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Freemasonry and the Ripper
by Wor. Bro. Dennis Stocks, Barron Barnett Lodge.

(*with apologies to George Johnston)

Few events in the annals of violent crime, not even the murders of monarchs or the assassinations of major political or religious figures have aroused as much sustained interest(1) over the years as the deaths in London in the autumn of 1888 of five quite ordinary prostitutes.

The killer of these unfortunate women in London at the end of the nineteenth century has captured the imagination as no other ever has, becoming one of the most written about, most speculated about, most thoroughly investigated of all time. Even those gentle souls among us who may not be all that well versed in the subject of murder, or be personally acquainted with individuals who have homicidal tendencies know the name that has now passed into common English usage. Those of us who might have to pause a moment or two before being able to identify any one of a number of other well-known murderers in history who have been responsible for far more deaths, or for more important ones, and whose violent acts have had far greater impact on the times in which they lived instantly recognise the name Jack the Ripper(2). Yet as well known as he is, virtually nothing is actually established about him.

This, in part, explains our continuing morbid fascination with him; the fact that his (or her) identity remains a mystery. This, and of course the unspeakable horror of his crimes, for it is a curious phenomenon that the human animal is, at one and the same time, both repelled and attracted by horror.

There is more to it than that, of course. There is the sheer audacity of the man and his single-mindedness of purpose: his uncanny ability to stalk his victims and do his grisly work - all in the face of the most elaborate efforts to prevent him from doing just that, making fools of the authorities in the process, which in itself is enough to gain him a measure of public approbation. Let's face it, there has to be grudging admiration for the man, despite his crimes, despite his obvious insanity, despite the sheer evil and repugnance of his deeds.

After all, he got away with it!

There are individuals who have spent lifetimes pursuing the mystery, who have immersed themselves in every aspect of it, who have become authorities in the most trivial details of the crimes and of the victims. Yet little new light has been shed over time; little the "experts" can agree upon. Indeed, as the years go by, the theories seem to become wilder, the list of suspects longer and more fantastic, the controversy ever deeper, the mystery even more tantalising. And the known facts more problematic. Even the number of murders actually committed is a subject for debate: some say five, or eight, some say eleven, a few say as many as fourteen(3).

The story has just about been milked of every possible drop of information. Canards, suspect sources, forced readings and outright hoaxes (such as the "James Maybrick"/Mike Barrett diaries) are becoming more prevalent(4).

All we can ever be reasonably certain of is that a single individual was responsible for the five murders and mutilations committed between August 31 and November 9, 1888 - those of:

Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, (43) found in Buck's Row on 31st August with her throat cut and with slight stomach mutilation,
Annie Chapman, (47) found in Hanbury Street on 8th September with her throat cut, her stomach and genitals badly mutilated and some of her entrails placed around her neck,
Elizabeth ("Long Liz") Stride, (45) found in Berner Street on 30th September with her throat cut but no attempt at mutilation,
Catharine Eddowes, (46) found in Mitre Square on the same night as Elizabeth Stride (30th) with her throat cut and severe mutilation of both face and stomach, and
Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly (25) found 9th November in Miller's Court with her throat cut and her whole body grossly mutilated.

Beyond that, there is hardly a fact that is not in dispute (including whether the man was indeed a man - more than one "expert", including Arthur Conan Doyle, has theorised that "he" was a "she").

What little we know about the killer has been pieced together from the often conflicting descriptions provided by witnesses who saw him (or thought they saw him, or merely said they saw him), and by police officials and medical examiners who made certain inferences - educated guesses, if you will (and some of them not so educated) - based on his modus operandi and on the postmortem examination of his victims.

This is what we think we know: He had a moustache, he was five feet six or seven, seemed to be left-handed(5), seemed to have had a familiarisation of with the Whitechapel district, may have had some knowledge of human anatomy, and may have been a member of the Upper or Middle classes.

Incredible as it may seem, after all the years of research and investigation and all the hundreds of studies, that - and only that - is all we really know about him. Even here there is disagreement. Valid arguments can be made and ample "evidence" submitted to refute most of the above.

Over the years, several candidates have been proposed - Scotland Yard's computer printout lists 176 individual suspects - but few of them have stood the test of time and none has survived close scrutiny. After all is said and done, after all the research and all the theorising, we are no closer to an answer now than we were over one hundred years ago. Quite simply, we do not know who the killer was.

Some are convinced that, because of the killer's apparent knowledge of anatomy, he was a physician or surgeon(6). Others think that because he was not all that skilled with a knife, he could not have possibly had medical training. He could have been a butcher or slaughterer (there were several in the area). He could have been a cork cutter or a shoemaker. He had demonstrated enough skill with a blade to suggest that he at least had had experience as a deer hunter, a theory that lends support to those who believe he was a member of the upper classes. (All "gentlemen" of that period were assumed to know how to "gralloch" (disembowel) a deer.) It has been suggested that he was a Russian Secret Agent, a Black Magician, an I.R.A. agent, even a midwife. And he could have been none of these things. Even the fact that all his victims were prostitutes has been questioned(7).

In 1988 as part of the Cosgrove-Muerer TV Production's "The Secret Life of Jack the Ripper," a FBI profile of the Ripper was compiled(8). As educated guesses go, it is probably as good as we are going to get:

  • He was a white male, single, in his mid to late twenties of average intelligence.
  • He was probably locally resident and had an intimate knowledge of its geography.
  • He was probably employed, as the murders all took place over weekends.
  • He was free from family accountability and in all probability lived alone as the murders took place between midnight and 6 am.
  • In all probability, he was of unsanitary personal habits since the murders showed a marked unfastidiousness.
  • He would not have reacted well with people and would have been considered by his associates a loner and engaged in erratic behaviour.
  • He was not surgically or anatomically skilled.
  • He was likely to have been in trouble with the police prior to the murders. He hated women and was probably intimidated by them.
  • He most likely had an unhappy childhood, was probably raised by a woman alone, and may have been sexually molested by that woman - perhaps his mother.
  • He was, the profile concluded, a "predatory animal".

And, perhaps, even one who could not help advertising. On 27th September, 1888 a letter addressed to "The Boss, Central News Office, London City" was received by the Central News Agency which concluded:

"...My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get the chance.

Good Luck
Yours truly
Jack the Ripper.

Dont mind me giving away the trade name."

On 16 October 1888, George Lusk(9) received a three-inch square cardboard box wrapped in brown paper containing half a human kidney preserved in spirits of wine. An accompanying note claimed it was half the missing left kidney from Catharine Eddowes. The sender claimed to have eaten the other half(10).

As for motives, it has been theorised by armchair psychiatrists that the killer was probably someone who contracted a venereal disease from a prostitute, had become mentally deranged, and committed the crimes out of revenge. Or was he a religious nut whose self-appointed mission in life was to rid the world of fallen women and "excoriate the evil from their bodies?" We simply do not know(11).

As to whether anyone ever did know... that is another question.

There is a persistent rumour of an official conspiracy of silence - a cover-up at the highest level - the purpose of which was either to conceal the identity of the killer or, what is more likely, to hide from the public the depth of ineptitude displayed by the police and various government officials in the case, from the cabinet ministerial level on down.

Scotland Yard's files on the Whitechapel murders were supposed to have been officially sealed until 1992 (coincidentally, the one hundredth anniversary of the death of H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, if anyone cares to read anything into that). Instead, they were opened to the public in 1988, the one hundredth anniversary of the murders. There were, however, some who claimed to have had access to those files earlier, and those individuals indicated that much appeared to be missing by 1988(12). A few went so far as to state that the records seemed to have been deliberately purged of essential information: of anything that was of any real value and could possibly lead to the identification of the killer. Time after time we are told of lost archives, stolen letters, purloined documents, mysterious disappearances of pertinent materials, files that were purposely destroyed or systematically "sanitised" or simply "misplaced". While this state of affairs has surely been overdrawn and over dramatised, some of it just as surely has taken place. Careful searches, for example, have failed to reveal the whereabouts of the original detailed postmortem report of Catharine Eddowes, prepared by Dr Frederick Gordon Brown, the City Police Surgeon. It is not enough to blame it all on "inefficient record keeping" and "crude file indexing" or the "insufficient budgets" of the agencies responsible for securing the files, as has been the case.

Moreover, private notes and diaries belonging to individuals who were retired officials, or who were otherwise personally involved in the investigations of the murders, or had information pertaining to them, have on several recorded occasions "disappeared" - in at least a few cases within a few days of an individual's death. Dr Thomas Stowell's files were destroyed within hours of his death by his son, who never explained why and refused to discuss the matter at all(13). Sir Melville Macnaghten's personal personal files - he headed the CIS and had first hand knowledge of Scotland Yard's entire investigation - simply "vanished" shortly after his death(14).

So the possibility of a cover-up cannot be dismissed lightly. The question then remains, why bother to go to such pains unless there was something to hide, something the government, or at least certain highly placed officials within the government, did not wish to have revealed?

