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  • Old Nichol Gang (recovered thread)

    This is G o o g l e's cache of http://forum.casebook.org/archive/index.php/t-1353.html as retrieved on 10 Feb 2008 02:28:10 GMT.
    G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.

    Old Nichol Gang


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    chrisg
    4th May 2006, 02:22 PM
    Hi everyone

    The Old Nichol Gang is often talked about by modern authors and students of the case as having been responsible for the brutal attack and subsequent death of Emma Smith. The gang apparently got its name from the Old Nichol district and may have been one of the gangs at work in the East End along with a High Rip gang who operated protection rackets. However, are there any contemporary or near contemporary mentions of the Old Nichol Gang. OR could it be that the mention of the gang in connection with the Smith murder originates with Donald McCormick who seems to have made liberal use of speculation in writing about the murders? Any thoughts on this anyone?

    Chris

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    Grey Hunter
    4th May 2006, 04:54 PM
    'The Old Nichol Gang' was yet another of McCormick's 1959 inventions.

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    Jimmy
    4th May 2006, 05:11 PM
    That was a very succinct answer, GH, which definitely shows what you think of that one!

    I do not feel qualified give an opinion on McCormick myself, but James Morton in 'East End Gangland' mentions the Old Nichol Gang (in relation to Emma Smith), but interestingly, the Green Gate Gang also. This may be digressing, but the Green Gate is/was a pub in Bethnal Green. My cousins used to go there when it was a heavy metal pub in the late 70's/early 80's which brings back memories. Morton's reference is the first I have seen. Is there anything else known about this gang?

    Jimmy

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    chrisg
    4th May 2006, 06:07 PM
    Thank you, Grey Hunter and Jimmy!

    Chris

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 07:35 AM
    This thread failed to develop when started and it would be interesting to hear the opinion of the many experts on this site about this subject.

    At the last Whitechapel Society meeting I mentioned the above proposition and two members of the audience challenged my contention that 'the Old Nichol Gang' was a McCormick invention.

    In reply I asked if they were able to produce a written reference to 'the Old Nichol Gang' that pre-dated McCormick. As yet I have had no reply.

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    George Hutchinson
    20th October 2006, 10:50 AM
    I would be interested to see the sources too, GH. Both your challengers are respected researchers. I just have a feeling - somewhat presumtiously - that maybe they saw refs to a gang in Old Nichols Street but that McCormick was the first time they were collectively referred to as the Old Nichols Gang?

    PHILIP

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    robert
    20th October 2006, 11:14 AM
    There must have been gangs in the area. So the question is, was there one gang that was sufficiently more obnoxious than the others, to merit the title The Old Nichol Gang amongst the locals/police of the time?

    Robert

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    Stephen Thomas
    20th October 2006, 01:01 PM
    In the fictional 'Child of the Jago' which was apparently well researched, the author describes several gangs in the Old Nichol area which were frequently at war with each other. It could be that people outside the area saw them as a homogenous unit but Grey Hunter is probably right as regards mention of an 'Old Nichol Gang' in print prior to McCormick.

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    Debra A
    20th October 2006, 01:03 PM
    The Times of Thursday, Feb 17, 1881 mentions the 'Friar's-mount gang'

    Friar's Mount was represented by three streets, Old Nichols, Nichols and half Nichols.

    so I suppose it's not outside the realms of possibility that the Friar's Mount gang was also known locally or by police as The Old Nichol gang

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 01:03 PM
    Of course there were street gangs in the area of Old Nichol Street, as there were in most deprived areas of London. However, the notorious street gang apparently invented by McCormick and christened 'the Old Nichol Gang' does not appear to have been referred to in print until McCormick did so. Unless, of course, we can find a reference to 'the Old Nichol Gang' prior to 1959.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 01:56 PM
    When searching for references to 'The Old Nichol Gang' it is important to bear in mind the year 1959. This is when McCormick's influential and pioneering Ripper work was published and introduced his immortal words "...the notorious Old Nichol Gang, which, in the last quarter of the last century, terrorized the East End of London."

    McCormick continued his description, "The mean streets of this area were often the scene of gang fights between the Hoxton Market Gang and the Old Nichol Gang, named after Old Nichol Street, Bethnal Green, which had been a centre of organized crime for a hundred years. The Nichol Gang used thugs to beat up and rob women of the streets, while their rivals sent out children at nightfall to steal from shops, or snatch from passers-by."

    Many subsequent authors were to pick up on this theme.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 02:05 PM
    The above quotes of McCormick appeared on page 19 of his book The Identity of Jack the Ripper. On page 26 he built further upon it -

    "P.C. Haine [sic - Thain] cut this unproductive conversation short by suggesting the murder was the work of the Old Nichol Gang, who were known to blackmail prostitutes."

    This is obvious invention by McCormick who had 'form' for inventing conversations that he could have had no way of knowing took place.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 02:10 PM
    on page 29 - "They were certain that Smith was murdered by the Nichol Gang and, because of this, assumed - wrongly - that the other two women had also met their fate at the hands of these ruffians."

    It may be seen here that McCormick is referring to a specific, named and exact street gang, and is not generalising about a street gang from the area of Old Nichol Street, although, oddly, he drops the 'Old' in this reference.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 02:15 PM
    It was in 1965 that author Robin Odell picked up on the theme started by McCormick in his excellent book Jack the Ripper in Fact & Fiction, page 28 -

    "There was reason for believing that Smith was a victim of the notorious Old Nichol Gang, or one of their rivals, which terrorized the East End with organized crime. These gangs frequently assaulted and robbed old people in the streets in broad daylight..."

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    jeffl
    20th October 2006, 02:28 PM
    I was re-reading Paul Beggs Definative history which States:

    The Police suspected that the crime was commited by one of the gangs that inhabitted the area. Some of these gangs, such as the Blind Begger mob, who took there name from the Blind Begger Pub (Krays) based themselves in whitechappel but opperated as pick pockets elsewhere. There were fighting gangs, such as the the Green Gate Gang who took their name from a road of the same name. They had been involved in a riot in Bethnal Green in late 1881 and again made news in 1882 when about twenty of them attacked Fredrick Willmore and another man. Beating them so severly that Willmoore had deid from his injuries. One of teh gang received ten years for manslauther. Another gang was the Old Nichol Gang, who operated out of the Nichol, a close knit community of some 6,000 people (according to an estimate made by the London county council, at time of redevelopment in 1895.) who lived in the squalid area bounded by High Street, Shoreditch, Hackney Road to the North and spitalfeilds to the south. It was a place of evil reputation, though it is somewhat unclear just how much this reputation was deserved and how much derived fron writings of Arthur Morrison, who called it the Jago.......

    Gangs like the Old Nichol operated as ponces, street robbers, extortionists, protection racketeers and general bullies and thugs, and their like would dominate the east end for years to come. Other notable gangs include the Hoxton Mob or Hoxton High Rips, who were suspected of commiting the Ripper murders: The coons, run by a Jewish man named Isaac Bogard, known by the very un-PC nick name 'Darky the Coon' because he was swarthy skined; the Vendetta Mob, run by Arther Harding; the Titanics and immigrant gangs of notoriety such as the Bessarabians and their rivals the Odessians.

    End Quote. Hope this information helps.

    Begg also makes the case that Emma's story dosnt necessarily hold true. The place she claims she was attacked was patrolled by police who witnessed nothing...

    Also she claims she was attacked by two or three men? Two is hardly a gang and it has been suggested that some of the other murders show evidence of two people working together...which is not out of the realms of possibility.

    Thus I beleive that there is a good case of considering Emma Smith an early Ripper Victim if you concider Jack a local boy developing and learning his trade on the street.

    Have a good weekend all.

    Jeff

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 02:29 PM
    McCormick had a chance to reprise inventions of 1959 when a second edition of his book appeared in 1970.

    The entity 'The Old Nichol Gang' entered the literature of the East End in 1975 in Chaim Bermant's Point of Arrival A Study of London's East End. 'The Old Nichol Gang' appeared on page 177 of this volume -

    "Morrison was accused of sensationalism, but the Jago was based on a warren of streets in Bethnal Green called the Old Nichol, home of a notorious pack of cut-throats known as the Old Nichol Gang, who were active in the 1880s and who were thought at first to be responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders. Bethnal Green had been the most poverty-stricken part of the East End ever since the decline of hand-loom weaving and the Old Nichol was its most squalid corner."

    Needless to say McCormick's Ripper book (the 1970 edition) appears in Bermant's bibliography.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 02:45 PM
    Author Paul Begg is quoted above, but please may we examine this expanding saga chronologically.

    Stephen Knight's Ripper fantasy, Jack the Ripper the Final Solution, was first published in the 1970s and was guaranteed to contain as much Ripper lore as he could find. His weaving in of this story ran -

    "In late July or early August the inevitable and long-awaited clue arrived. A shoddy and unsophisticated attempt at blackmail was initiated. The old painter [Sickert] never revealed who had been the victim of the demand, but it was for a paltry - in other circumstances he might have said laughable - sum. It emanated from the East End. It seemed the blackmail was being practised only to pay protection money to a better-organised gang of blackmailers. Sickert was not familiar with the details, but it was discovered that Kelly was involved with three prostitutes, in whose class she had descended to fight off starvation, and at their instigation had resorted to the blackmail. It was a desperate act. She had seen enough of the Cleveland Street raid to enable her to predict her own fate if she were discovered. But fear is relative. It was easy to run the risk of a distant danger if the gamble delivered her from a close one. The perils at hand were death from starvation and the more sinister threats of the blackmail gang of which she had fallen foul. This was probably the Old Nichol Gang, which demanded money and dealt out violence and even death to the holder of an empty purse."

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 03:05 PM
    In East End Underworld - Chapters in the life of Arthur Harding, 1981, author Raphael Samuel mentions the Old Nichol, page 1 -

    "In the last quarter of the nineteenth century there were some 6,000 people - men women and children - who lived in the Nichol. The district was bounded by High Street Shoreditch and Hackney Road on the north and Spitalfields to the south. It was made up of many alleys and courts. The principal streets were Boundary Street, the main playing street, Old Nichol Street, New Nichol Street, Half Nichol Street, The Mount - where the old clothes dealers were - and the only street with shops - Church Street. Arthur Morrison in his novel called it 'The Jago.'
    The Nichol was something like a ghetto. A stranger wouldn't chance his arm there, but to anyone brought up in it every alley was familiar. The Nichol was a place on its own, you didn't go into other territory...And so the result was that it was a close-knit community and everybody knew everybody.
    The whole district bore an evil reputation and was regarded by the working-class people of Bethnal Green as so disreputable that they avoided contact with the people who lived in the Nichol. Some people would have liked to build a wall right round it, so that we wouldn't have to come out. They put everything that was needed inside."

