, having left school, had also left the family home and was now in employment.
In 1891 George Anderson Jnr left home and travelled to the central belt of Scotland. On Monday the 2nd of March 1891 he joined Lanarkshire Constabulary as a Police Constable.
The census of 1891 shows that George was residing as a lodger at No 36 Courthouse Buildings, Govan (in 1912 Govan became part of the City of Glasgow).
On Friday the 19th of January 1894 George married Mary Anne Sinclair, a 22-year-old machinist of 33 Main Road, Bridgeton, Glasgow. They were married at the Church in Bridgeton.
At the time of his wedding George is recorded as residing at 139 Main Road, Rutherglen. This was the Police Barracks for Lanarkshire Constabulary.
In 1895 the couple had moved to an upper flat at 110 Dunlop Street, Tollcross.
Their first child was born on Friday the 21st of December 1894 at their home address in Dunlop St, Tollcross.
In 1895 George and his family transferred to Chapelhall, a small village outside the town of Airdrie. The family resided at The Police Station, Main Street, Chapelhall.
On Sunday the 18th of December 1898 their second child, Mary McNee Smith Anderson, was born in The Police Station, Main St, Chapelhall. This was a common occurrence in police families.
The 1901 census records the family as still residing at The Police Station in Chapelhall.
On 21st of August 1902, George & Mary had a third child, Agnes Cresswell Anderson, who was again born in Chapelhall Police Station.
On Wednesday the 12th of August 1903, George Anderson resigned from Lanarkshire Constabulary. On leaving the Constabulary he received a hand-written letter of commendation and character from the Chief Constable, Captain Despard.
Unfortunately, George Anderson died on the 6th of April 1904 at 1b Buchanan Street, Airdrie. His death certificate records him as being a police officer, however it has later been scored out to show his occupation as a farmer.
It is thought that the cause of his illness relates back to his police service. He had to go out on duty in heavy rain without a raincoat or adequate protection. It is thought that this has caused the onset of his illness. This left his wife Mary with three young children to support and no income as George did not qualify for a pension. She made an income by taking in peoples ironing.
Mary Ann eventually re-married on the 4th of December 1908 to Robert Thomson a joiner from Glasgow. Both were residing in Glasgow at that time.
Mary Ann lived until the age of 75 passing away on the 23rd of December 1946 at home in Rutherglen.
The association with the Police continued with Mary Ann’s sister, Margaret Sinclair, who married the famous Glasgow Detective, John Thompson Trench who was involved in the Oscar Slater investigation.
Detective Lieutenant JohnThompson Trench
OSCAR SLATER CASE
In December 1908 Marion Gilchrist, a spinster aged 83 years, was beaten to death in a robbery at West Princes St, Glasgow, after her maid had popped out for ten minutes. Although she had jewellery worth £3,000 hidden in her wardrobe, the robber was disturbed by a neighbour and took only a brooch.
Slater had left for New York five days after the murder and came under suspicion as, before the murder, a caller to Gilchrist’s house had been looking for someone called “Anderson”, and Slater had previously been seen trying to sell a pawn ticket for a brooch.
The police soon realised that the pawn ticket was a false lead but still applied for Slater’s extradition. Slater was advised that the application would probably fail anyway but, in any case, decided to return voluntarily to Scotland.
At his trial, overseen by Judge Alexander Ure, defence witnesses provided Slater with an alibi and confirmed that he had announced his visit to America long before the murder. He was convicted by a majority of nine to six (five not proven and one not guilty). In May 1909 he was sentenced to death, the execution to take place before the end of the month. However, Slater’s lawyers organised a petition, signed by 20,000 people, and the secretary of state for Scotland, Lord Pentland, issued a conditional pardon and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Slater was to serve nineteen years at Peterhead prison.
REVIEW OF THE CASE
In 1914 Thomas McKinnon Wood ordered a Private Inquiry into the case.
Detective Lieutenant John Thompson Trench provided information which had allegedly been concealed from the trial by the police. The Inquiry found that the conviction was sound and instead Trench was dismissed from the force and prosecuted on charges from which he was eventually acquitted.
Detective Lieutenant Trench died in on the 13th of May 1919, aged fifty, at the Shakespeare Military Hospital, Glasgow. The cause of death was pernicious anaemia and a cardiac condition. He never lived to see justice done.
As an enemy alien (born German), Slater was interned for a brief time at the start of World War II. He died in 1948.
The lessons of the Slater miscarriage were considered as late as 1976 by the Devlin Committee review on the limitations of identity parades.
More recently, the Slater case has been revisited by several scholars and writers.
It is with thanks to the grand-daughter of Agnes Cresswell Anderson, Lesley Webster , that this article can be produced. Lesley’s parents emigrated to New Zealand in 1954.
Lesley contacted the LPHS requesting information about her great grand-father, George Anderson. We managed to provide the above service details following some research and information supplied by Lesley.