Orsam Books

Bridge Over Troubled Water

So.

Having paid my £15.40 for the Kindle edition, there were three things I was particularly interested to look out for when reading Jonathan Hainsworth's new book (co-authored by Christine Ward-Agius) entitled 'The Escape of Jack the Ripper: The Full Truth About the Cover-up and His Flight from Justice' published on 15 March 2020.  Let's go through them together.

THING THE FIRST

Obviously the first thing I wanted to know was what Hainsworth was going to be saying about the supposed connection between Montague Druitt and Guy Logan's fictional creation from 1905, Mortemer Slade. It will be recalled that the central theme of my 2016 article, 'A Bridge Too Far: The Curious Case of Mortemer Slade', was that there was no obvious connection between the two men and that it did not appear that the life of the fictional Mortemer Slade reflected the life of the real Montague Druitt, as Hainsworth had claimed in his 2015 book, 'Jack the Ripper: Case Solved, 1891'.

As I argued in 'A Bridge Too Far', Hainsworth was clearly suffering from a severe case of confirmation bias, viewing everything about Slade through a Druitt tinted lens.  For example, while Druitt was a cricketer and Slade had been a boxer at university, Hainsworth saw significance in the fact that they were both 'athletes' (his word).  Where one studied medicine and graduated with 'high honours', presumably a double first, while the other studied law and obtained a third class degree, all Hainsworth could see was two men at Oxford.  A fair reading of Logan's book, however, revealed far too many dissimilarities to enable anyone to conclude that one man was based on the other.  

It will also be recalled from my article that Hainsworth hadn't read Logan's book properly, or had confused himself subsequently, believing that Slade committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames, just like Druitt, when this hadn't been the case.

Reading through the entirety of the main section of this new book, I was surprised to find no mention of Logan's 1905 book at all... but then I smiled to find it relegated to an appendix where it gets a very brief mention in a single paragraph before the authors move quickly away from it, but not before noting, at last, that Slade dies by being struck by a bolt of lightning while grappling with a detective on a bridge over the Thames and thus did not commit suicide (although Hainsworth and Ward-Agius want to stress that Slade was experiencing 'chronic depression - even the loss of the will to live' which isn't correct for, as I explained in 'A Bridge Too Far', Slade never even seriously considers suicide and could not fairly be described as having been chronically depressed).

Yet, it is still stated without any qualification that 'Montague Druitt becomes Mortemer Slade'.  In saying this, the authors totally ignore the fact, mentioned by me in my 2016, that Jan Bondeson states in his introduction to the modern version of Logan's book that the character of Slade was based on a personal acquaintance of Logan's, a 'brilliant young surgeon' who turned into a raving lunatic through contracting a virus while operating on a prostitute and who was incarcerated in an asylum before escaping and whose friends thought he might be the Ripper.  All of this is extremely similar to the character of Mortemer Slade so that it simply does not need us to even consider Druitt, to whom Slade bears no obvious resemblance, as the inspiration for Logan's story.

In my response to Hainsworth's critique of my article on the Forum (Thread, 'Why wasn't Druitt thanked?') I wrote, at #23:

'What Jonathan, however, has completely ignored is my rather important point that Logan tells us in Famous Crimes that he personally knew a mad but brilliant doctor who was at times in an asylum and who was suspected of being Jack the Ripper. Despite the critical importance of this, Jonathan ignored it in his book and he's ignored it again in his post which is supposed to be a response to my article.' 

It remains ignored four years later. 

Without any real basis for doing so, the authors also state as a fact that Henry Farquharson, the member of Parliament for West Dorset in 1888, 'makes a walk-on appearance as a viper-tongued Tory MP'.   This categoric statement by the authors actually goes further than Hainsworth went in his 2015 book when he said much more cautiously that 'Henry Farquharson, perhaps makes an appearance'  (underlining added). It was no more than a suggestion back then that Logan's fictional MP from an unnamed northern constituency called Viscount Hardcastle was based on Farquharson, despite Farquharson never representing a northern constituency, and not being a viscount either for that matter!

Indeed, when responding to my article on the Casebook Censorship Forum on 30 November 2016, Hainsworth referred to 'a possible cameo of Farquharson in Logan, unmentioned by David.'  The reason I hadn't mentioned it was because it was so weak and was only presented by Hainsworth as being 'possible' and anything's possible so what could I have said?   What I can't understand is how Hainsworth and his co-author can suddenly decide four years later that it is now definite when nothing has changed.

The only reason Hainsworth thinks Hardcastle was based on Farquharson, it seems, was because Hardcastle was described as 'a clever young man' but had 'too much venom in his speeches'.  To a fair minded reader this could probably describe every single youngish MP in the House of Commons at the time (and Farquharson was 31 years old in 1888) but, in any case, there's no reason for the fictional Hardcastle to have been based on any real life MP, let alone Farquharson, other than in Hainsworth's overactive imagination.  All Hainsworth did in his first book was ask: 'Is the ‘venom’ a veiled reference to the 1893 libel case Farquharson lost that seems to have tarnished his reputation, even in death?'.  No answer was provided and no reason was given to think that a description of a clever young member of parliament with venom in his speeches would bring to anyone's mind Henry Farquharson.

Yet, this is one of three 'insider facts' that the authors tell us can be found in Logan's book!  

