The Escape of 'Frank Townsend'
Here's a question for all the Tumblety experts. Why did the good doctor bother using a false name when he fled to America? You might think that the answer is a very simple one, namely to avoid arrest, but my contention is that he could not legally have been stopped from boarding a ship from England to France or from France to America.
When Tumblety was bailed (from prison) on 16 November 1888, he would have been bailed to appear at the next sessions of the Central Criminal Court, due to commence on 19 November 1888. He did not appear but, on 20 November, the bail was extended (respited) for his appearance at the Central Criminal Court on 10 December (CRIM 6/17). There were no restrictions on his movements in the meantime. As long as he appeared at the Old Bailey at the appointed time, he was free to go wherever he wanted. According to 'Principles of the Criminal Law' by Seymour Harris (1886):
'This admitting to bail consists in the delivery (or bailment) of a person to his sureties, on their giving security (he also entering into his own recognizances) for his appearance at the time and place of his trial, there to surrender and take his trial. In the meantime, he is allowed to be at large; being supposed to remain in their [i.e. his sureties] friendly custody.'
An interesting case occurred at the Spring Assizes on the South-Eastern Circuit in Hertford in March 1877 (as reported in the Times of 7 March 1877) when a French defendant, Paul Bayert, charged with soliciting a man to murder his parents, did not appear at the court to surrender to his recognizances, having been bailed on committal. His Counsel claimed that, upon being admitted to bail, he had gone to France to see his family and had become confused about the time he was required to attend at the court because the Spring Assizes had started earlier than normal.
The prosecution, however, applied for his recognizances to be estreated, and a bench warrant issued for his arrest, on the basis that 'the accused had absconded and gone out of the country'. However, upon saying this, the prosecution counsel, Montague Williams, was chided by the judge who told him 'You must not say "absconded", though he may have left the country; for it was stated yesterday that he intended to return at the time he left the country.' Williams replied that 'he was satisfied from what he had heard that the accused would not appear, and in those circumstances he asked his Lordship to order him to be called on his recognizances, and on his non-appearance to order the recognizances to be estreated.' The judge declined to do this and instead, after receiving confirmation from the defence Counsel that his sureties were willing to continue bail, he respited the recognizances to the next assizes and refused to issue a bench warrant.
Needless to say, Bayert failed to appear at the next sessions and his recognizances were estreated (HO 140/38) but the point is that there was no reason why a defendant to a criminal action could not leave the country prior to the commencement of his trial. Thus, Tumblety could easily have boarded a ship under his own name without any fear of consequences.
It was not until a bench warrant was issued for his arrest - which it was on 10 December 1888 (Evening Post, 10 December 1888), long after he had left England - that a police officer would have been entitled to detain Tumblety. Legally, that officer would have needed to be in physical possession of the warrant to make the arrest (see the fourth part of my Quadrilogy).
For that reason, those who make a fuss of the fact that Tumblety, a man of striking physical appearance, was so easily able to evade the police are making a false point. Tumblety could have waved goodbye to detectives Froest and Dinnie from Dover, given them a kiss on each cheek, and there was nothing they could have done to stop him.
Now, it is possible that Tumblety did not know the law and, indeed, within Home Office files there is correspondence in which it is mentioned that it is lucky that criminals were not fully familiar with legal procedure otherwise they could take advantage of many rules to their benefit. It may also be that Tumblety was worried that, if he was spotted leaving England, the authorities could have obtained a warrant to have him arrested in France before he was able to leave Havre, hence he thought it prudent to travel under the name of Frank Townsend.
The fact of the matter, however, is that, in the absence of a warrant to arrest him, the police were powerless to prevent his leaving for the United States. Nothing in his bail conditions would have stopped him doing so and consequently he could not have been stopped. Strange but true!
New JTR Suspect Identified!
What if we could find a criminal who lived in Whitechapel, who was released from prison shortly before the murder of Martha Tabram, and who was then locked up again a few days after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly? Surely we would want to consider him as a suspect, just as we would anyone who committed suicide shortly after Kelly's murder.
Well, just such an individual exists.
Joseph McCarthy, a 20 year old labourer, would, if he served his full sentence, have been released from prison on or about 12 April 1888 following the completion of a 15 month prison sentence commencing on 12 January 1887. He had been convicted at the Old Bailey on 12 January 1887, under a false name of 'Michael Sheen', for being in possession of counterfeit coin, after passing fake florins in a beerhouse in Cable Street while using that alias.
He was then arrested under his real name on about 13 November 1888 because the records of the Middlesex Sessions show that he was received into custody at Holloway Prison on that date following a remand hearing at Clerkenwell Police Court. He was convicted for stealing 65 yards of serge on 3 December 1888 and sentenced to five years in Wormwood Scrubs. In the register of habitual criminals (MEPO 6/5) his address his given as:
George Yard was, of course, where Martha Tabram was murdered.
Perhaps the best bit is that the register of habitual criminals states that McCarthy had a tattoo on his body of the word "Polly". Could it be Polly Nichols?!!!
He even has 'FM' on his left upper arm explaining the marks on the wall in Mary Kelly's room!
The downside is that there does not appear to be any history of violence in his criminal records.
