|11-29-2006, 11:14 PM||#1|
Researcher and Writer
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tulsa, Ok. USA
D'Onston & the 'Dear Boss' Letter
Below are two excerpts from my 2004 essay 'Have You Seen the Devil: D'Onston & the Ripper Letters', which appeared in Ripperologist magazine. These two excerpts pertain to the possibility that D'Onston wrote the Dear Boss letter and Saucy Jacky postcard. I want to stress that I do not necessarily believe he wrote them and am only theorizing. Following this post will be another with a new update.
The ‘Dear Boss’ letter and ‘saucy Jacky’ postcard (received Sept. 27th and Oct. 1st, 1888)
Text (letter): ’25 Sept 1888 Dear Boss, I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha.ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work. then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck. Yours truly Jack the Ripper Dont mind me giving the trade name (written below, at right angles) wasn’t good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it. No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now ha ha’
Text (postcard): ‘I wasnt codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip. you ll hear about saucy Jacky s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldnt finish straight off. Had not time to get ears for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again Jack the Ripper’
That D’Onston had a strong penchant for exotic pseudonyms is a matter of record; aside from his popular alias, Dr. Roslyn D’Onston, monikers such as ‘Tautriadelta’, ‘Sudden Death’, and ‘Dr. Death’, pop up in his writings, often as by-lines, serving the same purpose as ‘Jack the Ripper’ served the ‘Dear Boss’ letter – to elicit a certain reaction from its reader. Being a student of linguistics and having spent time in the states, D’Onston would likely have been familiar with the ‘Americanisms’ present in the ‘Dear Boss’ letter (i.e. “boss”, “fix me”, etc). As shown above, D’Onston can be linked, albeit tenuously, to the source material for the ‘Openshaw’ limerick discovered in a book prominently featuring the character ‘Jack the Tinker’, which clearly could have inspired the legendary name that made its debut with the ‘Dear Boss’ letter. I have always felt as though the underlining of the word ‘right’ in the letter was meant to mock the prevalent, though incorrect, theory that the Ripper was left-handed. If so, then an argument could be made that only the killer could have been so certain, yet we have on record through Vittoria Cremer’s memoirs that D’Onston was adamant on the killer having been right-handed. From the statement given the police by George Marsh, accusing D’Onston of the Whitechapel murders, we know that D’Onston showed Marsh his release papers from the London Hospital, with Dr. Morgan Davies’ signature forged over D’Onston’s own; the signature was in red ink and was apparently revealed to Marsh with the suggestion that it proved Davies was the Ripper – the signature must have borne a resemblance to the handwriting on the well-publicized letter and postcard. Marsh correctly surmised that D’Onston was throwing a red herring his way and set about trying to capture D’Onston’s own handwriting. From this evidence we know that D’Onston possessed not only red ink (not remarkable in itself) but the scruple deficiency necessary to forge or hoax a document with the intention of misleading, and most significantly he possessed the ability to mimic styles of writing other than his own, namely that of the publicized Ripper letters.
As a journalist, D’Onston would certainly have known to send his missives to the Central News Agency to be distributed amongst numerous newspapers and maximize the potential for coverage. In comparing D’Onston’s handwriting (from his police statement) to that of the ‘saucy Jacky’ postcard, certain similarities are evident, many letters and words appearing identical, despite the fact that two different writing implements were used. The hastily written postscript on the ‘Dear Boss’ letters is identical to the seemingly rushed postcard, though the body of the letter bears almost no resemblance to either. As the letter was dated a full two days prior to its receipt, it is generally agreed its author labored over its style and content, rendering any comparison to a suspect’s known hand useless. D’Onston’s handwriting bears a closer resemblance to that of the ‘saucy Jacky’ postcard than does that of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, its known predecessor.
In early December, 1888, only one month following the Ripper’s last stand, Whitechapel buzzed with the noisome chatter of journalists from all corners of the globe. Yet, despite his enviable vantage point at the London Hospital, D’Onston fled the East End to live just north of Trafalgar Square. What could have prompted a journalist with such a keen interest in the murders to suddenly leave the area? It has been suggested that Roslyn the Ripper had completed his reign of terror and had no reason to remain in the area. However, what if the sudden move was one of necessity, not choice, brought about by too much attention from authorities? Consider the following report from the December 30th edition of the Pall Mall Gazette:
‘…a gentleman who has for some time been engaged in philanthropic work in the East-end recently received a letter, the handwriting of which had previously attracted the attention of the Post-office authorities on account of its similarity to that of the writer of some of the letters signed ‘Jack the Ripper’. The police made inquiries, and ascertained that the writer was known to his correspondent as a person intimately acquainted with East-end life, and that he was then a patient in a metropolitan hospital. It is stated that on an inquiry at the hospital it was discovered that the person sought had left without consent or knowledge of the hospital authorities, but that he has been subsequently seen, and is now under observation.’
