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 Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide 
This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.

John Davidson

Davidson came to the attention of the police as a possible Ripper suspect, after a story appeared in the press entitled, The Cabman's Shelter Incident.

On the 1 October 1888, John Davidson walked into the cabman's reading rooms at 43 Pickering Place, Westbourne Grove, West London, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, and spoke to Thomas Ryan, who was in charge. After complaining of the cold weather Davidson asked if a chop could be cooked for him, which Ryan agreed to do with pleasure. While waiting for his meal to be prepared, several cabmen, who were in the shelter at the time, began talking about the Whitechapel murders. Ryan looked directly at Davidson and said, 'I'd gladly do seven days and seven nights if I could only find the fellow who did them'. Davidson, looked directly at Ryan, and asked, 'Do you know who committed the murders', before calmly declaring, 'I did them'. Ryan, a teetotaller, believing Davidson must be recovering from drink proceeded to give him a talk on the folly's of alcohol, before requesting that Davidson sign the pledge book, which he dually did, signing the name J. Duncan and giving his occupation as doctor. After signing the pledge book, Davidson said, 'I could tell a tale if I wanted', before relapsing into semi-somnolence.

Davidson's real name was in fact John George Donkin, he was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, in 1853 and had trained as a doctor, he had also been married, but was now divorced. In 1881 he served two terms of imprisonment in Newcastle prison for assaults upon women. Ryan described Davidson as 5ft 6"tall, round headed, wearing an Oxford cap with a thick moustache, but no beard, with clean white hands, wearing a light check Ulster and a tippet buttoned to his throat, which he did not loosen. Ryan said, 'Davidson looked like he was capable of putting forth considerable energy when necessary'. The police, at first believed they had a strong suspect, due to the fact that Davidson had trained as a doctor, therefore had the requisite anatomical knowledge, and had a prison record for assaults upon women. When questioned, Davidson gave a satisfactory account of his movements on the dates of the murders and was cleared.

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