The latest episode of Sherlock finds the famous sleuthhound struggling to write his best man’s speech for John Watson’s wedding. Detectives are often characterised in fiction as being exceptional at solving crime, but not so good with matters of the heart. In real life, however, this was certainly not the case for Detective Jerome Caminada, whose love life resembled that of Dr Watson rather than Sherlock Holmes.
On a cold and showery morning, just a week before Christmas 1881, Jerome Caminada, aged 37, married Amelia Wainhouse, the daughter of an Irish ribbon weaver. Although she too had come from humble beginnings, the Wainhouse family had fared much better than the groom’s side, in their struggle to escape the slums. Newlyweds Jerome and Amelia settled into their new home in Old Trafford (where I grew up) and had five children, three of whom sadly died in early infancy. Despite the tragic losses in his personal life, Detective Caminada relied on his knowledge of ‘the inquisitiveness and contrariness of lovely women’ (he also had two sisters) to help him to track criminals.
Using all his charm and in a manner that Sherlock might have done well to espouse, Detective Caminada employed many ruses to gain information from potential female informants, including taking them on ‘dates’ to parks and boating lakes, and occasionally even to fairgrounds. In one case, when he was trying to locate a businessman wanted for fraud, he even hired a quartet band to lure the maids of the fugitive out into the garden, so that he could talk to them. It wasn’t until the guitarist played a plaintive tune about home that his attempts worked. The culprit was finally caught after Caminada took one of the maids on a pleasure trip to Leeds, where he bought her a new umbrella. The case solved, he left the poor young woman without an explanation and then sent a note informing her that ‘he had departed to the land “where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”‘ Which sounds much more like something the ‘real’ Sherlock Holmes would have done.