Jack The Ripper Stories November 1889

Despite the fact that, by November, 1889, a year had now passed since the murder of Mary Kelly in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street – which is now generally believed to have been the final murder by Jack the Ripper – reports were still coming in from all over the world about possible sightings of and further atrocities by the notorious Whitechapel murderer.

THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS MORE LETTERS

The York Herald, on Saturday, 2nd November, 1889, reported that more letters, purporting to have been written by the perpetrator of the crimes, had been received:-

“Some further letters are in circulation purporting to be connected with the notorious Whitechapel crimes.

Among these is a letter which has been received by Dr. Forbes Winslowm of Wimpole-street, which is as follows:-

“22, Hammersmith-road, Chelsea.

Sir – I defy you to find out who has done the Whitechapel murder in the summer – not the last one.

You had better look out for yourself, or else Jack the R. may do you something, in your house too, before the end of December.

Mind, now, the 9th of November, there may be another murder, so look out, old Sir Funk.

Tell all London another ripper open will take place about the 8th or 9th proximo, not in Whitechapel, but in London – perhaps in Clapham or the West End.

Write to the Poste Restante, Charing Cross. Address to P. S. R. Lunigi.”

A LETTER TO ALBERT BACKERT

On the 12th inst. the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee received a letter purporting to have been sent by “Jack the Ripper,” threatening to commence operations again on the 18th.

On Saturday morning last Mr. Backert again received a letter in a similar handwriting, which he has handed over to the police.

The letter bears the Customs post-mark, and was posted on Friday night.

The following is the letter:-

“Dear Boss,

You are one too many for me this time.

Whitechapel is too well watched. I could not bring a job off on the 18th.

However, I intend to do the next job indoors.

Yours in haste,

Jack the Ripper – Albert Backert.”

“JACK THE RIPPER” AND “MRS MAYBRICK” AS GUYS

Meanwhile, The Dundee Evening Telegraph, on Wednesday, 6th November, 1889, was able to report on a new fashion in guys {i.e, Guy Fawkes’s] which had been evident in the lead up to the previous day’s celebration of Bonfire night:-

“The Fifth of November celebrations commemorating the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes, although not so extensively observed as in former years, were, to a more or less extent, carried out yesterday morning in different parts of the metropolis.

At an early hour in the morning,  gangs of men and boys turned out in Westminster and Chelsea, some of them with most elaborately dressed “guys” and in the South and East of London there were numerous displays of a similar kind, the figures in several instances being labelled Jack the Ripper and Mrs. Maybrick.”

An illustration reporting the death of James Matbirck showing his wife Florence in bed.
Florence Maybrick In Bed

THE FATUITY OF SCOTLAND YARD

The Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, on Saturday, 9th November, 1889, chose to take issue with the Chief Commissioner of Police, James Monro, and with the detectives of the Criminal Investigation Department, for what it saw as two cases that were a waste of police time:-

“Really, the fatuity of Scotland-yard passes all belief.

I have before me two cases in which the police endeavoured to distinguish themselves.

One of them is the case of a friend of mine who was suspected of burglary.

He came home one day and was told by his servant that the police had been making inquiries about him.

A constable had watched him going into his house and coming out, and was struck by the tremendous fact that he went in wearing a silk hat and came out in a low felt hat.

Then he jumped into a hansom, and that, of course, was the crowning proof of criminal enterprise.

But there was another piece of evidence.

This was a photograph which bore not the least resemblance in the world to my friend.

On this basis, Scotland-yard busied itself giving a vast amount of needless annoyance to a citizen who is quite as respectable as Mr. Monro [the Metropolitan Police Commissioner], and in cutting a supremely ridiculous figure.

A portrait of James Monro.
James Monro. From The Illustrated London News, 8th December 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.

THE SECOND CASE

No, not supremely.

That expression must, I think, be claimed by my second case.

A man has chambers in Victoria-street, which he uses only occasionally.

As a rule, he lives in South Kensington.

In a flat in the Victoria-street house dwells an old lady who is terrified out of her life by the stories of “Jack the Ripper.”

Someone plays a trick on this weakness by sending her a letter signed “Jack the Ripper,” and telling her that he means to call.

In a paroxysm of fright, she sends for the police.

They promptly inquire who has the suite of rooms on the floor below. It is the man who lives in South Kensington.

Off they go to South Kensington, and make inquiries there.

What is this man who has the criminal audacity to keep two sets chambers?

A medical student?

Why, of course, here is “Jack the Ripper” at last!

Where is he now? He has gone to Paris. Off rush the detectives in pursuit.

Well, he was in Paris, but he has gone to Geneva. Off they go to Geneva.

