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Folk memories of JtR

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  • Folk memories of JtR

    Hi All,
    I'm sJack was used suffering from insomnia, but here goes!

    Do any of you know of any folk tales concerning Jack?

    I was talking to my Aunt who is 94 y.o. recently and asked her if she knew anything about JtR.

    She told me that when she was a child, Jack was used as a 'bogie man' to make children behave. I found this interesting as my family are from West Yorkshire. I could understand if this 'threat' was used in London.

    I also asked her who she thought JtR was. She said that he was somthing to do with royalty! Now this would be in the 1920's and 30's when she heard about Jack (pre dating 'the Final Solution' by about 50 years.)

    I wondered if this conclusion was a class thing or based on the cinematographic image of Jack in the fog, in a top hat, cloak and Gladstone Bag.

    Has anyone come across any other tales such as these?

    All the best
    When you talk to god it's praying; when god talks to you its schizophrenia! - X-Files

  • #2
    Hi, Dave, and welcome to the forums. That's a terrific idea for a thread.

    I'm an American, and though I have heard of people in far-off places telling cautionary tales about the Ripper, we didn't have any in my own family.

    But I've discussed this topic with English friends who do have old family stories about Jack, so I'll ask them to stop by your thread.

    Best Regards & Happy New Year, Archaic


    • #3
      Folk tales

      Thanks Archaic.

      I'm curious on this subject because a few years ago I did a search on the archives of the local newspapers in 1888 and there was very little about the murders in them.

      Maria Coroner was mentioned, but she was a 'local lass' from Bradford.

      All the best
      When you talk to god it's praying; when god talks to you its schizophrenia! - X-Files


      • #4
        For years folk around my neck of the wood would talk about Dr Victor Donstan, who was a surgeon who resided on Church-street in the Drypool district.

        The tales, however, can be dated back to 1987 and the publication of Jack the Ripper- The Bloody Truth, by Melvin Harris. Harris, as we all know, accused Robert D'Onston Stephenson, of Church-street, in the Sculcoates district.

        It was these tales that got me interested, alongside the claims made by Hull City Council that "We have a Jack the Ripper Painting," which I discovered is a Sickert work.
        Regards Mike


        • #5
          Folk Yarns About Jack the Ripper

          Hello David,
          I too think your idea for a thread topic is a terrific one.

          Of course, back in the Late Victorian Period when the murders occurred the East End folk by and large were unschooled. Often could not read and write.
          And in the great British tradition handed on yarns and half-heard stories with their own additions to fill in the gaps.

          The idea of travelling troubadours roaming form one village (tavern) to the next village (tavern) comes to mind.

          Anglo/American author Daniel Farson was a wonderful (and timely) documentary writer/producer at ITV in the 1950's and early 1960's.

          When he did his two-part series on "Jack the Ripper" in late 1959, he was still able to gather together old Londoners with folk yarns about Jack.These included the apocryphal, (but colourful) "grave-spitting" story, the "writing on the wall" in Mary Kelly's room story, and a couple of others.

          There seems to have been no end of elderly East End women who swore that they had encountered Jack one dark night, but miraculously, he did not harm them. Thus investing them with a superhuman aura amongst their goggle-eyed peers.

          Most of the early Ripper book authors, seem to have based their theories on
          JTR folk stories.

          Why, around the 1930's a police constable named Connor who served in the Blackheath area was alleged to have pointed out a Blackheath house as the erstwhile abode of none other than Jack the Ripper!!(That's one I have had passed on to me). JOHN RUFFELS.


          • #6
            pub crawling

            Hello Dave. You have an astonishingly good idea here.

            We have one veteran ripperologist who pops round to London on occasion, and he informs me that he will do some pub crawling on the east side for exactly such tales.

            The best.


            • #7

              Hello John. That last paragraph has peaked my interest.


              The best.


              • #8
                Welcome to the forums...a very decent posting!

