John Anniss Mary Ann Anniss Silas Anniss Emiline Anniss Edwin K. Anniss Harry Anniss Ada Anniss Ellen Anniss Alice Anniss Edwin Anniss Hanna Anniss Laticia Anniss Lucy Anniss Susannah Kent William Anniss Arthur Anniss Elizabeth Anniss Mary Baskerville Mini tree diagram

Silas Rendle Anniss

1st Oct 1831 - 1914

Life History

1st Oct 1831

Born in Plympton St Mary.

13th Jul 1851

Married Susannah Kent in Plympton St Mary.


Birth of son Edwin K. Anniss.


Birth of son Harry Anniss in Stonehouse, Devon.


Birth of daughter Ada Anniss in Stonehouse, Devon.


Birth of daughter Ellen Anniss.


Birth of daughter Alice Anniss.


Birth of son Edwin Anniss.


Birth of daughter Hanna Anniss.


Birth of daughter Laticia Anniss.


Birth of daughter Lucy Anniss.

16th Feb 1914

Died in Plympton St Mary.

Silas's signature from the 1911 census


In 1831: Silas Rendle Anniss is baptised in Plympton St Mary.

In the 1841 England Census, at Venton Farm, Plympton St Mary
(The spelling is as in the transcript and Silas grows slowly!)

John Annis40FarmerDevon
Silias Annis8Devon
William Annis7Devon
Authur Annis5Devon
Mary Annis15Devon
Emlin Annis11Devon
Elizabeth Annis2Devon

In the 1851 census: Silas R Anniss, in his early 20's, is unmarried and working as a groom, in the house of John Coad, General Practitioner, who is (I guess) an ancestor of one of the Plymouth Brethren's foremost historians F. R. Coad.

In the 1851 England Census, 99, Yealmbury Cottages

John J Coad39General Practitioner
Susan J Coad36Wife
   John F, 15;William H, 13; James, 11; Henry, 9; Kate, 8; Leo, 6; Elizabeth, 5; Mary, 3; Arthur, 2; Priscilla, 1 Mo
Elizabeth Harvey26General Servant
Agness M Luscombe18Child's Maid
Silas R Anniss21Groom

Later that year, Silas married Susannah Kent, who appears to be his his step-sister.

From FreeBMD

Marriage: Sep 1851, Anniss, Silas, Plympton S. M 9 505
Marriage: Sep 1851, Kent, Susannah, Plympton 9 505

John Anniss, Silas's father married his second wife, Betsy Kent (a widow, née Gullett) in 1843. Betsy and a step-daughter, Emily Kent, are listed in John's household in the 1851 census. Betsy Kent is also the mother of Susannah Kent .

"Totnes Sessions, July 6, 1857 ... John McCoonvill was summoned by P.C. Anniss, for hawking goods without a license. McCoonvill pleaded guilty but stated in his defence that, he was the maker of the goods " [Snippet from Western Times, Exeter, Devon, 11 July 1857]

"1860 ... and they therefore called upon the Poor Law Board to reconsider their former decision, and confirm the appointment of Mr. Anniss. Mr. Oram seconded the resolution. ..." [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 03 November 1860]

1861 Census, 27, Hobart Street
(There are five other families living in the house: Starling, Kent (included here), Pearse, Snell, and Harper)

Silas R AnnissHead31Detective, H.M. DockyardPlympton St Mary
Susan AnnissWife29Plympton St Mary
Edwin K AnnissSon8ScholarPlymstock, Devon
Harry AnnissSon5ScholarDevonport, Devon
Ada AnnissDaughter3Stonehouse, Devon
Ellen AnnissDaughter1Stonehouse, Devon
Jane KentWife33Seamans WifeSt Mary, Cornwall
Thomas KentSon2East Stonehouse, Devon
Mary GyreMother59Shoe Makers WifeSt Mary, Cornwall

1861 -" .. in Stonehonse Lane. Thompson was there with three casks, and Anniss asked him what he had there. Prisoner replied with some foul language and commenced unloading the casks. Anniss asked what the casks contained, to which the prisoner answered, You ..." [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 10 July 1861]

1861 - "quantity of the gunpowder was in Mr. May’s store within his premises [at] Mill Bridge, and as Mr. May was about to lock the door, Anniss attempted to do so instead, when ..., warned Mr. May to desist, ..." [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 23 October 1861]

1861 - "Devonport Guildhall ... Gilmour, a seaman board H.M.S. Sanspareil, was charged with smuggling a quantity of tobacco stems to evade the duty. Sergeant Anniss, the detective police of Her Majesty’s dockyard, stated that be was on duty on Thursday evening, about half-past five o’clock. ... " [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 09 November 1861]

