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Who Was the Body in the Thames?

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  • Who Was the Body in the Thames?

    Who Was the Body in the Thames?
    Was Montague Druitt a late addition to an already existing story?
    The story of the Ripper committing suicide in the Thames, soon after Millers Court, has a long history and it was in existence well before the unfortunate Montague Druitt was potentially named as a suspect. He has only been a ‘person of interest’ since his name appeared in Sir Melville Macnaghten’s Home Office memo dated 23rd Feb 1894, four years after his death. This memo was written in response to a series of articles that had appeared in a daily newspaper, ‘The Sun’ which claimed that the Ripper was held in Broadmoor hospital as a lunatic. As you all know, Macnaghten then named three people who he indicated were more likely to have been the Ripper. In the memo it was stated that:
    A Mr M. J. Druitt, said to be a doctor & of good family - who disappeared at the time of the Miller's Court murder, & whose body (which was said to have been upwards of a month in the water) was found in the Thames on 31st December - or about 7 weeks after that murder. He was sexually insane and from private information I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer.
    OR, in another (more detailed) version of the memo, believed to be Macnaghten’s personal notes,
    "a doctor of about 41 years of age and of fairly good family, who disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder, and whose body was found floating in the Thames on 31st December: i.e. 7 weeks after the said murder. The body was said to have been in the water for a month, or more…From private information I have little doubt but that his own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel murderer, it was alleged that he was sexually insane."
    As we know, both versions are riddled with errors. Druitt was not a doctor, he was only 31 years old etc., etc.
    For someone who was suffering from the above mentioned problems, Druitt was in court, doing a damn good job, at some point between Kelly’s murder and 3rd of December, when it is assumed he went into the Thames. Furthermore, he continued to be employed at Mr. Valentine’s School at 9 Eliot Place, Blackheath, until the end of the school term as late as November 30th, and continued to function in his role as Honourable Secretary and Treasurer of the Blackheath Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club – indeed, it was more than two weeks after his actual disappearance before he was removed from this latter post.
    Not bad going, for a sexually insane, mass murderer, who was suspected by even his own family!
    Now, let us look at the real body in the Thames story.
    Recently, on The O’Donnell Ms, Chapter 2 thread, I commented on a quote regarding the last of Major Griffiths’ trio of suspects, (which are the same as Macnaghten’s. Collusion anyone?) O’Donnell writes:-
    This story of the body dragged from the River Thames is an old legend which has grown up among others, gaining in romantic detail with the years.
    Sir Melville Macnaghten is more restrained in his claim as to knowledge of the Ripper’s identity. But he falls into the common error of declaring that “of course he was a sexual maniac;” later on, suggesting that, “he committed suicide on or about the 10 of November 1888 after he had knocked out a Commissioner of Police and very nearly settled the hash of one of Her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State.”
    …in spite of that knowledge, and in spite of his alleged suicide at the end of 1888, the police continued to detain scores of suspects for nearly a year afterwards. Why? - if in fact they knew that his body lay in a suicide’s grave, and that this man, who had struck terror into the hearts of the inhabitants of the East End was dead and beyond committing any more of his gruesome crimes? The very idea is unthinkable.
    The body dragged from the river was just a myth as so many official pronouncements on the Ripper crimes were proved to be; I say this with some assurance, for I spent days in the Newspaper Library of the British Museum at Colindale, going through the files of the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily News, Star, Pall Mall Gazette of the day together with numerous other papers, all of which devoted columns to the Ripper murders.
    If a body was dragged from the Thames, there must have been an inquest upon it; and, while the body of some unknown would probably not attract a great deal of attention, the mere suggestion that the body was that of Jack the Ripper would have been blazoned in the headlines on the front pages of every newspaper in the land. Not one single meagre report of the recovery of any body from the Thames resulted from my search.
    My comments at that time were:
    Body in the Thames (1)
    At one time, years ago, there was a story current that a body, supposedly that of a young doctor, was found in the Thames, tangled up in the wheel of a paddle steamer around 3rd December. The body supposedly had white make up on the face with blackened eyes. (Shades of Dr Holt.)
    This story has been trashed as journalistic invention, but not until the late 70's early 80's as far as I can remember. It could be possible that this is what Mr O'Donnell is referring to as not being able to find reference to.
