No. 147 December 2015
NICHOLAS CONNELL on
the Further Adventures of
the Detective Inspector
LINDSAY SIVITER on
the Masonic Career of
From the Archives:
by GEORGE R SIMS
Murder House Casebook
NINA and HOWARD BROWN
Victorian Fiction by
DINAH MARIA MULOCK
Ripperologist 118 January 2011 1
Quote for the month
“Seriously I am amazed at some people who think a Pantomime of Jack the Ripper is okay. A
play by all means but a pantomime? He was supposed to have cut women open
from throat to thigh removed organs also laid them out for all to see.
If that’s okay as a pantomime then lets have a Fred West pantomime or
a Yorkshire Ripper show.”
Norfolk Daily Press reader Brian Potter comments on reports of a local production. Sing-a-long songs include “Thrash Me Thrash Me”.
EDITORIAL: THE ANNIVERSARY WALTZ
by Adam Wood
THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR EDMUND REID
by Nicholas Connell
BROTHER ABBERLINE AND
A FEW OTHER FELLOW NOTABLE FREEMASONS
by Lindsay Siviter
JTR FORUMS: A DECADE OF DEDICATION
by Howard Brown
FROM THE ARCHIVES:
SWEATED LONDON BY GEORGE R SIMS
From Living London Vol 1 (1901)
FROM THE CASEBOOKS OF A MURDER HOUSE DETECTIVE:
MURDER HOUSES OF RAMSGATE
by Jan Bondeson
A FATAL AFFINITY: CHAPTERS 5 & 6
Nina and Howard Brown
Your letters and comments
THE LAST HOUSE IN C-- STREET
by Dinah Maria Mulock (Mrs Craik)
REVIEWS Jack the Ripper- Case Solved, 1891 and more!
Christopher T George
Nina and Howard Brown
The Gentle Author
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constitute copyright infringement as defined in domestic laws and international agreements and give rise Ripperologist to civil liability 118 and criminal January prosecution. 2011 2
The Anniversary Waltz
EDITORIAL by ADAM WOOD
The thing about anniversaries is that there’s something to be found when you need one. As we
publish this edition of Ripperologist, on 31 December 2015, it’s 127 years to the day that Henry
Winslade recovered the body of Montague Druitt from the Thames at Thornycroft’s torpedo works,
Chiswick. And tomorrow will be the 126th anniversary of James Kelly’s escape from Broadmoor.
It’s doubtful that Mark Galloway was contemplating these events when he hit upon the idea of bringing together likeminded
people to meet and discuss the Ripper crimes over a pint or two, but that’s exactly what he did late in 1994.
His most excellent plan quickly captured the imagination of many and the Cloak and Dagger Club was formed, with a
ten-page Pilot Newsletter published to mark the first meeting on 3 December, making us 21-years-old this month. And
boy, do we feel old...
As the Club grew so did the newsletter, being renamed Ripperologist magazine with Issue 5, December 1995 - making
it 20 years of publication under this name with Rip 147.
And ten years ago this month we
ran the gauntlet by relaunching as
an electronic journal, our last print
edition being Rip 61, September 2005.
It’s fair to say reaction in the Ripper
community was ‘mixed’, with many
posts from the likes of ‘Outraged
of Tunbridge Wells’ expressing
their opinions on Stephen Ryder’s
Casebook: Jack the Ripper site.
By happy coincidence, 2016 sees
Casebook itself celebrating its 20th
birthday. Over the years Casebook
launched many innovative, free
platforms for Ripperologists such as the message boards, chatroom and the Jack the Ripper Wiki.
While that site continues to house the largest collection of transcribed Ripper-related newspaper articles and other
crucial content, perhaps the platform for most discussion today is JTRForums.com, run by Howard Brown and which -
you’ve guessed it - in September this year celebrated an anniversary of its own, ten years since doors opened.
Elsewhere in this issue, How Brown describes those heady early days and the well-oiled machine which is the message
boards of JTRForums today.
To finish this numbers-based editorial of exactly 1,888 words (it’s not really, but did you start counting?), here’s a look
to the future... we’ll be publishing the 150th issue of Ripperologist in August 2016 - perfectly timed to coincide with
the 128th anniversary of the Autumn of Terror. In fact, we anticipate publishing the special edition on the anniversary
of Polly Nichols’ death.
We’re planning something very special to mark the occasion, so keep reading future issues to make sure you don’t
miss out... Finally, the team at Ripperologist wish every single one of our readers good health and happiness in the New
Year. Thank you for your support over the past 21 years.
Left to right: Pilot issue; the first electronic Ripperologist; our 100th edition
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 1
The Further Adventures
of Detective Inspector
By NICHOLAS CONNELL
Since the publication of the last edition of The Man Who Hunted Jack the Ripper several new
sources have come to light that provide new information on Edmund Reid, the former head of
Upon retiring in 1896 Edmund Reid was interviewed by several newspapers including the News of the World
who boasted that their feature on his involvement in the Jack the Ripper investigation would ‘place before the
public facts they never before learned, and to clear up a volume of curious misconceptions which were made by
theorists, learned and unlearned, who took a deep interest in the crimes at the time of their committal.’
The News of the World journalist justifiably described Reid as ‘one of the most remarkable men ever engaged in
the business of detecting crime.’ They met at Reid’s home and when sat at the drawing-room table the journalist
bluntly asked the detective: ‘Tell me all about the Ripper murders.’ 1 Reid responded by opening a cabinet drawer
that contained ‘assassin’s knives, portraits, and a thousand and one curiosities of criminal association.’ Among
the criminological ephemera was ‘probably the most remarkable photographic chamber of horrors in existence.’
Reid owned a set of Jack the Ripper victim photographs which he spread out on the table before telling the tale
of the Whitechapel murders:
‘The first Ripper murder was one which is not
generally associated with the series. This was
the Brick-lane murder, committed on a bank
holiday in 1888. A woman named Smith was met
by a man in Brick-lane who carried a walkingstick,
and committed a most terrible outrage
It is impossible to repeat the description of the
outrage. Reid proceeded –
News of the World, 12 April 1896
‘The woman, strange to say, made no cry, and
raised no alarm. She took a scarf from her
neck, bound up the terrible wound, and quickly
walked round to George’s-yard, some distance,
and told some of her female friends what
had happened. Seeing her fainting condition,
these women took her walking to the London
Hospital. Here she retained consciousness for
some time, but could give no description of the
man who assaulted her. She died the next day.
This was the only woman who lived after seeing
the Ripper. She could afford us no information
1 Presumably the interview took place at Stepney Buildings, Stepney, the address given in Reid’s pension papers (PRO, MEPO 21/25).
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 2
So you never obtained a description of the man from anyone?
‘Never. Indeed that the murderer was a man, is only an inference from the fact that no one but a person
believed by the women themselves to be a man could have been taken by them to the secret haunts in
which the murders were all committed.’
All the murders were committed in secret haunts?
‘Yes, all the murders were upon women of the most degraded class, and in the darkest, most secret
places, inaccessible to the police, where the murderer was taken by the women themselves. This is
an important point, in reviewing the crimes, that it was evident in every case the women themselves
selected the place of their death. The murderer never took them to these places. He was always taken
to them by his victims who knew and selected dark, hidden spots for their own purpose. This, also, is
why I maintained always that respectable women never had anything to fear from the Ripper.’
And the next murder?
‘The next murder was the one which has been recorded as the first Ripper case. This was the notorious
Buck’s-row murder. In this case the woman was believed to have been murdered about one o’clock in
the morning. She was found with her throat cut and on the post-mortem examination taking place it
was found that her body was [sic] been cut about in a brutal, haphazard manner with a knife.’
And what connection had this case with the previous one?
‘The answer to your question is an explanation of the whole theory of the murders. The idea that the
murderer was a mad surgeon, or a man with any knowledge of the anatomy of the human being was a
most ridiculously inaccurate one. The murderer was mad beyond a doubt – a homicidal maniac. He had
no method, nor did he exhibit any acquaintance of the human frame. He was simply seized with a frenzy
the moment he was alone with the women, hacked and tore at them in his frenzy, with no intent but
the satisfaction of a horrible passion for destruction. There were other murders in the district during
the period which were not Ripper murders.’
And herein lay the distinction between the ordinary murders and the others, if I am right in putting
the question so?
‘The cases which I am discussing with you as the Ripper murders all displayed one peculiar form of
violation and an interesting fact was that the hand of the one madman could be traced through a series
of nine murders, each one displaying a gradation of more intensified frenzy. Every fresh time the mania
seized the murderer his passion became more horrible in its satisfaction. The mutilation in the Buck’srow
case was exactly of the same nature as that inflicted upon the woman who died in the hospital;
but in the second and all succeeding cases the throat of the victim had been cut before the mutilation.
Take another case. There was the George-yard murder. A cabman coming down the stairs of some
dwellings at four o’clock in the morning found the body of a woman named Tabrun [sic] lying half in
the doorway of a passage in the building. Her throat was cut and she had been stabbed in 39 places.
She had been dead over two hours. The doctor who examined the body said the stabs appeared to have
been inflicted with a bayonet. A woman known as Pearly Poll said she and Tabrun were in company the
evening before with a private soldier and a corporal, and that the corporal went away with Tabrun. We
had two parades at the Tower of London of the Coldstream Guards, and one at the Wellington Barracks.
At each place Pearly Poll picked out a different man as the one she had seen, but in each case the books
of the barracks proved that the men she picked out were indoors during the whole evening and night.
As a matter of fact Pearly Poll was not a trustworthy witness. We never obtained any clue in this case,
nor anyone in any subsequent case able to afford us the slightest information that was of use.
To enable you to understand the difficulty surrounding the next case I need to explain that in the East
End of London it is a common thing for men of means to farm houses. This is to say they rent houses in
which they do not live themselves, and let out every room of a house to tenants of their own. The front
door of such a house is always unbarred, and no person living on the premises has a right to interfere
with anyone using the front doorway, or the passages or stairs. Yet the police have no power to enter,
as the place is the private property of the absent landlord. Outcasts wander into these houses and
sleep on the stairs and in the passages, and no one is empowered to remove them. A resident in one of
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 3
these houses in Hanbury-street went down at five o’clock in the morning into a yard at the rear of the
place and found the body of a woman lying between some stone steps and a wall adjoining the side of
the house. Her throat was cut in the same way as in the previous cases, and the ‘ripping’ to which the
Buck’s-row woman’s body had been subjected had been inflicted upon this one. Again, there was a stage
of increased ferocity. The ripping was far more severe upon the Hanbury-street woman. She had been
dead some hours. No one knew anything about her. She was one of the outcasts. No one had seen her,
no one had heard a person shout. Not a word in the locality could afford us the slightest information.
The body of the woman had again been slashed and hacked about in the clumsiest possible manner.’
The next murder described by Reid, as the horrible photograph came in its turn into his hand, was the
Berner-street murder. As to this case he said –
‘In this case a woman was found under curious circumstances with her throat cut. A man named
Darnschitz [sic] kept a Socialist club, now extinct, in Berner-street. At the side of the club was a
gateway, leading to a very dark yard. One Sunday night – a very dark night it was – Darnschitz, who had
been out driving, arrived home about half-past twelve, and turned his pony through this gateway. A
little distance up the yard the pony reared and refused to move forward. It had seen something, and,
looking down, Darnschitz saw something move on the ground. He leaped out of the pony-carriage and
ran into the club by a side door and called to his wife, who was in charge, and others. Lights were
brought, and the body of a woman was found, with the throat cut and still bleeding. The pony must
have seen the man at the moment the murder was being committed. During the short space of time the
club proprietor had been bringing lights the murderer had sped like a shadow. No person could be found
who had noticed anyone leave the yard.
While the police were engaged making their inquiries into this case information was received that
another murder had been committed in Mitre-square in the City. In a quiet, dark corner of Mitre-square
we found the body of a woman with the throat cut, and her body mutilated in the same horrible manner
as in the other cases. This woman’s nose and ears had been cut off, and her face slashed. This murder
was committed in September 1889 or 90. I forget for the moment which year.’
Was not this the writing on the wall case?
‘Yes. I was coming to that. There is no doubt that when the fiend was disturbed by the pony and fled
the mania was still running through his blood insatiate. He appears to have gone straight down Bernerstreet
to Commercial-street, passed along to the City, met this woman whom he mutilated in Mitresquare,
and there expended his mania upon the second victim. Thence he came back by a triangular
route, and on the wall of a passage leading to some model dwelling in Goulston-street he wrote the
words in chalk –
‘The Jews shall not be blamed for this.’
That this was the murderer’s writing was proved by the fact that thrown down on the ground beneath
the writing was a piece of the apron of the woman murdered in Mitre-square. This was the only
trustworthy specimen of the man’s writing we ever obtained, and this was rubbed off before it could
be photographed, contrary to my wishes and much to my regret.’
Detective Reid’s next account was of the Dorset-street murder –
‘This was a case in which a pretty, fair-haired, blue-eyed, youthful girl was murdered. She rented a
room in a house in Dorset-street, for which she paid 4s 6d a week rent. The room was badly furnished
for the reason that her class of people always pawn or sell anything decent they ever get into their
places. The curtains to the windows were torn and one of the panes of glass was broken. Kelly was in
arrears with her rent and one morning a man known as ‘The Indian’ who was in the employment of the
landlord of the house, went round about eight o’clock to see the woman about the money. Receiving
no answer to his knock at the door, he peered through the window, and through the torn curtain saw
the horrible sight of the woman lying on her bed hacked to pieces, and pieces of her flesh placed upon
I ought to tell you that the stories of portions of the body having been taken away by the murderer
were all untrue. In every instance the body was complete. The mania of the murderer was exclusively
for horrible mutilation. The landlord was brought round to the house by his man, and the sight of the
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 4
poor mutilated woman turned his brain. He became a perfect madman for weeks, and used to come at
times and knock me up and cry out ‘Come on, come on, come out with me, we’ve got him, we’ve got
the Ripper.’ Happily the man recovered his balance of mind in time, but the shock was terrible for him.
The suggestion having been made that in the eyes of a murdered person a reflection of the murderer
might be retained, we had the eyes of Kelly photographed and the photographs magnified, but the
effort was fruitless. We tried every possible means of tracing if the woman had been seen with a man,
but without avail.
An example of the difficulty we had may be found in that women came forward who swore that they
saw Kelly standing at the corner of the court at eight o’clock of the morning her body was found, but
the evidence of the doctors proved this to be an impossibility. By that hour the woman had been dead
not less than four hours.
After the death of Kelly, which happened on Lord Mayor’s Day, by the way,’ said Reid who continued to
make selections from his hideous photographs, ‘a year and eight months passed without our being again
called out, and we began to hope the murders had ended. During this time, however, the new system
of police patrol, which brought into use for the first time the India-rubber silent boots, and which
necessitated one policeman always passing another, was continued. One morning about one o’clock an
officer passing the Castle-alley from Whitechapel to Wentworth-street, paused under a lamp in the
Alley to eat his supper. After eating his supper he walked down Castle-alley into Wentworth-street, a
distance of less than a hundred yards. At the corner of Wentworth-street he met an officer coming in
the reverse direction to pass over the same ground. They stood about a minute exchanging a word, and
officer number two went up the alley. Number one had taken a few steps down Wentworth-street when
he heard his mate’s alarm whistle. He ran back into Castle-alley and found his mate standing over the
corpse of a woman who had been murdered and mutilated on the very spot where within the past five
minutes he had stood.
The alarm was continued. Other officers came upon the ground. A running search was made in every
direction, but no sight or sound could be traced of the murderer, who had evidently not quite completed
his work when the arrival of officer number two had disturbed him. Immediately above the spot where
the body was found was the window of a room in which the keeper of some wash houses slept, and there
was a light in his window. The keeper was roused. His wife came down to the door and said, ‘I have not
been asleep. I was sitting reading to my husband, and we have heard no sound.’ The murderer and his
victim had evidently followed officer number one into the alley and hidden in one of the entries leading
into it while he was eating his supper. Probably they watched him until he got down to Wentworthstreet.
The method followed by the murderer was to first cut his victims’ throats from right to left in a quiet
way which killed them before they could make a sound, and which caused the blood to spurt out away
from his hand and from his body. This is the secret doubtless of the left-hand theory, and it is most
probable that the murderer never had a speck of blood upon his clothes. The bodies, life having ceased,
would not spurt blood during the mutilation.
The last murder displaying the same hand of the homicidal maniac, happened two years later in
Swallow-gardens. The name belies the place, which is a very dark, dismal railway arch through which
persons may pass from one street to another. The spot is one into which very few people ever dare to
enter after midnight. A young constable, a Cornwall man, who had been a miner, and who had been in
the force only six weeks, was on duty near the place, and hearing footsteps retreating rapidly as he
entered the archway he ran forward in the direction of the sound. He stumbled over something lying
on the ground, and on turning his light on to it found a woman with her throat cut and bleeding. Her
eyes and lips were moving. The woman was just expiring. The policeman’s arrival at the entrance to the
archway had disturbed the Ripper but a moment too late. However, he darted forward in the direction
of the running footsteps, still to be heard. It was so dark he could see nothing. Yet he continued to run
on, and was gaining on the sound when the pursued steps suddenly became silent.
The officer turned on his light and searched in every possible direction round the spot where the
footsteps had ceased, but he could find no one. For this murder a man was arrested, but he succeeded
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 5
in completely proving his innocence. That was the last Ripper murder.’
And now tell me a few things. First, how do you account for the man so skilfully escaping you all?
‘As I have explained, we never in one single instance found a person who had seen a man with any of
the murdered women on the evenings they were murdered, so we never had a description of him. This
is accounted for by the fact that every victim was a woman of ill-fame of the very lowest type, and that
in every instance the woman took the man secretly, at a moment when no one was in sight, away to a
quiet, hidden, secluded spot known by her, never frequented at night-time. Further, with the exception
of the last two cases, the place of the murder was on private property; that is, in a place into which the
law forbids that a policeman should enter. The victims themselves selected the hiding-place, the scene
of their murder, and sought it in a stealthy manner which prevented them being seen. They selected
their murderer, they selected the scene of their death, and provided their assailant with escape. They
took care to render impossible evidence of their being seen taking a man to the scene of the murder.’
And what is your own idea of the murderer?
‘That he was a homicidal maniac there was no doubt, and had that cunning of insanity which defies the
reason of sane persons is equally certain. I am satisfied that he was a man who did not seek victims. My
notion is that he might never have committed a murder at all had he not been solicited and led away
by the women; but that on every occasion when this happened to him the frenzy came upon him. His
carrying a knife may be accounted for in dozens of ways. It is likely, too, that in every instance drink had
much to do with the recurring mania. Every one of the murders was committed after the public-houses
closed at night, most of them within an hour afterwards.’
Have you the remotest idea who or what the man was?
‘He was a vulgar man; that is, he was no scientist or medical man – not even a butcher – I should say,
from the same clumsiness displayed in his frenzied work in each case. I have always believed that he
lived somewhere in the neighbourhood of Berner-street. The first of the murders was in that district,
and every one was committed within a radius of a quarter of a mile of the Princess Alice public house in
Commercial-street. All of the women lived in that district, and so I believe did the murderer. There are
similar women, and equally hidden spots in other parts of London, yet no Ripper murder was committed
in any other part of London. Then, again, on the night of the Berner-street murder he went down Citywards,
when he murdered the woman in Mitre-square and returned to Berner-street within an hour and
a half, to the spot where the piece of the Mitre-square woman’s apron was found, thrown on the ground
beneath the writing on the wall.’
Now, what became of him?
‘I believe he is dead. You see every case disclosed that with each recurring attack of the mania the fury
of the frenzy was intensified. The greatest probability is that the effect on the murderer’s system was
physical exhaustion of a kind which would destroy the system. Yes, I should say Jack the Ripper is dead.
Most likely he died in a madhouse.’
Among other things which Reid spoke of was the fact that though called Whitechapel murders, most of
them were committed in Stepney and Spitalfields. He also said it was a mistake to fancy the murders
made the Ripper feared by the class of people who alone had need to fear him.
‘I have heard wretched women of that class, starving, homeless, unhappy creatures in the misery of
their debased life, scream for Jack the Ripper, pray for him to come to them and end their misery. And
I saw children in the street, when the scare was at its height, laughing and skipping, and enjoying life,
playing at the game of the Ripper.’
The journalist ended the interview by informing readers that:
Edmund Reid, by the way, is still one of the most popular men in the East End, and an influential
committee has been formed, of which Mr Solomon, of 18 Commercial-street, is the secretary, for the
purpose of presenting him with a handsome testimonial from Whitechapel tradesmen, as a memento of
his services among them. 2
2 News of the World, 12 April 1896.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 6
As in other interviews given by Reid on the Whitechapel murders, this
contains glaring and obvious errors, including getting the year of the Mitre
Square murder wrong, saying that Emma Smith was killed by one man when
she had described three attackers, claiming that no body parts had been
removed and saying that nobody saw a man with any of the victims on the
nights they were killed are just a few examples.
from Lloyd’s Weekly News
Reid repeated his belief that there were nine murders, that the murderer
had no anatomical knowledge and was a homicidal maniac who was probably
dead by 1896. He elaborates on his theory that the victims were largely
responsible for their own deaths with the curious suggestion that Jack the
Ripper had not been seeking victims and might not have killed anyone if
he not been given the opportunity to do so and escape undetected. It is
difficult to believe Reid’s story about John McCarthy’s mental breakdown,
as immediately after the murder of Mary Kelly he was lucid enough to be
interviewed by the Sunday Times newspaper and to give evidence at Kelly’s
inquest a few days later.
It is perplexing to read the remarks of a police officer who had worked so closely on the Whitechapel murders
investigation for so long, making numerous errors just a few years after the crimes had been committed. Yet
on other occasions Reid was accurate, such as still being able to remember exactly how much weekly rent Mary
Kelly had to pay. Disappointingly, Edmund Reid has not proved to be the most reliable source on the subject of
the Whitechapel murders. However, his ultimate conclusion that the identity of Jack the Ripper was not known
is entirely reasonable.
In 1902 Reid took umbrage when the Metropolitan Police offered retired officers a modest sum to assist at the
Coronation of King Edward VII in London. Reid felt that it was rather insulting for retired sergeants and inspectors
to receive ‘the same as a pensioned third-class constable. It is not a matter of sight-seeing with them, but hard
work, many leaving a home and business for a time, travelling many miles; and, another thing, no matter how
loyal one may be, he does not want to be out of pocket in the manner.’ 3
Reid later added:
I do not wish to egotise, but should like to say that I was a detective-inspector twelve years, both at
the Yard and Whitechapel during the Ripper murders, and only left in 1896, and now am asked to offer
myself for duty during the Coronation at the same price as a constable who has just managed to get a
small pension with the skin of his teeth.
I certainly think that some distinction should be made according to rank, and that all should be asked
to assist. I do not intend to offer myself after the disrespect shown to an officer who also left with a
good character. 4
Despite this disagreement with his former employers it seems that Reid was still willing to do them a good
turn. In 1912 and 1913 he advertised his services, free of charge, to advise young men who wished to join the
Metropolitan Police Force. 5
By the time of the Coronation Reid had left London for his native east Kent and in the early 20th century was
registered as living at ‘Reid’s Ranch’ in Hampton-on-Sea, a tiny seaside hamlet of Herne Bay. He was simultaneously
living at a house in Borstal Hill in the neighbouring town of Whitstable. There he joined the quoit club 6 and
wrote letters to the local newspaper. In 1905 a Whitstable resident, writing under the name of ‘A Progressive’,
complained in a letter to the Whitstable Times about the state of the town which ‘excels in untidiness. Many
of the roads are overgrown with weeds and the water channels at the side of the roads are full with grit and
manure.’ The seafront was in a ‘deplorable’ condition, and worst of all, a refuge dump had been established at
the eastern entrance of the town, close to the main road. 7
3 Daily Mail, 29 April 1902.
4 Daily Mail, 12 May 1902.
5 Whitstable Times, 14 & 28 December 1912; 4 January 1913.
6 Whitstable Times, 14 October 1905.
7 Whitstable Times, 15 July 1905.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 7
Reid was unsympathetic and wrote to the paper in characteristic style:
Why, what ever is the matter with the anonymous writer who signs himself ‘A Progressive’ in your last
week’s issue touching the above subject [‘Progressive Whitstable’].
Why don’t he come and live up Borstal Hill way, where all is peace and joy? We ain’t got no troubles up
our way like he writes about.
We ain’t got no path to get out of order between ‘The Four Horse Shoes’ Hotel and the end of Whitstable
We ain’t got no gas lamp that wants lighting to show us our way home on a dark night like they have at
We ain’t got no scavengers coming and taking away our dust and putting it in a heap to annoy our
visitors. We look after that ourselves.
We ain’t got no trouble to
read any acknowledgement
to our applications for a
gas lamp and a path to the
end of Whitstable District
(which we pay for), because
they never send one.
Cheer up, old boy, better
days in store.
Thanking you in anticipation
for a good time coming,
when we shall all know the
boundary of Whitstable on
the road to Canterbury by
the erection of a gas lamp
on a footpath. 8
His practice of writing letters
Postcard showing Whitstable from Borstal Hill, where Reid made his home
to the press continued and, as in
Herne Bay, a local councillor was
the target of his chagrin. Councillor Church had remarked that he did not think that the gas company should be
asked to extend their mains into the country. In response to this Reid wrote a long letter to the Whitstable Times
which they declined to publish as it was ‘of too personal a character to be inserted in its entirety.’ 9 The gist of the
letter was that Reid could not understand ‘how Councillor Church can show so much ignorance as not to know the
extent of the district, adding that the boundary of the Urban District extends to just past the ‘Long Reach’ Tavern,
and that there are several persons residing in the Councillor’s so-called country who would be only too pleased to
burn gas in their houses if they got the chance.’ 10
Reid had taken out a six-year lease of the unfurnished Borstal Hill house early in 1905, but in 1907 he was sued
by his landlord, George Hall, for non-payment of a quarter’s rent of £5 10s, plus 5s in interest on the payment.
Reid had always settled regularly up until that time, but now he claimed he was unable to pay and offered Hall an
extra pound a year in rent if he could just wait a while longer for the quarterly payment. Hall was not interested
and the case ended up at the Canterbury County Court in April 1907.