1862 - " told that the nails were marked with the broad arrow ... I afterwards took them [to] Detective Silas Anniss, of the Metropolitan Police, at Devonport Dockyard. Silas Anniss, on being sworn, said : 'I received some metal nails from the last witness yesterday morning ...'" [Snippet from Western Daily Mercury, Plymouth, 28 June 1862]

1862 - " Charge of Unlawful possession of Government Stores ... police (Detectives Anniss and Brown) received. Serjeant Silas Anniss went to the prisoner and told him that he had suspicion that certain Government stores were in his possession, and were, in fact, in the prisoner's house. Anniss then took the prisoner... " [Snippet from Hampshire Advertiser, Southampton, Hampshire, 06 September 1862 ]

1863 - "... A few days ago information was communicated to Inspector Anniss, of the Metropolitan Police, Dockyard, that several new sheets of copper bad been seen in Plymouth, and be at once instituted ... " [Snippet from Western Daily Mercury, Plymouth, 04 September 1863]

1865 - "Murderous Attack upon a Police Inspector — On Saturday, Inspector Anniss, accompanied by some detectives, visited a marine store at Plymouth, kept by a man named Bunter, who was suspected of improperly ... " [Snippet from Leeds Times, Leeds, Yorkshire, 29 July 1865] - See full story below

1865 - "The man Bunker, who stabbed Inspector Anniss, died to-day of the wounds he inflicted on himself. Anniss is still alive. " [Snippet from Stirling Observer, Stirling, Scotland, 27 July 1865] - See full story below

1865 - Inspector of Metropolitan Police, Silas is responsible for administration of the Contagious Diseases Acts

Chris Forester, a police historian researching a book on the Metropolitan Police in Devonport Dockyard says that he found "a reference in Metropolitan Police Orders to him living on board a Hulk called the 'Leda' in Devonport Harbour along with his fellow officers in the Water Police." [Perhaps before the Contagious Disease Acts? When he was policing the docks?] :

Chris confirmed that:

"His duties were to regulate Prostitution in the area around the Dockyard. Apparently he was not a popular man and was feared and detested by many working class women who may have been accused by him of Immoral practices, i.e. Prostitution.

"Such was his reputation that people would use his name to warn their children to behave some 20 years after he left the Force."

"He is roundly castigated in various feminist publications at that time due to his harsh way of treating prostitutes during his rather too keen enforcement of the Contagious Disease Acts, from 1864 to his retirement in 1884. At this time he was probably 'pushed out' by an embarrassed police force who were trying to distance themselves from the aforementioned Acts.
All evidence points to him being possibly being a member of the Plymouth Brethren (Closed or Open) who would have had a very strong attitude to sexual impropriety.
If you wanted to find somebody interesting in the family then this man is it. He appears to be the biggest villain in Feminist mythology."
Judith Walkowitz (See below) says that: "It would be consistent with his professional demeanor if he were a Plymouth Brethren - it would explain a lot."

1870 - " ... that time the woman had gone on quietly, but she now resisted, and the defendant was taken in charge by order of Inspector Anniss. The magistrates considered the case proved, .... " [Snippet from Leeds Mercury, Leeds, 17 October 1870]

1871, January: Inspector Anniss is called to testify before a Royal Commission in Parliament (See below)

1871 Census, Octagon, St Andrew, Plymouth

S R AnnissHead M 39 Inspector. Metrp. PoliceDevon
Susan AnnissWife M 39 WifeDevon
Edwin K AnnissSon U 18 ScholarDevon
Harry AnnissSonU 15 ScholarDevon
Ada AnnissDaughterU 13ScholarDevon
Ellen AnnissDaughter U 11 ScholarDevon
Alice AnnissDaughter U 8 ScholarDevon
Wm Arther Bismark AnnissSonU 3 mths Devon

1871 - "The Contagious Diseases Acts. .... are realised by increased trade in this immoral practice. (Loud cheers.) If, as some people say, these Acts are good; if, as Anniss attempted to make the Royal Commissioners believe, they are productive of such a vast amount of good, how is it, we may ask .... " [Snippet from Birmingham Daily Post, 23 August 1871]

1875 - "The MPs for Plymouth. ...number of contagious things which had not known and which could not believe. Where did they get that information? Why, Inspector Anniss and bis chief superintendent, Wakelord, must have furnished it. .... " [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 20 January 1875 ]

1875 - "Bourn Petty Sessions. ... and saw what followed. - Sergeant ... stated that in company with Anniss he went into the Wheat Sheaf Inn, in Beaton, on the same evening, lad saw the man Travis, who, when charged with the offence by Anniss, admitted it, and said he would stab him, and essayed to .... " [Snippet from Grantham Journal, Lincolnshire, 17 April 1875]