    On page 286 a note states -

    "The 'evil reputation' of the Nichol owed a great deal to Arthur Morrison's fictionalised account of it in A Child of the Jago, and to the sensational articles and appeals of Father Jay, the slum priest from whom Morrison drew his information...Later writing on the East End has amplified such claims. For typical statements, cf. Walter Besant, East London, 1903, p. 329. ('the place consisting of a dozen miserable streets, was of the vilest kind'); Chaim Bermant, Point of Arrival, 1975, p. 177 ('the Old Nichol, home of a notorious pack of cut-throats known as the Old Nichol gang'). For some earlier examples of the vilification of the Nichol, cf. Raphael Samuel, East End Underworld, vol. I, forthcoming."

    And so it can be seen how in these combined writings the boundary between fact and fcition becomes blurred...

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 03:17 PM
    Martin Fido's 1987 The Crimes Detection & Death of Jack the Ripper an Old Nichol Gang is mentioned, page 5 -

    "Crime was rife in the East End streets. Just north of Spitalfields lay 'the Nichol', the western extremity of Bethnal Green: criminal territory in native English hands. Gangs from the Nichol and Hoxton made forays into Whitechapel and Spitalfields, mugging and terrorizing streetwalkers, stealing from them, and demanding money in return for 'protection' from violence which they would themselves inflict."

    And on page 15 -

    "She [Emma Smith] gave a description of her assailants before passing into unconsciousness, but her death was inevitable and occurred four days later [sic]. Her purse was empty, and H Division police had no doubt that an Old Nichol gang had claimed another victim."

    It is interesting that Fido refers to 'an' Old Nichol gang, rather than 'the' Old Nichol Gang. Of course there was simply no indication at all of where Smith's attackers came from, and the police stated no such thing. The murderer(s) was/were simply 'a person or persons unknown.'

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    jeffl
    20th October 2006, 03:21 PM
    Thanks for expanding there Grey Hunter.

    But are you saying that the Nichols gang is a fabrication. That no such gang ever existed?

    I find that rather hard to swallow.

    Coming from the Eastend, gangs have always been part an parcil of the culture. They are there even today asaulting unsuspecting Ripper tours.

    They come an they go. But I think it fairly safe to beleive they were there before Jack the Ripper, during the crimes and after.

    Jeff

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 03:39 PM
    Professor William J. Fishman's 1988 work, East End 1888, refers to 'The Old Nichol Mob', page 7 -

    "The Old Nichol mob, 'sunken and degraded', were a marginal 'tribe' who inhabited old, decayed cottages, 'originally built below the street level, and, in some cases, some rooms as disclosed in the Builder, as long back as 1860, were mere underground cellars; in others, the houses were so constructed that no light of the sun ever reached portions of the premises, whilst a fruitful source of evil had been the employment of a material called 'billy sweet' in place of mortar, which was incapable of properly drying.'"

    And on pages 259-260 -

    "Within the peripheral East End borough of Shoreditch, and voluntarily ensconced in the infamous Old Nichol rookeries (which marked him as the heroic padre in Arthur Morrison's Child of the Jago), The Rev. A. Osborne Jay fulminated against 'the blasphemous ravings of the [Salvation] Army preachers..."

    Finally on pages 306-307 -

    "A detailed description of one popular club, located in the most insalubrious rookery bordering Tower Hamlets, Jays Club for Jago Men in Shoreditch, was given by its founder who was present from its inception until the last day of its existence. Considering that its supporters were drawn from the Old Nichol patch, i.e. mainly street villains and burglars, its rules were few and unwritten, yet all the more rigidly enforced by the vicar, the Rev. A, Osborne Jay."

    Fishman does not specifically source his reference to 'The Old Nichol Mob' on page 7 of his book, but the influences of Donald McCormick again appear to be at work and his book is listed in Fishman's bibliography.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 03:41 PM
    Jeff, are you following this? I am not talking about East End gangs being invented, I'm talking about 'The Old Nichol Gang.'

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    jdpegg
    20th October 2006, 03:44 PM
    GH,

    that's very interestin.

    Just shows how these things can grow

    Jenni

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 03:51 PM
    The influential Jack the Ripper A-Z, first published in 1991, has an entry on "GANGS IN THE EAST END" which states -

    "Emma Smith was undoubtedly murdered by a group of muggers, probably from 'The Nichol', a criminal slum surrounding Old Nichol Street at the top of Brick Lane.
    Other gangs were locally feared and suspected of being involved in the murders. The best-known East End gangs of the period were the Blind Beggar Gang (race track pick-pockets), the Hoxton High-Rips, and the Limehouse Forty Thieves."

    'The Old Nichol Gang' moved into the 21st century with Eddleston's Jack the Ripper An Encyclopedia, 2001, page 5 -

    "The police investigating the case [Emma Smith murder] noted that there had been three men involved and that the principal motive appeared to be robbery. Though no arrests were made, it was believed that one of the gangs in the area had been responsible - possibly the Old Nichol gang, so named because its base of operations was around Old Nichol Street at the top of Brick Lane."

    It would appear from his wording that Eddleston used the A-Z as one of his sources.

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    jeffl
    20th October 2006, 04:19 PM
    Hi Grey Hunter

    Yes I think I am slightly confused. So re-read thread from the start.

    And I'm still slightly confused as to what piont is being made?

    Are you saying there was more than one gang? The Nicols Gang and the Old Nicols gang.

    Or that the term 'Old' has just been added on. An embelishment of the Nicols gang....that they were never called the 'Old' Nichols gang.

    I must admit I'd miss read the threads to beleive it was being said the 'Nichols' gang didn't exist..which I appologuise for..

    However I cant really see much significance in the adition of 'Old' to the gangs name....does it really make that much differance? Unless there were two gangs of course..

    Surely the important point is that the police suspected a gangs involvment in Emma's attack but didnt know which. We no there were several gangs on the street aq number listed that they might have investigated. Abberline was bougtht in because of his knowledge of gangs.

    And Emma's story doesnt totally hold water.

    Does it really matter if the police thought the attacks were done by the YOUNG nichols gang or the OLD?

    Jeff

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 04:20 PM
    'The Old Nichol Gang' was brought up to date in Paul Begg's Jack the Ripper The Definitive History, 2002, page 22 -

    "The area began to undergo considerable development and very soon established for itself the reputation of being 'a disreputable place, frequented by courtesans.' By the mid-19th century it was perhaps best known for its violent street gangs, particularly one known as the Old Nichol Gang after their notorious place of origin, the Nichol to be immortalised in letrature as the Jago. These gangs roamed the district and caused considerable trouble. They were even suspected of committing the Jack the Ripper murders."

    And on pages 29-30 -

    "The police suspected that the crime was committed by one of the gangs that inhabited the area. Some of these gangs such as the Blind Beggar Mob who took their name from the Blind Beggar Pub...based themselves in Whitechapel but operated - as pickpockets - elsewhere. There were fighting gangs, such as the Green Gate Gang who took their name from the road of the same name...Another gang was the Old Nichol Gang, who operated out of The Nichol, a close-knit community of some 6,000 people who lived in a squalid area bounded by High Street, Shoreditch and Hackney Road to the north and Spitalfields to the south. It was a place of evil reputation, though it is somewhat unclear just how much this reputation was real and how much derived from the writings of Arthur Morrison, who called it 'The Jago', and Rev. A. Osborne Jay, who was the source of much of Morrison's information and is portrayed, albeit rather glamorously, in Morrison's famous A Child of the Jago as Father Sturt. Perhaps exaggerated by Morrison, it was nevertheless an area noted for decades as a place of extreme deprivation."

    On pages 30-31 -

    "Gangs like the Old Nichol operated as ponces, street robbers, extortionists, protection racketeers, and generally as bullies and thugs, and their like would dominate the East End for years to come, notably the Hoxton Mob or Hoxton High Rips, who were also suspected of committing the Ripper murders, The Coons, run by a Jewish man named Isaac Bogard known by the very un-PC nickname 'Darky the Coon' because he was swarthy skinned, the Vendetta Mob, run by Arthur Harding, The Titanics, and immigrant gangs of notoriety such as the Bessarabians and their rivals the Odessians.
    Whether Emma Smith was the victim of a gang is uncertain..."

    Finally on page 96 -

    "By the end of the day two theories were given wide circulation. One was that the murder [Nichols] had been committed by one of the gangs known to operate in the area and extort money from the local prostitutes. Little is known about these gangs, although one which achieved notoriety was the 'Old Nichol gang' who hailed from an area known as the Old Nichol in Bethnal Green."

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 04:30 PM
    Jeff, you appear to be totally missing the point, and the premise upon which this thread was started. And that is that Donald McCormick invented a notorious gang specifically named 'The Old Nichol Gang.' A theme that has been picked up by several subsequent authors but for which there appears to be no source prior to McCormick in 1959.

    The belief at the time of Emma Smith's murder was that she had been attacked by a group of three street hooligans, whether a gang or not, and that was based on the story that Smith herself told. There is no reason to suspect that she would have been lying about this.

    The street gang idea was bandied about in the press reports after the Nichols murder but there is nothing to suggest that the police took it seriously, nor that they actually connected her attack with that on Smith some five months previously.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 04:46 PM
    Lloyds Weekly News of 8 April 1888 reported -

    "The deceased told her she had been shockingly maltreated by a number of men and robbed of all the money she had. Her face was bleeding, and her ear was cut. She did not describe the men, but said one was a young man of about 19."

    A witness at the Smith inquest, Margaret Hames, expanded on the menace of the street hooligans, in the same newspaper -

    "Another witness gave evidence that she had last seen Emma Smith between 12 and one on Tuesday morning, talking to a man in a black dress, wearing a white neckerchief. It was near Farrant-street, Burdett-road. She [Hames] was hurrying away from the neighbourhood, as she had herself been struck in the mouth a few minutes before by some young men. The quarter was a fearfully rough one. Just before Christmas last she had been injured by men under circumstances of a similar nature, and was a fortnight in the infirmary."