Unfazed at being a defendant in a court case, Reid argued that the house was unfit to live in. He claimed that
it was overrun with rats and that there was ‘not a room that the rain does not come in.’ George Hall was not
impressed by his truculent tenant’s defence. He told Reid that he had ‘got it cheap enough’ at £22 a year and
if there were any rats in the property it was through his own neglect. The judge pointed out that the alleged
condition of the house was not a valid defence as Reid had already lived there for two years and was only now
8 Whitstable Times, 22 July 1905.
9 Whitstable Times, 21 July 1906.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 8
Edmund Reid at Hampton-on-Sea
making an issue of it. Furthermore, the tenancy agreement Reid had signed placed him under obligation to keep
the house in a good state of repair. Reid countered this by asking why, if that was the case, Hall had paid for
previous repairs to the house. The judge said this was irrelevant and even ‘if the roof fell in about your ears it
would be no defence in law.’ Reid retorted that ‘It has been down twice and he has put it up again.’
By now Hall’s patience had run out. He told Reid that he had another potential tenant who would take the
house immediately, ‘but I won’t release you Mr Reid. Oh no!’ Reid replied ‘It is a hornet’s nest about my ears.’
Hall seemed to relent and said ‘If you will compensate me I could let it tomorrow.’ The judge’s ruling was that
Reid had to pay the outstanding £5 10s by the end of May, but not the 5s interest. Hall’s lawyer pointed out that by
then another quarterly payment would be due, to which Hall said ‘And I will have him for it.’ Playing to the court,
Reid glibly replied ‘You will have your pound of flesh.’ This raised a laugh, but Hall was unamused, responding
‘Yes, I will.’ 11
This episode shows Reid in a poor light. He had failed to pay his rent for a house which the landlord had
maintained, despite it being Reid’s responsibility. Hall’s anger towards Reid is understandable and it is to his
credit that he stood up to Reid, who he knew was a former Scotland Yard inspector as well as something of a
local celebrity. And why was Reid keeping two houses at once? In 1912 and 1913 when offering to help potential
Metropolitan Police recruits he again had an address in Whitstable while still living at ‘Reid’s Ranch.’ On that
occasion it was 84 High Street.
Reid owned the ‘Ranch’ at Hampton and when it was inspected for the 1910 Finance Act survey it was noted
that: ‘The house is in a very dilaptd [sic – dilapidated] Condition’, and that the sea was rapidly encroaching. 12 It is
not clear if this indicates that the interior of the house was dilapidated or if coastal erosion had started to attack
the foundations and exterior of the ‘Ranch’. A number of properties in Hampton were lost to coastal erosion
around 1910, although Reid did not leave the Ranch until 1916. An earlier visitor to the ‘Ranch’ said it was ‘a well
arranged cottage.’ 13
11 Whitstable Times, 13 April 1907.
12 TNA, PRO IR58/17510.
13 Herne Bay Press, 27 September 1902.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 9
In 1913 Reid wrote a series of articles on his ballooning exploits which had been hinted at in articles and his
obituaries. They were written years after the events by Reid, so it remains to be seen how much of it is accurate
and how much is Reid being a raconteur. His first balloon ascent came about after he made the acquaintance of
the self-styled ‘Professor’ Thomas Lythgoe, an experienced aeronaut. 14 One evening he was chatting to Lythgoe
over a pipe when he was asked ‘Ever been down in a diving bell?’ Reid replied that he had. Lythgoe then wondered
if Reid had ever been up in a balloon. Reid had not, so Lythgoe offered to ‘arrange for a trip from the Crystal
Palace.’ At a subsequent meeting on a Tuesday evening, Lythgoe told Reid to meet him at the Crystal Palace
on Saturday at three o’clock in the afternoon when they would make an ascent with another balloonist named
Thomas Wright. Reid told nobody about his forthcoming adventure and spent the rest of the week wondering if he
would be alive the following week.
Dark clouds began to appear shortly before the balloon was due to take off, so the three intrepid men got into
the balloon car and took off before the rain made their balloon wet and heavy. Reid remembered:
The world seemed to drop down from us. I felt no motion at all. It was not long before a dark cloud
came all around us, then the cloud went down, and we were in the light again with the blue sky over our
heads. But all at once there was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, and I began to think. I said
to Mr Lythgoe ‘What’s that?’ He replied ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’ I said ‘You call that nothing.’ He replied
‘Let the lightning flash and the thunder roar, it won’t hurt us as we are not attached to the earth.’ And
it didn’t, or I should not be writing this now.
A balloon ascent from the Crystal Palace. From Travels in the Air by James Glaisher (1871)
Reid had been seated in the car
and when he stood up he saw the
dark storm clouds beneath him and
a clear blue sky above. It was ‘one
of the grandest panoramic views
that I have ever seen.’ The Crystal
Palace looked like ‘a little glass
house standing on a carpet,’ while
the River Thames resembled a
narrow ditch. All pre-flight nerves
disappeared as Reid marvelled at
the splendour of the view and he
felt completely safe and calm.
The balloon was nearly two miles
high and Reid was now thoroughly
enjoying himself. The dizzying
heights were ‘a nice place to live
in, no tax collectors, nothing to
upset the mind.’
They were now floating over Gravesend. Reid mused:
Why it looks to me like a lot of red bricks thrown into a field. Then I began to think – there are
thousands of houses down there, and thousands and thousands of people, some walk about as if the
world belong to them only; some that will sometimes condescend to speak to you under circumstances
to suit themselves only; others that work hard to live, yet I cannot see one, then what am I when I am
down there, nothing, not so much as a grain of sand. I think that if there is anything to take the pride
out of anyone it is being up in a balloon. It teaches that the world can go on very well without us, and
perhaps better, and whenever anyone tells you all about what is up here, that has never been, well to
put it in a mild form, you can look at them and think. I have never heard the angels sing yet, and I have
made many balloon ascents in my time. 15
14 Thomas Lythgoe worked as a meter inspector to the Metropolitan Gas Company, retiring in 1885 to become landlord of the Duke
Inn at St Albans. He later took over the Old Oak Inn in Hertford where he died in 1893 aged 61. He made 405 ascents over 43 years.
(Hertfordshire Mercury, 1 April 1893). Reid’s memory was working reasonably well on this matter some twenty years later. He
wrote that ‘After he [Lythgoe] gave up ballooning he kept ‘The Old Oak Hotel’ at Hertford, where he died a natural death.’
However, Reid asserted that Lythgoe had made over 500 ascents. (Whitstable Times, 11 January 1913).
15 Whitstable Times, 11 January 1913.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 10
This sounds similar to Yuri Gagarin’s alleged quote, ‘I see no god up here’, made during his pioneering 1961
space flight. It is purely speculation, but could this have been the origin of Reid’s agnosticism? Having ascended
to the heavens and finding nothing there, did Reid abandon any idea of a Biblical Heaven, or did he have doubts
before then? He had been baptised at St Alphege Church in Canterbury city centre on 4th October 1846, but it is
not clear how seriously he took religion in his youth.
Lythgoe spotted a likely landing site by the railway station and the balloon descended at Shorne in Kent. Reid
‘saw the green grass grow into a wood, houses come up through the earth; people popped up out of holes, and
the earth came up and hit the bottom of the car… when the gas was all gone out of the balloon we all got out,
and then I said to myself ‘I have done it.’’ 16
They packed the deflated balloon into the empty car, loaded it onto a cart and went to the nearest pub for tea.
On the train back to London Bridge, Reid reflected on how much he had enjoyed the experience and thought that
‘if I had been blindfolded in the car, I should not have known that the balloon had started as I felt no motion.’ 17
Reid later wrote of another ascent he made from the Crystal Palace. He decided to amuse the crowds of
children who were in attendance:
I obtained a long piece of string and attached one end to the balloon car and laid the rest over the side
so that it should not be entangled, then I made a small hole in the brim of my straw hat, and when
everything was ready I tied the other end of the string to my hat and put it on my head, let go the
liberating iron, when down went the world with the people in it, and as they were going down, I took
off my hat and shouted ‘Hurrah,’ swinging my hat round and round, then let it drop down.
I heard a general shout of laughter and cries ‘He’s lost his hat.’ When the hat had reached the length of
the string I pulled the hat up and swinging it round again shouted ‘Hurrah,’ and I could hear the people
laughing again at the fun of the thing. 18
As Reid drifted over Chislehurst he shouted down to the residents, ‘You have got the grandest garden that I
have ever passed over.’ Reid explained that by speaking loudly and distinctly it was possible to communicate with
people on the ground from up to half a mile high. Over Hayes Common, Reid performed his hat trick again for a
group of school children, then passed over some fields where he dropped a bottle of water over the side of the
car, seeing it vaporise into a cloud of dust when it hit the ground.
He later dropped some ballast on a strawberry picker who had responded to Reid’s request for some strawberries
by saying, ‘Come down and break your neck.’ Reid eventually landed in a field in Westerham and bought drinks
for the locals who had helped him pack up his balloon. As they entered the Pig and Whistle pub one of the helpers
called out: ‘See what I have brought you, a gentleman from the clouds.’ 19
Reid made another ascent from the Crystal Palace at a police fete with two friends. He had secretly obtained
two bullocks bladders which he filled with gas and sealed with wax before fastening them with two pieces of
string beneath the balloon car. As they took off Reid looked down and saw ‘about seven thousand policemen, their
wives and sweethearts (or someone else’s).’ One of Reid’s friends had bought two pigeons, the first of which was
released when the balloon was about half a mile high and the other at a quarter of a mile above that. They both
fell some way before they were able to open their wings and safely fly off.
Shortly afterwards, the bullocks bladders exploded:
All of a sudden there was a loud report as of a cannon being fired off, when both my friends called
out ‘What’s that: what’s the matter?’ I replied ‘Oh, it’s all right,’ when bang went another, somewhat
louder than the first. That did it. They both looked as if they had been eating Whitstable oysters that
had been crossed in love.
I afterwards explained to them that it was only the two bladders burst owing to the expansion of the
gas, the same as the balloon would burst if the mouth was not left open to allow the expanded gas to
16 Whitstable Times, 11 January 1913.
18 Whitstable Times, 25 January 1913.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 11
From Travels in the Air by James Glaisher (1871)
We put the matter right by having a sip of that which cheers the heart and gives us courage, and drunk
to the health of those we left behind, and when we looked over the side of the car we found that we
were passing over Forest Hill cemetery, a very healthy place to be buried. 20
The wind dropped and it took the balloon over half an hour to float across the River Thames instead of the usual
ten minutes, only for it to be blown back again and left stranded in mid-air as the boats below blew their whistles
in greeting. The balloon eventually ended up over Barking in East London where it unceremoniously landed in an
onion field and crowds of curious onlookers gathered around, trampling over the crops.
Reid had a low opinion of Barking locals and felt that they had been watching the balloon as if it were ‘a ship at
sea, watching to divide the spoil.’ He sent for the farm owner, only to be confronted by his bailiff who demanded
£100 in compensation for the damage done to the fields by the mob. He had sent for the police and two officers
arrived at the scene. Reid was unconcerned, arguing that the balloon itself had not caused any damage and had
only landed there by accident. As this was going on, Reid and his friends were packing up the balloon as quickly
as they could and his friends managed to leave the scene with the balloon as Reid was taken to Barking Police
Recognising the sergeant on duty, Reid explained that the ascent had been made for the benefit of the Police
Orphanage and that the onion field was the only viable landing site, after having been stranded over the River
Thames and three different cemeteries. The sergeant said that there could be no criminal charges against Reid,
but suggested to the bailiff that he could take out a summons against him. The bailiff threatened to keep Reid’s
balloon until he received the money, but Reid pointed out that the balloon had already been taken away, a fact
that made the bailiff look like ‘he had been eating fried oranges that didn’t agree with him.’ Reid supplied
his name and address to the bailiff should he wish to sue him and then threatened to counter-sue for false
imprisonment, after which the bailiff left the station.
Reid stayed to chat with the sergeant but was growing concerned about the mob that had gathered outside
the police station who thought they were entitled to payment for helping the balloon down. Those that had
20 Whitstable Times, 5 April 1913. It was said of Reid that he ‘never tasted intoxicants’ until he was 36 (Lloyd’s Weekly News, 4
February 1912), so presumably this escapade occurred after 1882.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 12
just touched to guide-rope expected to be paid a shilling each. Then an inspector entered the station, having
coincidentally just returned from the Crystal Palace where he had seen Reid take off. They came up with a plan
to help Reid escape unseen. A police officer went out and found a horse-drawn brake which was taken back to
the station. Reid concealed himself under a seat and the brake drove off through the oblivious crowd. Reid was
reunited with his friends at the South London Music Hall.
Deciding to settle the claim out of court, Reid eventually paid the
onion farmer £20, but thought that if it had gone to court he would
have won, or been fined less than £20. One thing he was certain of
though was that he never wanted to go to Barking again. 21
As a young man Reid had an interest in parachuting and had once
made a small parachute which he attached to a mouse’s tail with
cotton threads. He then dropped the mouse from a high building.
The parachute worked and the mouse scurried off with the parachute
still attached to its tail. Reid had also seen a monkey and a cat
making parachute descents at the music halls.
Without giving any specific details of his own parachute jumps,
Reid explained his method:
Now let us suppose I am about to make a parachute descent.
The first thing I do is to see that the balloon is ready with the
bag of ballast at its side. I may here mention that on the top
of the parachute is a wire hook, and that has to be hooked into
a ring. I told you of inside the canvas tube at the side of the
balloon, and having seen that that is all right, and that all the
cords attached to the parachute are clear, and not in a tangle,
then I attach my basket to my seat which is fastened to the
ropes that hold the net over the balloon, in such a way that I
can slip in and release myself when I want to. Then I take my
place on my seat, hold the ropes, and cry ‘Let go,’ and the men
standing round holding the balloon down, let go, and the world
appears to drop away from me.
When I begin to lose sight of the people on earth, I slip into my
basket and leave the rest to do its work; my weight releases
the basket from the seat, the hook in the ring becomes straight and comes out of the tube and the
parachute opens like an umbrella.
When the balloon is released of its weight the bag of ballast pulls the top down, and the mouth up, and
lets the hot air out, and the question is which reaches the ground first, you or the balloon.
That is my style of parachuting, with a basket to stand in. In the case of a balloon you may sometimes
pick the place for coming down, but with the parachute you must come down where it likes to drop you.
When you are up in a balloon, or dropping with a parachute, there you are, don’t you know, you may
call yourself professor, captain, or some other grand name, it’s all the same, you have got to get down. 22
This eccentric detective, daring balloonist and notable man of Kent, whether up in the air, or with his feet on
terra firma, remains one of the most interesting and unusual individuals associated with the Whitechapel murders.
21 Whitstable Times, 5 April 1913.
22 Whitstable Times, 20 April 1913.
NICHOLAS CONNELL is the co-author of The Man Who Hunted Jack the Ripper: Edmund Reid-Victorian Detective.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 13
Brother Abberline and
A Few Other Fellow Notable
By LINDSAY SIVITER
Today the United Grand Lodge of England claims to have over a quarter of a million Freemasonic
members. Worldwide there are approximately six million freemasons. 1 For many years, Ripperologists
and indeed the wider public have been fascinated with the notion that the Freemasons were
somehow involved in a conspiracy to conceal the truth about the identity of the perpetrator of the
infamous Jack the Ripper murders. While this theory is very much currently in the news thanks to
Bruce Robinson's They All Love Jack, much of it began back in 1976 with an intrigue convincingly
weaved by the late Stephen Knight in his book, Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. So powerful
was the impact of this book that over the years several films have been heavily influenced by it,
most notably Murder by Decree in 1978 and From Hell in 2001.
However, before Knight's book was published, the premise had
already been established in an episode of the six-part series Jack the
Ripper in which two popular fictional TV detectives, Barlow and Watt,
took a look at the Whitechapel murders through the eyes of two modern
policemen. Towards the end of the series Joseph Sickert was seen briefly
explaining an amazing tale. Joseph claimed the murders were done as
a way of securing the silence of several women who had knowledge of
Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, having secretly married
a shop-girl called Annie Crook.
The secret wedding had apparently been witnessed by Mary Jane
Kelly, the final of the Ripper's canonical victims, who had to be silenced
after she threatened blackmail. Annie Crook, according to the story,
subsequently gave birth to a baby girl called Alice, whom Joseph Sickert
claimed to be his mother.
Knight later met Joseph, who supplied further details, and the
impressive tale was subsequently expounded on throughout Knight's
book. Whole sections argued that a masonic cover-up of the Ripper
murder had occurred, with several high-ranking freemasons being
involved including Sir William Gull, Lord Salisbury and Sir Charles
Prince Albert Victor
As part of his research for the book, Knight spoke to John Hamill,
the Librarian at United Grand Lodge Library & Museum in Great Queen
Street, London, who told him that in actual fact only the latter of the
three men previously mentioned was a freemason. However, for some
reason, Knight chose to ignore this information, publishing several
erroneous statements in his book about how Gull, Salisbury and others
were freemasons despite official evidence to the contrary.
1 See www.ugle.org.uk for statistics.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 14
Sir Charles Warren
Over the years, there has been much speculation about those involved in the
Ripper investigation and whether they were freemasons. Many of the characters
involved were, their freemasonic histories being well publicised and freely
acknowledged in their obituaries. The masonic careers of Sir Charles Warren
(1840-1927), Prince Albert Victor (1842-1892) and Dr Thomas Horrocks Openshaw
(1856-1929) are widely known. Indeed, Openshaw's vast and impressive collection
of masonic medals have been on display for many years in the Royal London
Hospital Museum as he was a founder of the London Hospital Lodge No. 2845,
being initiated 14 March 1901. Openshaw was a member of several Masonic
Lodges, including Hotspur Lodge No. 1626 (Initiated 1882), Old Concord Lodge No.
172 (Initiated 1890), Lancastrian Lodge No. 2528 (Initiated 1894), The University
of Durham Lodge No. 3030 (Initiated 1904), Foxhunters' Lodge No. 3094 (Initiated
1908) and Robert Thorne Lodge No.3663 (Initiated 1913). 2
At various times many researchers, including
myself, have enquired at the United Grand Lodge Library & Museum about
membership of some of those involved in the Ripper investigation. Thankfully,
for all us historians, in November 2015 the United Grand Lodge of England finally
released their Freemasonry Membership Registers after a huge digitisation project,
and these are now searchable via ancestry.co.uk.
These revealing records cover membership records in England 1751–1921 and
Ireland 1733-1923, alongside various lodges in Commonwealth countries. There
are now over two million records available, allowing us to explore and uncover
Several times over the years I had enquired whether Sir William Gull had been
a Freemason; the response was always negative, although the United Grand Lodge
did say that not all their records had been properly indexed. I had always believed
through my own research and meeting with his descendants that Gull had not been
a Freemason, and a search in the new database confirms this. I can also confirm
that neither was alleged Ripper coachman John Netley nor Prime Minister Lord
Salisbury, proving Stephen Knight’s claims about these men were wrong.
Det. Inspector Frederick George Abberline (1843-1929) was a Freemason,
Dr Thomas Horrocks Openshaw
however, and so was Sergeant George Godley (1857-1941), although they were not in the same lodge.
Abberline was a member of Zetland Lodge, Lodge No. 511. The Register 3 entry showing Annual Dues paid from
1888-98 informs us of the following:
Date of Initiation: 1889 Dec 4th
Passing: Feb 5 1890
Raising: April 2 1890
Christian Names: Frederick George
Residence: Scotland Yard
Profession: Insp. Crim. Inv. Dept.
Abberline’s Date of Initiation in 1889 coincides with him finishing working on two of the biggest investigations
in his career: the Whitechapel Murders (1888) and the Cleveland Street Scandal (1889). As a Candidate Abberline
would have met most of the active members of his chosen Lodge before he was initiated, typically having been
introduced by a friend within the Lodge, or at a Lodge open evening or social function. To become a Freemason,
Abberline would have filled out a petition requesting that the Lodge admit him into its membership. After a
2 Search results from Freemasonry Registers at www.ancestry.co.uk.
3 Freemasonry Membership Registers via www.ancestry.co.uk.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 15
Entry for Frederick Abberline and Arthur Hare (highlighted) in the Zetland Lodge register
process of investigation and getting to know him, the Lodge would have voted to decide whether to accept his
petition or not. Once the Lodge voted in favour then Abberline would have been then invited to the next meeting
to receive his Entered Apprentice degree. This is where candidates are initiated into the Fraternity. 4
The few membership records of Zetland Lodge that survive inform us that Abberline was listed (abbreviated)
as an Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department aged 46. He was initiated on the same day in 1889 as
Mr Arthur Alfred Hare, a 34-year-old CID Inspector at Scotland Yard who had worked on the recent Thames Torso
Murders and was probably good friends with Abberline. The two initiates would have done part of the rituals in
the ceremony separately, and other parts would have been completed together.
During the Ceremony of Initiation, the candidate is expected to swear (usually on a volume of a sacred text
appropriate to their personal faith) to fulfil certain obligations as a mason. In the course of three Degrees, the
new member promises to keep the secrets of their Degree from lower Degrees and outsiders. They also pledge to
support a fellow mason in distress as far as the law permits. 5 The Degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades
of medieval craft guilds: those of Apprentice, Fellow (now called Fellow craft) and Master Mason. These three are
what are known as Craft Freemasonry.
The Masonic Lodge Freemasonry is an organisational unit of Freemasonry and it meets regularly to conduct
formal business such as paying bills, organising charitable events and to elect new members. In addition to this
formal business, meetings may be used to perform ceremonies to confer a masonic Degree or to present lectures
on masonic history or rituals.
Candidates are progressively initiated into freemasonry in the first Degree as an Entered Apprentice. They
are then Passed into the second degree of Fellowcraft and are finally Raised to the Third Degree level of Master
Mason. The registers tell us Abberline was Passed to the second Degree Freemasonry on 5 February 1890 and
Raised to become a Master Mason on 2 April 1890. He progressed quite quickly through the three Degrees of Blue
Lodge Freemasonry, as sometimes this can take many months to achieve.
The column in the Registers saying the word Raised is as Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry explains:
When a candidate has received the Third degree he is said to have been raised to the sublime Degree of
Master mason. The expression refers materially to a portion of the ceremony of initiation, symbolically
to the resurrection which it is the object of the Degree to exemplify… and also means the acceptance
of the candidate officially by the fraternity. 6
The Register also reveals that Abberline obtained his Certificates on 11 April 1890. This refers to a Grand Lodge
certificate, which a member receives on completion of his three Degrees. Freemasonic certificates recognise
a Master Mason’s special achievement of having been raised to the highest degree in Craft Freemasonry being
rewarded in recognition of three main things.
Firstly, your devotion to your Lodge, the Craft and the Brotherhood overall. Secondly, it represents your personal
dedication and commitments to the principles which organise Freemasonry. Thirdly, it symbolises your continual
journey in the quest for more (spiritual) light. 7 It is necessary for a mason to be certificated and the certificates
themselves are regarded as a kind of Masonic passport to help gain admission to other Lodges.
4 ‘What happens behind the scenes of a freemason’s initiation ceremony’ by Joel Montgomery, Master Mason on www.quora.com.
6 Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry on www.masonicdictionary.com.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 16
The register also tells us how much, and for which years Abberline paid his membership fees. These Dues, today
as in Abberline’s time, cover the annual operating expenses of the Lodge. They are paid as an annual subscription
after an initial Joining fee has also been paid. Throughout their careers, members also have to find money to pay
for their Degree ceremonies which includes paying for materials received by the Candidate including regalia such
as an Apron and study guides. Members are also expected to cover the cost of dinners and are encouraged to give
to charity offering what they can afford. 8
Abberline was a fully-paid member from 1889 right up until he resigned from his membership of Zetland Lodge
in November 1903. His leaving the Lodge coincides with him retiring down to Bournemouth, where he lived for
many years until his death in 1929. It is interesting to note that he did not continue his Freemasonic career after
he moved and did not join any local Lodges in the Bournemouth area.
Interestingly, alongside the above membership details from the Registers there is also
a reference to Brother Abberline in The Freemasons Chronicle dated February 1891,
which mentions him being present at the Covent Garden Lodge of Instruction No 1614. 9
Covent Garden Lodge’s date of Warrant of Constitution was 1876, it being consecrated
in 1877. From 1877 the Lodge met at Clunn’s Hotel in Covent Garden, but the following
year they moved to Ashley’s Hotel nearby and by 1880 they met at The Criterion in
Piccadilly, 10 which presumably was where Abberline went in 1891.
Lodges of Instruction are where masonic learning takes place. These type of Lodges
are often associated with a specific Lodge but are not constituted separately. These
Lodges provide the Officers, and those who wish to become Officers, an opportunity to
rehearse ritual under the guidance of a more experienced Brother.
Lodges of Instruction are also places where lectures on symbolism and ritual are given
to develop the knowledge of its members.
Frederick George Abberline
In an email to the library at Grand Lodge London, historian Zeb Micic asked for any
information about Abberline’s membership of Covent Garden Lodge after having found
the above same online reference to the Detective Inspector in a search of Freemasonic
periodicals which are available on the UGLE Library website. 11
Assistant Librarian Peter Aitkenhead replied saying that “Lodges of Instruction draw their members from many
different lodges and it is impossible to identify the lodges whence they came unless their names appear in the
membership lists of the lodge to which the Lodge of Instruction is ‘attached.” 12 Therefore, because there are
no records maintained centrally of Lodges of Instruction, the librarian sadly could offer no further information.
However, thanks to the new registers available we can establish Abberline’s main lodge being Zetland.
Zetland Lodge had its Date of Warrant issued on 3 May 1845, and was consecrated officially as a new Lodge on 9
July 1845. Members originally held their meetings at various pubs in the Kensington area, but from 1868 onwards
the lodge met at Anderton’s Hotel 13 at 160 Fleet Street, which is where Abberline would have gone. Although
there was a pub present on that site since medieval times, the establishment only became known as Anderton’s
in the 1820s. The building was rebuilt in 1880 and a design for the new building by architects Ford & Hesketh can
be seen in an illustration from The Building News dated 12 December 1879. 14 With its red brick and stone facade
and Dutch-style gabled roof elements, it must have been quite striking. It was largely demolished in 1939 after
several buildings were built on the site, which today is now occupied by a branch of HSBC. Throughout the time
when Abberline visited, the Post Office Directory tells us the landlord was a Francis H Clemow. 15
9 Freemasons Chronicle, February, 1891, p.9.
10 See Lane’s Masonic Records: The Library & Museum of Freemasons website (www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane/record).
11 Correspondence between Zeb Micic and Peter Aitkenhead dated 29 April 2015.
13 Lane’s Masonic Records: The Library & Museum of Freemasons website (www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane/record)..
