The phenomena of the letter writers is a massively important part of the Jack the Ripper saga. Once the initial “Dear Boss” missive was made public, in early October, 1888, hoaxers across the land began reaching for their pens, and letters purporting to come from the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities were appearing in their thousands.
Indeed, I sometimes wonder if the record profits being reported by the Post Office around this time might have been the result of the number of letters that “Jack the Ripper” was sending!
Many of these letters were sent to the two police forces – City of London and Metropolitan – that were investigating the murders.
Others, however, were sent to ordinary citizens, who must have bee, to say the least, somewhat perturbed, when the strange epistles dropped through their letterboxes and landed on their doormats.
JACK THE RIPPER’S PAL
One such letter was reproduced in full by The Congleton and Macclesfield Mercury, and Cheshire General Advertiser, on Saturday, 1st December, 1888:-
“The appended letter has been received by Mr. Thomas Porter, of Hucknall Torkard, who immediately handed it over to the county police.
The writer is supposed to be a man who was formerly in the employ of Mr. Porter, when that gentleman was in business as a saddler at Hucknall, and who went out to Colorado.
I CANNOT REIGN MUCH LONGER
The letter bore the “E.C.” postmark.
“November, London, E.C. Dr. Sir,
I now take the liberty of writing to you hoping I am not taking a liberty in doing so. I have no doubt you will be surprised to hear it is me and a pal of mine doing this work in Whitechapel; but I feel I cannot continue much longer – I shall have to give it up – cannot reign much longer.
Have been in America some years, and since leaving Colorado have been carrying on a “deadly ” (word omitted here) in the East of London.
I feel at this moment as if I could burn or blow all those dens down, and all those filthy low women in them.
I SEE ALL MY PAST LIFE
When I go to bed at night I can see all my past life before me, can see everything I have done wrong, and thousands of rats: it is dreadful, and when I lie awake in the morning I fancy I’ve been dreaming I am not the man. It is too true, I am the right one.
Oh, Ido wish I had gone to Nottingham when I left Colorado, it makes me feel miserable.
THERE ARE TWO OF US
Most people think there is only one in the affair, but allow me to tell you – I guess there are two, and that is him who learnt me how to do it, a scamp, but I am as bad as him now, if not worse, for I never feel frightened in cutting a woman up now, felt at times I never should get caught, am just like a maniac.
Oh, how I wish I could do without any more of this sort of life I have been leading of late – must go on or my pal would do for me – I guess it is a sworn thing between us.
I SEE THE VERY DEVIL
When I am talking to a woman I can see the very Devil, would give my life any time If I could just speak to some of my old friends.
Do feel bad just now, hope the Lord will forgive me all the sins I have committed – always feel better in the afternoon when we go in a public-house, and hear some one reading about the Whitechapel affairs, have many a laugh as if I could not help it, when it is getting dark I do feel funny – my pal is a wild wretch, he has learned me how to do all this.
FROM NOTTS AND BAVARIA
I am a native of Notts, but lived in Hucknell some years ago.
My pal is a Bavarian, I guess.
We met on board a steamship, and I assure you I was mesmerised when I had found out his hideous calling, which had been concealed from me for some time. I had become so intimate with him, and he cast a sort of spell over me.
WE ARE NOT THE CAUSE
Myself and my pal are just what they call “Jack the Ripper,” we are not the cause of all the nonsense about that letter-writing and that writing on the wall, we have never done anything of the sort.
You must not allow any hope to exist in your body, I really feel miserable, and scarcely know what to do with myself at this moment, expect we shall pop off another or two, when I guess we go back to Colorado never to return……
Yours good bye
JACK THE RIPPER’S PAL”