Frederick George Abberline was born in 1843, the son of a saddle maker and minor local politician. His father died when Abberline was 6, and his widowed mother raised him and his three siblings alone. He worked as a clockmaker until 1863, when he left home and joined the Metropolitan Police
just shy of his 20th birthday. Two years later he was promoted to Sergeant. A further two years later he spent most of the year investigating the actions of Fenians in London
. In 1873 he was promoted to Inspector, and shortly after the promotion he was first assigned to Whitechapel
. In 1878 he was appointed Local Inspector in the Criminal Investigation Department of Whitechapel. In 1887 he was promoted out of Whitechapel to Whitehall before moving to the Central Office of Scotland Yard and being promoted to Inspector First-Class in early 1888. After the murder of Mary Ann Nichols
on August 31st, 1888, Abberline was moved back to Whitechapel do to his extensive experience in the area. He managed the investigations of the Jack the Ripper
murders. In 1889 he was involved in the investigation of the Cleveland Street Scandal. In February of 1892 he retired from the police force. He was briefly involved in private detection, before taking over the European division of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, where he continued to work for the next twelve years. In 1904 he retired to Bournemouth
In 1868 he married his first wife, Martha Mackness, who died two months later of tuberculosis. In 1876 he married his second wife, Emma Beament
, with whom he would remain until his death over 50 years later. He died in late 1929 in Bournemouth at the age of 86 of natural causes.
Major Story Arcs
Jack the Ripper
Abberline is best remembered for his association with the Jack the Ripper case. At the time, Abberline was known to favour George Chapman, a serial poisoner, as Jack the Ripper. Opponents to this theory have pointed out that the chance of a serial killer changing M.O. so completely seems extremely unlikely, as well as the fact that the Ripper killed strangers while Chapman killed wives or mistresses. There is no known hard evidence against Chapman.
In Other Media
Abberline frequently appears in Ripper fiction, and is often used as the protagonist of the story. He appeared in a highly fictionalised form in Eddie Campbell
and Alan Moore's From Hell
, in which he eventually uncovered the suspect and was forced into silence. He also appeared in the extremely loose film adaptation in which his character was combined with Robert Lees
and given psychic powers. This version was played by Johnny Depp. He was also played by Michael Caine in a TV movie called Jack the Ripper
. Often Abberline is portrayed as an addict, usually an alcoholic, which is unsubstantiated by contemporary evidence. As well he is sometimes portrayed as single and in his mid-30s during the killings, while he had actually been married for over a decade and was 45 at the time.