14 Article containing information on the building’s history can be seen on www.archiseek.com as well as an illustration from The
Building News, 12 December 1879.
15 ‘Andertons Hotel’ by Stephen Harris on www.pubshistory.com.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 17
In Abberline’s time, meetings took place several times a year and were held on Wednesdays at Anderton’s
Hotel. Anderton’s Hotel was by coincidence also the location where Doric Lodge No 933 used to meet whose
membership included George Lusk, recipient of the famous 'From Hell’ letter. Lusk, listed as a ‘Builder’, was
initiated on 14 February 1882, aged 41, and became a Master Mason a few weeks later on 11 April 1882. (I hope
to publish an exclusive article for Ripperologist on George Lusk in 2016, as I recently met his descendants and
obtained a lot of new information on him including photos of him and his family!).
Today, Zetland Lodge meets at Freemason’s Hall, Great Queen Street and I made contact with a current
member of the Lodge who kindly searched the historical Minutes of Zetland Lodge for the relevant dates and
supplied the copies of pages containing Abberline's name shown in this article. 16
The Minute records for each meeting list firstly those members attending who held official positions of office in
the Lodge together with their abbreviated titles, which I will now decode for us non-freemasons!
The highest role/rank/office is WM (Worshipful Master) followed by the IPW (Immediate Past Master), the SW
(Senior Warden), the JW (Junior Warden), the Treas (Treasurer), the SD (Senior Deacon), the JD (Junior Deacon),
the DC (Director of Ceremonies) and the IG (Inner Guard). Finally are the Stewards and the Organist.
I ascertained that Frederick Abberline achieved the position of Assistant to at least one of the main Officer
roles, and will elaborate on this new information shortly.
Next in the Minutes we see a list of fellow Lodge Brothers who attended, followed by a list of visiting Brothers
from other Lodges. Proposals for new members can also be seen. The Minutes include news relevant to the Lodge,
and I am hoping to see the original books next year rather than the extracts I have accessed for the purposes of
On 1 October 1902, Brother Abberline is recorded
as attending a meeting at Zetland Lodge No. 511
and proposing the membership of a new person, Mr
Edgar Kirchner, Officer with P&O Steamboat Company
residing at 173 Eadesfield Road, Wandsworth. However,
it was the name of the person who seconded this new
member which surprised me… Brother Littlechild!
I then looked at all the pages I had been given
which had mentioned Abberline’s name and discovered
that John George Littlechild (1848-1923), the first
commander of the Metropolitan Police Special Irish
Branch was also listed several times having been in
the same Lodge as Abberline! 17 Although Littlechild is
not thought to have had any direct involvement in the
Ripper investigation, he clearly took an interest as is
revealed in the famous Littlechild Letter of 1913, in
which he wrote to journalist George Sims identifying
“a Dr. T”, an American quack doctor called Tumblety,
who he said was a likely suspect.
Perhaps Abberline knew Littlechild more than has
been previously known? Both men subsequently went
to work as Private Detectives for Pinkerton’s Detective
Agency, and Littlechild had apparently also established
his own private detective agency by 1902, 18 so perhaps
Abberline worked for him also.
16 Copies of various pages from the Minutes of Zetland Lodge,
No. 511 courtesy of W. Bro. Barry Mitchell.
18 Oswego Daily Times, 30 July 1902 and Utica Herald-Dispatch,
30 July 1902 as seen on www.kpoulin1.wordpress.com.
Minutes of a meeting of Zetland Lodge meeting held on 1 October 1902,
attended by John Littlechild and Frederick Abberline
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 18
John George Littlechild was Initiated as an Entered Apprentice in Zetland Lodge on 7 November 1894 and is
listed as a “Retired Inspector Police C. I. Dept.” He Passed into Fellowcraft on 5 December 1894 and was Raised
as a Master Mason on 6 February 1895. 19 He resigned from Zetland Lodge on 11 March 1912.
By 1902, Littlechild must have been a member of Zetland Lodge for several years as he was rising through the
official positions in the Lodge, and was at this time Junior Warden. He remained at this rank by 5 November 1902,
when the next Minutes are recorded. Abberline is also listed as attending. However, by February 1903 Littlechild
had been promoted to the next rank of Senior Warden, one rank away from becoming Worshipful Master of the
Lodge. Brother Abberline is again listed as attending.
On 1 April 1903 Abberline attended the meeting and
Bro Littlechild is still Senior Warden. This same status is
also subsequently recorded in the Minutes of 4 November
1903. 20 Littlechild most likely became Worshipful Master
in 1904 when Abberline left. Hopefully, a perusal of the
original records next year will confirm this and indeed
who proposed both Abberline and Littlechild as members
Minutes of a meeting of Zetland Lodge meeting held on 1 April 1903
Strangely, no initials are listed next to Bro Abberline’s
name in any of the Minutes to indicate an official rank
in the rise to become head of the Lodge (seven or eight
ranks/positions have to be worked before top role can be
achieved). Therefore, while one might presume Abberline
did not wish to go through the Officer ranks, this is not
the case, as confirmed by a reference I discovered in an
issue of the Freemasonic periodical The Freemason dated
14 November 1896. 21 In this journal, within the latest
information pertaining to Zetland Lodge No 511 we are
told “the newly installed Master Brother Thwaites then
invested his officers to their various roles.” 22 F G Abberline
was created A.D.C., which stands for Assistant Director
of Ceremonies. This was an important masonic post,
which even today is held by someone who has been a Past
Master of a Lodge, as the role involves knowing in-depth
knowledge of Lodge rituals, and being well-versed in the
rules of procedure laid down in the Book of Constitutions.
As an Assistant Director of Ceremonies it would have been
Abberline’s duty to assist the Director in ensuring that
ceremonies were conducted properly.
Also in the above article we are told that Bro J G Littlechild took part in “a most excellent programme of
music”. 23 What exactly Littlechild’s role was is not specified, but most likely he was a musician or a singer. 24 His
musical talents would seem to be confirmed through his membership of Mendelssohn Lodge No. 2661, which he
joined in 1902. The register lists his Initiation date as 6 December 1902 and his Profession being a ‘Confidential
Agent’. His address is listed as No. 8 The Chase, Clapham Common. 25 At the time of his membership, meetings were
held in the Holborn Restaurant, High Holborn. 26 He paid his dues to at least 1921, the last date of the registers.
19 See Freemasonry membership records on www.ancestry.co.uk.
20 Minutes of Zetland Lodge, W. Bro Barry Mitchell op.cit.
21 The Freemason, 14 November 1896, p.9.
24 Littlechild was a prominent member of the Metropolitan Police Minstrels, a troupe giving concerts in aid of police charities.
25 Freemasonry membership records at www.ancestry.co.uk.
26 Lane’s Masonic Records: The Library & Museum of Freemasons website (www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane/record).
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 19
Brother Littlechild was also a member of Justicia Lodge No. 2563, being Initiated in 1905; the title of which
clearly reflects his law enforcement career. At this time, meetings were held at Freemasons' Hall, though today
they meet at a Twickenham location. 27 His fees were paid up until 1921, but sadly no other information about his
membership in this Lodge is currently known. In 1906 Littlechild was initiated into Lavender Hill Lodge No. 3191,
on 21 October. He is listed as one of thirty Petitioners for the creation of this new Lodge, which had achieved its
Warrant of Constitution just two weeks earlier. His fees were paid up until at least 1921. He died just two years
Once I had discovered information on Frederick Abberline's Freemason career I visited the library at United
Grand Lodge and asked the very helpful Librarian and Archivist Martin Cherry whether there were any group Lodge
photographs. I was informed that there were around a dozen huge, heavy boxes which were un-catalogued. The
Holy Grail of Ripperology considered by many is a photograph of Abberline, and I thought now might be my chance
to find one! I spent several hours going through all the boxes closely examining each and every image, but sadly
no picture of the elusive famous Inspector, or indeed Zetland Lodge, was discovered but at least these have now
Abberline’s famous sidekick in several Hollywood films, Sergeant George Godley was, as mentioned earlier, also
a Freemason. Godley was Initiated into Borough Lodge No. 2589 on 21 October 1903, just a few months after the
conclusion of his involvement in the infamous George Chapman case. He Passed to Fellow craft on 18 November
1903 and was Raised to Master Mason on 20 January 1904. Meetings took place from 1895 at the Bridge House
Hotel by London Bridge, and then from 1909 onwards at the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly. Today his Lodge
meets in Penge in Buckinghamshire. 28 Godley retired on 20 January 1908, by which time he had reached the rank
of Inspector in K Division of the Metropolitan Police. He resigned from his masonic membership on 16 January
1913. Godley died in 1941.
So there we have it. Proof finally that several of the key people allegedly involved in the Ripper case were
not Freemasons. However we now know some of the key officers involved in the case were, including the famous
Inspector Abberline. Now we just need to find a photograph of him….
The author would like to say special thanks to Zeb Micic, W.Bro Barry Mitchell, UGLE Librarian Martin Cherry
and Adam Wood.
Stephen Knight: Jack The Ripper: The Final Solution, 1976; Freemasonic Membership Registers via www.
ancestry.co.uk; Private email from Peter Aitkenhead to Zeb Micic dated 29 April 2015; The Freemasons Chronicle,
February 1891 p.9; Lane’s Masonic Records: The Library & Museum of Freemasons website (www.hrionline.
ac.uk/lane/record); The Freemason, 23 November 1895 p.10; The Freemason, 14 November 1896 p.9; Minutes
for Zetland Lodge 1902-03; www.freemasonry.london.museum; www.masonicdictionary.com; www.wikipedia.
org/freemasonry; www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com; www.ugle.org.uk; www.quora.com; www.kpoulin1.
wordpress.com; www.pubhistory.com and www.archiseek.com.
27 Lane’s Masonic Records: The Library & Museum of Freemasons website (www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane/record).
LINDSAY SIVITER is a trained historian who has worked for over thirty years in museums and archives throughout
the UK, and since 2013 as a volunteer assistant to the Curator at the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard. Lindsay is the
youngest Committee member on both The Metropolitan Police History Society and the Police History Society and is
also a member of The British Society of Criminologists. Lindsay has been researching the Jack the Ripper case for
over twenty years and is an active member of The Whitechapel Society, and since 2001 has worked for Discovery
Tours as one of their Ripper tour guides. She continues to research, as his official biographer, the first ever biography
of Ripper suspect Sir William Gull and in 2011 was the first researcher granted privileged access to his private papers
and personal possessions and travelled to Cape Town, South Africa to stay with his descendants to examine these.
Lindsay has contributed articles to Ripperologist and The Whitechapel Society Journal, and regularly gives lectures
and presentations and has been a guest speaker at many conferences. As an historical adviser and consultant to
companies including the Museum of London and the BBC, Lindsay has also appeared in over twenty television
documentaries including Unmasking Jack the Ripper (2005), The World Ripperologist of Jack 147 the Ripper December (2008) 2015 and Jack 20 the
Ripper: The Definitive Story (2011).
A Decade of Dedication
By HOWARD BROWN
I was asked by Adam Wood to prepare a brief history of JTR Forums, now entering its eleventh
year, for the readers of the Rip.
Back in the Fall of 2005, Tim Mosley and I took the original domain name which he had established in 2003 and
applied it to software he had at his disposal. The current version of the Forums was born on 19 September 2005.
At first, we laid the foundation... sections for victims, suspects, aspects of the case, etc. A labor of love, we
quickly filled the main page with a wide of assortment of topics for newcomers and long time researchers and
Membership numbers were slow in accumulating. The majority of Ripper-related discussion took place on
Casebook, the pioneering effort of Stephen Ryder in the mid-1990s and one of, if not the most important
developments in the history of Ripperology. Although social media Ripperology such as Facebook might have given
any message board a run for its money in terms of being the most frequented, had it been available in the late
'90s, Casebook had the finest collection of newspapers and archival material for public consumption anywhere,
which remains that site's most valuable asset.
The question became: What could the Forums do which would establish itself as a viable entity at that time?
I had had a considerable number of ideas which I considered testing on Casebook (one of which was Trivia Night,
a weekly online game which involved teams of players in Casebook's chat room... another was an organized,
coordinated section on Ripper suspect Robert D'Onston Stephenson, which, unlike the Trivia Night idea, didn't take
off and fly), but I felt it would be a little too intrusive, along with the fact I wasn't sure they would be embraced
by Casebook's membership. I felt that there were quite a few concepts that hadn't been explored, but which
I set those ideas up on JTRForums, beginning in late 2005, some of which remain to this day:
Five Questions With...
A set of questions provided to a Forums member or to someone within the field, or sometimes not, such as
James Badal (Cleveland Torso Killer expert) and Tom Voigt (Zodiac webmaster). It's been popular since its first
appearance. The contribution of well known researchers such as Martin Fido, Rob House, John Malcolm and Paul
Begg, to name but a few, on often important points of view making their appearance anywhere for the first time
is a favorite of our membership.
Topic of the Month
Self-explanatory: each month a new idea or perhaps an old one would be revisited for group discussion.
Book of the Month
Forums members review books from the present day as well as older works, usually, but not always, from within
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 21
Weekly Caption Contest
Each week members would provide a caption to a photo provided by any number of Forums members. The most
popular non-Ripper area of the boards, its still going strong. Steve 'String' Moore has been a valuable contributor
to the WCC.
Individual Forums Section
Members may use this section to establish threads on any subject they wish, under their control. Several areas
of case study will attract passionate debate, which often turns into a bar-room brawl. With the Individual Forums
Section, the member can present his viewpoint without any criticism, positive or negative. It is up to the reader
to decide whether the theory has merit or not and ask the thread's creator for permission to participate. It is up
to the thread creator to decide whether he or she wants to engage in discussion on his or her point of view.
Most websites in any field of endeavor, not just Ripperology, find people usually registering under aliases or
unusual handles. On the Forums, it was decided that we'd register people under their full names to avoid the
silly screen names and spammers. Of the latter pestilence I will give a graphic example as to why our registration
policy is different than almost every site in any field you'll come across. I temporarily lifted the disabling feature
which allowed people to register without any further requirements from management. Within ten minutes, more
than ten spammers had registered. I immediately removed those screen names and disabled the feature. Besides,
unless you are an SPE or CGP, letters to people's names which are familiar to everyone in the field, using one's full
name carries a certain responsibility which I believe manifests itself in how members conduct themselves, if not
all the time, then nearly all.
Points To Ponder
A section of the boards where members vote on the most likely scenario or answer to the question presented
to them. They include retrospective questions such as 'What would you do if you were in charge?' and other
These are the major site features which stand out in my mind.
Now, on to the major players who have helped build the boards.
JTRForums, it can be said, took it up a major notch when we obtained a copy of the O'Donnell Manuscript, the
never-released 350-page work written in 1959 by British journalist Bernard O'Donnell entitled This Man Was Jack
The manuscript, which attempts to pin the murders on writer and fantasist Roslyn D'Onston, was made available
through the generous efforts of Andy Aliffe, talented researcher and BBC personality, in October 2006. After
struggling with the technical side of putting the massive work on the boards, it finally appeared in the latter part
of October and early November of the same year. This was the first major step in the rise of JTRForums.
Other individuals who helped the Forums getting established include researcher and asylum history expert Mark
Davis of Bradford. Mr Davis helped me in acquiring some otherwise inaccessible sources. Stewart Evans provided
scans of hundreds of his personal files which have been of importance to researchers in that the documents he
shared would otherwise not have been seen and therefore not used in future books and articles. Mike Covell,
whose efforts in the area of D'Onston-related research have been instrumental in making the site the foremost
repository of D'Onston-related material anywhere.
Recently added members to the cadre like Jerry Dunlop, Anna Morris, Gary Barnett and Sean Crundall, have
augmented the Forums with their approach, intelligence and insights, which combined with Rob Clack, Mark
Ripper, Tom Wescott, Chris Phillips and others make the Forums an ideal place for researcher participation.
Newcomers are always welcome, some of whom have taken the bull by the horns and entrenched themselves on
Above all, if there was a Most Valuable Ripperologist award, that would go to Debra Arif, whose name is
synonymous with Ripperological research. There isn't enough time to list her Forums contributions on LeGrand,
Brodie, D'Onston etc, to name but a few, and help in acquiring new sources and helpful assistance in numerous
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 22
I've been focused on newspapers for the past eight years almost entirely as a result of a fortuitous 3:00am chat
room conversation with the late, great Chris Scott. Chris discussed his experiences as a newspaper trawler and
put the fire and passion back into a researcher at the crossroads (me) who wasn't sure which road he would take
One area in which the Forums needs to step up is exposure. We aren't as visible as Casebook is, although we're
usually mentioned in the credits of recent book releases, far more often than not. That will be an area I need to
shore up on during the next ten years. I had tried to institute a JTR 's.i.g.' ( special interest group) in MENSA, even
rejoining to do so, but that didn't shape up as planned. Word of mouth is fine, but to reach younger people and
other curious civilians, I need to do more.
Most of the active Forums members (numbers fluctuate from 106 to 96 active) are authors... all of the current
Forums Moderators (myself, Nina Brown, Tim Mosley, Robert Anderson and Jon Rees... not to forget former
Moderators Jules Rosenthal, Mike Covell, and Adam Went) have had their written work published in one or more
of the Ripper magazines. Jon Rees and I handle JTRForums on YouTube, while Robert Anderson, Jon and myself
handle the Forums on Facebook. We're an active group of people, not just a bunch o' pretty faces.
As to future goals, it's our desire and my priority to keep JTRForums at the forefront of current developments...
making sure the membership and the people who depend on the Forums for Ripper news get it almost as soon as it
happens. In today's world, we have an extraordinary advantage over the pioneers in Ripperology, in that we have
instant, on-the-spot capabilities to relay information in a manner few thought technologically possible. We're
trying to make sure we take advantage of that ability. The reader should look in every day to see what's new in
our fast moving field.
I am very grateful to each and every member of the Forums, past and present. I hope our collective relationship
will continue for many years ahead.
I appreciate the opportunity afforded me to share this information with Ripperologist magazine's readership.
Should you decide to become involved with the Forums, contact me at your leisure at one of these two addresses:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 23
From the Archives
by George R Sims
From Living London, Vol I (1901)
One would have thought that the meaning of the word "sweating" as applied to work was
sufficiently obvious. But when "the Sweating System" was inquired into by the Committee of the
House of Lords, the meaning became suddenly involved. As a matter of fact the sweater was
originally a man who kept his people at work for long hours. A schoolboy who "sweats" for his
examination studies for many hours beyond his usual working day. The schoolboy meaning of the
word was originally the trade meaning.
But of late years the sweating system has come to mean an unhappy combination of long hours and low pay.
"The sweater's den" is a workshop - often a dwelling room as well - in which, under the most unhealthy conditions,
men and women toil for from sixteen to eighteen hours a day for a wage barely sufficient to keep body and soul
The sweating svstem, as far as London is
concerned, exists chiefly at the East End, but
it flourishes also in the West, notably in Soho,
where the principal "sweating trade," tailoring,
is now largely carried on. Let us visit the East
End first, for here we can see the class which
has largely contributed to the evil - the destitute
foreign Jew - place his alien foot for the first time
upon the free soil of England.
Some of the steamers arrive in St Katharine's
Docks, and the immigrants - principally Russian,
Polish, and Roumanian Jews - have the advantage
of stepping straight from the ship in which they
have been cooped up for two days and two nights
under conditions which, if it be rough weather,
cannot be conducive to comfort.
Many of them, especially those who have come
from Russia, have already been despoiled of the
little money they had. At the frontier they are
sometimes detained for two or even three days, in order that they may be robbed by harpies in collusion with
certain subordinate officials. In some cases a man when he asks for a ticket at
the frontier railway station is refused by the booking clerk. He is told that tickets
can only be issued to emigrants through an agent. The agent then introduces
himself, and on one plea or another succeeds in invoking the immigrant in
expenses which leave him with scarcely a rouble in his pocket at the journey's
If he escapes the foreign harpies the immigrant is not even safe when he
has reached London. Men, frequently of his own faith and country, wait for
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 24
him outside the docks, and because he is ignorant and
friendless in a strange land, and speaks only his own
language, seize upon him and convey him to a shark's
boarding house, and keep him there on some pretence or
other until he is penniless. Then the "shark" lends him a
few shillings on his luggage, and when that is gone turns
him into the street with only the clothes he stands up in.
That is how hundreds of Jewish immigrants commence
their career as units in the densely-packed population of
East London and begin "to look for work" destitute.
The Jewish community, fully aware of these evils,
does its best to guard against them. They have agents
who meet every boat, and, addressing the poor aliens
in their own language, help them to get their scanty
belongings from the docks, and advise and direct them
as to lodgings and homes and shelters where they will be
honestly dealt with.
Let us meet a ship from Hamburg, laden with men and
women who will presently be working in the dens of the
It is a pouring wet day. The rain is coming down in
torrents, and one has to wade through small lakes and
rivulets of mud to reach the narrow pathway leading to
Irongate Stairs, where the immigrant passengers of the
vessel lying at anchor in the Thames are to land. This is a
river steamer, and so the wretched immigrants are taken
off in small boats and rowed to the steps. Look at them,
the men thin and hungry-eyed, the women with their
heads bare and only a thin shawl over their shoulders,
the children terrified by the swaying of the boat that lies off waiting to land when the other boats have discharged
What must these people feel as they get their first glimpse of London? All they can see is a blurred and blotted
line of wharves and grim buildings, and when at last they land it is in a dark archway crowded with loafers and
touts all busily trying to confuse them, to seize their luggage, almost fighting to get possession of it.
Fortunately Mr Somper, the Superintendent of the Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter, is here also. As the scared
and shivering foreigners step ashore he speaks to them either in Yiddish or Lettish, and finds out if they have an
address to go to. Most of them have something written on a piece of paper which they produce creased and soiled
from a pocket. It is the address of a friend or relative, or of a boarding-house. Others have no idea where they
are going. Many, asked what money they have, confess to twenty or thirty shillings as their entire fortune. Others
at once begin to unfold a tale of robbery at the frontier, and moan that they have scarcely anything. These are
at once taken charge of and housed in the shelter until their friends can be found for them. For most of them
have friends "somewhere." It may be a brother, it may be only a fellow townsman or fellow villager, who came to
London years ago. In the shelter they are taken care of with their money and their "baggage" until their friends
can be communicated with or employment obtained.
Here, stepping from the boat, are two young Germans. They are going on to America. Here are two Russians
in long coats, high boots, and peaked caps. These also are for America. But the rest of the pale, anxious, and
dishevelled crowd are for London. This Russian lad, still wearing the red embroidered shirt of his Fatherland,
has been sent for by his brother, a tailor. This young fellow with a wife and two children has nowhere to go. He
has come to escape military service and to look for work. Under the dark archway, wet and miserable, there is a
crowd of sixty-four men, women, and children huddled together gesticulating and shrieking, and always in mortal
terror that some unauthorised person is going to lay hands on the little bundles and sacks which contain their all.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 25
The nervous hysteria of a downtrodden people escaped
from bondage is writ large in the high-pitched voices. Some
of the women speak in a scream. Some of the men, disputing
as to the payment of the sixpence demanded by the boatman,
yell and shout as though they were Iunatics in a padded cell.
Two English policemen, stolid and self-possessed, listen
to the complaints poured into their ears in half a dozen
languages and say nothing. When I explain to one that a
gesticulating Pole wants to give the boatman into custody for
refusing to give up his bundle without the sixpence is paid,
the policeman grins and says, "Lor now, does he?" A young
Roumanian Jewess, with two crying children clinging to her
skirts, asks me a question in a voice that sounds as though
she was calling down the vengeance of Heaven upon me. But
Mr Somper comes to the rescue. She is asking me if I know
somebody with an impossible name. He is her cousin and
came to London last June with 172 other Roumanian Jews
driven out by the action of the Government.
But presently the shouting and gesticulating cease. A covered cart is driven up to the entrance of the archway.
In this the aliens, directed by an agent, proceed to pile their scanty luggage. A few will not trust their bundles
out of their own hands, and carry them. The cart starts, the men, women and children fall into procession, and
then move slowly off, tramping in the mud and slush of the roadway through the pouring rain. I forget that I am in
London. This melancholy file of men and women carries me to Siberia. With their faces woe-begone, their heads
bent, they appear more like a gang of convicts marching to the mines than free men and women making their
first acquaintance with the capital of the British Empire, in which they are henceforward to dwell and earn their
living. For the bulk of the people I have introduced you to, these scantily-clad, almost penniless Russians, Poles,
and Roumanians, will presently be working as tailors and boot-makers in the den of the sweater. Some of the men
have handicrafts, but the majority will be taken on as "greeners," or beginners.
It is the Sunday morning following the arrival of the immigrants at whose disembarkation we assisted. We are
in Goulston Street, Whitechapel. To the man of the West the scene is like a weekday fair. Everywhere are stalls
and hawkers, and business at the shops is in full swing. Even the money changer's close at hand is open, and the
clerks sit at their open ledgers. Half way down Goulston Street stands a group of shabby, careworn, silent men.
Foreigners every one of them, you can see at a glance. They are mostly tailors who want a change of masters, but
among them are several of their "friends," new
arrivals who have as yet failed to find work.
Presently a man approaches. He has a little
book in his hand. Some of the men recognise
him, and the group falls into an attitude of
expectancy. The alien slaves of labour have
assembled in the slave market to pass into
bondage. The man with the book is the slave
dealer. He looks the group over, then calls out
in Yiddish the special kind of workers that he
is in need of. As he calls the men who answer
his requirements hold up their hands. He says
a few words to them and enters their names in
his book. They will follow him presently to his
"den." If he wants "greeners" he turns to the
new arrivals. He selects three or four. Then
he tells one of the men who know his place to
take the "gang" with him. The slaves fall in and
slouch away silently to their new bondage.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 26
We have seen the sweater engaging his hands in the slave market. Let
us follow them to the den. But first it will be as well to remove a false
impression with regard to the sweater himself. He is not always the wealthy
spider sucking the life-blood from the flies he has caught in his web. He is
not a gorgeous Hebrew with diamond rings and a big cigar. He is frequently
a worker also, a man sweating because he is himself sweated. His one
advantage is that he generally knows the whole of his trade. That is to say
he can, if he is a tailor, make the whole of a garment; if he is a bootmaker,
a complete pair of boots. The foreigners who come to be sweated generally
make one part only of the article they work at. They learn that one portion
of the process and no other. In this they differ from an Englishman, who, if
he does tailoring, is a tailor. The foreign tailors represent not trained labour
but unskilled labour; very few of them could make a complete article.
