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Jack the Ripper : The Macnaghten Memoranda

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  • AP Wolf
    replied
    Indeed SPE, the thrust of the Macnaghten memo is to ensure that TH Cutbush is plainly guilty of the 'jobbings' but entirely innocent of crimes that took place in 1888.
    However here we have Macnaghten at his very best in the disinformation and misinformation game, for he also claims - as supportive evidence - that 'Colicott was arrested, but subsequently discharged owing to faulty identification'.
    But that is a lie too many.
    Colicott was firmly identified by several witness, and he was found guilty.

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  • SPE
    replied
    Executive Superintendent

    Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
    I don't believe I confuse or confound Charles position within the Metropolitan Police Force, he was if I'm correct the serving head officer - working officer I mean of course - of the most senior branch of that force, the Executive Office.
    His office being superior to that of the CID.
    Simon's post cuts to the chase.
    Would Macnaghten have written his memo if Charles Henry Cutbush was not related to Thomas Hayne Cutbush?
    The answer to that I'm afraid is an emphatic 'no'.
    Where do you get the idea that Cutbush was the head 'of the most senior (thus 'superior') branch of that force, the Executive Office'?

    If by senior you mean oldest then that is a different matter as the C.I.D. was relatively recently formed after the break up of the Detective Department after the scandal of the detectives. However, in terms of importance and law enforcement the C.I.D. was the more important department. So his department was not superior to the C.I.D., merely older.

    The Executive and Common Lodging House Branch of which Cutbush was head was more of an administrative department that checked up on force discipline and duties and reported any irregularities to the Commissioner. Part of his duties was to visit the divisions for spot checks, recording his visits in a book for that purpose and adding any remarks that he had in the occurrence books.

    The Executive Superintendent's remit also included attending large fires, assisting in making and carrying out the arrangements for public processions and special duties, taking charge when no senior officer was present and reporting every morning on any unusual or important occurrence for the Commissioner's information.

    It was also his duty to occasionally attend the courts and justice rooms, particularly during the hearing of important cases, to watch and report on behalf of the Commissioner. He also had to attend at the Sessions of the Central Criminal Court with sufficient sergeants and constables to preserve order and carry out the directions of the Sheriffs. He also reported on the times of arrivals of constables involved in the cases and reported any irregularity on the part of the police to the Commissioner.

    The Executive Superintendent also received applications of candidates for admission to the force and was responsible for seeing that all necessary requirements were fulfilled. He was responsible for the due performance of the Drill Instructor, Inquiry Officer, Storekeeper and Summoning Officer. You are aware, I believe, of his responsibilities with regard to the licensing and checking of the Common Lodging House applications, and registers.

    He was not responsible for criminal investigation, this being the responsibility of Superintendent Shore and the Criminal Investigation Department.

    As regards your last point, I fully addressed that in my last post, the fact that Thomas Cutbush may or may not have been related to Charles Cutbush is definitely not the reason for the report. It's a point of related interest only.

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  • SPE
    replied
    Inaccuracies

    Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
    Hi SPE and Simon
    SPE, I find your observation valuable because it could be that the note, as you say, was added as a point of interest more than anything. Macnaghten could have thought the former superintendent was an uncle to the suspect, rather than it actually being the case. Genealogical research by Chris Scott as reported on the Casebook message boards has not so far revealed a close relationship between the two men. Indeed, it would appear that the relationship between the two individuals is unclear and that there was no uncle-nephew relationship. Perhaps they were just distant kin and it was more a coincidence of names.
    All the best
    Chris
    Thank you for that Chris. I think that the relevance of the Sun articles increased when the Sun went to the radical MP Henry Labouchere with the story and reported it on 19 February 1894. This was raising the spectre of political involvement and Labouchere increased the ante by suggesting that the Sun had enough for a public investigation and that a reward might still be relevant.

    This was certainly sufficient for the Commissioner of Police to ask for more details of the sensational press claims and to anticipate questions from the Home Office. And, of course, this is exactly what the Macnaghten report is. The mere fact that everything died out in the press and the police did not even get to the stage of opening a file on the matter indicates that it all amounted to nothing but baseless claims. Macnaghten pointed out the 'inaccuracies and misleading statements' made by the Sun.

