One of the first joint commissioners of the London Metropolitan Police, Sir Richard Mayne was also the youngest ever commissioner, and – with a stint of some 39 years, between 1829 and 1868 – the longest serving commissioner in the service’s history.

Mayne was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 27th November, 1796, as the son of Judge Edward Mayne of the Queen’s Bench in Dublin. He studied at Trinity College, graduating in 1818 with an arts degree and then at Trinity College in Cambridge, graduating with a Master of Arts in 1821.

He was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in February, 1822, and commenced practice as a barrister in England’s north where he would spend the next seven years.

In 1829, he was selected by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel – without interview – after applying to serve as one of the two new commissioners of the Metropolitan Police. Just 33-years-old, he was officially known as the “Second Joint Commissioner” with Colonel Charles Rowan his senior colleague.

The pair – with his military background, Rowan brought his organisational and leadership skills to the job; Mayne his legal expertise – took up their posts on 7th July, 1829, and from their offices in 4 Whitehall Place (the back entrance was in Scotland Yard) set about creating the new police force.

The first constables of the new force were sworn in at the Foundling Hospital on 16th September and commenced their work patrolling the streets of the capital on 29th of that month.

Supported by his new income of £800 a year, Mayne married Georgina Marianne Catherine in 1831. The couple’s children would include Richard Charles Mayne who became a Royal Navy vice admiral.

In 1850, when Rowan retired, Mayne became the First Commissioner with Captain William Hay appointed the Second Commissioner.

In 1851, Mayne took personal charge of policing at the Great Exhibition and, despite Hay’s protests that he should have done that job given his military background, so successful was Mayne’s efforts that he was made a Knight Commander of the Bath (he had been made a Companion of the Bath in 1848 at the same time Rowan had been made a Knight Commander of the Bath – it had been suggested by some at the time that Mayne should have received the same honour as Rowan but it’s worth noting the latter had been a Companion of the Bath for his military services since 1815).

When Hay died in 1855, an Act of Parliament was passed changing the force’s structure so that it was to be headed by a single commissioner with two assistant commissioners. Mayne would serve in the role of sole commissioner for the next 13 years.

His period as sole commissioner was not a particularly happy one – the force’s handling of the Hyde Park riot of June, 1866, and the force’s mishandling of the Clerkenwell bombing in December, 1867 were two events which led Mayne to offer his resignation (which wasn’t accepted).

Mayne died while still in office at his home in Chester Square in Belgravia on Boxing Day, 1868, as the head of a force which had grown to almost 8,000 officers and policed a huge area.

Mayne, who was survived by his wife, was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. A monument to him was unveiled there on 25th January, 1871.

Mayne’s legacy – his work in the formation of the Metropolitan Police – can still be felt in the capital today as well as in other police forces, not only in the UK but around the world.

PICTURE: Portrait of Richard Mayne in an illustration from an 1869 edition of The Illustrated London News. (Via Wikipedia).

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The world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes is one of London’s most widely known characters.

While Holmes’ early life is something of a mystery, it is known that he lived at his most famous address, 221B Baker Street, from 1881 until his retirement in the early 1900s (when he moved to Sussex and took up beekeeping). It was from there that he lived and worked along with his colleague, Dr John H. Watson (Dr Watson lived with Holmes at the address both prior to his marriage and following his wife’s death).

Baker Street is these days home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum where the rooms have been reconstructed as they would have been in Holmes’ day – including his famous study where you can sit in his chair by the fire – and filled with artefacts from his many cases (there is however some confusion over the address as the current location of 221B Baker Street is located in what was, prior to the 1930s, known as Upper Baker Street).

Nearby – just out the front of the Baker Street tube station – stands a statue of Holmes, commissioned by the Sherlock Holmes Society in 1999 and sculpted by John Doubleday (see picture).

Holmes has numerous associations with locations and buildings in London and while there’s far too many to mention here, there are a couple of addresses worth noting. Among them is:

• the Criterion Restaurant at 224 Piccadilly, site of Holmes’ and Watson’s first meeting on New Year’s Day, 1881 (there’s a commemorative wall plaque inside);

• the former site of Scotland Yard, headquarters of the metropolitan police, in the Westminster street now called Great Scotland Yard;

• the Sherlock Holmes pub, just off Northumberland Avenue near Craven Avenue – formerly known as the Northumberland Arms, it featured in the book The Hound of the Baskervilles and now contains a large collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia;

• the historic restaurant Simpson’s-in-the-Strand at 100 Strand, where Holmes and Watson dined;

• and, The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden – one of Holmes’ favorite ways to pass the time.

Holmes’ contribution to the art of detection has rippled across the globe and following the first recounting of his exploits in the 1887 book A Study in Scarlet, his deeds have provided the inspiration for countless books, films, and TV series.