There are, according to a witness before the House of Lords Committee,
twenty-five subdivisions of labour in the sweating trade in making a suit of
There are more than two thousand sweaters in the East of London.
Some have workshops, others use their own dwelling rooms. Let us enter
a "dwelling" workshop. It is a room nine feet square. In it fourteen people
are at work. There is a coke fire, and seven or eight gas jets are burning.
Ventilation there is none. The sweater is at work himself. Hollow-eyed, gaunt-visaged men and women are toiling
in various ways. Some have a sewing machine, others are doing handwork. It is evening when we enter. The poor
wretches have been at work since six o'clock in the morning. They will go on probably till midnight, for it is the
season, and the sweater has his hands full. The wages these poor foreigners can earn by their ceaseless toil
will perhaps be eighteen shillings at the week's end. For that they will work on Sunday also. All the gold of the
Rothschilds could not tempt us to stay an hour in this place, for life is sweeter than gold. Let us hurry out into
Here is another den. In this boot-making is going on. The men are mostly "greeners" who have been hired in
the slave market. It is a double room knocked into one. In this ten men, and a man and his wife and six children
work and sleep.
The Russian "greener" lies on next to nothing. A cup of tea and a herring are frequently all the food he will have
in the twenty-four hours. How can he afford more on the starvation wages he receives from the sweater? Not
long ago a Russian who appeared before the Sweating Committee said he had that week worked from 6.30a.m.
to 2.30a.m. on the following day with only one hour for dinner. He worked harder in London than in Warsaw and
made less. But the emigration agent had painted London as a land of gold and tempted him to invest all he had
in the world in a ticket.
The struggle is sometimes even too terrific for a Russian jew. Recently a young "greener" hanged himself. He
had brought his newly-wedded wife from Russia to London, thinking he would get a living. He learnt boot finishing
and earned 12s to 15s a week. To earn £1 a week twenty-two hours he would have to work twenty-two hours out
of the twenty-four. At the inquest it was proved that he had tried to do this and his brain had given way. In a fit
of madness and despair he hanged himself in the room he occupied with his young wife.
There are various other sweating trades carried on East, and West, such as furriery, shirtmaking, mantle-making,
and dressmaking. In the West tailoring and dressmaking are the sweated trades. Here the work is irregular. Half
the year the men and girls are unemployed, the other half they are working night and day.
English girls are occasionally sweated at the West in the dressmaking and millinery by wealthy Christian
employers. With the blinds drawn and the workrooms apparently closed for the day dressmakers work on long
beyond the hours allowed by the Factory Acts during the season. Sometimes the inspector gets wind of what is
going on and makes a sudden descent on the premises. Then all is consternation. Madame is summoned, and
puts the blame on duchesses who want the dresses in a hurry. The Factory Act applies to these workrooms, and
consequently the condition of things is far better than in the East End dens. There the Factory Inspector can only
enter on a warrant, because the bulk of the dens are in dwelling-houses. The sanitary inspector can enter, but the
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 27
only result of his occasional interference is that the sweater makes promises which he never performs. Many of
the crying evils of the sweating system would be redressed if the factory and the Sanitary Inspectors had greater
powers and worked more harmoniously together.
In the West End the laundry women are "sweated," and in the small or hand laundries the conditions and the
hours are as bad as can be. The cabinet trade has its own sweaters' dens in the homes of the "garret masters," and
here again the sweaters and the victims are largely aliens.
This is but a brief glance at Sweated London. But it may suffice to bring home to the reader some of the
pressing problems of the day. Is it right that in our England we should permit a trade which is little better than the
importation of foreign slaves? For you must remember that though some of these people come with a fair chance
of bettering themselves, and do in many cases succeed, and in process of time become owners of property and
employers of labour - generally the property is bad and the labour is sweated - yet a vast number are lured to this
country by the misrepresentations of interested parties.
Arguments are constantlv adduced on both sides of the question. Parliamentary Committees have gathered
evidence on "Sweating;" the friends of the alien worker have come forward to proclaim his usefulness to the State
and to the community. Between friend and foe Time will eventually pronounce judgment.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 28
From the Casebooks of
a Murder House Detective
Murder Houses of Ramsgate
By JAN BONDESON
The Ramsgate Society has published
a short pamphlet about ‘Blue Plaques
in Ramsgate’: houses in that town
where famous people had once been
staying. Viscount Wellesley lived at
No. 1 Chatham Place, Charles Darwin
at No. 8 Paragon, and Wilkie Collins
at No. 14 Nelson Crescent and No. 27
Wellington Crescent. Samuel Taylor
Coleridge lodged with a certain
Dr Gillman, who was treating him
for his addiction to opium, at No.
3 Wellington Crescent. It is not
generally known that Vincent van
Gogh taught school at No. 6 Royal
Road for a while in 1876, and lodged
A general view of Ramsgate, a postcard stamped and posted in 1905
at No. 11 Spencer Square. Karl Marx
stayed at No. 62 Plains of Waterloo for a while in 1879, to be near his eldest daughter Jenny, who
lived at No. 6 Artillery Road and gave birth to a baby there. Ripperologists will appreciate that
Major General Sir Charles Warren was a Ramsgate resident between 1901 and 1914, living at No.
10 Wellington Crescent.
Historically, Ramsgate has never been known as a hotbed of crime, but over the years, the Thanet fishing metropolis
has been the site of a number of celebrated murders, several of them unsolved. This article will tell the story of the
‘Black Plaques in Ramsgate’: the still remaining houses where the most famous Ramsgate murders took place.
In the Footsteps of Stephen Forwood, 1866
Stephen Forwood was born in St Lawrence, Kent, in 1829. He was apprenticed to a Ramsgate baker, and spent his
youth in hard graft and honest toil. The 1851 Census lists him as a journeyman baker, apprenticed to the master baker
Richard Woodbury. In the early 1850s, he took a baker’s shop in King Street, and in 1854, he married Mary Ann Edwards.
They had a daughter named Emily. Stephen Forwood went bankrupt in the mid-1850s, however, and all his property was
sold for the benefit of his creditors. Undeterred by this calamity, he left his wife and child and went to London to start
a new life. He called himself Ernest Walter Southey, and worked as a commission agent, or a writer in a law office. He
had an affair with a certain Mrs Maria White, who gave birth to three children fathered by him, at a time when she was
still living with her husband William White, a Holborn schoolmaster.
In the 1860s, Stephen Forwood mixed in London society, making use of the name Southey to prevent his Ramsgate wife
from tracking him down and demanding maintenance money for her daughter. He was living in sin with Mrs White, who had
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 29
left her husband, and tried various stratagems to get rich quick. He wanted to become an author, and submitted several
articles to All the Year Round, but Charles Dickens rejected them. A useful billiards player, he became a professional
gambler, frequenting various billiard rooms and challenging other players to matches, for a bet. He claimed that he had
once won £1,000 from the Hon Mr Dudley Ward, the younger brother of the Earl of Dudley, but the thoughtless young
man could not pay, and the Earl refused to settle the debt, to teach his brother a lesson about his gambling habits. This
setback preyed on Stephen Forwood’s mind, and he spent much time trying to extract the money from the wealthy Earl.
When he sent Mrs White to negotiate with Lord Dudley on his behalf, she was forcibly ejected from his residence; she
summoned his Lordship before the Bench at Worcester for assault, but the complaint was dismissed by the magistrates.
Forwood wrote begging letters to Lord Palmerston, Mr Gladstone, Sir Richard Mayne and various Members of Parliament,
but without much success, although Lord Russell once gave him £1.
In 1865, Stephen Forwood seemed to be losing his reason altogether. Money was running out, and he was living in
the direst poverty. The flighty Mrs White was threatening to leave him, and go to Australia with her children. He spoke
confusedly about the £1,000 he was owed, and threatened that if the debt was not paid, he would commit suicide,
murder Lord Dudley, or commit some great and horrible crime. People did not take him seriously, but on 7 August, he
turned up at the Star Coffee-House in Red Lion Street, Holborn, bringing with him his three illegitimate sons Henry,
Thomas and Alexander, aged between ten and six years. He booked two rooms for the children, and said that he would
be back to fetch them the following morning. When
he did not turn up, the keeper of the coffee-house
went up to see the three little boys. He found them
all dead, poisoned with prussic acid.
Red Lion Street, Holborn, as it looks today, showing the old houses at No. 25-27
In the meantime, the desperado Stephen Forwood
had travelled post-haste to Ramsgate, to settle the
score with his estranged wife. Her reaction when her
long-lost husband turned up out of the blue has not
been recorded. Mary Ann Forwood had faced hard
times after he had deserted her, but a certain Mr Ellis
had helped her, and she lodged in his house at No.
38 King Street. Demanding to speak to his wife and
daughter alone, Stephen Forwood shot them both
dead, once Mr Ellis had left the room. He did not try to
escape, and was promptly arrested and brought before
the magistrates. He freely confessed to murdering
the three children in the Holborn coffee-house, and
seemed quite proud to have exterminated his entire
family. The reason for the five-fold murder was that
he could no longer maintain his children, he said, due
to the conduct of Lord Dudley, Lord Palmerston, Sir
Richard Mayne, and various other personages, whose
names he could mention. Rather surprisingly given
his extraordinary conduct, Stephen Forwood was
considered sane and fit to stand trial, which he did at
the Maidstone Assizes. He was found guilty, sentenced
to death, and hanged on 11 January 1866, the last
person to be publicly executed at Maidstone Gaol. 1
The former site of No. 21 Red Lion Street
1 On Stephen Forwood, see NA MEPO 3/79; A. Grey,
Crime and Criminals in Victorian Kent (Gillingham
1985), 18-24, R. Ingleton, Kent Murder & Mayhem
(Barnsley 2008), M. Charlton in Bygone Kent July-Nov
2010 and mcharlton.blogspot.co.uk, entry 19 August
2011; contemporary newspapers.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 30
As for murder house detection aspects on the fivefold murderer
Stephen Forwood, the complete address of the Star Coffee-
House in Red Lion Street was not published in the contemporary
newspapers. The keeper of the coffee-house was named as Mr
Henry Clifford, however, and a person of that name is listed as
the proprietor of “coffee rooms, 21 Red Lion Street” in the 1865
Post Office Directory of London. The police file on the Forwood
case verifies this address. There are some remaining Georgian
houses in Red Lion Street, but alas! the murder house has gone,
buried underneath a large modern monstrosity. Nos. 25, 26 and
27 Red Lion Street survive in good order, and they probably give
an idea of what the old coffee-house at No. 21 once looked like.
Having narrowly failed to add a historic Holborn house to the
still standing Murder Houses of London, it was time to follow in
the footsteps of Stephen Forwood, and board the fast train to
Ramsgate from St Pancras, to ‘detect’ the murder house there.
There has been discord among earlier writers concerning the
situation of the Forwood murder house in King Street, Ramsgate.
Mr Roy Ingleton, in Kent Murder & Mayhem, puts it at No. 77
King Street, and reproduces a photograph of the ramshackle
old house. Mr Martin Charlton, who wrote about the Ramsgate
mass murderer in Bygone Kent magazine of 2010, put the murder
house at No. 61 King Street, although he changed the number to
No. 38 in a later Internet account. The number of the Ramsgate
murder house is not recorded in the Stephen Forwood police file,
but two independent contemporary newspaper accounts put it The late Victorian house at No. 38 King Street, Ramsgate
at No. 38 King Street. There is a No. 38 King Street today, with
the ‘Super King Pizza’ fast food outlet on the ground floor, and
two upper floors. It looks rather late Victorian in character, however, and it is very questionable whether it represents
the proper murder house from 1865, particularly since King Street has some houses that are undoubtedly Georgian in
The Ramsgate Mystery, 1893
William Noel was born in 1860 and became a journeyman butcher in Whitechapel, before moving on to Southsea.
Here he met Miss Sarah Dinah Saunders, a woman of independent means who ran a lodging-house. Although Sarah Dinah
was ten years older than the sturdy, bearded young butcher, they began ‘walking out’, and married in 1878. After some
debate whether to stay in Southsea, or perhaps move to London, Noel made use of his wife’s money to purchase a
butcher’s shop at No. 9 Adelphi Terrace, Grange Road, Ramsgate. The butcher’s shop had a large display window to the
front, and a smaller window to an alley on the side. Behind the shop was a small sitting room, with a door to the side,
and another door to the kitchen and scullery. A small yard separated the house from the stables and workshops where
Noel and his assistants butchered various animals, and prepared their meat for sale.
Initially, William Noel’s butcher’s shop met with difficulties, and he had to borrow £150 from his wife’s father to keep
it running. A steady, industrious man, Noel worked hard to make his business a success, travelling into the countryside
to buy livestock, and employing two journeymen and a lad. The borrowed £150 was soon repaid, and Noel was able to
save some money. The two Noels were very respectable people, and pillars of Ramsgate lower-middle-class society. They
were strict Wesleyans, and active members of their church community. There was of course gossip about this out-oftown
childless couple, with the husband being ten years younger than the wife, but although mischievous people were
whispering that William Noel was fond of chasing the country lasses when he was out buying livestock, the two Noels
appeared to be getting along perfectly well.
On the afternoon of Sunday, 14 May 1893, everything seemed perfectly normal in the Noel household. After having
had his luncheon, William Noel sat in the downstairs parlour and read through the lessons, since he was a society steward
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 31
The murder shop, and portraits of the main players in the Ramsgate Mystery,
from the Illustrated Police News, 27 May 1893
at the St Lawrence Wesleyan Sunday School. The Noels had a servant girl named Nelly Wilson, but she was given Sunday
afternoon off. Sarah Dinah Noel counted the morning’s collection from church, which amounted to ten shillings, and
went to lock the money away. At around 2.15 pm, William Noel went off to the Sunday school, leaving his wife behind
in the company of the family dog Nip, a large and sturdy black retriever. Nip was something of a disreputable dog, who
had savaged a number of smaller dogs, and bit one or two children as well. His guarding instinct was in good working
order, and when a man had tried a retrieve a chair he had deposited in the Noels’ back yard, the angry and powerful
Nip had kept him out.
At 2.20 pm, the neighbour Lavinia Squires saw William Noel walking past her house on his way to the Sunday school.
He arrived there at 2.25 and took part in the teaching until 3.45 pm, being observed by many people, and behaving
just like he usually did. When leaving the Sunday school, he was accompanied home by some of his pupils, enjoying a
theological debate with these juvenile Wesleyans. When he knocked at the door at No. 9 Adelphi Terrace, there was no
response, although he could hear the dog barking. Noel went to see some of his neighbours, and with some difficulty, he
entered the back yard and forced open the parlour window. Sarah Dinah Noel was lying on the floor in a pool of blood,
quite dead and with a bullet wound to the head. The dog Nip was keeping vigil next to the corpse.
The murder house had been ransacked for money, and the cash-box had been broken into and its contents stolen.
The murdered woman was wearing five rings and a watch and chain, but these had not been touched. Chief Constable
Bush and Inspector Ross were soon at the scene, to take charge of the murder investigation. They found it curious that
although the dog Nip was considered to be of a ferocious disposition, none of the immediate neighbours had heard
any barking from the house. Mrs Noel had been shot at close range, the bullet passing through the head and killing her
instantly. When a party of five police constables was detailed to search the murder house, Inspector Ross gave them two
bottles of beer from Noel’s cellar for them to be in good cheer. At the coroner’s inquest on Sarah Dinah Noel, the dog
Nip was exhibited in court: he showed no appearance of ferocity, but wagged his tail amiably and made friends with
some of the bystanders. Nelly Wilson, the servant girl employed by the Noels, had never heard her master and mistress
utter an angry word at each other. The day of the murder, they had both appeared exactly as usual. The dog Nip was in
fact quite timid, she said, and sometimes retreated into the corner of the room on hearing an unusual noise. She had to
admit, however, that the dog had once flown at her and bitten her hard. William Noel himself was grilled at length by the
coroner and the jury: his wife had been alive and well when he left for the Sunday school; he had never possessed any
firearm and did not understand their use; his wife’s life had not been insured. An important witness was Mrs Sarah Dyer,
the wife of a chemist who lived not far from Noel’s shop: at 2.45 pm the afternoon of the murder, she had heard Noel’s
dog bark and growl, and then a loud report. The dog ceased barking once the shot had been fired, but recommenced at
around 4 pm, when Noel was returning home.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 32
Inspector Ross decided to try a few
experiments to investigate whether
the dog Nip was gun-shy. The results
were wildly divergent: when a blank
revolver shot was fired, the dog
merely wagged his tail, but when an
alka-seltzer bottle was opened with
a pop, the timid canine yelped with
fear and ran out into the yard. At the
coroner’s inquest, Dr Fox testified that
the assailant had probably stood just
four feet away when he shot Mrs Noel;
the bullet was a large one, probably
emanating from a revolver or pistol of
large calibre. Rigor mortis had begun
to set in when the body was at the
mortuary at 7.30, indicating that she
had been murdered five or six hours
earlier. A number of witnesses swore
to the impressive alibi of William Noel
between 2.20 and 4.00 pm: he had been
seen by many people walking to the
Sunday school, looking quite jolly and
contented, and later returning home
accompanied by some of his pupils.
Miss Martha Saunders, the spinster
sister of Mrs Noel, produced a letter,
written in the last month, in which the
deceased had referred to her husband:
“William, I think, if possible, is more
fond of me than ever.” Two days before
the murder, when the two sisters
had been at Hastings, Mrs Noel had
expressed herself in a similar strain.
There was much newspaper interest
in the ‘Ramsgate Mystery’, which held
its own among the celebrated murders
of the day, even in the large London
newspapers. A worried local, who
despaired of the Ramsgate police’s
ability to solve the crime, appealed to
Dr Conan Doyle to come to Ramsgate
Mrs Noel and the dog Nip, and Noel before the magistrates,
from the Penny Illustrated Paper, 10 June 1893
and make use of his Holmesian powers of deduction, but all he received was a polite reply that Conan Doyle was too
busy with his professional duties to have time for any seaside crime-solving excursions.
But Inspector Ross did not agree with this benign picture of William Noel. Since a number of valuables had been left
at the murder house, he felt convinced that the robbery had been ‘staged’ by the murderer. Since Mrs Noel did not seem
to have any enemies, and since the dog had not barked much at the time of the murder, he thought William Noel the
prime suspect: he had shot his wife just before leaving for the Sunday school, and then successfully played the innocent
husband. Inspector Ross lent a willing ear to the Ramsgate gossips who spoke of Noel’s immoral activities. The lustful
butcher had once employed a young lady book-keeper named Miss Miller, and an old woman had once seen these two in
a compromising position, lying together on the floor. A farm labourer had once met Noel, who was coming to purchase
some lambs; he had been accompanied by a young woman, for whom he gathered a bunch of wild flowers. Several other
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 33
Ribald drawings showing Noel wooing his lady friends, and the haughty dog Nip snubbing his imprisoned master,
from the Illustrated Police News, 1 July 1893
rustic witnesses had also seen Noel
chasing the lasses when out in the
countryside purchasing livestock. The
coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of
murder against some person or persons
unknown, but nevertheless, Inspector
Ross decided to act decisively. At the
end of the inquest, he arrested Noel
and brought him before the Ramsgate
Magistrates, charged with murdering his
In long and gruelling examinations,
the magistrates put William Noel under
considerable pressure. He vehemently
denied having murdered his wife,
and called the Almighty as a witness
as to his innocence. The Ramsgate
Wesleyans showed praiseworthy loyalty
to Noel, pointing out that he was a
very respectable tradesman, who had
promised to subscribe £50 for a new
chapel at St Lawrence. Noel was allowed
to have his meals sent to him in his cell,
brought by his niece Alice Simmons;
the dog Nip sometimes accompanied
her, but this extraordinary dog is said
to have shown the utmost indifference
to the plight of its master. A number of
witnesses told all about the immoral
butcher’s many young lady friends,
and a treacherous Wesleyan testified
that Noel had once been accused of
indecently interfering with one of his Sunday school pupils, although he had indignantly denied this offence at the
time. When cross-examined, Inspector Ross declared himself convinced “that the alleged robbery was a bogus one, and
Noel the author thereof.” Defending William Noel, Mr Hills deplored that “The whole country had been scoured to find
something against the prisoner’s moral character, and it was a monstrous thing that a man should be branded in this
way for incidents in his career which had nothing to do with the alleged offence under notice.” There was no motive for
Noel to murder his wife, and the police would have been well advised to track down the intruder, and find the murder
weapon, instead of listening to malicious gossip about his client. But the outcome of the magisterial inquiry was that
Noel was committed to stand trial for murder at the Maidstone Assizes.
When charging the Grand Jury at Maidstone, Mr Justice Grantham paid particular attention to the Noel case. He
boldly declared that the evidence against William Noel was wholly inadequate. Indeed, “In the whole course of his
experience he had never met with a case in which there was, on the part of the prosecution, so much incompetence,
impropriety, and illegality. During the sixteen days the case was before the Magistrates there was not adduced more
evidence than might be compressed into one small piece of paper.” The police had been guilty of vastly exaggerating
the case against Noel, and the gullible magistrates had willingly played along. Of course, it remained possible that Noel
had committed the crime, but his own task was to evaluate the quality of the evidence against him, and the facts of
the case did not at all support the guilt of the Ramsgate butcher. After such an angry juridical tirade from Mr Justice
Grantham, the only action open for the Grand Jury was to throw out the bill against William Noel; the butcher was set
at liberty, and reunited with his niece Alice Simmons and the dog Nip.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 34
The murder house at No. 9 Adelphi Terrace [today No. 20 Grange Road]
as it stands today
There was dismay in Ramsgate when Mr Justice Grantham
and the Grand Jury threw out the bill against William Noel,
and the butcher was set free. Over £50 was subscribed to
a testimonial to Inspector Ross, who had been so severely
criticized by the judge. Local opinion was very much against
William Noel, and he never returned to Ramsgate: the
butcher’s shop was sold, and Noel’s name erased from the shop
front. Did Noel change his name to William Jolly, and did he
open another butcher’s shop in a different part of the country,
and marry another wife; on a quiet Sunday afternoon, did he
sit contentedly in his parlour, having a swig from his tankard
of beer, and giving the dog Nip a nice meaty bone? Or did
he become William Furtive, a Ramsgate Ahasverus wandering
from town to town pursued by his notoriety, accompanied only
by the Black Dog of Guilt; and was he fearful that his sinister
companion, the sole witness to the murder of Sarah Dinah
Noel, would one day become a formidable Dog of Montargis,
bent on vengeance for the dead, and devour him?
The evidence against William Noel for murdering his wife
largely rests on the persistent local gossip that he was a
philanderer who indulged in immoral conduct with various
floozies, behind the back of his wife. It may be speculated that he was tired of his much older spouse, and wanted to
get rid of her to be able to remarry and have children. Experienced policemen suspected that the burglary was staged,
and the dog Nip would not appear to have barked at the murderer, perhaps because it was his own master. And would a
burglar have shot the woman dead and allowed the large and powerful dog to live? In defence of William Noel, it must
be pointed out that he had a rock-solid alibi from 2.20 pm, when he was seen walking to the Sunday school, until 3.55
pm, when he was seen returning to No. 9 Adelphi Terrace. If the woman Sarah Dyer, who claimed to have heard the
dog growling and barking at 2.45 pm, and then the report of a shot, was telling the truth, then Noel must be innocent.
Noel did not have a criminal record, he had no access to firearms, and he was not taken in any lie or contradiction by
the police. And what kind of hypocrite would murder his wife in cold blood,
before going to the Sunday school to disseminate his unctuous sentiments
to the wide-eyed scholars? The evidence against William Noel was clearly
not sufficient for him to have been found guilty in a court of law, and Mr
Justice Grantham did the right thing when he threw out the bill against him.
The forthright Judge was also right to criticize the Ramsgate police, who
made their minds up that Noel was guilty from an early stage, and failed
to investigate alternative suspects; quite inexperienced when it came to
investigating mysterious murders, they would have been well advised to
apply for an experienced Scotland Yard detective for assistance.
According to Ramsgate directories from the 1880s, Adelphi Terrace had
originally been a terrace of eight Victorian houses in Grange Road, between
St Mildred’s Road and Edith Road, with shops on the ground floor and two
upper stories. Separated from the others by a small alleyway, No. 9 and
No. 10 were later additions. The houses were later incorporated into the
numbering system for Grange Road, No. 9 Adelphi Terrace becoming No. 20
Grange Road. The former butcher’s shop is today the ‘China City’ takeaway,
but the building looks virtually unchanged since 1893, except that the side
door has been moved to the rear extension. At the bottom of the yard
behind the house, William Noel’s stables still remain, albeit in a dilapidated
2 P MacDougall, Murder and Mystery in Kent (London 1995), 59-84;
Noel’s stables at the rear of No. 20 Grange Road
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 35
The Strange Case of Samuel Henson, 1903
Samuel Henson was a 59-year-old Ramsgate
man who worked as a ganger for various road and
railway building companies. He had a wife and
two sons, but in 1902, they left him and went
to live in a small terraced house at No. 14 Flora
Road. Samuel Henson, who was an angry, shorttempered
man, did his best to get his family
back, but they did not want anything to do with
him. Henson was quite familiar with explosives,
being occupied with various blasting operations
in his daily activities. At Christmas 1902, Samuel
Henson went to the Ramsgate police to make a
complaint against his wife and son for stealing
some of his property. Police Sergeant Creedy
advised him to make an appeal to the magistrate,
but the truculent Henson, who did not appreciate
his advice, angrily growled “I will settle the job
myself! I will show them all! Blow them all to
On 25 February 1903, Samuel Henson went to
confront his wife and son at No. 14 Flora Road.
A lodger named Wells heard him quarrelling
angrily with his wife. The 20-year-old son
William Henson, who was a footballer playing for
Ramsgate Town FC, stood by to rescue his mother
if the demented Samuel Henson became violent.
“Is this to be the finish!?” roared the furious
navvy, shaking his fists at his wife. “Yes!” replied
Mrs Henson and her son. “Well, then!” exclaimed
Samuel Henson, pulling a large bomb out of his
bag and lighting the fuse! The agile young William
Henson managed to snatch the infernal machine
away, and desperately ran through the kitchen
to throw it into the garden. When he was in the
scullery, the powerful bomb exploded, blasting
him into little pieces and reducing the rear part
of the house to rubble.