    If this story had been around from an early date, even if only verbally, is it possible that Macnaughten also had heard it and used it in his memoir? The date is at least compatible with that.
    After a query from How regarding this story, I replied:
    Body in the Thames (2)
    I've found the origins of the story. It was originally reported in Edwin Woodall's book in the 1930's. (“Jack the Ripper: Or When London Walked In Terror” (1937). This was than picked up on by Howells & Skinner in 'The Ripper Legacy' (1987) then debunked by Melvin Harris in 'The Ripper File'.
    It seems to be based on the Dr Holt story, but with additions, possibly by Woodhall. Howells & Skinner were somewhat dubious, but suggested it might contain elements of M J D's story, as Woodhall was ex-CID, ex-Special Branch, and would have (may have) heard these rumours at work.
    Harris, of course, lived up to his reputation as the great debunker.
    Since then I’ve looked into the story more, because I wasn’t satisfied with my own explanations. The body in the Thames isn’t a myth, we know for example, that Monty was pulled out of the Thames. But as O’Donnell says, “If a body was dragged from the Thames, there must have been an inquest upon it; and, while the body of some unknown would probably not attract a great deal of attention, the mere suggestion that the body was that of Jack the Ripper would have been blazoned in the headlines on the front pages of every newspaper in the land.”
    This is exactly what happened with Monty – at the time his body was recovered, there was no suspicion of him being the Ripper. The only news reports were in the Acton, Chiswick & Turnham Green Gazette, Thames Valley Times and The Richmond and Twickenham Times locally and in The Southern Guardian, The Dorset Chronicle and The Hampshire Advertiser, which were Dorset local papers, where Druitt came from. None of the reports were particularly long or front page news. Even as a reasonably successful barrister, who had previously been mentioned in the broad sheets, the story never got further than the local press.
    More intriguing, how ever, is Macnaghten’s original assertion of a suicide on or about 10th Nov. The person he is referring to is in no way Druitt!!!!
    The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Saturday 27 July 1929
    Sir Melville Macnaghton, my late revered chief at Scotland Yard, gave it as his view that a certain incident which happened on the 10th November, 1888, might be the explanation. On that day a man, thick-set and swarthy, with medical training, obtained an interview with the Commissioner of Police and a certain Secretary of State. He knocked out the Commissioner of Police and nearly murdered the Secretary of State, then rushed out of the building into the purlieus of Whitechapel and committed suicide. The affair was hushed up because he was the son of a very exalted father!
    Quoted from Edwin T Woodhall’s book
    What we are seeing here is the origin of the body in the Thames story, the date being 10th November. Macnaghten had obviously been told this story after he took office, or, there was a written version on file. My own feeling is that it was a verbal ‘scuttlebut’ story, which eventually Macnaghten morphed into his claim of Druitt as Doctor in the Thames fabrication.
    Again, we must bear in mind Macnaghten’s statement, ‘The affair was hushed up because he was the son of a very exalted father!’ Whilst Druitt’s family were well to do local dignitaries, his father could hardly be described as ‘exalted’! In any case, William Druitt, Montague’s father, had been dead since 1885 and his mother by this time had been reduced to staying in a mental asylum.
    It has been commented that this is actually a ‘parable’ of the resignation of Warren and of his disagreements with Henry Matthews as a result of the handling of the JtR investigations. I think there is more to it than that, but more importantly, it is the first time that the Thames corpse is mentioned – well before Druitt came to the fore as a suspect. Remember we are looking here at 10th November, the date that Macnaghten originally stated as being the date the killer committed suicide. But also remember, Macnaghten was writing in Feb 1894, three years after the Cutbush case and six years after Kelly’s murder. The original story had obviously remained in his memory.
    To add more meat and support for the ‘Drown Doctor found in November’ story, the following news items are important, throwing some light on the origins of the story.
    Western Mail – Perth – 21st August 1924
    By ‘John Lester’
    From My Library Chair – P39
    On glancing through the volume, I was rather surprised to find that Mr, Pearce makes no mention at all of the series of Whitechapel tragedies, which occurred, if I remember right, somewhere about the end of 1888 and the beginning of 1899. I think the crimes committed by this arch-criminal totalled nine or thereabouts, and in each case the victim was a woman of a certain class.
    This ruffian, who was widely known under the engaging pseudonym of ".lack the Ripper," was never brought to justice. I recollect reading in a police journal some years ago that the identity of the man was discovered after he had committed suicide by throwing himself into the river Thames (subsequent to the commission of his latest atrocity) in the neighbourhood of Wapping Old Stairs, the site of Execution Dock, where pirates were "turned off" (to quote the immortal Mr. Denis), in the old days.
