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Proof of Innocence?

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  • Proof of Innocence?

    Ever since Irving Rosenwater published his research into Druitt's cricket career in 1973 we have been aware that he played cricket in Canford, Dorset on 1 September 1888, one day after the murder of Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols. Researching the British Newspaper Archive I have found that Druitt was also playing cricket in Blandford, Dorset in a match between that town and the Isle of Purbeck on 30 August 1888, the day before Polly was killed. The following appears in The Blandford Weekly News published on Saturday 1 September 1888:

    “CRICKET:--Blandford v. Isle of Purbeck—
    The return match between these clubs took place on Thursday in the Blandford Recreation Ground, and proved a decisive victory for the visitors, the home team entirely breaking down before the bowling of Druitt, who took seven wickets for three runs in 10 overs. Subjoined are the scores:
    BLANDFORD
    H. Thurston, b. Druitt………………….0
    E.H. Thurston, b. Druitt………………..2
    A. Foot, b. Oakley………………………..1
    R. Smart, b. Druitt………………………..1
    E.O Richards, c. and b. Druitt………..5
    A. Littlewood, not out………………….4
    A. Harenc, c. Hunt, b. Oakley………..7
    Rev. D. Peirce b. Druitt…………………0
    A. Daniell…………………………………………0
    J.C. Swinburne-Hanham, b. Druitt……1
    G. Smart, b. Oakley………………………….0
    Extras………………………………….4
    25
    ISLE OF PURBECK
    L. Pike, c. Hanham, b. Peirce………………..8
    S. Spencer-Smith, c. E. Thurston, b. Peirce…5
    M.J. Druitt, c. Harenc, b. Foot…………………….21
    E. Bankes, not out……………………………………..8
    S. Nash, run out…………………………………………4
    A. Laing, c. Littlewood, b. H. Thurston……………0
    A. Bankes, st. Haslam, b. H. Thurston…………….4
    S. Oakley, run out………………………………………..0
    G. Upward, b. H. Thurston………………………….0
    W. Swinburne, b. H. Thurston……………………….4
    H. Hunt, run out…………………………………………….4
    Extras……………………………………9
    62”

    I have a copy of the image but unfortunately, I couldn't get it to upload! The article is available on the British Newspaper Archive for anyone who is interested.

    At 3.40 am on Friday 31 August 1888 in Bucks Row, Whitechapel Charles Allen Cross discovered the body of Nicholls who had last been seen alive at 2.30 am. From this, I would have to say that it was highly unlikely that Druitt could have made it to Whitechapel on time to murder Polly Nichols if he was playing cricket in Dorset just hours before. First, Blandford is around 117 miles from London, and from looking at train timetables from the period to reach London a commuter would have to travel first to Bournemouth then change at Brockenhurst before catching the train to London. This would mean that by going to Blandford, Druitt would be travelling even further from the murder site that day. Also, the journey from Bournemouth to London Waterloo took a little over four hours. After that, anyone wanting to reach Whitechapel would have an additional 54-minute walk, so this journey would take around 5 hours in total. Of course, by the time the game of cricket wound up, he may not have been able to get to London in time to commit a murder as these games can go on well into the evening!

    In my opinion, it seems highly implausible Druitt would spend an entire day travelling to and from Blandford to play cricket, then leave the match early to travel to Bournemouth in time to drop off his things, get changed and spend 5 hours travelling around 120 miles from Bournemouth to Whitechapel to commit a murder and then spend the next morning travelling home again and then play cricket again the following day. I hope this is of interest to everyone.






  • #2
    That was a pretty low scoring match.
    Six wickets for Druitt not seven! And the highest number of runs. A bit of an all rounder.
    A bit odd that he played for the Isle of Purbeck, which is a distinct yet very attractive part of Dorset.
    Are there other examples of his playing for Purbeck?
    I can't remember.

    Canford was near Wimborne.

    But from Blandford on 30th, after the close of play, Druitt would have had to get back to Wimborne, drop his togs, then get to London, then onto Whitechapel and murder Polly Nichols by about 3.40 am - avoiding being seen by Lechmere, and PCs Neil, Thain and Mizen.

    It pretty much totally unravels the Druitt theory at a stroke of the cricket bat.