    Chief Inspector West reported on the attack on Smith -

    "Deceased could not describe the men who had ill-used her but said there were three of them, and that she was attacked about 1.30 a.m. on the 3rd, while passing Whitechapel Church...
    Coroner further expressed his intention of forwarding the particulars of the case to the Public Prosecutor as being one requiring further investigation with respect of the person or persons who committed the crime."

    So no specific mention of 'a gang', but clearly three male street robbers had fearfully assaulted Smith.

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    jeffl
    20th October 2006, 04:59 PM
    Then why did the police recall Inspector Abberline..an expert in the local gangs if they did not have some suspicions of gang involvement...

    Whether called the young Nichol gang the old nicol gang or the tiny tot nicol gang...

    They must have suspected gang involvement,

    Jeff

    Most dash now will catch up later.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 05:06 PM
    With the murder of Mary Ann Nichols in Buck's Row on 31 August 1888 the idea of a blackmailing street gang being involved in the murders was launched. The Daily Telegraph of September 1, 1888 -

    "The police have no theory with respect to the matter, except that a sort of "High Rip" gang exists in the neighbourhood, which, blackmailing women of the same class as the deceased, takes vengeance on those who do not find money for them. They base that surmise on the fact that within twelve months two other women have been murdered in the district by almost similar means, and left in the gutter of the street in the early hours of the morning."

    And the Manchester Evening News of September 3, 1888 -

    "It has been stated in some quarters that there is reason to suggest the existence of a murderous gang in the Whitechapel district, to which this and other tragedies might be traced, but the police give no credence to the theory.

    The assumption is that the brutal crime was committed by one of a "High Rip" gang who are known in the neighbourhood to be in the habit of blackmailing unfortunate women, and treating them in a brutal manner. The names of some of this band of roughs are known to the detective officers..."

    East London Advertiser, September 8, 1888 -

    "A woman, it is stated, was leaving the Foresters' Music Hall, Cambridge-road, where she had been spending the evening with a sea-captain, when she was accosted by a well-dressed man, who requested her to walk a short distance from him, as he wanted to meet a friend. They had reached a point near the scene of the murder of the woman Nicholls [sic], when the man violently seized her by the throat and dragged her down a court. He was immediately joined by a gang of bullies, who stripped the unfortunate woman of necklace, ear-rings, and brooch. Her purse was also taken, and she was brutally assaulted. Upon her attempting to shout for aid one of the gang laid a large knife across her throat, remarking, 'We will serve you as we did the others.' She was, however, eventually released."

    Dan Norder
    Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
    Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 05:21 PM
    Jeff, unfortunately you are totally missing the point.

    Abberline, as a Scotland Yard Detective Inspector, was sent to take charge of enquiries into the Whitechapel murders as he had been stationed in the division for 14 years, 9 of which were as Local Inspector in charge of the CID. He thus had a very good working local knowledge of the area as well as the criminals who operated there.

    This whole debate is not as to whether the police suspected a gang of being involved the murders or not, and they certainly did not by the time Abberline took charge of investigations as the official records show.

    Be that as it may, the point being made in this thread is that book after book has referred to 'the Old Nichol Gang', or variations thereof, as being a notorious extorting or blackmailing street gang. However no reference to a gang of that name has yet been found that pre-dates McCormick's use of it in 1959.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 05:31 PM
    So what are we left with? There are 1888 references to street gangs, but no specific mention of one called the 'Old Nichol Gang'. Undoubtedly the Nichol was a rookery inhabited by some of the roughest elements and criminals. But then so were other areas of the East End, and no doubt there were street gangs in all these areas.

    The apparently excessive vilification of the Old Nichol Street area may be laid at the door of Arthur Morrison and A. Osborne Jay as shown by Raphael Samuel. The first mention, so far found, of an 'Old Nichol Gang' appears in McCormick's 1959 book. Is this another Ripper myth that will continue to be perpetuated?

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    Crossroads
    20th October 2006, 07:53 PM
    Whether McCormick was right or wrong about a group named ?Old Nichol Gang?, and whether or not we eventually find references to that name prior to his 1959 publication, the one thing people should understand from this thread is that authors must give a proper reference when they state things as fact, otherwise the ?fact? isn?t worth much. If you give a reference then readers can check it out & judge the quality of the claim for themselves...otherwise the claim is really worthless.

    Ian.

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    cgp100
    20th October 2006, 08:24 PM
    Professor William J. Fishman's 1988 work, East End 1888, refers to 'The Old Nichol Mob', page 7 -

    "The Old Nichol mob, 'sunken and degraded', were a marginal 'tribe' who inhabited old, decayed cottages, 'originally built below the street level, and, in some cases, some rooms as disclosed in the Builder, as long back as 1860, were mere underground cellars; in others, the houses were so constructed that no light of the sun ever reached portions of the premises, whilst a fruitful source of evil had been the employment of a material called 'billy sweet' in place of mortar, which was incapable of properly drying.'"

    It would be a bit depressing if Fishman took McCormick's uncorroborated word for this - surely by 1988 it must have been obvious how much fantasy there was in his book, even if it wasn't obvious from the start.

    Is there any indication where the text in quotation marks is taken from? Could it even be a later article in The Builder? (I suppose Fishman may have quoted a bona fide contemporary report of conditions in Old Nichol Street, and just taken the name of the gang from McCormick, though if so isn't it a bit odd that he should say "mob" and not "gang"?)

    Chris Phillips

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    tom_wescott
    20th October 2006, 08:39 PM
    It would be a bit depressing if Fishman took McCormick's uncorroborated word for this - surely by 1988 it must have been obvious how much fantasy there was in his book, even if it wasn't obvious from the start.

    Well, I can't be too hard on Fishman over this. Until reading this thread today I had no idea the 'Old Nichols Gang' was another McCormick invention. I thought they were a matter of record. So did many others, I imagine. I think I need to get McCormick's book and see what other gems I've taken for granted over the years appear in its pages.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    Natalie Severn
    20th October 2006, 08:44 PM
    GH
    I have a copy of East End 1888 in front of me and there is nothing on page 7 about the Old Nichol gang-----I wonder if you have omitted a digit perhaps?
    Best Wishes
    Natalie

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    tom_wescott
    20th October 2006, 08:49 PM
    GH
    I have a copy of East End 1888 in front of me and there is nothing on page 7 about the Old Nichol gang-----I wonder if you have omitted a digit perhaps?
    Best Wishes
    Natalie

    Are you looking at the first edition, or one of the more recent reprints? Check the index for 'Old Nichol Gang'. I'm at work so, regrettably, I don't have my copy in front of me.


    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    JMenges
    20th October 2006, 08:55 PM
    It would be a bit depressing if Fishman took McCormick's uncorroborated word for this - surely by 1988 it must have been obvious how much fantasy there was in his book, even if it wasn't obvious from the start.

    If you've read Fishman's account of the JtR murders in East End 1888, you find how susceptible he was to fantasy. It abounds with errors and he gives credence to the Okhranka/Rasputin theory in an endnote, if I remember correctly. I, like Tom, don't have the book in front of me.

    JM

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    Natalie Severn
    20th October 2006, 09:02 PM
    Tom,
    The copy I have was reprinted in 2005.It has abundant notes and direct quotations from source material but....no damn index!
    Nats

    ............ but dont think he"s much into things "Ripper"!

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    JMenges
    20th October 2006, 09:10 PM
    And Fishman (again, from my memory) buys into the Royal Conspiracy, commenting on the "nocturnal wanderings" of Prince Eddy.

    JM

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    supe
    20th October 2006, 09:41 PM
    JM,

    Sadly, academics out of their immediate sphere of expertise are often the most undiscriminating of researchers. I find this to be true especially whenever JtR is discussed in the context of some greater historical or sociological theme. The passion for fact-based scholarship seems to desert them completely when dealing with Jack.

    Don.

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    tom_wescott
    20th October 2006, 09:48 PM
    And Fishman (again, from my memory) buys into the Royal Conspiracy, commenting on the "nocturnal wanderings" of Prince Eddy.

    JM

    I think most did, at least for a few minutes, back in the day. No less than Richard Whittington-Egan wrote the foreword for Stephen Knight's book and gave it a cautious endorsement. No different than those of us in the latter who were sucked in for a time by the Diary.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    cgp100
    20th October 2006, 09:49 PM
    Well, I can't be too hard on Fishman over this. Until reading this thread today I had no idea the 'Old Nichols Gang' was another McCormick invention. I thought they were a matter of record. So did many others, I imagine. I think I need to get McCormick's book and see what other gems I've taken for granted over the years appear in its pages.

    I didn't realise it was McCormick's invention either, but on the other hand it's evident that a lot of the book is sheer fantasy, so it would be dangerous to believe any of it without corroboration.

    But from what JMenges says, maybe Fishman was gullible in this respect. Perhaps Don is right, though one would hope historians would be the last to be taken in (except that, of course, one of our Professors of Modern History seems to have been taken in by the Maybrick Hoax hook, line and sinker!).

    Chris Phillips

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    Magpie
    20th October 2006, 10:01 PM
    I've always felt that Fishman didn't think the Ripper crimes were that interesting and irrelevant to what he was studying. My copy of Fishman basically repeats a summary of Knight's theory as the sole account of the Ripper crimes, without questioning it or even acknowledging any other theory.

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    Magpie
    20th October 2006, 10:03 PM
    'The Old Nichol Gang' was yet another of McCormick's 1959 inventions.

    Does this apply to the "High Rips" gang as well?

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    tom_wescott
    20th October 2006, 10:10 PM
    Does this apply to the "High Rips" gang as well?

    No, it does not. They were mentioned repeatedly in the press following the murder of Nichols.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    Debra A
    20th October 2006, 10:47 PM
    No, it does not. They were mentioned repeatedly in the press following the murder of Nichols.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

    Hi Tom
    I am always confused on this point, The High Rip gang seem to be a Liverpool gang, a High Rip type gang are mentioned after the murder of Nicholls aren't they?

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    jeffl
    20th October 2006, 11:24 PM
    One quick last post Grey Hunter.

    And firstly many thanks for the time you have taken posting some very interesting referances to the Whitechapple gangs.

    However I'm still at a lose end to what it adds up to other than SAMANTICS.

    We know that gangs were opperating at the time. We know that the police had suspicions...but suspicions could mean anything, its not a suspect, just that a suspicion. They problly had thousands of suspicions.