1876 - ".. reports now before me, and from these I gather that Inspector Anniss was not near the place named on the day in question. It is quite evident to me that some person must have personated Inspector Anniss (probably an agent of the Contagious Diseases Acts Repeal ... " [Snippet from Morning Post, London, 11 August 1876]

1876 - "... two or three meetings, at one of which Mr. Stansfeld presided, and announced their intention of prosecuting Inspector Anniss, the chief local official entrusted with carrying out the acts. They charged him with assaulting a young woman and .... " [Snippet from Liverpool Mercury, 12 October 1876]

1876 - "The charge against a Police Inspector at Plymouth. The charge against Inspector Anniss, the chief of the police engaged in carrying out the Contagious Diseases Act, in Plymouth, of assaulting a respectable female when in he execution of his duty,was resumed .... " [Snippet from Cardiff Times, Wales, 14 October 1876]

1876 - "Extraordinary Charge of Assault. ... of July last, .., she was, just after leaving ??, to whom she was engaged to be married, accosted by Inspector Anniss, who asked her indecent questions, detained her, threatened to imprison her, and followed her for a long distance, and forced .... " [Snippet from East & South Devon Advertiser, 14 October 1876]

1876 - " The charge against Police Inspector Anniss, of this town, of assaulting a respectable young woman, was resumed before the Plymouth bench. An alibi was established on behalf of the defendant. Many witnesses, including a magistrate for Devonshire .... " [Snippet from East & South Devon Advertiser, 18 October 1876]

1877 - " A Local Divorce Case .. and during one of them the respondent was confined, but the petitioner forgave her and took her back. Mr. Silas Rendle Anniss stated that he was the inspector under the Contagious Diseases Acts at Plymouth. He knew the respondent as being at a house ... " [Snippet from Nottinghamshire Guardian, 15 June 1877 ]

1877 - "... except Inspector Anniss, the Plymouth district, and having been accused by the Society for the Repeal the C.D. Acts with assaulting a girl, the magistrates investigated the charge for two days, and it having been clearly proved that Mr. Anniss was not ... " [Snippet from Western Morning News, Plymouth, 16 July 1877]

1877 - "discharged their duties to his entire satisfaction, and that no complaint had been made against any them except Inspector Anniss in the Plymouth district, and he having been by the Society for the Repeal Diseases Acts with assaulting a girl, the magistrates ... " [Snippet from Shields Daily Gazette, Durham, 16 July 1877]

1881 Census, 3, Flora Pl, Plymouth St Andrew

Silas R. AnnissHead50Inspector Metropolitan PoliceDevon, Plympton St Mary
Susan AnnissWife 48Devon, Plympton St Mary
Alice AnnissDaughter19Devon, Stonehouse
Hanna AnnissDaughter9Devon, Plymouth
Latatia AnnissDaughter7Devon, Plymouth
Lucy AnnissDaughter7Devon, Plymouth
Betsey AnnissMother75WidowDevon, Shaugh

1882 - Inspector Anniss testifies before a Select Committee in Parliament

1882 - The Alleged Moral Benefits of the Contagious Diseases Acts in Plymouth and Devenport; the Evidence of Inspector Anniss Before the Select Committee of the House of Commons ... Declared to Be "exaggerated, Misleading and Not Strictly True" .. [National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts.1882]

1883 - Contagious Diseases Acts debated on Friday, 20 April, 1883 Mr. Stansfeld, who proposed the motion "That this House disapproves of the compulsory examination of women under the Contagious Diseases Acts,", stated at bone point: "The favourite witness of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who cheered so, was Mr. Anniss, the well-known Contagious Diseases Acts' policeman at Devonport, and he maintained that he had himself extinguished clandestine prostitution there. I called the local Superintendents of Devonport, of Plymouth, of Stonehouse, and they denied every general and every particular statement which Mr. Anniss made." [ Hansard]

1884 - Siloas retires (or is retired) from the Police force.