We have to pause there, don't we?  So Logan supposedly basing the character of Viscount Hardcastle on Henry Farquharson is an 'insider fact'.  REALLY?   Surely the part played by Farquharson in relation to Druitt was to reveal Jack the Ripper was the son of a surgeon who committed suicide after the last murder.  Whereas Viscount Hardcastle, who is of no importance in Logan's book, being mentioned very briefly, plays no part in any such release of information.  According to the authors, just basing a character on Farquhuarson is an 'insider fact'!  Yet, the reason we know that Farquharson was the one who 'leaked' the 1891 story of Jack the Ripper having committed suicide is because it was mentioned in the press.  So Logan could have known about it from reading the newspaper and then based the character of Viscount Hardcastle on Farquharson if he had wanted to (although there's no reason whatsoever to think that he did).  There is no 'insider' information in there at all. 

The second supposed 'insider fact' revealed by Logan is that a Jewish witness sees Mortemer with Catherine Eddowes.  For the authors, this is insider information because they have a theory that Lawende saw Druitt with Eddowes, which is based on Lawende's published description of the man he saw with Eddowes (one which could describe half the men in London).  Yet, it was very well known that a Jewish witness had supposedly seen the murderer during the night of the double event and Logan's reference to such a witness is obviously nothing more than based on this.

The third and final supposed 'insider fact' is one which is misleadingly and disingenuously presented.  The authors say that 'the villain falsely informs his landlady that he is 'going abroad' and muses to himself that he would rather die than live out the rest of his life in an asylum'.  In his 2015 book, Hainsworth said that this happened, 'Towards the end of the tale, as the net closes round the fiend'.  In my 2016 article I pointed out that this was wrong because both things happen in Logan's book prior to the double event in September 1888.  The authors have removed the bit about it being 'Towards the end of the tale' but don't inform their readers of when Slade actually did inform his landlady that he would be going abroad. That it was prior to the double event makes a nonsense of the idea that there is any connection with the fact that Druitt was believed to have gone abroad after the murder of Kelly. 

Furthermore, the authors now claim that Druitt went abroad in November 1888 to be temporarily confined in a French lunatic aslyum (and was also then confined in an asylum in Chiswick) but there is nothing of this in Logan's book. The basic source of the asylum story is said by Hainsworth to have been Sims who is also supposed to have been the source of Logan's story which makes it confusing as to why Logan's story says nothing about the killer (who, in Logan's story, escaped from an aslyum before he started his murderous campaign) being confined in one after committing all the murders.

Slade didn't actually even go abroad at this time in Logan's story.  He merely told his landlady he was going abroad as a lie in order to throw off his pursuers.   As it happens, Slade had, at this time in the story, just come back from abroad because he had briefly gone to Rome to stab someone.  Sound familiar to the Druitt story?  No, I thought not.

So the truth of the matter is that none of these 'insider facts' are insider facts at all.  None of them indicate that Logan had any knowledge of the facts of the Druitt case. 

Surely the authors know this which explains why the discussion of Logan's book is reduced from an entire chapter in the 2015 book (entitled 'From Montague to Mortemer') down to a single paragraph in an appendix in this one. 

It's funny that. Because when responding to my article on the Casebook Censorship Forum on 30 November 2016, Hainsworth claimed that he stood by his interpretation of Logan (except for a single mistake he made about Slade not having any parents).  He doesn't seem to stand by it sufficiently to include it in his latest book other than a short passing reference in an appendix!  I think that speaks volumes.

THING THE SECOND

In my article 'Bridge Too Far', I gave reasons why it didn't seem at all likely that the 'North Country Vicar' who wrote to the Daily Mail in 1899 claiming that Jack the Ripper was a surgeon who died shortly after the 'last murder' was Reverend Charles Druitt, a vicar from the South-West, and I was, therefore, pleased to find that, in his response to my article in November 2016, Hainsworth wrote: 

'I have since learned that the "North Country Vicar" really was a vicar in the North'.

This 'new evidence' was, at the time, he said, embargoed by his agent.

As I said in my response to Hainsworth at the time, 'It is always gratifying when one's deductions are proved to be correct.' 

When reading Hainsworth's latest book, therefore, I was particularly interested to discover this 'new evidence' and thus find myself vindicated.

But Hainsworth has let me down.  There is no 'new evidence'.  Hainsworth has 'learned' nothing.  It's all rubbish.

All that has happened is that Hainsworth has identified a vicar from Nottingham who was connected with Reverend Charles Druitt so he's decided, or assumed, that it must have been him (or, rather, the vicar is referred to in the introduction as having been 'provisionally identified' but this qualification is then forgotten as the authors go on to write as if the identification has been proved).

Bah!

What a let down.

If Hainsworth had managed to find something in the papers of the Arthur du Boulay HIll, the vicar in question, which indicated that he knew something about the Ripper case, that would have been 'new evidence', as would, frankly, anything which indicated that du Boulay Hill knew something about the Ripper case.  But there is nothing.

What we have here is a classic case of confirmation bias.  We really don't know if the North Country vicar's story was about Druitt at all.  That is just a guess, or assumption, on the part of Hainsworth.  The vicar in 1899 said that the suspect was a surgeon which doesn't apply to Druitt.  He also made no mention of the suspect having committed suicide. 