    The claim that the Sun was in possession of a 'facsimile of the knife with which the murders were committed' was dismissed by pointing out that the knife belonging to Cutbush had been purchased in February 1891 'or 2 years & 3 months after the Whitechapel murders ceased!'

    The claim that Cutbush 'spent a portion of the day in making rough drawings of the bodies of women, and of their mutilations' was countered by saying that it was based solely on two scribbled drawings of women in indecent postures found torn up in Cutbush's room.

    The Sun claim that a light overcoat found in Cutbush's house tied in with the report that 'a man in a light overcoat was seen talking to a woman in Backchurch Lane whose body with arms attached was found in Pinchin Street' Macnaghten rightly dismissed as 'hopelessly incorrect!' pointing out that the case had nothing to do with the Ripper murders.

    He also pointed out that the theory that the Whitechapel murderer was left handed or 'ambidexter' originated from the remarks made by one doctor with whom the other doctors disagreed.

    Additionally the Sun had claimed that the murders of Tabram, McKenzie, the torso in Pinchin Street, and Coles were all committed by the 'Whitechapel fiend' and Macnaghten dismissed all, stating they were nothing to do with the series of 1888.

    The most significant of these to the Cutbush theory was, of course, the murder of Frances Coles in February 1891 shortly before Cutbush's stabbing attacks. By crediting these additional murders to the same killer the Sun obviously hoped to establish a continuing series up to Cutbush's arrest.

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  • AP Wolf
    replied
    Fair points, SPE, and I appreciate the difficulty of my position in this regard.
    However, dogs can roll over without dying.
    One attempts to treat CH Cutbush with kindness and respect, but the bald fact of the matter is that he was suffering from delusions and illusions himself during the very years we discuss... hence we tread on very difficult ground when we make assumptions about his role in any matter or regard.
    Quite frankly I am surprised that the Sun, or some other rag, did not snap up his later suicide and run with the story again, providing even more solid linkage between the events of 1888, 1891, 1894 and 1896.
    Messy old business though, eh?
    Better let sleeping dogs lie.
    I don't believe I confuse or confound Charles position within the Metropolitan Police Force, he was if I'm correct the serving head officer - working officer I mean of course - of the most senior branch of that force, the Executive Office.
    His office being superior to that of the CID.

    Simon's post cuts to the chase.
    Would Macnaghten have written his memo if Charles Henry Cutbush was not related to Thomas Hayne Cutbush?
    The answer to that I'm afraid is an emphatic 'no'.

    Leave a comment:


  • Chris G.
    replied
    Originally posted by SPE View Post
    The note that 'Cutbush was a nephew of the late Supt Executive' is appended almost as an afterthought, or merely a note of interest. It assumes no particular importance and is not mentioned again in the report. The fact that ex-Superintendent Cutbush was only a police pensioner at that time and had resumed 'civilian' status would explain this.
    Hi SPE and Simon

    SPE, I find your observation valuable because it could be that the note, as you say, was added as a point of interest more than anything. Macnaghten could have thought the former superintendent was an uncle to the suspect, rather than it actually being the case. Genealogical research by Chris Scott as reported on the Casebook message boards has not so far revealed a close relationship between the two men. Indeed, it would appear that the relationship between the two individuals is unclear and that there was no uncle-nephew relationship. Perhaps they were just distant kin and it was more a coincidence of names.

    All the best

    Chris

    Leave a comment:


  • SPE
    replied
    Importance

    Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
    'The note that 'Cutbush was a nephew of the late Supt Executive' is appended almost as an afterthought, or merely a note of interest. It assumes no particular importance and is not mentioned again in the report. The fact that ex-Superintendent Cutbush was only a police pensioner at that time and had resumed 'civilian' status would explain this.'
    Well SPE, I'll take issue with you on that point, if you don't mind too much.
    Consideration must be given to the fact that the actual events discussed in the memo took place in 1891 when CH Cutbush was still a serving police officer of the highest rank and influence, thereby negating whatever role or position occupied by that worthy in 1894 when the common reportage of those events took place.
    The Sun was referring to a series of events and connections that transpired between 1888 and 1891, and although Macnaghten was addressing those issues in 1894 it doesn't follow that he would have reacted to the circumstances of CH Cutbush's status in that year, but rather to that of 1891.
    Macnaghten was considering the events and circumstances of 1891; and obviously much had changed, including the retirement of CH Cutbush, but that would not have been a consideration for Macnaghten, but rather that at the time of the events in 1891 CH Cutbush was a serving police officer clearly in a position of some considerable influence and power.
    Despite your best efforts I struggle verily with your concept that the officer asked to produce such a document would not have bothered to check with CH Cutbush as to his familial connection to TH Cutbush.
    The first move I would have thought.
    Thanks for the response AP. I did realise that you would take issue with this suggestion, as I know your arguments regarding the importance of the alleged relationship between Thomas and Charles Cutbush to your theory. However, I speak as I find and had that have been an issue it would surely have been mentioned in the report and not merely appended at the very end of the paragraph on Thomas Cutbush.