    I believe it was established that the murderer was a man of highly respectable antecedents and a person of very quiet and unassuming habits in his lucid moments. Of course, he was a homicidal maniac, and it was supposed that his condition had been brought about, or at least, greatly aggravated by a certain dreadful disease. Hence his ferocious and unreasoning animosity towards the whole class of unfortunate women from among whom he selected his victims.
    That he should ultimately have committed suicide is hardly wonderful, taking into consideration the tremendous revulsion he must have felt after regained a partial possession of his reasoning faculties after one of his hideous outbreaks of homicidal mania.
    Western Mail – Perth – 15 Dec 1927
    The World of Books (P 16)
    By ‘John Lester’ (reviewing From the City to Fleet Street – J Hall Richardson
    “…the body of a Russian medical student, who was known to be insane, was found floating in the Thames in the vicinity of Wapping Old Stairs. It is supposed that this Russian was subject to fits of homicidal mania – in the intervals between the attacks he has been described as a quiet, inoffensive young man – and it is possible that, recovering more quickly than usual after to prove his final frenzy, and overwrought by the horror of the diabolical crime he had just committed, he made his way direct to the river and flung himself into the water.
    This would put the suicide on or just after 9th November and involves a young doctor. It also puts a body in a more likely place than Chiswick. The next article quoted, again by John Lester, confirms a personal story that he wrote of in the first article.
    Western Mail – Perth – 20 June 1929
    The World of Books P 12
    By ‘John Lester’
    “…about a decade ago, when I was editing a police paper, I remember seeing in one of our exchanges – a London police journal – a short article, in which the writer stared that immediately after the last of the “Ripper” murders the body of a man which answered to the description of the supposed criminal was found floating in the river off Wapping Old Stairs, not far from the Whitechapel district where the crimes were committed; and it was tacitly assumed that, after the commission of his last murder, the assassin, moved to a pitch of intolerable frenzy, flung himself into the Thames.
    Again, this puts the suicide at or just after 9th November. These items back up the ORIGINAL Macnaughten statement of the body in the Thames on or about 10th Nov 1888. This is seven weeks before Monty surfaced, literally, and at least three weeks before he went into the Thames about six miles from Wapping!
    The truth of the matter is that the drowned doctor suited the needs of the police at the time. Many were convinced, and some still are, that the Miller’s Court murder was the final act of a man whose brain had finally snapped. A suicide immediately following that murder makes sense – he’s a doctor with medical expertise gone mad - and who then finishes himself off. Except for one small thing – Druitt was still well and truly alive and being left in charge of school children three weeks after this event. It’s also interesting that all three of Macnaghten’s suspects were either dead or incarcerated by the time the memorandum was written – perhaps a reflection on false 19th century ideas of the type of person the killer must be.
    A short note about the authors of the above. Edwin Woodhall was ex Special Branch, and although his book has been trashed as supposedly riddled with mistakes, I don’t see anyone dismissing the writings of Macnaghten, Anderson, et al also riddled with errors, so disparagingly! Woodhall, who had also worked with and admired Macnaghten, being SB would most likely have had access not only to police records, but also those of the SB, and as such would have been most likely to have seen any reports on this, had they existed. (Who knows, maybe they still do exist in the S B vaults!)
    J Hall Richardson was a well respected and highly thought of journalist cum criminologist, with many friends and associates in high places and from whom Richardson would have received private information, possibly more so than G R Sims.
    During after years I came into contact with all the police-officers engaged in the investigation and one or two of them on such intimate terms that I wrote their reminiscences, but from first to last I never heard any word which led me to suppose that the police had solved the mystery. I did find in the police records photographs of the last victim after the murderer had done his worst, and I can well understand why the authorities refused to allow reporters to that particular inquest.
    From the City to Fleet Street – J. Hall Richardson, 1927
    But there is one later version which appeared in rather an unexpected quarter, that is, in a paper published in the interests of wireless, The Radio Times (1924). Sir Basil Thomson, K.C.B., advocating broadcasting as a new detective force, said that the Jack the Ripper outrages are now believed by the police to have been the work of an insane Russian medical student whose body was found floating in the Thames immediately after the last of the outrages.
