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Cutbush - Letters, Lusk and Syndicates

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  • Cutbush - Letters, Lusk and Syndicates

    A thread to discuss Letters, Lusk and Syndicates, with an eye to Cutbush but wandering at will to things related.....

  • #2
    I'm going to leave the posts in the Sept. letter thread, because they do touch on whether or not "jack" felt threatned by Lusk et al that earlier in the Case......but repost some stuff here.

    Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
    Chris, with all due respect, to you and the worthies you mention, you are all splitting a hair with a razor here.
    The poster that went up all over the East End of London on the morning of the 11th September 1888 made it quite clear that the Mile End Vigilance Committee, under the chairmanship of George Lusk, were determined to bring the Whitechapel Murderer to justice, by offering a substantial reward for information leading to his apprehension.
    Nobody is claiming that Lusk was personally 'hunting' down the killer or anything remotely as childish as that, simply that he, as the chairman of the MEVC, was personally involved in efforts to apprehend the killer using the reward method.
    Here is the poster once more:

    "Finding that, in spite of murders being committed in our midst, our police force are still inadequate to discover the author or authors of the late atrocities, we, the undersigned, have formed ourselves into a committee and intend offering a substantial reward to anyone, citizen or otherwise, who shall give such information that will bring the murderer or murderers to justice."

    Originally posted by Natalie Severn View Post
    Fascinating that piece from The Times......yes didnt they get "buckled" the tune of £250,000 ie before paying Parnell and before paying Millen-though his £20,000 may have come from the Treasury via Home Office "expenses".
    So Mr Buckle was the Editor of The Times? That again makes me think more towards Cutbush ,rather than one of the assassins of Phoenix Park or anyone Fenian link.
    From the letters I understand Thomas Cutbush wrote ,it seems to me he was a bit keen on going to the top.....letters to Lord Grimthorpe and The Treasury and various doctors and surgeons forming the significant part of his correspondence.Also returning to his linguistic abilities,the fact that he used both subject appropriate vocabulary and was able to make a formal English written address appropriate to the recipients of his letters, makes it seem quite possible that he would have read ,"The Times" and known the name of its Editor,Mr Buckle.
    So I think we can deduce with a fair amount of certainty that someone such as Cutbush "could" have used the word as a kind of amusing "pun" when he says,"I shant stop until I get buckled".
    On the other hand,we still dont know how commonly used it was in 1888
    so it could simply have been common usage.
    Also,although the letter seems cheeky and playful,it is a bit "over-egged"! Ofcourse,if it was written by a literate, middle class, oddball Londoner like Cutbush, he or she might well concoct this kind of 17th Sept "pigs ear" letter trying to pose as a semi-literate cockney!

    Some very intriguing findings Robert and AP,
    BTW Frederick Charrington ,one of the first and major contributers to the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee,did indeed do a pile of Fire and Brimstone tub thumping about the evils of prostitution, along with "mass" audience participation ,on the Mile End Waste every Sunday! I doubt Thomas would have missed it somehow,knowing his predilection for the fields,the open air and Mile End meeting places!


    • #3
      And some more.......

      Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
      Hi AP

      Well who is it who is splitting hairs? You have made up your mind that "syndicate" means the Vigilance Committee and that it was still going in 1891 when Cutbush was arrested but you might not be correct.

      Yes the committee met in the Crown public house in Mile End on 10 September 1888. But you and I both know how committees work. The members of any committee meet at intervals to decide on business at set locations. But are they there all the time? Of course they aren't -- they are there only when a meeting is called. The blokes who made up the Vigilance Committee were businessmen had local businesses to run. Besides it appears the Mile End pub wasn't the only place where the local Vigilance Committee met. I previously brought up the point about whether the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and the Mile End Vigilance Committee were one and the same entity and they may not have been.

      See the following re another meeting place:

      "The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee who have recently relaxed their efforts to find the murderer, have called a meeting for Tuesday evening next, at the Paul's Head Tavern, Crispin-street, Spitalfields, to consider what steps they can take to assist the police." Morning Advertiser, 10 November 1888.