There is another source of frustration: Much of the information that has come down to us is not merely incomplete, but incorrect. For example, the so-called "writing on the wall" found in the passage off Goulston Street following the Murder of Catharine Eddowes. As has been pointed out by Richard Whittington-Egan (A Casebook on Jack the Ripper), at least seven different versions of that message exist (an indication of how difficult it sometimes is to establish even simple facts of the case). And each version is from a "reliable", respected source, one of them being no less a personage than Sir Henry Smith, who actually saw the original message before it was ordered removed.

The point is, one cannot help but wonder whether such instances as this are the result of carelessness and simple lapses in memory, or whether efforts were made to purposely deceive and mislead(15).

So much has been written about the Whitechapel murders through the years that it is virtually impossible to keep track of it. Down through the years, literally hundreds of books have been written about the Ripper and his crimes, and the magazine and newspaper articles number in the thousands(16). In 1972 Alexander Kelly(17) compiled a bibliography on the subject that had to be updated twelve years later because another one-hundred-odd books and articles on the subject had been published in the intervening period. The revised edition, too, soon became outdated as 1988 and the Centenary arrived. Jack the Ripper had become a cottage industry.

Much of what has been written, at least in recent years, is well researched and scholarly, but a good deal of what has come down to us over time is, in whole or in part, simply nonsense. The one thing that almost every single "expert" has in common with every other is the ability to articulate logical reasons why the newest most-favoured suspect could not possibly be the Ripper. Where they fail - every single one of them - is when they offer their own candidate for the distinction. This is where imagination most often comes into play, where supposition comes to the fore, where data become selective and credulity is stretched to the breaking point. Where - in the words of Donald Rumbelow, a former London detective and author of one of the best works on the subject (Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook) - "every fact is capable of being wrenched into the weirdest of interpretations."

And that brings us to the Freemasons, and Brother Jack.

Mozart and the Morgan Affair not withstanding, the other great crime with which the name of Freemasonry has been intimately linked is that of Jack the Ripper. Melvin Harris in his 1987 book "Jack the Ripper: The Bloody Truth" has convincingly annihilated any such connections. But Melvyn Fairclough (The Ripper and the Royals) resurrected the problem in 1991 in nothing more than an extension of the Stephen Knight fantasies.

Fairclough has based his premise on the story/stories of Joseph Sickert. Some years ago, Sickert agreed to cooperate with Stephen Knight by recounting Sickert's family history which involved a good deal of hearsay material Joseph had heard from his father, Walter Sickert(18). The result was the publication in 1976 of "Jack the Ripper - The Final Solution." During the course of this collaboration, Joseph said he realised that Knight was misinterpreting the material and a quarrel ensued. Joseph went his separate way without revealing to Knight "The Full Story" so that, according to Joseph, Knight's book, while broadly on the right lines, was also wrong on many points and missed out many vital details including the identities (yes, plural) of "Jack the Ripper." This idea of a plurality of "Rippers" (a doctor and assistants) was not new; for example, it had formed part of a story by William Le Queux in 1923(19). But Joseph (from his version of what his father had told him) and Knight made it slightly original by adding the Freemasons.

Knight, knowing he was onto a good thing, continued his self-indulgent fantasies and manufactured mysteries with a second book, "The Brotherhood." But, after Knight's death in 1985, Sickert claimed to have found "forgotten" documents proving he was entitled to part of the profits from "The Final Solution."

Joseph Sickert, of course, has a family axe to grind since his dear old dad, Walter, has himself been directly implicated as being "Jack" (20). This highly tenuous conclusion is based on a claim, attributed to a statement made in 1948 by Florence Pash (one of Walter's acquaintances), that Walter had seen the bodies of the Ripper's victims. By a quantum leap in jurisprudence relating to evidence, this is assumed to have been at the site of the murders totally discounting that Walter may have seen the bodies, say, in the mortuary; in one of the many illustrated newspapers or, indeed, in his fertile imagination. The conclusion by Knight that Walter Sickert was one of the Rippers seems to have been one of the reasons for the falling out between Knight and Joseph Sickert.

Fairclough resurrected all this. His argument is now common enough and he continues to push the Sickert/Knight fantasy that was first articulated in the final episode of a 1973 Z CARS spin-off - "Jack the Ripper" - scripted by Elwyn Jones and John Lloyd where "Inspector Barlow" and "Sergeant Watt" re-examined the Ripper murders(21).

In case you did not know, as a young journalist for the East London Advertiser (the sole surviving newspaper covering the Whitechapel area), Knight had been sent to interview Joseph Sickert after Sickert's story of the murders as cover-up for the indiscretions of H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward ("Eddy")(22a), Duke of Clarence and Avondale had been publicised in that BBC drama-documentary series. Knight apparently found Sickert's story to be persuasive and embarked on his own "research".

To recap this story for those of you who have come in late:, Eddy has a liaison with and eventually marries the commoner (and Catholic) Annie Elizabeth Crook. According to the story, they meet at Walter Sickert's studio at 15 Cleveland Street and a daughter, Alice Margaret, is born to the couple on 18 April 1885. "Something" has to be done to protect the throne. This was especially urgent after Mary Kelly, a friend of Annie, escaped attempts to arrest everyone concerned with the liaison and fled to Whitechapel. There Kelly shared her secret with a handful of fellow prostitutes who, in turn, dreamed of blackmailing the Crown. They ended in a mortuary courtesy of Masonic assassins who couldn't resist advertising their involvement by using Masonic ritual in the slaughter.

Annie Crook was caught and incarcerated in Guy's Hospital by the Queen's physician for 156 days before being transferred to a smaller hospital at 367 Fulham Road where she was kept until she died on 3 February 1920. During the period at Grey's, Sir William Gull is supposed to have operated on her brain to remove all unwanted and embarrassing memories.

But the Sickert family saga, however, takes all this even one amazing step further by claiming that the child that resulted from Eddy's dalliance, Alice Margaret Crook, is Joseph Sickert's mother; making him Eddy's grandson and Queen Victoria's great, great grandson.

Walter was twenty-five years older than Alice. Yet the story is that she later bore him two sons, Charles (1905-1919) and Joseph (1925- ). From 1899, she lived with Walter as his ward in Dieppe, leaving him when she was 18 to marry William Gorman, an ex-boxer, and bore him several children. On page 111, Fairclough reports that Alice married Gorman on 14 July 1918 and Gorman died in 1951. Now, you don't have to be an intellectual giant to work out that, although now married to Gorman, for Joseph to maintain his claim to be a descendent of royalty, Alice continued to have sexual relations with Walter Sickert as Joseph was born five years after Walter's second wife died and seven years after Alice had married Gorman.

"One reason Walter encouraged the romance [between Alice and Gorman] was to ensure that any further children Alice might have would be born in wedlock and be accepted as Gorman's"(22b).

Seven months after Alice gave birth to Joseph, Walter married for a third time.

"How did Sickert (Walter, that is) become involved?" you ask.

Oswald Sickert (Walter's father and Joseph's supposed paternal grand father) was an artist/painter and had apparently made friends with many members of the Danish Royal family including King Christian IX's daughter, Alexandra (Alix). After Alix had married Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1863, she came to live in England, gave birth to Eddy and, by 1880, was deeply concerned as to Eddy's social and sexual development. (There were rumours he had been indulging in homosexual liaisons). Alix turned to Oswald's son, Walter (also a painter), to take Eddy under his wing.

In 1884 Walter was twenty four and four years older than his royal charge. He passed Eddy off as a younger brother, "Albert", and that year introduced him to one of his models, Annie Crook. After the birth of a child in April 1885, Walter Sickert employed Mary Kelly to act as the child's nanny.

Joseph claimed that his father (Walter) had been bribed to keep silent about all this by Lord Salisbury when Salisbury purchased one of Walter's painting with no more than a cursory glance for 500 pounds. At the time Walter was lucky if he obtained 3 pounds for any of his work.

According to Joseph's story, on 2 April 1888, on the orders of Prime Minister and prominent Freemason, the Right Honourable Robert Cecil, Marquis of Salisbury, plain clothes police raided the "home" of Annie Crook during a staged street fight to distract the neighbours. But Mary Kelly escaped and triggered off the run of murders and the subsequent cover-up when she and her cronies attempted to use the information she had gained to blackmail the Crown(23).

There are, to say the least, some intrinsic problems with this story. As much of a bounder Eddy was, would he have left Annie in next to destitute conditions? Would he have condoned Sir William Withey Gull, the Physician-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria, first imprisoning his lover/wife and later performing some form of psychosurgery on her? Eddy had eight to nine months to quietly and comfortably secrete Annie away in a nursing home. Yet we are asked to believe he callously looked the other way at all this.

I would like to present four points against this story:

1. Howells & Skinner have found absolutely no connection between Walter Sickert and Princess Alexandra, nor between any member of the Sickert family and that of the Danish Royal family. So it is most unlikely that Queen Alexandra would call on the Sickert family to look after her son, a prince of the realm.

2. Alice Margaret Crook was born on 18 April 1885 which means that her conception must have occurred between 18 July and 11 August 1884 - a time when Eddy was 400 miles away in Heidelberg with his German tutor.

3. The Royal Marriages Act was - and still is - operative. Any such marriage between Clarence and Cook could have been set aside as illegal because Clarence was under twenty-five years old at the time of the "marriage"; and he had "married" without the Queen's consent.