The Daily Mail stated that the North Country vicar had obtained his information from a brother clergyman to whom 'a confession had been made' so Hainsworth assumes that Montague made a confession to his cousin, Reverend Charles Druitt.  In the Dramatis Personae section of the book, the authors say of him, 'it is believed he took [Montague's] confession as 'Jack the Ripper'.  But this is only 'believed' by the authors themselves and, as there is no other mention of a confession outside of the North Country vicar's letter, this belief depends entirely on the North Country Vicar referring to Montague when he referred to the suspect as being a 'surgeon', which means we have a perfectly circular chain of reasoning here. 

When Hainsworth said he had learnt that the North Country vicar was a vicar from the North Country vicar I naturally understood he had actually discovered something.  Instead he was just guessing. 

But I suppose it means that at least he agrees with me that the North Country vicar wasn't Charles Druitt after all, which is progress of a sort.

THING THE THIRD

In my 'Bridge Too Far' article, I included reference to an article in the Western Times of 19 January 1899 which featured a denial from the Metropolitan Police of the truth of the North Country vicar's story.  In responding to my article in the thread, 'New Vicar/Druitt Source Found', on the Casebook Forum, Hainsworth described this as 'a major find' and said he would include reference to it in his second book, 'with David Barratt fully credited in the body [of] the text for finding it, plus the disclaimer that he does not agree with my interpretation.'

When reading his book, I didn't actually think he would credit me with anything but, fair play to him, he has credited me with the discovery, albeit in a footnote rather than in the body of the text.  That does show he is an honourable person (not that I'm especially bothered whether I'm credited or not).  He even gives a link to my 'Bridge Too Far' article which I didn't think he would do.  He does, however, in true Tom Wescott fashion, spell my surname incorrectly, plumping for 'Barret' compared with 'Barratt', which is the way he spelt it in his Forum post, also incorrectly.  I suppose it was an honest mistake, although the fact that he deliberately referred to me as 'David Orsom' in his Forum posts makes me wonder.  In his book, however, he has got 'Orsam' spelt correctly!

When he first commented on this press article on the Forum, he seemed to be a bit confused because he thought it was published on the same day as the Daily Mail published the story about the vicar's letter, which indicated to him that a journalist from the Western Times had seen the vicar's tale 'coming off the wire' and had gone to Scotland Yard to get some additional information at which point Macnaghten had 'blundered' by revealing how the vicar's suspect died.  Hence, Hainsworth found significance in the reference in the Western Times article to the fact that the vicar's suspect 'committed suicide in the Thames' (which the vicar hadn't said). 

However, the Daily Mail story was published on 18 January, the day before the Western Times version of it, so there was no interception of the story off the wire involved at all, and it's obvious why the Western Times included a reference to the suspect committing suicide in the Thames.  It's because the Daily Mail, when referring to the vicar's letter, had included a summary of Major Griffiths' tale about the suspect committing suicide in the Thames and the Western Times had done no more than follow that, assuming that the two stories were the same.  It's really no more complicated than that. 

Hainsworth and Agius-Ward, however, dismiss this very simple and obvious explanation, preferring some form of complicated scenario whereby not only has Macnaghten blundered by revealing to the Western Times that the vicar's suspect committed suicide in the Thames but George Sims now has to 'reverse this bungle' by publicly dismissing the vicar's story.  Apparently, 'desperate times called for desperate measures' so that Sims was forced to state, contrary to what the vicar had claimed, that the suspect had no time to confess because he killed himself immediately.    It's all even worse than this because the Hainsworth theory appears to be that Macnaghten had previously made an agreement with Charles Druitt that the story of the Ripper having died after the last murder should be made public (but then made this amateur 'bungle' by revealing that the suspect died in the Thames, thus causing Macnaghten to instruct Sims to pooh-pooh the story that Macnaghten himself had been responsible for putting in the public domain!!!).

It's all utterly ridiculous. 

REST OF THE BOOK

What about the rest of the book?

My previous article didn't comment on Hainsworth's book a such; it was focused on the Druitt/Slade relationship.  But this time I am going to comment.  When considered as a book putting forward a case or argument as to the identity of the Whitechapel murderer, it is dreadful.

In saying this, I bear no malice towards Jonathan Hainsworth, but it just has to be said.  This book is terrible. 

In the first place, it's frequently punctuated by fictional episodes in italics as the authors attempt to dramatize what they think happened.  This would be bad at the best of times but, as it's these interludes don't seem to be based on evidence, just speculation, it's awful.

In the second place, the authors promise a lot at the start but simply fail to deliver.  We are told of five important things that we will learn in the book about Druitt.

THE FIVE IMPORTANT THINGS  

1. That his relatives placed him in an expensive private asylum in France, having already twice been a voluntary patient in an asylum.

2.  That they will reveal 'for the first time' the 'textual proof' that someone who later partially disguised the murderer's identity originally knew his authentic particulars.  

3. That there exist letters by the Druitt family showing them 'switching to cryptic phrasing' a year after they virtually stopped writing letters at all.

4. That Druitt briefly dabbled in medicine.

5. That it was 'very likely' that Druitt 'had been detained in Whitechapel but had managed to bluff his way to freedom'

None of these claims are substantiated in the book by any evidence.  

