|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. Thomas Barnardo
Suggested as a possible Ripper suspect, first by Donald McCormick in 1970, and more recently by theorist Gary Rowlands in the book The Mammoth Book Of Jack The Ripper. Rowlands put forward the notion that Barnardo's lonely childhood and religious zeal led him to slaughter prostitutes to clear them from the streets, and that he only stopped killing because of an accident in a swimming pool shortly after murdering Mary Kelly left him totally deaf. He was thus unable to listen out for sounds, such as the approaching footsteps of a patrolling policeman, which in turn forced Jack the Ripper into early retirement. Interesting theory.
At the height of the Ripper murders Barnardo was a recognisable figure in the East End, known for his charity work and preaching. He would visit doss houses and urge prostitutes to place their children into his care, rather than run the risk of them being suddenly orphaned. It was during one of these visits to 32 Flower and Dean Street, that Barnardo, in a letter to the Times newspaper wrote, 'I found the women and girls thoroughly frightened by the recent murders, one poor creature, who had apparently been drinking, cried bitterly, we're all up to no good and no one cares what becomes of us, perhaps some of us will be killed next'. He later viewed the body of Elizabeth Stride at the mortuary and recognised her as one of the women who had stood around him in the kitchen. Prophetic words indeed.
Thomas John Barnardo was born in Dame Street, Dublin, on 4 July 1845. His father, John Michaelis Barnardo, a furrier, was a Jewish immigrant from Havelberg, Germany. His mother Abigail, was John's second wife. He had lost his first wife Elizabeth, who was Abigail's older sister, during child birth. Thomas was described as a short, rather unattractive child, unlike his younger brother Henry Lionel, who was an absolute cherub, and was said to be the apple of his mother's eye. Henry was frequently summoned by his parents and shown off to family and friends, while Thomas was kept hidden away in the nursery.
After leaving school, Barnardo found employment in a clerical capacity at a local wine merchants. As a young man he joined various Christian organizations and became a Sunday school teacher, spending most of his free time spreading the word of God. In the summer of 1863 he began to hold his own prayer meetings, which were not altogether successful. In April 1866 Barnardo left Dublin for London to train as a missionary. Upon arriving in London he registered as a student at the London hospital, where it was said he took a keen interest in anatomy. He returned to religion and after attempts to start a mission in the East End failed, suffered the first of several nervous breakdowns, which occurred during stressful periods in his life.
On 2 March 1868 he founded his East End juvenile mission, in two small cottages in Limehouse. In 1870, at 18 Stepney Causeway, he opened his first home for underprivileged boys. He would regularly go out at night into the slum districts to find destitute boys. One night an 11 year old boy John Somers, nicknamed Carrots on account of his bright red hair, was turned away because the shelter was full, days later Carrots was found dead from malnutrition and exposure in an old barrel. From that moment on the home bore the sign, 'No Destitute Children Refused Admission'. In 1874 he opened a photographic department in his Stepney boys home and over the next thirty years every child that entered one of Barnardo's homes had their photograph taken. Children were photographed when they first arrived, and again several months later after they had recovered from their experiences of life on the streets. Critics claimed that he staged the photographs to make the children look ragged and ill to enable him to gain more sympathy, support and funds from the general public, it was a claim Barnardo strenuously denied. During his lifetime he was said to have helped and rescued no fewer than sixty thousand children. He married Syrie Louise Elmslie in 1873, and they had seven children. He died at the age of 60 on 19 September 1905, it was claimed due to overwork. In 1888 Barnardo was 43 years of age, 5ft 3"tall with a heavy moustache.
Apart from having preached to a group of women, which included Elizabeth Stride, who became a Ripper victim a few days later, there is no evidence to suggest he committed the Whitechapel murders.
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