This Act had been specifically designed by King George III to stop his sons from entering into marriages of which he disapproved; it was even used to nullify the marriage of Augustus, Duke of Sussex, although a second son had been born in lawful wedlock!

Further, the Act of Settlement, promulgated in 1772, expressly debars anyone who marries a Roman Catholic from "inheriting the Crown". So the "marriage" of Eddy would have been null and void and easily patched up(24). Why on earth should Eddy, the heir presumptive, be so dramatically protected from scandal?

His father, the Prince of Wales, was involved in so many scandals it is difficult to know where to start.

For example, twelve years earlier the Prince of Wales was prominent in a scandal involving Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston's father); a complicated affair (no pun intended) with comic opera overtones(25). The Prince had earlier had a secret love affair with the wife of the Earl of Aylesford (a close friend). While Aylesford was in India with the Prince of Wales making an official good will tour of Britain's Imperial possessions, Lady Aylesford wrote saying she was going to elope with Lord Blandford (Lord Randolph's elder brother) who was also prepared to leave his wife for Lady Aylesford.

Aylesford immediately returned home and the Prince of Wales denounced Lord Blandford as "the greatest blackguard alive" - conveniently forgetting he, himself, had earlier indulged in a serious flirtation with Lady Aylesford. Both families convinced the lovers not to elope, but Aylesford was intent upon a divorce, citing Lord Blandford as co-respondent. Lady Aylesford passed to Lord Blandford a series of letters the Prince of Wales had written to her during their flirtation ("harmless enough, but containing an undue familiarity"). Blandford, in turn, passed the letters to his brother.

In a naive effort to keep his brother's name out of a potentially messy divorce trial (all of the Victorian aristocracy's divorce trials were potentially messy), Lord Randolph foolishly went to the Princess of Wales with the letters. His motive was to enlist the aid of the Princess to convince her husband to bring pressure on Aylesford to call off the divorce proceedings and to avoid a major scandal. To no one's surprise (but Lord Randolph's) the Prince of Wales became furious, accused him of blackmail, and challenged him to a duel. Queen Victoria became aware of the situation and the duel never took place. Instead, Lord Randolph was banished to a government post in Ireland and the Prince was denied access to his mother for some time (a relief to both of them if one believes contemporary accounts).

The affair is often held up as proof, if proof be needed, that the true measure of Victorian respectability, among the upper classes, at least, lay not in refraining from extramarital sex, but engaging in it with discretion. Or, as one member of society put it: "It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses!"

4. In March 1987, Simon Wood published his researches into all this Sickert family background in a now-defunct magazine - "The Bloodhound." He found that in 1888 Annie Crook and Walter Sickert could not have been living at 15 Cleveland Street (identified by Stephen Knight and Joseph Sickert as the place where Walter had his studio and where Eddy and Annie would meet)(26) since the building and its neighbour #17 were demolished in Michaelmas 1886 and the gap stayed vacant until the Middlesex Hospital Trained Nurses Institute was built on the site in November 1887! He also showed conclusively that Annie Crook was not a Catholic and was not confined from 1888 in one or more hospitals until her death. The rate books for Cleveland Street also show that, rather than being kidnapped by Freemasons and subjected to imprisonment in Guy's Hospital, Crook lived in the basement of #6 throughout 1888, was still there in 1889 and for every year up to 1893!

But all this Sickert family history aside, Fairclough's thesis quickly involves the prominent Freemasons of the late nineteenth century viz The Duke of St Albans, the Earls of Carnarvon, Derby, and Limerick, the Marquess of Lincolnshire, the Queen's Physician-in-Ordinary (Sir William Withey Gull), the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Sir Charles Warren) and so on. Oh yes, they include Eddy, Duke of Clarence and Avondale who was, at the time of the murders in 1888, Right Worshipful Master of the Royal Alpha Lodge(27).

So far, no major problems; but Fairclough seem to go right off the rails at this point. Not content to quote Knight as a source of Masonic practices (highly questionable, if not downright laughable), he also cites William Morgan's (of the "Morgan Affair" infamy) "Freemasonry Exposed," published in 1836.

Fairclough insists in using the present tense in the paragraphs purporting to expose the nefarious activities of the Freemasons. Yet Morgan's "exposure" (sic) was published some 50 years before the events under analysis. For example, the Oath of a Royal Arch Mason quoted by Fairclough on page 54, bears no relation to any Royal Arch oath with which I am familiar. Yet Fairclough's tense makes it appear modern. The author's attitude is typical of the erroneous misinformation bandied about and is not only vexatious but (with the wealth of correct information available to Cowans in the United Kingdom under the relaxed policies of the Grand Lodge) this cannot be anything less than a premeditated and deliberate attempt to denigrate the Craft. Even Walter Hannah (Darkness Visible and Christian by Degrees) had better information forty years ago.

Fairclough's premise seems to be broadly based on two primary facts :

a. There were Freemasons living at the time of the Ripper murders - some of whom were prominent in contemporary society, as there have always been.

You can do almost anything you wish with this "fact". For example: As each candidate for the Fellow Craft Degree recites, our Lodges usually meet at night. Dracula, as is well known, comes out at night: therefore Dracula is a Freemason. With his sartorial preference for Dinner suits, he is also obviously a member of Grand Lodge!

Unfortunately for their case against Freemasonry, some of the "Freemasons" named by Knight and Fairclough were not Freemasons (for example Lord Salisbury), while others listed as anti-Masonic were, in fact, prominent Freemasons. For example Wynne Edwin Baxter, the Coroner presiding over the inquests on Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman and Elizabeth Stride. Baxter, a flamboyant and garrulous coroner who had won a very bitter election to that post for East London and Tower of London districts amid accusations of electoral improprieties, was often highly critical of the police. Knight sees this as being in conflict with the Masonic conspiracy of Warren and Anderson and points to Baxter as an anti-Mason.

In fact, Baxter was a leading member of South Sussex Lodge and simply possessed a combative and touchy personality(28).

b. There is an exceedingly superficial and tenuous linkage between the apparent mutilations and placement of the internal organs of the victims to the purported ancient penalties of the Masonic oath. Of course, we run into factual problems here. If we follow Fairclough, who is slavishly following Knight, we learn that not only have the unfortunate ladies' throats been cut left to right (making all right-handed murderers cutting their victim's throat from behind Freemasons), but with some Ripper victims, their intestines had been thrown over the shoulders.

For Fairclough/Knight this is "definitely Masonic" as the murderers of Hiram Abiff had "...their vitals taken out and thrown over the left shoulder". Unfortunately for the comparison, both Chapman's and Eddowes' intestines lay over their right shoulder. Not to be bothered by the facts, Knight explained this away as, "it is possible that the point about which shoulder was overlooked" - presumably due to the hurry, of course.

This is typical of Fairclough's misinformation regarding the Freemasons. Like Knight, Fairclough delves into wishful thinking and much ingenuity in his vendetta against the Craft and in his search for Masonic involvement(29). If the facts do not fit the hypothesis, simply shrug and move on to the next fantasy.

Without (much) comment, let me examine a few more of Fairclough's statements. Fairclough has a wild case to plead and so impartially, logic and truth are recklessly abandoned. His mistakes on Masonic ritual are more than irritating or annoying. He cannot have been insensible to the fact that a wealth of material is available to get at least his Masonic "research" correct.

Like Knight, Fairclough makes much of Hogarth's engraving THE REWARD OF CRUELTY by painstakingly analysing it to show (sic) similarities between the slaughter of Mary Kelly and a Masonic Ritual Murder(!) The Hogarth work shows no more than a standard eighteenth century medical dissection of a hanged criminal. All the so-called Masonic features are nothing more than common anatomy practices of the period.

Fairclough claims the Royal Arch is part of the chain of advancement to the 330.

"Beyond the third degree, it takes another fourteen degrees to become 'perfected', to pass through the Holy Royal Arch"

I believe he has been confused by the thirteenth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite - the Royal Arch of Enoch. But, of course, the mathematics are questionable. Three plus fourteen equals seventeen. The Royal Arch of Enoch is a thirteenth degree, but let's not worry about facts - they only confuse a good story.

Catharine Eddowes (the fourth victim) was found in Mitre Square.

"Both the mitre and the square are tools of the stone mason, and potent emblems of Freemasonry"

Fairclough goes on to emphasise this point by revealing that "J." (in the Royal Arch Degree) wears a mitre or bishop's hat.

The importance of the murder site is hammered home in no uncertain terms. A highly obscure source claims that there had been a murder in Mitre Square in 1530 - over 350 years before, which Fairclough takes to mean that Mitre Square is "obviously" of significance to Freemasons. All the more so, he claims, since the sixteenth century victim was murdered in a priory which stood on that spot. An "obvious" reference to the Hiramic Legend(30).

The murderous Freemasons simply could not help advertising:

"Eddowes had cuts on her cheeks. They formed two lines meeting at right angles...another reminder of the mason's square"

All these linkages are, for Fairclough, conclusive proof of direct Masonic involvement in the murders. He goes on to talk about Masonic aprons and the fact that one suspect in the long, long line of choices as the true identity of "Jack" was someone called "Leather Apron."

