In late 1888 a French physician specialising in “homicidal mania” who ran a private, exclusive asylum in the secluded countryside, travelled to a plush hotel in Paris accompanied by two colleagues. There they met three English gentlemen: two men under forty escorting a very ill third man who was somewhat younger. One introduced himself as a lawyer and close “friend” of the mentally troubled patient who lay incoherent on a couch. The third Englishman introduced himself as the patient’s cousin and also divulged that he was a clergyman. At this revelation the lawyer quickly added that the patient had “no other relatives”. The latter was briskly deemed insane by the French physicians and, by the end of the day, this English gentleman awoke in his own bedroom at the sanatorium wondering where he was and how he got there.
This attempt by a respectable though desperate English family, one made up of doctors, lawyers, military officers and priests, to hide at great expense and risk their maniacal member abroad would quickly prove a failure. Tipped off by an English-speaking attendant at the asylum, the police net began fast-closing initially in France and then in England. Only the suicide of “Jack the Ripper” in the Thames River saved this clan from social ruin.
Too many books on this subject are built on the assumption that the top police didn’t have a clue as to the true identity of the Whitechapel assassin. The once battered credibility of the unusually upper class police chief, Sir Melville Leslie Macnaghten, has been comprehensively rehabilitated by the authors. Sir Melville believed he had solved the mystery and, later, broadly shared the ‘drowned toff’ solution with the Edwardian public - albeit the murderer was un-named and a few of his particulars were fictionalised. When the truth had leaked to the press back in 1891, it was this Old Etonian’s discreet help that saved the Druitt family from public disgrace. It was not, however, a complete act of charity on Macnaghten’s part as he also had a personal reason to stop the complete story from ever being known.
Meticulous research has enabled this multi-layered story to finally be told, one which stretches across the breadth of English Victorian society; from the squalor and degradation of the East End to the genteel middle and upper classes of Kensington and Dorset. This is an “Upstairs Downstairs” expose of an accomplished, “good” Victorian family who were pillars of the Church of England and the bourgeoisie establishment, and the drastic, extra-legal actions they took when confronted with such a terrible dilemma - “Jack the Ripper” was one of their own.
Educator and author Jonathan Julian Hainsworth is a high school History and English teacher with over thirty years experience. Australian born, Jonathan was raised in Adelaide and is a graduate of the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia.
Jonathan’s first book, an academic work was essentially an exploration of Scotland Yard Chief Sir Melville Macnaghten and his involvement in the “Jack the Ripper” case. This book received positive reviews and television, print and radio attention.
Jonathan has a passion for historical investigation and the testin...
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Christine Ward-Agius was born in Adelaide, South Australia and is a researcher and working artist. Previously she worked for many years in the Welfare sector, gaining particular experience in a program designed to help empower women to escape poverty via education and employment.
The insight gained from this area of work gave Christine an added interest while assisting her partner Jonathan Hainsworth when writing his first book on “Jack the Ripper.” Christine’s research helped discover previously unknown sources that strengthened the original, long-ignored police solution...
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