It is difficult to imagine that the suspect described in this report was anyone other than Roslyn D’Onston: both had recently resided in and fled a metropolitan hospital (D’Onston left London Hospital on Dec. 8th, and as a self-administered patient, would not have required his doctor’s approval to do so); both men were corresponding with men who have “for some time been engaged in philanthropic work in the East-end” (D’Onston was at the time corresponding with Pall Mall Gazette editor, W. T. Stead, had edited sermons for the Reverend Alex McAuslane, and, in 1886, unsuccessfully applied for the Secretaryship of the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage); both men were familiar with life in the East-end; both had roused suspicion with handwriting that resembled that of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter (that the article refers to this letter and its companion postcard there can be no doubt, as they were the only identified ‘series’ of letters at the time that had been widely distributed in facsimile form; Marsh’s statement makes it clear that the signature of ‘Dr. Morgan Davies’, forged by D’Onston in red ink on his release papers, resembled the ‘Dear Boss’ letter enough as to prompt Marsh to manipulate D’Onston into providing a sample of his handwriting); both men had been recently “seen” by the police (D’Onston had willingly gone to the Scotland Yard only four days before this article was published, and made a statement indicting Dr. Morgan Davies of the Whitechapel murders; George Marsh had named D’Onston as the murderer only two days before and it is likely an investigation would have followed shortly thereafter).
Keeping the above in mind, let us consider the following statement written by W.T. Stead in 1896 as an introduction to articles by D’Onston published in Stead’s quarterly, Borderland: ‘He has been known to me for many years. He is one of the most remarkable persons I ever met. For more than a year I was under the impression that he was the veritable Jack the Ripper; an impression which I believe was shared by the police, who at least once had him under arrest; although, as he completely satisfied them, they liberated him without bringing him into court.’ Stead’s words, “…who at least once had him under arrest…” are quite telling, as they imply first-hand knowledge on Stead’s part that D’Onston had been investigated in connection with the Ripper crimes, and suggest that he is aware, though not personally certain, of a second arrest (D’Onston informed Cremers that he had, in fact, been picked up twice for questioning). As D’Onston’s employer, it makes perfect sense that Stead would have been questioned about him, especially if he was the ‘East End philanthropist’ mentioned in the article, though this need not have been the case; thus his qualified assertion that D’Onston had “at least once” been arrested should not be dismissed.
|11-29-2006, 11:24 PM||#2|
Researcher and Writer
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tulsa, Ok. USA
As can be seen from the above, as well as various other posts from myself on the matter at Casebook and jtrforums.co.uk, I thought it very possible that W.T. Stead could have been the recipient of these letters sent from the mysterious 'metropolitan hospital' patient (assuming, of course, the patient was D'Onston). However, it appears it was not Stead after all. While going through my D'Onston/Ripper letter notes this evening, I came across something I'd compiled at some point since publishing this article. I can't even remember finding this article, but I must have, because there it is. I had completely forgotten about this little snippet until now, but it seems to refer to the very same incident and identifies the recipient as a 'clergyman'.
The City Press 12/19/88
THE RECENT MURDERS.
It is stated that the City police are making searching inquiries into what they regard as "the most important clue" yet obtained. The clergyman at the head of one of the metropolitan missions received a letter from a man who had attended the services conducted by him, but whom he had not seen for some time. The letter was in three different styles of writing, but it has been proved that it was penned by the same hand, and the interesting fact is that it most minutely tallies with the writings on the post-cards which were circulated by the police. The letter was first of all taken to the Scotland-yard authorities, and all the attendant circumstances explained, but, owing to the many false scents they are put upon, the matter was not taken up. The letter was then submitted to the detective department of the City police, and, after carefully considering the matter, Mr. McWilliams [sic], who has the case in hand, said, as mentioned in the opening, that it was the most important clue they had as yet received.
From the description of 'the clergyman at the head of one of the metropolitan missions', we should be able to narrow down the recipient to at most a few names - Barnett and Barnardo immediately come to mind. This certainly does not take D'Onston out of the frame as the mysterious writer, since he was researching his 'Patristic Gospels' book and obviously corresponded and even worked for various reverends before and during this time. But, assuming this information is correct, it would remove W.T. Stead from the equation, although IF D'Onston were pulled in on investigation of this 'most important clue', he no doubt would have dropped Stead's name in a heartbeat and Stead would have been sought out as a reference of character.
|11-30-2006, 06:31 AM||#3|
Proprietor & Researcher
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Southeast Pennsylvania
1. Thanks a million for going to the trouble of putting this thread together
2. The "clergyman" you are thinking of wouldn't be Reverend MacAuslane,would it?
You do understand how the "anonymity" of this particular letter mentioned first in the Sunday Times and then in Stead's paper would be considered recognizable,status wise, if the author of the letter was deduced to be:
1. A patient in a nearby metropolitan hospital
2. Stephenson,by the description above from previous collaboration
If you do,then you now see why I felt Stead was not the recipient of the letter mentioned on Dec. 31st.
Which brings up the creepy question of why Stephenson would send MacAuslane ( or,in total objectivity,any other clergyman he may have met for assistance in the undertaking of the Patristic Gospels ) an anonymous letter with the recipient knowing full well that Stephenson was in the hospital. In other words,if the text,handwriting,or idiosyncrasies of this letter did not indicate Stephenson was the culprit....then what did? Something had to indicate Stephenson and the Hospital,not Stephenson alone.
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