John Alexander (chief clerk)

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John Alexander formally dressed in a garden with wife Mary Elizabeth (née Thwaites), about 1875.
John Alexander
Born (1830-12-28)28 December 1830
Wooler, Northumberland
Died 3 October 1916(1916-10-03) (aged 85)
Sevenoaks, Kent
Resting place Wooler, Northumberland
55:32.7586N 2:0.7496W
Nationality English
Education Royal High School, Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Occupation Chief Clerk to Bow Street Police Court
Employer UK Home Office
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Thwaites (1846-1923)
Children James Finlay, Lucy Winifred, Gladys Mary, Elsie Margaret

Father – James Alexander (1796-1863)

Mother – Margaret Finlay (1797-1865)

John Alexander (Wooler, 28 December 1830 – 3 October 1916, Sevenoaks) was Chief Clerk to Bow Street Magistrates' Court,[1] then called Bow Street Police Court (as seen in Alexander's summons to James McNeil Whistler),[2] and simultaneously, as was then the custom, Editor of the Police Gazette in England[3] from 1877 until his retirement in 1895.


John Alexander was born in Wooler, Northumberland, son of country physician and surgeon James Alexander (1797–1863).[4] He was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh. Both his sisters married famous doctors: Christina Margaret (1833–1907) married Sir John Struthers, best known for his drawings of the beached Tay whale;[5] Margaret Agnes (1841–1911) married John Ivor Murray, who built a hospital in Shanghai and became Colonial Surgeon in Hong Kong.

His wife, Mary Elizabeth Thwaites (1846–1923) was the eldest daughter of the engineer and founder of the Vulcan Iron Works at Bradford, Robinson Thwaites.


John Alexander oversaw many famous trials of the Victorian period including the Fenians (who dynamited Clerkenwell Prison and attacked the House of Commons, London Bridge, and the Tower of London among other places), and Johann Most the German anarchist.[6]


  1. ^ Proceedings of the Central Criminal Court, 9 January 1893, Page 62ref f18930109
  2. ^ Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, Bow Street Police Court, 00136, 12 December 1890
  3. ^ "The British Almanac. Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.". Law and Justice: Metropolitan Police Courts. Cassell, London, for the Company of Stationers. 1882. p. 75. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Public Records Office 1841 Census HO 107/833/12 (parish of Wooler)
  5. ^ "Sir John Struthers 1823–1899". Living in the past (PDF). Dunfermline Heritage Community Projects. 
  6. ^

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