    If Abberline was bought in for his knowledge of local criminals, surely it goes hand in hand with gang information..they are interlinked by there nature.

    I worked in Kings Cross night clubs in the nineteen ninties. Everyone knew who the various gangs were. You new the bouncers. You new who paid who. The word was on the street. I can tell you which clubs pay off to whom, even today. As it was then....though I respect my knee caps. But even I know who is BIG and who is small.

    Emma Smith is reported as stating she was attacked by two (not a gang) or three men (possible gang). Surely it make no differance whether that gang was called The Old nicols gang or the Nicols gang. These names by there nature are as transient as the people who make them up. Yes there would be a few heads..a few major players that were always there...but gangs change over night,,,watch the God father.

    I fail to see why the name 'Old Nicols Gang' has any relivance to the case?

    We have established..gangs...How does this effect Emma Smiths Story?

    Who gives a **** whether some author got the name wrong.

    Jeff

    Sorry, I've now had a couple of glasses of wine and that sounds rather agressive, which it is not intended to be...just trying to get my head around what the signifigance of 'OLD' is all about...

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 11:34 PM
    Re- the above comments in relation to a High Rip gang you will see that I have already quoted an 1888 Daily Telegraph reference to a High Rip gang.

    It was used not as referring to the High Rip gang, but a High Rip gang, Rip being an old-fashioned slang term meaning to rob. Thus a Ripper was a robber in this terminology. 'High Rip' gang, therefore, means a highway robbery gang.

    The 'Old Nichol mob' reference, as quoted, appears on page seven, first full paragraph, line nine, of my first edition of Fishman's East End 1888.

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    Debra A
    20th October 2006, 11:42 PM
    [quote=Grey Hunter;45521]Re- the above comments in relation to a High Rip gang you will see that I have already quoted an 1888 Daily Telegraph reference to a High Rip gang.

    It was used not as referring to the High Rip gang, but a High Rip gang, Rip being an old-fashioned slang term meaning to rob. Thus a Ripper was a robber in this terminology. 'High Rip' gang, therefore, means a highway robbery gang.

    Thank you for that GH.
    I am also confused as to why McCormick would invent the name ' Old Nichol gang', I am not saying he didn't, but with so many named gangs in the same area why would he choose to invent a name?

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    dannorder
    20th October 2006, 11:44 PM
    Who gives a **** whether some author got the name wrong.

    We should all care quite deeply about an author making things up out of thin air.

    And we should all care greatly when unsupported guesswork, self-serving distortions and outright fiction further gets reprinted across countless books as if it were fact.

    This particular instance being discussed is but an example of a much larger problem. Any individual example on its own may appear at first glance to not hold much meaning in and of itself, but it's what it shows about the proliferation of nonsense in this field and elsewhere.

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    Grey Hunter
    20th October 2006, 11:52 PM
    Why did McCormick invent anything? He would know of the reputation of the Old Nichol Street area from the works quoted and the name does have a bit of a 'ring' to it. Given that McCormick trawled through the old newspaper reports for most of his information there is always a chance he spotted something we haven't. He was an entertaining writer and wrought similar havoc in the field of research into the Red Barn murder when he wrote his 1967 book The Red Barn Mystery. This book also contains much invention and 'McCormickisms'.

    Anyway, I have qualified the foregoing by saying that I (and, incidentally, a fellow author recently researching the subject of Victorian street gangs) have been unable to locate any pre-McCormick reference to 'the Old Nichol Gang', mob or whatever else you may call it.

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    Natalie Severn
    21st October 2006, 12:06 AM
    Hi GH
    I can"t find any reference to it in his 2005 version so maybe he has withdrawn it -if thats the case then it could be that he discovered the term to be without any concrete foundation!
    Best
    Natalie

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    robert
    21st October 2006, 10:08 AM
    I can see how McCormick might mistake "gang" for "gangs." For example, take the last few words of this :
    http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/Boo...0.html?sym=EXC (http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/Boo...0.html?sym=EXC)

    Without reading the book itself I can't tell whether it's one Old Nichol gang that's meant, or more than one.

    Robert

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    cgp100
    21st October 2006, 10:41 AM
    Going back to Fishman for a moment, I wonder if he's really referring to the same thing at all. He does have "mob" rather than gang, and the initial is lower-case. Is he just using the word mob in the secondary sense my dictionary gives, of "the rabble, the lower orders" - as an account of the French Revolution might refer to "the Paris mob"?

    In any case, if in the same sentence he's quoting from a source that hasn't been identified, perhaps we shouldn't assume he is simply copying McCormick's "Old Nichol Gang".

    Chris Phillips

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    Septic Blue
    21st October 2006, 02:42 PM
    GH seems to have ruffled a few feathers, with regard to the mythical Old Nichol Gang. Perhaps some casebook members are so attached to the SHALLOW notion that Emma Smith was murdered my members of a gang, and the even SHALLOWER notion that this gang emanated from the Bethnal Green rookery, The Nichol, that they simply can't swallow his assertion. Jeff seems totally unable to connect with GH?s point, and some of the others are clearly trying to pick apart the semantics of his assertion, and read between the lines.

    I think it's brilliant !!!

    I have always thought that Ripperologists were grasping at straws when assuming that Emma Smith was attacked by members of a gang; And that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel when assuming further that the attack was part-and-parcel with extortion.

    Surely, there were gangs in London's 1888 East End who extorted money from some prostitutes; But, those of the destitute two-penny variety, like Emma Smith ??? How much would she have been worth, as an ongoing extortion asset ??? Nothing !!!

    I think that the notion of gang involvement in Emma Smith's murder, places an artificial barrier between it and the rest of the so-called Whitechapel Murders; And, that this barrier provides a most convenient reason for Ripperologists to quickly discard her as a possible victim of JTR.

    Don't misunderstand me: I believe that there is little chance that Emma Smith died at the hands of the person responsible for the murder of Annie Chapman (who, in turn, was probably responsible for the deaths of Polly Nichols and Kate Eddowes) (my means of defining JTR). But, on the other hand, I hate seeing her written off so easily, because on the basis of her having said that she was attacked by three men, we JUMP to the conclusion that she was invariably attacked by members of an organized extortionist gang, which emanated specifically from The Nichol.

    Colin 4765

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    cgp100
    21st October 2006, 03:42 PM
    GH seems to have ruffled a few feathers, with regard to the mythical Old Nichol Gang. Perhaps some casebook members are so attached to the SHALLOW notion that Emma Smith was murdered my members of a gang, and the even SHALLOWER notion that this gang emanated from the Bethnal Green rookery, The Nichol, that they simply can't swallow his assertion. Jeff seems totally unable to connect with GH?s point, and some of the others are clearly trying to pick apart the semantics of his assertion, and read between the lines.

    I don't think that's the point Grey Hunter is making. He himself posted:
    "This whole debate is not as to whether the police suspected a gang of being involved the murders or not ... the point being made in this thread is that book after book has referred to 'the Old Nichol Gang', or variations thereof, as being a notorious extorting or blackmailing street gang. However no reference to a gang of that name has yet been found that pre-dates McCormick's use of it in 1959."

    Moreover, I don't think anyone is disputing that - they can't, very well, without producing such a pre-1959 reference.

    Chris Phillips

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    robert
    21st October 2006, 06:00 PM
    I haven't found the Old Nichol Gang but here's an Aug 9th 1897 reference to two gangs known as "the" in an area that surely contained several gangs. I've also seen reference to the "Bethnal Green Hooligans."

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    Septic Blue
    21st October 2006, 07:07 PM
    I don't think that's the point Grey Hunter is making. He himself posted:

    "This whole debate is not as to whether the police suspected a gang of being involved in the murders or not ... "

    Moreover, I don't think anyone is disputing that ...



    Hi Chris,

    I did not suggest in any way, shape or form that GH's point includes anything pertaining to the murder of Emma Smith, or, for that matter, any of the other Whitechapel Murders.

    IT DOESN'T !!!

    GH's point is clear and concise: In the absence of any pre-McCormick references to the so-called Old Nichol Gang, we have no reason to believe that any such gang existed.

    My point is that some of us are finding this assertion difficult to swallow, because we have always assumed a likely connection between this mythical gang and the murder of Emma Smith.

    No one here is disputing GH's assertion. But, I get the distinct impression that many of us are finding it difficult to accept.

    Also, I must apologize for my typo.

    "GH seems to have ruffled a few feathers, with regard to the mythical Old Nichol Gang. Perhaps some casebook members are so attached to the SHALLOW notion that Emma Smith was murdered by (not "my") members of a gang, and the even SHALLOWER notion that this gang emanated from the Bethnal Green rookery, The Nichol, that they simply can't swallow his assertion. Jeff seems totally unable to connect with GH?s point, and some of the others are clearly trying to pick apart the semantics of his assertion, and read between the lines."

    Colin4768

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    jeffl
    21st October 2006, 07:52 PM
    Dear Septic Blue

    I'm quite able to follow what GH was saying, and I'm complete with the fact that no referance to a specific 'gang' called the OLD Nichol gang exists before 1959.

    But let us make this clear. If Emma Smith was attacked by two people this does not constitute a gang.

    The Oxford English dictionary states: GANG. Band of persons acting or going about together, esp. for criminal purposes.

    If she was attacked by three people she was attacked by a gang.

    Gangs can and some times do have specific names. But do they have specific memebers?

    My piont was that 'gangs' are by there nature transitory. Five members one job, eight on the next.

    Specific names are usually the stuff of folk law rather than reality. At some time most of the names that have been writen down have come from verbal histories...word on the street.

    Its not like your paying a membership to join a local golf club.

    You have to understand that its like a playground mentality...The 'gangs' changing and developing...the names might be shortened, abriviated, adapted. Its like trying to drink a glass of water with a fork.

    If Emma smith was attacked by three people she was attacked by?...a gang.......and As Dug and Dinsdail perahna would say from Monty Python...which they called 'THE GANG".

    THe specific name of the gang has little relivance..I dont think anyone specifically accused one particular gang. (Although perhaps some authors may have, I've not seen these)

    Abberline was bought in for his knowledge of local criminals...most of who would have hung around witrh other criminals..thus being in Gangs..some possibly in specific gangs....but Gangs none the less.

    It would appear that the specific name old nicols gang did not exist...however I still say the police probably concidered the involvement of a gang..

