Did Druitt Do It?

Laura Morris

Lavaughn Towell

FS 1973:12

24 April 2008

It Was All Too Much

            In the fall of 1888 in the Whitechapel District of London, five women were brutally murdered. All of them were known prostitutes, even if they were only working the streets on a part time basis. Their throats were cut and their lifeless bodies were left to be discovered in the wee hours of the morning. While the case was never solved, all five women’s deaths were attributed to a single man, Jack the Ripper. Numerous men were under suspicion, but many suspects were not even considered until the late 1900s.

 Mary Ann Nichols, or Polly as she was known, was born August 26, 1845. She married a printer’s machinist, William Nichols, on January 16, 1864. Together they had five children, but the marriage ended in 1880 after several episodes of Polly leaving her family (Sugden 42). The eldest went to live with his grandfather, while the other four remained with William. Records of Polly after the breakup are sketchy, but it was known that she lived in the Lambeth Workhouse for several years and that William refused to send an allowance after hearing that she was living with a man. The Guardians of the Parish of Lambeth attempted to charge William for not caring for his wife financially, but his explanation about another man dropped the charges (Sugden 43). Polly was thought to be “clean, quiet and inoffensive” by Mrs. Holland, a woman that Polly stayed with for six weeks. Most likely Polly was really an alcoholic and the passing of her forty-third birthday without money or a stable way of life sent her into a drunken stupor (Sugden 45). On August 31, 1888 the body of Polly Nichols was discovered by a carman that was traveling down Buck’s Row to work. He beckoned another carman that was coming his way and they both examined her still form. Believing she was dead, they called the police (Sugden 36). An inspector’s report cataloged her wounds. Her throat was cut down to the spinal column, a long jagged line was torn down her abdomen, and there were two stabs on her private area (Sugden 40).

 Annie Chapman was well-acquainted with the streets of Whitechapel. Since the death of her first born child, her son being a cripple, and her daughter dying of meningitis at the tender age of twelve, Annie’s marriage disintegrated. Although her husband was sending her an allowance, she had skills in crochet working and sold flowers, her drinking forced her to turn to prostitution in order to survive. She was a bit of a nomad, but stayed in the Whitechapel portion of London (Sugden 76). On September 8, 1888 her body was discovered in the yard at No. 29 of Hanbury Street. She was forty-seven when she died. Her injuries included a slice in her throat, open abdominal cavity, and organs arranged around her corpse. There were signs of strangulation and accounts that led investigators to believe she was killed very shortly before being discovered (Sugden 86).

Elizabeth Stride was a very imaginative woman. Instead of disclosing any truth about her background, she fashioned her own version. She told everyone that her husband and two children had drowned when the Princess Alice sank in the Thames on September 3, 1878. Since this was the only story that she consistently told, no one she lived with knew where she came from or what she had really done with her life for forty plus years (Sugden 192). It was uncovered that she really was married, but he had survived the disaster by six years. A dentist proved that the disfiguration of her mouth was not due to a man attempting to escape death kicking her in the face, but rather a birth defect. It is thought that her stories were covering for a failed marriage (Sugden 193).  She was really born Elizabeth Gustafsdotter on November 27, 1843. She moved from parish to parish as a teenager working as a domestic (Sugden 193). The police of Gothenburg registered her as a prostitute in March of 1865 and registers record her several visits to Kurhuset for treatment of venereal diseases and the birth of her still-born daughter. She was married to John Thomas Stride on March 7, 1869. The couple began to have troubles in the 1870s and they separated (Sugden 194). This was when she began using the tale of her husband’s death to gain charity from the Church (Sugden195). At one in the morning of September 30, 1888, the body of Elizabeth Stride was discovered by a man driving a horse. The horse seemed a bit spooked when they entered George Yard and took to the left of the street. The driver noticed the figure on the ground and, upon striking a match, discovered that it was a woman (Sugden 167). The neighbors that came out to investigate noticed that her blood was still flowing from the wound across her neck. This was the only injury she sustained, most likely because the killer was interrupted She was forty-five(Sugden 169).

Catherine Eddowes was born on April 14, 1842. Her family moved to London not long after her birth and Kate was said to have attended a charity school, but no records stating her name exist. Her mother died in 1855 and her father followed in 1857 (Sugden 233). She then went to stay with an aunt in Wolverhampton, but did not reside there very long. Instead, she moved in with her uncle on Bagot Street. A few years later, Kate met and fell in love with Thomas Conway. They moved in together in Birmingham and, although they never married, stayed together over twenty years and had three children. They moved back to London in 1881 and soon separated. Kate’s sister Emma was sure it was a result of Kate’s drinking problem (Sugden 234). Her family and John Kelly, the man she lived with before her death, all claimed that she was not in the habit of soliciting on the street, was always timely on her rent, and was normally in bed by ten o’clock. These are most likely lies to cover her memory and retain the reputation of Kelly (Sugden 235). On September 30, 1888 Catherine’s body was found in a corner of Mitre Square. Her throat was cut and her dress rode so high on her breast that the awful gashes from the chest down through the stomach were clearly discernable. Her entrails had been removed and wrapped around her neck while her face was slashed and her nose was cut to lie on her cheek. She was forty-six (Sugden 176).