      Thus obviously the Crown public house in Mile End was not the only place the committee met.

      Was the Vigilance Committee even in existence in 1891 when Thomas Cutbush was arrested?

      We know the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee was in existence in 1889 when Albert Bachert was chairman but as David O'Flaherty has discussed, it isn't clear whether it is the same group that Lusk headed. In fact it might not have been, because Bachert wrote to the Advertiser "As chairman of the last-formed [emphasis mine] Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, I have been questioned by a large number of people about this discovery [the Pinchin Street Torso]. (East London Advertiser, 14 September 1889).

      For you to claim the group was still going in 1891 and meeting at the Crown in Mile End and was known as a "syndicate" is not supported by any documentation, AP.



      • #4
        Stacking the pile neatly....

        Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
        Chris, your query about the MEVC and the WVC.
        I don't believe the Mile End Vigilance Committee was ever named as such, but rather throughout September of 1888 in the press was known as merely the 'Vigilance Committee'.
        The first report I can find where the same committee is then named as the 'Whitechapel Vigilance Committee' is in 'The Times' of October 1st.
        One imagines that the name change was brought about by the double event; and perhaps the need to show a broader response to the carnage.

        Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
        Yes, Natalie, it does raise some interesting thoughts; and Robert's quick memory about Thomas reading The Times makes it even more interesting.
        Yes, Chris, Robert is again right, the remark that Thomas made about the Mile End job is a supposed reference to a fracas that took place in and out of a pub in Mile End in the middle of September 1888, after which a woman gave a description of a man who is said to have very much resembled Thomas Cutbush.
        Like Robert, I too have problems with this at the moment, the least of which is the attempts made at the time to 'imagine' that the word 'syndicate' Thomas used was actually a reference to a 'synagogue' in the Mile End.
        From my understanding - and I'm sure I'll soon be put right if I'm wrong - there was only one Jewish synagogue in the Mile End in 1888 and this was the 'Mile End New Town Synagogue' located at 39 Dunk Street. The problem is that this was also the address of a Jewish sugar refiner called Schwier whose refinery was based there... interestingly he had three sons, all of whom were blind.
        Just down the road from the synagogue cum sugar refinery was 'The Three Crowns' public house; but whether this is the pub referred to in the Cutbush account I'm still not sure.
        There are a couple of reports out there on the incident but I'm beggered if I can find them at the moment.
        Should we perhaps move this debate of the letter in connection with Thomas Cutbush and his use of the word 'syndicate' to a Cutbush thread?
        I fear we might be accused of forwarding a suspect otherwise.

        Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
        Hi all

        Chris, if I remember, Thomas's remark as reported in the newspaper article, was supposed to have been a reference to an occurrence in September of 1888. So that would remove the difficulty over whether the committee was still in existence in 91. It does of course raise a new problem - why would a man who had killed five women two and a half years previously, ask if his arrest was for a failed attack?

        Nats, again I'm going from memory, I think Thomas mentioned the Times when he was arrested, saying that he'd read about Colocitt in the Times and that Colocitt was the man who should be interviwed about the jobbings.


        Originally posted by Natalie Severn View Post
        Regarding these "foot patrols".From a meeting of 70 men residing in the buildings close to George Yard a committee of 12 WATCHERS was appointed
        a few days after the murder of Martha Tabram on 7th August 1888.These people were to go to various streets between 11 and 1am and support the police as well as make notes of disorderly houses and causes of disturbance.see Letter to the Daily News 11th September St Jude"s District Committee].
        It seems to me numbers of ad hoc groups had been doing pas de deux for some 6 weeks by September 11th!!!


        • #5
          And I thought it might be useful to post the following shortened summary of the events surrounding Thomas Cutbush, which includes the 'Syndicate' reference, and some additional material which is not in the 'Sun' reports.
          (my thanks to Casebook for the report).

