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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.

William Grant Grainger

Grainger was caught by the police in March 1895 in the Spitalfields area, after he had inflicted a 1 inch wound on prostitute Alice Graham's abdomen, after a quarrel over the price of her services. Her wound was considered serious, though not life threatening. He told the police that she was being extortionate. Sentenced to ten years imprisonment, he was released in 1902 after serving seven.

The newspapers seized upon the fact that a prostitute had been attacked with a knife and began the inevitable speculation that Grainger might be Jack the Ripper.

An Australian newspaper, the Port Philip Herald 12 February 1895 reported, JACK THE RIPPER CAUGHT RED HANDED, the report read, 'A notorious assassin seized by the police while mutilating a woman, the police confident. The London police are of the opinion that at last they have got safely under lock and key the long sought after assassin known as Jack the Ripper, whose series of atrocious murders and mutilations, principally at Whitechapel, extended over a period of years. At an early hour, about 2 o'clock this morning, a quick succession of piercing screams were heard by Constables on duty in Butler's Street, Spitalfields, and several of them ran at once to the spot whence the sounds proceeded . The first Constable to arrive was just in time to catch a dark stalwart looking man stooping over a young woman, who was lying on the pavement and struggling for her life. Armed with a long knife, the man was cutting and hacking at the unfortunate woman in merciless fashion. The assassin was smartly seized and disarmed, and on being taken to the police station gave the name of Grant, and his occupation as a ships fireman. The woman, who was terribly wounded and is not likely to recover, is of the unfortunate class'.

His own solicitor, Mr Kebbel, let it be known that Grainger had admitted he was Jack the Ripper, but had died in prison. In a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette, Kebbell wrote, 'Jack the Ripper was not a Jew, but an Irishman, educated for the medical profession, and for reasons disowned by his relatives. This man was caught in the very act, in an alley in Spitalfields'. In 1910 L Forbes Winslow issued a denial of this claim, agreeing with Mr Kebbel that Grainger had trained as a medical student and had sunk to the position of fireman on a cattle boat, but knew Grainger could not be Jack the Ripper, as he did not fit with what he had discovered about G. Wentworth Bell Smith, whom was his favoured Ripper candidate.

William Grant Grainger was born in Cork in 1860, and in 1883 joined the Cork City Artillery, but was dismissed in 1889 as being of bad character. He spent the next few years wandering back and forth between Cork and London, and it is claimed that while he was in London he frequented the company of loose women, and was frequently robbed and cheated by them. In 1891 he spent a month at Banstead asylum, Surrey, and also spent time in prison for drunkenness. At the time of his arrest he said he was working as a fireman on a cattle boat, though could not identify any ship he had served on.

A story appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette dated 7 May 1895, which reported that Grainger had been unhesitatingly identified by the one person whom the police believe saw the murderer with a woman a few moments before her mutilated body was found. If the witness was Joseph Lawende, he told the police in his original statement that he had only noticed the man's height, and did not think he would recognise him again. It is therefore curious as to why he was expected to identify him several years later.

Grainger, in his favour as a Ripper suspect, did possibly have some medical training, he did attack a prostitute with a knife, and may have held a grudge against them on account of him being frequently robbed and cheated by them. Against him being the Ripper, is the gap of some seven years between the last Ripper murder in 1888, and the attack on Alice Graham in 1895. Graham was also allowed to scream out, which differed from the method of attack by Jack the Ripper.

It is not actually known if Grainger was even in London in 1888, he may well have been in Cork. In the 1901 census he was listed as a convict in Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight.

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Related pages:
  William Granger
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 8 May 1895 
       Press Reports: El Siglo XIX - 9 May 1895 
       Press Reports: Hawaiian Gazette - 8 March 1895 
       Press Reports: Port Philip Herald - 12 February 1895 
       Press Reports: The Two Republics - 9 May 1895 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 28 March 1895 
       Ripper Media: Recollections of Forty Years