Nevertheless, the fact is that, a few months after McCarthy was released from prison, and came back to live in the East End, Jack the Ripper's reign of terror began, and then, a few days after McCarthy was safely locked up on remand in Holloway gaol, before beginning a five year prison sentence, the murders suddenly stopped.
Coincidence? Quite possibly. Quite probably in fact, if not almost certainly, but who knows?
The Curious Case of the Fake Pensioner
In his 2015 book, Deconstructing Jack, Simon Wood puts forward an argument that the alibi provided by Edward Stanley, the so-called 'Pensioner' friend of Annie Chapman, that at the time of the murder of Polly Nichols, he was at Gosport on duty with the Hampshire militia (between 6 August and 1 September 1888), cannot be true, given what is known of Stanley's history.
According to Wood, it is clear that Edward Stanley 'could not have been on duty with the Hampshire militia' and, he says, it is a mystery as to how he was able to provide Coroner Wynne Baxter with accurate dates of the whereabouts of 'a militia artillery brigade to which he could not have belonged...' . Without wishing to spoil the book for anyone who hasn't read it, Wood 's explanation is that the poor pensioner known as 'Edward Stanley' was really a wealthy Important Person in disguise who was a senior officer in the Hampshire Militia.
Why does Simon Wood say that Stanley could not have belonged to this militia?
At first, it seems that Wood wants to say that the problem is with Stanley's age. Thus he says, 'Edward Stanley was too old to be in the Militia Reserve.' Pointing to a reference in the Evening Standard (which Wood accepts unquestioningly) that Stanley was 47 years old, Wood tells us that men over 35 could not enlist in the Militia Reserve. However, he then explains that there was an exception, a loophole, whereby men who had served less than 3 years in the army or army reserve, without having earned a pension, were allowed to enter the militia within 3 years of the day of their discharge, if they were under 45 years of age.
So, as Wood accepts, Stanley could have been a member of the Hampshire Militia in 1888 at the age of 47, having been discharged from the army or army reserve at the age of 41 and having then joined the Militia at the age of 44.
It is not therefore, Stanley's age that was a problem, and Wood's statement that Stanley was 'too old' to be in Hampshire Militia seems to have been too hasty.
The real problem, Wood tells us, was one of residence. The reason Stanley could not have been in the Hampshire Militia was because recruitment to that Militia was restricted to residents of the county of Hampshire or to residents of a county immediately adjoining Hampshire.
According to Wood, Stanley, 'by all accounts', had been a long term resident of Middlesex, which did not adjoin Hampshire, so it was impossible for him to have enlisted in the Hampshire Militia. Although he uses the phrase 'by all accounts', Wood only gives us a single account as evidence of Stanley having lived in Middlesex. This is from another newspaper report in which Charles Agent, proprietor of a lodging house in Osborn Street, was quoted as saying, 'I have known Ted Stanley for about 12 years. During that time he has mainly lodged here.'.
Wood ignores the problem caused to his argument by the word 'mainly'. What if Stanley had lived in Hampshire, perhaps in Basingstoke, or in a county adjoining Hampshire, for just one year out of the twelve that Charles Agent said he had known him? Could he not have joined the Hampshire Militia then?
It is worthy of note that the county of Surrey adjoined Hampshire and, contained within Surrey in 1888, was Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Wandsworth - all areas easily accessible to Stanley with no great effort. Had he lived in one of these places for part of those 12 years, he would have qualified to join the Hampshire Militia.
So when Simon Wood says that he could not have been on duty with the Hampshire Militia in 1888, well, in fact, he could.
But the problem for Simon Wood is much worse than that. As we have seen, to establish that Stanley had lived in Middlesex for most of the period since 1876, he quoted Charles Agent as saying that Stanley had lodged with him during that time. But if Stanley was, as Wood claims, really the Important Person, this must mean that the Important Person had been living in a shabby east end lodging house for the best part of 12 years! It's ludicrous.
If, on the other hand, Charles Agent was incorrect about Stanley having lived in his lodging house for most of those 12 years then it is plain that Stanley could have been living in Hampshire during much of that period and joined the Hampshire Militia.
Either way, the whole of Wood's argument falls apart.
On The Trail of the Bloodhounds
A question was raised on the Casebook forum recently as to why there was a two hour delay between 11.30am and 1.30pm in entering Mary Jane Kelly's room on 9 November 1888. The simple answer, that the police were waiting for bloodhounds (or a bloodhound) to arrive at the scene, didn't seem to satisfy everyone. However, when one looks at the facts of the matter, it becomes obvious what happened that morning.
An early mention of bloodhounds came at the Chapman inquest on 19 September when Dr Phillips was asked by a member of the jury whether their use would have been beneficial in tracking the murderer and the doctor offered his opinion they might have been put off the trail by smelling the scent of the murdered woman's blood.
Following the double event, however, the pressure for the use of bloodhounds increased. The Echo of 1 October 1888 claimed that, 'had a bloodhound of good training been laid on to the scent, directly the murdered woman in Aldgate was discovered, or, at any rate, before her poor body was removed, and another bloodhound laid on to the scent of the murdered woman in Whitechapel before her body was moved also, the two hounds would almost have undoubtedly tracked the murderer along the deserted streets of the East-end to his hiding place.'
