On Tuesday the 2nd of October, 1888, the following article appeared in The Pall Mall Gazette. The article gave details of many of the suggestions that were circulating in the newspapers about ways in which the Whitechapel Murderer – who was now being referred to increasingly as “Jack the Ripper” – might be brought to justice.
In addition, the article also took a look at some of the theories that were being bandied about concerning the identity of the perpetrator of the atrocities, and what his possible motivation might be.
It is more than apparent that some of the theories are, to say the least, given tongue-in-cheek, but what is interesting about them is that they give us an idea of the discussions that were taking place in the popular press at the time, as the police were viewed as being hopelessly inadequate when it came to the task of catching Jack the Ripper.
WHO IS THE MURDERER AND HOW MAY HE BE CAUGHT?
“The following suggestions, for the most part more or less aimless and absurd, have been culled from the morning papers in reference to the murders in the East-end:-
OFFER A REWARD
Mr. Matthews is opposed to the offer of blood money.
“Rewards did more harm than good;” “there was nothing to justify such a departure from recognised rules,” &c.; and so he has declined £300 offered him as a contribution from the public.
£2,000, or thereabouts is now offered, but not by the Home Office.
PARDON TO ACCOMPLICES
There is a theory that the murderer must be known to someone who has withheld information in expectation of a reward, he is now afraid. Promise him a pardon.
BLOODHOUNDS SHOULD BE TRIED
Bloodhounds should be at least tried out on the streets of Whitechapel.
They ran Fish, the Blackburn barber, to earth – and it is suggested that they should be tried in Whitechapel. Mr. Percy Lindley, a breeder of bloodhounds, says that as all trace of the scent has been trodden out, they would be useless at present, but suggests that a pair of these dogs should be kept for a time at one of the police head-quarters, ready for immediate use.
EVERY ONE TO REPORT TO THE POLICE BEFORE GOING TO BED
Another idea is to draw a line round the area of the murders, constitute a number of temporary police stations, and make every man living in the area report himself to the police before going to bed.
It is seriously suggested by a correspondent in The Daily Telegraph that, after dark in certain parts of London, every policeman ought to have the right of stopping and searching any one they encounter to see if he carries a knife, such as must have been used in all these hideous crimes.
HE COMES FROM TEXAS
The Daily News says that some time ago Texas was horrified by a similar series of murders. They have ceased. Perhaps the murderer has crossed the Atlantic and renewed his experiments in Whitechapel.
A FANATICAL VIVISECTIONIST
A surgical theory comes from Paris that the murderer is a fanatical vivisectionist and disciple of Hoeckel, the German naturalist, who followed in the steps of Darwin in studying the origin of species, and who advanced some startling ideas that have not yet been established.
POLICEMEN IN RUBBER SHOES
Policemen have mostly big feet, wear thick boots, and have a heavy tread. If they wore list or rubber shoes they might come on the murderer unawares.
POLICEMEN AS WOMEN
That policemen should disguise themselves as women, and act as decoys. The policemen say they have beards and bass voices.
Some suggest that a census of the men employed in slaughter-houses should be taken.
PROSTITUTES AND PISTOLS
That every street-walker should carry a pistol.
WOMEN WALK IN COUPLES
It is suggested that Whitechapel prostitutes should walk in couples.
THE GANG THEORY
Some think that such a series of murders could only have been successfully executed by a gang of two or more.
THE WORK OF A RELIGIOUS MANIAC
“The murders point to one individual, and that individual insane. Not necessarily an escaped, or even as yet recognised lunatic.
He may be an earnest religionist with a delusion that he has a mission from above to extirpate vice by assassination. And he has selected his victims from a class which contributes pretty largely to the factorship of immorality and sin.”
THE BURKE AND HARE THEORY
Suggested by Mr. Wynne Baxter, that the murderer is employed to get anatomical specimens for some experimentalist.
THE JEKYLL AND HYDE THEORY
That the murderer lives two lives, and inhabits two houses or two sets of rooms.
BY A POLICEMAN.
That no one but a policeman could have eluded vigilance. Therefore —–
That some of Lipski’s compatriots have turned wholesale murderers for the purpose of showing that the police are mostly fools.
THE SCIENTIFIC SOCIOLOGIST
That the murderer is a scientific sociologist who wishes to bring forcibly before the public mind the natural corollary of the impunity with which the maiming of women is regarded by the magistrates and judges.
A REWARD FROM THE CITY
NONE FROM THE HOME OFFICE
The Lord Mayor, acting upon the advice of the Commissioner of City Police, has, in the name of the Corporation of London, offered a reward of £500 for the detection of the Whitechapel murderer, the last crime having been committed within the jurisdiction of the City.
The following is the placard offering the reward:-
MURDER £500 REWARD
Whereas, at 1.45 A.M. on Sunday, the 30th of September last, a woman, name unknown, was found brutally murdered in Mitre-square, Aldgate, in this City, a reward of £500 will be paid by the Commissioner of Police of the City of London to any person (other than a person belonging to a police force in the United Kingdom) who shall give such information as shall lead to the discovery and conviction of the murderer or murderers.
Information to be given to the Inspector of the Detective Department, 26, Old Jewry, or at any police-station.
JAMES FRASER, Colonel, Commissioner.
A CHEQUE RETURNED
The Home Secretary, having had forwarded to him a cheque for £300, for the purpose of a reward being offered, has returned the cheque, with the intimation that such a course would not be attended with any useful result.
But the prompt action of the Lord Mayor in offering a reward for the apprehension of the Mitre-square murderer has been received with general satisfaction.
The sum offered by his lordship, together with £400 which two news papers offer to supply, the £100 offered by Mr. Montagu, M.P., and the £200 collected by the Vigilance Committee, make an aggregate sum of £1,200.
It is probable that the reward will be increased to £2,000, as the Lord Mayor has been urged to open a subscription list, and some members of the Stock Exchange seem disposed to take the matter up.
Colonel Sir Alfred Kirby, J.P., the officer commanding the Tower Hamlets Battalion Royal Engineers, has offered, on behalf of his officers, a reward of £100, to be paid to anyone who will give information that would lead to the discovery and conviction of the perpetrator of the recent murders committed in the district in which his regiment is situated.”