    I venture to say that if any reliance is to be placed on this story it is because Sir Basil Thomson had access to the records of Scotland Yard. I do not think he would have obtained them first-hand from any officer who was engaged in the investigation of the Whitechapel murders, as no officer who had the personal experience remained in the force at the time that Sir Basil Thomson was occupying his special suite of rooms at Scotland House, a building which did not, by the way, form part of New Scotland Yard.
    I, therefore, remain of the conviction that the police never knew and are never likely to know who actually was the Whitechapel murderer. The Commissioner at that time, Mr. Monro, was a great personal friend of mine, and I am sure that if he could possibly have given me the faintest clue he would have done so.
    From the City to Fleet Street – J. Hall Richardson, 1927
    I’m intrigued by John Lester, the compiler of the articles and especially the June 1929 article. His remarks on editing a police journal of some kind could be important if it is known which one it was. I have e-mailed the National Library of Australia to see if they can provide any information on the gentleman.
    The Vicar’s Dying Man’s Confession
    This story can easily be dismissed as referring to Druitt as after all the research carried out on him, no-one has found any evidence of Druitt being a ‘worker for the rescue of depraved women in the East End and that previously he had been a surgeon.’ – Lloyds Weekly, 22 Jan 1899 & the Weekly Standard and Express, 21 Jan 1899. The nearest the Druitt came to involvement was donating money to a charity appeal!
    G R Sims
    It is regularly stated that G R Sims, ‘Dagonet’ was privy to Macnaghten’s theory, but his writings do not bear this out. This is Sims on the vicar:
    January 22, 1899.
    There are bound to be various revelations concerning Jack the Ripper as the years go on. This time it is a vicar who heard his dying confession. I have no doubt a great many lunatics have said they were Jack the Ripper on their death-beds. It is a good exit, and when the dramatic instinct is strong in a man he always wants an exit line, especially when he isn't coming on in the little play of “Life” any more.
    I don't want to interfere with this mild little Jack the Ripper boom which the newspapers are playing up in the absence of strawberries and butterflies and good exciting murders, but I don't quite see how the real Jack could have confessed, seeing that he committed suicide after the horrible mutilation of the woman in the house in Dorset-street, Spitalfields. The full details of that crime have never been published - they never could be. Jack, when he committed that crime, was in the last stage of the peculiar mania from which he suffered. He had become grotesque in his ideas as well as bloodthirsty. Almost immediately after this murder he drowned himself in the Thames. his name is perfectly well known to the police. If he hadn't committed suicide he would have been arrested.
    Sims disposes of the vicar story in short order, above. His main thrust, however, is that JtR killed himself soon after Miller’s Court. Again, this points to a suicide close by around the 9th/10th November, which is what Macnaghten originally proposed or was told. How this can relate to Druitt is beyond all comprehension!!!
    February 16, 1902.
    The homicidal maniac who
    Shocked the World
    as Jack the Ripper had been once - I am not sure that it was not twice - in a lunatic asylum. At the time his dead body was found in the Thames, his friends, who were terrified at his disappearance from their midst, were endeavouring to have him found and placed under restraint again.
    Is there any evidence at all to show that Druitt had been committed to a lunatic asylum, even once? NO!!! As above, how this can relate to Druitt is beyond all comprehension!
    July 13, 1902
    The Lambeth Torso
    If the authorities thought it worth while to spend money and time, they might eventually get at the identity of the woman by the same process of exhaustion which enabled them at last to know the real name and address of Jack the Ripper.
    In that case they had reduced the only possible Jacks to seven, then by a further exhaustive inquiry to three, and were about to fit these three people's movements in with the dates of the various murders when the one and only genuine Jack saved further trouble by being found drowned in the Thames, into which he had flung himself, a raving lunatic, after the last and most appalling mutilation of the whole series.
    But prior to this discovery the name of the man found drowned was bracketed with two others as A Possible Jack and the police were in search of him alive when they found him dead.
    March 29, 1903.
    Writing about the George Chapman case.
    “Jack” was a homicidal maniac. Each crime that he committed was marked with greater ferocity during the progress of his insanity. How could a man in the mental condition of “Jack” have suddenly settled down into a cool, calculating poisoner?
    “Jack the Ripper” committed suicide after his last murder - a murder so maniacal that it was accepted at once as the deed of a furious madman. It is perfectly well know at Scotland Yard who “Jack” was, and the reasons for the police conclusions were given in the report to the Home Office, which was considered by the authorities to be final and conclusive.