Before we discuss these failures, we might want to ask ourselves what this book actually is.  Is it the second edition of 'Case Closed, 1891' or something different?

In the introduction, we find the authors saying this: 

'A few years ago we published a well received biography of that police chief [Sir Melville Macnaghten]' 

I'm not aware of any other book published by Hainsworth so can only assume that the authors are here referring to Hainsworth's 'Case Closed, 1891' for which Agius-Ward was not credited as an author, making it strange that they refer to 'we' in this context.  Also very strange is that I was never aware that 'Case Closed 1891' was supposed to have been a biography of Macnaghten.  I thought it was a book about Druitt and his candidacy as Jack the Ripper.  The preface, which refers to it as 'another book about Jack the Ripper', seems to support me in that view. 

I suppose it's good that the authors think their, or rather Hainsworth's 2015 book, was 'well received', if they say so themselves, but it's odd that, rather than present the 2015 book as the first edition, and this one as the second edition, they present the first one as a biography of Sir Melville Macnaghten, which it obviously wasn't, and this one as a book setting out the case against Druitt, which, of course, is what the 2015 book is already supposed to have done.

I'm just guessing here but did Hainsworth realize that there were so many errors in 'Case Closed, 1891' that he decided to scrap that one and start again?  If so, the plan doesn't seem to have worked because they have created something truly bad.

Taking the supposedly major new information one by one:

FIRST BIG CLAIM 

1. The authors produce no evidence that Druitt was ever in an asylum in any country.  Their theory is based on nothing more than an American newspaper report that an English man suspected of being Jack the Ripper had been placed in an exclusive French asylum.  This was on the basis of information provided by a nurse in the asylum to the French police who then informed Scotland Yard on about 14 December 1888 that a new patient had been admitted to the asylum three weeks earlier (i.e. about the last week in November when Druitt was known to be in London, so the authors tell us the chronology needs to be adjusted) and had given the impression that he had committed the Whitechapel murders

For me, the authors deal with this in a confusing way.  At the start of the introduction, we are told that, 'Self-preservation saw [Druitt family members] take charge of the situation by placing their family member in an expensive private asylum in France' but, a few pages later, we are told by the authors that they only make 'a circumstantial case' that his family placed him in a French asylum under an alias.  If that's the case, why the unqualified statement at the start of the introduction?

Why do the authors say that Druitt had been placed in an asylum before the murders?  This claim appears to be based on the comment by George Sims that the murderer was 'a mad physician' who 'committed the crimes after having been confined in a lunatic asylum as a homicidal maniac'.   Rather than obtain any confirmation or corroboration of this statement, the authors appear to take Sims at face value and so they now think they have evidence of Druitt having been placed in an asylum! 

Similarly, in 1902 Sims wrote that Jack the Ripper 'had been once - I am not sure it was not twice - in a lunatic asylum' so the authors now think they have evidence for Druitt having been twice in an asylum.  Sims didn't mention an asylum in France but, as one of the characters in one of his short stories was sent to a French asylum after stabbing a young girl (who survived the attack), this must, in the mind of the authors, be a coded reference to Druitt because Sims was incapable of making anything up, apparently. 

What really confused me, though, is this comment by the authors:

'Before he committed his atrocities, the surgeon had twice been a voluntary patient in insane asylums where he confessed his maniacal desire to savage the East End's poor woman'.  

The source reference is to Sims' 1902 article so, despite Sims saying 'I am not sure it was not twice' his statement is taken as gospel and the authors have decided he was twice admitted to asylums in the UK.  This presumably means he must have been in asylums three times once we include the one in France but who knows?

The authors refer to a British newspaper report that the police had a theory in late December 1888 that the murderer had been placed in an asylum by his relatives and were making enquiries at the registered private asylums, but so what?  We know that in October the police were searching the East End lodging houses.  This must have been based on a theory that the the murder lived in an East End lodging house (otherwise they wouldn't have bothered).  Does that mean that they had information that the murderer lived in an East End lodging house?  I don't think so.  They had a theory and they checked it out.  

One only has to think about it for a moment.  If Druitt's family had secretly placed him in a lunatic asylum, the police wouldn't have known about it.  But if they knew about it they wouldn't have been making general enquiries at registered private asylums because they would have known who they were looking for and where he was!  If the police had been making enquiries specifically for Montague Druitt at asylums, how did they manage to suppress that information?

Here is what the authors say about the Manor House Asylum in Chiswick run by the Tuke brothers:

'Was [Druitt] going to see them due to feeling distressed or overwhelmed, but changed his mind and diverted to the river? Or was he already their patient and at some opportune moment had slipped away and drowned himself in the Thames?'

No answers are provided to these questions but the next mention of the Tuke asylum by the authors is this:

'We think that after [Druitt] vanished from the Tukes' asylum....'

Then a bit later:

'...the Manor House asylum at Chiswick, from where Montague Druitt absented himself before committing suicide....' 

So now they've decided (on the basis of nothing whatsoever) that he WAS already a patient of the Manor House Asylum and had vanished at some point shortly before his death.  How this fits in with his supposed incarceration at the asylum in France I really have no idea.  But presumably, as he had a return ticket to Hammersmith dated 1 December 1888 on him when he was fished out of the water, he had travelled from Hammersmith to Chiswick, had himself admitted to the asylum, then escaped, then committed suicide.  I guess that's what they are saying happened but the authors don't actually bother to spell it out for us. 