Mary Jane Kelly was born in Limerick, Ireland and soon thereafter her family moved to Wales. Her father was John Kelly and iron worker in Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire. Mary was said to have six or seven brothers and one sister. When Mary was sixteen, she married a collier named Davies. Unfortunately, two or three years into their union, he is killed in an explosion. After his death, she went to live with her cousin in Cardiff who introduces her to the world of prostitution. However, the police in Cardiff have no record of her career as she was ill and staying at the infirmary for most of time she lived there. She moved to London in 1884 and may have stayed at the Providence row convent on Chrisp Street. It was said that when she first arrived in London that she worked in a high-end brothel and kept the company of high class gentlemen. One in particular allowed her to ride around in his carriage and once took her to live in Paris. She was only there a week and decided that she did not like it there. Of course, her brief stay did not affect the attitude she gained from being in such company. She was twenty-five and the most stuck-up prostitute in Whitechapel. She carried herself with the airs of an East End lady. For a brief stint in 1886, Mary stays with a Morganstone and then leaves him to live in Colley’s lodging house in Thrawl Street. There she met Joseph Barnett. After their second meeting, the couple decided to live together and set up residence at No. 13 Miller’s Court. They broke up because Mary was harboring a fellow prostitute and Barnett did not like her on the streets in the first place. They remained friends and he would sometimes give her money. On November 9, 1888, while trying to get Mary to pay her rent, Thomas Bowyer looks through the window and sees her mutilated body on the bed. Her throat was cut, she was disemboweled, it appeared that she had been hacked with an axe, and parts of her were placed on the nightstand (Casebook).

If one killer was responsible for all five murders, then they fall into the killing pattern of a serial killer. Typically, this type of murderer kills their victims in different locations with many months between attacks, however, the Jack the Ripper murders took place at intervals of a month or less. Nevertheless, these murders follow a pattern. All of the victims were prostitutes at the time of death, therefore they were vulnerable and also subject to a mission-oriented killer. This means that Jack may have had a physical or mental disability that he accredited to whores and had concluded that the world would be better without. Excluding Mary, the women were in their forties and victims of failed marriages. They purposely put themselves in danger, either from violence or sexually transmitted diseases, to make a living (Generalized).

Normally, killers of this type and subtype would be “white males, aged 25 – 34, of at least average intelligence, and often with charming personalities.” They favor “hands-on methods such as strangulation and stabbing” and are often “preoccupied with sadistic fantasies involving domination and control of their victims.” The evidence of Jack the Ripper includes bruising from forcefully restraining the victims and very deep lacerations of the throat (Generalized).

Montague John Druitt was born on August 15, 1857 to surgeon William Druitt of Wimborne in Dorset and his wife, Anne Druitt (Sugden 380). He was the second born of seven and second son of the couple. When he was thirteen years old, Druitt received a scholarship to Winchester College (Rumbelow 150). He spent six years there and, in 1876, earned a scholarship to New College, Oxford. In 1880 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and, three years later, purchased his Master’s degree. Two years later he enrolled his name at the Inns of Court, a law school. Normally a student would enroll directly from a university, but Druitt could have taken a year from pursuing law in favor of medicine. To fund his schooling, Druitt acquired the legacy that his father had left him in the event of his mother’s death or his twenty-fourth birthday  (Rumbelow 151). Since that was not enough, Druitt began teaching at a school in Blackheath and became the master the year after. He remained there until the abrupt dismissal by his employer. The two most accepted reasons would be because of his homosexuality or the fact that he believed he was going insane (Rumbelow 152).

By this time his mother was already confined in Chiswick at a private mental home, presumably suffering from “melancholia and brain disease” (Rumbelow 152). The suicide letter that his brother found refers to a visit that Druitt made to his mother after being fired, “Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother and the best thing for me is to die” (Rumbelow 153). After composing such a note, around the night of December 3, 1888 when he was last seen alive, Druitt weighted his pockets with rocks and threw himself into the Thames. Four weeks later, his decomposing corpse was dragged from the water (Rumbelow 152).

Montague Druitt was a thirty-one year old white male with a history of mental insanity, minimal medical knowledge, and resided in the Whitechapel District of London during the murders. Any murders that took place after Druitt’s suicide could not be classified as Ripper kills, therefore his death coincides with a cease of victims. The trauma of his mother becoming insane could have resulted in his becoming a “sexually dysfunctional adult” who was “unable to sustain a mature, consensual relationship with another adult.” This alone could have triggered his hatred of prostitutes.

Works Cited

Casebook. “Mary Jane Kelly A.K.A. Marie Jeanette Kelly, Mary Ann Kelly, Ginger.” 20 April 2008. < http://casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html&gt;.

“Generalized Characteristics of Serial Murderers: Mass Murderers, Spree Killers, and Serial Murderers.” Criminal Profile Research. 20 April 2008. <http://www.criminalprofiling.ch/character.html>.

Holmes, R. “The Holmes Typology (Part 1).” 1996. Sage Publications. 20 April 2008. <http://psychology.concordia.ca/fac/Laurence/forensic/holmes1.pdf&gt;.

Rumbelow, Donald. Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook. New York: Berkley, 1988.

Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002.


One Response to “Did Druitt Do It?”

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