"One wonders whether the rumour was spread by the Freemasons themselves, as a veiled means of proclaiming their responsibility".

There is also a popular myth about the death of Annie Chapman. That is that her rings and some polished farthings were placed in a ritualised pattern at her feet. Knight and Fairclough make much of this. Obviously, to them, she was "deprived of all money and metallic substances" and the rings represent the hollow cross-sections of the two great pillars which stood at the porch or entrance to King Solomon's Temple.

Unfortunately all this was a pure invention of the Pall Mall Gazette(31). In the succeeding years the money and rings have entered the realm of Jack the Myth, rather than Jack the Ripper. To be fair to Knight and Fairclough, better researchers such as Cullen, Odell, Harrison, Rumbelow, Fido, Skinner and Wilson have all accepted the story with minor variations. But, for Knight and Fairclough, the rings had to exist to legitimise their fantasies of Masonic involvement.

The (in)famous, if elusive, writing of the brick walls about the "Juwes" "who will not be blamed for nothing":

"Freemasons I have met have made it clear that masons are fond of puns, puzzles and double negatives". OK, but does this make them guilty of murder?

It is highly likely that the writing was simply angrily and hastily scrawled by a disgruntled customer who had had less than satisfactory service from one of the numerous Jewish craftsmen in the area and wrote his frustration on the wall that the Jews won't take responsibility for anything (especially, presumably, bad workmanship).

By 1775, the original fields and gardens of Whitechapel had almost completely vanished beneath streets, alleys and tenements. 88% of all the immigrants arriving in England in the 1880s came from Europe, most of them Jewish emigrants fleeing the pograms of Russia and persecution in other nations. They settled in the Spitalfields area which took its name from the priory and hospital ("spital") of St. Mary founded in 1197. Prejudice was widespread and there was a real fear of anti-Jewish riots(32).

While there is conflicting testimony as to the actual spelling of the key word used in this chalked message, let's look at the so-called Masonic "Juwes" for a moment. It seems Fairclough is relying on Knight in many instances. So an examination of what Knight says is appropriate.

Knight writes that the murderers of Hiram Abiff were Entered Apprentices (they were actually Fellow Craft Masons); that Hiram Abiff is resurrected (he is simply exhumed and later buried at a different place) and that the Juwes were hunted down and slain (they were, in fact, taken to King Solomon and subject to a proper trial - although one "traditional" Masonic history has it that one refused to surrender and was killed in self-defence. Knight wrote that when Sir Charles Warren erased the writing he "knew only too well that the writing was telling the world, 'The Freemasons' are the men that will not be blamed for nothing'". This is a marvellous dialectic leap in logic since the Juwes were the enemies of Freemasonry and it was Superintendent Thomas Arnold (a non-Mason) of H Division who arranged the erasure, albeit with Warren's later approval and acceptance of full responsibility(33). As for the word "Juwes" itself as a collective term for the murderers of Hiram Abiff - it had been dropped from English Masonic ritual in the early nineteenth century and is unlikely to have been known to Freemasons (let alone anyone else) in 1888. At that time they were referred to as "the Three Ruffians" as they are today(34).

Paul Begg has written "It is a mystery why anyone ever thought that 'Juwes' was a Masonic word"(35).

There is also the problem of syntax. If, for a moment, we accept that the first letter and postcard sent to "The Boss" signed 'Jack the Ripper' really were from the murderer(36), the writing styles are inconsistent. It is generally assumed among those who believe that the letter and postcard are genuine that they were written by an educated man who may have been deliberately attempting to muddy the waters by appearing to be unlettered. Of course, there is the other suggestion that the graffiti hides an anagram, in which case the syntax would be skewed to fit(37).

Regarding Mary Kelly - the last (fifth) victim - Fairclough reaches the depths of inventiveness.

"The corpse has a cable tow round its neck. Freemasons use this device to represent the cutting of the throat".

" of the legs, the right one, had been skinned. This feature is a Masonic allegory, a reminder of the initiation of a Master Mason when the Candidate, in reference to his two previous initiations, says; 'and my right leg bare'. As he utters these words he has to roll up his trouser leg. With Kelly they rolled away the flesh(38)."

Fairclough goes on to implicate Quatuor Coronati Lodge #2076, founded by Sir Charles Warren in 1884.

The "evidence" for the prosecution as to the culpability of the Lodge? Quatuor Coronati held its annual installation ceremony on the night of 8 November 1888 - the night Kelly may have been slaughtered and Warren, a Past Master, "had enough time to meet up with his murderous friends in the East End".

"Discounting Eddowes, since her murder was a mistake, the Ripper's intended victims numbered four. Doubtless Warren saw a parallel between the ancient story of the 'Four Crowned Ones'...and...the modern story of the four women, killed for daring to defy the Monarchy, which was an image of the real power behind it: Freemasonry and the Royal Alpha Lodge, No.16".

So, although we have five murders, we need only four(39) to implicate Quatuor Coronati.

One wonders if there had been two victims, would Antiquity Lodge #2 UGLE be implicated? or British Lodge #8 UGLE if eight. If Fairclough was so set on Quatuor Coronati, and using this warped logic, it is a wonder he did not find two thousand and seventy-six murders that could be laid at their doorstep.

Fairclough also continued the story that Dr Gull did not die "as advertised", but ended his days as "Thomas Mason" (note the name!!) alias "#124" at St Mary's Asylum, Islington.

All this derives from a story carried by the Chicago Sunday-Times Herald of 28 April 1895 wherein it was claimed that a Dr. Benjamin Howard had been one of twelve London physicians who had sat "as a commission of lunacy upon a brother physician who had been responsible for the Ripper murders".

V. Wor. Bro. Neville Cryer, in his address on the Church and Freemasonry presented to Barron Barnett Lodge last October, identified an increasingly aggressive and intrusive culture among the members of the Press. I would argue that "anything for the story" has a long history.

Can you honestly believe that after such a story broke in England, that St. Mary's was not besieged by screaming, photographing, journalists with an open purse to bribe guards and wardens? It never happened! One must conclude that the contemporary newspaper hounds realised that the story was pure fabrication.

Hasty acceptance has outweighed careful appraisal. To be generous and not to make accusations of outright fraud(40), both Knight and Fairclough seem to have misread the Sunday-Times Herald article. Most of the text is not attributed to Dr. Howard at all but to an anonymous "Gentleman of Chicago". Furthermore, in 1896, Dr Howard wrote to repudiate the whole thing - a fact carefully ignored by Fairclough, now completely governed by devotion to conspiracy theory.

Melvin Harris has convincingly argued that this Gull/Mason story was a deliberate hoax planted in the Sunday-Times Herald by the Chicago Whitechapel Club which met at the back of the newspaper offices. The Whitechapel Club was "strange and frolicsome (and) was not only the focal point for knowledgeable Ripperologists, but it was also a tall story workshop" (41) where hoaxes were burnished to perfection(42).

We have yet another problem here with the Gull/Mason story. Sickert's story claimed that Gull and the coachman, Netley, murdered at least Annie Chapman in a carriage after feeding her poisoned grapes. But Gull was 72 at the time of the murders and had already suffered one heart attack. If Annie Chapman (not a light person and found in the rear yard of 29 Hanbury Street) was killed in Gull's coach, she would have to have been carried to where she was found. An unlikely event, even with Netley's help!

Gull died of natural causes in January 1890 an much has been made of the fact that his death certificate was signed by his son-in-law. Medical ethics aside, it does not prove Gull was one of the Rippers(43).

Lord Randolph Churchill was the supreme Freemason in England and directly involved in the murders.

"Randolph (Churchill) had an important source of influence on the eminent men he recruited. He was their Masonic superior. He was the highest Freemason in England. the supreme position he held, according to Walter Sickert, though the Grand Lodge deny that he was ever a mason, was that of Magister Magistrorum - Master Mason". (Fairclough p. 92).

Fairclough goes on to point out that, although none of Randolph's biographers records his Masonic membership and the records at Freemason's Hall contain no record of him as a Freemason, these are "unreliable" and downright sinister as all the records have been erased.

Fairclough points out that Pick and Knight show Randolph to be a Freemason and claims Randolph was initiated into Freemasonry under the name Rudolph H. Spencer in Dublin in 1878.

One is tempted to wonder where the Prince of Wales fitted in here with Randolph being the "highest Freemason in England." The Prince of Wales was installed as Grand Master and served in that capacity from 1874 to 1901. His installation ceremony at the Albert Hall was attended by the largest assemblage of Freemasons ever held.

It also does not help Sickert's-Knight's- Fairclough's linking of the Ripper murders with Freemasonry that, in 1978, Joseph Sickert confessed to the Sunday Times that his story of a Masonic Conspiracy was "a hoax; I made it all up". Knight reacted with a letter to the same paper printed on 2 July 1978 saying Joseph had only made that statement when he (Knight) had proved that Joseph's father was directly involved in the murders along with Gull and Netley.