As for the French asylum story, the authors seem remarkably unexcited about the fact that one of the English detectives who came over to France was said to have spoken to the patient and that, 'inquiries in London had already resulted in a confirmation of the belief that the lunatic is implicated in the crimes of which he ceaselessly talks'.  Furthermore, the authors completely ignore the fact that it is stated that the police theory was that, 'the madman is one of a band of wretches who committed the murders' and that his companions in crime, fearful that his ravings would lead to the arrest of a whole gang, had placed him the asylum at their expense.  In other words, if the story was true, the suspect was not only part of a gang who committed the murders but he was secure in an asylum into which he had apparently been placed by some of his fellow gang members, and was known by the police to have been involved in committing the murders. 

So Scotland Yard had their man as at 24 December secure in a French asylum.  How then did he come to be fished out of the River Thames six days later in possession of a return ticket from Hammersmith dated 1 December? I don't find that question answered in the book. 

Even more bizarre is that we are told by the authors that Druitt escaped from the Manor House Asylum in Chiswick and jumped into the Thames on 4 December 1888.  So he must have been in the French asylum prior to this date. But how did he get from the unidentified French asylum, being interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives convinced he was Jack the Ripper, to the Manor House Asylum in Chiswick?

That's if you assume that the police from Scotland Yard arrived at the French asylum considerably earlier than a week prior to the date of the article of 24 December 1888. It would have to have been about a month earlier rather than a week, with Druitt having been admitted three weeks prior to that. 

The authors attempt to convince us that their 'circumstantial case for the true identity of the English patient' is in some way corroborated by the reference in the minutes of the Blackheath cricket club that Druitt had 'gone abroad' but 'abroad' is a big place and the argument seems circular.  Hainsworth has long believed that Druitt went abroad so when he saw the Philadelphia Times article which stated that Jack the Ripper had been found in a French Asylum at some point prior to 24 December 1888 (an article discovered a few years ago by R.J. Palmer) he was instantly attracted to it because he already believed that Druitt had gone abroad.  Is there anything else in the story that connects with Druitt?  I would say absolutely nothing.  One of the two men who accompanies Druitt to the asylum, said to be a friend, described himself as a clergyman while the other man, a relative, was said to be a barrister.  But the identities of both men were supposedly found to be false so the clergyman/barrister connection to the extent that the authors rely on it (and they don't say they do) is irrelevant.  There is literally no mention by anyone else that Druitt was ever confined in a French asylum or, indeed, any asylum after the murders.  Hence what we have in the minds of the authors is that the French suspect must be Druitt because he had 'gone abroad' and because he had 'gone abroad' he must be the French suspect!  But, in saying that Druitt was the French suspect, they have to ignore two highly inconvenient facts, namely that he was effectively in police custody in December 1888 and was reported to have been believed to have been a member of a larger gang who had murdered the women in Whitechapel.

SECOND BIG CLAIM

To be quite honest I haven't been able to work out what this one is all about.  I assume it's something to do with Sims.  Probably some kind of implausible, far-fetched and unconvincing interpretation of one of his short stories.  It's hard to find in the book, I've spent some time looking and I can't really be bothered to look any more. We can move on.

THIRD BIG CLAIM

When I saw the mention of 'cryptic phrasing' hidden in the correspondence of the Druitt family, it immediately brought to mind Pierre's 'metaphorical language'. And I wasn't disappointed.

The so-called 'cryptic phasing' identified by the authors as referring to a discussion of Montague is dubious in the extreme. 

Out of fairness to them, and their book sales, I'm not going to reveal it in this article but it is really really weak. To my mind, it's a suggestion made by someone who has optimistically made the journey to the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, looked though the entire series of correspondence hoping but failing to find just one mention of Montague having been the Ripper and then, seeing something they don't understand in a letter from 1892, assumed (out of desperation) that it might be related to Monty.  

The other failing of the authors is that they don't substantiate their claim that the Druitt family correspondence came to a grinding halt at the time of the Ripper murders.  I expected to be told exactly when this correspondence ceased but, suspiciously, this isn't mentioned. All that is said is that it is 'almost non existent' from the second half of 1888 to mid-1889.  For all we, the readers know, however, the correspondence paused on 1 July 1888.  If that's the case, it wouldn't have anything to do with the murders.  Or there might have been one or two letters between September and December 1888 (thus explaining the word 'almost'). Without knowing the date when the correspondence dried up it's not possible to draw any conclusions about whether the drought has anything to do with the Ripper murders.  The authors are surprisingly coy about the details of this pause. 

Further, in the introduction, after referring to the pause in correspondence between mid-1888 and mid-1889, the authors say that, 'letters by members of the same family composed a year later show them switching to cryptic phrasing about something that is causing strain'.  Yet, in the main body of the book they only refer to a single letter with a phrase that may or may not be 'cryptic' which was written in 1892, three years after the pause ended, not 'a year later'.  I don't know if I've missed something or if the authors had originally included another letter which they took out of the book at a late stage but it seems to me that they have been very sloppy with this book and that is a classic example.  

