|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.|
Dr. William Withey Gull
Gull was first mentioned as a possible Ripper suspect by Dr Thomas Stowell in the November 1970 issue of the Criminologist, and again in 1973 by Joseph Gorman Sickert in the BBC drama documentary Jack the Ripper, and more recently by authors Stephen Knight in the book The Final Solution, and by Melvyn Fairclough in the book The Ripper And The Royals.
For those not familiar with the stories which implicate Gull as the Ripper, they go like this. In one story the medium R.J Lees, having had a psychic impression of the murderer, follows a psychic trail throughout the night, which leads him and the police, to the home of an eminent physician. The physician had trained at Guys hospital, was married with a son, and when questioned admitted that he suffered from occasional loss of memory and had once come round to find blood on his shirt. Proof of his guilt as Jack the Ripper was found in the house, and he was committed to an asylum under the name Thomas Mason 124.
A second, alternative scenario which implicates Gull has him involved in a plot to silence five prostitutes, led by Mary Kelly, who were attempting to blackmail the government with their knowledge of the secret marriage between Prince Albert Victor and Annie Elizabeth Crook.
William Whithey Gull was born in St Leonard, Colchester, on 31 December 1816 and was the youngest of eight children, two of whom died in infancy. His father John Gull, a barge owner, died of cholera in 1827. His mother Elizabeth, raised the six children to the best of her abilities and taught them the adage that, 'If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well'. The children were given a strict Christian upbringing, and in 1832 moved to Thorpe near Thorpe-Le Soken. Young William made up his mind to enter medicine, and in 1837 entered Guy's hospital as a pupil, determined to succeed. He graduated as a B.A in medicine at the university of London in 1841, obtaining honours in physiology and comparative anatomy in surgery and medicine. In 1843 he was appointed lecturer on natural philosophy at Guy's hospital. In 1848 he married Susan Ann, and they had two children, a daughter Caroline, and a son Cameron. In 1871 he treated the Prince of Wales for typhus and was created a Baronet the following year, and appointed the Prince's regular physician. He later became physician in ordinary to Queen Victoria. It was said of Gull that he was a man of firm and outspoken views, and could be blunt to the point of rudeness, to one patient he replied, when asked if there was any hope, 'There is very little life left in you, in fact you are heart dead now'.
Gull suffered a minor stroke in 1887, though as the following passage shows was not as debilitated as some have claimed. Gull, in October 1887 while walking at his home in Scotland, was seized with paralysis, he fell to one knee, but was able to walk to the house with some assistance, at no time was it mentioned that he lost consciousness. Gull, over the next couple of years suffered three further epileptiform attacks, and a further two strokes. Friends who visited him said they noticed little difference in his looks and manner. Gull however claimed that he felt like a different man and gave up his practice. He died at the age of 73 on 29 January 1890. William Gull lived at 74 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, and was 71 years of age at the time of the Whitechapel murders, and in seriously declining health.
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