    How the ex-Inspector can say “We never believed 'Jack' was dead or a lunatic” in face of the report made by the Commissioner of Police is a mystery to me. It is a curious coincidence, however, that for a long time a Russian Pole resident in Whitechapel was suspected at the Yard. But his name was not Klosowski! The genuine “Jack” was a doctor. His body was found in the Thames on December 31, 1888.
    It was 1903 before the suicide date changed from early November to a December date that supports Macnaghten and Sims is still pushing the canard that JtR was a doctor. How can any one take this as serious evidence that he knew anything?
    April 5, 1903
    But that several correspondents have forwarded me news cuttings, and that two or three newspapers have inserted letters questioning my statement, I should not have alluded to
    The Ripper Mystery
    again. It is argued that “Jack” could not have drowned himself in 1888, because there were murders in Whitechapel in 1891. The last of the Ripper series was the Miller's-court horror, which occurred on November 9, 1888. The East End murders of later years were not in the same 'handwriting.
    No one who saw the victim of Miller's-court as she was found ever doubted that the deed was that of a man in the last stage of a terrible form of insanity. No complete description was ever given to the Press. The details were too foully, fiendishly awful. A little more than a month later the body of the man suspected by the chiefs at the Yard, and by his own friends, who were in communication with the Yard, was found in the Thames. The body had been in the water about a month.
    In this article, Sims has pushed the suicide date back to early November.
    1906.
    The series of diabolical crimes in the East End which appalled the world were committed by a homicidal maniac who led the ordinary life of a free citizen. He rode in tramcars and omnibuses. He travelled to Whitechapel by the underground railway, often late at night. Probably on several occasions he had but one fellow-passenger in the compartment with him, and that may have been a woman. Imagine what the feelings of those travellers would have been had they known that they were alone in the dark tunnels of the Underground with Jack the Ripper!
    Some of us must have passed him in the street, sat with him perhaps at a cafe or a restaurant. He was a man of birth and education, and had sufficient means to keep himself without work. For a whole year at least he was a free man, exercising all the privileges of freedom. And yet he was a homicidal maniac of the most diabolical kind.
    How does this bear any relation to Druitt? He was working up to his death, yet according to Sims, who supposedly new the all from Macnaghten, JtR hadn’t needed to work for at least a year because of private means!!
    Sept. 22, 1907.
    The third man was a doctor who lived in a suburb about six miles from Whitechapel, and who suffered from a horrible form of homicidal mania, a mania which leads the victim of it to look upon women of a certain class with frenzied hatred.
    The doctor had been an inmate of a lunatic asylum for some time, and had been liberated and regained his complete freedom.
    After the maniacal murder in Miller's-court the doctor disappeared from the place in which he had been living, and his disappearance caused inquiries to be made concerning him by his friends who had, there is reason to believe, their own suspicions about him, and these inquiries were made through the proper authorities.
    A month after the last murder the body of the doctor was found in the Thames. There was everything about it to suggest that it had been in the river for nearly a month.
    The horrible nature of the atrocity committed in Miller's-court pointed to the last stage of frenzied mania. Each murder had shown a marked increase in maniacal ferocity. The last was the culminating point. The probability is that immediately after committing this murderous deed the author of it committed suicide. There was nothing else left for him to do except to be found wandering, a shrieking, raving, fiend, fit only for the padded cell.
    What is probable is that after the murder he made his way to the river, and in the dark hours of a November night or in the misty dawn he leapt in and was drowned.
    Do I need to make any more comments? There is no way on God’s earth that Sims is talking about Druitt. He seems to have had little information from Macnaghten. Again, he is saying JtR killed himself straight after Miller’s Court, which actually supports the news items I quoted above, saying that a body was pulled from the river at Wapping, and, more importantly, does nothing to support any claim that it was Druitt. There is more circumstantial support for this story by other senior police officers than for Macnaghten’s outrageous claim for Druitt. Even in 1917, he was pedalling the drown doctor who had been an asylum inmate story. In fact, a case could be made that Macnaghten did not keep Sims in the loop and in fact told him very little, as can be evidenced by Sims inaccurate facts and theories. To my mind this shows that even Macnaghten didn’t really believe his prime suspect was actually the Ripper.