In the introduction we are also told that we are going to be reading about letters (plural) from a 'valuable archive' which has been 'surprisingly neglected by researchers on this topic'.  By this, the authors must be referring to Jonathan Hainsworth himself who neglected the 'valuable' archive when writing his 2015 book! 

But is the archive really valuable?  The authors don't produce anything of any value from that correspondence as far as I can tell. 

FOURTH BIG CLAIM

Did Druitt dabble briefly in medicine?  Well, there is no evidence that he did.  Not a squeak in any of the 'valuable' family correspondence that he ever studied the subject.  But the authors speculate that he did which is supposed to explain why he he was said by Macnaghten in his 1894 memorandum to be 'a doctor'

Bewilderingly, this contradicts the entire approach in Hainsworth's 2015 book whereby the 'inaccuracy' was a deliberate one by Macnaghten to prevent Druitt's identification, a theory that was always pretty ridiculous bearing in mind, firstly, that Macnaghten actually named Druitt in his 1894 memorandum and, secondly, that it would mean that Macnaghten, whose memorandum can only have been written as a briefing note for the Home Secretary to respond to newspaper claims that Cutbush was the Ripper, was intending to deliberately mislead the Home Secretary and allow the Home Secretary to mislead the House of Commons with a lie that would be very easy to prove as a lie.

It was my impression that Hainsworth had spent some years on the forums explaining at length how and why that cunning fox Macnaghten deliberately changed the biographical information about Druitt in his memorandum, something which ended up as a central feature of his first book.  Now, it seems, Mac was doing no such thing and had good reason to describe Druitt as a doctor even though, at best, he had only ever been a medical student who never qualified.  

Without even the slightest bit of evidence that Druitt studied medicine it's not exactly 'information' that has any value.  Anyone can write a book containing a thousand guesses about the identity Jack the Ripper.  I was hoping for some new research providing some new information in the book but it isn't there.

FIFTH BIG CLAIM 

The arrest of Druitt, we are told, is said to have occurred after the murder of Catherine Eddowes, but he talked his way out of it.

So what's the evidence?

Well again, there isn't any.  It's just that the authors speculate that Druitt was the man referred to by Robert Clifford Spicer in his letter to the Daily Express, and subsequent interview with a reporter, published on 16 March 1931.  Spicer said that when he was a 22-year-old constable in the Metropolitan Police, 'I had the pleasure of capturing him, and taking him to Commercial-street police station after he had committed two murders'

There are some obvious difficulties.  Spicer claimed that the man he arrested on suspicion of being Jack the Ripper in a court off Brick Lane was 'a highly respected doctor' who gave a Brixton address.  The authors try and skip around this unfortunate fact by saying that Spicer was confused and must have meant that he was a nephew of a highly respected doctor.  Ah yes, that seems likely.  Not!  They don't even bother to explain the bit about the Brixton address.

I always like to add some new research in these articles and I can reveal (I believe for the first time) that Robert Clifford Spicer was not 22 years old at the time he supposedly arrested Jack the Ripper, as the authors tell us, based on the Daily Express article.  His birth certificate states that he was born in Walthamstow on 30 December 1868, which means that he was actually aged 19 at the time of the Ripper murders.  

He joined the force when he was even younger, on 11 April 1887, at which time he was a mere 18 years old.  He wouldn't have included this fact on his application form, however, because one had to be at least 21 to join the Metropolitan Police at the time.  That was undoubtedly the age he pretended to be in April 1887, hence he was pretending to be 22 years old the following year.   He was dismissed on 25 April 1889 when he was aged 20.

Police Orders for 18 April 1889

H 101 Spicer; seven days pay (24s), to be extended over four weeks, severely reprimanded and cautioned. 

Police Orders for 25 April 1889

DISMISSAL - H. P.C. 101 - 72451 Spicer.  Drunk on duty, unnecessarily interfering with two private persons, and considered unfit for the Police Force.  Pay to 22nd.

Spicer was perfectly aware at the time of his real age.  The 1891 census (at which time he was a jobbing gardener) correctly stated it as 22 and, when he married Annie Ashman on 16 April 1893, his age was correctly stated on the marriage certificate as being 24.  Yet he seems to have had problems with calculating his age in his later years. He lost a year in the 1901 census when he was stated to be 31 instead of 32, with the same for the 1911 census in which he gave his age as 41 when he was 42. Curiously the Daily Express of 16 March 1931 said that he was 'now sixty-four years of age' whereas, in fact, at that time, he was still only a sprightly 62. Even at death he age was wrongly reported.  This is from the Essex Newsman Herald of 2 September 1947 as below:

 

He was, in fact, 78 years old at the time of his death on 22 August 1947, albeit that his death certificate also wrongly gave his age as 79.   

The Daily Express article says that Spicer left the police force 'five months after the suspect had been released' which, as he left in April 1889, would place the arrest in December 1888, problematic for Hainsworth who believes it was the night of the double event (presumably while he was contemplating his third murder of the night). 

