Tumblety Talks

In early 1889, now safely ensconced in America, Dr Francis Tumblety decided to speak to the American newspapers to give his version of the story as to why the London police had arrested him on suspicion of being the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders.

The following interview appeared in The Boston Daily Globe on Tuesday 29th January, 1889.


He Was Mistaken For “Jack The Ripper” Because He Was An American And Wore A Slouch Hat.
He Pays His Respects To The “Stupid” London Police.

After months of profound silence. Dr. Tumblety. whose name in connection with the Whitechapel crimes has become a household word, has, at last, consented to be interviewed and give his version of how he came to figure so prominently in the most remarkable series of tragedies recorded in the list of crimes.

The doctor landed in New York on the 3rd of last December.

The police long since ceased to take any interest in the case, as it became evident that the English had no evidence to hold the doctor.

Finding himself no longer pursued,  the doctor concluded to satisfy the public by making a complete statement himself. With this object in view, he has carefully prepared a pamphlet, giving a history of his life.

It will be a refutation of all the charges that have been made against him.


The pictures that have been published of Dr. Tumblety in London and New York give a very good idea of him.

Dr. Tumblety talks in a quick, nervous fashion, with a decided English accent, and at times, when describing his treatment by the English police, he would get up from his chair and walk rapidly around the room until he became calm.

A sketch of Dr Francis Tumblety.
Dr Francis Tumblety


“My arrest came about in this way,” said he. “I had been going over to England for a long time – ever since 1869, indeed – and I used to go about the city a great deal, until every part of it became familiar to me. I happened to be there when the Whitechapel murders attracted the attention of the whole world, and,  in company with thousands of other people, I went down to the Whitechapel district. I was not dressed in a way to attract attention, I thought, though it afterwards turned out that I was. I was interested by the excitement, the crowds and the queer scenes and sights and I did not know that all the time I was being followed by English detectives.”

“Why did they follow you?”

“My guilt was very plain to the English mind. Someone had said that Jack the Ripper was an American, and everybody believed that statement. Then it is the universal belief among the lower classes that all Americans wear slouch hats: therefore. Jack the Ripper must wear a slouch hat.

Now. I happened to have one, and this, together with the fact that I was an American, was enough for the police. It established my guilt beyond any question.”


The doctor produced from an inside porket two magnificent diamonds, one 13 carats and the other nine carats, both of the purest quality, and a superb cluster ring set in diamonds. He said that, in his opinion, his arrest was due in a measure to the police desiring his diamonds and thinking they could force him to give them up.

“How long were you in prison?”

“Two or three days; but I don’t care to talk about it. When I think of the way I was treated in London it makes me lose control of myself. It was shameful, horrible.”


“What do you think of the London police?”

“I think their conduct in this Whitechapel affair is enough to show what they are, they stuff themselves all day with pot-pies and beef, and they drink gallons of stale beer, keeping it up until they go to bed late at night, and then wake up the next morning heavy as lead.

Why, all the English police have dyspepsia. They can’t help it. Then their heads are as thick as the London fogs. You can’t drive an idea through their thick skulls with a hammer. I never saw such a stupid set.

Look at their treatment of me. There was absolutely not one single scintilla of evidence against me. I had simply been guilty of wearing a slouch hat, and for that I was held, charged with a series of the most horrible crimes ever recorded.

Why, if Inspector Byrnes was ever in London with some of his men they would have had the Whitechapel fiend long ago.

But this is all very unpleasant to me, and I would prefer talking about something else.”


“You are accused of being a woman-hater. What have you to say to that?”

This seemed to amuse the doctor a great deal. He laughed loud and long. Then he said :_

“I don’t care to talk about the ladies. but I will show you one little evidence that I am not regarded with aversion by the sex.

I will first explain how it came to me.

I had received a letter of introduction to a duchess. who was then at Torquay, which is several hundred miles from London. I presented my letter, and I was invited to breakfast with her.

When I came I presented her with a bouquet of flowers, and she picked up a quill which was lying on the table nearby and dashed off the following stanzas extempore:-

To Francis Tumblety, M. D.
Thanks for lovely rosebuds sent,
Its beauty may be fleeting,
But not its sentiment;
And, as its charming beauty
Nor color cannot last.
It will be a pleasant duty,
In memory of the past,
To guard the faded flowers 
When you have gone from me,
In memory of the hour
You Came to sweet Torquay (pronounced Torkee).

“Now, that doesn’t look like a woman-hater, does it?” said the doctor, with a look of pride.

He then exhibited a number of letters from well-known people, certifying to his character and integrity. Some of the letters were from English patients.


The doctor added that he was a frequenter of some of the best London clubs, among others the Carleton Club and the Beefsteak Club.

He said that he was the victim of circumstances when this horrible charge was first brought, and since then has been attacked on all sides, and no one had a good word to say for him.

“It is strange, too,” he added, “because I don’t remember ever to have done any human being any harm.”