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Tony Williams
Interview with Tony Williams
16 May, 2005

The following interview took place on 16 May 2005. The questions were asked by Stephen P. Ryder, Editor of Casebook: Jack the Ripper.

  •   One of the most exciting bits of evidence in your book "Uncle Jack" is the discovery amongst Dr. Williams' records of a "Mary Anne Nichols" who was apparently treated for a botched abortion in 1885. How confident are you that this was indeed the same Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols who was murdered on 31 August 1888? What evidence is there to suggest this operation took place in the Whitechapel Infirmary?

      TW: We're very confident. Taken separately, the three parts of her name are not at all unusual, but taken together we believe this name to be very specifically hers. Additionally, we believe that John Williams put the E in Anne as that was the way his wife spelt the Anne in her name, and it was a habit for him to do so. We don't know that the operation that he carried out upon her was undertaken at the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary, but as you know we have not specifically suggested this in our book. We have evidence he was there at around the same time he came into contact with her, which we've put forward, and therefore the assumption can be made the operation was carried out there; but we haven't said where exactly the operation was done, as we cannot be certain.

  •   From her father and other sources, we know Polly Nichols was living with Thomas Stuart Drew at 15 York Street, Walworth from June 1883 through October 1887 leading, from all appearances, a fairly respectable life at this time. Why would she be a patient of the Whitechapel workhouse in 1885?

      TW: We suppose that the fact the operation carried out was an abortion meant that she was not happy for her family to know what was happening to her, or where she was, until she had had the operation and recovered from it.

  •   In his notebook, Dr. Williams wrote "L 718" next to the Nichols entry. Have you been able to trace this reference?

      TW: We know that this would refer to other papers in his possession, a medical file number probably; but we have not been able to trace his papers at all, other than those in the National Library of Wales. There are no papers of his remaining in the University College Hospital archives that can help.

  •   On to the "Morgan" letter, in which Dr. Williams stated he would be in Whitechapel on the 8th September, 1888. Why would Williams have specifically told 'Morgan' (or indeed anyone) he was going to be in Whitechapel if he had murder on his mind?

      TW: We believe that John Williams told Morgan Davies about his visit to be sure that if he bumped into him in the area that he, Davies, would not be surprised to see Williams there.

  •   Throughout the book you make reference to Dr. Williams' "nervous breakdown" near the beginning of 1889. What specifically happened to Dr. Williams around this time which leads you to suggest he had a nervous breakdown?

      TW: It's the letter that he wrote to his best friend's wife, quoted in the book, that led us to believe this, coupled with the changes to his job that took place in the immediate aftermath of the murders.

  •   How confident are you in your identification of Mary Kelly? What evidence makes you certain this is her?

      TW: We're very confident. All the evidence outlined in the book makes us think that we have found the right woman.

  •   The identification of Jonathan Davies is quite interesting. But is there any evidentiary connection between him and the woman you identified as Mary Kelly apart from their being neighbors?

      TW: No; just the testimony offered at her inquest. It seems to us that it would be an enormous leap of faith to suggest the link is merely coincidental, given the connections: the testimony regarding Mary Kelly's family offered at the inquest by Joe Barnett almost exactly coincides with the people recorded in the census, and the proximity of Jonathan Davies - right next door -is the final link for us.

  •   Have you made any progress towards getting scientific testing done on the knife and medical slides found at the Nat'l Library of Wales?

      TW: No; we understand that the library is reluctant to release the knife and slides to any other agency other than the police. We also understand that the Library is proposing to hold an exhibition based around Sir John and the archive the library holds later this summer. At the present time, we are hoping to change that situation and be in a position to enter the premises of the National Library to test these materials with the help of some experts. We have taken steps to do so by asking the police to reopen the investigation.

  •   You suggest that Dr. Williams committed these murders not out of blood-lust, but rather for research purposes, perhaps hoping to find a cure for his wife's infertility. In your research, have you found any similar cases of serial murder which were prompted by a "medical" motive?

      TW: No. As you know from reading the book, we focussed very much on the information we could gather on Sir John Williams and the environment in which he worked. Apart from one passing remark on the subject of doctors who commit crimes, referring to Dr Harold Shipman, there are no other references to time periods and individuals outside the story that we researched and wrote.

  •   If Williams' was interested only in the organs of reproduction, how do you explain the extensive mutilation on the faces of Eddowes and Kelly? And why did he take a portion of Eddowes' kidney with him?

      TW: We believe he was mentally unwell at this time, partly in response to the pressures upon him of the press and the public's anger, and partly because of his own morally sense. He acted as he did partly to conceal his tracks.

  •   Intruigingly, all entries in Dr. Williams' 1888 diary have been excised. Why do you think this was done, as opposed to simply throwing away the entire volume? Wouldn't this sort of precise mutilation raise some suspicion?

      TW: As we say in the book, the diary was left on the shelf rather than thrown out so as, we believe, to keep any suspicious person from seeing a gap where a diary used to be. And, no, we don't think that cutting out pages raises suspicion, because there are not likely to be many people entering Sir John Williams's study who would open an old diary still in his possession.

  •   What has been the general reaction amongst members of the Williams family, after the release of "Uncle Jack"?

      TW: My brother and mother thought I was writing about Sir John's achievements so they were helpful with any questions I had. When the book was published my mother was surprised and my brother, who was close to my gran, is not happy. My father doesn't agree with the book, he feels that family matters should be kept in the family.

  •   Are you continuing your research into Dr. Williams? Has anything new been found since publication?

      TW: Yes. No, not yet.

  • Related pages:
      Tony Williams
           Dissertations: Jack in the Box 
           Ripper Media: Uncle Jack