Even more serious for Fairclough and his nonjudgemental acceptance of the Sickert family is the diaries Joseph gave him. These are claimed to be three private diaries kept by Frederick George Abberline(44) between 1892 and 1915 and supposedly given to Walter Sickert in 1928 - a year before Abberline's death in Bournemouth. In 1888, Abberline had coordinated the hunt for "Jack." The diaries implicate Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir William Gull and James K. Stephen - Eddy's tutor at Cambridge and Frederico Albericci ("Fingers Freddie") an Italian pickpocket. Melvin Harris calls all this "the Gothic Lewis Carroll world of pasteboard characters (45)."

Unfortunately all this contradicts Abberline's known views on the Ripper. Worst still, on one page of the diaries reproduced by Fairclough, Abberline's signature is written "G.F.Abberline" instead of F.G.Abberline (46) - and the biographical notes on four of the murder victims set down in the diaries is plagiarised word for word from a research article by Neal Sheldon(47).

But what about Joseph Sickert and his dad? In September 1907, one Emily Dimmock was found in Camden Town with her throat cut. Robert Wood was charged with the crime, but later acquitted. Walter Sickert was living in Camden Town at this time and was a friend of Wood. Marjorie Lilly in her work "Sickert, The Painter and His Circle" shows how the murders in Whitechapel and at Camden Town became intertwined in Walter's psyche. Dr Wendy Baron, the authority on Walter's work, has pointed out that he customarily gave his work "joke" titles after the manner of Victorian genre painters whose "pictures told a story". Walter and his followers in the "Camden School" concentrated on depressed urban interiors which (with vaguely Degas-like paintings of music-halls) became Walter's best known and most influential work. Walter was known to have an impish and macabre sense of humour and his elaborate jokes and leg-pulling could be disconcerting(47). Joseph claimed that his father incorporated clues as to the identity of the Ripper in his paintings or their titles. One such clue is reported to be a seagull in the painting ENNUI. Sea-GULL - get it?

Various other "hidden" messages are claimed to lurk in Walter Sickert's paintings: MRS BARRETT and LA HOLLANDAISE are claimed to contain the face of Mary Jane Kelly; LAZARUS BREAKS HIS FAST shows a bowel of grapes claimed to have been used by Gull to sedate his victims(49); and the CAMDEN TOWN MURDER series supposedly shows Mary Kelly's dismembered corpse(50). Another recent book on Jack the Ripper by Dr David Abrahamsen also shows elements of Fairclough's techniques. Abrahamsen's book (Murder and Madness: The Secret Life of Jack The Ripper) has Prince Albert Victor Edward and his tutor, J.K. Stephen, running around Whitechapel in drag taking out their sexual resentments against prostitutes by ripping them to pieces. Abrahamsen does not produce any evidence at all. Court circulars of the time clearly indicate that the Prince was no where near London on every single occasion the Ripper struck(51).

As Joseph Goebbels may have said, "If you are going to lie, tell BIG lies!" Look at the attraction and furor over the so-called Hitler Diaries and the more recent elaborate hoax attempt to produce the diary of James Maybrick, proving him to be Jack the Ripper! No one was at all interested, I am unhappy to report, in the Dennis Stocks diaries. Perhaps one prerequisite is to be a mass murderer?

There seems to be a human willingness to suspend the critical functions and wallow in the dangerous morass of misinformation that supports our deeper prejudices.

But the Jack-the-Ripper-industry rolls along with books continuing to be published, at least three different companies offering walking tours of the murder "sites"(52), and the fascination with the events of 1888 is scarcely diminished. The Victorians were brutally indifferent to many social problems - such as child prostitution. Wilson and Odell(53) have pointed out that this is more insensitivity than callousness. When misery was actively brought to their attention, they were inclined to dissolve into tears. Consider the attraction of East Lynne by Mrs Henry Wood - the best seller of the 1870s. Their simplified perceptions of the world (right was right, men were men, women in their place and half the world map shaded in pink) and their open and spontaneous emotional reactions seem almost naive and jingoistic to us. The frisson and morbid fascination of the Whitechapel murders were primarily that "one of us could be one of them" - that "respectable people" could turn from doctor, solicitor, housewife; turn from the teachings of the Church of England and slide into homicidal self-indulgences.

So the Ripper murders and especially the sexual mutilations were seen as a premeditated insult to Victorian society. Yet, in the obsession with sexual wickedness, it was still believed the Ripper could not be all that grotesque. So the first full-length English book on the subject by Matters, published in 1929, presented the Ripper as a moral avenger(54).

If Jack does prove to be a lowly labourer or fish porter then nobody is going to take a blind bit of notice, but if we can come up with a belted Earl or something similar and weave a complete and utter fantasy around him with the required amount of gore, sex and violence thrown in, then we can sit back and bathe in the glory of yet another "final solution".

I certainly do not have the answer as to Jack's identity, but I have suggestions which I believe worthy of consideration:

Chief Inspector Walter Dew (who captured Crippen) has made a valid point when he reminded the authorities: With all the furor over the murders, with the heightened awareness of all strangers, with the numerous Vigilance Committees roaming the streets, after Nichols' death why were Chapman, Stride, Eddowes and Kelly so easy a target? Was there something about their attacker that put him above suspicion in their minds? Why was he so invisible?

Another source for research would be the surviving case files of H Division(55). It is unlikely that "Jack" jumped straight into slaughter. A check of previous incident files for the area should contain the name and evidence of the increasingly violent behaviour of "Jack" - whoever he was.

At the beginning of this paper I intimated the plethora of unknowns associated with this case. But I can tell you one thing for certain, fiction aside, Jack the Ripper, whoever he was, is dead. As the East End children's rhyme has it:

Jack the Ripper's dead
and lying on his bed.
He cut his throat with Sunlight soap.
Jack the Ripper's dead.

But as for Walter Sickert and his story of "Brother Jack," his misperception of what is "Truth" seems to have extended to his son. Following the arrest of Peter Sutcliffe ("The Yorkshire Ripper"), Joseph attracted press attention when he claimed to have been harassed and had his life threatened by Sutcliffe. He even claimed Sutcliffe had attempted to run him down. You can perhaps wonder that the whole Sickert family is obsessed with the "Ripper" honorific.

Whatever the real facts of these sad incidents, I believe Knight and now Fairclough have been the dupe of the son of a clever hoaxer with excessive testicular diameter to promote some quirky and mischievous ideas.

As far as the involvement in Freemasonry in these events is concerned, it has the same relationship to the facts of Criminology as the exploits of Peter Rabbit and Blinkey Bill do to Zoology.

Appendix One

The Ripper Project applied modern scientific detection techniques in an attempt to isolate realistic suspects from the plethora of candidates. The eight characteristics that resulted were:

1: He was a white male, aged 28-36, who lived or worked in the Whitechapel district.

2: He would have come from a family with a weak, passive or absentee father.

3: He would have sought a job where he could vicariously experience his destructive fantasies, such as a butcher, mortician.s helper, medical examiner's assistant or hospital attendant.

4: He would probably have had some type of physical abnormality that, although not severe, he would perceive as psychologically crippling, such as a speech impediment.

5: He would have been interviewed during the course of investigations, but would have been overlooked and/or eliminated as a suspect, in part because his ordinary appearance would not have fitted the preconceived notion that both the police and local populace held of Jack the Ripper being an odd or "ghoulish" looking man.

6: He would be perceived as being quiet, a loner, shy, slightly withdrawn, obedient, and neat and orderly in appearance. He would drink at the local pubs.

7: He would not have committed suicide after his last homicide. Generally crimes such as thee cease because the perpetrator has come close to being identified, has been interviewed by the police, or has been arrested for some other offence. It would be surprising if Jack the Ripper simply would suddenly stop, except for one of these reasons.

8: He believed that the homicides were justified - that he was only eliminating garbage.

See Paley, pp. 169-171


David Abrahamsen
Murder and Madness: The Secret Life of Jack the Ripper. (Robson Books, London, 1992.)

Peter Acroyd
Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem (Minerva, London, 1995)

Andy Aliffe
"Murder by Degree - A Literary Ripper?", Ripperana, #8 (April 1994), pp. 24-28

Karl Alexander
Time After Time. (London: Granada, 1980)

Paul Begg
Jack the Ripper: The Uncensored Facts. (Robson Books, London, 1988.)

Paul Begg, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner
Jack the Ripper A to Z. (Headline, London, 1991.)

Robert Bloch
The Night of the Ripper. (Tor, New York, 1986)

Tom Cullen
When London Walked in Fear (Bodly Head, 1973)

David Stuart Davies
"Murder by Decree", in Sherlock Holmes Gazette, Summer 1995, #2, pp. 8-10.

Michael Dibdin
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (Faber and Faber, London, 1990)

Arthur Douglas
Will the Real Jack the Ripper...? (Countryside Publications, London, 1979)

Gardner Dozois and Susan Casper (eds)
Ripper. (Tor Books, New York, 1988)

Stewart Evans and Paul Gainey
The Lodger: The Arrest and Escape of Jack the Ripper (London: Century, 1995)

Melvyn Fairclough
The Ripper and the Royals. (Duckworth, London, 1991)

Daniel Farson
Jack the Ripper (Sphere, London 1973)

Martin Fido
The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper. (Weidenfield and Nicholson, London 1987)

Martin Fido
Murder Guide to London (Grafton Books, London, 1986)

Martin Fido
"Jack the Ripper's East End," in City Walks of London, edited by Paul Begg, (London: Robson Books, 1990)

Martin Fido
"In the Footsteps of Jack the Ripper", The Talking Tour Company, London: Victoria Embankment
(audio cassette)

Martin Fido
Correspondence in Ripperana, #9 (July 1994), pp.22-23.

