RipperCon in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018, with tours of Baltimore April 6 and 9!

Alfred Hitchcock, Baltimore, Civil War, Edgar Allan Poe, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lodger, True crime, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders, silent motion pictures, stage and screen No Comments »









If you are interested in Jack the Ripper, the Whitechapel Murders, Edgar Allan Poe,

Sherlock Holmes, Victorian mysteries, or True Crime, this is the event for you.

Baltimore is going to be a happening place on the weekend of April 7-8!

Registration is $140 or $120 if you agree to wear period clothing.

Price includes talks and panels Saturday and Sunday in the Main

Building at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) 9 am

to 5 pm including lunch and refreshments, Friday afternoon free

walking tour of downtown Baltimore and evening reception at

the Lord Baltimore Hotel. To book a place, $80 is due now and the

remainder by or on Valentine’s Day, February 14 (RipperCon 2018

is for lovers!!!). Pay via PayPal to Note that

Saturday night banquet with speakers and entertainment and the Monday all-

day Bus Tour are priced separately. Space is limited to 50 people so book early!

RipperCon 2018 Speakers

Circa 13-14 speakers are expected to give talks over the weekend.

Look out for surprise announcements here as well as on Facebook & Twitter!


Carla E. Anderton

“There’s Something About Mary: Whitechapel’s Darkest Night, November 9, 1888”

Carla E. Anderton

Carla E. Anderton has long been fascinated by history and the human condition,

particularly English history in the Tudor and Victorian eras. A speaker at the

2011 conference at Drexel University on “Jack the Ripper Through A Wider Lens,”

Anderton made the elusive killer the focus of her debut novel, The Heart Absent

(New Libri Press, 2013).

Anderton has a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill

University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from California University of

Pennsylvania. In addition to writing historical fiction, Anderton has published

poetry, essays, articles, and plays, and has an extensive background in small

press journalism.

Currently, Anderton is the Editor-in-Chief of Pennsylvania Bridges, a regional

print and online magazine, and an adjunct professor of English and public

speaking at Westmoreland County Community College. She lives in California,

PA, with her husband, Eric, and two cats, River and Rozey.


Amy Branam Armiento
“‘How calmly I can tell you the whole story’: Murder in Edgar Allan Poe’s Fiction”

Amy Branam Armiento

Armiento is an associate professor of English and the coordinator of African-American

Studies at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland. A native of Fort Wayne,

Indiana, she completed her B.A. degree at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne.

Armiento’s Master’s thesis, Literature and Killers: Three Novels as Motives for

Murder, was the culmination of her studies at Ball State University. She earned

her PhD in English at Marquette University, focusing her dissertation on Edgar Allan Poe.

Currently, Armiento serves as Vice President of the international Poe Studies Association.

When she is not teaching or conducting research, she enjoys the splendors of mountain

Western Maryland with her husband, Frank, stepdaughter, Milana, and dogs, Smeg and Stella.


Bernard Beaulé
“Tumblety: Historical and Criminal Evidence Issues”

Bernard Beaulé

Bernard Beaulé will tackle the thorny issue of controversial but colorful quack

Dr. Francis Tumblety and his candidacy for having been a leading Jack the

Ripper suspect since 1995.  Does ”Dr. T” still remain a viable suspect?

Born a French Canadian in the town of Havre Saint-Pierre on Quebec’s

North Shore, Beaulé spent some ten years in his childhood in the United

States where his father studied surgery.

Although he has a college degree in Social Science focusing on empirical

research and he also attended law school, he never claimed to be other

than someone looking for the truth. Beaulé and his wife are these days

resident for much of the year in Mérida, Mexico, 190 miles west of Cancún.

He is working toward a Master’s degree in Mayan archeology.

Known by colleagues as a trouble shooter, Bernard Beaulé’s

career brought him constantly closer to what he aspired to

become—a writer. From governmental papers, political speeches,

and, years later, given his passion for gardening, a book on how

to design and build water gardens (a French-Canadian best seller!),

he now adventures himself in the historical fiction genre. His first

novel, My Ripper Hunting Days, allowed him to blend in all the

aspects that an author working with the past should consider to be

his ground rules: rigor, integrity, endless self-challenging, and

acceptance of peer review.


Mikita Brottman

“A Morbid Curiosity: Murder in the Old Belvedere Hotel, Baltimore, 2006”

Mikita Brottman.

Brottman will discuss the mysterious death of businessman Rey Rivera, 32, whose decomposing body was discovered a week after his disappearance in a closed meeting room. His injuries were consistent with the man having either jumped or been pushed from the roof of the Belvedere. Whether Rivera’s death was the result of suicide or murder has been the subject of much speculation and will be the subject of Brottman’s new book, A Morbid Curiosity. For more on the case see

Brottman is a psychoanalyst and​ professor in the Department of Humanistic​ Studies at MICA. She is the author of Meat is Murder! (1998), a study of cannibalism in myth, crime, and film; and the true crime collection Thirteen Girls (2013). Her book, The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison, was published in June 2016 by HarperCollins and (see She lives in the Old Belvedere Hotel.

Christopher T. George

“The Legend of Jack the Ripper” and “The Devil in Mr Deeming”

Christopher T. George

Yes, the Whitechapel Murderer, otherwise known as Jack the Ripper, was a real-life serial killer who terrorized the East End of London in the autumn of 1888. Yet, human though he was, this unknown person has become much bigger than a living, breathing being.

Veteran Ripperologist Chris George, a former editor at Ripper Notes and Ripperologist magazines, discusses the worldwide phenomenon of “Jack the Ripper” and also takes a crack at alleged Ripper Frederick Bailey Deeming, repeating his successful talk in his native Liverpool, England, in September on “The Devil in Mr Deeming.”

In “The Legend of Jack the Ripper,” Chris will look at forerunners to the Whitechapel murderer, such as Spring-Heeled Jack and the London Monster and other sensations, and how word of the 1888 crimes spread to every corner of the globe, in an effort to understand why the spectre of the Whitechapel Murderer has both fascinated and frightened people for nearly 130 years. In addition, Chris will examine different candidates for the mantle of the Ripper and weighs their likelihood or non-likelihood to have been the infamous killer, in light of the existing information on the crimes.

Sarah Beth Hopton

“Mary Pearcey and the Hampstead Murders.”

Sarah Beth Hopton

Hopton’s Woman at the Devil’s Door (Mango Books, 2017) about Mary Pearcey and her crimes in Victorian London is her first work of historic true crime. Her second book, Deadfall: Mountain Mysticism, Moonshine and Massacre in 1890s Virginia, is due out in 2019 from Indiana University Press.

Among her past jobs, Hopton worked as a Florida crime and politics columnist for both The News Sun and [Closer magazine for a total of four years. She recently appeared on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel special “Bloody Marys” to discuss Mary Pearcey, viewed by some as a possible “Jill the Ripper.”

Hopton is currently an assistant professor in the English Department at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She lives on an off-grid permaculture farm with her partner, two dogs, many chickens, a few pigs, and four rascally goats.

Chris Jones
“The Maybricks of Liverpool: More George & Ringo than Lennon & McCartney?”

Chris Jones

Chris Jones taught for 36 years in secondary schools in Liverpool, served for many years as Head of History in a Merseyside school, and later as Deputy Head Teacher at one of the city’s largest comprehensive schools. A few months ago, he retired from teaching and formed his own hiking company, Simply Trekking. He spent three weeks in September trekking up to Everest base camp.

