On this day in history : 28th June 1830 – Constable Joseph Grantham is the first policeman in Britain to be murdered – when he goes to the aid of a woman involved in a fight between two drunken men….

The Metropolitan Police Force had launched on the 29th of September 1829; Constable No.169 Joseph Grantham had joined S-Division on the 10th of February 1830…. On the night of Monday 28th of June he was called to Skinner Street, Smiths-Place in Somers Town to deal with a domestic disturbance…. 31-year-old Grantham had become the father of twins that very day….

Image credit : Leonard Bentley via Flickr

On arriving at the address the constable found two drunken Irishmen quarrelling….one of them had been beating his wife…. Grantham intervened and threatened to handcuff one of the men, a Michael Duggan – who did not take lightly to this threat…. In the scuffle that followed PC Grantham was knocked to the ground….and Duggan delivered a swift kick which struck Grantham’s right temple….

The constable was carried to a surgeon’s shop in Judd Street – but pronounced dead on arrival…. He was then moved to the Boot Public House in Cromer Street to await a coroner’s inquest…. Duggan was arrested and taken to a nearby police station – it transpired his real name was actually Michael Galvin and he had just completed an apprenticeship to a bricklayer….

He appeared before Magistrate Mr Griffith at Marylebone Police Station and was committed for trial on the charge of murder…. However, a post-mortem examination on Grantham concluded death had occurred through an apoplexy brought on by the ‘exertion and excitement of the moment’…. Galvin’s charge was changed to the lesser charge of assault….

1850s ‘Peeler’ – Public domain

On Saturday the 10th of July he was brought before the Middlesex Sessions charged with assaulting two police officers, Constable Grantham and Constable Bennett…. The Jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts…. Sentence was passed; six months imprisonment for the assault on Grantham and a further six weeks for that on Bennett…. You could say he got away with murder….


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