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The Complete Jack The Ripper A to Z
By Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2015 Paul Begg, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner
All rights reserved.
Treasurer of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.
Landlord (1882–89) of the Crown at 74 Mile End Road, at the junction with Jubilee Street (the pub no longer exists), and the Horns (1891–99, when the pub was taken over by Solomon Aarons) at 53 Middlesex Street.
From about 11 September 1888, when the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee was formed, nightly meetings were held in an upstairs room in the Crown. Aarons was one of the men approached by George Lusk following his receipt of the kidney and who accompanied Lusk to the offices of the Evening News (Evening News, 19 October 1888) to show journalists the kidney before taking it to the police.
ABBERLINE, INSPECTOR FREDERICK GEORGE (1843–1929)
Metropolitan Police Inspector in charge of detectives on the ground in the Whitechapel murders investigation.
No certain photograph of Inspector Abberline has been discovered, although there are a number of pen-and-ink portraits. Walter Dew, who served under Abberline in the early part of his career, described him in his autobiography as 'portly and gentle speaking. The type of police officer – and there have been many – who might easily have been mistaken for the manager of a bank or a solicitor.'
Born in Blandford, Dorset, the fourth and youngest child of Edward Abberline and Hannah (née Chinn). Frederick was apprenticed to a clock and watchmaker, and served 35 days in the militia before joining the Metropolitan Police in 1863 (warrant no. 43519) and being posted to N Division (Islington). In August 1865, he was promoted to sergeant and then transferred to Y Division (Highgate) in October. He spent the whole of 1867 in plain clothes investigating Fenian activities. On 18 March he married labourer Tobias Mackness's 25-year-old daughter Martha, but she died of consumption in May 1868 at Elton, Northam-ptonshire. The 1871 Census lists him as resident at Kentish Town Road Police Station with 11 other officers, all widowers.
In 1873, he was promoted to inspector and transferred to H Division (Whitechapel), where he remained for the next 14 years. Married Emma Beament, daughter of merchant Henry Beament, in 1876. Two years later, promoted to local inspector (head of Divisional CID). The 1881 Census shows Frederick and Emma resident at Commercial Road Police Station. Inspector Henry Bugby and his wife Mary also lived there.
In 1885, Abberline was extremely active in the case against Fenian dynamitards Burton and Cunningham, who intended to explode a bomb at the Tower of London. At that point death threats were made against him.
In 1887, he transferred first to A Division (Whitehall: the Division originally stationed at the back of the Commissioner's Office in Whitehall Place, facing out onto Scotland Yard), and then to CO Division (Commissioner's Office, Whitehall Place, by now colloquially known as 'Scotland Yard' since entrance was normally through the A Division premises at the back of the building). This effectively moved him onto the 'general staff' of the Metropolitan Police and out of field work. Promoted to inspector first class in 1888 and chief inspector in 1890 (career information and militia service from Register of A Division Inspectors).
On 7 June 1890, the Police Orders reported the Commissioner had received a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions commending Abberline and the police for 'tact caution and judgement displayed by them throughout the lengthy proceedings and investigations that have taken place during the last nine months in connection with the Cleveland-street case.' Much of his time as local inspector in Whitechapel was taken up with gambling dens, dog-stealing, and disorderly drunkenness. After transfer to Scotland Yard, he worked on more renowned cases (the Ripper, the Cleveland Street male brothel, the Netherby Hall burglars who murdered a policeman), as well as a good deal of fraud and some pornography suppression.
He and Emma lodged in a household headed by Miss Anne Polsford in Mayflower Road, Clapham, in 1891. Retired on full pension in 1892 and worked as a private enquiry agent, including three seasons at Monte Carlo. He accepted the European agency of Allen Pinkerton's famous detective agency in 1898. Then, in 1901, he and Emma headed a household in Clapham Road with a servant and two lodgers (Census data). One of the lodgers, John Philip Collins, was a journalist on the Pall Mall Gazette, which may be of interest in connection with the important interviews Abberline gave to that journal two years later.
In 1904, he retired to Methuen Road, Bournemouth, moving in 1911 to nearby Holdenhurst Road, where he died in 1929. A plaque in his memory was placed on the building at the 2004 Ripper Conference. Buried in an unmarked grave (no. Z259N) in Wimborne Road Cemetery, Bournemouth. His death was registered by Bella Huslling (spelled thus on the death certificate). His wife, Emma, died in 1930. A headstone was erected for both in 2007 as a result of the dedicated efforts of retired Metropolitan Police officer Arthur Robin Stanners, who died in 2008.