    And for what its worth I think it a good possibility that Jack was at one time part of a gang...probably not when commiting the crimes..but at an earlier date in his life...as I beleive Jack was a local boy who knew the area streets well..what better way of being safe on them than starting in a gang.

    Emma's story also has serious flaws, I think she is worth considering as a Ripper victim.

    Anyway I better get back to my torch and shuvel. I've a body to exume.

    Catch you all later

    Yours Jeff x

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    cgp100
    21st October 2006, 08:07 PM
    I did not suggest in any way, shape or form that GH's point includes anything pertaining to the murder of Emma Smith, or, for that matter, any of the other Whitechapel Murders.

    I'm sorry if I misunderstood.

    From what you say, I think we agree that Grey Hunter was essentially making a point about research methodology, not arguing for or against gang involvement in this particular murder.

    Chris Phillips

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    Septic Blue
    21st October 2006, 08:55 PM
    I'm sorry if I misunderstood.



    Hi Chris,

    No Apology Needed !!!

    I think you're right: We do seem to be in agreement regarding GH's point.

    Hi Jeff,

    Now, we are talking semantics !!!

    When you say "gang", I think of an organization with real structure and hierarchy: Not some makeshift mob on the terraces, that has a self-proclaimed leader at one match, and some other self-proclaimed leader the following week.

    My perception is due, in part, to the fact I am Septic. In America, a street-gang would in fact, take its recruits beyond anything akin to "paying a membership to join a local golf club": Once someone is initiated, there is little-to-no way out.

    Again, my perception is due, in part, to my being American: I am well aware of the fact that street-gangs are likely to be more loosely knit in England. I have always taken that into account, when considering the case of Emma Smith. Having said that; I very firmly believe that 1888 police and press references to "gangs" had more significant connotations than three drunks, who just happened to stumble out of the same pub together.

    Have a butcher's at some of my other thoughts, pertaining to Emma Smith:

    http://forum.casebook.org/showthread...7456#post37456

    Colin 4771

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    jeffl
    21st October 2006, 10:35 PM
    Septic Blue

    You have it all completely and utterly wrong.....you should be supporting the Hammers!

    The rest of your thread I read with great interest...some interesting stuff...till it got tied up in some silly morality debate.

    So yes I guess we were getting a little tied with samantics..but the term 'gang' is much like 'love' many things to many people.

    I'm not certain that British gangs are that differant from American or chineese for that matter but obviously there must be cultural differances.

    I've studdied the 1960's hammersmith nude murders in some detail and gangs were very differant on the streets of the Eastend to the ones you'd recognize today..however there are similarities...site Lord of the Fly's.

    And as you clearly state you need to draw a distiction between organized crime and street gangs, although at the end of the day they are sort of extensions of each other...I'm sure the Krays started in the play ground.

    Funny enough old Will Shakespeare started in the Eastend and we all know about Romeo and Juliet. So gang mentality has always been with us.

    When your a teenager the streets are a dangerous place...so forming into gangs is a logical form of protection. Most people out grow this, move on into their twenties. The fact that one of the gang was discribed as ninteen would suggest teenage gangs to me rather than 'organized crime'.

    The other thing that seems to be taken for granted is that Jack was a lone killer...as I've said before its not entirely imposible that Jack worked with someone else.

    There is suggestion of two knives at Tabram attack...(though personally I think only one) and it was raised in parliment that two men may have been considerd at the Kelly murder. Although it is unusual for serial killers to work alone it is not entirely without president..site Moors Murders, West Murders and better be careful here but in a differant way the Soam murders...ie an inocent person can become involved, out of there depth etc.

    So perhaps Jack being a gang isnt totally out of the question.

    However I've always seen it that Jack learned his patch with a gang and broke away...perhaps he became to unstable for the gang to dangerous.

    I will try and keep up with your Emma Smith thread...

    Many thanks for the information. And dont forget Eastend boys support the Hammers. Even if we do lose alot, we do it with style.

    Better get back to me trench....have a morality question to solve.

    Good night America

    Jeff

    Dan Norder
    Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
    Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

    Comment


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      jeffl
      21st October 2006, 10:52 PM
      PS.

      I've just noticed that my thread reads incorrestly..should say most serial killers are lone killers...please excuse my dyslexia.

      One other piont: The younger teenage gangs would very very locallized..as they are today..safty is in numbers..theyre basically cowards. It would be important to know which gangs you could mess with who you could not. Who the big boys were.

      I'm sure it would be much the subject of debate down the pub. Very important information if you wished to survive on the Streets. Our girls would have known how to look after themselves.

      Emma Smith must have been incredibly strong to have walk so far with such an injury, my guess is she put up quite a fight,,as did Martha. Jack would have learned from this and changed his MO to make things easier...he learned the hard way.

      Good night again.

      Jeff

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      apwolf
      21st October 2006, 10:53 PM
      I've been following this thread with avid interest.
      Like Grey and many others I do not have much time for the 'old Nichol gang' and the like, but having said that it is quite rewarding to look through Old Bailey transcripts - from the late 18th and early 19th century - in relation to crime and gangs in connection with the 'Old Nichol' back then when it was really the 'Old Nichol'.
      Going back to the earlier part of the 18th century shows - using other sources - that the 'Old Nichol' was very much the preserve of criminal gangs who would commonly rob the entire shops of the area, before they got their shutters up, and then hold massive barbeques on the common land there, and any watchman who braved the jolly proceedings was beaten half to death... the actions of this 'Old Nichol' gang partly led to the formation of a proper police force known to us as 'peelers'.
      I'm not saying that there was a gang called the 'Old Nichol' but I am saying there were a lot of gangs from the 'Old Nichol' who you would not have liked to meet late at night.

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      Septic Blue
      21st October 2006, 11:17 PM
      Septic Blue

      You have it all completely and utterly wrong.....you should be supporting the Hammers!

      Many thanks for the information. And dont forget Eastend boys support the Hammers. Even if we do lose alot, we do it with style.

      Jeff

      Hi Jeff,

      I'm a punk
      And I like Sham.
      I got nicked
      Over West Ham

      From "Police Car", by Cockney Rejects

      My nine-year-old son fancies himself West Ham: He has a West Ham kit with the name "Stinky Turner" (Cockney Rejects) on the back.

      As for myself; (I have to be blunt) I think West Ham should blow their bubbles up their Arsenals.

      But, Good Luck against Tottenham tomorrow.

      Colin 4772

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      jeffl
      22nd October 2006, 02:03 PM
      Stinky Blue

      So theres a kid running around Florida in the coolest football shirt in history and probably nobody but me realizes just how cool he is...

      Lets face it Chelsea probably wouldn't have a football team if it wasnt for West Hams youth training programme..

      My daughter is twelve and she's taken to supporting Arsnal..which just goes to show however hard you try to bring them up properly they can still turn out bad...( actually she's just been signed up for the Chelmsford area netball team as goal defence and gather her bad ways are now terrorizing Essex..very proud.)

      Re Emma Smith: Wasnt Lime house close to Ada Wilsons attack in Maiden Road Mile end? There is one small problem that has always nagged me when considering Jack as a developing serial killer raised in the Eastend. The attacks on Milwood and wilson were with a clarsp knife similar to the one used on Tabram...why would Jack change weapon to assult Emma Smith...surely she does not fit the pattern? Can you marry the attacks of Milwood Wilson and Emma Smith?

      Sorry I realize I'm rather off topic here which I know annoys some people. However I like to see the big picture rather than the fine details...which neatly brings me back on topic.

      Ok Grey Hunter I've been giving your 'Old Nicol Gang' piont some very serious thought. And what lies at the heart of it is Ripper Mythology. Fact and Fiction.

      And as we are in a similar line of business I guess this does need serious contemplation and I'm not certain of the right answer. However like many of you a am sick of productions that (as Barlow and Watts would say) Selects a Theory and presents only the facts that support the case. (which was sought of ironic as that is precicly what they did.) We've had thirty years of books and TV that select a suspect and try to make the facts fit the theory.

      So I'd be in agreement that getting back to basics and getting the known facts back in the lime light would be a good thing.

      But does not an Author/Producer also have a responcibility to entertain, empassion and draw his audiance into the subject?

      At what piont does a slight 'embelishment' and 'colour' effect the basic truths within a story. Surely History is actually story telling? The word His-Story actually means that.

      So I was quite serious when I said does a small fact like 'Old Nichol' actually make that much differance?

      Lets say, foreinstance that you were making a programme on Jack the Ripper. The veiwing public already have an iconic picture of Jack the Ripper. Even if they have never read a book or watched a programme. Jack was recently voted the most hated man in British History by the general public. even fairly young children seem to have a sence of who he is 'The boogy man'.

      Seperating fact from fiction in 2007 is going to be an enormous task. And the big question facing me is if you lose the fog, the cape and the gladstone bag what do you put in its place? These things are senonimous with public perseption. And much of the information we have comes from News paper reports which in a way were served up as entertainment in the first place.

      Do we serve up our facts as dry cold damp information? Or do we as 'Story tellers' have a responcibility to excite, enthrall and capture the imagination of a new audiance? And lets not be nieve, do we not also have a responcibility to or pay masters? I'm sure your publicer whats a book cover that people will pick up and buy.

      Please dont get me wrong, I feel that the facts of the case are far more surprising and interesting than any Royal family, conspiracy film. My worries are that getting bogged down in detail may simply throw the baby out with the bath water.

      The public still have a huge demand for anything Jack the Ripper. If your going to serve up the FACTS is it not better to have them tasty, challenging, captivating?????

      Is not at the end of the day the 'Old Nicols gang' just not a little more evocative than Nicols gang. And does it really do any harm to the underlying facts of the case?

      And at what piont would you suggest that we draw that line. I really have no answer to that question but I am interested in yours and Dan's. As it is a question that has given me a number of sleepless nights of late.

      Yours on a more serious note.

      Jeff x


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      Grey Hunter
      22nd October 2006, 02:28 PM
      Let's get rid of all the superfluous and often irrelevant debate that has gone on previously and cut straight to the point that this whole thread is about. That is that a specific, named, notorious gang, called the Old Nichol Gang is never metioned before McCormick, ergo it may be reasonably assumed that such a named, specific, and notorious gang was an invention of McCormick. This notwithstanding the fact that street gangs did indeed exist, probably including street gangs in the Nichol area. For surely if a gang of that name was notorious there should have been a mention of it prior to 1959.