In 2007, Jones organised the Trial of James Maybrick at the Liverpool Cricket Club across the street from the former Maybrick mansion, Battlecrease House. Following the success of this event, he wrote the widely acclaimed book The Maybrick A to Z in which he tried to take an objective review of the evidence surrounding Florence Maybrick’s 1889 trial for the arsenic murder husband James and also James’ alleged links to the Ripper murders. He has continued his research into James and especially Florence, and has given talks on the Maybricks in both Britain and the United States, including in Florence’s home town of Mobile, Alabama. He has written several articles about the Maybrick case, most recently a critique of Bruce Robinson’s We All Love Jack, in which Robinson made certain doubtful claims with regard to the conduct of Florence’s trial. His current research is focused on the claims that the so-called Maybrick Diary was found by electricians working in Battlecrease House on March 9, 1992.


For a week in August 1889, the eyes of the world were focused on a sensational trial in Liverpool. A young American, Florence Maybrick, was on trial for the murder of her much older husband, a respected city cotton trader, whom she allegedly killed by means of arsenic poisoning. Finally released from prison in 1904 (but never pardoned), she returned to the U.S. the following year, when she again dominated the front pages of major newspapers.

In 1992, the supposed Diary of Jack the Ripper was “discovered” and overnight it turned James Maybrick into arguably the most controversial of all Ripper suspects. Not considered a suspect at the time of the Whitechapel murders and unmentioned in the famous Macnaghten Memorandum or any other contemporary police document, Maybrick was not linked to the killings until the emergence of the so-called Diary. His credibility as a Ripper suspect is therefore intrinsically bound up with the authenticity of this document—or the lack of it.

In his talk, Jones will look at both Florence and James Maybrick. Was one a manipulative, clever murderer and was the other the most infamous serial killer of all time? Or, are both of them relatively ordinary individuals who have been unjustly accused of crimes they didn’t commit? He will examine the key moments in Florence’s trial and why the jury produced a guilty verdict. He will then address the big question—did Florence really kill James?

Jones will then review the key arguments for and against James being a credible Ripper suspect. He will analyse the new evidence that has recently surfaced that arguably provides some much needed provenance for the Diary. Was James Maybrick really Jack the Ripper or instead an arsenic addict whose name has been cleverly woven into a forged document in an elaborate and clever hoax?

Jackie Murphy

“Jack the Ripper’s London”

Jackie Murphy

RipperCon M/C Jackie Murphy was born in North London, but brought up in Essex, 30 miles east of Whitechapel. She became interested in Jack the Ripper at age 13 when she was allowed to watch the six-part “Barlow and Watt” TV program about the case. She got further hooked on the case a few years later when she read Stephen Knight’s book. Then family life took over, but in the run up to the centenary of the case in 1988 the increase in books and documentaries really sparked her interest.

In 1999, Murphy joined the Cloak and Dagger Club, now the Whitechapel Society, and has contributed to journals and books for the society, as well as other publications. She lives with her partner Alan Hunt in Dorchester, Dorset—Thomas Hardy country. Now a semi-retired teacher, Murphy works at the local history research center and makes quilts.

Murphy tells us, “My ancestor was Benjamin Disraeli, or rather I am the result of his brother’s affair with the housekeeper! A more famous claim to fame is that my great, great grandfather owned Top Withins Farm, the basis for Wuthering Heights.”

Brian W. Schoeneman
“Sir Charles Warren, the Metropolitan Police, and the Whitechapel Murders”

Brian W. Schoeneman

Brian Schoeneman is an attorney, writer and veteran American political professional, with over fifteen years of government and private sector experience in government affairs. He has been studying the Whitechapel Murders since 1998, with an emphasis on the Metropolitan Police and Sir Charles Warren.

He currently serves as political and legislative director for the Seafarers International Union, the largest maritime union in the United States. He has served in the past as Special Assistant and Senior Speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and former Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board. In his capacity as Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board, he garnered national attention for overseeing the closest election recount in Virginia history in 2013.

Schoeneman is a graduate of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, and receive a Masters degree in political management and Bachelor’s degree in political science from the George Washington University. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, where he was elected class leader by his peers. He is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a member and former officer of John Blair Lodge #187, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Virginia.

In his community, he serves on the Vestry of historic St. John’s Church Lafayette Square, and on the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. He ran for Virginia House of Delegates in 2011 and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2015. He is the former editor-in-chief of, Virginia’s leading political website.

Casey Smith
“William Joseph Ibbett (1858-1934): Poet, Printer, Piquerist, Ripper Suspect?”

Casey Smith

Dorset-born W. J. Ibbett was a minor poet in an era noted for minor poetry. He was also a self-taught printer who produced badly printed copies of his poems. On some copies, the words were so poorly inked and broken that he used an ink pen to write over the printing to make it more legible. At times, it appears that the paper he used was taken from his day job at London’s General Post Office. Some of his poetry was produced as handwritten manuscript books, not because of a desire to create a beautiful book, but because it was cheap.

However, Ibbett managed to get some of his books printed by a few notable private presses, and the famous typographic expert and Monotype Corporation publicity manager, Beatrice Warde was an admirer. Warde even wrote the preface to one of his collections of poetry. Ibbett’s friend and mentor, rare book collector Harry Buxton Forman actively promoted Ibbett. In the middle of the 20th century, Norman Colbeck, a London book dealer, systematically collected Ibbett’s works, most of which are exceedingly scarce. (A typical run of one of Ibbett’s books was less than 200 copies.) The third collector in this chain is Mark Samuels Lasner, one of the foremost collectors of late-Victorian art and poetry in the 21st century, and the person who initially got Casey Smith interested in Ibbett.

Ibbett’s poetry, and life story, as detailed in his autobiography The Annals of a Nobody, reveal a complicated and troubled figure, a man who might have been responsible for the 1888 Whitechapel murders in Whitechapel, although Smith admits there is no definitive proof of this. However, Smith believes that bizarre and disturbing aspects of Ibbett’s life make him a good candidate for him having been Jack the Ripper.

Casey Smith is a researcher, writer, and teacher based in Washington, D.C. He has a PhD in English Literature and Victorian Studies from Indiana University-Bloomington, where he concentrated on book history and material bibliography. From 1997 to 2014 he taught at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (later, from 2014-2016 at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design at The George Washington University). He has presented papers at academic conferences throughout the UK and US on the subject of Victorian book-culture and art. A former Vice-President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association, he is now an independent scholar and Associate Professor Emeritus at George Washington University in the District of Columbia.

David Sterritt

“Red Riding, the Yorkshire Ripper on Film”

David Sterritt

Sterritt is a film professor at MICA and editor-in-chief of the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. In 2015, he completed ten years as chair of the National Society of Film Critics. His thirteen books include The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, published by Cambridge University Press in 1993, and he is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Hitchcock Annual. His e-book on Hitchcock is due out this year.

Charles Tumosa

“A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One”
How civilian conflicts with the police alter crime suppression and investigation.


Charles Tumosa

Tumosa lectures in the University of Baltimore (UB) School of Criminal Justice Forensic Studies program. Prior to joining UB, Tumosa supervised the Criminalistics Laboratory of the Philadelphia Police Dept. During his 18 years there, he worked on over 4,000 homicides and testified in more than 800 criminal cases. Tumosa also worked at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

During his time at the Smithsonian, Tumosa conducted analyses of artifacts including the Enola Gay, the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; the Statue of Columbia on the dome of the U.S. Capitol; and a time capsule from evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle. His research provided insights into areas such as conservation, anthropology and the mechanisms of ancient technology. For more on Tumosa see “The Art of Investigation: Painting a Picture of Applied Forensics” by Paula Novash (UB Magazine, Summer 2011).

