A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
In a report dated 19th September 1888, Sir Charles Warren, listing the cases of three men currently under investigation, gave the following information:
"2). A man called Puckeridge who was released from an asylum on 4 August. He was educated as a surgeon - has threatened to rip people up with a long knife. He is being looked for but cannot be found as yet."
In fact the man in question was Oswald Puckeridge and searches of the available information have produced some basic facts about his life.
Oswald Puckeridge was born in 1838, which means he would have been 50 years of age at the time of the Whitechapel murders. His birth was registered in Worthing, Sussex in September 1838 (Volume 7 Page 463.) The next information that we have, chronologically, tells us that Puckeridge was married in 1868, at which time he would have been 29 years of age. His marriage was registered under the spelling Puckridge in Greenwich and his spouse was either Amy Burdett or Ellen Puddle. It has not yet been possible to verify which of these ladies became his wife.
Puckeridge died in 1900. His death was registered in Shoreditch in June 1900 (Volume 1c Page 61). His age at the time of his death was given as 65 but in fact he would have been 62 years old.
I have been unable to trace any entry for Puckeridge in either the 1871 or 1881. There is one entry in the 1891 census that may well refer to Puckeridge. An individual listed as Oswald Buckridge is listed as a boarder at a house called Soldridge in Bovey Tracey in Devon. He is a widower, aged 52 (the correct age for Puckeridge) and born in Sussex (Puckeridge's birth was registered in Worthing, Sussex). His trade/profession is listed as unknown. We cannot be entirely sure that this is the Oswald Puckeridge we are discussing, but all this appears to be the most likely sighting of Puckeridge in the available data.
I am sure that there is still much to found about Puckeridge. The "Jack the Ripper A-Z" describes Puckeridge as "this promising suspect," and I have to agree that he is worthy of further research. It is also an interesting question as to how Puckeridge was brought to Warren's attention and thought worth listing in the report of 19th September 1888. I suspect that his name would have come to the fore in the course of a police search for men who had been discharged from asylums shortly before the onset of the Whitechapel murders. This, coupled with the alleged connection with Puckeridge having training as a surgeon, would have made him most certainly worth further investigation, as he remains today.