1886 - "The Grand Jury. ... and corroborated Anniss’s evidence. Cross-examined : 'I did not sec him hit the prisoner, but I have doubt he did so'. (The witness’s description of the manner in which prisoner was carrying the scythe also tallied with Anniss's.) " [Snippet from Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 09 January 1886]

1891 Census, Solomons Lodge, Plymstock, Elburton

Silas R. AnnissHead57Living on his own meansDevon
Susan AnnissWife 56Devon
Alice AnnissDaughter27Devon
Hanna AnnissDaughter19Devon
Lucy AnnissDaughter17Devon
Latitia AnnissDaughter15Devon
Betsy AnnissMother85WidowDevon

1893 - "Silas Rendle Anniss, of Solomon’s Lodge, Elburton, was at Petty Sessions yesterday charged Plympton St. Mary Rural Sanitary Authority with permitting a house to be occupied without .. a certificate that the water supply and sanitary arrangements were in accordance with the Act. " [Western Morning News, Plymouth, 18 July 1893] (Case was dismissed)

1895 - "Truro, Cornwall - Sold or Let. Small House, with good garden; four rooms.—Apply S. R. Anniss. Solomon’s Lodge, Elburton, Plymstock. " [Snippet from Western Daily Mercury, Plymouth, 26 April 1895]

1901 Census, Retreat, Elburton

Silas R. AnnissHead68Retired from Metropolitan Police
Susan AnnissWife 67Devon, Plympton St Mary
Alice AnnissDaughter38Devon, Stonehouse
Lucy AnnissDaughter27Devon, Plymouth
Laetitia M AnnissDaughter25Devon, Plymouth

1911 Census, The Retreat, Elburton

S. R. AnnissHead78 Retired Chief Inspector Police
S. AnnissWife77Married 58 yrs, 14 children, 8 still alive, 6 died;
Alice AnnissDaughter48Singleb. Plymouth, Devon
Lucy AnnissDaughter36Single b. Plymouth, Devon

From freeBMD

Marriage: Sep 1851, Anniss, Silas, Plympton S. M 9 505
Marriage: Sep 1851, Kent, Susannah, Plympton 9 505

Death: Mar 1914, Anniss, Silas R, 82, Plympton 5b 315



Silas and the Contagious Diseases Acts

In 'Prostitution and Victoria Society (Women, Class and the State)' Judith R. Walkowitz examines the Contagious Diseases Acts and describes Silas as a major, if not the principal, local enforcer of the Acts.

In 1864, 1866, and 1869 Parliament passed three pieces of legislation, the Contagious Diseases Acts,

"to control the spread of venereal disease among enlisted men in garrison towns and ports .. Under the acts, a woman could be identified as a 'common prostitute' by a special plainclothes policeman and then subjected to a fortnightly internal examination. If found suffering from gonorrhoea or syphilis, she would be interned in a certified lock hospital .. the definition of common prostitute was vague and consequently the Metropolitan police employed under the accident had broad discretionary powers."

While the legislation on one level appeared sensible, and necessary, on another it was seen as a

"blatant example of classic and sex discrimination"

The first group who organised opposition to the Acts were all men but very soon women became a driving force.

"The participation of middle-class women in the repeal efforts fascinated and shocked many contemporary observers, who regarded this female rebellion as an ominous sign of the times. [Indeed it was: in 1866, the first Petition for Women's Votes was presented to Parliament.] One troubled member of Parliament was moved to remark to Josephine Butler, the feminist repeal leader, 'we know how to manage any other opposition in the House or in the country but this is very awkward for us - this revolt of the women. It is quite a new thing; what are we to do with such an opposition as this?'"

Plymouth was, as it is now, a major naval base and the 'water police' were responsible for enforcing the Acts. Walkowitz says:

"As servants of power, held in mild contempt by their masters and generally despised by the poor, the 'water police' (as they were called by the poor) occupied a difficult position. .. Some, like Inspector Silas Anniss, played their official part brilliantly. Anniss was a perfect symbol of an emerging state bureaucracy, cold, self-righteous, authoritarian, and efficient in his duties. As a member of the dockyard police, he had distinguished himself in the apprehension of naval deserters, receiving a reward for each man brought in. His talent for espionage and surveillance work seems to have helped him in his new responsibilities.
In his official capacity, Anniss was notably disdainful of women and working people. Yet he was never accused of bribery or official corruption, but of brutal and callous mistreatment. A target of repeal propaganda over a period of sixteen years, he was a clever propagandist himself; for example, he tried to steal repealers' thunder by distributing religious tracts to prostitutes in the examination room.
An ambitious man, Anniss used the Acts to advance his own career. He found a loyal and powerful ally in Thomas Woollcombe, who regularly put him forward as a tireless and disinterested civil servant. In the end, Anniss proved to be an embarrassment for the many Liberal doctors who preferred to look upon the acts as a sanitary rather than a police measure. And he was bitterly resented by local police officials and even some Devonport borough magistrates who regarded him as an arrogant and power-hungry competitor. Few Metropolitan police carried out their duties with the professional aplomb and detachment of Anniss." (p. 163)