    At the time of the 'sensational' press reports Charles Cutbush was long retired and was, as I have explained, a civilian and no longer a member of the force. Even if Cutbush had been the Ripper and even if he was the Superintendent's nephew there should have been no problem for the Metropolitan Police force other than some snide press comments and they had had plenty of those anyway. But, of course, to even propose this argument you have to prove that Cutbush was the Ripper and that he was related to the Superintendent. The only real problem that would have been caused by this scenario would have been if Charles Cutbush was close to Thomas and was assisting him in any way. To my mind a ridiculous idea and one without an iota of evidence to support it.

    You have a tendency to exaggerate the importance of Charles Cutbush when you describe him as 'of the higest rank and influence'. He was one of 30 Superintendents (all of equal rank), 3 of which were at Scotland Yard. The C.I.D. was not under his control, the head of the C.I.D. at that level was Superintendent John Shore. Out-ranking Cutbush were 5 Chief Constables, 3 Assistant Commissioners and the Chief Commissioner.

    Macnaghten obviously took the relationship between Charles Cutbush and Thomas as a fact and would therefore not need to check. As he accepted this as a fact it would, of course, be worth noting in his report, which he did. But to suggest that it had a huge relevance is a nonsense, as in such a confidential report any envisaged problem would have been enlarged upon and commented upon.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Assuming Thomas and Charles Cutbush were related [why would MM write his report if they weren't?], what he doesn't make clear is whether he already knew this or learned it as a result of the investigation into THC's antecedents.

    Interesting, too, that McCarthy [since 1887 a member of Littlechild's Section D] should be in on an L [Lambeth] Division investigation.

    Regards,

    Simon

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  • SPE
    replied
    Important Source

    As a document initially intended to supply information for the Commissioner of Police the 'Macnaghten memoranda' developed into an important and influential source for Ripperologists. Not only did it establish the 'canonical five' victims, it also supplied many snippets of information to ensure debate for years to come. More importantly it brought to notice several suspects, namely Cutbush, Druitt, Kosminski and Ostrog.

    Speculative or assumed points contained in the report that were to become favoured arguments of Ripperology were -
    'the Whitechapel murderer had 5 victims - & 5 victims only'.
    'With regard to the double murder...there is no doubt but that the man was disturbed by some Jews [sic] who drove up to a club...and that he then "nondum satiatus", went in search of another victim which he found at Mitre Square.'
    'It will be noticed that the fury of the mutilations increased in each case...'
    'A much more rational theory is that the murderer's brain gave way altogether after his awful glut in Miller's Court...
    and that he immediately committed suicide, or, as a possible alternative, was found to be so hopelessly mad by his relations, that he was by them confined in some asylum.'

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  • AP Wolf
    replied
    'The note that 'Cutbush was a nephew of the late Supt Executive' is appended almost as an afterthought, or merely a note of interest. It assumes no particular importance and is not mentioned again in the report. The fact that ex-Superintendent Cutbush was only a police pensioner at that time and had resumed 'civilian' status would explain this.'
    Well SPE, I'll take issue with you on that point, if you don't mind too much.
    Consideration must be given to the fact that the actual events discussed in the memo took place in 1891 when CH Cutbush was still a serving police officer of the highest rank and influence, thereby negating whatever role or position occupied by that worthy in 1894 when the common reportage of those events took place.
    The Sun was referring to a series of events and connections that transpired between 1888 and 1891, and although Macnaghten was addressing those issues in 1894 it doesn't follow that he would have reacted to the circumstances of CH Cutbush's status in that year, but rather to that of 1891.
    Macnaghten was considering the events and circumstances of 1891; and obviously much had changed, including the retirement of CH Cutbush, but that would not have been a consideration for Macnaghten, but rather that at the time of the events in 1891 CH Cutbush was a serving police officer clearly in a position of some considerable influence and power.
    Despite your best efforts I struggle verily with your concept that the officer asked to produce such a document would not have bothered to check with CH Cutbush as to his familial connection to TH Cutbush.
    The first move I would have thought.

