Don’t Mention Jack The Ripper

By November, 1890, interest in the Whitechapel murders – and also in the perpetrator of the heinous crimes – showed no signs of abating.

It is true to say that the sensationalism, that been so apparent in the press coverage of the atrocities throughout the autumn of 1888 had been, to a large extent, curbed – but mentions of likely suspects, together with numerous people who could not resist the urge to claim that they had been the murderer, mostly when drunk, continued to appear in the pages of the newspapers.

A case featuring the latter was reported in The Birmingham Daily Post on Tuesday, 4th November, 1890:-


“Yesterday, at the Police Court, two young men, named Joseph Compton and Frederick Hornsley, were charged with violently assaulting Alfred Bain, an accountant, of Shrubland Street.

On Sunday night week, the defendants, who had just left a public-house, commenced to knock on the door where the complainant resides.

When he came into the street to fetch a policeman the defendants and another man, who has since absconded, attacked him.

The Complainant was struck in the mouth, and Compton, who shouted “I am Jack the Ripper,” knocked him down and offered to fight anybody in the street.

The defendants were fined 21s. each, in default a month’s hard labour.”


The Nottingham Evening Post, along with numerous papers throughout the country, featured the following tantalising snippet in its edition of Tuesday, 18th November, 1890:-

“Reuter’s telegram. New York, Monday.

A motion brought before the Sheriffs Court today for the release of a man alleged to be a London tobacco merchant, who is detained at a lunatic asylum here.

His case was referred to the Sheriff’s jury.

The authorities at the asylum have, it is alleged, the idea that the man is “Jack the Ripper.”


As the end of the month approached, another case turned up in the newspapers, which, although, in reality, it had nothing to do with identifying the perpetrator of the crimes, was, nonetheless an intriguing example of how the unknown miscreant still haunted the minds of those who were slightly unstable.

The Worcestershire Chronicle covered the story on Saturday, 29th November, 1890:-

“Elizabeth Bushell, who gave an address in Taylor’s Buildings, Westminster, was charged at the Westminster Police-court on Saturday with being a lunatic wandering at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

The accused had no hat or bonnet, and she seemed to regard the whole of the proceedings with great amusement.


Constable M’ Lellan deposed that at nine o’clock on Saturday he saw the prisoner walking about in an aimless way, looking over the Embankment into the water and at the gardens. He asked her what was the matter, and she said that she was very much upset and alarmed as she had been followed about by “Jack the Ripper.”

She made other rambling statements, and he then took her to the station as a lunatic.

Dr. George Pearse, divisional surgeon of police, &c, said that he had had a long conversation with the accused, and, as she was perfectly rational in all her answers to his questions, he regarded her as a person of sound mind.


She told him that her husband was blind and paralysed, and that, tired of nursing him, she had walked on the Embankment for air.

She also said that in conversation she referred to “Jack the Ripper,” and that had got her locked up. (Laughter.)

The Prisoner: “I was never there.”

Mr. De Rutzen: “What does she mean by that?”

Dr. Pearse said that she talked to him coherently enough.


The Prisoner: “I am right enough, and I only wish everybody had their senses like me. I was going to walk home to my husband, but, instead of that, I had a ride in a cab.”

Mr. De Rutzen: “After what the doctor has said I shall discharge you, but I think the constable had better see you home.”


Finally, on Saturday, 29th November, 1888, The Tower Hamlets Independent published the following story which revealed just how many people had, since the onset of the murders two years previously, been arrested on suspicion of having carried out the crimes:-

“In a well-written article entitled “The Living Victims of  Jack the Ripper,'” published in an evening paper, it is stated that no fewer than between 140 and 150 different persons have been in the hands of the police on suspicion either of being the actual murderer or of having something to do with the savage deeds.

These included truly all sorts and conditions of men, from the dweller in the mansion to the ‘dosser’ in the fourpenny lodging-house.

About 100 of these suspects were made up of butchers, skin dressers, artisans, labourers, sailors, lodging and public house loungers, and men of vicious characters known to the police.

Some 30 or 4o of these individuals were Jews.

The remainder of the arrested persons comprised gentlemen of independent means, two doctors, medical students, journalists, commercial travellers, and a missionary.”