                My Gran was born in early August 1888 in the area itself. She grew up with the stories, and as far back as she could remember, in her early childhood, the name Jack The Ripper was on people's lips, yes, the "bogey man" was a known thing. It no longer, of course, caused panic, but every now and then when a murder of a woman in London occured, the name would crop up again amongst the grown ups.
                It is also true, she told me, that as time went along, the men especially became blase about the whole thing. Women would say.."I'd have given him what for..."

                The myth became a legend. And the legend became a story that had hand me down pieces involving elderly relatives. There were many such stories bandied about.

                Excellent posting!

                best wishes

                Chelsea FC. TRUE BLUE. 💙

                Justice for the 96 = achieved
                Accountability? ....


                • #9
                  An interesting topic, Dave.

                  Around the time of the Whitechapel Murders, some of my mother's family were living in the Sclater Street/Edward Street/Bacon Street area (at the northern end of Brick Lane).

                  My mother was born in 1912, but she must have been "threatened" with the JtR bogeyman as a child (presumably by her parents, who were born circa 1875 in Shoreditch, or her grandparents born circa 1843) as she still remembered this vividly when recounting the story of her fear of JtR to me in the 1950s!

                  Interestingly, my grandfather and great-grandfather were both packingcase makers in the East End at the time of the Ripper Murders and presumably walked around with the tools of their trade about their person.


                  • #10
                    Drifting Off-Topic With A Bit Of Beguiling " Folk-tale"

                    Ahoy Lynn,

                    Sorry to have introduced that last tidbit on this folklore thread.

                    Because my response will be off-topic.

                    I'll tantalisingly just say, "see youse all over on the Druitt line!"

                    JOHN RUFFELS.


                    • #11

                      Hello John. I'm halfway there already.

                      The best.


                      • #12
                        Folk Tales

                        Hi all and Happy New Year to all our readers,

                        Further to the JtR folk tales. I've been going through a folder of hand writen notes and newspaper clippings from the 1980's and 90's and came across this story.

                        Sunday Express 31/05/1992
                        “One evening my father was out walking with my pregnant young mother in London’s Seven Dials when they were accosted by a man asking who the woman was. My father explained and the man apologised. But before vanishing into the night, he remarked that he hated whores. The year: 1889.
                        Irene Pettman, Diss, Norfolk.

                        It was in a section called 'Your Point of View' and related to the launch of a new Ripper book which names J K Steven as the main man. Unfortunately, back in the day I was a crap aarchivist so I didn't note the book title. Mind you, I probably read it at the time.

                        It seems to me that we have a habit of mythologising our villains instead of our heroes ie Spring Heel Jack, Dick Turpin, the Cray Twins et al!

                        Anyway all the best for the new year,
                        When you talk to god it's praying; when god talks to you its schizophrenia! - X-Files


                        • #13
                          Is that just another family legend or is it more?


                          Never heard of it before, but it seems very interesting and important if true.


                          • #14
                            Folk tales

                            Originally posted by Frank View Post
                            Is that just another family legend or is it more?


                            Never heard of it before, but it seems very interesting and important if true.
                            I suspect that it is probably a family tale - there seems to have been a lot of this type around. I started a thread on Harry Wilson, who was James Sadler's solicitor. He claimed in a newspaper interview that he had been approached by JtR after the case.

                            The link that you posted is very interesting. Could it be true, or could it have become embelished after news of Stride's murder was released. It might be worth trying to follow up. Did you post it to the witnesses thread? There could be more visitors there who could follow up.

                            Thanks for the info

                            All the best
                            When you talk to god it's praying; when god talks to you its schizophrenia! - X-Files


                            • #15
                              "On turning into Berner Street from Commercial Street at approx 1.00am he saw a man holding a large narrow bladed knife standing over a woman who was lying on the ground, motionless." is this even possible given what we know of her body position? Why would a murderer go into the street from a concealed position with the knife still in hand? Respectfully Dave
                              We are all born cute as a button and dumb as rocks. We grow out of cute fast!