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Trevor Marriott recently posted on JTR Forums to say that, "Tumblety is a poor suspect as there is strong evidence to suggest that on the night of Mary Kelly's murder he was in police custody". On the other side of the coin, Michael Hawley claims in his most recent book, Dr Francis Tumblety & The Railway Murders, that, "Tumblety posting bail is a certainty".

Neither man is correct. There is no evidence suggesting that Tumblety was in police custody on the night of Mary Kelly's murder but there is no evidence that he was at liberty on bail that night either, let alone that this was a certainty.

Here are some basic questions and answers about Francis Tumblety.


When was Tumblety arrested?


We do not know.

Although Trevor Marriott insists that Tumblety was arrested for the unnatural offences charges on 7 November 1888 (and Michael Hawley has also claimed, for example in his book The Ripper's Haunts, that "Tumblety...was arrested on November 7, 1888") there is no actual evidence to this effect and it is only an inference based on the fact that Tumblety was remanded at Marlborough Street Magistrates Court on this date.

I suspect that what continues to influence him (and Hawley too to the extent he still believes this) is the mistake that was made when the Central Criminal Court After-Trial Calendars were first discovered involving a misunderstanding of the word "custody".

The Calendars have the following headings:

They are all self-explanatory save for "Date of Warrant" and "When received into Custody".

A modern reader might assume that "Date of Warrant" is the date that a warrant was issued for the arrest of the prisoner and "When received into Custody" was the date the prisoner was arrested and booked into a police station by a custody sergeant.

But that would not be correct.

In the After-Trial Calendars, the date of warrant is the date of the warrant of committal to trial and the date when received into custody is the date that a prisoner was first received by Holloway Prison on remand.

In the case of Francis Tumblety, his entries are as below:

What the date of "7th Nov" tells us for certain is that Tumblety was charged at Marlborough Street Magistrates Court with crimes relating to "unnatural offences" and then immediately remanded into custody at Holloway prison on Wednesday 7 November 1888.

But it doesn't tell on what date Tumblety was arrested.

While it is true that after an arrest the police were required to take their prisoner to a magistrate with all reasonable possible speed, if Tumblety had been arrested after (or shortly before) 5pm on Tuesday 6 November it wouldn't have been possible to bring him to a magistrate until first thing on Wednesday morning so that he would have had to have been held in police custody overnight. There is no available evidence that can assist us as to whether Tumblety was arrested late on 6 November or during the course of 7 November.

Tumblety could even have been arrested before 6 November and released on bail by a magistrate to appear again on 7 November but, as he was charged in his indictment with an offence committed on 2 November, and remand appearances were usually (but not always) 7 days apart, it doesn't seem likely that he was arrested any earlier than 6 November.


How would Tumblety have been arrested?


If we assume that the National Vigilance Association ("NVA"), who are known to have prosecuted Tumblety at the Old Bailey, were always behind the prosecution (as seems likely), the procedure for Tumblety's arrested on a misdemeanour charge would have been that the NVA would have obtained a warrant for Tumblety's arrest from a magistrate. Having obtained such a warrant, the NVA would have approached the Metropolitan Police for them to supply officers of that force to effect the arrest, which would likely have been the police's first and, indeed, only involvement in the case other than providing evidence of the arrest. From Tumblety's indictment we can assume that the arresting officers were the two officers who gave evidence before the grand jury, namely P.S. Walter Dinnie and P.C. Frank Froest of the Criminal Investigation Department.


Would Tumblety have been interviewed by the police following his arrest?



According to Trevor Marriott on JTR Forums on 12 June 2024:

"i say again Tumblety was arrested on Nov 7th and presumably interviewed either that day or the following day when he was charged and taken to court and then remanded in custody to appear 7 days later for committal to a higher court. At his committal proceedings, he was then granted bail subject to suitable sureties being found that process to 2 days and he was then bailed. It was a legal process then and still applies in today's legal system."

Trevor always assumes that everything done in 1888 was the same as when he was a police officer during the 1970s and 1980s. But, in the 1880s, police officers were not allowed to ask questions of prisoners once they had been arrested. That was the preserve of the magistrate, should the prisoner wish to answer.

We may note that Trevor seems to think that Tumblety was taken to court for the first time on 8th November which is an impossibility and shows that he still doesn't understand the meaning of "received into Custody". Tumblety must have been in court on 7th November if he was received into custody (at Holloway prison) on that day, which we know he was.


Was Tumblety bailed at court on 7 November 1888?


As already mentioned, the Calendar tells us that, from Marlborough Street Magistrates Court on 7 November, Tumblety was taken and remanded into custody at Holloway Prison on the same day.

What we don't know is whether he was remanded with bail or without bail and if, with bail, whether he was able to find the required sureties that would have enabled him to make that bail and be released from prison until required to return for his committal hearing on 14th November.

The question of whether Tumblety received bail or not on 7 November is one which isn't possible to answer for certain on the basis of the existing evidence.