Walkowitz identifies Anniss as

"the principal local antagonist of repealers in Plymouth. For repealers and the local poor, he came to represent the 'evil genius' behind the local operation of the acts in Plymouth. As late as 1900, fourteen years after repeal, antiregulationists were still talking about his 'sinister presence'. 'It was there, (Plymouth) that there reigned a petty tyrant, the chief of the spy police, Mr Anniss, whose name may still convey a thrill of horror to those few now living who remember his cruel methods, his mendacity and the credence given to him by the Government and officials at the time'.
However melodramatic their characterisation of Anniss, repealers were none the less accurate in assessing his strategic importance. It was Anniss's statistics concerning registered women that advocates of regulation 'always paraded' as evidence of the social and moral benefits of the Acts. Because of his efficient supervision and because of the kind of cooperation he received from local authorities, Plymouth became the 'model station' of the Contagious Diseases Acts." (p.173)

(All above quotes are from Prostitution and Victoria Society (Women, Class and the State)', Judith R. Walkowitz, 1980)

The following quotes are from "We Are Not Beasts of the Field": Prostitution and the Poor in Plymouth and Southampton under the Contagious Diseases Acts" a paper by Judith R. and Daniel J. Walkowitz in Feminist Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3/4, S pecial Double Issue: Women's History. (Winter - Spring, 1973), pp. 73-106.

"The Metropolitan Police concerned themselves with diseased prostitutes and juveniles. While they had no legal power to enter and search dwellings, until 1877 they did so with impunity. Perhaps their greatest weapon, in the case of the Plymouth area, was their power to inform against governmental employees and naval pensioners who let out rooms to prostitutes. If a pensioner proved uncooperative, his pension could be stopped, dock laborers and artisans could be dismissed, and pubs and beershops harboring diseased prostitutes could be placed 'out of bounds' for the men in service. Since Plymouth and Devonport (exclusive of Stonehouse) numbered 10,618 men, or 34.4 percent of the men over 20, who were in military service or worked in governmental installations, Anniss's power of intimidation was formidable."

"The Metropolitan Police were supposed to be concerned exclusively with seeing that the women appeared for examination, and if diseased, went directly to the hospital. In reality, the ten special police in the Three Towns and the three men stationed in Southampton provided a supplementary force for street control. They knew the women much better than the local police. For example, Inspector Anniss, who directed the Plymouth operations, resided above the examination room at Octagon and Flora Lane, around the corner from Granby and Central Streets (the most notorious Plymouth streets).
The neighborhood must have felt his presence twenty-four hours a day.
"Over the years, the ubiquitous Anniss could be found testifying at affiliation cases, divorce cases, petty-theft trials where a woman's character had to be ascertained, white slavery cases and brothel prosecutions."

"Popular hostility toward the Metropolitan Police was one of the most persistent themes in the records of resistance. Much of the community intervention on behalf of the women had its origin in the intense dislike of interlopers like Inspector Anniss. Anniss was himself twice summoned, once for breaking and entering a woman's room, and once for assaulting a respectable working woman. In the first case, the complainant never proceeded beyond the summons. In the second case, which involved a chapel-going draper's assistant, the court decided it was a case of mistaken identity: someone had impersonated Anniss."
Local newspapers reported that:
"The decision was at first received with slight applause, which however was immediately followed by a violent and emphatic outburst of dissent from all parts of the Court. As the police did not make any effort at once to suppress this ebullition of feeling, in a very short time it increased to a perfect storm of indignation, and the Bench was literally hissed and howled at from all parts of the Court, and particularly from the crowded gallery. Men and women - indeed, the women seemed ten times more fierce than the men - stamped their feet, shook their fists and fairly grinned at the magistrates, and the Court ultimately broke up in confusion. Such a scene was never before seen or heard of in Plymouth Police Court, and it was surprising that no arrests were ordered. The excitement and disapproval soon spread to the vast mob outside, and on Anniss leaving the Court he was set upon by an excited crowd, and hissed and hooted at with all kinds of execrations and threats and even pelted with missiles"

Report of Royal Commission upon the Administration and Operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts, 1871

Extracts from

"Second Day.— 15th Jan. 1871.

"Anniss, Silas Rendell (Questions 433 to 1197 inclusive) : - Is Inspector of Metropolitan Police. Has been charged with the administration of the Contagious Diseases Acts at Devonport from their commencement, 1st April 1865. Witness received instructions from the superintendent to ascertain the number of prostitutes, and to get those diseased into Royal Albert Hospital.

"His first step was to ascertain the number of diseased men in hospitals, military, naval, and marine. He found a very large number ;

"The next step was to visit the brothels and select a few of the women suspected of having communicated syphilis, and request them to attend for examination at the Royal Albert Hospital. Witness knew Devonport well, having been a member of the local pohce 17 years ago, and from 1859 attached to the detective branch.

