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John George Littlechild


Born : Royston, Hertfordshire, 21 December 1847.

1867 : (18 Feb) Joins Metropolitan Police.

1871 : (11 Jan) Transffered to Scotland Yard.
           (23 Mar) Promoted to Sergeant.

1876 : Involved in investigating the Turf Fraud Scandal and arrested the ringleader William Kurr.

1878 : (8 Apr) Promoted to Inspector.

1882 : (3 Feb) Promoted to Chief Inspector. Involved in the investigation into the Phoenix Park murders.

1883 : Made head of Special Irish Branch.

1893 : Resigned from police possibly due to ill health. Continued to work as a private investigator.

1895 : Hired by the prosecution to gather more evidence against Oscar Wilde.

1906 : Investigated Harry Kendall Thaw an American playboy and suspected murderer.

1913 : (23 Sep) Writes a letter to G R Sims in which he names Francis Tumblety as a Ripper suspect.

The Littlechild Letter

In September 1913 Littlechild wrote a letter to the journalist G R Sims (The full text of this letter is available here).

Littlechild was obviously responding to an earlier letter that Sims had sent him and says that he has never heard of a Doctor D in connection with the Ripper murders. This is almost certainly a reference to Druitt since Sims was the journalist who had written that the Ripper was a doctor who had been fished out of the Thames. If this is the case then why had Littlechild never heard of Druitt? Macnaghton wrote his memorandum in 1894 which was the year after Littlechild had retired. This implies that the private information Macnaghton mentions was received by him shortly before he wrote the memorandum or it arrived by a route that circumvented Special Branch and Littlechild.

In his letter Littlechild goes on to mention a Doctor T (Tumblety) which he writes "to my mind" was a likely suspect. Littlechild is saying that amongst those suspected of possible involvement in the Ripper crimes the one most likely, in his opinion, to have been guilty was Tumblety. He is not saying that Scotland Yard had officially decided Tumblety was the Ripper or even their number one suspect.

Littlechild states that Tumblety was arrested for "unnatural offences" which is probably a euphemism for homosexual acts. He also says that Tumblety was thought to have committed suicide which of course he did not. Either Littlechild is lying to hide the fact that Tumblety had escaped back to America where he remained a free man or he is telling the truth as he believes it. If the latter then it suggests not much was done to track Tumblety after he jumped bail. Perhaps Littlechild has mixed up Dr T with Dr D as Druitt did commit suicide.

Littlechild's statement that Major Griffiths got his information from Robert Anderson is wrong. Griffiths was a friend of Macnaghton and his writings on the Ripper show that this was the source of his information i.e. his references to the Ripper being a drowned medical student/doctor. Littlechild was also wrong about Anderson only thinking he knew who the Ripper was as Anderson wrote that the identity was a definitely ascertained fact. It was Macnaghton who only thought he knew. This mix up is confusing as it implies that Littlechild knew about Macnaghton's suspicions, even if he ascribed them to Anderson, and yet he had never heard of Druitt.

As interesting as the Littlechild letter is no more weight should be attached to it than that attached to the Swanson Marginalia, Macnaghton Memorandum, statements by Abberline, Anderson's memoirs etc.


Begg, Fido, and Skinner. The Jack the Ripper A-Z.
Evans, Stewart and Paul Gainey. The Lodger

Related pages:
  John Littlechild
       Dissertations: A Mystery Play : Police Opinions on Jack the Ripper 
       Message Boards: John George Littlechild 
       Official Documents: The Littlechild Letter 
       Press Reports: Echo - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 4 January 1923