Reflections on the Suckered! Trilogy
A little over 8 years ago I posted my first series of articles on my old website which I labelled 'The Suckered! Trilogy'.
Uploading every article to this site requires me to re-format it in its entirety, involving the re-insertion of paragraph spaces, underlining, bold, centering, use of colour etc., and also involves re-uploading each image used individually, which is all very time consuming, so please forgive me if I've missed anything. I'll aim to polish them up further in due course but they should now be in a form which they can be read perfectly well.
Those who are new to Orsam.co.uk may not fully appreciate how game-changing and ground-breaking those articles were in 2015 in respect of a certain sub-sect of Ripperology (and indeed, to some extent, wider British history) and, while this blog involves me patting myself on the back to a large extent, I feel that I've earned the right to do so.
The reason for me researching and writing those articles in the first place was that, when I was a member of the Casebook Forum, I was being assured by pretty much everyone posting on it that there was something incredibly suspicious about the visit of Inspector Andrews to Montreal in late 1888 and that it was effectively a historical fact that he was doing something in secret, either chasing information about Fenians or making enquiries about Francis Tumblety, and the only live question was which of those two was it. At the same time, Simon Wood had recently published the first edition of his 'Reconstructing Jack' book, following on from a Ripperologist article, in which he expressed absolute certainty that Inspector Jarvis was doing secret and illegal work in America, attempting to persuade Patrick Sheridan to give evidence to the Parnell Commission or something of that sort. In the middle of it all, he also seemed to believe that Superintendent Shore was in the United States doing unspecified illegal work.
As a result of all this, and determined to get to the bottom of what these three Scotland Yard officers were doing in America, if anything, I carried out some quite extensive and, like I say, ground-breaking research and discovered that the answer was very simple and dull: Andrews and Jarvis were doing what they were officially supposed to be doing, respectively escorting and locating criminals, while Superintendent Shore never left England.
How did I discover all this?
Well, in respect of Inspector Andrews, my researches uncovered a letter buried in an obscure file at the National Archives written by the Assistant Commissioner, Robert Anderson, to the Home Office which demonstrated very clearly that there was no ulterior motive in sending an officer to Canada to convey Barnett there. The existence of this letter had been known from other documents but it was presumably thought to have been lost. Its contents were certainly not known but had been speculated upon (quite wrongly as it transpired) so that this was quite a major discovery which shed a lot of light onto the background of this entire issue. At the same time, I was able to correct a number of misunderstandings that everyone seemed to have about the working of the Fugitive Offenders Act. What I demonstrated was that everything involving the conveyance of Barnett to Canada was perfectly normal and entirely within the law. I was also able to show that Andrews' supposedly mysterious stay in Montreal for a week was simply because he needed to attend both the remand and committal hearings before he could return to London which he did immediately after Barnett was committed to trial, and he did this in the normal way, in the normal time period, via Toronto.
As a bonus during my research, I also found an interesting story about Andrews' journey across Canada with Barnett as well as a quote from Andrews in a Canadian newspaper saying that he didn't think Francis Tumblety was Jack the Ripper. This was a bit of a disappointment for supporters of Tumblety's candidacy for being the Ripper but they managed to find a silver lining by noting that Andrews nevertheless said that Scotland Yard wanted to interview Tumblety.
When it came to Inspector Jarvis, I managed to locate an entire hitherto unknown file at the National Archives which dealt with his visit to America, or rather the allegations that had been made about that visit by Henry Labouchere. Simon Wood then immediately obtained a copy of the file and quoted from it in a subsequent edition of his book (without any acknowledgment that I had alerted him to the existence of the file, naturally) although he misunderstood almost everything he quoted (which was, in any event, stuff I had already quoted in my article). I also discovered a number of previously unknown briefing notes by Robert Anderson which demonstrated in the most crystal clear fashion that the allegations against Jarvis were entirely false. In addition, I proved that what Jarvis said he had done in respect of the arrest of Thomas Barton in Philadelphia, which was disputed by Wood, was perfectly true. Even Wood, in response to my articles, was forced to tone down the wording in his book on this subject in subsequent editions but for reasons which have never been understood by me, he still seems to think that Henry Labouchere's allegations against Jarvis might be true even though Labouchere himself publicly repudiated them and admitted that he had got it completely wrong and that Jarvis had never been anywhere near Patrick Sheridan, offering a full apology and paying Inspector Jarvis a large sum of money in damages. How, in those circumstances, anyone could think that Labouchere had done anything other than make a shockingly false accusation against a serving police officer escapes me.
Since publishing my articles, I discovered that during the libel proceedings Jarvis had provided proof to Labouchere that he had only been hunting for Barton in the form of his official reports despatched from North America (see my article 'Secrets of the Queen's Bench', Ripperologist, 164) and this may well have played a part in Labouchere withdrawing his allegations, apologising and paying damages.
The reaction to my articles on Casebook was largely positive although Simon Wood and Wolf Vanderlinden were particularly grumpy and annoyed, presumably because they couldn't find any faults with them. During my exchange with Wolf, he promised to answer some questions which I posed to him about his own article on the subject of Inspector Andrews' visit to Canada but he never did. He basically ran away. Mike Hawley briefly attempted to claim to have found a couple of flaws but it transpired that this was nothing more than a result of his own misunderstanding of the evidence, which he seemed to accept.
During the entire past 8 years no flaws have been found with my research or conclusions and the only thing I have modified is that I should never have allowed that Simon Wood might have been right about Andrews' return journey being delayed by a snowstorm. I subsequently worked out that Wood was using newspaper reports from the wrong time period and that the snowstorm was over by the time Andrews left Montreal, thus delaying him not at all. I also since found evidence that Andrews returned to England on SS Sarnia, contrary to some inaccurate press reports that it was another ship.
I remain very proud of this trilogy of articles. I think they have helped to set the record straight and I'm not aware of anyone who now seriously thinks that any of the three officers were doing what they were widely believed pre-2015 to be doing.
Of the responses to my trilogy, Wolf Vanderlinden's was most interesting because, while not challenging the facts I set out in respect of the specific cases of the three officers in question, he produced what might be described as a conspiracy theorists' checklist of all the nonsense such theorists have claimed that the British police were doing in the nineteenth century. This gave me the opportunity to rebut his list point by point in a further series of articles labelled 'The Suckered! Quadrilogy'. If you haven't yet guessed, it was so-named because there were four articles in that series! I will attempt to upload those next. They are very much worth a read if you haven't read them already because they really do get to grips with some quite important historical issues which had never before been properly analysed or researched and certainly hadn't been resolved in over one hundred years. But I feel I nailed it, and that I finally put a whole load of major conspiracy issues to bed.
31 August 2023