"He only visited a few of the brothels on the first occasion, the beds in hospital being then very hmited. He requested 15 women to attend at the hospital, being guided by the information received from diseased men. In every case he had three or four informations against the same woman. Not one of the women made the smallest objection to attend. They had more applications for treatment than could be accominodated.
"The hospital accommodation gradually increased. The beds were made up to 37 within a fortnight after commencement. In 1866 they were increased to 60. In July 1868 they numbered 162. The Royal Albert Hospital is divided into two classes, the civil and the lock side. There was a lock side before the Acts came into operation, for reception of women who voluntarily applied for admission, but witness has heard that these were few in number, and that the women would leave the hospital, diseased or not, if a ship or a new regiment came in.
"Witness acts under the order of the commissioner of metropolitan police in London ; and is sworn in to act at any place within 15 miles of Her Majesty's dockyard at Devonport. All police employed under the Contagious Diseases Acts are specially paid. Constables do not get quite as much as detective constables in London. Witness is paid 31. 15s. per week, rather less than a detective inspector in London.

"He receives communications from naval and military officers regarding the visiting of hospitals, change of troops, &c., but does not take instructions from them. He finds naval and military officers willing to assist in carrying out the Act if necessary. He does not get much assistance from brothel keepers. The position of the police with the prostitutes is by no means a hostile one.

"Women are inspected once in 14 days. They have notice to attend, and come up in ones and twos, sometimes bringing a companion. The police try to induce the women to come up clean and sober. There is no publicity about the examination; a woman may attend and depart, without the outside world knowing that she is a prostitute.
"There are two examining places, one in Plymouth and one in Devonport for the convenience of the women. They never complained of publicity of attendance till three or four months ago, when a disturbance was created by persons who were trying to persuade them to keep away, and then they complained of people assembling round the doors. That is now passed away, and they come quietly as before.
"The behaviour of prostitutes when brought up for examination is much improved. They come clean and sober.
"Women advanced in pregnancy are not examined.
"A dozen or a score of women are sometimes in the waitng room at once; the language of some of them is very bad. He should be glad of a second room. He endeavours to get the young girls examined first and dismissed on that account .
"The first time young girls are sent to hospital they are placed in a separate ward and not allowed to mix with others, in hopes of reforming them.
"He knows many cases in Plymouth of parents living on their children's prostitution.
"Dartmouth being included in the district has had a good effect. Many of the worst cases of disease come from thence. He wishes Torquay and the whole of Devonshire were included.
"Questioned on the cases in which the women have preferred to be taken before a magistrate, (29 out of 2612), witness stated that he was present in every case. There were various grounds ; in most cases they denied being prostitutes. During the last three months the girls have preferred an open court. They were advised to do so. Before that it was always private. These cases are not taken on the sessions days. The magistrates kindly take them on other days.
"If a magistrate be satisfied of a woman's prostitution, he makes an order that she shall be examined for some period not exceeding 12 months. If she wishes to abandon that life she is removed from the register immediately. Also if she goes into service. Also if she marries, on shewing the doctor her marriage lines. çHe believes that if Plymouth were left for 12 months without the Acts, the number of prostitutes would soon be 2,000 again.
"Witness finds the better class of women have no more dislike to undergoing examination than the others. The most troublesome are the tramp class.
"He never heard any class of people except brothel keepers complain of the Act, before the last three or four months, when the Acts have been accused of licensing prostitution, by persons who visited the place for the purpose of opposing them. They stood at the doors and advised the women not to go up for examination.

"Third Day.— 16th Jan. 1871.

" Pickthorn, Mr. Thomas (Questions 1198 to 1693 inclusive) : Has been visiting surgeon to Devonport district since January 1st, 1870. Is specially charged with investigation of cases under the Contagious Diseases Acts.

" Women are brought up by police, passed in turn from waiting room to nurse's room, and brought in by the nurse to witness' separate examining room. The nurse is always present. The patient is placed on a reclining chair, her dress arranged by the nurse with all regard to decency, the nurse reporting when she is ready for examination. Witness first examines the external parts, and if no sign of contagious disease be visible, uses the speculum in some cases to examine the vaginal passage and mouth of the womb. If found healthy, he gives the woman notice to attend again in a fortnight.

" Virtuous women are often subjected to the same examination for organic disorders. The examination of prostitutes is conducted with the same regard to decency as that of private patients. A new-comer sometimes shows reluctance to be examined, but with one or two exceptions they have submitted quietly. Certain women are reported by the nurse unfit for examination from natural causes ; examination is then postponed. Pregnant women are examined with extreme delicacy.