William Henson is blown up,
from the Illustrated Police Budget, 7 March 1903
Mrs Gardner, an elderly woman living next doors at No. 12 Flora Road, felt the house shaking and heard the tremendous
explosion. Her own scullery had been damaged by the blast, and when she went to inspect it, she heard a cracked voice
calling for help. She saw that William Henry Wells, the young man who lodged with the Hensons, had been blown straight
out of his bed when the house exploded: dressed only in his nightshirt, he was desperately clinging to a downpipe. Mrs
Gardner let the shaken lodger in through her bedroom window. When a police constable and four neighbours entered
No. 14 Flora Road, the wrecked house was filled by a choking, sulphuric odour. The rear of the house had been entirely
blown away, and the front of the house was full of debris: furniture, pictures, bricks and woodwork thrown about by the
explosion. Samuel Henson was still alive, although he had a wound in the throat. Mrs Henson was pinned against the wall,
underneath an overturned sofa, with deep wounds to her head and throat. After the two Hensons had been removed to
the hospital, on stretchers, the search of No. 14 Flora Road continued. Back in the scullery, the scattered remains of
William Henson were found, amidst much rubble and bricks from the explosion.
A Ramsgate correspondent to the rather disreputable crime weekly Illustrated Police Budget went to have a look at
No. 14 Flora Road the morning after the explosion. Windows were broken in houses within 300 yards from the explosion,
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 36
Portraits in connection with the Ramsgate explosion, from the Illustrated Police News, 7 March 1903
and the knockers had been blown off the front doors of many houses in Flora Road. In the ruined scullery of No. 14, full
of debris from the explosion, a large framed portrait of Queen Victoria rested on a ledge, its glass perfectly unharmed.
Old Mrs Gardener at No. 12 described how she had helped rescue the lodger Wells. Mrs Newby at No. 16 said that at the
time of the explosion, her children had screamed, and she had been too terrified to venture outdoors. She had several
times heard Samuel Henson quarrelling with his wife, who was 14 years younger than him, and accusing her of consorting
with other men when he was away working at the building sites. No. 10 Flora Road had a henhouse in the garden, and the
hens had been blown off their perches by the explosion, the wretched birds remaining on the ground all morning, like
if paralyzed. There was grief among the many friends
of young William Henson, who worked as a bricklayer,
and also in Ramsgate Town football club, where he
was centre-forward in the ‘A’ team. Rather ironically,
William Henson left all his effects, value of £100, to
his father Samuel the railway-ganger. “The Ramsgate
Horror! – Terrible Triple Tragedy! – Attempted Wife
Murder and Suicide! – Heroic Son Killed by Dynamite!”
exclaimed the breathless headline of the Budget,
accompanied by lurid illustrations of the bomb
exploding, and the two injured Hensons found in the
In hospital, Samuel Henson expressed regret that
his son had been killed, and dismay that his wife, the
intended victim of his murderous attack, had survived.
The coroner’s inquest on William Henson returned a
verdict of wilful murder against his father Samuel,
and the Ramsgate desperado was committed to stand
trial at the Kent Assizes at Maidstone on July 18. The
A postcard showing the rear of No. 14 Flora Road, after the explosion
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 37
evidence against him appeared rock solid: he had stolen dynamite
used for blasting stone at his workplace in Derby, made the bomb
and brought it to No. 14 Flora Road to teach his wife a hard
lesson. After young William Henson had run off with the bomb,
Samuel had cut his wife’s throat, and then his own, although he
had been more squeamish in his suicidal ambitions, and caused
only minor injuries. The wife had also survived the attempt on
her life, without permanent injury. On trial, Samuel Henson
claimed that he had bought the dynamite from a man named
Harry Green in Chatham, and brought it to Ramsgate where he
thought it would be needed in his work. When lighting a cigar,
he had misadvertently ignited the fuse of the bomb, and after
accidentally killing his son, he had been so upset that he had cut
his own throat with a knife. He denied attacking or injuring his
The Ramsgate desperado’s story was not believed, however,
and the man Harry Green could not be tracked down to testify
in court. In his summing-up, Mr Justice Darling said that this was
the first time that Samuel Henson had suggested that his son’s
death had been an accident, and he asked the jury if they could
really accept this explanation. He reminded the jury that if a
person in committing a felony killed some other person than the
one he intended to dispatch, he was still guilty of murder. After
deliberating for just ten minutes, the jury returned a verdict
of ‘Guilty’ and Mr Justice Darling sentenced Henson to death.
Henson was quite unmoved, commenting that he quite approved
of the verdict. After he had attempted to cheat the hangman
through dashing his brains out against the wall of his cell, he
The murder house at No. 14 Flora Road today,
with all scars from the explosion back in 1903 eradicated many years ago
was kept under a strict ‘suicide watch’. The execution was planned for August 4, but Henson received a late reprieve,
the sentence being commuted to imprisonment for life, following the receipt of a petition for clemency, on grounds of
insanity. The murder house at No. 14 Flora Road was repaired after the explosion, and it still stands today. 3
3 Illustrated Police News, 7 March 1903, Illustrated Police Budget 7 March 1903, Dover Express, 17 July 1903, Press 16 July 1903,
Star, 15 July and 12 September 1903.
The Sad Case of Will Pitcher, 1914
Will Pitcher in the dock, from Daily Mail, 21 February 1914
William Hearne Pitcher was born in Ramsgate in 1894.
In 1910 and 1911, he served in the Royal Navy as a ship’s
boy on board HMS Ganges and HMS Leviathan, but since his
disciplinary record was very poor, he was dismissed from the
service. The 1911 Census lists him as a seaman, living at No. 15
Montage Road, Ramsgate [the house still stands]. Will Pitcher
trained as a bricklayer, but he was not the most energetic of
men, and in 1914 he was unemployed. He had a sweetheart,
the 26-year-old laundry maid Alice Brockman, whom he had
been courting for two years. Alice lived with her mother, the
63-year-old widow Sarah Brockman, in the end-of-terrace
cottage at No. 24 Seafield Road, Ramsgate. Sarah Brockman
thought Will Pitcher a very bad hat, unemployed and without
any prospects in life, and not good enough for her daughter.
Will very much resented the spiteful old woman, particularly
since Alice seemed to be quite impressed by her mother’s
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 38
tirades against himself; he was worried that soon, she would
leave him, for good.
On the evening of 18 February 1914, Will Pitcher decided
to act. He made his way to No. 24 Seafield Road, where Sarah
Brockman was unwise enough to let him in. Whether she had
provoked him by one of her sarcastic jibes is not known, but
Will grabbed one of the dining room chairs and belaboured
her head with such force that later, splinters were found
embedded in the soft felt hat she was wearing. When she had
fallen to the floor, he used her apron to gag her, and a rope
to tie her up. She died from suffocation aggravated by severe
shock and multiple injuries to the head.
When Alice Brockman returned home, the demented Will
Pitcher was ready for her. He wrapped a paraffin-soaked cloth
round her head, tied her up, dragged her upstairs and raped
her. He then showed her the body of her mother, gloating that
she was dead. He asked Alice if she would go on the run with
him, but understandably given the treatment she had been
given by the frenzied murderer, she refused. When Will was
unlocking the front door, Alice ran through the kitchen and out
of the back door, to take refuge with a neighbour. Will also left
the murder house, but since he did not have any money, he did
not fancy his chances escaping. When Constable Champion of
the Ramsgate Borough Police came up to the murder house,
Will meekly gave himself up, and confessed to the murder.
When Will Pitcher appeared at the Maidstone Assizes on 21
June, before Sir Charles John Darling who had sentenced the
desperado Samuel Henson to death eleven years earlier, there
The murder house at No. 24 Seafield Road
was no doubt that he was the guilty man. The only thing his defence team could try was playing the ‘insanity card’: they
had got hold of a ‘tame psychiatrist’ who testified that there was insanity in the family, and that one of Will Pitcher’s
sisters was an epileptic and a mental defective. With must have been a very narrow margin, the jury returned a verdict
of Guilty but Insane, and Will Pitcher was committed to Broadmoor until His Majesty’s pleasure be known. This would
not happen in a hurry: Will remained at Broadmoor for many decades, but it appears that he was either released or
transferred to another asylum in his old age, since he is recorded to have died in Canterbury in 1975, aged 80. 4
4 W H Bishop in Bygone Kent, December 1990, W H Johnson, Kent Murder Casebook (Newbury 1998), 42-51;
Times 20 and 24 February 1914.
The Murder of Margery Wren, 1930
Margery Wren was born at No. 3 Charlotte Street, Broadstairs, in 1850, daughter of the house-painter William Wren
and his wife Elizabeth. She had at least one sibling, the five years older sister Mary Jane. Margery Wren went to London
to become a servant, and the 1871 Census lists her as being in service in Islington, whereas the 1881 Census finds her
living with her parents at No. 42 Spencer Street, Clerkenwell, and working as a maidservant. In 1891, she was still
servant to a London merchant, but a few years later, an old lady named Mrs Wroughton died in Ramsgate. She was
related to the Wrens, and Mary Jane and Margery inherited a sum of money and an old confectioner’s shop at No. 2
Church Road, Ramsgate.
Mary Jane and Margery were quite happy to escape the London drudgery, and they set themselves up in their new shop.
The Church Road house was far from a luxury dwelling, containing the shop and a small parlour on the ground floor, and
two bedrooms on the first floor, but the two Wren sisters were used to cramped and insalubrious living conditions. There
was no bathroom, and the toilet was out in the yard. The 1901 Census lists Mary J. Wren as a Confectioner, and head of
the household, and the younger sister Margery as cook. In 1911, the Wren sisters were 65 and 60 years old, respectively,
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 39
ut they still tended their “Cottage
sweets and General shop” at No.
2 Church Road. Mary Jane Wren
died a spinster on 31 January 1927,
leaving the shop and £921 12s 7d to
her sister. Margery Wren did not use
this money to lead a life of luxury, or
make any effort to improve her living
conditions; she stayed in the old
shop, which had been old-fashioned
already in the 1890s, and which had
become obsolete by the late 1920s.
She dressed in archaic attire, with a
woollen cap protecting her balding
head, and wearing very long skirts.
Margery Wren and the murder shop, from the Illustrated Police News, 2 October 1930
with a red hat came calling at the shop, leaving a perambulator outside.
On Saturday 20 September 1930,
the 80-year-old Margery Wren was
tending her little shop at No. 2 Church
Road, just as usual. There were a few
customers from the nearby St George’s
School, the children remaining loyal
to their local ‘tuck shop’, in spite
of its elderly owner and insalubrious
interior. As the children returned after
their luncheon break, masticating the
rock-hard sweets from Miss Wren’s
glass jars, calm and quiet returned
to the little shop and its octogenarian
owner. Half an hour later, the coaldealer
Reuben Beer delivered half
a hundredweight of coal at No. 2
Church Road, and Miss Wren paid him
a shilling and twopence for it. At 5.15
pm, Margery Wren was seen by some
children, sweeping leaves away from
the front of the shop. At about the
same time, a well-dressed woman
At shortly after 6 pm, the 11-year-old Ellen Marvell came up to the shop at No. 2 Church Road, on an errand from
her mother, to purchase some blancmange powder. Since Miss Wren was known to keep her shop open at late hours,
Ellen was surprised to find the door to the little shop locked, and she knocked it hard to alert the elderly shopkeeper. It
took quite a while for Miss Wren to answer the door, and when she finally opened, Ellen could see that she was looking
quite bedraggled, and that she was bleeding badly from the head. Although frightened by the appearance of the old
woman when she came staggering up to open the door, Ellen’s main thought was the blancmange powder, and she finally
managed to get through to the dazed shopkeeper what she wanted. Miss Wren had quite a supply of blancmange powder
on the premises, and she had Ellen select what flavour she wanted. Ellen Marvell ran home and told her father what had
just happened. When he went to the shop, he found Margery Wren collapsed on the floor, and he sent his two daughters
for a doctor and a police constable.
When Margery Wren regained consciousness, she explained to Mr Marvell that she had fallen down hard and hurt her
head. When Dr Richard Archibald, a veteran Ramsgate practitioner who had been looking after the medical needs of
the Wren sisters for many years, came to the shop, he could see that the old lady’s extensive injuries were clearly not
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 40
Newspaper photographs of Margery Wren, and the murder shop at No. 2 Church Street
the result of a fall, but to multiple lacerations of the head by some blunt instrument. A pair of blood-stained fire tongs,
which were laying on the floor, were a prime candidate for being the blunt instrument in question. Miss Wren told Dr
Archibald that she had been assaulted inside the shop: “He caught me by the throat, and then he set about me with the
tongs.” When the doctor asked her to name her assailant, she just said “You will never get him, doctor. He has escaped.”
Dr Archibald found it strange that for some reason or other, Miss Wren did not want the name of her attacker to become
Margery Wren was taken to the Ramsgate Hospital, where she lingered for five days. She spoke confusedly about
what had happened to her, telling Dr Archibald, a policewoman and various other people that “They were two of them
set about me. If I had not had my cap on they would have smashed in my brain-box.” She then said that there had
been three, or even four, assailants. She accused an elderly man named Albert Williams of having been the man who
attacked her, but then pointed the finger at “Hamlyn of No. 19”. Several times, she said “Hope did it!”, once adding
“Hope of Dene Road!” Mr S F Butler, the Chief Constable of Ramsgate, communicated with Scotland Yard, and Chief
Inspector Walter Hambrook was dispatched to Ramsgate to take charge of the murder investigation. When he arrived on
24 September, Miss Wren had become comatose, so it was impossible for him to question her in person. Hambrook was
quite baffled by the contradictory statements from the dying woman, accusing a number of respectable, elderly people
of having attacked her. When the magistrate had come to take her dying depositions, she had merely said “I do not wish
him to suffer. He must bear his sins. I do not wish to make a statement.” The local vicar had been equally unsuccessful
in getting Miss Wren to denounce the identity of her attacker; after he had left frustrated, Miss Wren said, with a note
of satisfaction, “I did not tell him anything, see”. The badly injured old woman died on Thursday, 25 September, and the
case was now one of murder.
Walter Hambrook went to see the murder shop, which was quite a dismal sight, the premises being in a very dirty
and verminous condition. There was not much stock in the gloomy old shop, and he got the impression that very little
business was done in there. The shelves contained a variety of archaic merchandise: a variety of fly-papers, Sunlight
soap, Zebo for cleaning the grate, and Bird’s custard powder, along with a selection of rather unappetizing sweets
kept in old-fashioned glass jars. Miss Wren had told some people that she was the owner of valuable house property in
London, but she had told others that she was very poor, and had even had her meals at a soup kitchen for the destitute.
Hambrook thought it likely that Margery Wren knew the man who had assaulted her, but that for some strange reason,
she had wanted to keep his identity a secret. The beneficiaries in her will were two elderly cousins: Mrs Hannah Cook,
72, and Mrs Ann Wilson, 84 and an invalid. Neither of these two were physically capable of committing a violent assault,
but the police were interested in Hannah Cook’s son, Police Constable Arthur Cook, but he had an unblemished record,
and his clothes were free from blood stains. There was brief optimism when a prisoner named John Lambert confessed
to committing the murder, but when questioned by Walter Hambrook, he told many untruths, and was incapable of
describing the topography of Ramsgate. On her deathbed, Miss Wren had mentioned the name of Albert Williams, a
69-year-old man from Dover, who had visited her at 1 pm the day of the murder, to complain that his nephew was
leaving him and his wife, to find lodgings elsewhere, but nothing transpired to link him with the murder. Miss Wren had
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 41
also mentioned ‘Hamlyn of No. 19’, and there was a young butcher’s assistant named Arthur Hamlyn at No. 19 Church
Road, who had once accidentally nearly run Miss Wren down on his motor bicycle, but he had an alibi for the time of
The coroner’s inquest on Margery Wren was opened by Dr F W Hardman on Friday, 26 September, at the police station
parade room. It would go on for many weeks to come, with scores of witnesses examined, although at the advice of Chief
Inspector Hambrook, none of the people denounced by Miss Wren on her death-bed were named in court. Hannah Cook
the cousin gave evidence about the hermitical habits of the deceased, and her neglect of the house and shop, which
were never cleaned. She was supposed to have kept some of her money and valuables in a small black bag, but although
the bedroom at No. 2 Church Road was found to contain a bag with £8 10s in notes, and another full of buttons, none of
these bags was black. Dr Gerard Roche Lynch and Sir Bernard Spilsbury recounted the medical evidence: Miss Wren had
been seized hard by the throat in an attempt to strangle her, and then beaten down with repeated blows to the head
with the iron tongs. A policewoman, who had been present in Miss Wren’s room at the hospital, gave a lengthy account
of the dying woman’s confused mutterings on her death-bed. In spite of a police appeal, the woman in the red hat, who
had visited Margery Wren’s shop shortly before the murder, was never identified. The coroner’s inquest went on until 24
October, returning a verdict of murder against some person or persons unknown.
Since Miss Wren had more than once said ‘Hope did it! Hope was the one who did it!’ every person in Ramsgate by
that name was investigated. There was a man named Hope living in Dene Road, but he was 84-years-old and his two sons
had both been in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the murder. The police were interested to find another suspect living at
No. 88 Church Road, namely the 20-year-old thief Charles Ernest Hope. He had once been a private soldier in the Royal
Corps of Signallers, but had been discharged for larceny. After spending some time in Borstal, he was arrested in London
on 27 August 1930, for stealing jewelry worth £10 from a bag in the luggage compartment of a train. The police found
out that Charles Ernest Hope had spent 18 and 19 September at the Salvation Army Hostel in Euston Road, but on the
following day, he had travelled from Victoria to Ramsgate by train, arriving at 4 pm and reaching the house of his parents
in Church Road at 4.20. There were bloodstains on his jacket, trousers and kit bag, which he explained by claiming to
have injured himself when cutting the bag open during the robbery back in August, but the police inspector who had
arrested him denied that he had any fresh cuts on his hands at the time. Hope also lied about his movements the day of
the murder, claiming to have left the train at Dumpton Park rather than at Ramsgate. He was clearly a petty crook, and
perfectly capable of robbing Miss Wren, who was reputed locally to be hoarding money and valuables in her little shop.
As time went by, and the police detectives were baffled, there was several unverified newspaper anecdotes about the
two Wren sisters. According to one version, they had been servants in a wealthy London household when the daughter of
the householder, a person of quality, had given birth to an illegitimate child. The two Wren sisters had taken care of the
little girl, and brought her up, for a liberal allowance. This story disregards that no person had seen any little girl at No.
2 Church Road. Another newspaper story said that the two Wren sisters had once been servants to a wealthy Admiral who
lived in Portman Square, and that he had rewarded them well for their work, and given them his framed photograph,
which was hanging in the parlour of the murder house. No Census record supports this version, however: although the
two sisters were in service in London for some considerable period of time, their masters were gentlemen without any
nautical ambitions. A more adventurous version said that the two sisters were related to none less than Sir Christopher
Wren, and that the portrait of another distinguished member of the family, Admiral Wren, was hanging in the parlour.
Unfortunately for this version, there does not appear ever to have been a British admiral by that name. Finally, the
most sensational story told that Margery Wren had once herself given birth to an illegitimate son, and that it was this
individual who had returned to Ramsgate to murder her. Once more, there was no medical evidence that the Ramsgate
murder victim had ever given birth to a son, and no person had seen a little boy at No. 2 Church Road; the police file on
the murder makes no mention of either of these newspaper concoctions.
Although no person was ever charged with the murder of Margery Wren, the police file makes it clear that there was
a main suspect, namely Charles Ernest Hope, for some obscure reason called by the police ‘Ernest Charles Hope’. He
lied to the police about his activities the day of the murder, and his clothes were stained with blood. As a petty crook,
it would not have been out of character for him to try to rob the shop at No. 2 Church Road, to steal the money he had
presumed Miss Wren had been hoarding; nor would it have been beyond him to try and strangle her, and then beat her
down, when he was caught searching the house. According to his birth certificate, Charles Ernest Hope was born on 1
October 1910, at No. 88 Church Road, Ramsgate, son of the journeyman house-painter Charles Hope and his wife Louisa.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 42
An unexpected survivor: the little murder house at No. 2 Church Road, Ramsgate
He was never named as a suspect in the Wren murder
investigation, and his sole newsworthy exploit would
appear to have been the following one, from the
Hartlepool Mail, 16 August 1930:
Ernest Charles Hope, a private in the
Royal Corps of Signals, was bound over at
Scarborough for what the chairman of the
magistrates described as an exceedingly mean
trick. He collected for Scarborough Hospital on
Rose Day, and, it was alleged, stole 3s 11d.
This may well have been the caper that earned
Hope the sack from the military. For the remainder
of his life, he would appear to have stayed out of
serious trouble, and the online newspaper archives
mention nothing about his activities. Charles Ernest
Hope married his wife Mary Rosamund, turned his
back on his former life of petty crime, became a
foreman carpenter, and moved to Langley near
Slough. He died from a burst duodenal ulcer in
January 1983, surviving Miss Wren by 53 years.
Chief Inspector Hambrook had occasion to
question the parents of Charles Ernest Hope, and
they told him that Margery Wren knew both them
and their son. Thus, if Hope had been the man who
assaulted Miss Wren, then she would probably have
recognized him, although the shop was very dark. It
is natural for a person who has just been subjected
to a murderous assault to make sure that the culprit
is identified, but although Miss Wren more than
once spoke of ‘Hope’ as the guilty man, she never
mentioned his first name or called him ‘young Hope’;
instead, she spoke of ‘Hope in Dene Road’ although this referred to an octogenarian acquaintance of hers. If the young
thug Charles Ernest Hope had been the guilty man, there is no particular reason for Miss Wren to protect him from the
police: he was clearly an objectionable person, for whom she could feel little sympathy. Perhaps the true solution to the
murder of Margery Wren lies in the speculation about hidden fortunes, mysterious adoptions and illegitimate children,
but these variants of the story are never discussed in the matter-of-fact police file. The murder house at No. 2 Church
Road still stands, although it is no longer a shop but a private residence: this rather shabby-looking little house is a
monument to a most intriguing Ramsgate murder that never will be satisfactorily solved. 5
5 On the Wren case, see the capacious police file, NA MEPO 3/1657; H L Adam, Murder Most Mysterious (London n.d.), 60-75, W
Hambrook, Hambrook of the Yard (London 1937), 237-44, B Lane, The Murder Club Guide to South-East England (London 1988),
83-90, W E Johnson, Kent Tales of Mystery & Murder (Newbury 2003), 65-71; East Kent Times, 27 September – 25 October 1930,
Illustrated Police News, 2 October 1930.
JAN BONDESON is a senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at Cardiff University. He is the author of
Murder Houses of London, The London Monster, The Great Pretenders, Blood on the Snow and other true
crime books, as well as the bestselling Buried Alive.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 43
A Fatal Affinity:
Marked for a Victim
Chapter Five: An Emissary of Darkness and
Chapter Six: Shadow of the Dagger
By NINA and HOWARD BROWN
126 years ago this month, the noted
‘thought reader’ Stuart Cumberland’s
Whitechapel murders-influenced fiction
novel, A Fatal Affinity, was serialized
in issues of the South Australian Weekly
Chronicle (Adelaide). Cumberland’s book
was just one of several Ripper-related
works which appeared contemporaneously
to the East End murders. In the last issue of
Ripperologist we published Chapter Four;
here, we give Chapters Five and Six.
* * * * *
An Emissary of Darkness
It was midnight - midnight in the heart of London. Big Ben was just striking the hour, and its sonorous notes were
being wafted across the dark running Thames, when Colonel Mansfield entered his chambers in the Temple. He struck a
light on entering, and seated himself in an armchair, burying his face in his hands as if in deep thought.
For several minutes he sat thus without moving; then he raised his head. Upon his face was an expression of marked
determination and a strange far off look was in his eyes. “For her sake I have done it; for her sake,” he muttered to
himself. He opened a cabinet close at hand and took from it a miniature. It was the portrait of a beautiful girl. He looked
at it fondly and kissed it several times. “How very like her daughter. Evie has her eyes, her look - her soul,” he said,
gazing at the portrait with rapt attention.
“For your sake I will brave all,” he continued. “In life we have been separated; in death we should be united - in
death, which is the life beyond, our souls would come together. So be it.” He returned to the miniature to the cabinet.
“The night has waned, the hour for putting the matter to the test has arrived,” he said, looking out his window upon
the silent garden below. With this he entered his bedroom. In about ten minutes he returned dressed in a long flowing
robe of white. His appearance was entirely altered, and he looked more like the figure of a Persian magi than an English
officer. In his hand he carried a scroll and an ebony rod carved with numerous symbols. He stood in the center of the
room, where he lifted up his eyes as if in prayer, although no words escaped his lips. Then he blew out the light, but he
was not in darkness, for a most remarkable thing happened; the scroll when opened appeared to be illuminated with
some luminouis substance, and, as he held it up to read, the light therefrom shone upon his face.
Slowly and impressively he read in a strange tongue from the pages he held. Then taking the rod in his right hand, and
drawing a circle round him where he stood, her commenced the following incantation:- “MASTER, HEAR ME! BROTHERS,
HEAR ME! I WHO HAVE DRUNK THE WATER OF PURITY AND HAVE EATEN OF THE FRUIT OF ETERNITY; I WHO AM EVEN AS
THOU ART, NEED THY GUIDANCE, DENY IT ME NOT, MY MASTER; DENY IT ME NOT, MY BROTHERS. BY THE SIGN OF OUR
BROTHERHOOD I ADJURE YE.”
Ripperologist 146 October 2015 44
He bared his breast and exposed the sign of a heart, in the centre of which a blazing gun was punctured. Upon the
stillness came the answer in solemn tones - “By the sign of thy Brotherhood what thou askest shall be answered; what
thou wishes shall be done.” No one was visible, and the voice suddenly ceased. “Master I thank thee,” said Mansfield
fervently, bowing low before him.
Then he continued - “O MASTER! OH BROTHERS! TO WHOM EVERYTHING IS KNOWN-BE IT OF EVIL OR BE IT OF GOOD
- WHO CAN DIVINE OUR INNERMOST THOUGHTS AND INTERPRET ALL OUR MOTIVES, BE WE WHERE WE MAY, LIFT, I PRAY
YE, THE VEIL THAT IS NOW BEFORE MY EYES.HER I WOULD DEFEND- AYE, EVEN UNTO THE SACRIFICE OF MY OWN LIFE.
“HEAR ME, THE O MASTER! HEAR ME, THEN. O BROTHERS! SEND THIS SHADE OF DARKNESS UNTO ME SO THAT I MAY SEE
HIS FACE, AND KNOW WHOM IT IS THAT HE THREATENS.”