    Leave a comment:


  • SPE
    replied
    Understanding the Whitechapel Murders

    An important part of interpreting Macnaghten's report is a proper understanding of what, exactly, the Whitechapel murders were. This might appear to be, at first glance, an obvious thing to all. But it is not. Some years ago I pointed out the fact that 'the Whitechapel murders' and 'the Ripper murders' could not be assumed to be one and the same.

    The Whitechapel murders were a series of unsolved murders that spanned the period between early April 1888 and mid-February 1891. They comprise eleven unsolved cases that obviously involved multiple perpetrators. In past years this was not clearly understood and that led to some confusion amongst writers both of the press and books. This confusion is apparent in the Sun Cutbush story and led Macnaghten to define his 'canonical' five. But, perhaps, he was wrong to do so as it is impossible to positively accredit a murder to a particular offender when no offender has ever been identified.

    However, the cases break down as follows -

    1. Emma Elizabeth Smith, 3 April 1888.
    2. Martha Tabram, 7 August 1888. [Contentious first 'Ripper' victim].
    3. Mary Ann Nichols, 31 August 1888. [Macnaghten 'canonical'].
    4. Annie Chapman, 8 September 1888. [Macnaghten 'canonical'].
    5. Elizabeth Stride, 30 September 1888. [Macnaghten 'canonical'].
    6. Catherine Eddowes, 30 September 1888. [Macnaghten 'canonical'].
    7. Mary Jane Kelly, 9 November 1888. [Macnaghten 'canonical'].
    8. Rose Mylett, 20 December 1888.
    9. Alice McKenzie, 17 July 1889.
    10. Pinchin Street torso, 10 September 1889.
    11. Frances Coles, 13 February 1891.

    Here we see Macnaghten's 'canonical five' emerge from the eleven unsolved cases preserved in the Whitechapel murders files. It is necessary to understand this in any assessment of material relating to the Whitechapel murders. When I began my Ripper studies in the early to mid 1960s I was greatly impressed by Macnaghten's five and for many years presumed them to be the only actual Ripper murders. By doing this it certainly simplifies research and writing about the murders.

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  • SPE
    replied
    Points To Note

    There are certain points to note in Macnaghten's report and these may be worthy of comment.

    It begins with a concise summation of the Sun articles in which Macnaghten describes the story as 'sensational', thus indicating the nature of the articles, i.e. press sensationalism. He includes the history of the Cutbush case and mentions his antecedents. Macnaghten specifies that Cutbush's antecedents were enquired into by the then Chief Inspector Chis[holm], Inspector Race [the officer in the case] and detective sergeant McCarthy who had also been involved in the previous Whitechapel murders investigation.

    In view of the detail on the Cutbush case contained in this section it is obvious that Macnaghten was using either the file or at least some case notes. The note that 'Cutbush was a nephew of the late Supt Executive' is appended almost as an afterthought, or merely a note of interest. It assumes no particular importance and is not mentioned again in the report. The fact that ex-Superintendent Cutbush was only a police pensioner at that time and had resumed 'civilian' status would explain this.

    This section of the report is followed by a summary of the Whitechapel murders and victims and is the part most discussed by Ripper historians. More to follow...

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  • SPE
    replied
    Questions

    Originally posted by How Brown View Post
    Before going further I am happy to address any questions anyone may have at this stage.--SPE
    In order that The Forums & its members get the most concise answers to any questions we have to issues within the Macnaghten report, please address your questions to SPE and please allow him to answer them one at a time. Should ten people begin asking questions all at once, you and I know how the thread will turn out. I'm usually one of the ten.
    Thanks in advance.
    I don't anticipate too many questions How as I hope to address the anticipated areas of contention as I go along. I am happy to address any queries and I don't intend to disparage other people's ideas. By the same token I shall not become embroiled in protracted speculation.