Janis Wilson

“Could Sherlock Holmes Have Solved the Jack the Ripper Murders?”

Janis Wilson


Wilson was co-organizer for RipperCon 2016. She is a Baltimore-based Ripperologist and author of the novel Goulston Street, expected to be available shortly. A former newspaper reporter and trial lawyer, Wilson took the Ripper Tour in Whitechapel many years ago under the direction of Donald Rumbelow. The tour allowed her to appreciate how the world-famous slayer managed to repeatedly escape capture. After extensive study of the Ripper, she taught a course about the killer at Temple University in Philadelphia. In addition to her writing career, Wilson is a commentator on true crime for the Investigation Discovery Channel and has appeared in such programs as “Deadly Affairs” and the “Nightmare Next Door.”

We look forward to welcoming you to Baltimore for what will be a great event, made even more special because it is taking place in the 130-year anniversary of the Whitechapel Murders.

Don’t miss out on the only U.S. conference on Jack the Ripper in this very special year!

 Main RipperCon Site

Speakers for 2016 (including 2016 Podcasts)
RipperCon 2018 Tours
Hotels for RipperCon 2018
Maryland Institute College of Art
Links of Interest
Complete information is at

visit to “

“Nutshell Studies” in Maryland Coroners’ Office. Space limited. Book soon.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The circumstances of his mysterious death in

Baltimore in October 1849 have never been sufficiently explained.

For complete information on RipperCon, go to


Don’t miss out on RipperCon in Baltimore in April 2018!

Jack the Ripper in Wax

Jack the Ripper, Jews, Liverpool, London, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 1 Comment »

The Star, Largest Circulation of Any Evening Paper in the Kingdom.

Revenged on “Jack the Ripper.”

At Liverpool yesterday a young man named Bramwell was charged with damaging a wax
figure at an exhibition. Mr. Raffles asked what the figure was, and he was informed
that it was the figure of “Jack the Ripper.” Bramwell had only landed in Liverpool
two days previously from Canada, and on seeing the figure at the exhibition he
expressed a determination to smash it. - He was ordered to pay the damage and costs.

Perhaps surprisingly, attacks on waxworks, a popular type of period entertainment,
were not that rare.  Five years earlier in Liverpool a waxworks tableau of the 1881
murders in Phoenix Park, Dublin was attacked and destroyed by several “Invincibles”
making a political statement.  The men responsible were tried before the same Mr.
Raffles who heard the case of the man who attacked the figure of the Ripper in 1888.

The incident took place on 16 June 1883 at Allsopp’s Waxworks Exhibition, 51 Lime
Street, apparently the same place where the 1888 attack on the figure of Jack the
Ripper took place, and led to the prosecution of Phillip John Wollohan, Joseph
M’Ginn and William Flannigan.

At the height of the Ripper murders, there was even a small waxworks exhibition in
Whitechapel itself showing the victims of the murders.

East London Observer
Saturday, 15 September 1888.

The vendors of a doggerel ditty meant at first to describe the details of the
Buck’s-row tragedy, but slightly and ingeniously altered in order to include
that of Hanbury-street, reaped a rich harvest of coppers, but by no means so
large as that obtained by the proprietor of a small waxworks concern in the
Whitechapel-road, who, by daubing a few streaks of red paint over three sadly
mutilated figures that have done duty on many previous occasions, and by
exhibiting three horrible-looking pictures outside his establishment, con-
trived to induce several hundreds of the gullible public to pay their pennies
and witness the “George-yard, Buck’s-row and ‘Anbury-street wictims.” But his
triumph was short-lived, for a police-inspector, with some respect for decency,
had the pictures hauled down, and left the waxworks proprietor using the whole
of his h-less (?) and ungrammatical, if strong, vocabulary against the police
in general, and that police inspector in particular.

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
11 September 1888


There is a waxworks show to which admission can be obtained for one penny, in the
Whitechapel road, near the Working Lad’s Institute. During the past few days a
highly-coloured representation of the George Yard and Buck’s Row murders - painted
on canvas - have been hung in front of the building, in addition to which there
were placards notifying that life size wax models of the murdered women could be
seen within. The pictures have caused large crowds to assemble on the pavement in
front of the shop. This morning, however, another picture was added to the rest.
It was a representation of the murder in Hanbury street. The prominent feature of
the picture was that they were plentifully besmeared with red paint - this of
course representing wounds and blood. Notices were also posted up that a life-
size waxwork figure of Annie “Sivens” [sic] could be seen within. After the
inquest at the Working Lad’s Institute had been adjourned a large crowd seized
them and tore them down. Considerable confusion followed, and order was only
restored by the appearance of an inspector of police and two constables. A man
attired in workman’s clothes and who appeared to be somewhat the worse for drink
then addressed the crowd. He said - “I suppose you are all Englishmen and women
here; then do you think it right that that picture (continued the orator, pointing
to the one representing the murder in Hanbury street) should be exhibited in the
public streets before the poor woman’s body is hardly cold.” Cries of “No, no, we
don’t” greeted this remark, and another scene of excitement followed. The crowd,
however, was quickly dispersed by the police before the showman’s property was
further damaged.

City P.C. George H. Hutt, Police Poet, and the Issue of Horse Cruelty

Animal cruelty, Horses, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Poetry, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 7 Comments »

George H. Hutt, known as “The Police Poet” was the gaoler of Bishopsgate Police Station within the area patroled by the City of London Police. As such, in the early morning hours of 30 September 1888, he let the shortly to be fourth Jack the Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes out of gaol before she was murdered in Mitre Square, Aldgate.

Hutt is known to have written numerous letters to the press, including one condemning the anti-semitism that grew out of the Ripper crimes, the East End of London at the time having a large immigrant Jewish population, and rumors circulated that the Ripper could have been a Jew.  He appears to have been an unusually compassionate man with regard for the dignity of both human beings and animals.

Hutt wrote a poem called “Saved by a Dog” about a dog who saved a woman cook’s life in Leeds in 1893 and another poem about the marriage of Princess Victoria Mary (May) of Teck and George, Duke of York (the future George V) that same year, for which he received an acknowledgement from the Royal family.

Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper
Sunday, May 28, 1893

In the pages of Ripperologist we have been running a series on City of London policemen of the Jack the Ripper period written by those excellent researchers Rob Clack and Neil Bell. George H. Hutt is one of the London coppers that they have covered. He joined the City Police in 1879. He left the City Police in 1889 and then served as a constable for Smithfield Meat Market.

I recently came across another poem by P.C. Hutt which further shows the humaneness of the man:

 A HORSE’S LETTER to Ex-Police Constable 365 John Pegg

Dear Mr. Pegg, you’ve proved our friend,
No one can deny,
By oft detecting cruelty
While others pass it by.

Your life has been devoted to
The ailments of my race,
And when the tongue was devoid of speech,
Yours kindly took its place.

Before we had your kindly aid
Our pleading proved in vain,
And often with a heavy load
We’ve struggled on in pain.

While drivers in their ignorance
Have vowed that we did shirk,
And though we have been weak and ill
Have urged on to work.

‘Tis you and only such as you
Who mark the mute appeal,
Of us poor helpless quadrupeds
When indisposed we feel.

I’ve had the horrid toothache, Pegg,
And fast I could not go,
But as a medicine received
A cruel, stinging blow.

Again I’ve stood hour after hour
Till corns have made me kick,
And blamed for vicious temper been
Belaboured with a stick.

Sometimes a drunkard held the reins,
And muddled, did not think
That I as well as he required
A cool refreshing drink.

He loitered, tippling on the way,
Till working hours were past,
Then homeward thrashed me, and all night
Left me, unclean, to fast.

