The Spiritualist Detectives

By early October, 1888, with the police quite evidently unable to catch the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities, numerous private individuals were coming forward to offer advice and opinions on how the killer, who by this time was becoming widely known as “Jack the Ripper”, might be brought to justice.

One group of concerned citizens, who began approaching the police all over the country, were the spiritualists.

Seances were being held all over the land, in the course of which the mediums were said to be communicating with the spirits of the victims, several of whom were “coming through” in order to help point the police in the right direction with a view to cracking the case and, finally, catching the perpetrator.

A lady spiritualist dressed in black talks to a seated policeman.
A Spiritualist Gives Advice To A Police Officer. From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 20th October, 1888.


The following article, about the activities of a group of spiritualists in London, appeared in The Dundee Courier on Monday, 8th October, 1888:-

“An extraordinary statement bearing upon the Whitechapel tragedies was made to the Cardiff police yesterday by a respectable-looking elderly woman, who stated that she was a Spiritualist, and in company with five other persons had held a seance on Saturday night.

They summoned the spirit of Elizabeth Stride, and after some delay, the spirit came, and in answer to their questions, she stated that her murderer was a middle-aged man, whose name she mentioned, and who resided at a given number in Commercial Road Street [sic], Whitechapel, and who belonged to a gang of twelve.


The Medium and Daybreak, a weekly journal devoted to Spiritualism, gives a record of a series of seances, which, it is contended, threw some light on the Whitechapel murders.

The medium was a Mrs C. Spring, through whom it is stated that the spirit of Mary Ann Nicholls [sic], the third of the Whitechapel victims, and the first whose remains were mutilated after death, has revisited this earth.

The first seance was held at the house of a Mr. Warren, 245 Kentish Town Road, London, N.W.

There were several persons present, and the correctness of what transpired is certified by Mr. and Mrs. Warren and three other witnesses.


Before quoting from the proceedings, we should explain for the benefit of readers unacquainted with the Spiritualistic vocabulary that the “guides” referred to are certain spirits who can claim the medium as their own.

Most mediums, we believe, have a certain number of guides who have exclusive use of the medium’s powers, when in the trance state, to communicate with this world, and without whose consent no strange spirit can possess the medium.


The date of the seance was September 6th, six days after the murder of Mrs Nicholls, and one day before the discovery the body of Mrs Chapman.

“The medium, Mrs. Spring, was controlled, and appeared in great pain all over the body, as if suffering from severe wounds in the body; also went through the action as if cutting her throat.

One of the sitters (being impressed) asked the control if it was the spirit of Mrs. Nicholls, the woman who had been murdered at Whitechapel a short time ago, and the spirit answered “Yes,” adding “The fiend! the fiend! I am not the only victim; there will be others yet. More, more, before long, and of a more brutal kind. The police are asleep; in fact, it required soldiers to keep watch. There is a gang of them. ‘Tis a secret society.”

The control also said that it was impossible for anyone present to form an opinion of her sufferings and that she was still suffering; in fact,  she could not come out of her condition at present, and asked the circle if she would be permitted to come, and all present answered yes.

The control then left the meeting, wishing all “Goodnight,” and thanking them.”


The second seance took place at 38 Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill, N.W., on September 10th, Mrs. Spring again being the medium.

During the seance, the spirit of Mary Ann Nicholls, who was murdered at Whitechapel, came, and on being asked by one of the sitters whether the police were on the right track, answered: “No, not yet.”

A gentleman asked if they would succeed in finding the murderer.

She answered, “Yes, but not yet.”

The gentleman then remarked, “It is only too true, friend, what you foretold at Warren’s on Thursday, September 6th, for there has, indeed, been another poor victim to the same cruelty, and it is within thirty-six hours after you foretold it.”

The spirit answered, “Yes, there has been another victim, and there will be more yet.”


While under the influence, Mrs. Spring continued to describe.

She said – “I see a man, medium height, dark beard, dark eyes, and dark hair, thickset, with muscular arms. He has on a dark, soft felt hat, slouched over his eyes; his coat and trousers are of a light colour, dressed after the fashion of navvy, but his face has the appearance of someone who moves in a higher grade of life. His expression is that of foreigner. His coat is buttoned round his neck, but he has got arms in the sleeves. He has no waistcoat on, and his shirt sleeves are rolled up, and under his coat. I see something bright. He wears a narrow stripe round the waist of his trousers.”

A group of three man watch a Jack the Ripper suspect.
A Suspect Is Watched. From The Illustrated London News, 13th October 1888.


At this point of the vision Mrs. Spring was fully controlled, and the control said she was Mary Ann Nicholls, the murdered woman, and that the guides had found her wandering about in trouble and despair, and they had brought her to the circle that she might find some comfort.

She also stated that she would not be happy until the murderers were brought to justice, not from any feelings of revenge, but purely in the interest of others, she again repeated that there would be more victims to the diabolical plot.

She would help to hunt the murderer down, and it would be one whom the police little dream of.”