The reason for this belief is that, as we have seen, Spicer wrote in his letter to the Daily Express that he arrested the man, 'after he had committed two murders'.  But that doesn't necessarily mean he was referring to the night of the double event.  He could have been saying that he arrested him at some point after his second murder (which might have been the murder of Nichols, if Tabram was supposed to have been the first, or after the murder of Chapman), but not necessarily on the same night.  Obviously, this is inconsistent with Spicer saying that he left the Met five months later but so is an arrest on the night of the double event, and his entire story is dubious.  Even Hainsworth and his co-author accept that Spicer's claim that, as he dragged the suspect to the police station, 'Women peered out of bedroom windows and shouted and cheered' , is fabricated.  They also seem to think that he fabricated his description of the man as wearing a 'high hat, black suit with silk facings and a gold watch and chain', something which they describe as 'a yarn', presumably because it doesn't seem to fit Druitt.

As for the rest of his description, the authors stress that Spicer's suspect had a fair moustache, high forehead, rosy cheeks and was 'about five feet 8 or 9 inches'.  Well Hainsworth described Montie in his first book as having a fair moustache and 'noble forehead'  (which has become a 'high forehead' in this book) but how tall was he?  Hainsworth obviously didn't know when he wrote his first book, hence he described him as being of 'medium build and height'.  That could fit just about any height between five feet 6 inches  and six foot, so why have the authors italicised 'five feet 8 or 9 inches in their book' as if it somehow relates to Druitt?   Especially as in this second book the authors suddenly tell us that Montie was 'about five feet 7 inches in height'.  In his first book, Hainsworth told us that Montie 'broadly resembles' the man seen by Lawende with Eddowes on the night of her murder. Swanson recorded the height of this man, presumably on the basis of what he had been told by Lawende, as being 5 foot 7 or 8 inches.  In this book, the authors suggest that a heavily disguised Druitt was the man seen by Hutchinson who was said to be 'a little over five feet 6 inches.'  So just about any height fits Druitt, it seems.

Spicer's suspect was also 12 stone which, at 5 foot 8 or 9, indicates someone ever so slightly overweight.  That doesn't sound like the 'medium' built Druitt to me. Nor does it sound like someone 'wiry in build' which is how the authors describe him in this latest book, based on nothing other than their own interpretation from photographs as far as I can tell.

Whether Druitt had rosy cheeks or not doesn't seem to be recorded and it's not something mentioned by Hainsworth in his first book, which refers only to Druitt's 'acquiline cheeks'.  In this second book, however, the authors suddenly, and as if by magic, tell us that Druitt had 'the reddest of apple cheeks' due to his perpetual sunburn from playing cricket and tennis.  No source is provided for this statement but there is a footnote reference given at this point to the Sheffield Evening Telegraph of 29 March 1888 which, to the reader's surprise, provides a description of the unknown attacker of a woman called Ada Wilson in Bow as being 'About 30, height 5ft 6in, face sunburnt with fair moustache'.  The authors appear to think that Druitt was responsible for this attempted murder and, astonishingly, it seems to be on THIS basis that they feel it is appropriate for them to say that Druitt had a sunburnt face giving him the reddest of apple cheeks and, lo and behold, in a fit-up worthy of the great Fisherman himself, the authors (happily ignoring the difference in height between the two descriptions) have managed to give Druitt rosy cheeks so that he now fits the description of Spicer's suspect!!!  It's brilliant isn't it?

Did the 'unfit' teenager, Robert Spicer, really arrest Jack the Ripper? It seems unlikely, but even less likely that he arrested Montague Druitt.

FIFTH BIG CLAIM (PART 2)

In support of the idea that Druitt was arrested, the authors refer to something that Sir Basil Thomson said in the 1936 American edition of his book, 'The Story of Scotland Yard'. In summarizing the contents of Macnaghten's 1894 memorandum (as summarized by Major Griffiths in 1898), Thomson had said this in his book:

'The third suspect was also a doctor on the borderland of insanity. His friends had grave doubts about him, but the evidence was insufficient for detaining him with any hope of obtaining a conviction.'

According to the authors, the mention of the evidence being 'insufficient for detaining him' means that the doctor (Druitt) must have been arrested and let go. This is really desperate stuff.  The clear and obvious interpretation of what Sir Basil was saying there was that, based on his understanding of what Macnaghten had written, there was insufficient evidence against Druitt to have him arrested and locked up (i.e. detained).  If he had had some kind of inside information, over and above what was in the Macnaghten memorandum, that Druitt had actually been arrested (and released), Sir Basil would surely have said so.

Furthermore, the authors are contradicting what Hainsworth said in his 2015 book about Sir Basil's account.  Then Hainsworth wrote that Thomson:

'was clearly dependent on reading Major Griffiths’ account of 1898.  Consequently Thomson was quite fooled that the “Mad Doctor” was about to be arrested…Sir Basil Thomson’s rewrite shows that he had no insider knowledge to offer on the Dorset solution and, as with all his Scotland Yard colleagues, had not been taken into “Good Old Mac’s” confidence about Druitt'.

For some reason, Hainsworth and Agius-Ward have now decided that Thomson DID have some inside knowledge to offer and that his reference to there being no evidence to allow Druitt to have been detained meant that he must first have been arrested! 

It's dire, and it reveals that the authors had simply run out of ideas but decided to slip in any old rubbish into the book to support a case that had already crumbled beneath their feet.

MISCELLANY

A few other observations on the book.  

