Francis Spurzheim Craig (1837 – 1903) was a journalist and newspaper editor whose name has recently cropped up on the ever-expanding list of Jack the Ripper suspects.
In his book The Real Mary Kelly Dr. Weston-Davies makes the claim that his great uncle, Francis Spurzheim Craig, was the man who carried out the Whitechapel murders in order to disguise his intention of murdering his wife, who had deserted him just a few months after their marriage – and, whom he claims was in fact Jack the Ripper’s final victim Mary Kelly.
Dr. Weston Davies attracted quite a lot of press coverage when his book was published in 2015 by claiming that he had secured official permission to exhume Mary Kelly’s body in order to extract DNA and compare it with a with DNA sample from himself or his brother, with a view from proving that Mary Kelly was, in fact, his great aunt.
IT CAME TO NOTHING
As it happened, that little enterprise came to nothing, and it must be said that much of the evidence put forward in the book to suggest that Francis Craig was Jack the Ripper is, to say the least, tenuous.
There is no doubt that Craig’s wife did desert him – he told those who knew him as much. But, it then requires a tremendous leap of conjecture to suggest that Craig’s wife then changed her name to Mary Kelly, only to be hunted down by her estranged husband, who then carried out four murders to disguise the fact that his actual target was his errant wife.
A TRAGIC SUICIDE
In March, 1903, Francis Spurzheim Craig committed suicide by cutting his throat in his room at 6, Carthew Road, Hammersmith.
The West London Observer, published details of the inquest into his death in its edition of Friday, 13th March, 1903:-
SUICIDE OF A JOURNALIST
On Wednesday, at the Hammersmith Coroner’s Court. Mr. C. Luxmoor Drew held an inquiry with reference to the death Francis Spurzheim Craig, 67 years, a journalist, late of 6, Carthew Road, Hammersmith, who died in the West London Hospital.
Mr. Arthur Lane, of 89, Marylands Road, Paddington, the managing director the “Indicator” Newspaper Company, identified the body, and said that the deceased’s father was phrenologist.
The witness had known the deceased since 1890.
HIS SHORT-LIVED MARRIAGE
He was married in 1880, but his married life was a brief one, his wife being drunkard, and she left him three months afterwards. The witness had heard nothing of her since.
The Deceased was the editor of his paper until 1896, and he had contributed reports since. He was a temperate man, but very nervous. He had had an attack of paralysis and writer’s cramp.
The Deceased had deposited his bank book with the witness for safety. It contained £79, and in November the deceased gave him £25 to pay him back at £1 a week, and the witness still held £17.
The Deceased had no relations; only friends. He was a sensitive man, but had never threatened anything.
EDWARD WARREN’S TESTIMONY
Edward Warren, of 45, North End Road. Fulham, a rate collector, said that he had known the deceased for over 5 years, and never heard him speak of any relatives.
The witness was present at his wedding, and the woman had disappeared three months afterwards. The Witness had made many inquiries, but had failed to find her.
The Deceased had deposited money with the witness, and had withdrawn it as required.
He was most eccentric, and, when he came to tea with witness, he had suddenly got up in the middle of the meal and said. “I’m off”’ and had gone away.
HE HAD DELUSIONS
He had had idiotic ideas to giving public entertainments. He had many delusions. Last year, he went to Paris and stayed at a hotel with two gentlemen. One these, Mr. Hunter, disappeared, and the deceased was under the delusion that people accused him of murdering the gentleman, and that he was being shadowed by French and English detectives.
Another delusion was that the Editor of the “Indicator” was commencing a civil action against him, and he was afraid of being arrested on the charge of murder.
In November, he complained of dyspepsia.
HE HAD LOST ALL HIS MONEY
The Witness was minding £50 for him, and on November 6th he took it away.
When the witness and his wife saw deceased in the hospital was unable to speak, but he wrote on a piece of paper:- ” I am afraid I have lost all my money.”
Witness had handed him the money in bank notes, and thought they must be amongst his property.
The Coroner referred to the bank book, and found that the deceased bad deposited £45 on November 7th and £5 in December.
The Coroner asked the witness what the difficulty was about handing the money over to the deceased. The witness said that when in fear of arrest the deceased wanted the witness to hand the money over to anybody he might send for it, and the witness objected and said he would give it to no one but Craig himself.
The Witness considered that he was not responsible at that time of handling so much money.
THE LANDLORD’S EVIDENCE
John Redding, the landlord at 6, Carthew Road, said that Craig had lodged there for two and a half years, and he occupied one room.
He was a sober man. and always paid his rent regularly.
He was eccentric, and would some times come down and have a chat with the witness, and then would suddenly get ap and run upstairs.
He was friendly with everybody, but had complained of being unable to sleep.
On the Monday of the last week, he was out all day, and came in wet through and asked the witness to dry his coat.
The next morning, Mrs. Redding took him up a glass of milk as usual, and got no reply.
FOUND IN BED
Soon after, the witness found a letter, which read:- “Dear friend. – My throat is cut. I hope you will forgive me.”
The Witness went upstairs and found him sitting in bed with something round his throat. He spoke to him, but got no answer.
The Deceased pointed to paper and pencil, and, when they were given to him, he drew a plan of the streets showing where doctors were, and wrote:- “Please fetch any doctor urgently.”
The Witness fetched the police and a doctor; and the Deceased was taken to the hospital.
Phoebe Redding, the wife of the last witness, corroborated, and said that Francis Craig, after cutting his throat, must have written the note and thrown it over the bannisters. That was after she took up the milk.
Police Constable Bex, 328 T, deposed to being called to the bouse and to seeing the deceased lying on the bed. The Constable asked the Deceased what he had done it with, and he pointed to a blood-stained razor on the shelf. The witness found two letters in the room, and then he took the Deceased to the hospital.
TWO NOTES READ OUT
The Coroner read the notes as follows:-“Very sorry, as you have acted kindly to me; I consider more than kindly, whilst I have been with you. I have been sorely tried physically.” (Here it ended.) The other read:- “It would only pain you to see the doctor’s treatment. I have suffered a deal of pain and agony, and was no doubt temporarily suffering from pressure of nerve complaints, including several.” (Here this one ended also.)
Dr. W. Kenneth Breton said that the deceased had an incised wound to the throat, severing the windpipe. A post-mortem examination showed that he was a healthy old man, except for pleurisy, and that septic broncho pneumonia had been set up by the injury and caused death.
The Deceased acted funnily whilst in the ward.
The jury returned a verdict of Suicide whilst of unsound mind and when irresponsible for his actions.