          Qu'Appelle Progress
          Ontario, Canada
          29 March 1894
          The Possible Discovery of the Whitechapel Fiend The Suspected Man is a Hopeless Lunatic in Broadmoor Asylum - Laborious Record of his Past Life - His Peculiar habits - Significant Remark When Arrested - the Crime for Which He was Held - His Life in the Asylum.
          The London Sun claims to have discovered the famous - or infamous - "Jack the Ripper", the central figure in the greatest murder mystery of the century. His name, where he worked, what he worked at, his personal habits, and, more important still, his personal movements during the period within which the series of murders took place, have all been ascertained by patient work and searching inquiry. The man is now a hopeless lunatic in Broadmoor asylum. But at, and previous to, the period referred to, he was an idle, somewhat dissolute fellow. He was dissolute, that is to say, in the sense that he kept bad company. He was in several situations years ago but he was not steady in any of them.

          HIS HABITS.

          He spent most of the day in bed; it was only when night came that he seemed roused to activity and to interest in life. Then he used to go out, disappear, no one knew whither, and never return till early on the following morning. And when he did retire, his appearance was such as to reveal to any gaze but that of a blind affection some idea of the horrible work in which he had been engaged. He always exhibited a strong love for anatomical study, and he spent a portion of the day in making rough drawings of the bodies of women, and of their mutilation, after the fashion in which the bodies of the women murdered in Whitechapel were found to be mutilated.
          Jack the Ripper, at the asylum in which he is at present incarcerated, is just over 33 years of age. He is a man of about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches in height. He is thin, and walks with a slight stoop, as if his chest troubled him. His face is narrow and short, with a high receding forehead, his eyes large and dark, with the expression of a hunted beast in them; his nose thick and prominent, his lips full and red, and his jaws give sign of much power and determination.


          A man who had committed such murders as those in Whitechapel must have been so insane as to have the daring simplicity of a lunatic, and, therefore, able to make an escape where a sane one would find it impossible to do so, from the sheer simplicity and calmness of utter insanity.
          This man, now in Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum, while lying in his night-shirt in a bedroom, guarded by four wardens, suddenly sprang up, knocked his keepers down, belted out of the door, and over a wall eight feet high into a house in a busy thoroughfare, with bare legs and shirt-tail flying, and passing through it, reaches the back garden, and then, jumping several garden walls, comes to another house, which he enters. He finds a pair of striped trousers, check jacket, brown overcoat, black felt hat, and a pair of old boots, which he immediately puts on. And while the crowd in full pursuit are clamouring for admission at the other house into which he had been seen to go, the fugitive comes out of the front door of the neighboring house, and walks calmly and collectedly past the excited crowd, and under the very nose of the people who are looking for him.

          HIS CRIME.

          The man identified as Jack the Ripper was committed to the asylum in which he is at present incarcerated after having been brought up before a London magistrate on a charge of stabbing six girls on different dates. The case was not gone into, medical evidence being forthcoming to show that the prisoner was not responsible for his actions. Previous to his apprehension on this charge the accused committed a murderous attack on a female relative, and upon a domestic servant in her employ, and it was consequent upon these acts that he was detained in the place whence he escaped in the dramatic and almost marvellous manner already described. It is one of the most curious features in this strange story that many persons at the time were of (the) opinion that this man was Jack the Ripper and many who knew him well had certainly heard the suggestion.


          When he was arrested he made a most significant observation. "is this," he said, "for the Mile End job? I mean the public-house next the Syndicate where I just missed her that time. They took me to be of the Jewish persuasion." This is an extraordinary observation in connection with the facts we are about to relate. Enquiries were made for any trace of the "Mile End job in the public-house next the Syndicate," to which the lunatic referred on his arrest. It was discovered that next to the Jewish Synagogue, in the East End, there is a public-house, and that during the Jack the Ripper period of 1888 some disturbance was one night caused at the bar of the public-house by a fallen woman screaming out that " Jack the Ripper" was talking to her. She had been drinking and conversing with a young man of slight build and of sallow features, and she pointed to him when she made the startling announcement that he was "Jack the Ripper". The man immediately took to his heels, departing with an alacrity that prevented all pursuit. The incident was but briefly reported in the daily papers under the heading of "Another Jack the Ripper Scare." But a description of the man whom the woman pointed out was given as that of a man of 27 or 28 years, slight of build, and Jewish appearance, his face being thin and sallow. This led to the theory entertained for some time that "Jack the Ripper" was a Jew. The public-house incident took place about the middle of September. ON the night of September 30, 1888, two women were killed, one in Berners street, and one in Mitre square. Over the latter there was written on the rough wall in chalk: "The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing." These facts enormously add to the proof that the man who mad this observation was the same man who had murdered the two women on the night of September 30, 1888. The mistake of naming "syndicate" for synagogue rather adds to the strength of the story.