    In order to understand Montague’s suicide, one must understand the position that he was in during the latter part of 1888. The death of his father in 1885 had damaged him in an emotional sense as much as a financial sense, being bequeathed only a very small percentage of his estate, while the bulk of it was left to the elder children and Montague’s mother. Though his barrister career continued on the up and up, his stable career was at Mr. Valentine’s school, where he had been since at least 1881, perhaps even a little earlier. In July 1888, his mother was sent to a mental asylum. Now, it can be reasonably supposed from what we know of Montague and the fact that his disappearance was not noticed for at least several days, that despite his heavy involvement in public life, he had not many very close associates. Many of his family members lived back in Dorset – essentially, his cricket and his work was his life. So when, for one reason or another, he left Mr. Valentine’s school at the end of November 1888, this was one of the links severed – his job of the past seven years was gone. The cricketing season had drawn to a close. Where was he to go from here? Perhaps he felt like a failure.
    The suicide could not have been over financial matters. At the time of his death, Montague was worth some 2,500 pounds, not including property – indeed, when his body was pulled from the Thames, he was found to have cheques totalling 66 pounds, plus some extra loose change.
    His suicide note tells the story: “Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die.” At the inquest into his death, it was said that he had been dismissed from Mr. Valentine’s, having got into “serious trouble,” yet it was not elaborated on what this “serious trouble” was exactly – this has led to speculation of abandoning his post on the nights of the Ripper murders, or even child molesting.
    The truth is that anything of this nature would require an inquest of their own – one needs not look any further than the Cleveland Street Scandal the very next year, when underage “rent boys” were paid for sexual favours to other man, including some of a very high social standing – it was an utterly scandalous affair. And yet, if Druitt was found to have been molesting children, nothing was said? Nothing was done?
    Likewise, the suggestion that Mr. Valentine discovered Druitt had been absent on the nights of the murders is a puzzling one. Mr. Valentine himself had ceased to be a permanent resident of his school back in 1886, leaving much of the duty to Druitt – clearly at that point he was considered a trusted employee, by fellow staff and students alike, or else such a role would never have fallen to him in the first place.
    Is it really just a coincidence that his “dismissal” fell on the very last day of the school term, November 30th? Should Mr. Valentine have been made aware of Druitt’s suspicious absences on suspicious nights, this was of course going back as early as August. Was nothing said until the end of November? Such accusations, should there be any truth, would be grounds for immediate dismissal. If Valentine harboured any thoughts of Druitt being the killer, why was this not the case? Surely we are not expected to believe that he would have said “I think you’re Jack the Ripper but you can stay on until the end of term and leave then.”? The fact that the two cheques found on Druitt’s body were valued at 50 pounds and 16 pounds respectively suggests the first was a payment for the preceding school term, the latter a payment in lieu of owed holiday leave when Druitt left – would such a full and complete payment be made to a suspected molester or murderer? No fines? No wages withheld pending investigation of neglect of duty? No, it seems as though Druitt and Mr. Valentine went their separate ways on friendly enough grounds.
    And then, why didn’t Valentine appear at the inquest into Druitt’s death? Why was he not called to elaborate on these circumstances? No, the “serious trouble” must have been something which occurred at the very end of the term – the discovery of a stash of alcohol, or pornography, amongst student dorms during routine clean outs, perhaps. Or even Druitt may have made the decision to leave the school on his own terms much earlier on, and regretted his decision when it was too late to change it. Common sense must be applied to the mystery of the end of Montague’s tenure at Mr. Valentine’s, and when it is, the realisation that it did not involve anything suspiciously Ripper-related is very apparent indeed.
    Something more puzzling is what was found on Montague’s body when he was recovered from the Thames – aside from the cheques and change, there was a return train ticket from Hammersmith. Clearly, a man who intends suicide is not going to be purchasing a return train ticket. Likewise, there appears to be no indication from family or associates that Druitt’s suicide was expected – no press report or document has yet been recovered which suggests that others suspected Druitt to be in a suicidal state of mind. The delay of a search by his brother William and the fact that he was kept on as Honorary Secretary for weeks longer, as previously mentioned, confirms this. Furthermore, it makes little sense for men who intend to suicide to carry cash with them both in cheque and change form. When his suicide note was discovered, it was said to be “amongst” other papers, as opposed to being where one would expect, in plain view….
    So it is that I theorise that Druitt did not fully intend to ‘do the deed’ when he left for Hammersmith. The theory standing is that he had been to visit his mother at Chiswick, but I believe there is more to the story than that. Though there is absolutely no evidence at all to back it up at this point, I theorise that in the moment of his utmost need in those first days of December, Druitt made the decision to go away from Blackheath for a while – he would live off the cheques and change found in his pocket in the meantime – and he would go and revisit an old friend, or perhaps more likely, a former lover. This person or people, when he arrived, shunned him or at the least he didn’t get the response he had hoped for – and for Druitt, this was the final straw, and he waited no longer to commit suicide. Again, I can’t back this up with any solid factual evidence, but it would certainly help to explain a few irregularities.
    Whatever the case, it is painfully obvious that the “mad doctor who committed suicide in the Thames following the Miller’s Court murder” was not Druitt. Macnaghten got his wires crossed when writing his memorandum, as he did on so many other occasions not just for Druitt but Kosminski and Ostrog as well – unfortunately this simple error has led to more than a century of speculation about Druitt’s involvement. Now, finally, the facts can speak for themselves.
    To finish, I would like to thank Adam Went for his time, contributions and encouragement in producing our defence of Montague Druitt. Good on Ya, Cobber!
    Dave
    "From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us."

