Jerome Caminada (1844 to March 1914)


Who hasn’t heard of the detective Sherlock Holmes? Conan Doyle probably based the fictional detective on Jerome Caminada and here is his grave in Southern Cemetery on the outskirts of Manchester.


Jerome was born in Deansgate in Manchester. The family was poor and in the 1800s Deansgate was a crucible of public houses, brothels and houses crammed with many mill workers. It was the crime bullseye of Manchester. Aged 24 Jerome was working as an engineer in Manchester but he suddenly left and joined the police. He zoomed up the ranks and was promoted to sergeant within four years. Soon this Victorian super-sleuth was a detective.


For the next thirty years he earned the respect of colleagues and judges. Even the criminals respected him, calling him Detective Jerome as they couldn’t pronounce his name (Irish mother and an Italian father). They dodged this pistol-carrying detective when they could but he was like an efficient machine and put 1,225 criminals in prison and closed about 400 pubs. Even though he was promoted to inspector many a crim threatened to murder him and he used his pistol a few times.


It’s thought Sherlock Holmes was based on him as he employed logical reasoning, forensic science, disguises and his understanding of the criminal underclass. Soon he was Detective Superintendent. His most famous case was the Manchester Cab Murder of 1889. He detected the murderer, got him to court then prison within three weeks of the murder. He wrote two autobiographies in his life, one when working and one when retired. He hung up his cape aged 55 and became a private detective, an estate agent and city councillor for Openshaw. At 69 he was badly injured in a bus accident in Wales. The following year he died at his home in Moss Side as a result of these injuries.


I couldn’t find out much about this family life so I’ll get the book, “The Real Sherlock Holmes” which purports him to be the model for the detective. His wife’s name is the last one the headstone and I assume the others were their children; the first three all died as babies.


There were no new flowers at the family grave, only a weathered wreath. I wondered how many criminals he’d imprisoned lay in the same cemetery.



Looking for the man who was probably inspired the detective Sherlock Holmes…


Pointing to the headstone bath in late sunlight