“IT SHALL BE AS THOU WISHEST, O BROTHERS,” came the reply in the same solemn tones as the first. Mansfield bowed
“MASTERS, I THANK THEE: BROTHERS, I THANK YE.” he said; then, waving his stick three times, he called out in a loud
voice: “COME FORTH, THOU SLAVE OF EVIL! COME FORTH, THOU SHADE OF DARKNESS!”
“STAND BEFORE ME, THOU WHOSE GANS IS RED WITH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT, SO THAT I MAY KNOW THY
PURPOSE AND STAY THY HAND, BY THE POWERS OF LIGHT AND THE WILL OF THE ONE MASTER, I COMMAND THEE.” The
room grew suddenly darker, and a thick fog-like atmosphere arose around Mansfield, whose face and form, however,
lit up by the magic scroll, stood out clear and distinct. Mansfield’s word echoed strangely in the room, and they barely
ceased when another voice was heard. It was harsh and gurrutal; and this what it said - “WHAT DOES THE BROTHER OF
LIGHT WISH OF THE SLAVE OF DARKNESS?
“AS THE POWER OF LIGHT COMMANDS SO DO I OBEY. BEHOLD, O BROTHER OF LIGHT, I STAND BEFORE THEE. WHAT IS
THY WISH?” Out of the foul, dank atmosphere the figure of a man seemed to form itself, and the room growing suddenly
lighter it stood revealed facing Mansfield. The face of the man was hard stone-like, the lips were wreathed with
malevolent smile, whilst the expression of his eyes was horrible in the extreme. In his right hand the man held a dagger,
shaped like a serpent. “What, you?” said Mansfield, drawing afresh the circle with his rod. “Yes, I,” replied the form,
opening his close-fitting tunic of black, and exultantly pointing to a mystic sign punctured on his breast. It was that of a
crescent over which trailed a loathsome serpent, black as night, and with pale, dilated eyes. Mansfield shuddered as he
saw it, and read some words from the scroll he held. When he looked up again he was alone. The form had disappeared.
The Shadow of the Dagger
It was some hours past midnight. A great silence was over the earth. Not a sound was heard in the streets, not even
the footsteps of the policemen on beat. Evelyn Hardcastle lay in bed sleepless and restless.
Once she had closed her eyes and had dreamed a horrid dream. Dark figures with evil eyes surrounded her. They
sought to clutch her and tear her limb from limb. Then came to lithe form of a man with a dagger in his hand. His face
was dark, but his eyes were like coals on fire. He approached her bed and muttered some incantation over her. She
could neither move nor cry out. All power of resistance was subdued in her. Nearer came the man, and then he raised
his dagger-formed like a serpent with pale, flashing eyes - and held it over her. Down it came, and a pain like the thrust
of a red-hot iron smote her in the region of the heart. She awoke with a start, bathe in perspiration.
“How horrible.” she said, looking tremblingly around the room.
She was not a superstitious girl, but the circumstances seriously impressed her. What if it should be a warning of
her approaching end? She remembered that the night before Geraldine Ulverstone was murdered her friend had had a
somewhat similar dream. Could it be that she was to die in a like manner?
“Oh! Fred, Fred, what will happen to you if I am killed?” Her first thoughts were of her lover. “And, father dear, you
would be so lonely if I were dead; you have no one but me since poor mother died and dear old Uncle Lal, he would
miss me too. And I am so young to die. O Father in Heaven, have mercy on me. For their sakes protect me this night.”
She prayed long and fervently, and at the conclusion was considerably calmed. Once she thought she heard mocking
voices, and flapping of the window blind made her heart leap with fear. She tried to sleep, but her thoughts were too
Presently she arose and looked at her watch. It was close upon 5 o’clock. “I was born at 5, they tell me; so now I am
21. To-day, too, the new moon is born.”
Ripperologist 146 October 2015 45
She went to the window and looked out. Below her, lying on the doorstep, was the form of a man. It was Harvey, who
had fallen asleep on his watch. She did not see him, and she had no idea that her faithful lover had to keep watch and
guard over her.
All was still without. The stars were palling to extinction, and the red flush of morn was in the skies.
“Everything seems born afresh today,” she said, looking towards the east, where the sun was chasing away the night
clouds. As she stood there a shadow fell across the window. It was that of a hand holding a dagger.
“Merciful God, What is that?” she shrieked, drawing back.
The hand was followed by the shadow of a man. The face, the form, were those of the fiend of her dream. She tried
to scream, but her tongue clove to her mouth. She attempted to move, but her limbs refused to act. She was as one
under the fascination of a snake. And nearer and nearer came the dread form with the glittering, baneful eyes. Oh, the
horror of those eyes.
The hand was raised at the point of the dagger, which seemed to writhe like a live snake in its grasp, was pressing upon
her heart. The form of the fiend as it bent over her looked like a distorted shadow - like the outcome of a hallucination.
The dagger alone appeared real and substantial. As its point was level with her breast the terror-stricken girl
remembered Mansfield’s words, and by a superhuman effort she clutched at the chain around her heart. Then she was
She felt the dagger glide off the locket. A yell of baffled rage, of agonised despair rang in her ears. The room swam
round her, the awful figure vanished- she remembered no more.
With a shriek she fell fainting to the ground.
To be continued in the next issue of Ripperologist
NINA and HOWARD BROWN are the proprietors of JTRForums.com.
With thanks to Zenaida Serrano.
Ripperologist 146 October 2015 46
The Last House in C-- Street
By Dinah Maria Mulock (Mrs Craik)
Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Eduardo Zinna
During the first decades of the nineteenth century, Gothic fiction, which had ruled unopposed since 1764, when
Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto, started losing some of its supremacy to a humbler newcomer,
the ghost story. The world was changing, and the creatures of the night changed with it. They moved from
the dungeons of decrepit castles and the secret passages of ruined abbeys to the comfortable sitting-rooms
and manicured gardens of the emerging bourgeoisie. Their apparitions were no longer reported in three-volume
Gothic novels but in the pages of the monthly magazines. Still they came; and where they passed, they were not
Charles Dickens played a major role in the development of the
ghost story and its association with Christmas, both through the
stories he wrote and the stories he published in the magazines
for which he served as editor. In 1843, he subjected the miser
Ebenezer Scrooge to the ministrations of a parade of restless spirits
in A Christmas Carol. In 1851, he launched a special Christmas
supplement of his magazine Household Words and invited
writers to contribute to it. In subsequent years, he continued to
write ghost stories and to release Christmas supplements to his
magazines. When he started All the Year Round in 1859, he made
sure ghosts were not left out of its pages; he ran stories by Amelia
B Edwards, Rosa Mulholland, Charles Collins, R S Hawker and, in
particular, the early master of the ghost story, Joseph Sheridan
Many of the authors who supplied the magazines with
supernatural fare were women. Among them were Mary Elizabeth
Braddon, Mrs Henry Wood, Charlotte Riddell, Margaret Oliphant
and Rhoda Broughton in the 1860s and 70s, later joined by Vernon
Lee, Edith Nesbit, Louisa Baldwin, Mary Cholmondeley and Violet
Hunt. Although they excelled as authors of ghost stories, women
had no special affinity with them. In many cases, educated
women who needed to support themselves and, sometimes, their
families, found in authorship lucrative opportunities which at
the time were not available to them in other fields. The work
of some of these women has already appeared in the pages of
Ripperologist; the work of others will not fail to follow.
Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
Dinah Maria Mulock, afterwards known as Mrs Craik, was a
novelist, poet and essayist. The eldest daughter of Thomas Mulock, a nonconformist minister, and his wife, Dinah
Mellard, she was born on 20 April 1826 in Stoke-on-Trent. In 1839, an inheritance allowed the family to move to
London. A few years later, in 1844, Thomas Mulock, a charismatic but emotionally unstable man, deserted his
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 47
Dinah Maria Mulock
family. When her mother died in 1845, Dinah became
responsible for her needs and those of her brother. She
started writing stories for children which provided her
with a modest income until she achieved success with
her novel, The Ogilvies (1849), which was favourably
received by the critics and facilitated her entrance
into the literary world. A number of novels followed,
culminating with the great success in 1856 of her novel
John Halifax, Gentleman, which chronicles the rise of
the title character from poverty to wealth during the
Now rich herself and commanding £2,000 per novel,
Dinah Mulock bought a cottage at Hampstead and joined
an extensive social circle. She continued to write both
fiction and non-fiction such as A Woman’s Thoughts
about Women and Sermons out of Church. In 1864, she
was awarded a Civil List pension which she set aside for
authors less fortunate than herself. One year later, in
1865, she married George Lillie Craik, a partner in the
publishing house of Macmillan & Company. From then on
she signed her work Dinah Maria Craik or Mrs Craik. Since
she was considered as being too old for bearing children,
the couple adopted a child, Dorothy, in 1869. Dinah
Mulock Craik died of heart failure on 12 October 1887
during a period of preparation for Dorothy’s wedding. It
was said that her last words were ‘Oh, if I could live four
weeks longer! but no matter, no matter!’
Our Victorian Fiction offering for December, Dinah
Mulock’s The Last House in C—Street, is a true ghost story, thoroughly deserving of publication in our Christmas
issue, although it first appeared in Fraser’s Magazine not at Christmas but in August 1856. Despite its title,
reminiscent of gory exploitation films, this is a gentle story and its ghost is not of the malevolent kind. But don’t
let that discourage you. Few stories represent better the Victorian ghost story, with its limitations and its virtues,
than this one.
The Master Ghost Hunter
A Life of Elliott O’Donnell
By Richard Whittington-Egan
A dapper figure - gold-rimmed pince-nez, scarlet-lined cloak, silver-knobbed cane - Elliott
O’Donnell was the world-famed prince of ghost hunters. His life spanned 93 years, 1872-
He remembered Jack the Ripper, the ghost of whose victims he sought, and Kate Webster, the
savage Irish cook of Richmond, who slaughtered her mistress, Mrs Julia Thomas, and boiled
her head up in a saucepan. Other phantoms ranged from poltergeist, weird box-headed
elemental spirits with eyes that glowed like yellow moons, sweet-visaged old ladies in bonnets
and crinolines, to an evil Dublin ghost that tried to strangle him. He hunted the haunted and
the haunters throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Further afield, he came face
to face with supernatural horrors in New York, and San Francisco, and we accompany him on
a horse-ridden expedition into the heart of a haunted American forest.
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 48
The Last House in C-- Street
By Dinah Maria Mulock (Mrs Craik)
I am not a believer in ghosts in general; I see no good in them. They come - that is, are reported to come
- so irrelevantly, purposelessly - so ridiculously, in short - that one’s common sense as regards this world,
one’s supernatural sense of the other, are alike revolted. Then nine out of ten ‘capital ghost stories’ are
so easily accounted for; and in the tenth, when all natural explanation fails, one who has discovered the
extraordinary difficulty there is in all society in getting hold of that very slippery article called a fact, is
strongly inclined to shake a dubious head, ejaculating, ‘Evidence! a question of evidence!’
But my unbelief springs from no dogged or contemptuous scepticism as to the possibility - however great
the improbability - of that strange impression upon or communication to, spirit in matter, from spirit wholly
immaterialized, which is vulgarly called ‘a ghost’. There is no credulity more blind, no ignorance more
childish, than that of the sage who tries to measure ‘heaven and earth and the things under the earth’, 1
with the small two-foot-rule of his own brains. Dare we presume to argue concerning any mystery of the
universe, ‘It is inexplicable, and therefore impossible’?
Premising these opinions, though simply as opinions, I am about to relate what I must confess is to me a
thorough ghost story; its external and circumstantial evidence being indisputable, while its psychological
causes and results, though not easy of explanation, are still more difficult to be explained away. The ghost,
like Hamlet’s, was ‘an honest ghost’. 2 From her daughter - an old lady, who, bless her good and gentle
memory! has since learned the secrets of all things - I learnt this veritable tale.
‘My dear,’ said Mrs MacArthur to me - it was in the early days of table-moving, when young folk ridiculed
and elder folk were shocked at the notion of calling up one’s departed ancestors into one’s dinner-table,
and learning the wonders of the angelic world by the bobbings of a hat or the twirlings of a plate. ‘My dear,’
continued the old lady, ‘I do not like playing at ghosts.’
‘Why not? Do you believe in them?’
‘Did you ever see one?’
‘Never. But once I heard -’
She looked serious, as if she hardly liked to speak about it, either from a sense of awe or from fear of
ridicule. But no one could have laughed at any illusions of the gentle old lady, who never uttered a harsh
or satirical word to a living soul; and this evident awe was rather remarkable in one who had a large stock
of common sense, little wonder, and no ideality.
I was rather curious to hear Mrs MacArthur’s ghost story.
‘My dear, it was a long time ago, so long that you may fancy I forget and confuse the circumstances. But
I do not. Sometimes I think one recollects more clearly things that happened in one’s teens - I was eighteen
that year - than a great many nearer events. And besides, I had other reasons for remembering vividly
everything belonging to this time, - for I was in love, you must know.’
She looked at me with a mild, deprecating smile, as if hoping my youthfulness would not consider the
thing so very impossible or ridiculous. No; I was all interest at once.
‘In love with Mr MacArthur,’ I said, scarcely as a question, being at that Arcadian time of life when one
takes as a natural necessity, and believes as an undoubted truth, that everybody marries his or her first
1 Cf. ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth’,
Philippians 2:10 (King James Version).
2 Cf. ‘Touching this vision here, It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you’, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V.
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 49
‘No, my dear; not with Mr MacArthur.’
I was so astonished, so completely dumb-foundered - for I had woven a sort of ideal round my good old
friend - that I suffered Mrs MacArthur to knit in silence for full five minutes. My surprise was not lessened
when she said, with a little smile -
‘He was a young gentleman of good parts; and he was very fond of me. Proud, too, rather. For though
you might not think it, my dear, I was actually a beauty in those days.’
I had very little doubt of it. The slight lithe figure, the tiny hands and feet, - if you had walked behind
Mrs MacArthur you might have taken her for a young woman still. Certainly, people lived slower and easier
in the last generation than in ours.
‘Yes, I was the beauty of Bath. Mr Everest fell in love with me there. I was much gratified; for I had
just been reading Miss Burney’s Cecilia, and I thought him exactly like Mortimer Delvil. A very pretty
tale, Cecilia; did you ever read it?’ 3
‘No.’ And, to arrive at her tale, I leaped to the only conclusion which could reconcile the two facts of
her having had a lover named Everest, and being now Mrs MacArthur. ‘Was it his ghost you saw?’
‘No, my dear, no; thank goodness, he is alive still. He calls here sometimes; he has been a good friend
to our family. Ah!’ with a slow shake of the head, half pleased, half pensive, ‘you would hardly believe, my
dear, what a very pretty fellow he was.’
One could scarcely smile at the odd phrase, pertaining to last-century novels and to the loves of our
great-grandmothers. I listened patiently to the wandering reminiscences which still further delayed the
‘But, Mrs MacArthur, was it in Bath that you saw or heard what I think you were going to tell me? The
ghost, you know?’
‘Don’t call it that; it sounds as if you were laughing at it. And you must not, for it is really true; as true
as that I sit here, an old lady of seventy-five; and that then I was a young gentlewoman of eighteen. Nay,
my dear, I will tell you all about it.’
‘We had been staying in London, my father and mother, Mr Everest, and I. He had persuaded them to
take me; he wanted to show me a little of the world, though it was but a narrow world, my dear - for he
was a law student, living poorly and working hard. He took lodgings for us near the Temple; in C - street,
the last house there, looking on to the river. He was very fond of the river; and often of evenings, when
his work was too heavy to let him take us to Ranelagh or to the play, he used to walk with my father and
mother and me, up and down the Temple Gardens. Were you ever in the Temple Gardens? It is a pretty
place now - a quiet, grey nook in the midst of noise and bustle; the stars look wonderful through those
great trees; but still it is not like what it was then, when I was a girl.’
Ah! no; impossible.
‘It was in the Temple Gardens, my dear, that I remember we took our last walk - my mother, Mr Everest,
and I - before she went home to Bath. She was very anxious and restless to go, being too delicate for
London gaieties. Besides, she had a large family at home, of which I was the eldest; and we were anxiously
expecting the youngest in a month or two. Nevertheless, my dear mother had gone about with me, taken
me to all the shows and sights that I, a hearty and happy girl, longed to see, and entered into them with
almost as great enjoyment as my own.
‘But tonight she was pale, rather grave, and steadfastly bent on returning home.
3 Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress, is a novel by English author Fanny Burney (1752–1840), published in 1782. It recounts
the trials and tribulations of Cecilia Beverley, a beautiful heiress who moves to London. Mortimer Delvile [sic] is a tall
and athletic young man, more seductive than handsome. Cecilia falls in love with him, but is unsure of his affections and
his pride may keep them apart. A passage in Cecilia: ‘…if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is
good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination’ may have inspired the title of Jane
Austen’s celebrated novel Pride and Prejudice.
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 50
‘We did all we could to persuade her to the contrary, for on the next night but one was to have been the
crowning treat of all our London pleasures: we were to see Hamlet at Drury Lane, with John Kemble and
Sarah Siddons! 4 Think of that, my dear. Ah! you have no such sights now. Even my grave father longed to go,
and urged in his mild way that we should put off our departure. But my mother was determined.
‘At last Mr Everest said - (I could show you the very spot where he stood, with the river - it was high
water - lapping against the wall, and the evening sun shining on the Southwark houses opposite.) He said
- it was very wrong, of course, my dear; but then he was in love, and might be excused, -
‘“Madam,” said he, “it is the first time I ever knew you think of yourself alone.”
“‘Pardon me, but would it not be possible for you to return home, leaving behind, for two days only, Mr
Thwaite and Mistress Dorothy?”
‘“Leave them behind - leave them behind!” She mused over the words. “What say you, Dorothy?”
‘I was silent. In very truth, I had never been parted from her in all my life. It had never crossed my
mind to wish to part from her, or to enjoy any pleasure without her, till - till within the last three months.
“Mother, don’t suppose I
‘But here I caught sight of Mr Everest, and stopped.
“‘Pray continue. Mistress Dorothy.”
‘No, I could not. He looked so vexed, so hurt; and we had been so happy together. Also, we might not
meet again for years, for the journey between London and Bath was then a serious one, even to lovers;
and he worked very hard - had few pleasures in his life. It did indeed seem almost selfish of my mother.
‘Though my lips said nothing, perhaps my sad eyes said only too much, and my mother felt it.
‘She walked with us a few yards, slowly and thoughtfully. I could see her now, with her pale, tired face,
under the cherry-coloured ribbons of her hood. She had been very handsome as a young woman, and was
most sweet-looking still - my dear, good mother!
“‘Dorothy, we will no more discuss this. I am very sorry, but I must go home. However, I will persuade
your father to remain with you till the week’s end. Are you satisfied?”
‘“No,” was the first filial impulse of my heart; but Mr Everest pressed my arm with such an entreating
look, that almost against my will I answered “Yes.”
‘Mr Everest overwhelmed my mother with his delight and gratitude. She walked up and down for some
time longer, leaning on his arm - she was very fond of him; then stood looking on the river, upwards and
“‘I suppose this is my last walk in London. Thank you for all the care you have taken of me. And when I
am gone home - mind, oh mind, Edmond, that you take special care of Dorothy.”
‘These words, and the tone in which they were spoken, fixed themselves on my mind - first, from
gratitude, not unmingled with regret, as if I had not been so considerate to her as she to me; afterwards -
But we often err, my dear, in dwelling too much on that word. We finite creatures have only to deal with
“now” - nothing whatever to do with “afterwards”. In this case, I have ceased to blame myself or others.
Whatever was, being past, was right to be, and could not have been otherwise.
‘My mother went home next morning, alone. We were to follow in a few days, though she would not
allow us to fix any time. Her departure was so hurried that I remember nothing about it, save her answer
to my father’s urgent desire - almost command - that if anything was amiss she would immediately let him
‘“Under all circumstances, wife,” he reiterated, “this you promise?”
4 John Philip Kemble (1757–1823) was an English actor who often appeared with his elder sister, Sarah Siddons, on the stage
of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 51
‘Though when she was gone he declared she need not have said it so earnestly, since we should be at
home almost as soon as the slow Bath coach could take her and bring us a letter. And besides, there was
nothing likely to happen. But he fidgeted a good deal, being unused to her absence in their happy wedded
life. He was, like most men, glad to blame anybody but himself; and the whole day, and the next, was cross
at intervals with both Edmond and me; but we bore it - and patiently.
‘“It will be all right when we get him to the theatre. He has no real cause for anxiety about her. What a
dear woman she is, and a precious - your mother, Dorothy!”
‘I rejoiced to hear my lover speak thus, and thought there hardly ever was young gentlewoman so
blessed as I.
‘We went to the play. Ah, you know nothing of what a play is, nowadays. You never saw John Kemble and
Mrs Siddons. Though in dresses and shows it was far inferior to the Hamlet you took me to see last week,
my dear - and though I perfectly well remember being on the point of laughing when in the most solemn
scene, it became clearly evident that the Ghost had been drinking. Strangely enough, no after events
connected therewith - nothing subsequent ever drove from my mind the vivid impression of this my first
play. Strange, also, that the play should have been Hamlet. Do you think that Shakespeare believed in - in
what people call “ghosts”?’
I could not say; but I thought Mrs MacArthur’s ghost very long in coming.
‘Don’t, my dear - don’t; do anything but laugh at it.’
She was visibly affected, and it was not without an effort that she proceeded in her story.
‘I wish you to understand exactly my position that night - a young girl, her head full of the enchantment
of the stage - her heart of something not less engrossing. Mr Everest had supped with us, leaving us both in
the best of spirits; indeed my father had gone to bed, laughing heartily at the remembrance of the antics of
Mr Grimaldi, 5 which had almost obliterated the queen and Hamlet from his memory, on which the ridiculous
always took a far stronger hold than the awful or sublime.
‘I was sitting - let me see - at the window, chatting with my maid Patty, who was brushing the powder
out of my hair. The window was open half-way, and looking out on the Thames; and the summer night being
very warm and starry, made it almost like sitting out of doors. There was none of the awe given by the
solitude of a midnight closed room, when every sound is magnified, and every shadow seems alive.
‘As I said, we had been chatting and laughing; for Patty and I were both very young, and she had a
sweetheart, too. She, like every one of our household, was a warm admirer of Mr Everest. I had just been
half scolding, half smiling at her praises of him, when St Paul’s great clock came booming over the silent
‘“Eleven,” counted Patty. “Terrible late we be, Mistress Dorothy: not like Bath hours, I reckon.”
‘“Mother will have been in bed an hour ago,” said I, with a little self-reproach at not having thought of
her till now.
‘The next minute my maid and I both started up with a simultaneous exclamation.
‘“Did you hear that?”
“‘Yes, a bat flying against the window.”
‘“But the lattices are open, Mistress Dorothy.”
‘So they were; and there was no bird or bat or living thing about - only the quiet summer night, the river,
and the stars.
‘“I be certain sure I heard it. And I think it was like - just a bit like - somebody tapping.”
5 Joseph Grimaldi (1778–1837) was an English actor, comedian and dancer who became the most famous and popular of all
the clowns in harlequinade and pantomime. He was the original ‘Clown Joey’ and created many popular catchphrases such
as ‘Here we are again.’ At Drury Lane In the early 1800s he played the Second Gravedigger in Hamlet, alongside John
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 52
‘“Nonsense, Patty!” But it had struck me thus - though I said it was a bat. It was exactly like the sound
of fingers against a pane - very soft, gentle fingers, such as, in passing into her flower-garden, my mother
used often to tap outside the school-room casement at home.
“‘I wonder, did father hear anything. It - the bird, you know, Patty - might have flown at his window,
“‘Oh, Mistress Dorothy!” Patty would not be deceived. I gave her the brush to finish my hair, but her hand
shook too much. I shut the window, and we both sat down facing it.
‘At that minute, distinct, clear, and unmistakable, like a person giving a summons in passing by, we
heard once more the tapping on the pane. But nothing was seen; not a single shadow came between us and
the open air, the bright starlight.
‘Startled I was, and awed, but I was not frightened. The sound gave me even an inexplicable delight.
But I had hardly time to recognize my feelings, still less to analyse them, when a loud cry came from my
‘Now my mother and I had both one name, but he always gave her the old-fashioned pet name - I was
invariably Dorothy. Still I did not pause to think, but ran to his locked door, and answered.
‘It was a long time before he took any notice, though I heard him talking to himself, and moaning.
He was subject to bad dreams, especially before his attacks of gout. So my first alarm lightened. I stood
listening, knocking at intervals, until at last he replied.
‘“What do’ee want, child?”
‘“Is anything the matter, father?”
“‘Nothing. Go to thy bed, Dorothy.”
“‘Did you not call? Do you want anyone?”
“‘Not thee. O Dolly, my poor Dolly,’ - and he seemed to be almost sobbing, “Why did I let thee leave
‘“Father, you are not going to be ill? It is not the gout, is it?” (for that was the time when he wanted my
mother most, and indeed, when he was wholly unmanageable by anyone but her.)
‘“Go away. Get to thy bed, girl; I don’t want ‘ee.”
‘I thought he was angry with me for having been in some sort the cause of our delay, and retired very
miserable. Patty and I sat up a good while longer, discussing the dreary prospect of my father’s having a
fit of the gout here in London lodgings, with only us to nurse him, and my mother away. Our alarm was so
great that we quite forgot the curious circumstance which had first attracted us, till Patty spoke up, from
her bed on the floor.
“‘I hope master beant going to be very ill, and that - you know - came for a warning. Do ‘ee think
it was a bird, Mistress Dorothy?”
‘“Very likely. Now, Patty, let us go to sleep.”
‘But I did not, for all night I heard my father groaning at intervals. I was certain it was the gout, and
wished from the bottom of my heart that we had gone home with mother.
‘What was my surprise when, quite early, I heard him rise and go down, just as if nothing was ailing him!
I found him sitting at the breakfast-table in his travelling coat, looking very haggard and miserable, but
evidently bent on a journey.
“‘Father, you are not going to Bath?”
‘“Yes, I be.”
‘“Not till the evening coach starts,” I cried, alarmed. “We can’t, you know?”
‘“I’ll take a post-chaise, then. We must be off in an hour.”