But dear old Pegg, you found it out,
And when ’twas brought to light,
You had the rascal punished well,
While Sangster set me right.

Now nearly thirty years you’ve been
An agent of the law,
And through your tact oft saved us pain
By finding out the flaw.

Ans though we are but helpless brutes,
Without the power of speech,
Yet in our gratefulness, dear Pegg,
A moral we can teach.

So horses, mules, and asses, too,
Their wishes to you give
By neighing “Honhy, honhy, hon!”
Which means “Long may you live.”

May those who have the care of us
With your kind acts agree,
Then animals of every class
Will better treated be.

George H. Hutt

The poem references P.C. John Pegg, “Who, during his 29 years of service in the City of London Police Force obtained 1,300 Convictions for Cruelty to Horses, etc.”  The “Sangster” that is mentioned is the veterinarian Thomas Sangster, M.R.C.V.S., who died on November 28, 1893. Following is an excerpt from an article on horse cruelty cases in which both Pegg and Sangster involved, as reported in the Illustrated Police News of September 23, 1882.

 Illustrated Police News Sept 23 1882




Victorian Cab Stand 

It is conceivable that P.C. Hutt may have been partly inspired to write his “Horse’s Letter” by a similar literary effort by Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832–1902), the American Presbyterian preacher and social campaigner. For more on Rev. De Witt Talmage see
The book by Rev. De Witt Talmage, Around the Tea-Table (Philadelphia: Cowperthwait & Company, 1874) contains a chapter called “A Horse’s Letter” (pp 88-90) written by “Charley Bucephalus” from “Brooklyn Livery Stables, January 20, 1874.” The Brooklyn horse’s letter seems to have appeared in newspapers worldwide, e.g., see National Library of New Zealand site on Papers Past > Bruce Herald (New Zealand) > 25 Huitanguru 1876 > Page 3 > A Horse’s Letter at——-10–1—-2-all

Thus, it could be as with his poem about the hero dog in Leeds who saved the woman cook’s life, George Hutt was partly thinking of this earlier “Horse’s Letter” in composing his poem.  Talmage’s composition also touches on the topic of cruelty to horses.

A Horse’s Letter.
(From the Christian Age)

My dear gentlemen and ladies,— I am aware that this is the first time a horse has ever taken upon himself to address any member of the human family. True, a second cousin of our household once addressed Balaam, but his voice for public speaking was so poor that he got unmercifully whacked, and never tried it again. We have endured in silence all the outrages of many thousands of years, but feel it now time to make remonstrance.

Recent attentions have made us aware of our worth. During the epizootic epidemic, we had at our stables innumerable calls from doctors, and judges, and clergymen. Everybody asked about our health. Groomsmen bathed our throats, and sat up with us nights, and furnished us with pocket-handkerchiefs. For the first time in years we had quiet Sundays. We overheard a conversation that made us think that the commerce and the fashion of the world waited the news from the stable. Telegraphs announced our condition across the land and under the sea, and we came to believe that this world was originally made for the horse, and man for his groom.

But things are going back again where they were. Yesterday I was driven fifteen miles, jerked in the mouth, struck on the back, watered when I was too warm, and instead of the six quarts of oats that my driver ordered for me, I got two. Last week I was driven to a wedding, and heard music, and quick feet, and laughter, that made the chandeliers rattle, while I stood unblanketed in the cold. Sometimes the doctor hires me, and I stand at twenty doors waiting for invalids to rehearse all their pains. Then the minister hires me, and I have to stay till Mrs Tittle-Tattle has time to tell the dominie all the disagreeable things of the parish.

The other night, after our owner had gone home, and the ostlers were asleep, we held an indignation meeting in our livery-stable. “Old Sorrel” presided, and there was a long line of vice-presidents and secretaries, mottled bays, and dappled grays, and chestnuts, and Shetland, and Arabian ponies. “Charlie,” one of the old inhabitants of the stable, began a speech, amid great stamping on the part of the audience. But he soon broke down for lack of wind. For five years he had been suffering with the “heaves.” Then “Pompey,” a venerable nag, took his place, and though he had nothing to say, he held out his spavined leg, which dramatic posture excited the utmost enthusiasm of the audience. “Fanny Shetland,” the property of a lady, tried to damage the meeting by saying that horses had no wrongs. She said: “Just look at my embroidered blanket. I never go out when the weather is bad. Everybody who comes near pats me on the shoulder. What can be more beautiful than going out in a sunshiny afternoon to make an excursion through the park, amid the clatter of the hoofs of the stallions? I walk, or pace, or canter, or gallop, as I choose. Think of the beautiful life we lead, with the prospect, after our easy work is done, of going up and joining Elijah’s horses of fire.”

Next I took the floor, and said that I was born in a warm, snug Pennsylvania barn; was on my father’s side, descended from Bucephalus; on my mother’s side, from a steed that Queen Elizabeth rode in a steeple-chase. My youth was passed in clover pastures, and under trusses of sweet-smelling hay. I flung my heels in glee at the farmer when he came to catch me. But on a dark day I was overdriven, and my joints stiffened, and my fortunes went down, and my whole family was sold. My brother, with head down and sprung in the knees, pulls the street-car. My sister makes her living on the towpath, hearing the canal boys swear. My aunt died of the epizootic. My uncle — blind, and afflicted, with the bots, the ring-bone, and the spring-halt — wanders about the common, trying to persuade someone to shoot him. And here I stand, old and sick, to cry out against the wrongs of horses — the saddles that gall, the spurs that prick, the snaffles that pinch, the loads that kill.

At this, a vicious-looking nag, with mane half pulled out, and a “watch-eye,” and feet “interfering,” and a tail from which had been subtracted enough hair to make six “waterfalls,” squealed out the suggestion that it was time for a rebellion, and she moved that we take the field, and that all those that could kick should kick, and that all those that could bite should bite, and that all those who could bolt should bolt, and all those who could run away should run away; and that thus we fill the land with broken waggons, and smashed heads, and teach our oppressors that the day of retribution has come, and that our down-trodden race will no more be trifled with.

When this resolution was put to the vote, not one said “Aye,” but all cried “Nay! nay!” and for the space of half an hour kept on neighing. Instead of this harsh measure, it was voted that, by the hand of Henry Bergh, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I whould write this letter of remonstrance.

My dear gentlemen and ladies, remember that we, like yourselves, have moods, and cannot always be frisky and cheerful. You do not slap your grandmother in the face because, this morning, she does not feel so well as usual; why then do you slash us? Before you pound us, ask whether we have been up late the night before, or had our meals at irregular hours, or whether our spirits have been depressed by being kicked by a drunken ostler. We have only about ten or twelve years in which to enjoy ourselves, and then we go out to be shot into nothingness. Take care of us while you may. Job’s horse was “clothed with thunder,” but all we ask is a plain blanket. When we are sick, put us in a horsepital. Do not strike us when we stumble or scare. Suppose you were in the harness and I were in the waggon, I had the whip and you the traces, what an ardent advocate you would be for kindness to the irrational creation! Do not let the blacksmith, drive the nail into the quick when he shoes me, or burn my fetlocks with a hot file. Do not mistake the “dead-eye” that nature put on my foreleg for a wart to be exterminated. Do not cut off my tail short in fly-time. Keep the North wind out of our stables. Care for us at some other time than during the epizoptics, so that we may see your kindness is not selfish. My dear friends, our interests are mutual. I am a silent partner in your business. Under my sound hoof is the diamond of national prosperity. Beyond my nostril the world’s progress may not go. With thrift, and wealth, and comfort, I daily race neck and neck. Be kind to me, if you want me to be useful to you. And near be the day when the red horse of war shall be hocked and impotent, and the pale horse of death shall be hurled back on his haunches, but the white horse of peace, and joy, and triumph shall pass on, its rider with face like the sun, all nations following!