On 2 October 1888, a letter was published in the Times from a breeder of bloundhounds from Loughton called Percy Lindley. He wrote: 'I have little doubt that, had a hound been put upon the scent of the murderer while fresh, it might have done what the police have failed in.' He suggested that a couple of bloodhounds should be kept at police headquarters.
His letter caught the attention of an official at the Home Office (probably Charles Murdoch) who opened a file on the issue and suggested that the Commissioner's attention be drawn to it.
A day or so later, Percy Lindley received a personal letter from Sir Charles Warren himself (MEPO 1/48) as follows:
'I have seen your letter in the Times on subject of bloodhounds & perhaps you could answer a question I have put to many without satisfactory reply.
Supposing a hound to be brought up at once to a corpse after a murder how is he to know what are the tracks or which is the scent of the murderer or how is he to know that you want that particular track traced.
If the murderer left a portion of his clothing behind or some of his blood I can understand a dog following up or if you could show him a particular spot where had had been standing over, but on a London pavement where people have been walking all the evening there may be scores of scents almost as keen as those of the murderer.
This seems to be me to be the initial difficulty & I should be glad if you could give me a solution to it.'
Would a hound follow if a person on whose hands was the blood of a murdered person if he is shown the blood on the ground. I scarcely think he could.
On 4 October, a bloodhound owner from Scarborough, Edwin Brough, was contacted by the Metropolitan Police (Times, 10 October 1888).
On Friday 5 October, Edwin Brough wrote a letter to the Times which was published on Monday, 8 October. In his letter he said:
'I doubt whether there are any bloodhounds in England sufficiently trained to have a good chance of tracking a man in crowded thoroughfares such as Whitechapel, and unless laid on at once the chances are that the hound will hit the wrong trail, but if a well trained bloodhound had been tried at Gateshead before the scene of the murder had been much trampled over he would have been very likely to have run the man down.'
He added that 'The great value of the pure bloodhound is that he can be trained to hunt the scent of a man through his boots and without any artificial aid such as blood.'
On the same day that Brough was writing his letter, Sir Charles was seeking approval from the Home Office to spend £50 on bringing to London bloodhounds who had been worked in a town. He reported that he was getting the bloodhounds down 'at once.' The approval for the expenditure was granted.
The public was demanding the immediate deployment of the bloodhounds and, to keep them happy, on 6 October, the following appeared in the Times:
'We have been asked to state that Sir Charles Warren has been making inquiries as to the practicability of employing trained bloodhounds for use in special cases in the streets of London; and having ascertained that dogs can be procured that have been accustomed to work in a town, he is making immediate arrangements for their use in London.'
Brough arrived in London from Scarborough with his bloodhounds on Saturday 6 October.
The argument for the use of bloodhounds was pushed further on 9 October when the Times published a letter from a William Buchanan who said he had personally witnessed the murderer of a little boy in Dieppe being tracked to his lodging house by a couple of bloodhounds in about 1861. He concluded his letter by saying that, 'the instinct of a bloodhound, when properly trained, for tracking by scent is so marvellous that no one can say positively what difficulties in following a trail it cannot surmount'.
On 9 October, the Times reported:
'It is stated by a news agency that definite instructions have been issued to the police that in the event of any person being found murdered under any circumstances similar to those of the recent crimes, they are not to remove the body of the victim, but to send notice immediately to a veterinary surgeon in the South-west District, who holds several trained bloodhounds in readiness to be taken to the spot where the body may be found, and to be at once put on the scent.'
The veterinary surgeon in the South-west District might have been a reference to Alfred Joseph Sewell of the Veterinary Infirmary at 55 Elizabeth Street, Eaton Square in Knightsbridge. It is important to note that the instructions on summoning the bloodhounds here to any police finding another victim of 'Jack the Ripper' were to send a message to the veterinary surgeon, not to Scotland Yard.
On the same day, a private trial was held in a London park with Brough's two bloodhounds Barnaby and Burgho (Times, 10 October 1888). It was reported that the dogs had been purchased on behalf of the police by Sir Charles Warren but this wasn't true and was corrected by letter from Mr Brough published in the following day's Times. However, this did not mean that the dogs would not be available to the police (which is what Bruce Robinson seems to think it means in his book, 'They All Love Jack').
On 16 October, Sir Charles issued the following circular number 258 to the force (underlining added):
'The Commissioner wishes to test the capacity of dogs for following trails of criminals and proposes to try them at once on trails of any criminals in cases of Burglary.
Should any case occur in which there is any probability of dogs being used to advantage, a telegram is to be sent to Executive requisitioning for their use.'
It seems that the dogs were called for on one occasion, about a week or so later, when a friend of Mr Brough (Mr Taunton) who lived in Doughty Street, St Pancras, received a telegram directly from Leman Street Police Station (Times, 13 November 1888) after a robbery had been committed in Commercial Street. However, by the time the dogs arrived, about seven hours had elapsed and officers had tramped over the crime scene so the dogs were useless and were not used.
On 19 October it was (falsely) reported that the bloodhounds were lost on a trial (Times, 19 October 1888).
