Thomas Earnshaw was the second child of Thomas Earnshaw & Jane Turnbull born Oct-December, 1853 at Dawdon, Seaham Harbour, Co Durham.
In 1861 the family were living at the Gas Works, Dawdon & Thomas had 2 brothers & a younger sister.
By 1871 the family had moved to Haswell Colliery & Thomas was now working as a screeman at the colliery. He had 5 brothers & a sister.
On July 7th, 1879 Thomas joined the Metropolitan Police Force in London.
At the time of the 1881 census Thomas was found at 20 Marboro Mews, St James, Westminster where he was a police constable. He was living at the constabulary with many other police constables of a similar age.
In September 1885 Thomas was acclaimed for his bravery in preventing a prize fight taking place at Thames Haven, Essex. Single-handedly he forced his way through a mob to enter the combat ring & seized one of the combatants. The fighter however was rescued by the crowd & carried off in their boat, throwing missiles at the detective as he followed them. The other fighter however was taken into custody by Thomas, & at Grey’s Petty Sessions Thomas was complimented on his courage by the Chairman, Sir Thomas Lennard. The fighter was committed for trial. (Essex Standard, September 26th, 1885)
Thomas (Tom on census) was still living in London in 1901 but was now a detective. At the time of the census he was lodging at 5 Barnby St, Somers Town, St Pancras with Harriet & William Dean, a brewer’s drayman.
Thomas’ career with the police force was apparently very successful, as in 1903 he travelled with King Edward V11 to Marienbad, Austria where he was on duty under Superintendent Melville. Around mid-August of that year the King travelled to Marienbad ‘a Bohemian town much frequented for its chalybeate & saline waters. He will remain there incognito until the 31st, when in his regal capacity he will proceed to Vienna on a formal visit to the Emperor’ (The Advertiser, Adelaide, S. Australia, August 12th, 1903). Whilst in Marienbad the King ‘took the cure’, but suffered considerable annoyance from public curiosity, resulting in the police having difficulty in preventing the crowds from hampering the King’s movements. For his services to the King during this time, Thomas was awarded the silver medal of the Victorian Order by the King. He also received the Franz Josef Order of Merit from the Emperor of Austria. (Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette, October 6th, 1903)
In December 1903 Thomas, who had been in charge of police arrangements for the King’s visit to Portugal, was promoted to the rank of Inspector.
Thomas retired from the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard on March 11th 1907.
Thomas married Katherine Mary Witcombe in Oct-December 1908 at Marylebone, London. Katherine was born July-September 1868 in Taunton, Somerset, daughter of Ellen & David Witcombe, a police sergeant. In 1901 Katherine was living with her brother Frederick Witcombe, a prison warden, & his family at Wormwood Scrubs prison, Hammersmith, London. Katherine was working as a costumier in 1891 in Hampshire & was employed as a dressmaker in 1901.
In 1911 Thomas & Katherine were living at 126 South Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, & Thomas was now a police pensioner having retired. They had a general domestic servant.
Thomas died on April 25th, 1934 at 25 Plas Newydd, Thorpe Bay, Essex. Probate was granted in London to widow Katherine on June 18th, 1934 & his effects amounted to £2,161.7s.6d.
Katherine, aged 74, died on November 22nd, 1942 at Board Cross House, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Probate was granted on May 14th, 1943 to her borther, Charles Bott Witcombe & her effects were £2,370.12s.7d.