Your most obedient, servant, Charley Bucephalus.

Heartbreaking stuff!  We can readily see how caring people at the time such as the policemen George Hutt and John Pegg could become disturbed at such mistreatment of horses, who literally carried the burden of the economic and social life of people in the late Victorian period.It is emblematic of P.C. George Hutt that he seems to have cared equally for the poor of the East End, for the Jews who lived in the neighborhood, and for the working horses of the capital.For more on P.C. Hutt, read the excellent article by Neil Bell and Rob Clack that appeared in Ripperologist 110, January 2010.  You might consider taking out a subscription, too. George Hutt in Ripperologist 110 January 2010

Early American Commentators on the Ripper Case

Jack the Ripper, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 2 Comments »

Although the crimes of Jack the Ripper occurred in the East End of London, they caused such a sensation when they were reported in newspapers worldwide that there were a number of non-British-based commentators on the murders.  Some American medical men and police officials expressed their opinions on the case to U.S. newspapers.

Dr. Howard Atwood KellyDr. Howard Atwood Kelly 

Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly


Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly (1858–1943), pioneer obstetrician and gynecologist and one of the “Four Doctors” in a portrait by John Singer Sargent of the founding physicians of Johns Hopkins Hospital, wrote to the Medical News in a letter published in the issue of 13 October 1888. Kelly, at the time of the murders, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, put the murders down to sexual perversion.   Dr. Kelly wrote:

 “The great liability to error on the part of the officers of the law, in the investigation of such cases as the present, lies in the fact that they are misled in their effort to appreciate the motive, and invariably attribute it to an ordinary criminal instinct. Such, however, is not the case, and it is as impossible for a sound healthy man to conceive the nature of the impulse which impels the paederest, or other sexual pervert, as it would be to conceive a new color.”

After giving a list of examples of sexual perversities throughout history, Dr. Kelly wrote:

“A desire to murder without any apparent motive, a desire which practises its cruelties invariably upon women, and that of a certain class; added to this the mutilation of the genitals of the corpse, and, in at least on instance, the peculiar practice of slitting open the belly and drawing out the entrails.”

Dr. Kelly went on to give the following piece of advice to the investigators:

 “It would be of importance to search the corpses, when freshly found, for evidence of violation of this kind, although such is not necessary to establish the truth of the supposition. Sexual perverts of this character never begin by the commission of crimes of such frightful atrocity, but yielding to impulses to do slight injury to their victims, find, as time goes on, that it is necessary to practise greater and greater cruelties, to arouse their desires and gratify passion, until a stage like the present is reached. Such has with probability been the history of the present murderer.” 

Although a number of modern observers of the Ripper crimes, notably Colin Wilson, have also attributed a sexual motive to the murders, it is also true that the doctors who worked on the case found no evidence of “connection”—that is, of semen in or on the bodies of the Ripper victims.


Dr. William A. Hammond


Dr. William A. Hammond as U.S. Surgeon General.


Another American commentator on the crimes was the New York “alienist” Dr. William A. Hammond (1828–1900), a former Civil War U.S. Surgeon General. In an article that appeared in the Atlanta Constitution on 5 October 1888, datelined the day before from New York City, we are told that “Dr. William A. Hammond, the insanity expert of this city, says the Whitechapel murders are committed by a homicidal maniac who is like a tiger in his nature.”


Rather than go for the sexual motive that Dr. Kelly thought was behind the murders, Hammond thought that insanity was the reason for the murders. He believed that the London police were making a mistake in “looking for a repulsive, uncouth butcher, dripping with blood and hiding in the cellars about Whitechapel.”


Hammond’s ideas were also reported in the Bismarck Daily Tribune of North Dakota, of 11 October 1888, where we learn that Hammond believed that “the probabilities are many to one that the perpetrator is a decorous and soft spoken gentleman, living an apparently virtuous life, a man whose closest acquaintances do not suspect [him] of crime.”


In the same issue of the Bismarck newspaper, Chief Inspector Thomas A. Byrnes of the New York City detective force said he agreed with the opinions of Dr. Hammond.  He insisted that the New York police could have caught the man by using the women as decoys.


Chief Inspector Thomas F. Byrnes 


Chief Inspector Thomas A. Byrnes of the New York City Police.   


Byrnes went on to stay: “We have no such autocratic powers as the London police, but if a crime is so plainly localised in one particular district, as in the case of these London murders, we would most assuredly arrest the perpetrator in short order.”  Elsewhere Byrnes is said to have boasted that if someone committed such murders in New York, his men would have him “in the jug in 36 hours.”


Byrnes was decidedly more reticent to criticize his British counterparts in an interview published in the Boston Daily Globe on 13 November 1888:

 “In my position as inspector of police and in charge of the detective force of this city I would say that, if we ever had in New York the misfortune of meeting such outrages, or any similar to those which were perpetrated at Whitechapel, I would consider it an act of great imprudence for me to advertise what schemes I should resort to or what action I should undertake with the detective force of this city for the purpose of apprehending and prosecuting the person who committed the offences. Such a course would be precisely what the offender would want. It is not my province or wish to criticise the action, or lack of action, in others who have already a similar position elsewhere, always presuming that they do the very best they can under the circumstances. It is easier always to condemn others than it is to succeed in their special line of work, and appreciating the difficulties that surround the London police in this dilemma, I have no desire or intention of sitting in judgment upon them.”  

This seems to be rather a turnaround by the opinionated Irish-born New York detective. 


And perhaps he was right to be cautious to criticize for when he had his very own “Ripper” crime on the night of 23–24 April 1891 with the murder and mutilation of Carrie Brown aka “Old Shakespeare” in a hotel room in the seaport section of Brooklyn, the case proved to be not easy to solve.


Although a man named Ameer Bin Ali, a French-speaking Algerian known as “Frenchy”, ultimately was tried and convicted of the murder and mutilation of Carrie Brown, the trial was later shown to be a sham.  After Ameer Bin Ali was released in 1902 after eleven years in Sing Sing, crusading journalists including Jacob Riis and Charles Edward Russell convinced Governor Benjamin Odell that the blood evidence used in the suspect’s trial had been tampered with kamagra uk mastercard. The governor officially declared Ameer Ben Ali to be “innocent of the Carrie Brown murder.” The murder remains unsolved and various Ripper suspects, including George Chapman aka Severin Klosowski, who lived for a time in New Jersey, and Dr. Francis Tumblety, who ran his herb doctor business out of an office in Brooklyn, have been proposed as Brown’s killer.




“Carrie Brown: Jack the Ripper in America—Part 2” on Murder by Gaslight Blog


Christopher T. George, “A Man of Large Opinions: Dr William A. Hammond and Jack the Ripper,” Ripperologist No. 48, August 2003, pp 23–25.


William A. Hammond, “Madness and Murder,” North American Review, Vol 147, December 1888, pp 626–38. An extract from Dr. Hammond’s “Murder and Madness” is available at


“Philadelphia Gynecologist’s Oct. 13, 1888 Letter To Medical News” on Casebook: Jack the Ripper message boards at


“Howard A. Kelly, Assoc. Prof. Obst., Univ. of Penna., Correspondence. The Whitechapel Murders. The Medical News, October 13, 1888” in Casebook Press Reports section at

Short Course on the Whitechapel Murders, Baltimore, Oct-Nov 2011

Jack the Ripper, Jews, Joseph Barnett, London, Mary Jane Kelly, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders No Comments »

I am teaching a short course on the case this Fall in the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore.