‘An hour! The cruel pain of parting - (my dear, I believe I used to feel things keenly when I was young)
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 53
- shot through me - through and through. A single hour, and I should have said goodbye to Edmond - one of
those heart-breaking farewells when we seem to leave half of our poor young life behind us, forgetting that
the only real parting is when there is no love left to part from. A few years, and I wondered how I could
have crept away and wept in such intolerable agony at the mere bidding goodbye to Edmond - Edmond,
who loved me.
‘Every minute seemed a day till he came in, as usual, to breakfast. My red eyes and my father’s corded
trunk explained all.
“‘Doctor Thwaite, you are not going?”
‘“Yes, I be,” repeated my father. He sat moodily leaning on the table - would not taste his breakfast.
‘“Not till the night coach, surely? I was to take you and Mistress Dorothy to see Mr Benjamin West, the
“‘Let kings and painters alone lad; I be going home to my Dolly.”
‘Mr Everest used many arguments, gay and grave, upon which I hung with earnest conviction and hope.
He made things so clear always; he was a man of much brighter parts than my father, and had great
influence over him.
‘“Dorothy,” he whispered, “help me to persuade the Doctor. It is so little time I beg for, only a few hours;
and before so long a parting.” Ay, longer than he thought, or I.
‘“Children,” cried my father at last, “you are a couple of fools. Wait till you have been married twenty
years. I must go to my Dolly. I know there is something amiss at home.”
‘I should have felt alarmed, but I saw Mr Everest smile; and besides, I was yet glowing under his fond
look, as my father spoke of our being “married twenty years”.
“‘Father, you have surely no reason for thinking this? If you have, tell us.”
‘My father just lifted his head, and looked me woefully in the face.
‘“Dorothy, last night, as sure as I see you now, I saw your mother.”
‘“Is that all?” cried Mr Everest, laughing; “why, my good sir, of course you did; you were dreaming.”
‘“I had not gone to sleep.”
“‘How did you see her?”
“‘Coming into the room just as she used to do in the bedroom at home, with the candle in her hand and
the baby asleep on her arm.”
‘“Did she speak?” asked Mr Everest, with another and rather satirical smile; “remember, you
saw Hamlet last night. Indeed, sir - indeed, Dorothy - it was a mere dream. I do not believe in ghosts; it
would be an insult to common sense, to human wisdom - nay, even to Divinity itself.”
‘Edmond spoke so earnestly, so justly, so affectionately, that perforce I agreed; and even my father
became to feel rather ashamed of his own weakness. He, a physician, the head of a family, to yield to a
mere superstitious fancy, springing probably from a hot supper and an overexcited brain! To the same cause
Mr Everest attributed the other incident, which somewhat hesitatingly I told him.
“‘Dear, it was a bird; nothing but a bird. One flew in at my window last spring; it had hurt itself, and I
kept it, and nursed it, and petted it. It was such a pretty, gentle little thing, it put me in mind of Dorothy.”
‘“Did it?” said I.
‘“And at last it got well and flew away.”
‘“Ah! that was not like Dorothy.”
‘Thus, my father being persuaded, it was not hard to persuade me. We settled to remain till evening.
Edmond and I, with my maid Patty, went about together, - chiefly in Mr West’s Gallery, and in the quiet
shade of our favourite Temple Gardens. And if for those four stolen hours, and the sweetness in them, I
afterwards suffered untold remorse and bitterness, I have entirely forgiven myself, as I know my dear
mother would have forgiven me, long ago.’
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 54
Mrs MacArthur stopped, wiped her eyes, and then continued - speaking more in the matter-of-fact way
that old people speak than she had been lately doing.
‘Well, my dear, where was I?’
‘In the Temple Gardens.’
‘Yes, yes. Well, we came home to dinner. My father always enjoyed his dinner, and his nap afterwards;
he had nearly recovered himself now: only looked tired from loss of rest. Edmond and I sat in the window,
watching the barges and wherries down the Thames; there were no steamboats then, you know.
‘Someone knocked at the door with a message for my father, but he slept so heavily he did not hear. Mr
Everest went to see what it was; I stood at the window. I remember mechanically watching the red sail of
a Margate hoy that was going down the river, and thinking with a sharp pang how dark the room seemed,
in a moment, with Edmond not there.
‘Re-entering, after a somewhat long absence, he never looked at me, but went straight to my father.
‘“Sir, it is almost time for you to start” (oh! Edmond). “There is a coach at the door; and, pardon me,
but I think you should travel quickly.”
‘My father sprang to his feet.
‘“Dear sir, indeed there is no need for anxiety now; but I have received news. You have another little
daughter, sir, and -”
“‘Dolly, my Dolly!” Without another word my father rushed away without his hat, leaped into the postchaise
that was waiting, and drove off
“‘Edmond!” I gasped.
“‘My poor little girl - my own Dorothy!”
‘By the tenderness of his embrace, not lover-like, but brother like - by his tears, for I could feel them on
my neck - I knew, as well as if he had told me, that I should never see my dear mother anymore.’
‘She had died in childbirth,’ continued the old lady after a long pause - ‘died at night, at the very hour
and minute when I had heard the tapping on the window-pane, and my father had thought he saw her
coming into his room with a baby on her arm.’
‘Was the baby dead, too?’
‘They thought so then, but it afterwards revived.’
‘What a strange story!’
‘I do not ask you to believe in it. How and why and what it was I cannot tell; I only know that it assuredly
‘And Mr Everest?’ I enquired, after some hesitation.
The old lady shook her head. ‘Ah, my dear, you will soon learn how very, very seldom one marries one’s
first love. After that day, I did not see Mr Everest for twenty years.’
‘How wrong - how -’
‘Don’t blame him; it was not his fault. You see, after that time my father took a prejudice against him
- not unnatural, perhaps; and she was not there to make things straight. Besides, my own conscience was
very sore, and there were the six children at home, and the little baby had no mother: so at last I made up
my mind. I should have loved him just the same if we had waited twenty years: but he could not see things
so. Don’t blame him - my dear - don’t blame him. It was as well, perhaps, as things turned out.’
‘Did he marry?’
‘Yes, after a few years; and loved his wife dearly. When I was about one-and-thirty, I married Mr
MacArthur. So neither of us was unhappy, you see - at least, not more so than most people; and we became
sincere friends afterwards. Mr and Mrs Everest come to see me, almost every Sunday. Why you foolish child,
you are not crying?’
Ay, I was - but scarcely at the ghost story.
Ripperologist 147 December 2014 55
END OF THE YEAR ROUNDUP
Let’s be frank, 2015 has been a poor year for Ripper books. It opened with a conspiracy theory book and it finished
with a conspiracy theory book and in between there was a conspiracy theory book. Discounting the ebook of The
Complete Jack the Ripper A to Z, on which it would be unfair of me to comment, nothing much else of distinction came
Back in January and looking at the year ahead, I forecast that Simon Wood’s Deconstructing
Jack was likely to be the best offering of the year. It isn’t an especially good book, the biggest
downside being the sheer improbability of its incomplete conspiracy theory. However, the
extensive research was commendable and it caused one to look at the case from different
perspectives, which is always a good thing.
The two dark horse books which might easily have knocked Simon Wood’s
book from its number one position were Wynne Weston-Davies’ The Real Mary
Kelly and Bruce Robinson’s They All Love Jack. The Real Mary Kelly turned
out to be interesting and entertaining reading, but relied far too heavily on
supposition, and Bruce Robinson’s They All Love Jack cast aside the normal
standards of historical research, proffered a cock-and-bull theory, and could
be a contender for the worst Ripper book ever, thought the competition for that is very stiff.
Otherwise, nothing memorable appeared and the Ripper year was mostly dominated, not by a
book, but by a load of overblown nonsense about the Jack the Ripper Museum in Cable Street. What
came as a surprise was J J Hainsworth’s Jack the Ripper - Case Solved, 1891 (reviewed below).
It’s the third conspiracy theory of the year, but on a very small scale. Jonathan Hainsworth would
have you believe that Sir Melville Macnaghten wanted it known that the police knew the identity
of Jack the Ripper, but at the same time didn’t want anyone to discover who it was, so he dribbled
information and misinformation to cronies like George R Sims.
The theory doesn’t really hold together, I’m afraid, but Hainsworth provides a makings of a
biography of an Eton-obsessed, schoolboy-minded Macnaghten, and it’s the first book about Montague
John Druitt to have appeared in many a long year - and a lot of new information has emerged in that
time which has desperately needed to be brought together in a single volume. Hainsworth’s book
isn’t the one I’d have wished for to do this, but in this case Begg can’t be a chooser. However, I think
Hainsworth’s book is probably the best Ripper book of the year, pipping Simon Wood at the post.
But if 2015 has been a bit on the bleak side, 2016 looks is a positively wintery wasteland. As of
writing, there’s not a single new Jack the Ripper title announced for publication!
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 56
Jack the Ripper- Case Solved, 1891
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2015
Softcover; 219pp; Illus; notes; biblio; index
£31.95 softcover/£12.56 Kindle
Every week a corpse is pulled from the water somewhere along the River Thames’ 213 miles.
I don’t know how many corpses were pulled from the Thames in the 1880s. Peter Ackroyd, in
his excellent Thames: Sacred River, says that it is estimated that 3-4 bodies were pulled from
the river every week. That’s just over 200 a year. Mei Trow, in The Thames Torso Murders, says
that 544 bodies were recovered from the Thames in 1882, that’s about ten a week. In 1889
the Gloucester Citizen newspaper indicated that one person a fortnight flung themselves from
Waterloo Bridge, so popular a place for suicides that among its nicknames was ‘Arch of Suicide’.
On the last day of December 1888 a waterman dragged the body of Montague John Druitt from the water off
Thorneycroft’s Torpedo Works in Chiswick. It was an unremarkable suicide that barely made the newspapers, but in 1894
the Chief Constable of the C.I.D. at Scotland Yard, Melville Macnaghten, wrote a report in which he ventured his opinion
that Druitt was Jack the Ripper. For some reason Macnaghten described Druitt as a 41-year-old doctor. In fact he was a
31-year-old barrister/schoolmaster. Macnaghten added a few details in his 1913 memoirs, not, of course, naming Druitt,
but claiming that ‘certain facts’ pointing to Druitt’s guilt were not in the possession of the police until some years after
June 1889. He added that Druitt lived ‘with his own people’ (either his nuclear family or just possibly with his class of
people) and absented himself from home at certain times’. He had never been in an asylum. The theory advanced by
Jonathan Hainsworth in this book is that Melville Macnaghten used writer friends Sir Arthur Griffiths (who wrote of the
drowned doctor theory in 1898) and George R Sims (from 1899) (and latterly his autobiography) to make public that the
police almost certainly knew the identity of Jack the Ripper, but at the same time did everything he possibly could to
prevent anyone from identifying the suspect as Montague Druitt.
The question is why Macnaghten would have done this, and sadly it’s a question Hainsworth struggles to convincingly
answer. One can understand that Macnaghten may have wanted to make it public that the police knew who Jack the
Ripper was, and it is also reasonable that he might have wanted it known that it was on his watch that the information
identifying Druitt came to light and that Macnaghten (rather than, say, Anderson) recognised its significance. But if that
was the case, why provide Griffiths and Sims with sufficient information to make an identification possible.
Peter Ackroyd says that at the headquarters of the River Police in Wapping there is a “Book of the Dead” or “Occurrence
Book”, otherwise a registry of bodies pulled from the river. I don’t know whether this book existed in the late 1800s, but
I assume something like it must have done and that it would have been a relatively simple task for any journalist worthy
of the name to have checked for bodies pulled from the Thames on the last day of December 1888. The misidentification
of Druitt as a 41-year-old doctor would surely have been no obstacle to identifying Montague Druitt as the man of whom
Griffiths, Sims or Macnaghten wrote.
The other possible problem for Hainsworth’s theory is that we must allow for the possibility that Macnaghten was not
responsible for the Thames suicide being identified as Jack the Ripper. In 1891 a member of parliament named Richard
Farquharson was telling people about a doctor who committed suicide and who he believed was Jack the Ripper. The
scant details suggest that he was referring to Druitt, although it is not known whether he was naming him. Farquharson
could have been Macnaghten’s source or he and Macnaghten could have shared a common source. Seventeen years later
a writer named Frank Collins Richardson referred to the Whitechapel murderer as having flung himself into the Thames
and being named Dr Bluitt.
Assuming this was a thinly-veiled reference to Druitt, the name was presumably in the public domain by 1908. I know
that rumours circulate about people for decades before eventually appearing in print. Both Jimmy Saville and Cyril Smith
were known about long before their posthumous exposure, especially among journalists, so I see no reason why Druitt’s
name couldn’t have been linked with the Ripper murders without ever having made it into print, especially as journalists
back then seem honourable and lacking curiosity - nobody, it seems, bothered to follow up on the Farquaharson story,
for example, and later a vicar claiming that the Ripper had admitted to his crimes under seal of the confessional asked
that a national newspaper not reveal his name because it could help identify the killer, and the newspaper agreed. No
other journalists seem to have followed up that story either. Different days, different ways.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 57
Overall, then, Hainsworth’s theory seems to me to stumble at the very first hurdle. In the first place, Macnaghten
could have stated that the identity of the murderer was known and that he committed suicide without giving the
potentially identifying details about when and how he died.
Setting aside Hainsworth’s theory, off the top of my head the last book about Druitt was D J Leighton’s Ripper Suspect
in 2006, and so much interesting information has come to light since then that a book bringing it together between two
covers has been long overdue. I’ve already mentioned some of this information, namely Farquharson and Richardson. In
1892 an East End Catholic priest allegedly left a sealed packet addressed to Sir Edward Bradford in which was revealed
the identity of Jack the Ripper, information apparently received under seal of the confessional.
Hainsworth also examines the “North-country Vicar” story; a north-country vicar claimed that a fellow clergyman
had received under seal of the confessional an admission to having committed the Jack the Ripper murders. The vicar
had agreed to make the admission public, but in a form so heavily fictionalised that the murderer’s identity could never
be learned. The vicar himself apparently bore a name which would help identify the killer and he asked the newspaper
not to publish it, a request to which the newspaper remarkably agreed and did nothing further to pursue the story.
Hainsworth suggests the identity of the vicar.
Jonathan’s discovery of the family connection between Montague John Druitt
and Col. Vivian Dering Majendie (1836-1850), the Home Office’s first and muchrespected
explosives expert, is new and interesting and evidently something to
which he attaches great importance, believing him to be the conduit between
Druitt’s immediate family and Macnaghten and Sims. This is a possibility: knowing
the importance of the case and the way in which the failure of the police to catch
the Ripper had badly tarnished the reputation of Scotland Yard worldwide, we
may assume that Majendie, himself a Scotland Yard man and a friend of senior
policemen, may have put the good name of the Metropolitan Police above his
family name and conveyed family suspicions about Montague to Macnaghten. But
what would he have expected Macnaghten to do - keep the information quiet
and do nothing? Investigate the suspicions as would have been his duty, thereby
bringing other people of different ranks in on the “secret”?
Undertake no investigations, but leak the story to the press via journalist and
writer friends like Griffiths and Sims, providing just enough information to set
any self-respecting investigative journalist on the trail of the suspect’s identity?
There’s not enough information to allow comfortable theorising, but the fact
is that Macnaghten gave away sufficient information for Druitt to be identified,
and if journalists had been more aggressive newshounds than they appear to have
been, his identity would surely have been known. It is difficult to believe that he
was really trying to protect anyone. Indeed, it is entirely possible that Druitt’s
name was already in or making its way into the public domain, albeit not in print.
Finally, Hainsworth has uncovered assorted stories which he believes to be
based on the Thames drownee. Marie Belloc Lowndes classic The Lodger comes
under scrutiny, as does a tale by Guy Logan.
Also, three short stories by G R Sims. Like a lot of Hainsworth’s material, much of this material has been discussed
on the forums, but this is the first time it has appeared in a book. It deserves close analysis. In fact, it’s a pity that
Hainsworth has discussed his theory so extensively on the forums, where it must be said that his theorising has generally
been greeted with disagreement and, it is sad to say, occasional vile comments.
Jonathan Hainsworth comes close to writing a biography of the Eton-obsessed Macnaghten, a grown man embracing a
little boy’s love of manly sports like cricket and a sense of adventure. He doesn’t achieve it - and a biography was never
his intention - but his efforts to delve into the mind of the man to explain his view of the world and why he wrote what
he did are well worth reading.
Finally, there are some great new photographs in this book too.
Overall, Jonathan’s book is a conspiracy theory and one that probably goes way over the top, Macnaghten being
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 58
portrayed as a super-cop and Druitt as a super-suspect,
a sort of Holmes and Moriarty, but with Holmes
commanding a web of intrigue as he manipulates the
likes of Sims and Griffiths, dribble information here and
there, guiding them towards and moving them away,
until his retirement gave him his own voice. It all seems
too improbable to be true. But something may lay
behind Hainsworth’s grand theorising and web-weaving.
It’s not been easy to subject it to proper analysis when
discussed piecemeal on the forums, now it is set forth
calmly in a book it can be considered carefully.
Overall, Jonathan Hainsworth’s book must be
considered on three levels. First and foremost, it brings
together all the new information relating to the Thames
suicide/Druitt suspect that has emerged in recent years.
Secondly, it paints a mini portrait of Macnaghten which
goes a little way to creating a more rounded figure. And
thirdly, it presents Jonathan’s theory, which put in its
simplest form, is that Macnaghten wanted it known that
the Ripper was caught, but didn’t want it known who he
was. One doesn’t have to agree with all or any of this,
but it’s great food for thought.
We’ve needed a new book about Druitt for quite
some time and whilst one might have wished that it
wasn’t this one, venturing a contentious theory that’s
difficult to attach credence, it is nevertheless good to
have. Hainsworth has done some excellent research and
the new photographs are great. The biggest downside to
this book is the outrageous cover price, but take a look
round and you can get it at least £10 cheaper.
Overall, 2015 kept the best for last. If you had to buy
one Ripper book this year, this would be it.
Partners in Blood: Media & Jack the Ripper
CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2015
Softcover and ebook; 412pp;
Softcover £9.95, Ebook £1.99
Rip-off time again.
But at least Craig Fraley is honest about it. “All the information in this book can be found online”
he says in his introduction, or “Disclaimer” as he calls it. And the emboldened emphasis is his too.
He even admits that the newspaper reports can be found on Casebook.org.
Quite a few books reprinting press reports have appeared over the past few years and the
majority mercilessly plunder the transcribed newspaper reports freely available on Casebook. Most
add nothing. Fraley is different. He has written his own text, then, whenever he seems able, he
quotes from the newspapers, often very long extracts from the inquest reports in the Times.
We’ve seen it all before.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 59
Jack the Ripper: The Facts
Don’t bother with this book, even if you can download and open it and have the eyesight capable
of reading the tiny print. It’s another rip-off, this time it’s lifted the Wikipedia entry on Jack the
Ripper and lazy Philip Holbrook couldn’t be bothered to disguise the fact. It even includes the same
illustrations. And, perhaps the biggest sin, it pinches the title of my book.
Policing the Victorian Community:
The Formation of the English Provincial Police Forces, 1856-1880
Vol: 9 in the Routledge Library Editions: The History of Crime and Punishment
London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 2016
First Published: London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1984
£90.00 Hardcover/£26.99 ebook
The very hefty price tag means that this isn’t likely to be a book you’ll buy for your personal
library, but it’s one you might want to source from your local library. Also, it’s worth noting that it
was originally published in 1984, so it might not be as up-to-date as you’d like.
As the cover price indicates, this is an academic book, written in an academic style, and
unfortunately for some reason printed in a typewriter typeface that I found frustratingly awkward to read. Nevertheless,
it was and remains an interesting examination of the development of provincial police forces following the passing of
the County and Borough Police Act in 1856, which made it compulsory for any county in England (and Wales) which had
not already established a police force to do so.
The book has two parts, “Government and Policing” and “Men and Policemen”, the latter being a particularly
interesting analysis of the places and occupations from which policemen were recruited, the possible reasons why some
men saw policing as an attractive opportunity, and how and why recruits very often failed to make it through their first
year on the beat.
At first the bulk of recruits were men in their mid-20s, but soon they were in their early-20s, and a good many had
worked the land before joining the police. Farm labourers worked hard for little pay, so police work seemed immediately
attractive, but many found the police to be less appealing than it had first appeared. Roughly half of those who joined
the police survived a year in the job and a mere 12% made it through to receiving their pensions. These figures remained
pretty much the same throughout the period covered by the book. Interestingly, of those who left in their first year, 47%
resigned and 53% were dismissed. The dismissal rate dropped quite dramatically as the years of service increased, but
the chance of dying whilst in harness increased.
What we often overlook is that policemen were almost exclusively working-class, whilst those they policed and over
whom they had to exercise a degree of authority were middle- and upper-class. It was therefore psychologically difficult
for a man to become a policeman, stepping out of his class, and having to deal with people who considered him his social
inferior. It’s something which may have had an unappreciated impact on the Ripper investigation.
I enjoyed this book. I can’t recommend that you rush out and buy it, but if you’re interested in the history of the
police you should certainly see if your local library can source it for you.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 60
London Fog: A Memoir
Christine L Corton
Cambridge Massachusets: Harvard University Press, 2015
Hardcover; 391pp; illus; notes; index
“Even now I can recall the foggy evenings, and hear again the raucous cries of the newspaper
boys: “ Another horrible murder, murder, mutilation, Whitechapel.” Such was the burden of their
So wrote Sir Melville Macnaghten. But, of course, the nights when Jack killed were not foggy.
The image of Jack disappearing wraithlike into a swirling pea-souper is one of the enduring canards
about Jack, but the famous London fog - or smog, a mixture of smoke and fog - is so ingrained in
both Ripperlore and London history that it’s almost impossible to escape it. It’s been gone now for
fifty-three years, but even today non-Londoners still refer to the capital as “the smoke”.
Christine Corton discusses Jack the Ripper and the fog, but in a chapter about the danger the fog presented for
women. The chapter opens with reference to the closure by Richard Mansfield of his play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and
moves on to Marie Belloc Lownde’s masterful The Lodger, which opens on a day “so cold, so foggy, so-so drizzly”, and
a knock on the door that heralds the peculiar presence of a desperately needed lodger, Mr Sleuth. She also mentions
William Hardinge’s novel Out of the Fog, published in 1888 though it had been serialised the previous year. This story
portrays the fog as a prison, which it must have been for a great many women, its thickness determining how far she
dare walk outside, if she dare walk outside at all.
Lots of authors referred to the dangers
that coud lay in wait in the fog. In Love
and Mr Lewisham H G Wells painted a
picture of the fog - “…the street lamps,
blurred smoky orange at one’s nearest,
and vanishing at twenty yards into dim
haze, seemed to accentuate the infinite
need of protection on the part of a
delicate young lady who had already
traversed three winters of fogs, thornily
alone.” I’d always thought - when I had
thought about it at all - that the London
fog was a side effect of the Industrial
Revolution, was born in the 19th century
and lasted into the 1950s. The geography
would always have made London a little
prone to mists - the Thames basin is
surrounded by low hills, a mist making
environment, especially in the early
morning. But smog - the smoke from
fires burning wood and sea-coal (brought by boat from Newcastle) mixing with the fog - was in fact a problem during
the Elizabethan period. Elizabeth I complained of it, saying she was “greatly grieved and annoyed with the taste and
smoke of sea-coales”.
The diarist John Evelyn, who thought the sulfurous clouds caused by the burning of sea-coal had turned London into
a “hell upon earth”, proposed moving industry elsewhere and surrounding London with flowers and hedges. His idea met
with the enthusiastic approval of Charles II, but nothing was done. Nor would anything be done until the 1950s. On 4
December 1952 a thick yellow fog hung over London and everywhere up to 20 miles from the centre, and this unwanted
guest stayed for a week, even penetrating buildings. This “Great Killer Fog” claimed 12,000 lives. It was an MP named
Gerald Nabarro who eventually got the Clean Air Act pushed into law.
It was in Victorian times that the thick, yellow fog that lay heavy beyond the Bunting’s red damask curtains really
became a feature of London. Some sixty of these fog occurred every year. East London invariably copped the worst of it,
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 61
the prevailing westerly wind driving the fog to swirl thickly through its streets. So, as ever, the poor suffered, their lives
sacrificed to indutry. But the end of the 19th century the fogs were diminishing somewhat, but numerous attempts were
made to regulate the amount of smoke cause by industry, but always the business interests prevailed.
The book isn’t all doom and gloom. Ms Corton has managed to gather some highly memorable little stories, such as
the time when an opera at Sadlers Wells had to be abandoned, the fog being so thick in the theatre that the audience
couldn’t see the stage. Or when a a heavy, thick fog joined the congregation inside St Paul’s Cathedral and obscured the
pulpit from which the sermon was delivered, the text being “I am the Light of the World”.
I thoroughly enjoyed this very handsome book. Having struggled through some almost impenetrably written academic
titles and fearing the same from this offering another university press, I was delighted to find that this was a clearly
written, superbly researched, very detailed, and, to me at least, original investigation of the London fog.
Original Spin: Downing Street
and The Press in Victorian Britain
London: I.B. Taurus, 2015
Hardcover; 280pp; illus; notes; biblio; index
The use of the word “spin” to mean putting an event in a favourable light is uncertain. I’ve read
that it comes from baseball, where pitchers put a spin on a ball to control its direction, but it is
far more likely to come from spinning a yarn, an expression which itself derives from the textile
industry. It means telling (an often tall) story. As for the term “spin doctor”, it dates back to 1984.
To the 7th August in fact. The New York Times using the expression for the first time in print -
“Today the competing camps engaged in a game of persuasion and perception: ‘spin doctoring’, as
the craft of explaining to reporters what really happened is known in political circles.”
People of importance have probably always worried about how their contemporaries perceive them, and a few with
an awareness of history will have worried about how future generations would see them - a classic example being the
way in which Henry VII had his predecessor’s reputation blackened, even attributing to Richard III the murder of the
princess in the Tower. With the removal of the “tax on knowledge” and growing literacy among the working classes, the
number of newspapers grew and politicians had more to worry about than how they would be remembered after they
were dead. The newspapers could lose them votes or win them. Quietly, but with determination, it became necessary
to manipulate the truth, to make the unfavourable appear favourable.
It’s often said that newspapers and journalists in in 19th century were fairly low on the status scale. Towards the
end of the 19th century journalism changed. The “New Journalism” catered for a popular audience, the newly literate
man in the street. It didn’t simply report the news, it delivered interpretation and ready made opinion. W T Stead is
often cited as its prime moving force, and Stead also wanted to deliver the story behind the news and so gave birth
to investigative journalism. This was a wholly new phenomenon that politicians, businessmen, and other prominent
individuals did not like. They were used to making statements, not to being probed and questioned and having their
foibles and mistakes exposed to the world.