We know for a fact that on Wednesday 14 November 1888, Tumblety was back at Marlborough Street Magistrates Court where he was again remanded into custody. The extra information we have for this hearing is that Tumblety was definitely remanded with bail but couldn't immediately satisfy that bail, hence he was again taken to Holloway Prison but, at Holloway Prison, he was able to provide the required sureties which allowed him to be bailed from prison on Friday, 16 November, with the requirement to attend at the next session of the Old Bailey commencing on 10 December 1888.

One can draw inferences and argue until one is blue in the face that Tumblety was granted bail or was not granted bail but there is no evidence one way or the other.

The main argument against Tumblety being granted bail is that, if he had been granted bail on 7 November and then found that bail to enable him to be released from prison, he wouldn't have turned up at Marlborough Street Police Court to be committed for trial on 14 November but would have fled the country.

Against this, however, is that there was no certainty that the magistrate would have committed Tumblety for trial so that, while there was a chance that he would have been entirely set at liberty on 14 November, it might have made sense to wait and see what happened.

If, as this argument assumes, Tumblety had been granted bail on 7 November, he would no doubt have expected to have been granted bail again on 14 November (although possibly with that bail increased) so that if he was planning to leave the country he would then have had almost a month to arrange his flight whereas if he had attempted to leave the country prior to his committal hearing he would have had only a few days to prepare.

The argument usually made in favour of Tumblety being released on bail is that former Chief Inspector Littlechild seemed to think that Tumblety was a good suspect for the Whitechapel murders but that assumes Littlechild was familiar with Tumblety's bail details, which he may well not have been, and also, of course, that Littlechild believed that Mary Jane Kelly was murdered by the same person who committed the other murders.


What was the amount of Tumblety's bail?


This is not known.

Newspaper reports, for what they are worth, say that Tumblety was bailed on 14th November in the sum of $1,500 which, at the exchange rate of 1888, would have been £300, a not insignificant sum. In the usual way, if this is accurate, we can deduce that Tumblety would have been required to provide two sureties of £150 each.

Clearly, on 14th November 1888, Tumblety wasn't in a position to provide those sureties which is why he wasn't bailed until 16th November as noted on the After-Trial Calendar.

If Tumblety was released on bail from Holloway prison on 8 November 1888, which would have allowed him to be at liberty at the time of Kelly's murder, it's pretty much certain that the amount of bail set by the magistrate on 7 November must have been lower than £300 otherwise Tumblety wouldn't have been sent back to Holloway prison for him to be bailed on the 16th. The only other way this could have happened is if one or both of his sureties dropped out and needed to be replaced but the most likely scenario is that the magistrate increased the bail on the 14th so that Tumblety needed time to arrange for sureties (whether the existing sureties or new ones) who could satisfy the new sum.

Such a scenario would not have been uncommon. Bail was often increased upon committal once the magistrate had heard all the evidence against the prisoner.


Did Tumblety's appearance at the magistrate's court on 7 November have anything to do with the Whitechapel murders?


Probably not.

Mike Hawley says this in his most recent book (according to the free sample on Kindle):

"...sometime before November 7, 1888, Tumblety was arrested on suspicion [of committing the Whitechapel murders]. According to the November and December Central Criminal Court calendars, he was then received into custody at Holloway prison on November 7".

But there is no evidence that Tumblety's receipt into custody at Holloway prison on 7 November had anything to do with an arrest on suspicion of having committed the Whitechapel murders. There isn't any actual evidence that Tumblety was ever even arrested in relating to the Whitechapel murders, just vague newspaper reports that it occurred (supported by a later quote from Tumblety). Those newspaper reports might have been false based on confusion arising from a coincidence in the timing of a reported arrest of a medical man at Euston station during a period when Tumblety was in the process of being charged with the unnatural offences crimes at Marlborough Street Police Court.

Hawley's assumed version of events is that Tumblety was arrested on suspicion and, as a result of that arrest, evidence was obtained about the "unnatural offences" for which he was charged on 7 November. The problem with this is that one would then have expected the police or the Treasury to have prosecuted the unnatural offences charges against Tumblety at the Old Bailey but it was the NVA. The fact that it was the NVA suggests that the crimes for which Tumblety was charged had nothing whatsoever to do with the Whitechapel murders.


Does the fact that Tumblety is said to carry a lot of cash with him assist as to whether he received bail on 7 November?



Bail wasn't taken in the form of cash in the 1880s. It was done by way of sureties. So it didn't matter how much money Tumblety had on him.

Furthermore, the fact that Tumblety went to Holloway prison on both 7 November and 14 November means that he was unable to immediately satisfy any bail requirements on either date. We don't know for sure that he was granted bail on 7 November but, if he was, he certainly didn't submit cash bail (as otherwise he wouldn't have gone to prison that day).


Does the fact that Tumblety was bailed on 14 November 1888 help us as to whether Tumblety was bailed on 7 November 1888?


Not a great deal. That the magistrate was prepared to grant bail on 14 November does mean that one can't say that he wouldn't have done so on 7 November (because he obviously did so a week later) but equally it doesn't mean that he would definitely have done so.