Theorists have sometimes argued for a suspicious significance in Abberline's retirement aged only 49, especially as he investigated both the Ripper and the Cleveland Street Scandal. However, the 1890 Police Bill (seeHenry Matthews and James Monro) provided for early retirement with improved pension opportunities and, although only intended for officers injured or debilitated by their duties, it created a lucrative opportunity to enjoy well-paid leisure and the freedom to earn additional money. Abberline was one of many to seize the opportunity.
Very little is known about Abberline. However, towards the end of his life he compiled a press-cutting book for a friend, Walter Green, with brief handwritten annotations. He observed that at the time of his retirement he had received 84 commendations and awards, something which he felt was near to a record. Also, at that time the authorities objected to officers writing their memoirs – which, he agreed, tended to reveal police methods to the criminal classes. Nevertheless, he did start writing 'Reminiscences', of which there are 28 handwritten pages concerning a 'missing person' case and a further 12 recounting his recollections of Monte Carlo. In neither the press-cutting book nor the 'Reminiscences' does he allude to what are today regarded as his most important cases.
All accounts agree that he was able and efficient, and possessed more intimate knowledge of the East End and its underworld than any police contemporary. Walter Dew stressed in his autobiography that Abberline's 'strong suit was his knowledge of crime and criminals in the East End ... No question at all of Inspector Abberline's abilities as a criminal hunter.'
Because of the importance of his role in the investigation, Abberline's thoughts on the Ripper case deserve detailed consideration. The Star and the Daily Telegraph (15 September 1888) reported that 'Mr Phillips [see Dr George Bagster Phillips] personally has hitherto withheld information from reporters upon conscientious grounds, and Inspector Abberline himself says that the surgeon has not told him what portions of the body were missing.' Cassell's Saturday Journal, 22 May 1892, quoted him as saying, 'Theories! ... we were lost almost in theories: there were so many of them.' But the paper then commented, 'Nevertheless, he has one which is new. He believes from the evidence of his own eyesight that the Miller's Court atrocity was the last of the real series, the others having been imitations, and that in Miller's Court the murderer reached the culminating point of gratification of his morbid ideas.'
In 1903 Abberline gave two extremely important interviews to the Pall Mall Gazette (24 and 31 March). These were in response to press suggestions that the Ripper was Severin Klosowski, who had recently been convicted of murder under the name of George Chapman. The journalist reportedly found Abberline 'surrounded with a sheaf of documents and newspaper cuttings' dealing with the Whitechapel murders and in the process of writing to Sir Melville Macnaghten about 'how strongly [he] was impressed with the opinion' that Chapman was the Ripper. The article continued:
'I have been so struck with the remarkable coincidences in the two series of murders,' he continued, 'that I have not been able to think of anything else for several days past – not, in fact, since the Attorney-General made his opening statement at the recent trial, and traced the antecedents of Chapman before he came to this country in 1888. Since then the idea has taken full possession of me, and everything fits in and dovetails so well that I cannot help feeling that this is the man we struggled so hard to capture fifteen years ago.
'My interest in the Ripper cases was especially deep. I had for fourteen years previously been an inspector of police in Whitechapel, but when the murders began I was at the Central Office at Scotland Yard. On the application of Superintendent Arnold I went back to the East End just before Annie Chapman was found mutilated, and as chief of the detective corps I gave myself up to the study of the cases. Many a time, even after we had carried our inquiries as far as we could – and we made out no fewer than 1,600 sets of papers respecting our investigations – instead of going home when I was off duty, I used to patrol the district until four or five o'clock in the morning, and, while keeping my eyes wide open for clues of any kind, have many and many a time given those wretched, homeless women, who were Jack the Ripper's special prey, fourpence or sixpence for a shelter to get them away from the streets and out of harm's way.
'As I say,' he went on, 'there are a score of things which make one believe that Chapman is the man; and you must understand that we have never believed all those stories about Jack the Ripper being dead, or that he was a lunatic, or anything of that kind. For instance, the date of the arrival in England coincides with the beginning of the series of murders in Whitechapel; there is a coincidence also in the fact that the murders ceased in London when "Chapman" went to America, while similar murders began to be perpetrated in America after he landed there. The fact that he studied medicine and surgery in Russia before he came here is well established, and it is curious to note that the first series of murders was the work of an expert surgeon, while the recent poisoning cases were proved to be done by a man with more than an elementary knowledge of medicine. The story told by "Chapman's" wife of the attempt to murder her with a long knife while in America is not to be ignored, but something else with regard to America is still more remarkable.