"Methan, Mr. Lorenzo Pastor (Questions 3309 to 3990 inclusive) : Has been surgeon to Devonport borough prison from its institution in 1841. He was once for four years surgeon at Devonport workhouse. He had a syphilitic ward there. The patients were mostly prostitutes of the lowest class. Men were also treated.

"Witness considers disease much less virulent than formerly, except in neglected cases. He remembers many years ago before the Acts existed, the state of Devonport as regarded brothels and prostitutes was frightful. There were streets in which almost every house was a brothel. There were to be seen women, half-clothed, drunk, and disorderly, rushing about the streets in troops. He observes a very decided improvement. There is more public order and decency observed.

"Twentieth Day.— 27th Feb. 1871. Anniss, Silas Rundell recalled (Questions 9107 to 9420 inclusive) :
"When witness first went to Devonport as inspector he found seven or eight notorious houses specially the resort of boys and girls, girls from butcher boys and errand boys; another by sailor boys; and another by drummer boys, &c. No such places now exist. Police visit the houses at night and this breaks them up.
"Women are never threatened with penal consequences if they do not submit. Witness would consider it an excess of duty were he to coerce any woman into signing the voluntary submission. He uses persuasion with them on the first occasion, reading and explaining to them the submission paper.
"Being informed of a statement that had been made by women that the metropolitan police came into their rooms, dragged the bedclothes off them, and used obscene language to them; and that witness on one occasion flung a girl on the floor : he stated that it was an absolute falsehood, utterly without foundation. He knew these girls would say almost anything, but should never have expected they would say that.
"Witness is sure that such a mistake as going to the house of a respectable woman believing her a prostitute never occurs. {Gave instances of caution observed.)

Attempt to murder a police inspector at Plymouth

In the Royal Cornwall Gazette, July 28, 1865

Silas_Stabbing.jpg On Saturday a determined and premeditated attempt was made to murder one of the inspectors of the Metropolitan police attached to the Devonport section of that body. The would-be murderer is Edward Bunter, a marine store dealer, residing in Fore-street, Stonehouse; and his victim Silas Rendle Anniss. A large quantity of Government stores having been missed, and suspicion being entertained that some of them had found their way to the premises of Bunter, who had been punished previously for unlawful position of Crown property, Anniss proceeded thither on Saturday afternoon armed with a search warrant, and accompanied by Detective Sergeant Miller and Police-Constables Goodyear Frost, Gale, and Smith.

When the party arrived Bunter refused them admittance, and kept them outside his shop an hour and a half. At length entrance was given, and the search proceeded with. After about an hour the officers succeeded in finding twenty=four pounds of copper bearing the broad arrow, with other Government stores. Of these they took possession, and all left the shop except Anniss, who remained to inspect the book in which Bunter, in common with all marine store keepers,. was by law bound to record all his business transactions. At this time the latter, who had been very violent, appeared perfectly cool, and no suspicion was entertained that he had any thoughts of violence. Anniss, however, had only just commenced his examination, when Bunter plunged the blade of a sword-stick into his side, accompanying the action with the exclamation, "There, you've got that haven't you?"

So violent was the thrust that the weapon broke at 12 or 13 inches from the point, the broken portion remaining sticking in the inspector’s body, having penetrated, it is believed, to a depth of 6 inches. Anniss pulled it out himself; and his comrades becoming aware that something wrong had happened rushed into the shop to his assistance. He was immediately conveyed to the Royal Naval Hospital and attended by Dr Duir, whilst Bunter was conveyed to the police station. No one actually saw the blow given, but Bunter was alone with Anniss in the shop at the time, and the sword-stick had been observed beneath the counter whilst the search was in progress.

When Bunter reached the station he seemed excited, and informed the officer on duty there that he had not committed the act in a passion, but had been to meditating it all day, and that he only wished his arm had been stronger. Subsequently he told Mr Superintendent Ross that he only regretted that the thrust had not been effectual.

On examination at the hospital, it was found that the wound was immediately under the false ribs, about 2 inches to the left of the umbilicus; and as it was apparent that Anniss was in a very precarious state, no time was lost in taking his deposition. Accordingly at half past seven – the stab having been given at twenty minutes after four – the wounded man’s statement was taken in the presence of Mr Caleb Trotter, county magistrate, and of the prisoner.

The motive which impelled Bunter to commit the desperate act is easily divined. Anniss has rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to marine store dealers and people of that class by his proceedings as a detective metropolitan police officer, and complaints of his having exceeded his duty have been often made. Bunter seems to have had a special grievance; for two years since he was committed to prison for four months for unlawful position of Government property, on a charge preferred by Anniss.

