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 Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide 
This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.

Francis Thompson

Thompson, an English poet, was suggested as the Ripper by author Richard Patterson in the 1999 book Paradox. Thompson was born at 7 Winckley Street, in Preston, Lancashire, on 18 December 1859 to a respectable Catholic family. His father Dr Charles Thompson, was a homeopathic doctor. His Mother Mary, was a governess, who had previously failed in her attempt to become a nun, she died at the age of 58 on 19 December 1880 from a liver complaint. Francis Thompson was named after St Francis of Assisi.

The family moved to Manchester in 1864, shortly after the death of his sister Helen, at the age of 15 months from consumption. Thompson, as a young man, was described as shy, untidy, unpunctual and unobservant. He entered the Catholic school of St Cuthbert's, Ushaw College in Durnham, where he excelled in Latin, English and Greek. Taking an interest in poetry from an early age, his writing ability was described by the English master as the best production from a lad of his age.

In 1877 he failed his studies for the priesthood. His teacher Father Tate, wrote to Thompson's father telling him, 'With regard to Frank, I have been most reluctantly compelled to concur in the opinion of his director and others that it is not the holy will of God that he should go on for the priesthood'. On the advice of his father he spent the next six years studying to be a surgeon at Owens medical college, but he was to fail the medical examinations three times.

In 1878 he entered his name on the register of the Manchester royal infirmary, where he studied anatomy. He continued writing poetry, and in April 1888 had one of his poems published in Merry England, a minor Catholic literary magazine. It was around this time, 1879, that he became addicted to opium, after being treated with laudanum for a lung infection.

Laudanum was prescribed as a pain killer and sedative, it was also a popular method of suicide.

From 1885/88 Thompson spent the majority of his time as a homeless vagrant in the Dockland area of London. He died at the age of 47 in 1907, when his reputation as a poet was at it's height. His poem, The Hound Of Heaven, was to sell over 50,000 copies. When he died, he weighed only 70 pounds (5 stone).

At 29, Thompson was the right age to fit the Ripper descriptions, and we know he had some medical training. He was also said to carry a dissecting scalpel around with him, which he claimed he used to shave. We also know he owned a leather apron at the time the police were looking for a suspect wearing such a garment. He was described as medium height with a slight build, which made him appear taller, dark brown hair which appeared almost black, with a small grey beard, wearing a great Ulster coat and necktie.

There is no record of Thompson ever having been questioned by the police, nor suspected at the time of the murders. He also lived for 19 years after the murder of Mary Kelly.

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