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Is Openshaw Letter linked to 'From Hell' letter?

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  • Is Openshaw Letter linked to 'From Hell' letter?

    Have these been compared? What, if so, is the general consensus - that they may or may not have been penned by the same hand?

  • #2
    Hi, Patrick. Before your question falls off the end of the line-up I thought I would do a little research. I always thought the Openshaw letter and Lusk letter felt like they had similarities but because I don't have much faith in the letters being clues, I never explored the possibilities.

    So far I have not found Openshaw and Lusk on the same page. (The search function here will not accept both names at once.) I did bump up a couple old threads about the Openshaw letter because there are some great posts there. A quick takeaway is that the Openshaw letter seems to be poetic in nature.
    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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    • #3
      I believe the connection is featured in the documentary pinning Australian Frederick Deeming as Jack the Ripper. They claim through handwriting analysis that the Openshaw letter and Lusk letter were written by the same hand.

      In the Deeming documentary, they also did a DNA test on the saliva under the stamp of the Openshaw letter. The idea here is that any DNA recovered from the Openshaw letter would connect any suspect to the Lusk letter as well--and by extension, the kidney too.

      The Openshaw letter DNA was determined to belong to a woman. In the documentary, they suggest it may have been a female clerk at the post office who placed the stamp there. So, they basically wave away this evidence and suggest it was still likely Deeming who could have penned both letters. However, I have often wondered if the DNA belonged to Amelia Pourquoi (alias Demay). Presumably, the data from that original DNA test may still be around. I think it would be valuable to check that genetic data against any descendants or living relations of Amelia Pourquoi Demay. If it's a match, then one could assume that Charles Le Grand may be behind the Lusk kidney and Openshaw letter. Worth a shot.

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      • #4
        All of which brings the half a kidney into the equation. Was it Kate Eddowes' kidney or a medical specimen? Personally, based on allotted time and difficulties the killer encountered with that murder, I am really leaning toward Trevor Marriott's belief that the kidney was not removed by the killer but was excised later in what passed for a mortuary.

        My point is, the letters could be by the same hand but unless DNA could point to a killer, we would not get any farther along in discovering JtR. (Though it is said the kidney was kept in a jar of spirits for many years, it is also said it was discarded in about the 1950s because it had disintegrated. That was right before the barest concept of DNA was invented.)
        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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        • #5
          Thank you, Anna and Justin

          Another mystery within a mystery!

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          • #6
            The Nov 2004 issue of Ripperologist had an article where the Openshaw letter was looked at. The article showcased the ending of the letter:

            O have you seen the devle
            with his mikerscope and scalpul
            a lookin at a kidney
            with a slide cocked up



            That ending was compared with a passage taken from a little known fable called Duffy and the Devil which read like this:


            Here's to the Devil,
            With his wooden pick and shovel,
            Digging tin by the bushel,
            With his tail cock'd up!



            The Ripperologist article explained that Duffy and the Devil appeared prior to 1888 in a book entitled Popular Romances of the West of England.

            Anna mentioned on Post Two of this thread that the Openshaw letter seems to be poetic in nature. I think it's possible that the author of the letter was influenced by the poetic writing in Duffy and the Devil. The first person to compare the letter with that old fable was a student who had been studying English folklore in school. The student posted his thoughts about it on the Casebook message boards many years ago.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
              ...I am really leaning toward Trevor Marriott's belief that the kidney was not removed by the killer but was excised later in what passed for a mortuary.
              Not to derail the actual subject of this thread, but I would point out that the Golden Lane mortuary, unlike the workhouse shack in Whitechapel, was state-of-the-art for it's time. There is a contemporary sketch, I posted years ago here or on CB, of Eddowes under close guard.
              Best Wishes,
              Cris Malone
              ______________________________________________
              "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

              Comment


              • #8
                It turns out that the verse from Duffy and the Devil dated back more than 17 years prior to the Whitechapel murders. Roger Palmer emailed me to say that the May 1871 issue of The Dublin University Magazine quoted that verse. It is supposedly a "Cornish song".

                Thank you for your input, sir. I personally would not have thought of looking into the May 1871 issue of that Dublin magazine !

                Roger's email also mentioned that Patricia Cornwell argued that Sickert stayed in a pub in Cornwall in the 1880s and made doodles in the guest book which resembled similar doodles in some Ripper letters. Was she aware that the inspiration for the "Openshaw" verse may have originated in Cornwall?

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                • #9
                  Hi Joe - I don't recall what the Ripperologist article states, but Robert Hunt's book Popular Romances of the West of England , that featured the folktale 'Duffy and the Devil' was first published in 1865. It was six years later that the same verse appears in The Dublin University Magazine. Either way, the 'song' must have predated 1865 because Hunt was just an amateur collector of local legends and stories, etc.

                  The context of the Dublin University piece is this. The author is bouncing around Cornwall taking in the sights, etc, and following a wrestling match in Church Town, there is a night of drinking and singing at the local 'dancing room,' and this was among the songs the locals sang.

                  It's unclear if this means that the English version of the song was originally independent of the folktale, or whether it was always a part of it, but either way the locals in the 1870s could certainly recite it and sing it.

                  Anyway, if the verse is 'local' and somewhat obscure, it could give weight to the idea that the author of the 'Openshaw' letter had some familiarity with Cornwall.