He had left Geneva and returned to London, where he got an inkling of what had been going on, and presented himself at Scotland-yard, in a towering rage, to demand what the Criminal Investigation Department meant by the proceedings.

And then the C.I.D. had to confess that it had been misled by a crazy old woman.

I will back Scotland-yard for downright imbecility against any asylum for idiots in Europe.”

“JACK THE RIPPER” VICTIM

The Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, on Friday, 15th November, 1889, carried a report about a lady whose death had, apparently, been caused by a real fear of the, still uncaught, miscreant of the East End atrocities:-

“The dead body of a woman named Alice Hoy, aged 40, of the unfortunate class, was found in a house in Camden-street, Birkenhead.

It is stated that, for some time past, this class of women in Birkenhead have been greatly terrified at the possible prospect of a visit from “Jack the Ripper”, and they have adopted a system of walking in twos and threes at night.

The police believe that death was caused by a fit, probably brought on by fear of meeting Jack the Ripper.”

A PANIC IN ST. PETERSBURG

The St. James’s Gazette, on Saturday, 16th November, 1889, reported on the fact that the phenomena of the writing of letters purporting to have been composed by the murderer had even reached St Petersburg:-

“For some days past, rumours have circulated in St. Petersburg of the appearance of “Jack the Ripper,” and a number of women have received threatening letters purporting to come from the murderer.

A panic seems to have been the consequence, and a great many applications on the subject to the police have induced General Gresser, the Prefect, to issue an announcement declaring the alarm to be unfounded, and stating that the letters in question are simply the production of practical jokers, who will be searched for by his officers and, if possible, made to pay dearly for their stupid amusement.”

A SCARE IN PARIS

The Cheltenham Chronicle, on Saturday, 16th November, 1889, decided to present its readers with an “amusing adventure” that had befallen a schoolmaster who had gone on a trip to Paris, and had managed to cause a sensation by forgetting where it was that he was actually staying:-

“An amusing adventure has befallen a provincial schoolmaster who went to Paris for the purpose of visiting the Exhibition.

On arriving in the city, he took a room in an hotel near the Central Markets, and, on a chair near his bed, he placed a portmanteau of fair size, in which there was a plump chicken, which he had brought to Paris for his own use.

In his anxiety to see the city, the schoolmaster walked out of his hotel without troubling himself about the address of the place.

He wandered about the streets nearly half the night looking for his hostelry, but had to give up the search at last, and take a room in another establishment.

Three days and three nights the schoolmaster was absent from his belongings, which in the meantime emitted an odour so unpleasant that the suspicions of the hotel people were aroused, and they asked the nearest police inspector to step in and examine the luggage, which they were sure had been deposited in the hotel by a murderer, perhaps by “Jack the Ripper” himself.

The inspector came and saw the chicken, which was extremely high, and, after a day’s search, the erring owner of the decayed farmyard fowl was discovered in his new abode, and his long-lost property was restored to him.”

A SCARE IN STUTTGART

Meanwhile, as is evidenced by the following story, which appeared in The Western Morning News, on Wednesday, 27th November, 1889, people everywhere, not just in London and England, were on their guard lest the uncaught perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders should appear in their midst:-

“A Stuttgart paper states that panic has lately been occasioned to the female population in the town by a report which was circulated to the effect that “Jack the Ripper” was hidden in their midst and intended beginning operations in Stuttgart.

No maid-servant could be persuaded to start out after dark, and in all the schools the pupils insisted on leaving whatever lesson they were at as soon as it grew dusk.

The scare is supposed to have originated in the fact that the police received instructions from London by telegram to arrest a gang of forgers who were believed to be passing through Stuttgart on their way to Switzerland.”

HE’S IN MADRID NOW!

Finally, The St James’s Gazette, on Thursday, 28th November, 1889, published the following brief article about a similar scare that had taken place in Madrid:-

“A great excitement was created in Madrid yesterday by a report that “Jack the Ripper” had appeared in broad daylight.

Five hundred infuriated women, followed by many roughs, threatened to lynch the supposed criminal, whom the mounted and foot police had much trouble in lodging in safety in the police station.

The Civil Governor addressed the excited female crowd in vain.

The scare originated in a joke of a little street Arab, who mischievously raised the alarm when he noticed a young girl of ten years of age talking with a wretched old beggar tramp who had known better days.

He had been a servant in royal and noble palaces before he was disabled by sickness.

The beggar was only too glad of the protection of the police, and he was almost reluctant to leave the station.”

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

There can be little doubt that, although the Jack the Ripper murders may well have been long over by November, 1889, the name alone was sufficient to instil fear and panic in the hearts and minds of people all over the globe.

Indeed, as is evidenced by several of the stories from this particular round-up of the Victorian newspaper stories, the name “Jack the Ripper” has permeated the international consciousness.