  • #2
    Fascinating stuff, Dave and Adam! Thanks for posting it.

    It would be ironic if Kosminski, Ostrog, Druitt and perhaps even Tumblety were all used as pawns to protect (or provide protection against) this 'very exalted father' of the young Russian med student who was really believed to have been the ripper. He looks at first glance like a composite figure of all the usual suspects: the mad, foreign doctor with homicidal tendencies, except that none of the main names had actual medical qualifications or were known to be homicidal. That has always been one of the problems. So could it have been the other way round?

    Two snags struck me: if Sims wasn't thinking of Druitt at all, but this alleged Wapping suicide, immediately after Miller's Court, why did he mention a Dr. D to Littlechild? Could this have been the Russian's initial too? And there's no getting away from the words 'serious trouble' that were used in relation to Druitt's dismissal from the school.

    I do agree that Valentine appears to have let him stay until the end of the term and paid him accordingly, in which case he could hardly have been doing anything to seriously endanger the boys or the school. But if he had failed to tell Valentine about his legal work, for example, or it was beginning to take priority and adversely affecting his school commitments, that would arguably have been considered a serious enough matter for Valentine to say it's career decision time - the school or the law. Or we come back to the depression, and he was simply beginning to crumble under the pressure.

    Love,

    Caz
    X
    I wish I were two puppies then I could play together - Storm Petersen

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello Dave

      With due respect, I wonder at the usefulness of quoting those Australian newspaper stories from the 1920's. It would seem to me that the stories might just be corrupted versions of the Druitt story picked up from articles that had appeared in the British press, many of them versions of the "drowned doctor" tale told by Sims, only now the stories have got mixed up with other Russian doctor stories such as the Pedachenko tale told by LeQueux.

      To give your interesting investigation credence, I do think that the "drowned man" story would be likely to be one of those theories about what became of Jack the Ripper that would be told to explain the apparent sudden end of the worst of the murders. So, yes, I do agree with you that the story could have pre-existed Macnaghten writing about Druitt in the memorandum. It just seems logical that it would have been one of those stories that people would have been ready to believe.

      All the best

      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/.

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      • #4
        Hello all,

        Dave, this is fascinating indeed, and nicely put together.
        I have to agree with Caz on one point... the use of patsies to cover up the real name. When I first saw Sugden's demolition of Ostrog's candicacy I knew that there would be VERY little point mentioning the man unless he was a stand in.. a name that was nowhere near Whitechapel, and thought of the other two, in exactly the same light. There is no logical reason for Ostrog, and no evidence either. Likewise, no police record of Kosminski nor Druitt, no violence against females, and MM talked of "homocidal maniacs"?... these three were certainly NOT homocidal maniacs based on their backgrounds. One a theif, one a naughty teacher/barrister, the other that was anything but a known homocidal maniac. So.. easy.. all three are patsies.

        Now, to get to the rub. The Russian medical student. It surely must be time for a hungry search through any archive imaginable to find this man. (if no stone method hasn't already been done..)
        However, see below...is THIS man also a patsy?

        As far as Aussie newspaper reports, I would rather rely on them than on nothing at all. Like Trumblety, notice the similarity? In the USA, Tumblety all over the newspapers. In Australia? Russian medical student. In the UK? Neither. Patsy No. 5?

        Really liked this Dave. Well done. Grey cells woke up again. Many thanks.

        best wishes

        Phil
        from 1905...to 19.05..it was written in the stars

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        • #5
          Hi all,

          Thanks for taking the time to wade through our missive.

          Caz,

          I hadn't thought on the lines of pawns as such, more grabbing at straws to deflect from Cutbush. I do find myself agreeing with your paragraph one.
          Personally, I think Dr D was dropped to Sims as a sop, possibly to stop his continual asking for info, and to flesh out the pre existing body in the river story.
          MM states in his memoirs, "...he committed suicide on or about 10th November 1888." So he (MM) conflates the two stories to get a name for JtR.

          As regards Monty's illness, I incline to the worsening of his illness, perhaps worsening breakdowns in the classroom or staff room? Something on the lines of "There, there Old Chap, get your self off for a good, long rest. Don't worry, we'll sort everything out here!"

          Chris,
          The Australian material was used because it was the author, John Lester's own reminiscences, which support the early (10th Nov) suicide story which MM trotted out (see above quote). They are supported by Hall Richardson and Sir Basil Thompson in their own books.
          With regard to explaining the sudden end of the Ripper murders, the story would seem to have been in circulation long before anyone could come to this conclusion, although I agree it is a story that people would want to believe. It presses all the buttons with regard to Victorian understanding of this special kind of insanity.

          Phil,
          The place the search needs to start are the Thames River police records for Nov 1888, if they still exist. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to carry out this kind of in depth research. I've tried all sorts of parameters in Gale's, but so far no luck.

          Anyway all, thanks for all the interest and comments.
          Dave
          "From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dave James View Post
            Phil,
            The place the search needs to start are the Thames River police records for Nov 1888, if they still exist. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to carry out this kind of in depth research. I've tried all sorts of parameters in Gale's, but so far no luck.
            Or else reports of coroner's inquests like the one on Montague John Druitt conducted in Chiswick by coroner Dr Thomas Bramah Diplock on 2 January 1889.

            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


            • #7
              Caz:

              Monty had been carrying on with his legal work throughout his time at Mr. Valentine's, and indeed, when he was called to the bar in 1885 and rented chambers at King's Bench Walk, George Valentine was still a permanent resident at his school. It was not until the following year, 1886, that he ceased to be there full time, and thus Monty was often left in charge - so clearly, despite his increasing focus on his legal career, Valentine saw it was unnecessary to post somebody else in place of Druitt, or stay on more frequently at the school himself. Whatever Druitt's condition might have been by the latter part of 1888, in 1886, it's fairly obvious that there was nothing to suspect that he was spiralling downhill in any way, or was not giving the attention to his work at the school which was required.