 The Whitechapel Murders that occurred in the Autumn of 1888 in the East End of London continue to fascinate new generations. Although the crimes constitute the classic “cold case,” it seems that annually new suspects and theories are proposed. Yet, no one has yet managed definitely to identify the anonymous murderer known as Jack the Ripper. 

On Evening One, I will evaluate the known facts of the murders. On Evening Two, I will examine the different theories and theorists. On Evening Three the class will discuss the enduring legacy of the Ripper murders and the portrayals of the crimes in novels, movies and stage plays, and try to come to some conclusions about what the murders were and were not. Who was Jack the Ripper? Warning: not for the squeamish. Powerpoint images will be projected that will show the murder scenes and the corpses of the women killed, and the mutilations caused by the killer will be discussed in detail.

Three Sessions $75
Thursday, October 20, 27, and Wednesday, November 2
7:00 – 9:00 pm

 Complete course catalog available at


Roland Park Country School
Office of External Programs
5204 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21210
Or call with credit card information, 410-323-5500 ext. 3091

A “New Face” for Mary Jane Kelly

Jack the Ripper, Joseph Barnett, Liverpool, London, Mary Jane Kelly, Victorian Period, Wales, Whitechapel Murders 13 Comments »

Researcher Chris Scott, a contributor Ripperologist magazine and author of Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands (Apropos Books, August 2004) has long been delving into the mysterious background of fifth Canonical victim Mary Jane Kelly, who was killed and mutilated in 13 Miller’s Court, Spitalfields, on the morning of 9 November 1888. Chris has recently found what he describes as the “fullest account of the Kelly funeral that I have read.”  As students of the Ripper case will know, Kelly was the most grievously mutilated of all of the Whitechapel Murders victims. Her face was literally hacked away, which made identification of her difficult, to the point that some have doubted that the body in Miller’s Court was in fact the woman that locals and friends knew as Mary Jane Kelly. The famous crime scene photograph remains stomach churning for researchers such as myself who have seen it many times before.<br>At the inquest on Kelly, her long-time lover, Joseph Barnett, testified, “I have seen the body of the deceased, and I identify it by the hair and eyes. I am positive that the deceased was the woman with whom I lived, and that her name was Marie.” (Illustrated Police News, 17 November 1888).    The account found by Chris in the St. Peter Port Star, Guernsey, 22 November 1888, is therefore useful to quote in full because it does help to give some humanity to the person who was butchered in that low court in Spitalfields:


The remains of Mary Janet Kelly, who was murdered on the 9th of November in Miller’s Court, Dorset Street, Spitalfields, were carried on Monday morning from Shoreditch mortuary to the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone, for interment, amidst a scene of turbulent excitement scarcely ever paralleled even in the annals of that densely populated district where she met her death. On the afternoon of the murder the body of the unfortunate woman was conveyed to the mortuary attached to St. Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch, and there it remained until Monday. Since the inquest a great amount of sympathy for the fate of the deceased has been created, but it remained for Mr. H. Wilton, the sexton attached to Shoreditch Church, to put sympathy into a practical form, and as no relatives have appeared he incurred the total cost of the funeral himself. Mr. Wilton has been sexton for over fifty years, and he provided the funeral as a mark of sympathy with the poor people of the neighbourhood. The body was enclosed in a polished elm and oak coffin with metal mounts. On the coffin plate was engraved the words:- “Marie Jeannette Kelly, died 9th November,1888, aged 25 years.” Upon the coffin were two crowns of artificial flowers and a cross made up of heartsease. The coffin was carried in an open car drawn by two horses, and two coaches followed. An enormous crowd of people assembled at an early hour, completely blocking the thoroughfare, and a large number of police were engaged in keeping order. The bell of St. Leonard’s began tolling at noon, and the signal appeared to draw all the residents in the neighbourhood together. There was an enormous preponderance of women in the crowd, scarcely any had any covering to their heads, and their tattered dresses indicated too surely that they belonged to the very class to which the murdered women belonged. The wreaths upon the coffin bore cards inscribed with remembrances from friends using certain public houses in common with the Deceased. As the coffin appeared, borne on the shoulders of four men, at the principal gate of the church, the crowd appeared to be moved greatly. Round the open car in which it was to be placed men and women struggled desperately to touch the coffin. Women, with faces streaming with tears, cried out “God forgive her!” and every man’s head was bared in token of sympathy. the sight was quite remarkable, and the emotion natural and unconstrained. Two mourning coaches followed, one containing three and the other five persons. Joe Barnett was amongst them, with someone from M’Carthy, the landlord; and the others were women, who had given evidence at the inquest. After a tremendous struggle, the car, with the coffin fully exposed to view, set out at a very slow pace, all the crowd appearing to move off simultaneously in attendance. The traffic was blocked, of course, and the constables had great difficulty in obtaining free passage for the small procession through the mass of carts and vans and tramcars which blocked the road. the distance from Shoreditch Church to the Cemetery at Leytonstone by road is about six miles, and the route traversed was Hackney Road, Cambridge Heath, Whitechapel Road and the Stratford. In the Whitechapel Road the crowd on each side of the road were very great, and there was a considerable amount of emotion manifested. The appearance of the roadway throughout the whole journey was remarkable, owing to the hundreds of men and women who escorted the coffin on each side, and who had to keep up a sharp trot in many places. But the crowd rapidly thinned away when, getting into the suburbs, the car and coaches broke into a trot. Still the number of those who kept up was sufficient to spread the news in advance, and everywhere people stood in groups, or crowded windows to see the cortege pass. The cemetery was reached at two o’clock. The Rev. Father Columban, O.S.F., with two acolytes, and a cross bearer, met the body at the door of the little chapel of St Patrick, and the coffin was carried at once to a grave in the north eastern corner. Barnett and the poor women who had accompanied the funeral knelt on the cold clay by the side of the grave, while the service was read by Father Columban. The coffin was incensed, lowered, and then sprinkled with holy water, and the simple ceremony ended. The floral ornaments were afterwards raised to be placed upon the grave, and the filling up was completed in a few moments, and was watched by a small crowd of people. There was a very large concourse of people outside the gates, who were refused admission until after the funeral was over.

On another front in Mary Jane Kelly research, a Welsh researcher, Jon Horlor, has been delving into genealogical records in Cwmavon, Monmouthshire to try to find out if he can verify Mary Jane Kelly’s husband may have been killed in a mine explosion as the account by Barnett suggests. He has identified a man named James Davies, age 18 who died in explosion at Risca New Pit, Cwmavon, on 16 July 1880. Holor has established that Cwmavon had a number of Irish immigrant families at this period. Joe Barnett testified that he thought the husband was killed in Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire.

Both Mr. Holor and Welsh Ripperologist Gareth Williams think that Kelly may have said that “Cwmavon” might have been misheard by Barnett as “Carnarvon” or “Carmarthen.”   Here is what Joe Barnett said about what he knew of Kelly’s background, as recorded in the London Evening News of 12 November 1888:

She said she was born in Limerick [Ireland] but went to Wales when very young, and came to London about four years ago. Her father’s name, she told me, was John Kelly, a “gaffer” at an ironworks in Wales - Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire. She also said she had a sister, who was a respectable woman, and that she had seven brothers, six of them at home and one in the Army. I never saw any of these brothers to my knowledge. She said she was married when very young in Wales. . . . Her husband was a collier named David (sic) or Davies, and she lived with him until he was killed in an explosion. I cannot say how long the accident was after the marriage. She said she was about 16 when she married. After her husband’s death she went to Cardiff to meet a cousin, and stayed there a long time, being in the infirmary there for eight or nine months. She was living a bad life with her cousin, who was the cause of her downfall.

