Orsam Books

Lord Orsam Says...Simon Wood Special


I was tempted to put this entry on the 'Raving Lunacy Special' page but then thought that it's best to leave that one exclusively to the Major.  Nevertheless, Simon Wood exhibited clear raving lunacy when, in response to 'seanr' having posted in the 'Littlechild - Whitechapel Murders Find' thread, that the Special Branch register contained an entry for 'Mr Churchill' which said 'Alleged perpetrator of Whitechapel murders', with a reference given of 52983/1449 in the C.I.D. Registry, Simon Wood posted (#33):


'What is really interesting about this entry is the file number 52983, which also appears on Abberline's report into the Kelly murder and Sergeant White's report into the Stride murder.'

The truth of the matter is that there is nothing less interesting.  Scotland Yard's file on the Whitechapel murders of 1888 was assigned the number 52983.  The reports for the 1891 murder of Frances Coles were filed on file 57885.  Scotland Yard's file on the 1892 poisonings (involving Dr Neil Cream) was assigned the number 77682. In similar fashion, the Home Office file on the Whitechapel murders was assigned the number A49301.

It was just an administrative file reference.

The lunacy here is that I already explained all this to Simon Wood back in August 2017 when I was a member of the Forum.

On 23 August 2017, in #31 of thread 'Lost police records and documents', Wood posted images of three documents bearing the number 52983.  Two were from the Special Branch register and one was from a Scotland Yard special report dated 19 September 1888.   Those from the register were an entry saying 'supposed connection with murders', with the reference given as 52983/H Div, and one saying 'alleged suspicious person (surgeon)' 52893/2067, located in the C.I.D. Registry.  About this, Wood commented: 


'I shall leave you to sort this out for yourself.  This is my last post on Casebook or anywhere else.  Illness and encroaching old age are taking their toll, and I have many other things I want to do in the years before the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.  

So good luck to you all, and stop believing all the nonsense you've been told.'

His departure here, of course, was as fake as the Maybrick diary.  It was not his 'last post on Casebook' and, as we know, he still posts on the Forum to this day, showing that, in fact, he doesn't have anything better to do.  Nevertheless, I replied to him in #32, even though I'd already explained to him earlier in the thread that 52983 was nothing more than a Metropolitan Police file reference.

I said:


'Well it's very easy and straightforward.  52983 was a standard Metropolitan Police file/correspondence reference (created in early September 1888) for the series of Whitechapel Murders, as shown in the police report in the third image above, and the top two images are cross-references to that file in the margin of a Special Branch register.  All very dull really.'

So it was explained to him what 52983 denotes - it's not a special or magic number - yet here we are five years later and Wood still seems to think there is something interesting about that file number.  It truly is raving lunacy on par with the Major and his imaginary names in the graffiti.  

The reason for Wood's obsession, incidentally, is that there is some sort of loony conspiracy theory which links the 52893 number with a murder plot involving J.K. Stephen, Lord Randolph Spencer Churchill and Sir William Gull based on an obviously forged letter supposedly written by Inspector Abberline which includes the file reference number in the margin by way of intended confirmation of authenticity.  It's all barmy, of course, but Wood seems to have fallen for it.


I asked Lord Orsam if he could shed any light on the surrounding entries in the Special Branch register around the Churchill one.  Here is what he told me:

My dear boy, I'd be very pleased to assist in this matter.

Let me start with the entry which says:

Cunningham Henry - asking for address of E. Harrington M.P.

Henry Cunningham was the secretary to the Parnell Commission of 1888/89. Edward Harrington was a radical Irish Member of Parliament for West Kerry between 1885 and 1892.  On 21 November 1888, Harrington was fined £500 by the Parnell commission for being in contempt of court due to a publication of which he was the registered proprietor having published an article which was said by the Attorney General to have been 'calculated to defeat the ends of Justice' and to have been a 'gross contempt'

I strongly suspect that the request which would have been made to Special Branch for Harrington's address by the secretary of the Parnell Commission relates to this issue and this would appear to be confirmed by the next entry which reads:

Cuffe, H. Esq. - requesting Mr Cunningham to call for above

Hamilton Cuffe in 1889 was a solicitor to the Treasury and thus would potentially have been involved in any prosecution of Harrington.

We can see that the references in the margin for both the above entries are 3622/13.  I would wager that 3622 was the Special Branch file for events and correspondence relating to the Parnell Commission.   The additional page reference of 209 is presumably the reference to the page in which a transcript of the letters of Cunningham and Cuffe can be found in the Special Branch correspondence register.

