|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.
Tumblety was named as the Ripper by authors Stewart Evans and Paul Gainey in the book The Lodger - The Arrest And Escape of Jack The Ripper, after the discovery of the Littlechild Letter in 1993 by Stewart Evans. The letter was dated 23 September 1913 and was written by Inspector John Littlechild to the jounalist George Sims. Littlechild was the head of Special Branch from 1883/93. In his letter Littlechild recounts his suspicion of a doctor, the relevant extract of the letter is as follows.
'I never heard of a Dr D in connection with the Whitechapel murders, but amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one was a Dr T which sounds much like a 'D.' He was an American quack named Tumblety, and was at one time a frequent visitor to London, and on those occasions constantly brought under the notice of the police, there been a large dossier on him at Scotland Yard. Although a sycopathia sexualis subject, he was not known as a sadist ,which the murderer unquestionably was, but his feelings towards women were remarkable and bitter in the extreme, a fact on record. Tumblety was arrested at the time of the murders in connection with unnatural offences and charged at Marlborough Street, remanded on bail, and got away to Boulogne. He shortly left Boulogne and was never heard of afterwards. It was believed he committed suicide, but certain it is, from that time the Ripper murders came to an end'.
Francis Tumblety was born in Canada in 1833, though was of Irish descent, his family moved to Rochester, New York, when he was a child. As a teenager he sold books, some claim pornographic, to the canal boat owners between Rochester and Buffalo. He left Rochester at the age of 17 and returned 10 years later claiming to be a great physician. He became rich, setting himself up as a quack doctor selling potions such as Tumblety's Pimple Destroyer, and became known as the Prince of Quacks. He was practicing medicine in Toronto in 1860, claiming to cure all diseases. The death of James Portmore, a man he was treating for kidney disease, soon caused him to flee. In 1865, using the name J.H. Blackburn, he was accused of being involved in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and was imprisoned for three weeks, but it appeared to be simply a case of mistaken identity, and he was soon cleared. He moved to Washington DC and gave an all male dinner party, lecturing his guests on the evils of women, and proudly displayed his extensive collection of female body parts, which he kept in glass jars.
Tumblety was a flamboyant figure, who had by this time taken to riding around on a white horse, accompanied by a pair of greyhounds, wearing elaborate uniforms, complete with rows of medals. In 1874 Tumblety was in Liverpool, England, and began a stormy homosexual relationship with the writer, 21 year old Henry Hall Caine. In 1888 just prior to the start of the Ripper murders, he allegedly took lodgings at 22 Batty Street, these lodgings were said to have been watched by officers from Scotland yard, because Tumblety was suspected to have had strong Fenian sympathies. His landlady gave the police a blood soaked shirt, which she had found in his room, and Tumblety became a prime Ripper suspect, though the police felt they did not have enough evidence to arrest him.
On the 7 November 1888 two days before the murder of Mary Kelly, he was charged with four counts of gross indecency and indecent assault with force against four men, between the 27 July and 2 November. However, on 24 November he jumped bail, and using the alias Frank Townsend, fled, first to Boulogne, France, then to New York, pursued by Inspector Andrews.
Upon arriving in America, Tumblety was kept under surveillance by the New York City police department, probably on account of the newspapers mentioning that Tumblety was wanted in connection with the Whitechapel murders. Tumblety gave Andrews and the New York Police the slip, and would not be heard from again.
Tumblety lived for the last ten years of his life with an elderly niece in Rochester, New York. He died in St Louis, Missouri, on 28 May 1903 at the age of 73.
Tumblety, in 1888, was 55 years of age, 5ft 11"tall with broad shoulders, black hair and a large dyed black moustache, waxed at the ends, and spoke in a weak effeminate voice. This description does not fit any of the known sightings of the Ripper. Tumblety was almost certainly homosexual, and there is no evidence, as some authors have claimed, that he was bisexual, and his companions throughout his life were young males. There is also no reference to him ever consorting with female prostitutes, nor any evidence of him showing violence towards women. The Ripper was described as shabby genteel, hardly words one would use to describe Francis Tumblety. Littlechild, at no point stated for a fact that Tumblety was Jack the Ripper, only that he was a likely suspect. He was also incorrect when he stated that Tumblety was never heard of again after he left Boulogne. We know he was followed to New York and was watched by the New York police department. Tumblety may have been flamboyant, eccentric, a show off, a fantasist and a liar, but he was not Jack the Ripper.
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