What would you do if you met Jack the Ripper?
I only ask because, at the same time as the Whitechapel murderer was terrorising the people and the streets in the East End of London, people all over the country were claiming to have encountered the unknown miscreant responsible for the crimes.
There seems to have also been a society-wide desire to pretend to be the killer, and, as a result, the newspapers were full of reports of people who were drunk, deranged, or just slightly eccentric, being willing to put their own personal safety at risk, by claiming to anyone who would listen, that they were, in fact, Jack the Ripper.
However, these ripper imitators were not confined to the latter months of 1888.
Indeed, as was demonstrated in a previous blog, reports continued to come in for many years of people who thought it a huge joke to try to cast themselves in the role of history’s most infamous serial killer.
However, on Sunday November 3rd 1889, Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper carried a report on an individual who had attempted to present himself as a benevolent version of Jack the Ripper – in that he had shown kindness to a woman who was struggling home one night, a few weeks before the first anniversary of the killing of Mary Kelly.
The report read as follows:-
A STRANGE JACK THE RIPPER STORY
“Within the last few days a report of an extraordinary nature has obtained currency in Clapham and Battersea with reference to Jack the Ripper.
The story is from the lips of a woman who obtains her livelihood at the wash-tub; but whose name and full address it is not thought, for certain reasons, prudent to give – sufficeint to say she lives in Stewart’s Road, Wandsworth Road, Clapham, and she adheres to her statement in every particular.
SHE TOOK HER CHILD TO GUY’S
The story runs thus:-
A few days ago, viz, Friday, about mid day, she had occasion to take one of her children to Guy’s Hospital. She arrived there shortly after two o’clock in the afternoon, and waited her turn for the doctor.
The child, however, was suffering from a complaint which required particular attention, and when at last she was interviewed by the doctor, she was requested not to leave the hospital for a while.
Time went on, and it was not until late in the evening that she left the institution.
SHE STARTED TO WALK HOME
Being a poor woman, she started to walk home by way of the Borough, St. George’s-road, and the Albert Embankment.
Having made a call at a friend’s house on the road home, it was past 10 before she arrived on the Embankment.
A MAN OF RESPECTABLE APPEARANCE
Whilst she was walking hurriedly along, a man of respectable appearance, and about 45 years of age, accosted her, saying, “You look ill, my poor woman. It’s late for you to be out with a child in your arms. Have you far to go home?”
The woman replied that she had a mile and a half to cover before she reached her destination,
The stranger then said, “Why don’t you ride then?”
YOU HAVE MET JACK THE RIPPER
The poor woman exclaimed that she could not afford it, whereupon the stranger put his hand in his pocket and gave the woman half-a-crown, saying at the same time, “This will enable you to get home, and when you arrive there tell your friends that you met Jack the Ripper.”
The stranger, without any further ado, then hurriedly left the woman and was no more seen.
The, woman was naturally frightened by receiving this information, and the shock was so great that she was taken very ill on reaching home.”