Mr. Holor has said that he believes that the man he has identified, James Davies, who died in the explosion at Risca New Pit, Cwmavon, in July 1880, was the “right name, right age, right area (for me!) and right time frame for MJK according to Barnett.” (See discussion threads at It will be interesting to see if this interesting lead on Mary Jane Kelly’s mysterious background might finally help us to know more about this Whitechapel murder victim’s elusive life history.

On the Yo Liverpool forum, some genealogically minded people have found a number of women named Mary Jane Kelly in Liverpool and have wondered if Kelly might have been from there.  Of course, Liverpool historically has had a large Irish population so the names “Kelly” and even “Mary Jane Kelly” are relatively common. Here is one of the candidates: 1871 English Census–8 Victoria St., Liverpool, near Stanley; John Kelly, 50, joiner; Mary Kelly, 50, Mary Jane Kelly, 18, General Servant; Margaret and Harriet Kaybeck, servants.   Responding to this information I wrote, “If this woman was aged 18 in 1871 that would have made her 35 in late 1888, probably too old to have been the Mary Jane Kelly who lived in Miller’s Court, Spitalfields, who by all accounts was in her mid-twenties at the time of her murder on November 9, 1888.” See the discussion at  Also see 

The Question of Jack the Ripper and the Jews

Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 6 Comments »

In 1910, the poor Jews of London’s East End began to collect funds to erect the Edward VII Memorial Drinking Fountain in Whitechapel Road in honor of the reigning monarch, the son of Queen Victoria. At around the same time, Sir Robert Anderson, former head of Metropolitan Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the time of the murders, claimed in his memoirs that it was a “definitely ascertained fact” that the Whitechapel Murderer was a poor Polish Jew, and he indicated that the suspect’s family had protected the man from “Gentile justice”. The man Anderson apparently meant, according to a marginal notation left by retired Detective Superintendent Donald S. Swanson was Aaron Kosminski, a deranged Polish-born Jewish barber. Other police officials maintained that “Jack the Ripper” was never positively identified, and Anderson’s claim remains controversial to this day. Some Ripperologists believe Anderson held the answer to the mystery that has persisted for the last 123 years. But, did he?


Edward VII Memorial Drinking Fountain, Whitechapel Road, funded by subscriptions raised by poor East End Jews. Photograph courtesy of John Bennett.

What are the true facts? Is it possible that a Jew could have been the killer? Could Jews really have protected the killer and refused to identify the man as the killer as Anderson claimed? A number of East End Jews were suspects who were taken in to be questioned but were later released. An early suspect in the murders was a man named “Leather Apron” who was allegedly terrorizing local prostitutes. In September 1888, a Jew named John Pizer was arrested on suspicion of being Leather Apron, but he had to be let go when it was proved that he had a solid alibi for the times of two of the murders.

Thousands of Jewish homes were visited during house-to-house enquiries in October 1888. A number of Jews were witnesses at the inquests into the murder victims, particularly in the cases of second canonical victim Annie Chapman, killed and disembowelled in the squalid back yard at 29 Hanbury Street on 8 September, and that of third canonical victim Elizabeth Stride, her throat in Dutfield’s Yard beside a mostly Jewish socialist club in Berner Street early on 30 September. Although Liz Stride had her throat cut from ear to ear in the same manner as the other canonical victims she was otherwise not mutilated, the traditional explanation being that the killer was disturbed by the arrival of a Jewish man who arrived with pony and cart.

Could the man who so cruelly despatched those women—the prostitutes or “unfortunates” of the East End, the man known by the infamous name of Jack the Ripper, have been a Jew? And even if the killer was not a Jew, what was the exact role of the Jews in the case?

In early medieval times, Jews lived in the area now known as London’s East End. The street called “Old Jewry” is a reminder of this presence of Jews in the vicinity until their expulsion from England in 1290 during the reign of Edward I. With the return of Jews to Britain in the seventeenth century, Dutch and German Ashkenazi Jews established synagogues outside the gates of the City of London. Sephardic Jews established the Bevis Mark Synagogue off Bury Street, and it remains to this day an architectural gem well worth a visit.

Bevis Marks Synagogue, Whitechapel

Bevis Marks Synagogue, Whitechapel. Photograph courtesy of John Bennett.

The Great Synagogue in Duke Street, Aldgate, was founded in 1690. Heavily damaged in 1940 by the German bombing during the Second World War, the building was subsequently demolished. The Great Synagogue plays a part in our story because fourth canonical victim Catherine Eddowes was murdered in the early morning hours of 30 September 1888 in Mitre Square behind this Jewish house of worship.

By 1888, the East End was home to many immigrant groups including Irish, Germans, and Eastern European Jews. The largest influx of Jews would occur with a surge of immigration of Eastern European Jews in the late nineteenth century. While wealthier “Anglicised” Jews moved to the prosperous suburbs, Yiddish-speaking poor Jews, some 150,000 of them, flooded into the East End of London during 1881–1914 after many of them fled Eastern Europe following Tsarist progroms in Russia and Poland. While some of the newcomers only stayed a short time before moving on to other countries, particularly to the United States, thousands remained in the area. The Yiddish speakers crowded into local tenements and caused concerns to the authorities, both the British Government and local authorities as well as to the Jewish Board of Guardians because of the fear of rising disease and crime rates.

Indeed, the influx of poor new Jews panicked as well as helped mobilise the Anglo-Jewish establishment of the day, largely made up of the descendants of Jews who had settled in Britain since the seventeenth century. The Jewish establishment wanted to solve the problem. This was, it might be said, partly a self-protective gesture, since in the face of Gentile prejudice and Government pressure, the richer Jews did not want to be seen as part of the problem but wanted to be reactive to it. Lord Rothschild, one of richest British Jews of the day, wrote: “We have now a new Poland on our hands in East London. Our first business is to humanise our Jewish immigrants and then to Anglicise them. . . .” One part of the solution, facilitated by Lord Rothschild, was the founding of the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter at 84 Leman Street to help provide shelter, clothe, and educate the new immigrants, find them housing, and, in some instances, move them on to other countries.

It was in the immigrant working class streets of the largely Jewish East End in an area that constituted barely a square mile that at least five women, or—if you can believe the press of the day—some eleven women were slaughtered by the same hand—that of the mysterious murderer known as “Jack the Ripper”.

Particularly on the night of the so-called “Double Event”, 30 September 1888, with the murders of the third and fourth canonical victims, Stride and Eddowes, aspects of the case converged to create a series of Jewish links to the murders. Do these links indicate a real connection between the crimes and the Jews of the East End or are they only coincidental links that remain intriguing even if they tell us nothing about the reason for the murders? Jim Leen has written:

There is a truism that, delicately stated, birds do not soil their own nest. If we accept that lives would probably have been lost then we must consider why the killer selected this almost exclusively Jewish area in which to operate. Furthermore, the murder scenes [of the five canonical victims of autumn 1888] are, in themselves, provocative.

Buck’s Row [now Durward Street, murder of Mary Ann Nichols, around 3:00 AM on 31 August]—[south of] Brady Street Ashkenazi Cemetery.

Hanbury Street [murder of Annie Chapman about 5:00 AM on 8 September]—Glory of Israel and Sons of Klatsk Synagogue situated at no. 50a; Synagogues at 19 Princelet St. and 17 Wilkes St.