At this time, Sir Charles was engaged in correspondence with Arthur Sewell, the veterinary surgeon, who, if a trained bloodhound (Barnaby) was hired for the exclusive use of the Metropolitan Police, would be looking after it in south-west London. This correspondence, which is in MEPO 2/188, is referred to in the Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook by Evans & Skinner but not reproduced. Yet it is impossible to fully understand the story without this correspondence.
The first letter in the sequence is dated 20 October 1888 and was received at Scotland Yard on 22 October. It stated:
'I saw Mr Brough the owner of the Bloodhounds after I left you yesterday and he is willing to insure the dog as a guarantee against accidents instead of your guaranteeing the £100. This if it can be done would not cost more than five or six pounds [at] the outside. Then there would be twenty five pounds for the hire of the dog until the end of March and I should be obliged to charge 10s per week for the dog and wages [totalling £45] for the man who would always have to be kept in readiness to start at a moment's notice and any spare time would be given the dog to keep him fit and in training.
Taking all these things into consideration the hire, keep, insurance etc. it could not be done for less than £80 for the time you mentioned viz until March 31 1889. I should suggest also that a young hound be brought at once so that he might be trained with the old one (Barnaby) and then by the end of March he would be fit to take the hired one's place.
From what I can see of the hounds they are at present very nervous in the London streets and I think it will be quite a month before Barnaby would be of any practical use for tracking a criminal in the streets.'
I am Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
Thus, the Commissioner would have learnt that Barnaby would not be able to be of practical use for tracking a criminal on London's streets until about 20 November. But what was most pressing was that Sir Charles had only obtained authority to spend £50 but he was now being told the cost might be about twice as much.
Consequently, the Commissioner wrote to Godfrey Lushington at the Home Office on 23 October 1888 (as cited in the Sourcebook) to submit a revised estimate for the remained of the financial year pointing out that the previous amount, 'was suggested when I was under the impression that the dogs now placed at our disposal would be lent without charge.'
On 28 October 1888, Sir Charles received a response from the Home Office when, in a letter dated 26 October 1888, Godfrey Lushington stated that the Home Secretary had authorised the expenditure of the £100 for 'keeping trained bloodhounds for use in the tracking of criminals.'
Sir Charles would no doubt have been disappointed to have learnt on 3 November that Barnaby had been taken back to Scarborough. But only temporarily. In a letter dated 2 November 1888 (but received at Scotland Yard the next day), Sewell wrote:
'I have at last found an office that will insure Bloodhound Barnaby against accident or death. If I insure him for £100 the premium for 6 months would be £9.9.0 and in the event of an accident they would only pay me two thirds of the value. Therefore it will be necessary to insure him for £150 to get the £100, the value of the dog. I am sorry to say that Mr Brough got rather impatient and has taken the dog to Scarborough but I have no doubt he will send it back again when everything is arranged.' (underlining added)
Critically, the correspondence was still going almost up to the murder of Mary Jane Kelly. On 8 November 1888 the following letter from Sewell, dated 5 November 1888, was received at Scotland Yard:
'Now we have found an office to insure the dog, can you definitely decide about making the final arrangements of drawing up the agreement as Mr Brough is getting anxious for the matter to be settled. The office will insure the dog for £100, premium £10, and pay the full amount in case of death.'
The above letter crossed with a letter sent by Sir Charles dated 6 November to which a response dated 7 November was received on probably either 8 or 9 November as follows:
'In reply to yours of the 6th inst. the cost of the insurance will be £100. This of course has to be added to the estimate already sent in. If you will kindly let me have [a] draft at your earliest convenience I will peruse it and return it to you immediately.'
The point of setting out the above is to show that Sir Charles was deeply engaged in trying to sort out the details of the hiring of the bloodhounds right up to the day of the Kelly murder. It rather looks like he was so deeply involved in the financial issues (and with the issues surrounding his resignation on 8 November) that he had simply given no thought to what would happen if there was another murder in the period before which the contract was signed to engage the dogs.
If the Times of 9 October was correct, the procedure on finding a body was, as we have seen, not to move it but 'to send notice immediately to a veterinary surgeon in the South-west District, who holds several trained bloodhounds in readiness to be taken to the spot where the body may be found, and to be at once put on the scent.' If that is what happened on the morning of 9 November, it is no wonder that there was a delay because neither Arthur Sewell nor any other veterinary surgeon in the south-west district had any trained bloodhounds to send to Whitechapel.
Those at the scene sensibly decided that they should not enter Miller's Court for fear of putting the expected dogs off the scent. Dr Phillips stated at the inquest:
'...finding the door locked I looked through the lower broken pane and satisfied myself that the mutilated corpse lying on the bed was not in need of any immediate attention from me and I also came to the conclusion that there was nobody else on the bed or within view to whom I could render my professional assistance. Having ascertained that probably it was advisable that no entrance should be made into the room at that time, I remained until about 1.30 when the door was broken open...'
Inspector Abberline made clear that the reason Phillips advised not to enter the room was because of the dogs.