Tumblety was charged with a misdemeanour of a type which meant that it was at the discretion of the magistrate as to whether to allow bail at any time but it was very rare for bail to be refused at the committal stage in a misdemeanour case. When it happened a few years later with Oscar Wilde, his solicitors called it "illegal". From the fact that Tumblety, charged with misdemeanour offences, was always likely to be bailed at committal, one could argue that the magistrate would probably have agreed to bail at the remand hearing on 7 November. But it's hardly certain and there are examples of prisoners being refused bail on remand who were then granted it upon committal.


If Tumblety had been bailed at the Police Court on 7 November (and then again on 14 November) wouldn't that have been recorded in the After-Trial Calendar?



There are no examples of double bail being recorded for any prisoner on the After-Trial Calendars. A second bail involving a visit to prison before release would make the first bail redundant. There was no need to record the first bail on the After-Trial Calendar because, by the time of the prisoner's trial, if they had been remanded with bail upon committal, the first was bail superseded by that bail and there was no administrative purpose to be served by recording it in the Old Bailey Calendar.


Could Tumblety have been Jack the Ripper?


While it is certain that Tumblety was remanded in custody by the magistrate on 7 November to appear 7 days later for committal, the crucial gap in our knowledge is whether Tumblety was remanded with bail or without bail.  If he was remanded with bail he could have been released on 8th November to return on 14 November, at which time his bail could have been increased. If he couldn't secure the increased bail on that day, this would have seen him remanded into custody again until he could do so, at which time he would have been released from prison, as we know he was on 16th November.  Nothing in that sequence of events would have been out of the ordinary.


So we don't know if Tumblety was in prison or not during the early hours of 9 November. It's simply not possible to say.  He might have been.  The magistrate might have refused bail on 7th November but he definitely allowed bail on 14th November and might have done the same on the 7th. It was at his discretion.


21 June 2024



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07 jul

Thank you David,

I have a question, in an article written by Julian Rosenthal I read this:

"In the case of Littlechild’s suspect, the police were so certain that he was the murderer, they sent Inspector Walter Andrews to the States to arrest him after Tumblety fled the U.K. in November 1888."

If Tumblety was under arrest at the time of Kelly's murder, would the police send someone to the States to arrest him ?

The Baron

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07 jul
Contestando a

Very true

Thank you David!

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22 jun
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Not at all. According to Macnaghten in 1913 and 1914, he already knew by 1894 that Druitt was the killer. Not a suspect - the solution. Yet both his memos go to great lengths to paradoxically both reveal and obscure this certainty, how he came learn it and exactly when.

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Lord Orsam
27 jun
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Cue the meltdown.

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22 jun
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

What you call "noise" is the cut-and-thrust of historical argument. Indeed, I have counter-argued: it is very unlikely Tumblety could have become the sensation he was in the US press, or lodged in Littlechild's memory, or been left unmentioned in Dr T's interview if he was in custody for the most sensational of the Whitechapel Murders. It is you who simply asserts what you want it to be, confusing your usual biased polemic with objectivity and neutrality.

You misunderstand the purpose and content of the Macnaghten Memos - there are two by the way, which are significantly different - and therefore he could not have included Tumblety. This is because Druitt, the deceased killer, had to be camouflaged with weaker…

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Lord Orsam
22 jun
Contestando a

Yes, it is the cut and thrust of historical argument but it's still noise. I'm not denying there are arguments but there are arguments on both sides. We cannot reach a definitive conclusion on the matter. That is the whole point of what I'm saying, in the face of contradictory claims (by Marriott and Hawley) that we can do so.

Your statement that "it's very unlikely" that Tumblety could have been in prison at the time of Kelly's murder is, in my view, ridiculous. As I've already said, the US press wouldn't have had a clue whether Tumblety was out on bail at the time or not. How you can you possibly rely on their state of knowledge? I can'…

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21 jun
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

The inference is that Dr Tumblety was probably at large on Nov 9 1888 due to the primary sources of the time. Firstly, had he enjoyed such an iron-clad alibi for the most ghastly murder, then the US press are unlikely to have made such a fuss - or they would have defended one of their own citizens from such ludicrous calumny. Secondly, the extraordinary press source of 1889 found by Roger Palmer in 2007; Dr Tumblety's wonderfully bombastic interview. He is careful to airbrush out the gay charges, but if he had such an alibi for the Kelly murder he would surely have used it to further slander the cupidity of the British police.

Tumblety received blanket coverage in…

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Lord Orsam
22 jun
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I suppose the difference between us is that I've explained why I say those inferences are weak whereas you haven't explained why you think they are strong, merely asserting that they are.

You point to Littlechild but I already said in the article that Littlechild may not have known whether Tumblety was out on bail or not on 9 November. He wasn't involved, after all, in the investigation into the Whitechapel murders so I'm not convinced he would have known such details. On the other hand, if Tumblety genuinely was suspected of the murders, one might ask why he's not listed as a suspect in the Macnaghten memorandum. That omission, indeed, could be offered up as an argument th…

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