Jean Overton Fuller
Sickert and the Ripper Crimes (Mandrake, Oxford 1990)

Rick Geary
Jack the Ripper (New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine Publishing, 1995).

R.A. Gilbert
"William Wynn Westcott and the Esoteric School of Masonic Research," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 100 (1987), pp. 6-32,

"The Masonic Career of A.E. Waite," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 99 (1986), pp. 88-110,

"To See Ourselves as Others See Us," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 107, 1004, pp. 1-7.

Richard Gordon
The Private Life of Jack the Ripper (Heineman, London 1980)

Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh, Frank D. McSherry.
Red Jack. (DAW Books, New York, 1988)

J.M. Hamill
"The Sins of our Masonic Fathers....," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 101 (1988), pp. 133-159

Edward B. Hanna
The Whitechapel Horrors. (Carroll and Graf, New York, 1993)

Melvin Harris
Jack the Ripper: The Bloody Truth. (Columbus Books, London, 1987)

Melvin Harris
The Ripper File (W.H. Allen, London 1989)

Michael Harrison
Clarence: The Life of HRH the Duke of Clarence and Avondale 1864-1892 (W.H. Allen, London 1972)

Paul Harrison
Jack the Ripper: The Mystery Solved (Robert Hale, London, 1993)

Shirley Harrison
The Diary of Jack the Ripper. The Discovery, The Investigation, The Debate. (Hyperion, New York, 1993)

Veronica Hart
The House that Jack Built (Mandarin; Port Melbourne, Victoria, 1994)

Michael A. Hoffman II
Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare (Dresden, New York; Wiswell Ruffin House, 1992).

Ellic Howe
"Fringe Masonry in England," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 85, 1972, pp. 242-295

Martin Howells and Keith Skinner
The Ripper Legacy: The Life and Death of Jack the Ripper. (Sedgwick and Jackson, New York 1987.)

Stewart James
Jack the Ripper. (Horwitz, Sydney, 1960.)

Elwyn Jones & John Lloyd
The Ripper File (Arthur Barker, London 1975)

Stephen Knight
Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. (Panther Books, New York, 1977)

Stephen Knight
The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Freemasons (London, Granada {Panther], 1985)

Richard Laymon
Savage. (BCA, London, 1993.)

Donald McCormack
The Identity of Jack the Ripper (Pan 1962 - revised John Long 1970)

Edmund McCoy
Blood of the Fathers. (Orion, London, 1993)

Evan Macpherson
"Jack the Ripper in Dundee", (The Scots Magazine, Volume 128, number 4 (January 1988), pp. 389-393.)

Leonard Matters
The Mystery of Jack the Ripper. (Pedigree Books, London, 1960)

Doug Moench
The Big Book of Conspiracies (New York, Paradox Press, 1995)

Alan Moore
From Hell(Baltimore,Borderlands Press, 1994)

Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
From Hell: Volumes 1 (March 1991), 2 (June 1993), 3 (December 1993), 4 (March 1994), 5 (June 1994), 6 (November 1994), 7 (March 1995), 8 (July 1995) (Northampton, Montana; Kitchen Sink Press, dates as shown)

Tony Mudawar
"The Most Cunning and Dangerous Criminal in London", (The Sherlock Holmes Journal, Volume 19, (Winter 1988), pp.22-24.)

Robin Odell
Jack the Ripper in Fact and Fiction (London: Mayflower, 1966)

Helen O'Neill
"What Kind of Ghoul am I?," The Australian, 1 November 1995.

Bruce Paley
Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth (Headline Book, London, 1995).

Fred L.Pick and G. Norman Knight
The Pocket History of Freemasonry, Seventh Edition. (London; Frederick Muller, 1983).

Anton Powell
Londonwalks (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York 1982).

Donald Rumbelow
The Complete Jack the Ripper. (Star Books, London 1984)

Terrance Sharkey
Jack the Ripper: 100 years of Investigation (London: Ward Lock, 1987)

Seymour Shuster
"Jack the Ripper and Doctor Identification", (International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, Volume 6, number 3 (1975), pp. 385-402.)

Sir Osbert Sitwell
A Free House! or the Artist as Craftsmen, being the Writings of Walter Richard Sickert (London, Macmillan, 1947)

Terrance Lore Smith Yours Truly from Hell. (St Martin's Press, New York, 1988.)

Frank Spierling
Prince Jack (Doubleday, New York 1978)

Philip Sugden
The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (London: Robinson Books, 1994)

Herbert Tingsten
Victoria and the Victorians (trans. David and Eva Leckstrom Grey), (Delacorte Press, London, 1972.)

Peter Underwood
Jack the Ripper: One Hundred Years of Mystery. (Blandford Press, London, 1987.)

N.P. Warren
Editorial, Ripperana, #14 (October, 1995)

Pamela West
Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper. (Dell Books, New York, 1987.)

Colin Wilson and Robin Odell
Jack the Ripper: Summing Up and Verdict. (Corgi Books, London, 1988)

Colin, Damon and Rowan Wilson
World Famous Gaslight Murder (The Book Company, Sydney, 1995)

Richard Whittington-Egan
A Casebook on Jack the Ripper (Wildy, London 1976)

Phil Wilshire
Ripperana, #12 (January 1996), p.22

A.P. Wolf
Jack the Myth: A New Look at Jack the Ripper. (Robert Hale, London 1993.)


(1) I say "sustained interest" because we have all seen the OJ Simpson obscenity.

(2) Try this simple quiz: How many people were killed by Hawley Harvey Crippen, John Wayne Gacy, John Reginald Halliday Christie, Charles Whitman and Dennis Nilsen? With the possible exception of Crippen, most people would say "Who?" when confronted by these names.

Answers: respectively - Crippen: 1; Gacy: 32; Christie confessed to 7; Whitman killed 19 and wounded 28 from a tower at the university of Texas and Nilsen boiled the dismembered limbs and severed heads of his 12 victims in a large pot and flushed surplus flesh down the lavatory.

(3) The front cover blurb of Stuart James' work reads "His razor-sharp scalpel claimed twenty-nine victims as he prowled the dark streets for the woman he hated."

There have been a number of attempts over the years to link "Jack" with other murders before Nichols and after Kelly. One of these was that of "Fairy Fay" who, it is claimed, was killed on Boxing Night 1887. Unfortunately for this theory, "Fairy Fay" did not exist and her murder simply never took place!

However, we must be cautious and not become so engrossed in the "form" of the killings to the point of obsession. We must be careful not to imagine a serial killer can never change his method of killing. For example, take the death of Alice McKenzie (Claypipe Alice) who was found 17 July 1889 in Castle Alley, Whitechapel. Thomas Bond, one doctor who examined her body, was convinced her murderer was the "same person who committed the former series of Whitechapel murders" {MEPO 3/140.262 Scotland Yard File 18 July 1889. PRO Kew}, cited by Wolf, p.25.

Odell and Wilson (p.95) reject this as one of the Ripper's victims on the grounds she had been stabbed, not cut. See also Fido, "The Crimes...", p.103.

(4) In 1889, Florence Elizabeth Maybrick became the first American woman to be tried in a British Court. She was accused of poisoning her husband, James Maybrick, a Liverpool cotton-merchant with business connections in London. She was found guilty and served fifteen years in prison. So much is true. It can be imagined, however, that the motive for the murder was that Florence became aware that James was Jack the Ripper and did away with him. This implication has been central to Peter Ackroyd's novel, albeit setting his story in 1880. The twist in Ackroyd's tale is that the wife (who is executed for the poisoning murder of her husband) is actually the serial killer and leaves behind a forged diary implicating her spouse in the murders.

But even the admitted hoaxes such as the "Maybrick" diaries can generate a following of their own. Video producer Paul Feldman is writing a book on the hoax with Colin Wilson, and the hoax has generated a film based on its presumption, although Sir Anthony Hopkins retired from the lead role saying he has portrayed enough evil. See N.P. Warren's editorial in Ripperana #14.

(5) This is based on the premise that the Ripper was standing in front of his victims. But Rumbelow (The Complete... ) has pointed out that anal sex was commonplace to avoid pregnancy, so the victims may have been killed from behind which would also allow the Ripper to avoid the spray of blood.

A dissenting note is from Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon to A Division (Westminster), in a general report on the murders to Dr Robert Anderson 10 November 1888, who believed that the women must have been lying down when murdered. Dr (later Sir) Robert Anderson was the Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police CID and Office in Charge of the Whitechapel murder investigation. See Rumbelow, The Complete... , p.93.

(6) The case "For" Jack being a Doctor include: the precision of the lower cut severing Chapman's uterus; the difficulty of securing Eddowes' kidney from the front of the body and the difficulty of extracting Kelly's heart (which was never found) through the diaphragm. All of which were performed in great haste and in abysmal light.

