Another Confession

The South Wales Daily News, on Friday 4th September, 1896, carried the following story, which had been appearing in many newspapers across the country over the previous few days, and which gathered together several common perceptions about who the Whitechapel murderer may have been and what had become of him.

There was a widely held belief, certainly at the time of the murders, that the killer may well have been a sailor coming into and out of the London docks, a fact that would account, in many peoples minds for the periods of inactivity between some of the murders.

Others were convinced that the only possible motive for such barbaric crimes as those perpetrated by “Jack the Ripper” was revenge for some slight that he had suffered at the hands of one or more of the Whitechapel prostitutes.

So, when the following story broke in the newspapers, in September, 1896, it fed perfectly into these common ideas about the identity and the motives of the unknown miscreant:-


“The Evening Star at Ipswich gives publicity to an extraordinary story which was told at the office of the paper by a man named Brame, who is said to be the son of a surgeon at Lowestoft.

Mr Brame stated that, in October, 1894, he was the steward on the Annie Speer, a coal and saltpetre boat running between Shields and Iquique, and that a man of about 30 years of age, giving the name of Anderson, shipped on board as A.B.


On the voyage out both were taken ill, and at Iquique they went into the hospital.

When they were lying side by side in adjoining beds, Anderson let out the gruesome secret that he was the man wanted for the horrible series of murders perpetrated in the East-end of London.

He smiled with grim satisfaction when Brame told him that he had horrified the whole world.


Asked for the motive by which he had been actuated, he said that he was once robbed by an unfortunate woman with whom he became acquainted on a visit ashore, and he was determined to have his revenge. “They did me,” he said and I did them.”

He was at the time cook on one of the weekly boats running between London and Rotterdam, and he committed the murders in the few days between the boat’s arrival and departure.


Anderson also told Brame that he always had an accomplice, whom he could implicitly trust, in waiting with a small bag or satchel, containing a large butcher’s smock, which of course entirely covered his blood-stained clothes.

In such a disguise he had no difficulty in escaping notice and reaching Bromley, where he had lodgings in an out-of-the-way farmhouse.


Brame questioned him as to his whereabouts when the bloodhounds were put on the trail, and he, laughing, told how he was at the time having a drink in a public-house near Whitechapel Church.

The to bloodhounds.
The Detective Bloodhounds. From Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 20th October 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The narrator of the story naively adds that whether it is a clever concoction or a bona fide confession will probably never be known, as Anderson died in the Hospital without revealing anything which would assist inquiries.”