Berner Street [murder of Elizabeth Stride soon around 12:30 AM on 30 September] —St. George’s Settlement Synagogue [and beside the mainly Jewish International Working Man’s Educational Club].

Mitre Square [murder of Catherine Eddowes around 2:00 AM on 30 September]— [behind] the Great Synagogue [and near the Imperial Club at 16–17 Duke’s Place from which three Jewish witnesses emerged]. Miller’s Court [murder of Mary Jane Kelly circa 4:00 AM on 9 November—beside Spitalfields Great Synagogue, Church St. (now Fournier St.)

Consider the pattern of “silent” killings in almost open ground. How could the killer escape so easily? Why did he continue operating in an area where police activity and public vigilance was heightened? What if: he knew that he was guaranteed sanctuary in a place of worship? Notice the two Great Synagogues? It would seem that the killer was deliberately laying a trail towards Jewish culpability, possibly responsibility. (“Jacob the Ripper?” by Jim Leen available at

The third canonical victim, Stride, was murdered at around 12:55 AM on 30 September 1888 in Dutfield’s Yard, in Berner Street, at the side of a socialist club frequented by Jewish men. Was the killer making a statement of some kind by killing Ms. Stride at that location? Stride was a Gentile born in Sweden as Elizabeth Gustafsdotter who happened to speak Yiddish. Her ability to speak Yiddish might indicate that some of her clients were Jewish, and could also explain her presence close to the club.

A Hungarian Jew named Israel Schwartz said he saw a man to accost her (either Jack the Ripper or another man before the fatal murderous attack). A man shouted out to him, “Lipski!” and Schwartz fled the scene. It appears that the term “Lipski” was a common pejorative term used in the area for semitic looking people, the slur coming from the name of Israel Lipski, an umbrella maker who lived in nearby Batty Street in 1887 and who had poisoned his landlady Miriam Angel, a crime for which he was hanged after much controversy in the press and as well as mob scenes on the streets of the East End.

About an hour and a half after the Berner Street murder a second murder occurred, this time in Mitre Square, Aldgate. The victim was Catherine Eddowes, yet another prostitute or “unfortunate”. The murder occurred not far from a then notorious location—St. Botolphe’s Church, where prostitutes traditionally circled the church touting for business.

Eddowes was killed behind the Great Synagogue. She was last seen alive talking to a man in a passage leading to the square. This according to the testimony of three Jewish men who were leaving the Imperial Club, a Jewish men’s club, at 16–17 Duke’s Place at around 1:30 AM in the morning.

The three men, Joseph Lawende, Joseph Hyam Levy, and Harry Harris, saw the couple at the entrance to covered Church Passage that ran down the east side of the synagogue and led to the secluded square. Questions linger as to whether the men told the police all they knew about the man they saw and whether any one of the three recognized him. Lawende is thought to have been asked by the police later to identify a suspect at the Seaside Home in the scenario described by Sir Robert Anderson and may have refused to do so, if we believe the story told by Anderson.

Soon after the Eddowes murder, at around 2:55 A.M., a chalk inscription was found in a doorway in Goulston Street by Metropolitan Police Constable Alfred Long 254A. The inscription was on the painted brickwork inside a doorway leading to Wentworth Model Dwellings, a tenement known to be home to immigrant Jews.

Although we cannot be certain that the so-called Goulston Street Graffito was written by the murderer, a bloodied piece of white apron that had belonged to Eddowes was found below the writing, which has strongly suggested to many students of the case that the inscription was also left by the killer. Nonetheless, the graffito remains one of the most controversial and exasperating parts of the puzzle known as the Whitechapel Murders.

First and foremost, the wording, written in one-inch high lettering in five lines with odd and unconventional capitalisation, was ambiguously worded:

The Juwes are
The men That
Will not
be Blamed
for nothing

The writing presents us with a conundrum. Was the writer somehow blaming the Jews for the murders? Or was he saying that the Jews should not be blamed? It’s the double negative that is to be blamed, my friends. And a double negative, we might note, is typical of Cockney speech. Such a phrase or grammatical tick, if you will, would not be a typical speech pattern, one should think, for a recent Polish or other Eastern European Jewish immigrant whose English language skills and knowledge of Cockney dialect might be limited.

Famously, exponents of the Royal or Masonic conspiracy theory such as Stephen Knight in his Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution (1976) have argued by contrast that the reference was not to the Jews at all but to the “Juwes” (builders of Solomon’s Temple, supposedly something that in 1888 was a part of masonic tradition known to practising English freemasons. According to the Royal Conspiracy advocates, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, being, as some writers claim, a high and active freemason immediately recognized the masonic reference to “Juwes” and ordered the graffito removed for that reason This theory seems a bit too convenient for the theorists, and may be less persuasive than that the writing, written in a Jewish neighborhood, really did refer to the Jews.

Let’s put our cards on the table here, friends. The idea that the Ripper was a madman—whether a Jewish lunatic or not—is rather an old-fashioned notion, even if it was one favored by the police who were doing their best to apprehend the killer. We now know that serial killers are cold and calculating and usually don’t outwardly appear mad. American serial killers Ted Bundy, Dennis L. Rader (the BTK Killer), and Gary L. Ridgway (the Green River Killer), were respectively, a suave and handsome much-travelled lover (killing as he went), an efficient if coldly officious community enforcer who enjoyed mentally torturing the good citizens around Wichita, Kansas, and a seemingly innocuous working class house painter in the rainy Pacific northwest. All three men, seemingly respectable by day, led secret lives as vicious sexual serial killers but no one knew it except the men themselves and, ultimately, their victims. They each operated for years, slaughtering women seemingly at will. None of the three could remotely be viewed as a foaming-at-the-mouth killer, and yet the latter, from the writings left by the police of 1888, appears to be what the police of the day were seeking otc viagra.

I’m not a butcher, I’m not a Yid,
Nor yet a foreign Skipper,
But I’m your own light-hearted friend,
Yours truly, Jack the Ripper.

This rhyme, with its anti-Semitic reference at the end of the opening line, was evidently written in a now-lost “Jack the Ripper” letter. It is cited by former Scotland Yard Chief Constable Sir Melville Macnaghten in his autobiography The Days of My Years (1914). In this memoir, Macnaghten told his readers that information came into his hands years after the Autumn of Terror to showing that the killer was an unbalanced “doctor”. He was referring to Montague John Druitt. The man was a barrister and part-time schoolteacher at a boys’ school in Blackheath. He was the son of a Dorset surgeon but not himself a trained doctor. Druitt committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames. Although Macnaghten is correct that Druitt died after the murder and mutilation of Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November 1888, the suicide was not until the end of November, three weeks after the Kelly murder.

What is the real answer to the identity of Jack the Ripper? Was Sir Robert Anderson correct that the Ripper was a Jew or did Sir Melville Macnaghten have the answer that the killer was a Gentile and the son of a doctor? While a local Jew would have the knowledge of back streets to enable him to escape the police dragnet, there is no compelling evidence that we know about today that the killer was in fact a Jew.

It has been suggested by some that the murderer could have been either a shochet, i,e., a Jewish ritual slaughterman, or a Jewish butcher. It amuses me that people in such professions—whether Jews or not—are put forward as candidates for Jack the Ripper. Where’s the thrill to murder and mutilate if your day job is to cut up corpses? The same thing might be said of doctors. The saving grace though for the Jews of 1888 is that there were not many Jewish doctors in Victorian England. No, a better candidate might be, say, a Jewish shoemaker or leather worker, who while he cuts up leather, might be hankering all day to cut into real live warm flesh.

The puzzle of whether the Whitechapel Murderer was a Jew yields no ready answer.

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