Anniss is 36 years of age, and has a wife and five children. He was well known in the towns, and the news that he was stabbed – and the rumour said killed – spread throughout Devon and Stonehouse with a marvellous celerity. Bunter is about 60 years old, and has a young family by a second wife.

Suicide of the Prisoner

In the Royal Cornwall Gazette, July 28, 1865

"The charge of attempted murder against Edward Bunter, particulars of which are given in our 7th page, has come to an unlooked for, abrupt, and tragic termination by the suicide of the prisoner.

On Tuesday Messrs C . Trotter and R. M. Watson, county magistrates, having heard a few minor cases at the police court, St. George's Hall, Stonehouse, called the name of Edward Bunter who was to be charged before them with attempting to murder Silas Rendle Annis, Inspector of Metropolitan Police. On the name being called PC Northcote left the court for the purpose of fitting the prisoner but in a few minutes returned and having spoken to Mr superintendent Ross the latter left with him.

Mr Ross soon came back and communicated with the magistrates, who then followed him accompanied by the clerk (Mr R. R. Rodd) the solicitors for the prosecution (Mr W. Eastlake) and for the defence (Mr T. C. Brian) and the representatives of the press to the cell in which the prisoner had been confined. It appears that on PC Northcott entering the cell in the first instance he found the prisoner lying on his side on the bed bleeding profusely from the throat and arms. The common earthenware basin in which his breakfast had been supplied to him was on the floor of the cell and a piece which had been broken from it was lying covered with blood by the wretched man’s side.

When the magistrates - one of whom, Mr Watson, is a surgeon - arrived Bunter was breathing heavily, and it was discovered that he had severed the main arteries of both arms and the windpipe, the gash in the throat having a fearful appearance. Further medical assistance was sent for and Mr Maloy, surgeon of the Royal Naval Hospital, who was to have been a witness against Bunter and who was consequently on the spot, and Mr H. Parry, surgeon of the Stonehouse Workhouse arrived.

The prisoner's neck and arms were bound up, the arms being tied together over the breast, water was applied to the face, and the prisoner was removed as quickly as possible to the prison courtyard where he was laid on a stretcher. He several times struggled to loosen his hands and to get off the stretcher, but was unsuccessful. In a short time he was removed to the infirmary of the Stonehouse Workhouse where a policeman was placed to watch him. He died about one o’clock, half an hour after he had arrived at the Workhouse.

The case not having become one of murder, no one was stationed constantly with the deceased, as is customary in capital cases, but a policeman was appointed to visit him every quarter of an hour, and every reasonable precaution was taken against his committing suicide. He was denied the use of stockings and handkerchiefs and it has transpired that when in conversation with his advocate Mr Brian, deceased asked if he could not have his stockings as his feet were cold. Mr Brown said he could not. Bunter then asked the reason for the deprivation and Mr Brown told him that they were afraid he would attempt to destroy himself. They then fell into a conversation in which Bunter promised his solicitor that he would not lift his hand against his own life.

Deceased was a very powerful and very excitable man. Thirty years ago he was connected with smugglers, and since then he has been, it is stated, a prizefighter. He was now 60 years of age, and a large dealer in marine stores. He had remarkably powerful muscles and was altogether a very fine, well-built man possessing great determination, as evinced in the recent occurrences with which his name is connected.

Inspector Annis is progressing favourably."

Anniss charged ..

In the Western Morning News, 18 July 1893

"Silas Rendle Anniss, of Solomon's Lodge, Elburton, was at Ridgway Petty Sessions yesterday charged by Plympton St. Mary Rural Sanitary Autbority with permitting a house to be occupied witbout first having obtained a certificate that wäter supply and sanitary arrangements were in accordance with the Act. Mr. F. W. Cleverton prosecuted. - On May 2nd he wrote Mr. Martio, inspector, telling him the house was finished, and he was awaiting the necessary certificate to enable him to let it. On May 16th Mr. Martin replied on a post-card that he was too buay to come to Elburton, but relying on his word that the water was good and free from pollution, als0 that the drains were in perfect condition he could exercise his own discretion. The certificate was issued the previous Friday, and he would inspect the premises at a later date, during which time he must hold the certifcate himself. Mr. N. Martin said defendant called during his absence, and on representing to his housekecper all things were strictly in accordance with the law he procured the certificate. Dr Willoughby, medical officer of health, disclaimed all knowledge of the certificate. The magistrates said Mr. Anniss had been misled by the postcard from Mr. Martin, who had greatly exceeded his duty in writing it. The case would accordingly be dismissed."