'I was on the scene of the murder by 11.30 on Friday, I had an intimation from Inspector Beck that the dogs had been sent for. Dr Phillips asked me not to force the door but to test the dogs if they were coming. We remained until 1.30 when Superintendent Arnold arrived and informed me that the order as to dogs had been countermanded, and he gave directions for the door to be forced.'
The Times reported the next day that Abberline sent a telegram to Sir Charles Warren 'to bring the bloodhounds' to Dorset Street (Times, 10 November 1888). This is very unlikely bearing in mind Abberline's evidence that he had already been told by Inspector Beck that the dogs had been sent for. Moreover, Sir Charles Warren was hardly going to be walking down Whitechapel himself with the dogs on a leash. Therefore, the telegram would most likely have been sent directly to the veterinary infirmary as per the original instructions, or to Mr Taunton in St Pancras, alternatively to the Executive department at Scotland Yard as per the instructions of 16 October (cited above) regarding the use of dogs for burglaries.
In this respect, it is important that the Times of 12 November 1888 reported:
'After the discovery of the murder on Friday morning great curiosity was expressed as to whether bloodhounds would be used to endeavour to trace the murderer to his hiding place, but these much-talked-of animals were not forthcoming. In fact, no-one seemed to know for certain where they were kept. Some officers believed they were at Thornton-heath, others that they were at the Portland-road station.' (Underlining added)
The confusion - to the extent that confusion can make sense - makes sense.
The murder of Mary Jane Kelly was not quite the end of the matter of the bloodhounds because Godfrey Lushington wrote a memo dated 12 November 1888 as follows:
'Mr Sewell's charges appear to be made up as follows:-
Hire of dog = £25
Keep for 20 weeks at 10s = £10
Wages of attendant = £45
Insurance = £10
+ cost of agreement = £2
This makes a total of £90 without the cost of the agreement, and out of the £100 authorised the Commissioner intended also to purchase a young dog to be trained with Barnaby.
The charge of £45s per week for the attendant, whose whole time would hardly be required, seems exorbitant.'
Nothing more was heard of the bloodhounds after this, though, probably because, with the resignation of Sir Charles - along with the belief that the bloodhounds had got lost on their trial - and a realisation after the Kelly murder that they would not have tracked the killer in any event - the whole idea was abandoned although, on 13 November 1888, the Times stated:
'The explanation given of why the bloodhounds were not used is that they would be of no use whatever in the locality in which this murder took place. Had it occurred in an open, unfrequented part, the dogs might have had some chance of success.'
And that was it. There were too many problems to be overcome for the bloodhounds even to have any chance of success. But standing outside Miller's Court on that cold Friday morning in November, neither Dr Phillips nor Inspector Abberline were to know that the bloodhounds were not available. They were not receiving regular updates from the Commissioner as to the state of the negotiations and clearly believed that the bloodhounds were still in London, even though they had been taken back to Scarborough at the start of the month.
No mystery here.
Not So Fixed Points
Neil R. A. Bell is the acknowledged expert on the Victorian Police and his authoritative book 'Capturing Jack the Ripper' was published in 2014. One does not question his words lightly but on page 84 of his book he says:
'Should a member of the public require police assistance, or information, they could approach the fixed-point constable to obtain it, though it must be remembered that a constable could not leave this fixed position unless ordered to by his superiors.'
With all due respect to Mr Bell, the last part of this sentence is not correct.
The rules relating to fixed points had been set down in a Police Order dated 9 August 1871 and featured in General Orders of 1873. This said, in respect of police officers at fixed points:
'In the event of any person springing a rattle, or persistently ringing a bell in the street or in an area, the Police will at once proceed to the spot and render assistance, as in every other case in which Police duties and powers require them to act.'
Clearly the officer at a fixed point did not need permission from a superior officer to leave his point duty.
Sir Charles Warren clarified the position in a little-known Police Order issued on 11 December 1886. After allowing that, in cold weather, an officer on fixed point duty could patrol for a distance of 25 yards from a fixed point to keep warm, as long as they remained in sight of the fixed point, the P.O. stated:
'A Constable may leave his fixed point, as at present, whenever it becomes necessary in the execution of his duty.'
So the Commissioner had made it clear in the most unambiguous of terms that a police officer could leave a fixed point at his discretion as long as he did so in order to carry out proper duties. He did not have to obtain permission.
This was the situation at the time of the Whitechapel Murders in 1888 but it may be noted that there was a further clarification (by Commissioner James Monro) in Police Orders of 4 June 1889 which stated:
'Police employed on fixed points are at all times to render assistance in every case in which Police duties and powers require them to act, but whenever a Constable leaves his fixed point he is to report as soon as practicable to his Sergeant the reason for such action, and the particulars of which are to be recorded by the Sergeant on his State, and in the Occurrence Book at the Station.'
The fixed points might have remained fixed but the constables manning them could leave them.
The Missing Hour, Found!
According to Simon Wood there is something odd about the fact that it took a whole hour for the Commissioner of Police to be informed of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly after it was discovered by police at 11.30am, on the basis that there was telegraphic communication between nearby Commercial Street Police Station and Scotland Yard. According to Wood, the Commissioner did not receive a telegram informing him of the murder until 12.30pm.
