BACK before landlines, the internet and mobile phones became commonplace the police had one trusted resource to keep them up to date on criminal activities – the Police Gazette.

This newspaper went to all police stations and featured information on wanted criminals, crimes committed, criminals who had been apprehended and missing persons. it makes for diverse and entertaining reading.

Our subject appeared in the Police Gazette on November 9 1870. His name, so he claimed, was Jonathan Tanner. He had visited Malvern on November 3 in the guise of a clergyman, complete with a leather portmanteau and a large black retriever dog!

He was busy while in town, with reports coming in later of him victimising tradesmen, but it was Frederick George Russell who suffered most from Tanner’s trip to town.

Russell ran a jeweller’s shop at 2 Holyrood Terrace, and was making a good living in Malvern, employing three men and three youths.

His business suffered a ‘clerical error’ though with the visit of Tanner and his dog. Tanner obtained, by false pretences, a gold watch, a gold chain, a diamond ring and cash totalling £65.

With them safely in his bag he made a swift getaway by train to Worcester, where he was then seen alighting the 5.47 train for Bristol or Cheltenham.

It was acting Inspector Turner of Malvern who placed the advert in the Gazette, as he held a warrant for Tanner’s arrest.

He had a description of him from Russell so we know Tanner was about 23 years old and 5ft 8in or thereabouts. He was clean-shaven with a broad face and sallow complexion, wearing a black hat, a suit of black cloth and a black waterproof overcoat.

All that, and the black dog, made for an unforgettable visitor but in spite of a £2 reward being offered, Tanner and his dog seem to have escaped arrest.

Russell was unbowed by the experience and went on to become a figure of some prominence in Malvern.

He was originally from Battersea in Surrey and worked for a jewellers in New Bond Street in London. He arrived in Malvern in 1864 to become branch manager for Manning and Manning jewellers.

He did well and bought the business in 1866, but it was also his philanthropic activities in the town that got him noticed. In those days, before the Assembly Rooms, he developed a range of theatrical performances.

He was particularly closely associated with the drama club that performed at Malvern Drill Hall, throwing himself into helping out on any role from stage manager to prompter. He somehow even found time to take the stage himself!

In later years he was elected to the public board and also sat on the district council that came after it. He became an overseer of the parish of Great Malvern and was also churchwarden at the priory. On top of that he was a prominent freemason.

Which just leaves Russell’s shop at 2 Holyrood Terrace, where was it? Holyrood Terrace used to be located between The Foley Arms Hotel and Foley House on the Worcester Road where also was Trafalgar House.

The terrace and house were demolished in 1940 and replaced by the current Trafalgar Buildings, a parade of attractive shops that include the Sue Ryder shop.

Sources: Police Gazette, Census,Trade Directories, Malvern Gazette

Chris Sutton undertakes family history research for readers via email. This service is only charged for if there are results. Charges are stated in advance. He can be contacted at