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 Neill Cream
Dr Thomas Neill Cream was mentioned as a possible Ripper suspect by John Cashman in the 1973 book The Gentleman from Chicago.
Cream was born in Glasgow on 27 May 1850, the first of eight children, his family emigrated to Canada when he was four or five years of age. He studied medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, from November 1872 and graduated with honours on 31 March 1876. It was during this period he met and seduced a young woman named Flora Eliza Brooks. When it was discovered she was pregnant, Cream performed a crude abortion on her, the result of which left her permanently scarred and weak. Forced to marry the girl by her parents he soon vanished after the wedding nuptials and sailed for England, Flora however later died from consumption.
On 12th September 1876 Cream became a graduate student at St. Thomas's hospital in London. St. Thomas's was located in the Waterloo-Lambeth area of the city, it was here it is rumoured Cream contracted syphilis after consorting with the local prostitutes.
He was next in Ontario, Canada, where he set up practice and earned a unsavoury reputation as an illegal abortionist. He was arrested after the body of a young hotel chambermaid was discovered in his apartment with a bottle of chloroform beside her body. Cream had performed an abortion on her which claimed her life. Despite the evidence being against him, the girls death was ruled as suicide and he was freed. He moved on to Chicago, where again a charge of murder was brought against him. A young woman, Julie Faulkner, died on his operating table. The police suspected Cream had poisoned her with strychnine, in the guise of a painkiller. Once more he escaped justice due to lack of evidence. In 1881 another woman, Miss Stack, died after taking medicine laced with strychnine prescribed by Cream. He then attempted to blackmail the chemist that he obtained his medicines from, claiming the chemist had sold him some bad medicine, the chemist however turned the blackmail letter over to the police. Cream was arrested, but again was released due to lack of evidence.
Cream then began an affair with an attractive young woman, Mrs Julia Stott, and murdered her husband, 61 year old Daniel Stott. Mr Stott, a station agent on the North-eastern Railway, had gone to see Dr Cream about treatment for his epilepsy. Stott however soon became suspicious that his wife and Cream were having an affair, Cream quickly disposed of Stott by adding strychnine to his medicine, Stott died 14 June 1881. The cause of death was reported as epilepsy. Cream could not resist writing to the district attorney suggesting that the pharmacist may have killed Mr Stott, and that the body should be exhumed. It dually was, and when it showed strychnine had been the cause of death, Cream was arrested and finally faced justice, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
He was regarded as a model prisoner, and the only complaint against him was from the other prisoners, who complained of been awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of low hissing laughter coming from his cell. He could be overheard in his cell speaking to phantom woman, promising them a slow and agonizing death should he ever be released, unfortunately he was. He served ten years in Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet.
He was released on the 31 July 1891, and came to England in the first week of October 1891, were he settled in Lambeth. Over the next few months he killed prostitutes Ellen Donworth, Matilda Clover, Emma Shivell and Alice Marsh, with Strychnine pills. Donworth, before she died, described the man who gave her the pills as, 'A tall gentleman with cross eyes, a silk hat and bushy whiskers'. Louisa Harris, who would later testify in court against him, had a lucky escape, after deciding not to take the pills Cream had given her for spots on her forehead, she instead tossed the pills into the River Thames. She was however able to furnish the police with a good description of the man who had given her the pills, and distinctly remembered his glasses and cross eyes. Cream, once again, could not resist incriminating himself by writing to the authorities offering to name the, Lambeth poisoner, for the reward money. Cream was arrested on 3 June 1892 and found guilty. While awaiting execution, Cream told his jailers that he was a great man and had killed far more than he was found guilty of. He was hanged at Newgate prison on the 15 November 1892. On the scaffold he was alleged to have said, 'I am Jack the'… just as the hangman pulled the lever. Cream's claim to be Jack the Ripper would appear highly unlikely as he was in Joliet Prison at the time of the Whitechapel murders. According to the theorist Donald Bell, Cream, having been left a legacy of £16,000 from his father, bribed his way out of prison to commit the murders, then returned to Joliet Prison before his official release. The records at Joliet show that Cream- prisoner no.4374, was imprisoned 1 November 1881 and was not released until 31 July 1891.
Another theory by Sir Edward Marshall Hall, suggests Cream may have had a double and that both men used each others terms of imprisonment as alibis for each other. None of these theories have any evidence to support them. Cream however does have some similarities with Jack the Ripper in that both killed prostitutes and then contacted the authorities about their deeds.