              It could even have been that after working for Valentine for several years, he had become a favoured member of staff and his slight lapses due to his other work were somewhat overlooked for the sake of keeping him on - if, however, when the end of term in November 1888 came, something was found which was a massive no-no - like alcohol or pornography in the possession of some of the students - this would have been looked upon more unfavourably and a dismissal would have been unfortunate but necessary. It surely has to be the most plausible explanation for why the dismissal coincided exactly with the end of the term.

              Anyway, may have more to add later, but for now, thanks to everybody for their comments regarding our little dissertation - all the hard work was Dave's though so full credit to him for getting the project up and running and onto the boards.

              Cheers,
              Adam.

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              • #8
                Dave & AW :

                That's one hell of a job you two gents have put together. Thanks for putting it on the boards.
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                • #9
                  Hi Chris,

                  I agree entirely with your post except that the search dates need to be from 10 November 88, to find support or otherwise for MM's original story.
                  Dave
                  "From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dave James View Post
                    Hi Chris,

                    I agree entirely with your post except that the search dates need to be from 10 November 88, to find support or otherwise for MM's original story.
                    Yes of course. Although MM, for all that people think he was authoritative, made a mish-mosh of the facts, so saying the killer did away with himself right after the last murder is of a piece with the hash that he makes with everything he says about Druitt.

                    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
                      November 9th ( after the Kelly murder) until December 3rd is a hell of a long time for someone of whom it is claimed to have lost his marbles after committing that murder and then snuffing himself...to first contemplate and then perform self destruction...at least I think so.
                      I believe the claim would have infinitely more validity had the man, any man, committed suicide as it is suggested...after the murder.
                      But Druitt obviously...lived 3 1/2 weeks afterwards.

                      What prevented Druitt from carrying out a suicide after the Eddowes murder ? Between the Eddowes and Kelly murders is a six week gap. Up until that point in time, it was the worst of the lot...or at least as bad as Chapman's, if you get my drift....
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                      • #12
                        Hi Dave, all

                        “…about a decade ago, when I was editing a police paper, I remember seeing in one of our exchanges – a London police journal – a short article, in which the writer stared that immediately after the last of the “Ripper” murders the body of a man which answered to the description of the supposed criminal was found floating in the river off Wapping Old Stairs,
                        I did come acrss one death, at Wapping in Nov 88 but haven't much detail at present
                        Lloyd's November 25th 1888
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                        • #13
                          Leave it to you to find something encouraging Debs ! Nice find.
                          The tattoo ( despite the initial "D" ! ) gives me the impression that this fellow wasn't a doctor.
                          In any event, that's a very nice find Debs...and thanks for putting it on the boards.

                          XX
                          HB
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                          • #14
                            Hi all,

                            Chris, re your assessment of MM, this quote from D O M L says it all:

                            "Crime and Criminals had a weird fascination for me at a very early age. I used always to take away the sixpenny catalogues and study them deeply, with the result that I really remember the details of the murders committed by J. Blomfield Rush, the Mannings, Courvoisier, Palmer, the Rugeley poisoner, and their contemporaries, better than those of many of the cases which came before me at the Yard in quite recent years."

                            Debs, great find! It's stories like this that could be the basis. It doesn't really matter if it was a Russian doctor or a Japanese sushi chef, as long as there is a body to transfer the guilt to. It's the Victorian 'it has to be a foreigner to commit a crime so horrible, but if he is English, he has to be mad and suicidal.'

                            How, you make a good point. Personally, I don't think JtR did kill himself, but as Chris pointed out, suicide is convenient. But remember:

                            What people believe prevails over the truth. - SOPHOCLES
                            Dave
                            "From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us."

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                            • #15
                              Hi Dave

                              From the beginning the Ripper case was partly truth and grim bloody murder and mutilation but also partly fantasy and make-believe. We can see this in the episode regarding Leather Apron, whether the idea of a blood-thirsty Jewish artisan had its origins as a police theory of the case or was a theory concocted by the press, as seems likely. The case became almost immediately part melodrama and part an actual ongoing series of crimes. The introduction of the Ripper letters, again whether written by the murderer which might be doubtful or written on behalf of the murderer by the press or other busybodies, also lends a melodramatic aspect to the story. The theories as to why the murders were committed and as to what became of the Ripper are equally partly myth and fantasy. Thus we have the insane doctor theory, the ideas such as the one that he did the murders because a prostitute had infected him with syphilis, or that he did away with himself because the murders had driven him mad.

                              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/.

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