Robert Anderson was born in Ireland
, the son of a Crown Solicitor. As a youth he became an apprentice in a brewery, but decided the business was not for him and left after eighteen months. He studied briefly in Paris
before entering Trinity College, Dublin. There he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1862. In 1863 he was called to the Bar in Ireland. He received his Bachelor of Laws, again from Trinity, in 1875.
In 1865 he became involved in the investigation into the Fenian terrorism that was active in Ireland and England
at that time, eventually becoming the foremost expert both on their activities and on operations conducted against them. Because of this he was summoned to London
in 1868 after the murder of a police officer by Fenians and subsequent jailbreak attempts. At this time he became advisor on political crime for the Home Office. During his time there Fenian raids began to slow down, and he was appointed secretary for governmental inquiries to justify his salary, most notably in 1877 when he became secretary for the Prison Commission. When Fenian activities were again stepped up in the 1880s, Anderson had to resign from the Home Office in 1884 after failed attempts to stop the bombing campaign that had begun in 1883. In 1886 he was again forced to resign, this time from the Prison Commission.
In 1887 he was again appointed to the Home Office in his old position, and was assigned to assist Assistant Commissioner (Crime) James Monro
of Scotland Yard
with political crimes. In 1888, when Monro was appointed Commissioner, Anderson was promoted to his old position of Assistant Commissioner. When he was appointed the investigation into the Jack the Ripper
murders was just getting underway. Almost as soon as he had been appointed he took an extended vacation to France
, only returning a month later when he was recalled due to the increasingly poor publicity that was being garnered by the police handling of the case. In the press Anderson stated several times that the Whitechapel
murderer had been caught, claiming that the culprit was a Polish Jew who had been imprisoned in an asylum. Presumably he referred to Aaron Kosminski. In 1896 he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath, and in 1901 he was created Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. That same year he retired from Scotland Yard
Personal Life, Death
Anderson married Lady Agnes Alexandrina Moore in 1873. Together they had five children. He died on November 15th, 1918 of Spanish Influenza. He was 77 years old.
In Other Media
In Eddie Campbell
and Alan Moore's From Hell
Anderson was depicted as a Freemason
, and the reason for him taking his extended invitation was given as his reluctance to participate in the cover-up that was taking place within the police in regards to the Ripper murders. There is no known evidence of Anderson being a Freemason. He also appeared in the novel To Kingdom Come
by Will Thomas.