The next entry (with a reference of 3622/14) is:

Cunninghame Henry - transmitted warrant for arrest of Patrick Molloy

A warrant charging Patrick Molloy with contempt of court in failing to answer a subpoena directing him to appear before court was issued by the Parnell Commission on 4 December 1888.

We can see that the secretary of the Parnell Commission must have then sent that warrant to Special Branch to arrange for it to be executed, and Molloy arrested.  Molloy was subsequently arrested in Dublin and brought to London to give evidence on 7 December 1888.

The fact that the page reference is 212 fits with the chronological sequence.

The next entry is the Churchill entry and this is followed by:

Culhane P.C. - Chief Inspector Littlechild recommending appointment to Special Branch of

P.C. James Culhane was transferred from 'J' Division to Scotland Yard C.I.D. by Police Order dated 13 March 1889.  He was then appointed to Special Branch (Section B) by Police Order dated 6 July 1889.  From the page number of 246 for this entry, we can perceive that the recommendation was significantly later than 4 December 1888 and presumably between 13 March and 6 July 1889 while he was working as a detective-constable at Scotland Yard.  The file reference given is 1302/247E which is presumably a personnel file of some kind relating to appointments and promotions of this nature.  

The last entry says:

Cunnynghame Henry - writing that confidential communication received; have been laid before the Commission. 

The file reference is 3622/14c with page number in the correspondence register of 254 suggesting that this must have occurred after the recommendation of PC Culhane to be appointed to Special Branch but certainly in 1889.

As for the Churchill entry itself, the first question to be asked is: who was Mr Churchill?  It surely can't have been Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill because, albeit an honorary title, he was Lord Churchill and would, I think, have been referred to as such, not as plain 'Mr'.

Is this entry saying that Mr Churchill was the alleged perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders or was Mr Churchill providing information as to the alleged perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders?

We know that the heading of the relevant column is "Name".  This suggests it is an alphabetical list of individuals referred to in the files.  Under 'M' one would quite possibly find a corresponding entry for Patrick Molloy and one for Edward Harrington under 'H'. 

We can see how it works very well from another available page of the register under 'G'.  There we have entries such as:

Goldsmith, Messrs - suspect O'Dowd working for

Goodwood - King of the Fenians said to be at

Gordon, Mr - handing suspected letter to police

Government papers - [someone] said to be in possession of

Groves - report re. from Inspector Melville

Godfrey, William S. - speaking at Worlds End Chelsea

Goarka, General - alleged plot against

As we can see, the individuals, companies or items in the left column are the subjects of the entry not the authors. 

My feeling is that a Mr Churchill (whose first name was presumably not known to Special Branch) was being accused of being the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders.  If it was a letter from a Mr Churchill accusing someone else of being the Whitechapel murderer I would have expected the entry to have read either 're. alleged perpetrator of Whitechapel murders' or 'allegation as to perpetrator of Whitechapel murders'.  Hence we see that in respect of the entries for Cunningham and Cuffe we have 'asking', 'requesting', 'transmitting' (or 'transmitted') or 'writing', all making clear that they were the authors of correspondence, something which is absent for the Churchill entry. Indeed, on its own, 'alleged perpetrator of Whitechapel murders' doesn't make sense as a summary of a letter (if authored by a Mr Churchill), due to the absence of the name of the perpetrator.

Regarding the reference of 52983/1449, from other known references to this Metropolitan Police file, I would suggest that the date of the entry relates to an allegation made prior to February 1889. 

The fact that this information has been entered into the Special Branch register suggests to me that this particular Mr Churchill was thought to be connected either with Irish political affairs or Socialist activities. 

In respect of the latter, I offer one example of a person who could in theory fit the bill: it was reported in the Times of 23 December 1890 that, at Worship Street Police Court, a man named Churchill (no first name given) was a member of the United Radical Club in Kay Street off Hackney Road and was a witness (effectively for the defence) during a hearing in which the club's president and secretary were being charged for running an unlawful lottery. 

Anyone could have falsely accused this guy - or any other radical called Churchill - of being Jack the Ripper, and this fact would have been routinely filed in Scotland's Yard files, with a cross-referenced entry potentially made in Special Branch's register.


Asked if his claim that there was no Jack the Ripper is a wild theory with no evidence whatsoever to back it up (which, of course it is), Simon Wood said (#83 of thread 'Why Didn't They Catch Him?'):

'Actually, there's quite a lot of supporting evidence, which I'm knocking into shape as we speak'.

He then confirmed in #85 that he was planning to release a book on the subject.

That news must have come as a shock to the purchasers of any of the three editions of 'Deconstructing Jack' supposed to prove that there was no Jack the Ripper.

Is he now going to have another attempt at it?  Good grief! Does this guy love punishment, or what? 


14 May 2022