    Good research. Excellent in fact.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think his train journey would have been something like.
      Blandford to Wimborne
      Wimborne to Brokenhurst
      Brockenhurst to London

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Joanna View Post
        Ever since Irving Rosenwater published his research into Druitt's cricket career in 1973 we have been aware that he played cricket in Canford, Dorset on 1 September 1888, one day after the murder of Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols. Researching the British Newspaper Archive I have found that Druitt was also playing cricket in Blandford, Dorset in a match between that town and the Isle of Purbeck on 30 August 1888, the day before Polly was killed. The following appears in The Blandford Weekly News published on Saturday 1 September 1888:

        “CRICKET:--Blandford v. Isle of Purbeck—
        The return match between these clubs took place on Thursday in the Blandford Recreation Ground, and proved a decisive victory for the visitors, the home team entirely breaking down before the bowling of Druitt, who took seven wickets for three runs in 10 overs. Subjoined are the scores:
        BLANDFORD
        H. Thurston, b. Druitt………………….0
        E.H. Thurston, b. Druitt………………..2
        A. Foot, b. Oakley………………………..1
        R. Smart, b. Druitt………………………..1
        E.O Richards, c. and b. Druitt………..5
        A. Littlewood, not out………………….4
        A. Harenc, c. Hunt, b. Oakley………..7
        Rev. D. Peirce b. Druitt…………………0
        A. Daniell…………………………………………0
        J.C. Swinburne-Hanham, b. Druitt……1
        G. Smart, b. Oakley………………………….0
        Extras………………………………….4
        25
        ISLE OF PURBECK
        L. Pike, c. Hanham, b. Peirce………………..8
        S. Spencer-Smith, c. E. Thurston, b. Peirce…5
        M.J. Druitt, c. Harenc, b. Foot…………………….21
        E. Bankes, not out……………………………………..8
        S. Nash, run out…………………………………………4
        A. Laing, c. Littlewood, b. H. Thurston……………0
        A. Bankes, st. Haslam, b. H. Thurston…………….4
        S. Oakley, run out………………………………………..0
        G. Upward, b. H. Thurston………………………….0
        W. Swinburne, b. H. Thurston……………………….4
        H. Hunt, run out…………………………………………….4
        Extras……………………………………9
        62”

        I have a copy of the image but unfortunately, I couldn't get it to upload! The article is available on the British Newspaper Archive for anyone who is interested.

        At 3.40 am on Friday 31 August 1888 in Bucks Row, Whitechapel Charles Allen Cross discovered the body of Nicholls who had last been seen alive at 2.30 am. From this, I would have to say that it was highly unlikely that Druitt could have made it to Whitechapel on time to murder Polly Nichols if he was playing cricket in Dorset just hours before. First, Blandford is around 117 miles from London, and from looking at train timetables from the period to reach London a commuter would have to travel first to Bournemouth then change at Brockenhurst before catching the train to London. This would mean that by going to Blandford, Druitt would be travelling even further from the murder site that day. Also, the journey from Bournemouth to London Waterloo took a little over four hours. After that, anyone wanting to reach Whitechapel would have an additional 54-minute walk, so this journey would take around 5 hours in total. Of course, by the time the game of cricket wound up, he may not have been able to get to London in time to commit a murder as these games can go on well into the evening!

        In my opinion, it seems highly implausible Druitt would spend an entire day travelling to and from Blandford to play cricket, then leave the match early to travel to Bournemouth in time to drop off his things, get changed and spend 5 hours travelling around 120 miles from Bournemouth to Whitechapel to commit a murder and then spend the next morning travelling home again and then play cricket again the following day. I hope this is of interest to everyone.




        That's very interesting.

        Sugden questioned whether Druitt spent any of that Summer vacation in London, on the basis that a Druitt (though not necessarily Montague) had played for Bournemouth at Salisbury on 22 August and that MJD played at Canford on 1 September.

        If he was at Blandford on 30 August too, it's extremely difficult to believe that he would gone back to London for one day between those two matches, even if it would have been chronologically possible.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Joanna


          very interesting, excellent find!

          I agree it’s unlikely that Druitt would dash away from a rural cricket match and travel well into the night in order to kill. But I’m sure some the assumptions you make could be challenged by Druittists or others.
          Such as: would Druitt necessarily have travelled to Blandford on the day of the match? He could have gone the day before or earlier.
          Was the match played in the evening? Could it not rather have been a day event?
          Could Druitt not have gone directly to London, where he had chambers, I believe, rather than through Bournemouth, perhaps with some other conveyance than train or by going first by coach via another train station?

          I’m not knowledgeable about how cricket clubs travelled back then, nor how easy it was to find transportation to and from whatever train lines were running in that area. I’ve no doubt it would have been, as you describe, an arduous journey.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think you misunderstand Kattrup.