          BORN IN LONDON.

          This man was born in 1863 in London. His father separated from his mother, whom he is said to have treated badly. In the case of the father, the morbid element appears in the ill-treatment of his wife, the neglect of his child, and finally in his flying from his responsibilities and in his contracting a bigamous marriage abroad. The boy was employed in several offices, but in none of them for a long time, and in nearly every case his dismissal came from some such irregularity as one would expect in the case of such a man. One of the worst of these irregularities was his constant irregularity of hours. He had begun at an early age that system of night walking and stopping in bed late in the mornings which finally developed into his turning night into day, and working under the protection of darkness his fiendish crimes. At the time when he committed the Whitechapel murders, this tendency had so far developed that he spent most of every day in bed, and it was not til 9 or 10 o'clock at night that he ever went forth.

          IN THE ASYLUM.

          Two representatives of the Sun went to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in order to come face to face with that inscrutable criminal. Two warders guided them toward a corner which was flooded with light from a large window, and Dr. Nicholson, stepping forward, said in a cheery tone: "Well, my man, how are you?" No verbal response came from this strange being, but, as if seized with some sudden conception of what was required of him, he tore off his loosely knotted necktie, opened his shirt collar, bared his breast, and expanded his chest in a manner suggestive of one undergoing a medical examination. But never a word did he utter. The medical superintendent humored his fancy and tapped the region of his lungs, saying: "Yes, yes, that's all right. You are in capital form. You are quite comfortable here, are you not?"
          No answer.
          "Come, now, won't you tell these gentlemen how you are getting on? They would be very glad to hear that you were well."
          It was useless. The voice of the Whitechapel fiend will never again be heard on earth by other than a warder in Broadmoor Asylum. When, in a dull and stupid manner, he perceived that apparently no further examination was required of him, he fastened his shirt, but slightly resisted one of the warders who attempted to arrange his scarf for him. Then he did a strange thing. He grasped his throat with his left hand, threw back his head, and placed his right hand at the base of his skull. What he meant by this action neither Dr. Nicholson nor the attendant warders knew. "He never speaks now," said the medical superintendent, "and he is in the final and most troublesome stage of lunacy, having lost all his self-respect."
          The police who have been interested in the Whitechapel murder cases are not disposed to give much credit to the Sun's story, which is generally regarded as sensational, and open to grave suspicions as to its veracity. '


          • #6
            Of course, all Press reports must be treated with caution, but they're one up on Macnaghten with the bigamous marriage info.



            • #7
              Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
              "He never speaks now," said the medical superintendent, "and he is in the final and most troublesome stage of lunacy, having lost all his self-respect."
              Since I still have some shred of self respect, I should feel reassured by this.

              When, in a dull and stupid manner, he perceived that apparently no further examination was required of him, he fastened his shirt, but slightly resisted one of the warders who attempted to arrange his scarf for him. Then he did a strange thing. He grasped his throat with his left hand, threw back his head, and placed his right hand at the base of his skull. What he meant by this action neither Dr. Nicholson nor the attendant warders knew.'
              Interesting that going for the scarf caused him to demonstrate a strangulation technique. Methinks he might have done more than jab a few women.


              • #8
                Originally posted by SirRobertAnderson View Post

                Interesting that going for the scarf caused him to demonstrate a strangulation technique. Methinks he might have done more than jab a few women.
                Hi Bob

                Indeed, isn't it interesting the way "necklaces" and scarves or bandanas and strangulation and cut throats repeat in the case of the Whitechapel murders.

                Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
       Hear sample song at

                Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at


                • #9
                  Seems to me that the no longer young Thomas was simply demonstrating the well known and tried and tested fact that if you grab a person around the throat their instinctive reaction is to press their chin down, but if you grab a person around the base of the skull from behind they will instinctively lift their chin up to unwittingly expose their throat.
                  Being left handed - as Thomas evidently was from this encounter in Broadmoor - the supposed victims of an attack would react thus when attacked from behind, he clapped his right hand around the base of their skull, they lift their chin in an effort to dislodge the grip, thereby exposing their throat, then using the left hand when they would be expecting a movement from the right, simply slit their throat.
                  No wonder he didn't want anyone touching him near the throat.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
                    Hi Bob

                    Indeed, isn't it interesting the way "necklaces" and scarves or bandanas and strangulation and cut throats repeat in the case of the Whitechapel murders.

                    Death and madness, too. I wonder if we're the only folks to have noticed this....


                    • #11
                      Sorry to give a less damning interpretation, chaps, but THC’s stupefied state in Broadmoor has always suggested to me that Dr. Nicholson & Co. were forcing opiates down his throat --and his strange gesture merely meant that he was signaling as much to the visiting journalist. Grabbing one’s throat is a well-known signal that one is being poisoned, and, as we might recall, THC was a hypochondriac who, earlier in his life, had believed that he was being poisoned by the medicos. It seems to me that Cutbush was fairly consistent in painting himself as a victim--not as a perpetrator. As such, I do wonder if tilting the head backward was a technique the Victorians used to force a lunatic into taking his meds.

                      In regards to the description of Broadmoor given by The Sun---I don’t know if this has been mentioned before--parts of it seem familiar to me-- but there is an interesting description of the asylum, dating from the time of Cutbush’s confinement, in an essay called Broadmoor Asylum and Its Inmates by “A Legal Visitor” originally published in 1893. There’s some interesting bits about Dr. Nicholson in it.

                      Go to the 1893 edition of “The Green Bag: An Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers”. p. 165-168. Available at Google Books.


                      • #12
                        Hi RJ

                        Thanks for that.

                        If Thomas was being sedated, would this not indicate a certain - I won't say violence - but at the very least, excitability on his part?



                        • #13
                          My computer won't let me access it. Could you post the pages here please, RJ?


                          • #14
                            Robert - I'll try. I had trouble getting to it initially, and for some reason my software wouldn't allow me to cut and paste the pages. There's a 'search this book' function on the right of the screen; if you can get to the correct edition, putting 'Broadmoor' into that box will probably take you to the initial page of the essay, 165. Let me see if I can make a link.

                            In regards to your question: absolutely. Cutbush was certainly unruly, and I think ‘violent’ is a fair conclusion, considering that he had stabbed at least two women. If you can check out the ‘Green Bag’ essay, wasn’t the man who physically attacked Dr. Nicholson in Broadmoor identified somewhere? Or am I wrong on that? I seem to remember the incident of Nicholson being bonked with a slingshot made out of a handkercheif.


                            • #15
                              “One Sunday about twenty-five years ago, during the Communion, and when the chaplain was in the middle of the collect for the Queen, a patient with a sudden yell rushed at Dr. Meyer, then superintendent, who was kneeling, surrounded by his family, close to the altar, and a deadly blow was struck at his head with a large stone slung in a handkerchief. The stone inflicted a serious injury, and the blow would have been fatal if it had not been somewhat turned aside by the promptness with which the arm of the patient was seized by an attendant. The chaplain was never afterwards able to say the particular collect which was interrupted in so awful a manner. A similar attack was made on Dr. Orange, who preceded Dr. Nicholson as a superintendent of Broadmoor; and unless my memory deceives me, Dr. Nicholson himself was a few years ago temporarily laid aside from duty by a blow from the hand of a patient.”

                              I'm having trouble with the link. I do recall APW or someone else reprinting an account of the attack on Nicholson, but perhaps I'm just remembering Dr. Meyer getting waylaid.