                  Cheers.

                  Here's a link to Walter Sickert in a Cornish Pub, but be warned, the site has a lot of annoying pop-up ads.

                  When 'Jack the Ripper' stayed the night at a Cornish pub - Cornwall Live

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Patrick Kelley View Post
                    Have these been compared? What, if so, is the general consensus - that they may or may not have been penned by the same hand?
                    As Howard knows, he, Tom Wescott, and I have had conversations about the possibility that suspect Robert D'Onston Stephenson was responsible for both "From Hell" and the Openshaw Letter. See this thread from 2006: https://www.jtrforums.com/forum/pers...penshaw-letter

                    While I don't think Stephenson was Jack the Ripper, I view him as a busybody type who could have been capable of writing a Jack the Ripper letter or two. I find it highly suspicious that "From Hell"--otherwise known as the Lusk Letter--uses the word "prasarved" [preserved] while D'Onston also uses the term "preserved" in his letter to the City of London Police. See my article on Casebook that originally appeared in Ripperologist, "Letter from the Sickbed: D'Onston Writes to the Police" at https://www.casebook.org/dissertatio...tonwrites.html

                    Best regards

                    Chris
                    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We're now in 2021 and just like Ol' Man River, Chris keeps on rollin' along !

                      It's good to hear from you ,Chris. I hope you're making it through the cold winter ok. Thanks for the two web links you provided in your last post, and I will look at them both.

                      The Ripperologist article in the Nov 2004 issue (that I spoke on Post 6 ) explored into the possibility of Roslyn D'Onston Stephenson having written some of the Ripper letters, including the Openshaw letter. Tom wrote the article and in the text he shared some input from Chris. That input included Stephenson's request to the City Police that his letter be preserved until I am well enough to do myself the honour to call upon you personally.

                      Stephenson's use of the word preserved in that sentence is bit odd. And I can see how it may be somewhat tantalizing to researchers when that word is compared to the "prasarved" word in the Lusk Letter.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Been a while since I gave thought to old Sudden Death Stephenson....and I just read Chris's dissertation

                        I hate to seem dismissive of researcher Andy Aliffe, but in Chris's dissertation ( link in CG's post), D'Onston never served in Garibaldi's corps. I proved that last year with some documentation from a British archive ( on the boards in the D'Onston section).. Andy, it is claimed, provided information that D'Onston was a lieutenant in Garibaldi's army in 1860. That's incorrect. Read on :

                        https://www.jtrforums.com/forum/pers...ive#post541730

                        I doubt very seriously that either letter, Lusk or Openshaw, was written by Stephenson.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                          Been a while since I gave thought to old Sudden Death Stephenson....and I just read Chris's dissertation

                          I hate to seem dismissive of researcher Andy Aliffe, but in Chris's dissertation ( link in CG's post), D'Onston never served in Garibaldi's corps. I proved that last year with some documentation from a British archive ( on the boards in the D'Onston section).. Andy, it is claimed, provided information that D'Onston was a lieutenant in Garibaldi's army in 1860. That's incorrect. Read on :

                          https://www.jtrforums.com/forum/pers...ive#post541730

                          I doubt very seriously that either letter, Lusk or Openshaw, was written by Stephenson.
                          Hi Howard

                          I endorse your thinking that D'Onston was a fake and a wannabe. His change of name from Robert Donston Stephenson to Robert D'Onston Stephenson alone shows that. His attempt to insert himself into the police investigation might imply that he was capable of more mischief, such as hoaxing JtR letters, a source of perverted pleasure for many at the time.

                          Best regards

                          Chris
                          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                          https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You may be right, CG.

                            One reason that I'm ultra-skeptical of anything being attached to D'Onston in terms of the murders is that so much was invented about him in order to sell books.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I just finished reading the Ripperologist article that Chris wrote in 1999. Here are some thoughts about Andy Aliffe's linkage of Stephenson & Garibaldi.

                              I think it was Boris Karloff who once said that the thing he disliked about performing in movies is that if an actor makes a mistake that doesn't get edited out, then his mistake gets embalmed in film forever.

                              In a way, it's also like that when an article gets published in a periodical. You can write something, and then many years later additional facts become known that disproves what you previously wrote. But alas, your original published words remain embalmed in print. The Stephenson-Garibaldi connection that was written about in 1999 is an example of this.

                              I've written articles and publicly posted messages 15 years ago that I look back upon today and say, "Oh, I would now change this sentence and that sentence." New things get discovered over time and it alters your perspective on your original writing.

                              I remember when there were message board debates about Tumblety's final will that had shown he was a widower. A debate also ensued about the story of Tumblety, who at a young age, had wed a woman who he didn't realize was a prostitute. The argument went back and forth about whether or not this quack was ever actually married to a woman.

                              Then 10 years or so later, court testimony gets discovered that showed Tumblety to have been a hermaphrodite. His attorney in Baltimore, his young lover in New Orleans, and his undertaker in St. Louis all separately agreed on this point in three different courts. The old debate about whether Tumblety ever had a consummated marriage with a woman instantly became a no-brainer. Yet the old arguments remain on the message boards.

                              I guess I rattled on enough. Enjoy the President's Day holiday, America. I'm getting old, are we celebrating Washington & Lincoln, or is it Bush & Trump?

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