Further, because of this, Wood refuses to believe that Inspector Abberline could have arrived at Miller's Court at 11.30am when he said he did. Thus says Wood in his book, 'it would have been impossible for Inspector Abberline and his fellow detectives to have arrived so speedily, especially as news of the murder had not been received by Sir Charles Warren until 12.30pm'.
Pausing there, Inspector Abberline, albeit a Scotland Yard detective, was based in 'H' Division (Whitechapel) during the period of the murders (see Capturing Jack the Ripper by Neil R. A. Bell, p. 106 fn 38) so probably didn't need to travel from Scotland Yard to Dorset Street that morning.
In any event, there could be any number of reasons why Sir Charles Warren was not in a position to read a telegram on the morning of any particular day but is it actually true that it took him an hour to read this one?
In his book, Deconstructing Jack, and in his internet posts, Simon Wood bases his argument on what he thinks were two communications written by Sir Charles Warren to officials at the Home Office on 9 November 1888, one to Godfrey Lushington and one to Charles Stuart-Wortley. Thus, after referring in his book to what he describes as a 'Memo' from Sir Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, Wood says:
'Warren next wrote to Charles Beilby Stuart-Wortley, Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, repeating the scant information sent to Lushington....'
In this he is quite wrong and has evidently been deceived by the layout in the Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook. Having inspected the microfilmed file at the National Archives (HO 144/221/AA49301F), it is clear that there was only one written communication from the Commissioner to the Home Office that day.
This was a handwritten letter from (i.e. signed by) Sir Charles Warren to the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office (Godfrey Lushington). When Sir Charles addressed his letters to the Under Secretary of State it was always Godfrey Lushington, the Permanent Under-Secretary, not Charles Stuart-Wortley, the mere Parliamentary Under-Secretary, who was the intended recipient.
In the letter, Sir Charles asked Lushington to inform the Home Secretary 'that information has just been received that a mutilated dead body of a woman has been reported to have been found this morning inside a room in a house (no. 26) in Dorset Street, Spitalfields.'
He also stated that the matter had been placed in the hands of Robert Anderson.
No time is noted on the letter. It is stamped as having been received on 9 November 1888 and was, presumably, sent by immediate courier dispatch from 4 Whitehall Place up the road to the Home Office in Whitehall.
In the same file can be found what is a Home Office summary of that same letter. It states:
'Sir Charles Warren to Mr Lushington
Mutilated dead body of woman reported to be found this morning inside room of house in Dorset Street Spitalfields. Information just received (12.30) 9.11.1888'.
To repeat. This is a Home Office summary of the letter written by Sir Charles Warren to the Under Secretary of State (Lushington). it is not a 'memo' from Sir Charles to Lushington.
Consequently, it would seem that the time noted in the summary of '12.30' is the time that the Sir Charles Warren's letter was received by the Home Office, not the time that Sir Charles Warren received the telegram informing him of the murder. As Sir Charles had not mentioned in his letter the time he received the telegram, the Home Office could not have known of it.
Simon Wood has simply misled himself into thinking that the above summary was a separate letter to Godfrey Lushington, believing that the actual letter to Lushington was a letter to Charles Stuart-Wortley. The reason for this is that Simon has got confused about terminology. He thinks that a reference to the 'Under Secretary of State' must have been to Charles Stuart-Wortley because Lushington had the word 'Permanent' in his job title. But that simply designates him as a member of the civil service; Wood is presumably unaware that Wortley was not a civil servant but the Parliamentary Under Secretary (i.e. a member of parliament); and Sir Charles would never have been writing letters on official business for the Home Secretary to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary.
Both Lushington and Stuart-Wortley were titled 'Under Secretaries' as this entry from the Postal Directory of 1888 shows:
Here is Lushington's individual entry in the 'Official' section of the 1888 Postal Directory:
And here is just one example in the Home Office files of a letter (dated 26 March 1890) correctly addressed to Godfrey Lushington, the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office (from HO 144/925/A46664):
In conclusion, Sir Charles Warren only wrote one letter to the Home Office on 9 November in which he did not mention the time of day that he had been informed of the murder. The time of 12.30 only featured in a Home Office summary of his letter. There was, in other words, no missing hour. Sir Charles was probably informed of the murder by telegram which he received sometime around 11.45am-12:00pm and then dashed off a letter to the Home Office which arrived with the Under-Secretary at around 12.30pm. A perfectly understandable sequence of events.
Reading the Writing on the Wall
In Bruce Robinson's book, 'They All Love Jack', the writing on the wall (we shall not call it the graffito) features very heavily in the story. Sir Charles Warren would, apparently, have immediately recognised that the reference to 'Juwes' was to the three ruffians in the Masonic story, Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum. This is why he ordered it to be removed.
The notion that 'Juwes' was, in Masonic circles, the collective term for the three ruffians was first promulgated in the 1975 book 'The Ripper File' by Elwyn Jones and John Lloyd in which the information was said to have come from 'an anonymous source'. It was repeated by Stephen Knight in his 1976 'Final Solution' book and then featured in the 1979 Sherlock Holmes film, 'Murder by Decree' in which magically, and probably mischievously, we are told by Holmes himself that the word 'Juwes' is actually pronounced 'Juwés'. The idea has always had a problem connected with it, namely that 'Juwes' is not and never has been a masonic word and is not the collective name for the three ruffians which, if they had a such a name, one would have naturally assumed to have been the 'Jubes'.