The “new journalism” flowered with the launch of Alfred Harmsworth’s hugely successful Daily Mail, which Lord
Salisbury described as “written by office boys for office boys”. Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) was probably the first prime
minister to use the press to his own advantage, passing on information in return for favourable reporting and support.
He invited journalists to pleasant social gatherings, he leaked information, wrote anonymous articles, and bestowed
sinecures on newspapermen. His association with The Times’s editor John Thadeus Delane (1817-1879) was described
by Lord Brougham as “devil-worship”. All Victoria’s prime ministers did the same, but most were a little more adept
at pretending otherwise, hiding behind a not altogether untrue disdain for the grubby journalists and newspapers
whilst feting them behind closed doors. Balfour even claimed that he never read the newspapers, which in fact he did.
His uncle, Lord Salisbury, the prime minister at the time of the Ripper murders, also gave an outward appearance of
disdaining newspapers, but in the early part of his career, before he inherited the title and estate and family fortune,
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 62
he made his living by writing anonymous articles for the reviews and as
prime minister he used the press quite skilfully.
Paul Brighton, a lecturer in media studies, has written a fascinating
book. It’s well researched, well informed, and very readable, but
somewhat dry and unexciting, and it’s a bit plodding to begin with,
but from Palmerston it gets better. The beginning of the book is scene
setting, starting with Pitt the Younger.
Chapters then look at Liverpool and Wellington, Grey and Melbourne,
and Peel and Russell, before prime ministers get their own chapters.
These are Lord Derby, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston, Bjamin Disraeli
and William Gladstone. For the final chapter Lord Salisbury shares the
stage with Lord Rosebery. Lord Salisbury’s attempts to manipulate the
press was most visible in the “Parnellism and Crime” debacle which did
great damage to the reputation of The Times and to Salisbury and his
government. The series of articles were a blatant attempt to discredit
Charles Parnell and the Irish Party, as well as do damage to Gladstone
and those Liberals who supported Irish Home Rule. The center-piece was
a letter supposedly written by Parnell in which he supported the murder
of two officials in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Brighton describes the whole
thing as “a sophisticated ‘spin’ operation”. Brighton says that Salisbury”
did not much mind if the letters turned out to be forgeries, as they did,
so long as the overall impression of Parnell and his supporters left more
than a trace of negative feeling in the minds of voters in the rest of
Britain.” Afterwards, Salisbury tried - with some small justification, to
play down the forgery and play up the fact that Parnell wasn’t altogether
cleared of supporting violence and violent men. How the whole mess might have played out can’t be known because
Parnell’s affair with Kitty O’Shea became common knowledge and shattered his political future. He died soon after.
I’d have liked to have had more about Lord Salisbury and particularly the ramifications of “Parnellism and Crime”.
It must have been from Salisbury, or those close to him, who fed information to The Times, sanctioned its journalists
access to the files and secret papers at Dublin Castle, and even drew in the complicity of the Metropolitan police and
perhaps even encouraged Anderson’s articles.
I enjoyed Paul Brighton’s book, but found it a little thin in parts and the closing years of Victoria’s reign, so important
in the history of British newspapers, seemed rushed. Overall, though, it was interesting reading.
Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants:
The Female Gang That Terrorised London
Preston: Milo Books, 2015
softcover; illus; biblio; index.
She was young, had distinctive dark, close-cropped hair, known as an Eton-cut. She was described
as good-looking, and although no-one saw it, she also carried a jemmy with which she forced open
the front door of a house in Raleigh Drive, Claygate, Surrey. After a while the young woman and
her male companion left the house, returned to the four-seater open touring car in which they’d
driven to the house, and left. It was broad daylight, the afternoon of 23 August 1926. When the
owners returned they discovered that the house had been ransacked, jewellery, clothing, and other
valuables stolen. According to the newspapers, the police believed the Eton-cropped girl was the new leader of the
Forty Elephants, a female gang which the police thought they’d smashed in 1925 when most of its prominent leaders
had been sent to prison.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 63
I was searching a newspaper archive for something or other when I came across
this story, my eye being caught by the headline ‘Girl Motor Bandit’. I read a little
more about the Forty Elephants back in 2013 in Brian McDonald’s Gangs of London:
100 Years of Mob Warfare (2010), but other things conspired that year to giving the
book more than a glance through. Anyway, the Forty Elephants stuck somewhere in
my mind and a very, very faint bell rang when I read the title of this book, and much
to my pleasure it tells the story of the ‘Eton-Bobbed Bandit’, as the newspapers
dubbed the supposed gang leader.
Her name was Lillian Rose Kendall, born in Wandsworth in 1902, indicted into the
Forty Elephants, and by 1920 prostituting herself in the East End for a man named
Henry ‘Harry’ Goldstein, who went to prison for living on immoral earnings.
Brian McDonald, who also authored a family memoir, Elephant Boys (2000),
about Charles McDonald and the south London McDonald gang, tells the full story
of the mainly female Elephant and Castle-based Forty Elephants, sometimes called the Forty Thieves. The leader was
called the ‘queen’ and the first is generally thought to have been Charlie Pitts. By 1896 it was a woman named Mary
Carr. By the 1920s it was Alice Diamond (aka Diana Black). A junior lieutenant in Alice’s gang was Maggie Hill, who would
succeed her as ‘queen’ in the 1930s. Maggie’s 13-year-old brother was Billy Hill, who later claimed to be Boss of Britain’s
Underworld. The gang initially targeted shops and department stores, shoplifting a staggering amount of booty, the
organised getaway involving hoisters, who did the actual thefts, boosters, to whom the stolen goods were passed, and a
third group who discouraged pursuers.
When London got too hot, the gang moved into the provinces and seaside towns,
often organising a ‘blitz’ attack on a large number of businesses in one town. When
shoplifting became too difficult, the gang moved into smash and grab raids and
housebreaking. She was born in 1896. She acquired a record as a juvenile, came to
police attention when in her late teens, having been arrested in 1912 for stealing
chocolate, in 1913 for stealing a blouse, and in 1914 she received 12-months with
hard labour for assorted thefts. By 1926 was the accepted ‘queen’. She had light
brown hair, green eyes, a dimpled chin, and stood 5ft 10ins in her stockinged feet,
which was remarkably tall for the time, and her diamond rings were as effective
as a brass knuckle-duster. She was also in and out of prison, her last conviction
being in 1929. Alice Diamond was not mad, but to paraphrase Lady Caroline Lamb’s
description of Lord Byron, eh was most certainly bad and dangerous to know. For
example, just before Christmas 1925 Alice and a gang of men and women raided the
home of William Britten. It was a brutal attack, Britten being badly injured, his son
hurt and his wife threatened with a gun. These were definitely not nice people. Alice
Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants isn’t the easiest of books to read. There are a lot of names and relationships
to remember, and the narrative does follow a sequential dates, but sometimes skips about a bit. But once you settle into
the book it’s easy enough.
The book isn’t all about Alice Diamond, who died in
the 1950s, but begins with female criminals, starting
with Moll Cutpurse and the highway-woman Lady
Katherine Ferrers (1634-1660), allegedly the real-life
model for the ‘Wicked Lady Skelton’ in Magdalen King-
Hall’s novel upon which the classic Margaret Lockwood
movie, The Wicked Lady (1945), was based. It comes
pretty much up-to-date. I thoroughly enjoyed this
book, which opened a window on a criminal history of
Britain that I’d hitherto pretty much overlooked.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 64
The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and
Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd
Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, 2016
hardcover; 264pp; illus; notes; biblio; index.
£17.76 hardback/£16.68 ebook
The beautiful young woman was dead. She’d turned on the engine of her car, maybe to use the heater
or maybe just to warm the vehicle prior to driving somewhere, but she’d she’d fallen asleep, and in
the almost airtight garage she had been overcome by the exhaust fumes. She was known by a couple
of nicknames, the Ice Cream Blonde and Hot Toddy. Her name was Thelma Todd. She was a movie star.
Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Thelma Todd was an intelligent woman destined to become a
housewife and a teacher, but her mother encouraged her to enter beauty pageants and after winning the Miss Massachusetts
title, she was recognised by a Hollywood talent scout and quickly became a star. A distinguished comedienne, she made
roughly 120 movies between her first, Fascinating Youth, in 1926 and her last, The Bohemian Girl with Laurel and Hardy,
in 1935. They were mostly shorts, but she was one of the lucky silent screen actresses to successfully make the transition
Away from the screen, Todd displayed an appalling choice in men, but a good business sense, running a successful
restaurant, the Sidewalk Cafe, which she co-owned with Roland West and his ex-wife.
The morning of Monday, 16 December 1935, Thelma Todd was found slumped in her Lincoln convertible inside the
garage of Jewel Carmen, the former wife of Todd’s lover and business partner, Roland West. She was dead from carbon
monoxide poisoning, apparently a suicide. On Saturday night, 14 December, she had had an unpleasant exchange with
her ex-husband, Pat DiCicco, at a party at the Trocadero, but had left the party in good spirits. LAPD detectives
concluded that Todd’s death was accidental, a Coroner’s Inquest jury decided the same, as did a grand jury, but there
was no motive for suicide and no suicide note, and speculation that Todd was murdered, either by Roland West or by
gangsters has continued. In her book Hot Toddy (1991), Andy Edmonds suggesting that the hit was ordered by mobster
Charles “Lucky” Luciano, who wanted to open an illegal casino on one of the Cafe’s floors, possibly with the intention of
luring studio bosses into getting huge gambling debts which would give Luciano a way of taking over the studios.
Other commentators have questioned
the factual accuracy of Andy Edmonds’
book, claiming in particular that there is no
evidence that Luciano had any involvement in
Todd’s death. Most notable of these is William
Donati’s The Life and Death of Thelma Todd
(2012). Unfortunately, it was published by
McFarland, so it has a high price tag, putting it
beyond the reach of the interested but casual
reader, but he returned to original sources
and had access to previously unseen material,
footnoting his sources, and eschewing
fabricated dialogue. Donati had previously
written Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of
a Mob Boss and he dissected Edmonds theory
with surgical skill.
Michelle Morgan, who authored the
Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals and
has otherwise written about Monroe and
Madonna, tells the story of Todd’s life and
recounts the circumstances leading up to her death. she discounts any involvement with Luciano, either romantically or
in business, but she does home in on Anthony Cornero Stralla, a booze-runner supplying alcohol imported from Canada
to the thirsty Prohibition club and restaurant goers of Los Angeles. However, Morgan doesn’t come down on any sides,
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 65
ut presents the facts and theories and leaves you to decide for yourself. Mind you, as Morgan says, ‘piecing together
information about Thelma Todd’s death is like putting together a five-thousandpiece jigsaw puzzle of the sky at night…’
One things seems fairly certain, she didn’t die accidentally. She committed suicide or she was murdered.
The book is well served by notes, bibliography and index. There’s a good but unexciting selection of images. Overall,
I thoroughly enjoyed Michelle Morgan’s book. Thelma Todd was a star who doesn’t twinkle in the Hollywood firmament
as brightly as it did in the early days of the talkies, but the manner of her death is a real mystery. Highly recommended.
The Life and Death of Kid Curry:
Tiger of the Wild Bunch
Gary A. Wilson
Roman and Littlefield, 2015
Softcover/ebook; 230pp; biblio; index
Softcover £12.95, Ebook £11.67
“He has not one single redeeming feature. He is the only criminal I know of who does not have
one single good point.” So said William Pinkerton of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was talking
about Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, one of the most vicious outlaws in the American West. Logan was
credited with fifteen killings. Some people say he killed twice that number. Others say it was a more
Back in the early 1970s there was a television series I was fond of called Alias Smith and Jones, which wasn’t the last
western series but feels like it. In case you didn’t see it or haven’t caught the re-runs, it was about two outlaws who
were granted an amnesty, but only if they could go straight for a year. The hitch or catch was that nobody could know
about the deal, which meant that the boys still had a reward on their heads and that sheriffs and bounty hunters would
still be after them. One of the outlaws was called Hannibal Hayes. The other was Jed “Kid” Curry and he was very fast
with a gun, but he was very reluctant to draw.
There never was a Hannibal Hayes, but Kid Curry was real enough. His real name was Harvey Logan and like the TV
character he was fast with his gun, but had no reluctance about pulling the trigger. He was a cold-blooded killer, possibly
the most feared fugitive in America.
From 1894 to 1904 he robbed banks and trains and eluded the posses that rode after him. He rode with his own
gang, with such famed outlaws as Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In a famous
photograph known as the “Fort Worth Five” of the Wild Bunch in their Sunday best, he stands on the right, his hand
resting on Butch Cassidy’s shoulder.
He was the third son of William Logan and Eliza (nee Johnson). His brothers were James, Henry (Hank), John, and
Lorenzo (Lonie). He also had a sister named Arda. When their mother died all the children (except the eldest boy) went
to live with an aunt in Dodson, Missouri . He moved around a bit and it was when breaking horses on a ranch in Texas
that he met George “Flat Nose” Curry, whose surname he and his brothers adopted. Harvey Logan was a hard worker,
mild-mannered, likable, and loyal, but when he had sufficient money in his pocket he liked to indulge in prostitutes and
alcohol. He wasn’t particularly likeable when drunk.
It was in 1894 that Curry ran across Powell “Pike” Landusky in Jake Harris’s saloon in Chouteau County, Montana.
Landusky drew his gun and fired, but the gun jammed. Curry’s borrowed gun fired and Landusky died. Curry didn’t
believe he’d get a fair trial, so he fled and in due course joined up with Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum. His life from
then on consisted of riding the outlaw trail, a glamorous adventure in these declining years of the wild west, but which
in reality was a succession of robberies, some killings here and there, and eating a lot of dust as the gang fled posses.
The Life and Death of Kid Curry isn’t the first book to chronicle the career of Kid Curry, but it can probably lay claim
to being the most meticulously researched. It isn’t particularly well-written and there are some typos here and there,
but Wilson manages to hold your interest as he recounts the succession of crimes and escapes. What one really wants
to get to is Curry’s death.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 66
Scholars of the wild west seem agreed that Kid Curry was one of three men who robbed a train near Parachute,
Colorado, and were pursued by a posse that one newspaper said numbered 100 men. One of the cowboys shot and
wounded one of the robbers, who fell from his horse. Accounts differ as to what happened next. One is that the wounded
robber stood up from behind some rocks and was seen to shoot himself through the head, the other is that his body was
discovered behind some rocks, it being clear that he’d shot himself through the head. Either way, the robber was dead
by his own hand. Furthermore, in due course the body was identified as that of Kid Curry. The date was 9 June 1904.
But all is not quite that clear cut. Doubts that it was Kid Curry began to mount until it was decided to exhume
the body. Curry had scars on the right wrist and arm and one newspaper reported that these were not visible on the
corpse, but another newspaper reported that the body was so badly decomposed that identification was impossible. The
Pinkertons were happy to declare that the body was that of Kid Curry.
There are quite a lot of reported sightings of Kid Curry by friends and others in the years that followed. It was even
claimed that Curry had never been involved in the robbing of that train near Parachute, but that he’d joined Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Argentina. The truth will probably never be known.
As said, this book isn’t particularly wellwritten and it was sometimes difficult to sort out who was who and where was
where, but I thoroughly enjoyed Gary A Wilson’s account of the life and criminal career of Kid Curry. It is the result of a
decades research by Mr Wilson and some of the information here is apparently published for the first time, and Wilson
should be congratulated for the final result.
All reviews by Paul Begg
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Ripperologist 147 December 2015 68
with DAVID GREEN
There was Mary.
She didn’t look like much of a person at all, the way she was carved up. It was so awful, if I did any
kind of job telling you about it here, you might get so revolted you’d quit reading my book. Besides, I’d
feel guilty for putting such pictures into your head. My aim is to inform you and entertain you with the
tale of my adventures...
* * * * *
The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories
Maxim Jakubowski (ed.)
from Savage by Richard Laymon (1993)
Editor Maxim Jakubowski has assembled a wonderful collection of 40 all new stories about Jack the
Ripper. Mostly they are tales of mystery, suspense, science fiction or horror, often with a counterfactual
twist thrown in for good measure. The East End territory will be largely familiar, but just around the
corner you’ll find yourself in strange, dark places - a bordello stocked with the living dead, a hi-tech
office suite equipped with Jack the Ripper simulators, and a twenty-first century hotel where a Jack
the Ripper conference quickly degenerates into bloody massacre… You’ll know many of the characters
who skulk in the rookeries and gas-lit courtyards, but from time to time you’ll also come across other folk - psychic detectives
and kitchen offal workers, seafaring lunatics and cross-dressing Metropolitan police officers in padded bustles and chignon wigs.
And of course, you’ll bump into Jack the Ripper in a multitude of shapes and forms.
At the crudest level, this is an anthology of serial killer stories. But Jakubowski’s selections are broad and wide-ranging, keen
to explore the myriad ways in which victims and assailants interact and respond to violence. This diversity is welcome, and it
serves to demonstrate how far Ripper fiction has matured from the stalk-and-slash yarns of old.
Naturally, the stories vary in style and quality, and readers will need to find for themselves the entries that work best for
them. Perhaps a couple of the stories have been too arduously crafted, while others seem to me to offer little beyond a ‘shock’
revelation about the Ripper’s identity.
Overwhelmingly, though, this is a very strong collection. What distinguishes the best stories is a willingness to take risks coupled
with a clear commitment to the Ripper theme in its purest form. Standouts include Adrian Ludens’s supernatural horror tale
‘The Monster’s Leather Apron’, which follows Jack the Ripper out into the Yukon goldfields for a savage encounter with an Innuit
monstrosity. Equally successful is Sally Spedding’s creepy and menacing look at Aaron Kosminski’s troubled schooldays in Congress
Poland. Catherine Lundoff contributes a tense domestic drama about patriarchal violence, focusing on the Ripper’s terrorizing
influence over the cowed female members of his household. In ‘A Small Band of Dedicated Men’ Andrew Lane shows what happens
when a group of men unfairly accused of being the Ripper - Ostrog, Tumblety, Seweryn Kłosowski, Francis Thompson, etc – join
forces to hunt down the real killer: it’s a fantastic story with absolutely the best nasty twist in the book. Interestingly, there is
tale called ‘They All Love Jack’ by Nick Sweet featuring Michael Maybrick as the Ripper.
This anthology is crammed with intelligent and consistently entertaining fiction that will appeal to even the most jaded souls.
It’s a fitting high point on which to end what has been an outstanding year for Ripper fiction.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 69
Gideon Smith & The Mask of the Ripper
London: Snowbooks (2015)
London, 1890. For more than two years a monster called Jack the Ripper has been preying on
prostitutes in the End East, sawing open their skulls and removing handfuls of brain tissue. The police
have run out of ideas. The unfortunates have gone on strike. The country is on the brink of riot and
civil disobedience. It’s time to call in Gideon Smith, the dashing young penny dreadful adventurer and
pulp superhero of the Empire. But things don’t quite go to plan when a despicable villain – Markus
Mesmer - steals Gideon’s memory, leaving him to wander forlorn and adrift around the dangerous
streets of Whitechapel. Who will catch the Ripper now? Who will save the Crown?
This is the third instalment in David Barnett’s energetic, rip roaring steampunk adventure series set in an alternative
British Empire where the American Revolution never took place and where airships traverse the skies piloted by cyborgs.
The novel is chock-a-block with steampunk motifs - brass dragons, dinosaurs in the sewers, hydraulic police truncheons,
clockwork bloodhounds, and best of all, Maria the Mechanical Girl with a body made of coils, gears, pistons and cogs but the
emotions of a woman. Add Jack the Ripper to the stew, and you have a colourful, action-packed drama, variously decadent and
swashbuckling, blood-curdling and goofy, full of weird and wonderful and abominable characters. Hugely enjoyable.
The Night in Question
Heard the one about Jack the Ripper and the female comic from the Black Country? Laurie
Graham’s magnificent new novel is set in the world of East London variety theatre at the time of the
Jack the Ripper murders. It tells the story of Dot Allbones, who has risen from humble beginnings in
Wolverhampton to become the darling of music hall audiences, a lioness comique playing venues in
Hoxton and Mile End. But Dot is getting on a bit and struggling to keep her top billing as theatre-goers
clamour for younger artistes and new speciality acts.
One evening, outside the Griffin Hall in Shoreditch, she meets up with a childhood friend she hasn’t seen in over twenty
years - Kate Eddowes, now fallen on hard times and eking out a piteous existence on the streets of Whitechapel. At the same
time, a peculiar American herbalist enters Dot’s life - a Dr Frank Townsend, who may be a Fenian terrorist, or a pervert. Or
something far worse… It’s the autumn of 1888 and Jack the Ripper is about to begin his murder spree.
Readers of this journal will have a fairly good idea where the story is heading, and if this dark, elegantly written, funny novel
has a minor fault it is only that there are so few surprises plot-wise. Even so, it is Laurie Graham’s probing of the underside of
East End Victorian life - the doss houses, the cellar kitchens, the despair and the squalor - that gives her novel real depth and
substance. It sparkles with a touching, heartfelt portrait of Kate Eddowes, depicted not as a mutilated cadaver but as a warm,
living human being with memories and hopes for the future.
Dot Allbones is a strong female character with an engaging voice full of acid wit and melancholy observation, and she makes
a perceptive commentator on the growing public hysteria surrounding the murders. One of her admirers is the journalist Tom
Bullen, who provides her - and us - with extra inside information on the atrocities.
The fellowship of backstage music hall life is thrillingly evoked. Readers will enjoy the front row seat and marvel at the
antics of Randolph the Cycling Trumpeter, Dickie Dabney and his Mathematical Crows, the Infant Prodigy, and Valentine the
male soprano. Yet beneath the greasepaint and behind the stage scenery lies a whole universe of pain and sorrow, rivalry and
thwarted ambition, lust and secret desire.
The Night in Question is a deeply moving novel about men and women, about the power of female friendship, and the way
chance and ill-fortune can intercede in life. It’s an absolutely exceptional novel, worldly and passionate, and my favourite
work of fiction in 2015.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 70
Proper Red Stuff: Ripper Fiction Before 1900
In this series we take a look at forgotten writers from the 1880s and 1890s who tackled the Jack the Ripper theme in their
novels and short fiction.
No 2: Fred W Rose: I Will Repay (1892)
Frederick W Rose (1849-1915) was born in Paddington, the second son of a Highland army officer.
He entered the Civil Service at the age of eighteen and remained there till his retirement more
than forty years later. So far as we know he enjoyed a happy and busy career, full of diverting civic
incident. For most of his adult life he lived at No. 4 Cromwell Crescent in South Kensington. In 1870
he married Catharine Gilchrist, also of Scottish descent, but filed for divorce in 1891, citing his wife’s
adultery. He fathered three sons.
Rose was a great European traveller and an accomplished artist and illustrator. His hugely influential
political cartoon maps are still very popular today. He also had a life-long interest in murder and true
crime, becoming an early member of Our Society (later the Crimes Club).
When he was forty-three, Frederick Rose published his second novel, I Will Repay (Eden, Remington & Co, 1892). Set in
Pimlico, it’s a grim, rather horrific tale based on the Jack the Ripper murders. It advances the theory that the killer was an
epileptic suffering from religious mania who believes he has received instruction from the Almighty to punish prostitutes.
The novel contains a fair amount of autobiographical detail in its descriptions of middle class and bohemian party life,
but it is the darker material that really impresses. Early on, we watch as the antagonist Wargrave Leinster learns to savour
the culling and gralloching of deer on the moorland estates around Perth. An old Spanish bull-fighter teaches him the art
of severing the buck’s spinal cord with a single slice of the knife. Later, there are several spectacularly grisly scenes where
Leinster dismembers his first female victim using his father’s surgical implements, disposing of the torso and body parts in
Epping Forest, Woking, and stations along the suburban East London line. There are episodes, too, verging on necrophily, where
Leinster drools over the contents of his large carved oak chest wherein are stored the dead bodies of his victims. One wonders
where the author’s venom came from to produce all of this, and it is tantalising to reflect that at the time Rose was writing I
Will Repay he was embroiled in an ugly divorce and a bitter public dispute over the custody of his children.
I Will Repay is certainly a macabre affair, but it has great merit and significance as perhaps the first serious fictional attempt
to understand the psychopathology of the Whitechapel serial killer: by presenting a credible scientific rationale for the Ripper
crimes, Rose’s novel stands apart from the shilling shockers and supernatural thrillers that typified most Ripper fiction in the
first quarter of a century after the murders.
Not unexpectedly, his novel provoked controversy. A reviewer for the Manchester Courier complained that ‘The public does
not wish to know about these ghastly horrors, and will decline to go back to the atrocities of the Whitechapel murders, even
when presented under the thin disguise of ‘Pimlico’ as the locality.’ The Freeman’s Journal regretted that the author’s obvious
literary talent had been wasted on such a ‘gruesome and somewhat undesirable subject’, while The Yorkshire Post dismissed
it as an ‘unpleasant novel of which little or nothing can be said in praise.’
Possibly Rose was stung by these hostile reactions, for he gave up fiction writing altogether. Yet it seems likely to me that
Rose will have returned to his speculations on epilepsy and murder twelve years later, when he and his fellow enthusiasts at
the Crimes Club met over lunch and drinks to debate celebrated murder mysteries such as the Jack the Ripper case.
References: For details of Rose’s membership of Our Society, see Arthur Lambton’s article ‘The Crimes Club’ in the London Magazine for
March 1923. Rose’s contribution to map-making is briefly covered in Gillian Hill’s Cartographical Curiosities (British Library Publishing, 1978,
pp. 46-49). For contemporary reviews of Rose’s novel see ‘Manchester Courier’, January 9, 1892; Freeman’s Journal, January 23, 1892; and
The Yorkshire Post, January 27, 1892. A biography of Rose has been announced by Rod Barron, the antiquarian map dealer. There is a copy of
I Will Repay in the British Library (shelf mark lsidyv3aed10a0).
IN THE NEXT ISSUE we take a look at the new three-part English language translation of Philippe R Welté’s novel
Jack the Ripper: The Secret of Mary Jane K., which was a best seller when released in France in 2006. Plus all the
latest Ripper fiction.
DAVID GREEN lives in Hampshire, England, where he works as a freelance book indexer. He is currently writing
(very slowly) a book about the murder of schoolboy Percy Searle in Hampshire in 1888.
Ripperologist 147 December 2015 71