1. There's no such thing as a free lunch 

Referring to Lord Mayor's Day of 1887, the authors say that:

'The poor although grateful for a free lunch, were cynical at the token effort and at the pomp and ceremony that the day entailed.'

This is just lazy writing on the part of the authors.  There was no 'free lunch' for the poor in 1887, at least not one provided by the authorities, nor one for the poor generally.  In that year, F.N. Charrington, virtually unpublicized and generally unknown, had provided a free meal for a limited number of (300) poor persons.  It wasn't until 1888 when he offered to repeat this on a much larger scale, for two or three thousand, that the liberal Lord Mayor elect and the Sheriff of London offered to cover the cost of the (evening) meal.  This was a well publicized event but was the first of its kind.  So the gratitude that the authors apply to the poor for their 'free lunch' in 1887 was imaginary.

Later we find the statement that 'The new Lord Mayor, resplendent in all his regalia, was providing one free meal to the poor of Whitechapel for one day of the year'.  This is highly misleading because it was only a free meal to the 'destitute people' or 'needy poor', not to anyone and everyone who was poor, and it wasn't limited to residents of Whitechapel.  It was for the needy poor of the East End.

2. Agog for Ostrog

I use the same heading as I used in my article of 9 June 2019 entitled 'Deconstructing Jack' which the authors don't appear to have read. I say this because the authors write:

'Something else Macnaghten may have learned about Michael Ostrog by the time he composed his reports is that the professional liar claimed to have an iron-clad alibi for the Whitechapel murders of 1888: he was locked up in a French asylum'.

That is very unlikely for two reasons.

Firstly, the British Government did not even become aware that Ostrog had been convicted in France on 14 November 1888 until August 1894, six months after Macnaghten composed his memorandum on the case, and even then it would appear that no information was provided to it by the French authorities that Ostrog had been held in custody from the time of his arrest on 26 July 1888 until his conviction (after which he was sent to prison), which information was only obtained from the Paris Archives by Philip Sugden when researching his 2002 book. 

Secondly, and in any event, Ostrog NEVER 'claimed to have an iron-clad alibi for the Whitechapel murders of 1888'.  The authors have got themselves very confused here.  Ostrog only claimed to have an iron-clad alibi for an offence of obtaining goods by false pretences in May 1889 for which he had been convicted in July 1894.  This offence had occurred in Eton but Ostrog claimed that he couldn't have committed such an offence in Eton in May 1889 when he had been locked up in a Parisian jail.  Not having ever been formally or publicly accused of being Jack the Ripper he never had any need to claim to have had an alibi for the Ripper murders or for any period in 1888.

Given that the authors, just like Simon Wood, have failed to understand the level of knowledge possessed by Macnaghten and Scotland Yard in February 1894, they are led down a garden path into commenting that Macnaghten stubbornly held on to Ostrog as a possible suspect 'for personal reasons of revenge and public relations' as if he knew he was innocent of the Whitechapel murders but included him in his list anyway.  No, he was included as a possible suspect because he was, in fact, considered by Scotland Yard to have been a possible suspect during the period of the murders in 1888, partly based on the fact that he had, suspiciously, gone missing during that period, albeit that unknown to Scotland Yard he was locked up in a Parisian jail in Paris. 

3. TUMBLING DOWN

Finally, on a positive note, I am at least glad to see no more nonsense about Tumblety in this book. 

Readers with long memories will recall that Hainsworth had, bafflingly, included a fake piece of information in his 2015 book about Tumblety when he postulated that one of the first things Macnaghten would have done would have been to 'read the now-lost report on Dr. Francis Tumblety by Walter Andrews, the inspector who had done a background check on this suspect'.

Members of the Casebook Censorship Forum may well recall that I chided Hainsworth on the Forum for the inclusion of a mention of this invented report, presented as if it was historical fact when it was nothing more than pure speculation that such a report had ever existed.  The same members might also recall that Hainsworth went into meltdown at receiving this very fair criticism.  At the time I actually (genuinely) remember being a bit worried that Hainsworth was giving the impression of being suicidal in his posts about this issue and I'm glad that he has not ended up like Druitt.

It's also interesting to note that, whereas there were 43 mentions of Tumblety in the 2015 book, we are down to ten mentions in this one.  He refers to him as a 'genuine police suspect in 1888' although that has not entirely been established.  What's particularly amusing, though, is that the authors like to think that when Littlechild referred, in his 1913 letter, to Tumblety having committed suicide after what he regarded as the last Ripper murder, he must have been thinking of Druitt!!! Thus, in their minds, this comment supports the case against Druitt, even though the former chief inspector was promoting an entirely different suspect to Sims and was saying that he had never even heard of a 'Dr D' in connection with the crimes. But it's nice that the authors can put such a positive spin on this! 

CONCLUSION 

In 2015 Mr Hainsworth attempted to cross a bridge too far. Now he and his partner have attempted to build a bridge over the troubled water he himself created in 2015 but that bridge has not been successful and the authors have rather drowned in that water, rather like Druitt did in the Thames. 

Despite the amount of time before publication and the five year period since the first one, this feels like a rushed book, with arguments not properly made out and a heavy reliance on newspaper material that was already well known.  In my opinion, there isn't a single significant discovery revealed in the book which has been based on new research. 

A disappointment. 

 

LORD ORSAM
6 JUNE 2020