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  • Howard Brown
    replied
    Before going further I am happy to address any questions anyone may have at this stage.--SPE

    In order that The Forums & its members get the most concise answers to any questions we have to issues within the Macnaghten report, please address your questions to SPE and please allow him to answer them one at a time. Should ten people begin asking questions all at once, you and I know how the thread will turn out. I'm usually one of the ten.


    Thanks in advance.

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  • SPE
    replied
    Macnaghten's 1894 Report

    I have moved my discussion of this subject from the podcast thread as I feel that this is the proper place for it.

    The so-called 'Macnaghten Memoranda' has been seen by Ripperologists largely in the wrong context. It has thus been used to bolster one suspect theory or another and has been given a huge importance and relevance that surely it did not have in 1894 when it was written. It is, basically, a report supplying the Commissioner with information on the relevance and strength of February 1894 newspaper claims that Jack the Ripper had been arrested and incarcerated in an asylum for the criminally insane back in 1891 and that was where he still was. The ramifications for the police, and government, are obvious, but should not be overstated.

    This report by Macnaghten was christened the 'Macnaghten Memoranda' by modern Ripper writers and its huge importance to Ripperworld lies in the fact that it defines 'the canonical five' victims and supplies information on previously unknown suspects. What it is not is a definitive suspect list and a chance for senior officers to lay claim to their preferred suspects. As we know, it exists in two forms the Aberconway (or draft) version and the official version, between which there are some differences.

    A possible 'third version' has been mentioned in the past and is referred to in popular Ripper literature as 'the Loftus version'. The only mention of this 'version' appeared in the 60s-70s and there is every reason to believe that it did not exist other than in the confused memory of Philip Loftus (see The Jack the Ripper A-Z).

    Many of the answers to the Macnaghten report lie in the content of the report itself (I prefer the word 'report' to 'memoranda'). The fact that has often been misinterpreted or misunderstood in the past, and has raised so many questions, is largely the result of the writings of Ripper researchers, theorists and authors. In 1894, when it was written, it was a confidential internal police report not intended for publication. Indeed, it was not until 1898 that any part of it reached the eyes of the public and then it was uncredited. This was in the two-volume set of books Mysteries of Police and Crime, by Major Arthur Griffiths, (London, Cassell, 1898) an official who was also a friend of both Anderson and Macnaghten. Significantly the three suspects described (Druitt, Kosminski and Ostrog) were not named (indeed the latter two were still alive). It would appear that Macnaghten supplied Griffiths with his information and in doing so used his draft copy which he still held. The names were not revealed until 1965 when Tom Cullen published them in his seminal Ripper work Autumn of Terror, (London, Bodley Head) using the Aberconway version.

    The key to understanding the report lies in the document itself, and in understanding popular misconceptions about the Whitechapel murders. It is a major error to attach too much importance to this document in light of its nature, i.e. it is in no way a definitive and totally accurate assessment of the murders and the suspects. But when it is the best that you have it is understandable that it has been so comprehesively discussed and analysed by modern historians. Unfortunately many of them have a poor understanding of the police, their procedures and methods. Before going further I am happy to address any questions anyone may have at this stage.

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  • Howard Brown
    replied
    Who Was It For?

    In the book, "The Facts" by Paul Begg...Mr. Begg discusses the Memoranda beginning on page 318.

    He covers the MM for three pages and mentions the number of versions and so on and so forth.

    Mr. Begg mentions the possibility that the Memoranda was written for H.H.Asquith ( not by name,but he was the Home Secretary in 1894) in the instance that someone in Parliament had questions at some point in regard to the Whitechapel Murder Case due to the February 1894 article in the Sun newspaper.

    That sounds like a reasonable conclusion.

    I have questions,however...

    The MM is roughly 1,700 words long. Thats a lot of writing just to denounce the claim by the Sun....to me.

    To me it seems as though he may have originally intended to respond to the Sun article but may have thought against it and simply stored it away.

    Does anyone else have something to add or comment on regarding the lengthy Memoranda? Is it possible that the MM was originally presented to the Home Secretary and a decision was made to not release it in response to the Sun article?

    Anyone?

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