The case "Against" claims that most of the injuries were simply random slashes and not any sign of skill; that Dr George Bagster Phillips (the H Division Police Surgeon*) was convinced Eddowes was the victim of an unskilled imitator; and there was a failed attempt to decapitate Chapman and Kelly.

* From its inception and for administrative purposes, the Metropolitan Police Force was divided into areas or divisions. H Division covered Whitechapel and three of the murder sites - those of Chapman, Stride and Kelly.

(7) Sugden, page 106.

(8) Dr Thomas Bond in November 1888 made the following conclusions in his "profile" of the Ripper:

Physical strength; great coolness & daring; no accomplices; periodic attacks of homicidal and erotic mania; suffering from satyriasis; revengeful/brooding/possessed by a religious mania; inoffensive in appearance; middle aged, neat & respectable; solitary and with eccentric habits; without a regular occupation, but with a small income or pension; no scientific nor anatomical knowledge. "In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterman or any person accustomed to cut up dead animals" cited by Rumbelow, p.94

Prior to the twentieth century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be "alienated" not only from the rest of society, but from their own true natures. Those experts who studied mental pathologies were therefore known as "Alienists." In 1889 Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow (an Alienist who believed himself to be the final arbiter on questions of sanity and legal responsibility) convinced himself that he had identified Jack the Ripper based on what we would now call a psychological profile. Winslow had earlier joined his father, Forbes Benignus Winslow, who was a doctor specialising in the study of lunacy and with a large practice in private asylums.

When the killings stopped, young Winslow trumpeted his triumph in the newspapers, claiming he had frightened Jack into abandoning murder and fleeing the country. Winslow claimed he could have trapped the Ripper at St Paul's Cathedral where Winslow believed the Ripper was a member of the congregation. Strangely enough, there was a film made in 1971 (Hands of the Ripper) which had its climax in St Paul's.

The Police found Winslow annoying, vexatious and his claims worthless. It has been conclusively shown that he substantially altered his "evidence" in his own favour. His reliance on such fabrications generally discredit his theories among modern researchers. Harris (The Bloody Truth.... , pp.37-46) refers to Winslow as "the first Ripperologist to become corrupted by the case."

See also Fido, The Crimes...., p.183-185.

See also Appendix One.

(9) George Lusk was the president of one of the Vigilance Committees patrolling the Whitechapel streets. This Committee, formed on 10 September 1888 in The Crown public house, Mile End Road, announced to the press that members would be available every morning in The Crown to receive information or suggestions from the public. Incidentally, Lusk was a Freemason (Doric Lodge).

(10) Harris (The Bloody Truth... , pp.25-26) is convinced this was all a horrible hoax.

(11) We must be careful not to mould suspects to fit the profiles. It was once generally assumed that the sexual serial killer possessed a Christie-like personality: Middle-aged, unobtrusive, pedantic and pernickety, outwardly prudish, henpecked or a bachelor.

Yet Albert De Salvo (the Boston Strangler) was young, imaginative, reasonably personable and with an insatiable sexual appetite. His 13 murders were the high point of a total of 2000 sex crimes. See Fido, The Crimes... , p.179.

(12) It is normal for files dealing with serious crimes to be closed for 75 or 100 years. But it is interesting that the Files should be closed in 1892. Why so late after the murders stopped? As for the missing files, the same is true of those on Crippen. Someone in the 1920s went through the files of the most notorious cases and apparently simply purloined some as souvenirs. In 1987 some of the Crippen and Ripper files were returned anonymously to Scotland Yard.

(13) Stowell, a staunch Royalist, had later regretted the furore he had caused by denouncing the Duke of Clarence as Jack the Ripper and retracted much of his original statements shortly before his death. It is likely that his son was imply protecting his father's memory rather than being involved in any conspiracy or cover-up.

(14) Fairclough argues that the Files were initially taken by police who were non-Masons and who wished to preserve the truth. The Files were later recovered and destroyed by Freemasons among the police force.

(15) Even modern authors have substantially altered the facts to suit their perceived audience. Colin, Damon and Rowan Wilson, in the popularised book on .gaslight murders. (p.111), write that Mary Kelly's heart was found where it "had been placed on the pillow." In fact, her heart was never found. One theory is that the murderer burned it to ash in the fireplace where a fire had been so hot as to melt a kettle.

(16) The first full-length English work on the subject, The Mystery of Jack the Ripper, was not published until forty-one years after the murders. It was by Leonard Matters, an Australian-born journalist working in England.

(17) This is a pseudonym used, by common agreement, by at least three authors.

(18) There is some doubt whether Walter is, in fact, Joseph's father. See later comments.

(19) William Tufnell Le Queux (1864-1927) had published Things I know about Kings, Celebrities and Crooks in which he claimed he had documents found among Rasputin's effects that stated that Dr Alexander Pedachenko was not only a member of the Ochrana (the Russian Secret Police) but also Jack the Ripper with the assistance of Levitski (a friend) and Miss Winberg (a tailoress).

(20) see Jean Overton's Sickert and the Ripper Crimes.

(21) The BBC research for The Ripper File conducted by Paul Bonner, Leonard Lewis, Karen de Groot, Ian Sharp and Wendy Sturgess was outstanding and is an excellent collection of abridged factual reports and statements pertaining to the case. But the introduction of Freemasonry by Sickert/Knight tended to lower all this to an unintended level.

(22a) Eddy was also known as "Collars and Cuffs" by the newspapers from the high starched collars he wore to conceal his "swan-like" neck and his liking for showing more than the usual length of shirt cuff.

(22b) So, it appears Joseph is illegitimate and carries the name Joseph Gorman Sickert. Knight explains these infidelities by claiming Gorman was impotent. But Alice and William Gorman had five children between 1921 and 1927 - one of whom was Joseph. The question must be asked, "Was Walter really Joseph's father?" or is all of this just a fantasy?

(23) A raid did actually take place in Cleveland Street - but it was seven months after the death of Mary Jane Kelly and it was made to close down a homosexual brothel operating from #19.

(24) Oddly enough, Eddy actually later wanted openly to marry a Roman Catholic - the Princess Hilhne d'Orleans, daughter of the Comte de Paris. He was dissuaded from doing so by Lord Salisbury who pointed out the social upheavals such a marriage would cause.

(25) Tingsten, pp.138-139.

(26) Sickert's studio was actually at 15 Fitzroy Street, not Cleveland Street. Knight simply moved the studio to match his story and Fairclough has followed suit with this fiction without checking.

(27) Fairclough has done sufficient research to discover both Gull and Warren were not members of Royal Alpha, but passes this off with the view that they "may simply have been regular visitors."

(28) One Freemason did come to the attention of his superiors when his "extra curricular" Masonic interests seemed borderline. But this was nine years after the murders ceased.

Dr William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925) came to London in 1889 after a career as a country doctor. He became a coroner for Central London and finally retired from public life in 1918. In 1921 he went to Durban, South Africa where he died four years later. Although a regular Freemason and a leading member of the SRIA, Westcott had a love of fringe societies especially the Isis-Urania Temple of the Golden Dawn in the Outer or, more commonly, "The Order of the Golden Dawn" which he, G. Samuel Liddel Mathers (1854-1918) and Dr William Robert Woodman (1829-1891) had formed in 1887-1888.

Westcott and Mathers devised the Order's rituals and liturgy allegedly from secret Rosicrucian cipher manuscripts. At its height, the society numbered approximately 200 members and became influential in certain artistic circles in the 1980s when its membership included Algernon Blackwood, W.B. Yeats, Constance Wilde (wife of Oscar) and Florence Farr (actress and lover of Yeats and Shaw).

One reason for suspecting Westcott and the others was a spurious claim that the Ripper murders were ritual sacrifices. Ellic Howe has written that, at the time of the murders, the Society was "nothing more than a kindergarten for would-be occultists." In 1897 the authorities had threatened to eject Westcott (who have written sixteen books on the occult) from public office due to his membership of The Golden Dawn. He immediately left the order and severed all ties with his former colleagues. Probably just as well, for The Golden Dawn turned somewhat nasty. In 1898, Aleister Crowley joined and the Order turned to demonic magic, but far removed from ritual murder. Mathers' most aggressive magical act was to baptise a number of dried peas with the names of his enemies in order to shake them fiercely in a sieve. On the other hand, Crowley baptised a frog "Jesus Christ," flogged it and crucified it.

(29) Of course, there are a number of other authors who are rabidly anti-Masonic. Hoffman believes that "in pursuit of their 'perfect creation' a cabal of Masonic conspirators has long sought to manipulate history and control the world. One means of achieving this control involves ritual killing of occult significance and there was none better at it than the infamous Whitechapel Nightstalker Jack the Ripper. Ripper victims were mutilated in fashions perfectly matching statements made by the three murderers of Hiram Abiff, Master Mason who built the Temple of Solomon."

Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell have suggested Montague John Druitt who committed suicide in the Thames in December 1888 was, in fact, killed by the Freemasons as a scapegoat to take the heat off the real killers. Druitt was on Sir Melville Macnaghton's short list of suspects.

Howells and Skinner (page 165) also postulate Druitt was killed, but to protect the members of the Cambridge Conversazione Society ("The Apostles") which had been formed in 1820, but, by 1888, had become a homosexual, semi-mystical organisation of which the Duke of Clarence was among the prominent members.