But this does not deter Robinson. He tells us that 'Juwes' was kind of a clue, a deliberate one for Sir Charles Warren who, the author of the writing believed, would instantly have known how decipher it, revealing to him (if he didn't know it already) that the murderer was a practising freemason, something which could not possibly be allowed to be known by the hoi polloi. So Warren dashed into the East End in the middle of the night and ordered the writing on the wall to be removed.
Robinson tells us that he was not previously an expert on Freemasonry - in fact he says that when he started researching the book he knew no more about it than he knew about the Ripper - so one can only imagine the amount of work he must have done to confirm that 'Juwes' was not Masonic, no doubt in the hope that it actually was! Having determined there was no such word, he perversely tries to use this to his advantage. What fools people are who do not see how the writer of the words on the wall would not have used an actual masonic word but would have provided a cryptic clue for Sir Charles to decipher!
But here's the thing. If Sir Charles Warren was so horrified to discover this word 'Juwes' on the wall that he had to get the whole thing erased, why on earth did he inform the Home Office of the correct spelling of the word.
The above is what Sir Charles personally informed the Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, on 11 October 1888, was the correct wording and layout of the writing on the wall.
So why did he not say that he thought it read 'Jewes'? He could just have said that the word was blurred and he couldn't really read it. What was the point of having it rubbed out if he then ensures that it was correctly reported to the Home Office?
We may note at this point that Robinson mis-quotes Sir Charles' memo to the Home Office. In his book, he quotes Sir Charles as writing:
'The spelling of Jews is curious.'
In fact, Sir Charles wrote:
'The spelling of Jews or Jewes is curious.'
One can only imagine what Robinson would have said had someone else omitted the word 'Jewes' when quoting this document; we would probably have been faced a ten page rant about how this was part of a masonic conspiracy.
Having established that Sir Charles wrote that the spelling of 'Juwes' was a curious variation 'of Jews or Jewes' what did he mean by this? He appears to believe that Jews could correctly be spelt 'Jewes'. Is this possible?
The answer is yes.
A number of seventeenth century tracts used the spelling 'Jewes' in their titles or in their text. For example, a 1652 tract entitled 'The Jewes Synagogue or A Treatise Concerning the Ancient Orders and manner of Worship used by the Jewes in their Synagogue Assemblies'
one in 1655 called 'The Messiah of the Christians and the Jewes' ,
one in 1663 entitled 'A Letter Written to the Jewes' by Rabbi Moses Sciallati.
and one in 1666 entitled 'A New Letter Concerning the Jewes written by the French Ambassador at Constantinople to his Brother the French Resident at Venice'.
A letter to the Times of 1 November 1883, headed 'THE JEWS IN ENGLAND' by S.L. Lee, quoted a seventeenth century tract which referred to Oliver Cromwell 'sending 500 Jewes (ennemies of the Christian faith) to the battle of Newberry.'
An even earlier reference was cited in the Manchester News of 18 September 1871 which reproduced a passage from William Thomas's 'History of Italy' of 1549 in which Thomas stated:
'It is almost incredyble what gaine the Venetians receive by the usury of the Jewes, both pryvately and in common. For in everye citie the Jewes kepe open shops of usurie, taking gaiges of ordinaire for xv. in the hundred by the yere and if at the yeres end the gaige be not redeemed, it is forfeite, or at least dooen away to a great disadvantage; by reason whereof the Jewes are out of measure wealthie in those parties'.
A yet earlier reference was quoted in a letter to the Evening Standard by 'C.J.G.' of 24 April 1889 which reproduced a passage from a book dated 1500 entitled 'Haklyut's Voyages' by Ludovico de Bartema thus:
The Edinburgh Evening News of 2 November 1878, while referring to 'Jews from the land of Israel' also stated: 'Hundreds of Jewes are leaving Palestine':
Sir Charles, therefore, appears to have been correct in saying that an alternative early English spelling of Jews was 'Jewes' albeit that by 1888 such spelling had virtually died out.
The suggestion has been made that Sir Charles wanted to obscure the meaning of the word 'Juwes', but in the Times of 15 October 1888 we find this:
'In reference to the writing on the wall of a house in Goulston-street, we are requested by Sir Charles Warren to state that his attention having been called to a paragraph in several daily journals mentioning that in the Yiddish dialect the word "Jews" is spelt "Juwes", he has made in inquiries on the subject and finds that this is not a fact. He learns that the equivalent in the Judeo-German (Yiddish) jargon is "Yidden"'
It has not been ascertained that there is any dialect or language in which the word "Jews" is spelt "Juwes" '
Why would Sir Charles do such a thing? Having erased the writing, why would he want the issue clarified and the public informed that the word on the wall was 'Juwes'? To protect the Jewish population? Well that is what Robinson says he was not interested in doing at all.
