|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 Wynn Westcott
Westcott was born in Leamington, Warwickshire, on 17 December 1848, both his parents died when he was ten years old, his father was a doctor. He was adopted by his uncle, Richard Westcott Martyn, who was also a doctor. He attended Kingston grammar school, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and studied medicine at university college in London, and left with a bachelor in medicine. He then became a partner in his uncle's medical practice in the West Country. Described as a scholarly and studious young man, he married Elizabeth Burnett, and the couple would have five children. He moved to Camden, and in 1881 became coroner for central London, a position he would hold until 1910. He was said to have conducted more than ten thousand inquests during his period as coroner. He retired in 1918 and went to live in Durban, South Africa with his family, where he died on 30 June 1925.
Westcott became a freemason in 1871, when he joined the Parrett and Axa Lodge # 814 in Crewkerne, and in 1887/88 along with G Samuel Liddle Mathers and Dr William Robert Woodman, founded an hermetic society, the order of the Golden Dawn, an occult society who's membership would include W.B. Yeats, Aleister Crowley, and briefly, Oscar Wilde.
In 1896 Westcott was requested by the political authorities to cease his occult activities with the Golden Dawn. The order was said to be achieving a notoriety with the press, and it was not seen fit for a coroner of the crown to be made a shame of in such a way. He immediately severed all ties with the Order.
While it is true Westcott had the requisite medical skills to have committed the murders, and was profoundly interested in the occult, writing sixteen books on the subject, there is no evidence Westcott was suspected at the time of the Whitechapel murders.
He had no obvious link with Whitechapel, and could not be considered violent or misogynistic. He has been mentioned more recently by theorists who believe the murders were occult sacrifices. The Ripper victims were alleged to have been ritually killed in a churchyard, then the bodies dumped were they were later discovered. This theory however completely contradicts the medical and police evidence which shows the victims had been killed where they had been found.
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