      After McCormick, as I have shown, the Old Nichol Gang, or variations thereof, appears in plenty of books which do not specifically quote a source. Therefore, do we assume that their source must be McCormick, or someone who subsequently copied McCormick? This is not a question of mere semantics, it is a question of historical accuracy and the copying of secondary sources. For example an author who was researching the history of the London street gangs contacted me as she had been unable to historically identify the Old Nichol Gang which, if it existed, was a good example of a Victorian street gang. I had to say that I had no contemporary historical source available to me that showed that the Old Nichol Gang ever existed.

      Also, I should emphasise again, that this has nothing to do with theories or suspects as I do quote the fact that a suggestion was made at the time that a gang may have been responsible. But, then, I have already pointed this out. It's amazing how quickly you come under attack when you point something out that seems to militate against someone's pet theory.

      The final question posed by this is, of course, can anyone, please, provide a written solid Victorian reference to the Old Nichol gang, even if it might be called 'the Old Nichol mob' or similar.

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      jeffl
      22nd October 2006, 02:54 PM
      Grey Hunter

      I hope you dont think that in anyway you were under attack. I think everyone was complete with the factual piont you were raising. I merely sort your implications on the wider issues of Ripper Mythology.

      Septic Blue.

      Still a little confused. Wasnt Emma Smith Attacked on the corner of Wentworth and Osbourne street? That cant be two miles from where she lived?

      Yours Jeff

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      Septic Blue
      22nd October 2006, 04:07 PM
      Stinky Blue

      So theres a kid running around Florida in the coolest football shirt in history and probably nobody but me realizes just how cool he is...



      Hi Jeff,

      As much as I "8" West Ham, I think it's cool, as well.

      I have Cockney Rejects 1, 2, and 3 on CD (I had the vinyl LP's way back when), and he likes them: He asked for the kit with "Stinky Turner" on the back.

      I don't mind him supporting West Ham, at all. I'll have to admit West Ham have real personality: "Cum on 'u' Irons", "Bubbles" and all that; And supporters who truly believe their club is the best ever, no matter how badly they get done on the pitch, or on the terraces.

      Half-Time at White Fart Lane: Rottenham 1-0 West Ham

      If there's one thing that Chelsea and West Ham have in common; It's that we both HATE the *%#s !!!

      Colin 4779

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      Septic Blue
      22nd October 2006, 04:23 PM
      Septic Blue.

      Still a little confused. Wasnt Emma Smith Attacked on the corner of Wentworth and Osbourne street? That cant be two miles from where she lived?



      Hi Again, Jeff

      Emma Smith was allegedly seen by Margaret Hayes, a fellow lodger from 18 George Street, Spitalfields, way down in Limehouse (the intersection of Burdett Road and Farrance Street), a few hours before being attacked. This alleged sighting of ES is what occurred two miles from her lodgings.

      I believe that she could have been set upon anywhere between Limehouse and the intersection of Wentworth Street/Osborn Street (the boundary separating Whitechapel and Spitalfields), with the spot that she alleged, being about the least likely.

      Colin 4780

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      supe
      22nd October 2006, 04:55 PM
      Jeff,

      Surely History is actually story telling? The word His-Story actually means that.

      No, it doesn't. It comes from the Latin (borrowing from Greek) historia-ae, which meant an inquiry. And that is what history ought to be, an inquiry into past events done with a dispassion for everything but the truth. Historians being human rather than automatons means that ideal is seldom realized. Still, there are many historians (fewer and fewer I fear) who can tell a good story without recourse to afactual embellishments.

      As it is, Grey Hunter's original question was something of an intellectual quest: Is there a mention of the "Old Nichol Gang" anywhere prior to the publication of Mr. McCormick's fantasies? And yes, that is an important question, though one that seemingly passes you by. History becomes perverted into popular nonsense unless the "facts" of any story are forever tested and traced to their source.

      Don.

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      apwolf
      22nd October 2006, 05:26 PM
      Yes Robert
      I saw that reference to the 'old Nichol gang' in the review of Ed Glinert's 'East End Chronicles' as well, and incidentally Natalie did mention the volume on another thread connected to 'gangs'.
      Perhaps Natalie has it to hand and can elucidate?
      Didn't I find a case anyway on exactly the same night where a gang of roughs stripped, robbed and beat a young girl who had lost her way?
      Must check that again.

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      jeffl
      22nd October 2006, 05:36 PM
      As it is, Grey Hunter's original question was something of an intellectual quest: Is there a mention of the "Old Nichol Gang" anywhere prior to the publication of Mr. McCormick's fantasies? And yes, that is an important question, though one that seemingly passes you by. History becomes perverted into popular nonsense unless the "facts" of any story are forever tested and traced to their source.

      Don.

      Don, we have covered this, and I and it appears everyone else is complete with the facts of the situation.

      My question was to elaborate on the meaning of this Fact. Is it really of any great significance? Does a historian also have a duty to entertain his audiance?

      My piont was that the 'Old Nichol Gang' seems more evocative than 'Nichol Gang'. Is it a destortion of history? or simply better story telling? Can we justify embelishment to make sure an audiance is gripped by the tale?

      And if we use this as an example, what other myths of the Ripper story should be destroyed?

      There wasnt any fog of the night of any of the murders as far as I know. Does this stop me using a metophorical smoke mechine to make the story more dramatic? More iconistic (is there such a word?)

      In itself no 'old Nichol gang' before 1959..fact..its not being contended.

      My question was about how this relates to the case as a whole? as it has been expanded that this is not the only FACT that is actually mythology.

      What does it all mean..are we to be condemned for every tiny factual error? Does the author not also have a duty to entertain. Is not all history a question of veiw piont and interpretation NOT fact?

      I'm not argueing I'm seeking opinion.

      Jeff

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      JMenges
      22nd October 2006, 06:24 PM
      My question was to elaborate on the meaning of this Fact. Is it really of any great significance? Does a historian also have a duty to entertain his audiance?

      My piont was that the 'Old Nichol Gang' seems more evocative than 'Nichol Gang'. Is it a destortion of history? or simply better story telling? Can we justify embelishment to make sure an audiance is gripped by the tale?


      HI Jeff,

      I think that if McCormick mentioned (as GH said) a specific, named, notorious gang, called the Old Nichol Gang, and there never was such a named gang, then he's making up facts and distorting history, not being "evocative".

      JM

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      robert
      22nd October 2006, 06:30 PM
      AP, was it something to do with her hiding money in her stays?

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      Natalie Severn
      22nd October 2006, 06:33 PM
      Hi AP
      When I get back to London I will look up Ed Glinert"s book and see if he has anything to say about it.I can"t remember whether he did or didnt refer to the Old Nichol.
      Best
      Natalie

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      dannorder
      22nd October 2006, 07:34 PM
      Hi Jeff,

      What does it all mean..are we to be condemned for every tiny factual error?

      I think this is sort of a running theme with a number of active threads recently. I would say that factual errors are to be avoided if at all possible, but there is a qualitative difference between an accidental mistake and purposeful misinformation. There are also varying degrees within both.

      Does the author not also have a duty to entertain.

      I would say overall, especially if we include scholarly academic works, no. Someone reading history (or any other field) first and foremost should find their entertainment by choice of topic. If a reader isn't going to be entertained by reading history without an author introducing fictional elements, then that reader should just go read fiction in the first place. By the same token, if an author cannot stick to the facts without inventing up things that never happened, then he or she's already writing fiction and should give up any pretense of it being nonfiction.

      But, then, obviously, more entertaining writing is a good thing, especially for a book aimed at a more general audience. But making the writing entertaining should be through the use of evocative word choice and description, not deception.

      Is not all history a question of veiw piont and interpretation NOT fact?

      If something is not a fact, even if it's a leading theory, then it's not true history, just an approximation.

      History as a field can and usually does include the author's views, but these speculative scenarios or conclusions, when present, should be explicitly labeled as such so there is no confusion. Sometimes the nature of the publication makes that obvious (a theoretical academic paper, for instance), but if it's not, or there's confusion on what is fact and what is fancy, it should be labeled.

      But in no case would deliberately including false information and presenting it as a fact be excused by rationalizing it after the fact as a mere viewpoint. If McCormick got information on an Old Nichols Gang from some prior source we haven't found, regardless of whether that source was right or not, that is one thing. If he for some reason up and decided to invent an Old Nichols Gang without having previously heard of one by that name, then that's simply inexcusible.

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      supe
      22nd October 2006, 08:19 PM
      Jeff,

      I'm not argueing I'm seeking opinion.

      Fair enough, and I'll give you mine.

      As far as history is concerned, a writer should be constrained by fact and informed speculation--so long as the speculation as clearly labeled as such. Whether historical writing (or any other kind of writing) should also be entertaining is a function of style not content. Great writers can make the dullest subject matter come alive without doing an injustice to the facts while a bad writer could make "The World's Ten Funniest Stories" a chore even to start far less finish.

      As for the world of film and television production, yes I suppose you could use fake fog and a Jack in top hat, cape and carrying a Gladstone for their iconic effrect, but it would also be quite lazy and unimaginative to do so. Like all the interchangeable 19th Century mellodramas. Insert stock villain with curly moustache and foreclosure in hand. Add noble old widow, comely and innocent young daughter (blonde or brunette depanding on actress) and finally throw in the manly young hero who will rescue Nell, payoff the mortgage and give the villain what-for just before the final curtain. Trite and boring.

      On the other hand, you are full of Ripper lore and surely could come up with a better story than the old cliches. Instead of the vengeful doctor stalking prostitutes down darkened alleys, why not build a story around Montague Druitt? Successful barrister, athletic bon vivant and yet obviously harboring inner demons that drove him to death. Enough is known about him to build a suspect and enough not known to give room for developing an engaging, entertaing character. The same might be said for Joe Barnett, Severin Klosowski or any of the nameless, faceless, suspects in the shadows. For that matter, think what you could do with a Tumblety or D'Onston?

      In short, why plod down the same well-worn path when there are multiple alternate paths that could lead to somewhere new and exciting?

      My opinion: To portray the iconic is simply mental indolence.

      Don.

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      robert
      22nd October 2006, 08:44 PM
      Re history, I think it depends.