Let's also think about how Sir Charles found out about the writing on the wall. Presumably (as reported) he was telephoned at home with the news. In which case all he would have heard was that the writing said: 'The Jews are the men who will not be blamed for nothing'. It seems unlikely in the extreme that anyone would have bothered to spell the word 'Jews' for him. So how could he have possibly deciphered the cryptic clue which caused him to dash to the East End? If it is said that Superintendent Arnold (or 'Bro Arnold' as Robinson would say) had worked it out and sent him a telegram then it will need to be showed that Arnold had sufficient detailed esoteric knowledge of masonic history to piece such a complex puzzle together in order to alert the Commissioner.
Mind you, when it comes to esoteric knowledge, the names of Jubela, Jubelum and Jubelo was not restricted to masons, or those who read masonic textbooks. A writer calling himself Rusticus stated in a piece about Freemasonry in the Evening Standard of 25 December 1833:
'I have...no hestitation in saying that the whole of the story of Jubelo-Jubela-Jubelum, and the murder [of Hiram Abiff] is a mere fabrication'.
In 1860, a journal entitled Brownson's Review carried an expose of freemasonry which was reproduced in the Cork Examiner of 14 November 1860 and the Catholic Telegraph of 29 December 1860 and both identified Jubelo, Jubela and Jubelum as the murderer of Hiram Abiff, as revealed to masons at a certain level. The three men were not given any collective description.
Given that the word 'Juwes' was not lost by the rubbing out of the writing, because it was recorded in Sir Charles' memo - as well as in evidence at the inquest - it is a little hard to know what Sir Charles could have been trying to hide by ordering the erasure of the words on the wall. There is, of course the handwriting, but on the night of the murder it is unlikely that Sir Charles Warren imagined that the murderer was going to be caught or convicted through a comparison of his handwriting.
Although a letter signed 'Jack the Ripper' had by this time been received by the Central News agency and passed to the police it was not until after the murder that there was reason to believe that it might have been sent by the murderer but it is hard to believe that even if the writing on the wall had been photographed - with its writing in a 'good schoolboy hand' - a proven connection could have been made between the author of the letter and the author of the writing on the wall. Indeed, it is not even clear that the 'Jack the Ripper' letter is in the same hand as the subsequent postcard. And then what about the 'From Hell' letter?
None of the authors of the many letters claiming to have been from the murderer were caught through their handwriting. It is unlikely that the murderer would have been caught through his handwriting. Indeed, according to Bruce Robinson, Michael Maybrick wrote all the letters to the police claiming to come from the murderer so that he was a master of disguising his handwriting. In that case, the writing on the wall would have told the world precisely nothing about the identity of its author.
It is also unlikely that Sir Charles knew the author of the writing and that it was to protect that person that the Commissioner ordered the writing to be erased so that he could not be identified. There seems to have been no chance that anyone could have been identified from such a small sample of handwriting in chalk on a wall.
This is not to say that the decision of Sir Charles to erase the handwriting was a good one in any way. While we might be able to sympathise with his interpretation that the writing on the wall could have suggested that the murderer of Catherine Eddowes was Jewish and, equally, we can sympathise with his fear that this might have causes anti-Jewish rioting, so that leaving the writing on the wall in its complete form in a highly populated area was not an option (and that covering it up probably wasn't practical), it is a little hard to see how the phrase 'The [BLANK] are the men who will not be blamed for nothing' could have caused any trouble so that the suggestion of rubbing out the word 'Juwes' should clearly have been adopted and the writing photographed.
Mind you, had Sir Charles ordered the erasure of a single word, 'Juwes', one has the feeling that this would not have satisfied Bruce Robinson and that the allegation of a masonic cover up would have been even stronger. Indeed, the main argument for photographing the writing is that there would be no uncertainty about the spelling of the key word so that an erasure of that single word would still have been very controversial.
Before concluding on this subject, we must ask ourselves, does the word 'Juwes' actually mean Jews in any language. Well, as Sir Charles had informed the Times, it did not in any existing dialect but, as it happens, it did in late Middle English, during the fourteenth century. For in John Wyclif's tract, De Blasphemia Contra Fratres, we find:
'And so pes blasphemes passen Juwes in fooly, for Juwes knowen pat hit is bread when pei kyndely eten hit; and so pese freris and Pharisees ben madde pen Juwes and falser pen Paynims....'
...Ow, wheper God, pat is treupe, ordeyned Christen men for to be marred in hor wittes in po sacrament of trewt, more pen Juwes of Paynims erren in hor feythe!'
A very loose translation of this into Modern English could be:
And so these blasphemers are like Jews in foolishness; for Jews know that it is bread when they truly eat it; and so these friars and Pharisees are madder than Jews and falser than Pagans.... Or whether God, who is holy, ordained Christian men to be mistaken in their understanding of the sacrament of truth more than Jews or Pagans are mistaken in theirs!
A later work, 'Pater Noster' by Richard the Hermit, of 1450, contains the sentence:
'De soule of a Saracene or of a Juwe as wel made to be likenes of God & as wel wip hip deep was bougte as oures.'
Arnold's Chronicle, dated around 1519, re-published in 1811 as 'The Customs of London' refers to 'the lawe of the Juwes'
So perhaps the author of the writing on the wall was a Middle English or Chaucerian expert!
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