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Autumn of Terror: Who Was Jack the Ripper?

By @hmsbeefnuts

Last time I blogged about Jack the Ripper, we looked at his reign of terror, during the Autumn of 1888. Now his crimes were appalling, but the mystery of who he was still draws in people to this day. It’s time then to look into some of the likely, ridiculous and interesting suspects, that have been suggested over the years by various police officers, ripperologists, and so-called experts. Nothing excites those interested in Jack the Ripper like a new suspect and theory, so over the years, there have been many brought forward, and many rejected, so without further ado, lets name some suspects shall we?

Francis Tumblety

Tumblety was a homosexual quack doctor, who was said to have a deep hatred for women, and a collection of uteri, that he delighted in showing people. He was in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, although he was an American. He led a very interesting life, being arrested for his complicity with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, although he was released with no charge. I at one time spent a summer with a friend trying to write a TV show about Jack the Ripper, and Tumblety was our choice for the Ripper. He may not have been the murderer, but he was mentioned by police at the time, and he certainly is a fascinating character.

Sir William Gull

Part of the Masonic/Royal conspiracy theory that was popular for a time with certain people, and the killer in the Johnny Depp movie From Hell, Gull was the Doctor of Queen Victoria. There is not a lot of evidence that he was involved, but people love a conspiracy, and a conspiracy involving Royalty is even better.

H. H. Holmes

Another American, and a confirmed serial killer. In 1893 at the Chicago Worlds Fair, Holmes opened a hotel, one specifically designed to feed his lust for murdering women. It is claimed he may have killed more than 200 victims, although he only confessed to 27, and only 4 of those were confirmed. He is a Jack the Ripper suspect based on a hand writing experts opinion that letter Holmes wrote whilst in prison, are identical to those supposedly written by Jack the Ripper.

James Maybrick

More than a few years ago now, a diary was said to have been found that was supposedly written by Jack the Ripper himself. The diary was that of James Maybrick. I have read the published diary, and it is a good read, if you like that sort of thing, but it has been proven that the original diary is a forgery.

The Duke of Clarence

Supposedly driven mad by syphilis, mad enough to walk the streets of Whitechapel murdering prostitutes, Prince Albert Victor is the most important suspect ever named as the Ripper. Of course, it is certain that he didn’t do it, but he is also linked to the Royal Conspiracy theory with William Gull. Some people just want to blame the great and good, or not so good, depending on your point of view.


Of course, there have been hundreds of suspects brought forward throughout the years. Even famous names, such as Lewis Carrol, artist Walter Sickett, and popular Victorian actor Richard Mansfield, who was thought a suspect because of his terrifying portrayal of Jekyll and Hyde, which was a popular stage show at the time. Also Dr Bernado, the famous benefactor of children’s homes was also thought to be a suspect, but there is no evidence to suggest that any of these men were responsible, and in some cases, it would have been impossible. It seems if you were a famous name who frequented London at the time of the Ripper killings, then you can become a suspect, well it will certainly sell books. Could the Ripper have been a woman? Jill the Ripper has been suggested over the years, from a crazed midwife, to a woman driven mad by the fact she could not have children, she took it out on the lowest orders of society.

Who really knows? Well we will never know for certain, unless some faultless evidence comes to light, but really, it is the mystery that keeps people interested in the Jack the Ripper case, no one really wants to know for sure, suggesting suspects is far too interesting.

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