            Cricket was played in the daytime into the early evening.
            Usually followed by socialising - drinking and eating.

            Whether or not Druitt travelled to Blandford that morning is irrelevant. It is what he could have done afterwards which is if significant.

            The match was on 30th August - ending late afternoon at best.
            He had to be able to get to London that night, in order to have been able to commit the murder in the early hours of the next morning.

            That meant at least three trains. Two on small, irregular rural lines.
            He had to also get home dump his cricket gear and change.
            Even if he changed at Blandford and took his stuff with him to London, it is still three trains.
            Where did he leave his stuff? At his room at Blackheath? A Barrister's Chambers is a workplace not a late night wardrobe for cricket gear.

            Coaches would have been infinitely slower.

            Then he had to rush back to play cricket again on 1st September.

            Comment


            • #7
              It would be interesting to see the timings worked out with the help of an 1888 timetable.

              Comment


              • #8
                What Time was sunset on the 31st of August and what was the weather like? Both factors would affect the time the game finished. As a suspect Druitt is very doubtful anyway.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sunset would almost certainly have been after the close of play.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is very significant. Well done, Joanna!
                    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


                    • #11
                      Thanks, Joanna. I had thought this match had been played on September 6th by what was reported in the Western Chronicle on Friday September 7th, but the Blandford Weekly clearly shows that that was not the case. This will certainly pose a significant challenge to the Druitt theorists.

                      The only slight hesitancy I have is that the Chronicle refers to him, rather oddly, as 'Rev. M. J. Druitt." MJD had cousins named Melville and Mayo, but neither was a clergyman---one was a solicitor, and the other a student at Oxford, so, the wrong occupation aside, I do not know who else this could be but MJD.

                      The Rev. M J Druitt-- solicitor, doctor, clergyman--take your pick. A man of mystery.


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                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Excellent work, Joanna. You've turned up a real nugget here.

                        Yours truly,

                        Tom Wescott

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post
                          It would be interesting to see the timings worked out with the help of an 1888 timetable.

                          I'm not saying it is plausible, but provided "the Rev. Druitt" made it from Blandford to Wimborne by 6:30 p.m., there was a 6:43 train to Salisbury, arriving at 8.24 p.m.

                          From there, quickly switch trains and go from Salisbury to Waterloo Station, departure time 8.34 pm, arrival 11.41 p.m. He only has a ten-minute layover, so it's tight.

                          Other than that, I think Joanna is correct in saying that he would have to backtrack from Blandford to the Bournemouth West train station and take the 'direct,' arriving in London at midnight. But I don't know the local timetables out of Blandford, so I can't say what this would entail. By March 1888 there was an express from Bournemouth to London that was advertised as only two and a half hours.

                          As I say, it is not necessarily plausible, but I remember there was an MP on the Parnell Commission in 1889 who traveled from London to Bournemouth every night, returning in the morning--I know because his colleagues made political hay out of it.


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                          • #14
                            Good find Joanna.

                            With those scores that game could have been over in 3 hours or less. If it began at 11.00 it could have been over by 1.00 or even just before giving Druitt over 12 hours to get to Bucks Row. I don’t see a knockout blow here.
                            Regards

                            Michael🔎


                            " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post


                              I'm not saying it is plausible, but provided "the Rev. Druitt" made it from Blandford to Wimborne by 6:30 p.m., there was a 6:43 train to Salisbury, arriving at 8.24 p.m.

                              From there, quickly switch trains and go from Salisbury to Waterloo Station, departure time 8.34 pm, arrival 11.41 p.m. He only has a ten-minute layover, so it's tight.

                              Other than that, I think Joanna is correct in saying that he would have to backtrack from Blandford to the Bournemouth West train station and take the 'direct,' arriving in London at midnight. But I don't know the local timetables out of Blandford, so I can't say what this would entail. By March 1888 there was an express from Bournemouth to London that was advertised as only two and a half hours.

                              As I say, it is not necessarily plausible, but I remember there was an MP on the Parnell Commission in 1889 who traveled from London to Bournemouth every night, returning in the morning--I know because his colleagues made political hay out of it.


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                              Thanks - that's interesting. To my mind, it seems very implausible that he would go back to London between those two matches in Dorset on 30 August and 1 September. Maybe we could say it was impossible if only we knew what time the match ended. I wonder if it was reported in an Isle of Purbeck newspaper?

                              I think the "Rev" must just be an error. I don't think there was another male Druitt with those initials. There is no other who would be alive at that date in the FreeBMD index.

                              Comment

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