Friday, March 04, 2016

The 1888 Jack the Ripper scare in Market Harborough

The Macabre Observer quotes the Market Harborough Advertiser of 20 November 1888:
A man suspected at Market Harborough. 
Some excitement was caused in a certain part of Market Harborough on Friday on hearing that a man answering the description of the Whitechapel murderer had come from London that afternoon and had taken up his abode with a Mrs Green, near the British school. 
The police were communicated with almost immediately and a watch was set on his movements. During the evening the man went to the station (followed by officers in plain clothes) and returned with his luggage - a portmanteau. 
On his reaching home again the police entered the house and searched the portmanteau, but nothing was found to connect the man with the crime of which he was suspected. He said his name was Dietrich and that he was a doctor at one of the London hospitals and gave his address at 22, Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road. He wore spectacles and his overcoat was trimmed with astrachan. Not being satisfied with this information, Supt. Bott placed a cordon of police around the house and telegraphed to Scotland Yard for instructions as to whether the man should be detained or not. 
This was about 9 o'clock and an answer was expected within an hour or two. At 11.30, however, no reply had been received and it was not until 5.10 on Saturday morning that an answer was handed to the police. This was of a somewhat vague nature, but the police were on it's receipt withdrawn from the house and no further notice was taken of the matter. 
One thing which had excited the suspicions of the neighbours and the police also, was that the same man was in Market Harbough about three weeks ago and stayed at the same house. His movements were then considered peculiar and the neighbours were actually alarmed about him. While here, no murders occurred in London, but after he had gone back, the latest horror was perpetrated."
The British School still stands in Fairfield Road next to Old School Mews.

My own pet theory is that there was no Jack the Ripper. A number of East End murders were grouped together and sensationalised by the press, with the result that we are still talking about them today.

This Skeptoid page and podcast gives some reasons for taking this view.

One figure who turns up regularly in the more imaginative conspiracy theories in this field is the medium Robert Lees. Read about him in my post Jack the Ripper: The Leicester connection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you think good, Jonathan. No murderer. No victims either, maybe? Just a group of fabricated stories. And gory, staged faux-to-graphs, of the un-dead, posing as corpses, to sell the "news"papers. We can speculate on the objective of the Ripper PSYOP. It provided the pretext for founding the modern Metropolitan Police force. In a Problem, Reaction, Solution dialectic.