(30) In 1888 a 72-page tract was published by John Francis Brewer under the title of "The Curse upon Mitre Square" which is listed in some Ripper bibliographies as pertinent - but you be the judge!

(31) See Sugden, pp. 109-111.

(32) Ripperana #9 (July 1994) carried the disturbing intelligence that modern-day Neo-Fascists are exploiting for propaganda purposes the suggestion that Jack the Ripper was a Jew. The same article also points out that Dr J Macata believes all the victims were Irish and were members of the International Workingmen's Educational Club.

(33) Arnold was well aware of Warren's paranoia on civil unrest. On 13 November 1887 there had been a mass demonstration of the unemployed in Trafalgar Square. Warren called in the troops to clear the mob and extraordinary violence erupted during which one man died and 300 injured.

While The Times praised his actions, the other newspapers condemned Warren for "Bloody Sunday." He finally resigned on the night of Mary Kelly's death (no connection). Warren was certainly concerned that there may be an outbreak of anti-Semitic violence if the writing implicating the "Jews" found so close to a Ripper murder site became public knowledge.

(34) Fairclough (p.67) accepts this, but argues that Sir Charles Warren was deeply interested in Masonic history and well-versed in the Hiramic legend and therefore knew these earlier words. On what basis he makes this statement about Warren's interest in Masonic history is unknown - probably on the basis that Warren was instrumental in the founding of Quatuor Coronati Lodge. But he never elaborates.

There is an intriguing suggestion that the word (hand written and with so many upright slashes to form the U and W) was not JUWES, but JUIVES - French for "Jews."

During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there was a non-standard use of the English language and many words were spelt phonetically. Entries in the University of Michigan Dictionary of Middle English relating to the spelling of "Jews," include JUISE, JUWYS and JUYSE, together with the Goulston Street version of JUWES. Ripperana, #8 (April 1994) points out that JUWES can also mean "a judicial sentence," "punishment," "Damnation," "Pain," "Torment," "Judgement," and "Justice," all of which, are highly intriguing in the context of the Masonic connection and the Hiramic Legend.

(35) Begg, "...The Uncensored Facts," p.128. It is tempting to ask if the writing ever had anything to do with the Ripper crimes. Police Constable Alfred Long (who had joined the Metropolitan Police in 1884 and was dismissed in 1889 for being drunk on duty) discovered a piece of Catharine Eddowes bloody apron at 2:55 am on 30 September 1888 in Goulston Street. On the wall above was the words we have discussed. How long they had been there and whether, in fact, they ever had anything to do with Jack the Ripper is highly debateable.

(36) Following the publication of the first letter's contents (which introduced the nom de plume "Jack the Ripper"), the various newspapers and the police received over a thousand notes, letters, cards. Some were still being received as late as 1963.

(37) See "Murder by Degree - A Literary Ripper?," by Andy Aliffe.

Phil Wilshire in Ripperana #15 (January 1996) reports that he has applied the standard 1880s Fenian code in an attempt to decipher the Goulston Street Graffito. This involved moving each letter once back down the alphabet so the idiosyncratic word JUWES becomes ITVDR, which is an anagram for DRVIT. Ahem!

(38) Yes, but the left leg was also skinned. I have recently read an inventive new theory regarding Mark Kelly. You will recall that Kelly was the only victim who was killed in-doors. She was also so extensively mutilated that a clear identification must have been difficult. And therein lies this novel idea... that it was NOT Mary Kelly whose body was found and it was NOT the Ripper who "disguised" her death.

Mind you, Fairclough is not the first to enter the realms of inventiveness with the death of Mary Jane Kelly. At the time of her death, photographs were reportedly taken of her eyes in the belief prevalent at that time that those suffering violent demise retained the image of their murderer on/in their eyes after death.

(39) It must be said that Catharine Eddowes was also known as "Mary Ann Kelly" and it is possible (just) that the Ripper killed the wrong person if, indeed, his ultimate target was the Mary Jane Kelly who died in Miller's Court. In support of this is the fact that the murders generally attributed to the Ripper ceased after the slaughter of Mary Jane on 9th November 1888.

Macnaghten postulated that the Ripper had killed himself after the total breakdown evident in the utter butchery of Mary Jane Kelly in the Miller's Court room.

(40) It is now a well-established fact, that Stephen Knight deliberately rejected much of his research when it did not fit his "theory" of Masonic involvement in the Ripper murders.

(41) Harris "..The Bloody Truth," p.95

(42) Some of the stories generated in the Whitechapel Club were that Jack the Ripper was a cannibal and, on another occasion, that he was an English doctor aided and abetted by an American policeman.

(43) The 1979 film, Murder by Decree, is, of course, directly based on Knight.s fantasies. But the Ripper, although based distinctly on Gull, is called "Spivey" in the film.

(44) Abberline was an Inspector in H Division for fourteen years from 1873. In 1888 he was promoted to Inspector First Class and retired on a full pension in 1892. He later worked as a private enquiry agent and for Pinkerton's Detective Agency. In 1903 he is supposed to state his belief that the Ripper was Severin Klosowski who had then just been convicted under the name of George Chapman of the poisoning murder of three women with whom he had lived as de facto husband.

(45) Harris "The True Face...," p.184.

(46) Fairclough, p.95

(47) "Victims of Jack the Ripper," True Detective, January 1989, pp.49-51.

Apart from these anomalies in the text, there is a problem in confirming the authenticity of these diaries (including that of "James Maybrick"). There is very little difference between Victorian iron-gall blue-black ink and modern permanent blue-black ink. Unused or partly-used notebooks from the period are readily available at auction.

(48) Walter once told his friends that he had once stayed in a lodging room previously occupied by a consumptive veterinary student whom the landlady believed to be Jack the Ripper. See Sitwell.

This inspired Marie Belloc-Lowndes to write The Lodger (New York 1911, London 1913) which, in turn inspired two plays, at least five films and a two-act opera.

(49) This is claimed to have been the case with Elizabeth Stride in spite of the fact that autopsy showed she had not eaten grapes for several hours before her death.

(50) Sickert's Impressionistic style makes it possible to imagine all manner of images which are not necessarily there. This was his painting style long before the murders started.

"Sickert's titles... are not unfathomable, although sometimes arbitrary and naughty. Their motivation was to cock a snoot at the fashion for denying the anecdotic content of art which had been instigated, in England, by Whistler with his abstract titles - harmonics and symphonies and so on. Sickert deliberately harked back to the Victorian fashion for giving pictures titles suggesting a story (When did you last see your Father? for instance). The only difference is that Sickert began his representations for purely formal reasons and only when faced with the finished work did he think of a title which seemed to fit..." Dr Barron, cited by Howells and Skinner p.49.


Nichols: Eddy staying with Viscount Downe at Danby Lodge, Grossmont, Yorkshire.
Chapman: Eddy at the Cavalry Barracks, York.
Stride/Eddowes: Eddy dining with his Grandmother, Queen Victoria, at Abergeldie, Scotland.
Kelly: Eddy staying at Sandringham.

Eddy as Jack the Ripper was proposed in 1970 by Thomas E.A. Stowell ("Jack the Ripper - A Solution?," Criminologist, November 1970). Stowell was a member of Corubia Lodge and a Royal Arch Freemason. So Knight's convoluted logic is that Stowell dare not point a finger directly at Gull (a fellow Freemason who was allegedly seen in Whitechapel), so he built "quaint clues" into his famous article. So Knight finds "The inescapable conclusion is that Stowell, in making a deliberately inaccurate statement about a man who had never been publicly mentioned in connection with the Ripper, was in fact accusing that man."

(52) At the present time, none of the murder sites exist in their original form. George Yard is now Greenthorpe Street; Bucks Row is Durwood Street; Flower and Dean Streets have ceased to exist; Berner Street is Henriques Street and Dorset Street now Duval Street. The Ten Bells Pub was briefly renamed, "Jack the Ripper" until women's liberationists objected and it reverted to its original name.

(53) page 16.

(54) And Spitalfields/Whitechapel was a ready-made hunting ground for such an avenger.

The area was one grim slum. In 1888 it was estimated that, in Whitechapel alone, there were 233 common lodging houses, accommodating 8,530 people. Sanitation was inadequate, unavailable or unused through ignorance. In the Whitechapel area there were 62 houses known to be brothels and probably a great number of other establishments used more or less intermittently for such purposes. the number of prostitutes in the district was estimated to be 1,200, but the number is probably far higher. Many women resorted to casual prostitution from time to time.

Note also that the murderer in the 1926 Hitchcock film The Lodger leaves a note pinned to his victims signed "The Avenger."

(55) An unfortunate proportion of the H Division files were destroyed by German bombing raids in the Second World War.

Related pages:
  Dennis Stocks
       Dissertations: A Beginner's Guide to Freemasonry 
       Dissertations: Leo Taxil and Anti-Masonry 
       Dissertations: Russian Freemasonry 
       Dissertations: The Anti-Freemason Movement 
       Dissertations: The History of Freemasonry 
       Press Reports: Star - 31 October 1888