      Take a situation where a certain Gerneral's army is heavily outnumbered. An historian might write, "When General so-and-so surveyed the opposing forces, his heart sank." Now, the historian might not have a reliable source for the General saying to someone, "My heart sank." But it's a fair bet it did sink. If the historian writes, "his heart probably sank," then it becomes a bit prosy.

      On the other hand, in a case like JTR, where the amount and quality of info leaves a lot to be desired, there's a danger that the smallest innocent invention will be seized on and squeezed dry of consequences as if it were a proposition of Bolshevik politics or Catholic theology. So extra care must be taken.

      Robert

      Dan Norder
      Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
      Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

      Comment


      • #4
        apwolf
        22nd October 2006, 08:46 PM
        No Robert, not stays. I got it now.
        It was the attack on Emily Royal by a gang of men at Bethnal Green reported on April 4th 1888... making it the same night Millwood was attacked.

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        robert
        22nd October 2006, 09:17 PM
        OK AP. THC was a gang of one, anyway.

        Robert

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        JMenges
        23rd October 2006, 05:17 AM
        Hi

        Charles Booth makes at least one reference to "the Nichol gang" in Life and Labour of the People of London. In the section, I believe, called Religious Influences, when discussing the Boundary Street area after redeveolpment. I don't have the tome in front of me, so no more specific information or a page number (I can get at it later today), but the quotation runs something like this:

        "Everywhere these people are recognised as coming from the ‘Nichol,’ and everywhere they have brought poverty, dirt and disorder with them, and an increase of crowding, the rooms previously occupied by one family having had to serve for two.” [...]

        "“Streets [have] become rougher owing to Boundary St improvements, the Nichol gang have come into here and into Chambord St”.

        No mention of "notorious" or "Old" in this mention, but here is a part of McCormick again: "The Nichol Gang used thugs to beat up and rob women of the streets, while their rivals sent out children at nightfall to steal from shops, or snatch from passers-by."

        I'll look through the volumes later today and see if I can find any more references.

        JM

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        Grey Hunter
        23rd October 2006, 06:31 AM
        I think that it is worth noting here, again, the exact wording of McCormick in his first edition of The Identity of Jack the Ripper, London, Jarrolds, 1959. The index specifically lists - 'Old Nichol Gang, 19, 26'

        On page 19 is the following -

        'But here the similarities end. In Turner's case no motive was apparent; with Smith the crime followed an act of robbery. And, though Smith's assailants were never caught, there was some ground for believing that they were members of the notorious Old Nichol Gang, which, in the last quarter of the last century terrorized the East End of London. The mean streets of this area were often the scene of gang fights between the Hoxton Market Gang and the Old Nichol Gang, named after Old Nichol Street, Bethnal Green, which had been a centre of organized crime for a hundred years. The Nichol Gang used thugs to beat up and rob women of the streets, while their rivals sent out children at nightfall to steal from shops, or snatch from passers-by.'

        On page 26 is the following -

        'P.C. Haine cut this unproductive conversation short by suggesting the murder was the work of the Old Nichol Gang, who were known to blackmail prostitutes.'

        [Emphasis mine.]

        These are clear cut references to a specific and notorious gang. The second reference is clearly pure invention as no such conversation between the police constables attending the Nichols murder was ever recorded. And it is these references of McCormick that later authors have clearly picked up on and developed. They are not general references to a gang that came from the Nichol, where there undoubtedly was a street mob and gangs that spilt over into surrounding areas committing crime, but are specific references to a named and notorious gang.

        On page 34 of his 1976 book Jack the Ripper the Final Solution, Stephen Knight was another author who picked up on McCormick's theme -

        'The perils at hand were death from starvation and the more sinister threats of the blackmail gang of which she [Kelly] had fallen foul. This was probably the Old Nichol Gang, which demanded money and dealt out violence and even death to the holder of an empty purse.'

        So what we are seeking are specific references to this notorious gang, 'The Old Nichol gang', and not general references to the mob and gangs from the streets of the Nichol which, undoubtedly, did exist.

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        JMenges
        23rd October 2006, 02:23 PM
        Hi GH,

        You must admit that what we have with Booth seems to be a specific reference to the Nichol gang, and this gang made the streets unsafe in the area of Boundary and Chambord. I agree that the passage I cite lacks any further description a la McCormick of this gang being notorious and what not, but nevertheless it appears to me to be refering to a group of individuals as "the Nichol gang."

        McCormick, after all, refers to them in places as simply "the Nichol Gang" also.

        I'll investigate Booth further to see if I can find other mentions of this gang, and put my citation in context, as it is a possibility that such a gang existed and that McCormick just added dramatic description when creating a role for them in his book .

        edit- I'm positing that maybe McCormick didnt invent the Nichol gang out of whole cloth, but that the gang exisited and he gave them a role in the WM.

        JM

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        Septic Blue
        23rd October 2006, 02:44 PM
        I think that it is worth noting here, again, the exact wording of McCormick in his first edition of The Identity of Jack the Ripper, London, Jarrolds, 1959. The index specifically lists - 'Old Nichol Gang, 19, 26'

        On page 19 is the following -

        'But here the similarities end. In Turner's case no motive was apparent; with Smith the crime followed an act of robbery. And, though Smith's assailants were never caught, there was some ground for believing that they were members of the notorious Old Nichol Gang, ...



        Hi All,

        " ... there was some ground for believing ... " ?????

        Three men: One, as young as nineteen. Nothing else was said by Emma Smith, regarding her alleged assailants.

        Where's the ground ?????

        There wasn't any in 1888; There hasn't been any since 1888; And, there probably never will be any ground for believing ...

        There's isn't even a single grain of sand !!!!!

        OK,

        I realize that this thread has nothing to do with the murder of Emma Smith. I also realize that GH's assertion, regarding the mythical nature of the so-called Old Nichol Gang, does not include anything pertaining to the murder of Emma Smith, or, for that matter, any of the other Whitechapel Murders.

        GH's point is clear and concise: In the absence of any pre-McCormick references to the so-called Old Nichol Gang, we have no reason to believe that any such gang existed.

        My reason for bringing Emma Smith into the fray is quite simple: The interest, which this thread has generated, has reinforced my belief that the mythical Old Nichol Gang has always had (well, since 1959, anyway) a special place in the hearts and minds of many Ripperologists. The existence of this notorious gang, which played havoc with Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and all of Tower Hamlets, while extorting protection payments from prostitutes everywhere, throughout the Victorian era, provided a most convenient reason for quickly discarding Emma Smith as a possible victim of JTR.

        I realize that GH's revelations, regarding the mythical nature of the so-called Old Nichol Gang, do not eliminate the POSSIBILITY that Emma Smith was set upon by members of an organized mob. That possibility has always existed, but it has always been just that: A POSSIBILITY. The notion that they emanated specifically from the Bethnal Green rookery, The Nichol (aka, The Old Nichol), was never anything more than conjecture: Outright fantasy.

        Colin 4781

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        Septic Blue
        23rd October 2006, 03:15 PM
        You must admit that what we have with Booth seems to be a specific reference to the Nichol gang, ...



        Hi JM,

        I'll try not to be too subjective.

        As you can see, I'm quite pleased with GH's revelation.

        Booth's reference could, in fact, be quite loose: "the Nichol gang", as opposed to The Nichol Gang, The Old Nichol Gang, etc ...

        "the Nichol gang" could, in this case, be a loose reference to The Friar's Mount Gang, mentioned earlier in this thread by Debra A:

        http://forum.casebook.org/showthread...5393#post45393

        This particular gang, was quite clearly named for Mount Street, which along with Old Nichol's Street, constituted Booth's Black colour-coding (vicious; semi-criminal) within the rookery known as The Nichol (aka, The Old Nichol).

        If I allowed myself to get really subjective, I might contend that the "the Nichol gang" was merely a loose reference to the Nichol community.

        Colin 4782

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        JMenges
        23rd October 2006, 03:27 PM
        If I allowed myself to get really subjective, I might contend that the "the Nichol gang" was merely a loose reference to the Nichol community.

        Hi Colin,

        That thought crossed my mind too, but I'm not sure Booth or his researchers would be that flippant, maybe so. That's why I'll go look at Booth again to see if there are multiple references to 'the Nichol gang' before I reach a definate opinion on whether or not the gang existed and McCormick invented an undeserving myth around them.

        JM

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        apwolf
        25th October 2006, 09:09 PM
        Gangs of the East End. 1881:

        'Friar's Mount Gang' & 'Dove Row Gang' both from Bethnal Green.
        'Forty Thieves'. Very dangerous, very nasty.
        'Birmingham Gang'. Came down from Birmingham and terrorised the city.
        'Islington Gang'.
        'Long Firm Gang'.

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        robert
        25th October 2006, 09:53 PM
        Now then, from AP comes the story of the 40 thieves, dating from 1828, 1882 and 1889.

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        apwolf
        25th October 2006, 10:26 PM
        Thank you so much Robert.
        I hope we can finally lay the myth that there is no connection between such criminal gangs and the common prostitutes who either worked with them or for them.
        It is interesting to note that a boy under the age of 12 carried the initials of the prostitute he was bound to; one hopes or imagines that this was not a sexual bond, but rather one of the hopeless streets they shared as lost souls of the Victorian Age.
        The 'Forty Thieves' survived over 100 years of history, and were still very much up and running at the time of the Whitechapel Murders, the last report being actually from 1899 rather than 1889... my fault.
        One imagines that the prostitutes the boys were 'bound' to may have also carried the initials of the boys carved into their wrists, and that close study of their hands may have revealed their attachment to the 'Forty Thieves'.
        They were a force to be reckoned with in the LVP that is for sure.
        I think someone should talk to them about the Whitechapel Murders.

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        Natalie Severn
        25th October 2006, 10:55 PM
        This thread failed to develop when started and it would be interesting to hear the opinion of the many experts on this site about this subject.

        At the last Whitechapel Society meeting I mentioned the above proposition and two members of the audience challenged my contention that 'the Old Nichol Gang' was a McCormick invention.

        In reply I asked if they were able to produce a written reference to 'the Old Nichol Gang' that pre-dated McCormick. As yet I have had no reply.