'While the coroner was investigating one of the Whitechapel murders he told the jury a very queer story. You will remember that Dr Phillips, the divisional surgeon who made the post-mortem examination, not only spoke of the skilfulness with which the knife had been used, but stated that there was overwhelming evidence to show that the criminal had so mutilated the body that he could possess himself of one of the organs. The coroner, in commenting on this, said that he had been told by the sub-curator of the pathological museum connected with one of the great medical schools that some few months before an American had called upon him and asked him to procure a number of specimens. He stated his willingness to give £20 for each. Although the strange visitor was told that his wish was impossible of fulfilment, he still urged his request. It was known that the request was repeated at another institution of a similar character in London. The coroner at the time said: 'Is it not possible that a knowledge of this demand may have inspired some abandoned wretch to possess himself of the specimens? It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man; but, unfortunately, our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible!
'It is a remarkable thing,' Abberline pointed out, 'that after the Whitechapel horrors America should have been the place where a similar kind of murder began, as though the miscreant had not fully supplied the demand of the American agent.
'There are many other things extremely remarkable. The fact that Klosowski, when he came to reside in this country, occupied a lodging in George Yard, Whitechapel Road, where the first murder was committed, is very curious, and the height of the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him. All agree, too, that he was a foreign-looking man – but that, of course, helped us little in a district so full of foreigners as Whitechapel. One discrepancy only have I noted, and this is that the people who alleged that they saw Jack the Ripper at one time or another, state that he was a man about thirty-five or forty years of age. They, however, state that they only saw his back, and it is easy to misjudge age from a back view.'
(Pall Mall Gazette, 24 March 1903)
For further consideration of 'Chapman's wife', see references to Lucy Baderski under Klosowski. For the coroner's theory of the American doctor, seeWynne Baxter. For the witnesses with a rear view, seeMrs Darrell, but cf.Joseph Lawende and Israel Schwartz.
The interview was immediately challenged by some commentators, notably George R. Sims in the Referee (29 March 1903), who wrote, 'It is perfectly well known at Scotland Yard who "Jack" was, and the reasons for the police conclusions were given in the report to the Home Office, which was considered by the authorities to be final and conclusive' – which spurred the Pall Mall Gazette into interviewing Abberline again:
Since the Pall Mall Gazette a few days ago gave a series of coincidences supporting the theory that Klosowski, or Chapman, as he was for some time called, was the perpetrator of the 'Jack the Ripper' murders in Whitechapel fifteen years ago, it has been interesting to note how many amateur criminologists have come forward with statements to the effect that it is useless to attempt to link Chapman with the Whitechapel atrocities. This cannot possibly be the same man, it is said, because, first of all, Chapman is not the miscreant who could have done the previous deeds, and, secondly, it is contended that the Whitechapel Murderer has long been known to be beyond the reach of earthly justice.
In order, if possible, to clear the ground with respect to the latter statement particularly, a representative of the Pall Mall Gazette again called on Mr F.G. Abberline, formerly Chief Detective Inspector of Scotland Yard, yesterday, and elicited the following statement from him:
'You can state most emphatically,' said Mr Abberline, 'that Scotland Yard is really no wiser on the subject than it was fifteen years ago. It is simple nonsense to talk of the police having proof that the man is dead. I am, and always have been, in the closest touch with Scotland Yard, and it would have been next to impossible for me not to have known all about it. Besides, the authorities would have been only too glad to make an end of such a mystery, if only for their own credit.'
To convince those who have any doubts on the point, Mr Abberline produced recent documentary evidence which put the ignorance of Scotland Yard as to the perpetrator beyond the shadow of a doubt.
'I know,' continued the well-known detective, 'that it has been stated in several quarters that "Jack the Ripper" was a man who died in a lunatic asylum a few years ago, but there is nothing at all of a tangible nature to support such a theory.
Our representative called Mr Abberline's attention to a statement made in a well-known Sunday paper, in which it was made out that the author was a young medical student, who was found drowned in the Thames.
'Yes,' said Mr Abberline, 'I know all about that story. But what does it amount to? Simply this. Soon after the last murder in Whitechapel the body of a young doctor was found in the Thames, but there is absolutely nothing beyond the fact that he was found at that time to incriminate him. A report was made to the Home Office about the matter, but that it was "considered final and conclusive" is going altogether beyond the truth. Seeing that the same kind of murders began in America afterwards, there is much more reason to think the man emigrated. Then again, the fact that several months after December, 1888, when the student's body was found, the detectives were told still to hold themselves in readiness for further investigations seems to point to the conclusion that Scotland Yard did not in any way consider the evidence as final.'
But what about Dr Neill Cream? A circumstantial story is told of how he confessed on the scaffold – at least, he is said to have got as far as 'I am Jack' – when the jerk of the rope cut short his remarks.
'That is also another idle story,' replied Mr Abberline. 'Neill Cream was not even in this country when the Whitechapel murders took place. No, the identity of the diabolical individual has yet to be established, notwithstanding the people who have produced these rumours and who pretend to know the state of the official mind.
Excerpted from The Complete Jack The Ripper A to Z by Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner. Copyright © 2015 Paul Begg, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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