Leith Burgh Police - Superintendent & Deputy Chief Constable Alexander Ross

Leith Burgh Police Life Saving Team, Supt. & DCC Alexander Ross, centre front row, probably about 1909.

Leith Burgh Police

Superintendent & Deputy Chief Constable Alexander Ross


The Early Years

Alexander was the youngest of eight children and born on 24 December 1860 at Balintore Farm, Fearn, near Tain in the County of Ross. His father was Hugh Ross, a Tailor, and his mother, Catherine.


Little is known of his early life but it is likely he was schooled locally near Tain and according to the Census’ of Scotland, 1891, 1901 and 1911, he was a Gaelic speaker.


Commissariat & Transport Corps 1879 - 1891

On 19 May 1879, at Edinburgh, Alexander Ross, (18), enlisted in the Commissariat & Transport Corps as Private No. 2040. He had enlisted for six years with the Regular Army and six with the 1st Class Army Reserve. His previous occupation was listed as 'Clerk'.


Alexander’s Military History sheet shows his postings as follows:








19 May 1879

10 August 1882




11 August 1882

15 February 1883




16 February 1883

31 May 1884




1 June 1884

18 May 1891









The period between May 1879 and May 1884 is his full-time service and that between 1 June 1884 to 18 May 1891, was his time in the 1st Class Army Reserve.


Medals & Decorations

Page 161 of the Medal Roll (WO100/60) of No. 15 Company of the Commissariat & Transport Corps records that Alexander was entitled to:


 “The award of the war medal for the Egyptian Campaign 1882.”


His name is on also on page 170 of the Medal Roll of No. 15 Company of the Commissariat & Transport Corps as being entitled to the award of:


“The Bronze Star granted by His Highness the Khedive of Egypt (authorised by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan of Turkey in recognition of the Egyptian Campaign, 1882, and which Her Majesty the Queen has authorised them to accept and wear.”


Alexander Ross is wearing both medals in the pictures above. The Egyptian Medal is to the left and the Khedive’s Star to the right. Similar medals can be seen below.

A similar Egyptian Medal 1892 to that awarded to Alexander Ross. He was not eligible for the clasp 'Tel-el-Kebir'.
A similar Khedive's Star to that awarded to Alexander Ross.

Inverness-shire Constabulary

Shortly after transfer to the 1st Class Army Reserve, Alexander joined Inverness-shire Constabulary on 6 November 1884. He was recorded as being ‘23 years old, 5’ 10.5” tall, grey eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion, unmarried’ with ‘ 5 years’ service with the Commissariat & Transport Corps of the Army’. He served for a time on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.


Alexander resigned from Inverness-shire Constabulary in May 1886 ‘to join Leith Burgh Police’.

Lieutenant Alexander Ross in 1906, fourth from right. Retiring CC Main is to his right and DCC John McLeod is to CC Main's right.

Leith Burgh Police

Alexander Ross joined Leith Burgh Police in 1886 and served as a Constable in the burgh.


He was finally discharged from the Army Reserve on 18 May 1891. In the same year, he was a 30 year old PC stationed in Leith.


According to his obituary in 1919, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector in 1899 and he was shown at that rank in the Census of Scotland 1901. I


Edinburgh Evening News 15 May 1906

Under the heading, Leith Police Appointment”, the Edinburgh Evening News reported the following on page 3 of the edition on of 15 May 1906:


“Mr Alex. Ross, who has for the last six years been Inspector and Chief Clerk in Leith Police, has been appointed Superintendent, the office having been rendered vacant by the appointment of Mr John McLeod to the offices of Chief Constable and Burgh Prosecutor.


Mr Ross, who is a native of Fearn in Ross-shire, was five years in the 4th Dragoon Guards and the Army Service Corps. He was in Ireland with his regiment from 1880 to 1882, during the period of the Land League disturbances, and was in Dublin at the time of the Phoenix Park Murders. In 1882, he went through the Egyptian Campaign.


On leaving the army he joined the Inverness County Police, but shortly afterwards, in July 1886, transferred his services to Leith Force.


He has accordingly been connected with the latter body for 20 years and has risen through the various grades. Last year he was on the short leet for the Chief Constableship of Ross-shire.”


Alexander was in charge of the Leith detachment on duty in Edinburgh for the Royal Visit of King George V and Queen Mary and was one of those awarded the King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911. Images of the medals can be seen below.

Inspector Alexander Ross in April 1906, shortly before his promotion to Superintendent and DCC.
King Edward VII Police (Scotland) Medal 1903 (the Visit to Scotland Medal).
King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911.

Marriages & Family

Alexander was married twice, first to Helen Henderson Nicolson in June 1886, and they had seven children. Helen died in 1911. One of their children, William Sutherland Ross, later served in Edinburgh City Police as an Inspector.


In 1913, Alexander married Ada Anne Cox in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Ada outlived Alexander, dying in Edinburgh in 1947.


The End of the Story

Alexander Ross died in service in 1919.


His obituary in the Scotsman newspaper of 21 June 1919, page 8 is as follows:


“After a long illness, Mr Alex Ross, Deputy Chief Constable and Superintendent of Leith Police Force, died yesterday at his house, 17 Cambridge Gardens, Leith. Mr Ross, who was a native of Ross-shire was 58 years of age. For some years he was in the Lancers and saw service in Egypt.


On leaving the Army , he was for a short period in the Inverness-shire Constabulary. He joined the Leith Police in 1886, was promoted Inspector in 1899, Superintendent in May 1906 and Deputy Chief Constable two years later. By the members of the Police Force and by the general public, Mr Ross was held in high esteem.”


This article was made possible by the kindness of Alexander Ross’ Great nephew, David Macintyre in supplying me with much additional information.

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