        Hi GH,Chrisg, AP all,

        I have just found in Ed Glinert"s book ," East End Chronicles" a sub -chapter entitled The Blackest Hell-The Old Nichol .In it he refers first to the Old Nichol having long suffered from the worst crime rate in London since the authorities petitioned the Home Secretary,Robert Peel to suppress the "dreadful riots" being perpetrated by a lawless local gang of some 500 thieves whose exploits were causing much harm.The Old Nichol hit the head lines when two local men abducted a young Italian Boy. Carlo Ferrari ,mudered him and tried to sell his corpse to surgeons at Kings College.They were caught and hanged in front of 30,000 people.These two,Bishop and Head were
        .... "just two of scores of The Old Nichol Gang,who specialised in forcing protection money out of prostitutes..........he continues....The Old Nichol gang were blamed for the violent murder of prostitute Emma Smith
        on Easter Monday 1888, the first such incident in the year of Jack the Ripper.
        Later when the Old Nichol was razed,the surrounding area,Bethnal Green,took up its underworld status,specialising in "villlains"-those who rely on intimidation to run protection rackets. Skills in villainy and wrong doing were handed down zealously from father to son,from mother to daughter,from brother to brother-a state of affairs which reached its peak in the 1960"s with the locally based Krays.
        Thats what Ed Glinert says in his book.I dont know how accurate it is because there are no notes on this quoting sources though there are in many of the other chapters.Arthur Harding said similar things and it was Harding who was firm in his conviction that McCarthy was a "bully"......the landlord of prostitutes or a pimp.
        Hope its of some help
        Best Wishes
        Natalie

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        tom_wescott
        26th October 2006, 01:13 AM
        Natalie,

        What year was this book published? Is McCormick listed in the bibliography?

        Yours truly,

        Tom Wescott

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        supe
        26th October 2006, 02:00 AM
        Tom,
        It would seem to have been published quite recently, probably last year. And Mr. Glinert would seem to be the entertaining sort of pop historian for whom any story is fodder for inclusion.

        In a Guardian review last year headed Jeremy Gavron is frustrated by Ed Glinert's flighty account of London life in East End Chronicles Mr. Gavoron laments that his chapter on the Jewish ghetto... starts with the proposition that Joseph of Arimathea might have visited Wapping. This is certainly an entertaining notion, but not one to which most historians would give credence.

        And I gather it would be difficult finding his sources as Gavron later wrote:
        Even worse, perhaps, is his slapdash treatment of his sources, including Morris Beckman's excellent The 43 Group, about Jewish ex-servicemen who fought against the fascist revival in London after the war. Glinert has lifted stories and phrases from it without acknowledging it or even including it in his bibliography. And that is not the only such example.

        It would seem unlikely that Mr. Glinert found a source for Old Nichol Gang that predates McCormick.

        Don.

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        The Grave Maurice
        26th October 2006, 02:36 AM
        I have a copy of the book and it is pretty much as Don describes it from the reviews, although I found it an enjoyable read. It was published in 2005.

        McCormick is not cited in the bibliography, but Rumbelow and Knight are.

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        tom_wescott
        26th October 2006, 03:31 AM
        Don and Grave,

        Thanks for that. I guess Natalie had her own reasons for bringing it up. And I greatly appreciate the review, Don, because I was about to buy it. Sounds like one to avoid.

        Yours truly,

        Tom Wescott

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        pearlypoll
        26th October 2006, 04:52 AM
        I'm not sure why exactly, but somehow the picture of Joseph of Arimathea visiting Wapping sent me into whoops of laughter!!

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        Natalie Severn
        26th October 2006, 02:22 PM
        Hi Everybody,
        I only got back to London last night and posted the extract when I got in.
        I dont think its all that bad a book-his writing has a certain edge,he is an East Londoner and seems to be having a bit of a crack about certain bits of East London history-!
        That said the chapter on the Jewish Ghetto begins with the Phooenician tin traders-inhabitants of what is now the Gaza Strip.I learnt about them at school-how they came to Britain to trade tin etc The book goes on..."some time around AD 20, according to once popular legend,Joseph of Arimathea......traded tin...etc ..and he goes on to debunk the legend saying he wouldnt have landed where legend has it anyways because ....etc etc.....
        Also the back cover has quotes from the Independent,from the Daily Telegraph, from Ian Sinclair and Time Out all praising it in one way or another.Viz The Telegragh-a reputable paper here says..."Splendid...this is a book that brings the underground to the surface,be it in the form of psychedelic rock clubs,suffragettes and political radicals,or the secret tunnels that link buildings across the capital in case of war."
        Myself I definitely do have some reservations, particularly because he doesnt quote sources often enough,and has made it into a bit of a pot boiler-thinking more about what will prove enjoyable and sell best rather than a strict adherence to accuracy- but it is enjoyable and gives a good "overview" as seen from the eyes of someone who was born in East London.The chapter on the Nichol Street Gang was very good and much of it sounded authentic but he probably didnt research the specific origin and date the term "Old Nichol Gang" originated ,but rather used the fame of Old Nichol Street and the Old Nichol,the criminal quarter portrayed in Arthur Morrison"s novel,A Child of Jago to add spice to his chapter.
        Natalie

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        supe
        26th October 2006, 02:55 PM
        Natalie,

        I am sure East End Chronicles is an entertaining book, but the only review I could find was Mr. Gavron's. Of course, dust-jackert blurbs can also be misleading because, as my mom used to say, no one goes around shouting "Rotten fish for sale!" Anyway, it is probably safe to conclude he did not have a hitherto unknown contemporary source for "Old Nichol Gang,"

        Don.

        Dan Norder
        Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
        Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Any new evidence

          I was recently reviewing my notes of this thread and thought I'd ask:

          Since 2006 - has ANY contemporary evidence emerged of an "Old Nichol Gang" (as mentioned by McCormick in 1959) from before or in 1888? Or are we to assume that McCormick invented this idea - making a general term (a gang from the Old Nichol/Jago) specific?

          The thread is worth reviving for its own sake as it demonstrates how a relatively modern invention (as it seems) can enter the wider scholarly field and be widely accepted on no other basis than repitation.

          Grateful for responses from anyone who has looked into this.

          Phil

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          • #6
            Hi Phil H,

            Here's a mention of the Old Nichol Gang, from "East London" by Robert Sinclair, [pub. Robert Hale] 1950, nine years before Donald McCormick —

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            Regards,

            Simon

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            • #7
              Hi All,

              The Spectator, 2nd March 1951—

              "East London is changing rapidly, so rapidly that Mr. Sinclair's book, written in January 1948, but not published for three years, was out of date in many details before it was printed. Anyone who chooses to follow the walks which the author takes through East London will find some pleasant scenes[?] and landmarks gone."

              So, the reference to the "Old Nichol gang" was written eleven years before Donald McCormick. This, in turn, also appears to let Nigel Morland off the hook.

              Regards,

              Simon

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              • #8
                Hi Simon

                Not a direct use of the word 'gang' but 'faction'. In an article;- 'The condemned area in Bethnal Green' , referring to Old Nichol Street;-

                'the deputy of the model doss-house, who had injudiciously become involved in a faction fight in the vicinity, spent many weeks in the London hospital hovering between life and death from the effects of a ghastly wound in the head caused by a butcher's cleaver.'
                Pall Mall Gazette , Sept 23 1893, page 2

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                • #9
                  Simon, I think the "East London" by Robert Sinclair, [pub. Robert Hale] 1950, quote is what our predecessors were looking for in 2006.

                  I think that shows that McCormick may not have made it up - entirely, at least. valuable information.

                  Thanks

                  Phil

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                  • #10
                    hook

                    Hello Simon. Thanks for posting that.

                    Glad to see Morland off the hook for this. He's on it for enough other reasons. (heh-heh)

                    Cheers.
                    LC

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                    • #11
                      Hello All ,

                      With reference to the Hoxton market gang of long ago , and not so long ago !

                      I thought this was worthy of a repost ..

                      Hello All ,

                      I have a quick tale to pass on , maybe its Nothing , but then again .. at the very most i guess it could be an interesting link to check out . i did have a go myself but came up with nothing ..but i am sure there are a lot better detectives on here than Me ..

                      I was just recently in a London pub chatting with a good friend of my dad . Who, back in the day used to be a young man in a small firm ( gang) around the Hoxton , Murry grove area ( central , East London ) . After chatting about the old East End and the Ripper murders , He told me that on occasions his little firm were Visited by Ronnie Kray , and asked to run errand's across the water ( South London ) to another firm . He told me that on one occasion he and his pals ended up in a pub in bermondsey or somewhere close by, having a few beers with the south London firm . He went on to say that one of the brothers in this firm after a few beers started ranting on about his family having their roots in the East End .. And that their Granddad John was even a Main witness at one of the Jack the Rippers murders .The Name of the Gang was the Richardsons .


                      I will admit that the conversation we was having was the hanbury street murder and my disbelief of some of the witnesses .. in particular John Richardson . at which point he stopped me in my tracks, and matter of faculty told me " that was Charlie Richardson's Granddad ". And then followed through with how he came to hear it.


                      Now i know that nearly everyone in the East End (of a certain age) has a Ripper tale to tell .. But for the life of me i cant see my Dad's pal Telling me porky's ( Pork pies =lies ) Maybe the Original teller was expressing a certain amount of creative license ? to get his point across , i really don't know but i did think it worthy of a mention on here .


                      And I'm also pretty sure its easy to prove or disprove it in a heartbeat. Especially given the Internet tools and the wise fools ( that was a mistake , but i like it, so I'm leaving it in ) we have at our disposal .
                      cheers all

                      moonbegger .

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                      • #12
                        Was passing tonight...
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Simon Wood View Post
                          Hi Phil H,

                          Here's a mention of the Old Nichol Gang, from "East London" by Robert Sinclair, [pub. Robert Hale] 1950, nine years before Donald McCormick —

                          [ATTACH]15418[/ATTACH]


                          Well done, Simon. This effectively counters Stewart Evans' very strong and often repeated assertion that there was absolutely no mention of 'the' Old Nicol Gang in print before the 1959 McCormick book. I imagine McCormick would have perused the Sinclair book as books on East End history were thin on the ground back then.

                          Hi moonbegger

                          John Richardson being Charlie Richardson's grandfather?

                          That would be a turn-up wouldn't it?
                          allisvanityandvexationofspirit

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                          • #14
                            God, reading this thread. It was quite a row from 7 years ago. Thanks for resurrecting it from the dead. Enjoyable.

                            JM

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                            • #15
                              Very interesting, Simon! Thanks for posting.
                              ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸, Debs ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,

                              I am not DJA. He's called Dave.

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