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Crawford Letter

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  • Crawford Letter

    A thread to discuss the "Crawford Letter" discovered by Stephen Ryder in 2001. Undated but found in a folder of materials relating to the late 1880's to 1890's it was written by the 26th Earl of Crawford, James Ludovic Lindsay, to Robert Anderson. The subject of the letter is unknown. The letter reads:


    My dear Anderson,

    I send you this line to ask you to see & hear the bearer, whose name is unknown to me. She has or thinks she has a knowledge of the author of the Whitechapel murders. The author is supposed to be nearly related to her, & she is in great fear lest any suspicions should attach to her & place her & her family in peril.

    I have advised her to place the whole story before you, without giving you any names, so that you may form an opinion as to its being worth while to investigate.

    Very sincerely yours,

  • #2
    Here's the original scans in case anyone's interested - thanks for starting the thread Andy!

    Click image for larger version

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    • #3
      Some observations about the letter:

      1. When Crawford says that the subject's name is "unknown to me" he doesn't mean that he doesn't know what her name is. The more natural reading is that he has been told her name but that it is "unknown" to him in the sense that he does not recognize it.

      2. The subject must be someone of sufficient social standing to merit an audience with an earl. The meeting could well have been arranged through a mutual acquaintance. Crawford's statement that he "advised her..." implies a probable face-to-face meeting.

      3. The fact that Anderson kept this letter is quite interesting. We know that he and Crawford were friends so it is not as if he kept it as a treasured prized letter from an earl. Yet he kept it for some reason. He kept it in spite of the fact that it seems to fly in the face of his favored suspect, the foreign Jew identified by Swanson as Kosminski. The content of this letter certainly seems to be pointing toward Macnaghten's private information about the Druitt family's suspicions, though we should hasten to add that we do not know this for certain. On the face of it, it seems more likely to be pointing to Druitt than Kosminski. Yet Anderson kept it all those years.

      Edit : Thank you, Stephen, for sharing the original!


      • #4
        Very interesting Stephen and thanks for posting it.Only if it was delivered before Druitt"s suicide is it likely to relate to him ofcourse.A sister or a first cousin being likely to be the relationship.Food for thought.


        • #5
          Actually, Natalie, I disagree. I think it also likely to relate to Druitt even if he was already dead when the letter was written. I don't think you can press the present tense that much.

          For example, I might say "Jack the Ripper is my great-grandfather" rather than "Jack the Ripper was my great-grandfather" (no wisecracks from the peanut gallery, please).


          • #6
            One possibility is that the subject was "Emily Druitt." Now, there were at least three Emily Druitt's in the 1881 census. There was Emily, the daughter of Robert Druitt. This would be Montague's first cousin. There was Emily, the daughter of Jabez Druitt who lived in the Mile End Road in the East End. This would have been a distant relative of Montague's. There was also another Emily Druitt who lived behind the London Hospital in Whitechapel. We do not know whether she was related to Montague, probably not.

            The interesting thing about the daughter of Jabez is that she had worked for Bernard Quaritch and Quaritch was a close friend of Crawford's. Quaritch could have been the intermediary that introduced Emily to Crawford. Furthermore, Jabez Druitt was in communication with the Robert Druitt family in 1888 and 1889. We know there are letters from Jabez and his wife to Robert's younger daughter, who would also be a first cousin to Montague. We do not know the content of these letters yet, however.

            I agree with Natalie that "nearly related" seems to imply a closer familial relationship that that which existed between Jabez's family and Montague's, however the fact that they were in communication may mean they had a closer relationship than might otherwise be thought.


            • #7
              If we are hypothesizing an intermediary it seems to me more likely that when he says her name is unknown to him that it truly was unknown.

              Dan Norder
              Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
              Web site: - Email:


              • #8
                Hi Andy
                many thanks for restarting this thread
                Below are some notes I made re Crawford some time back

                From "The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal"

                James Ludovic (Lindsay), 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres, 3rd Baron Wigan, K.T., LL.D., F.R.S.
                Haigh Hall, Wigan; Balcarres, Colinsburgh, Fife; 2 Cavendish Square, W.
                Born 28 July 1847
                Married 22 July 1869 to Emily Florence, daughter of Colonel the Hon. Edward Bootle-Wilbraham.
                1) David Alexander Edward Lindsay, Lord Balcarres, F.S.A.
                74 Brook Street, W.; Carloton; Burlington Fine Arts.
                Born 10 October 1871
                Married 25 january 1900 to Constance Lilian, daughter of Sir Henry Carstairs Pelly.
                2) Walter Patrick Lindsay (Grosvenor)
                Born 13 February 1873
                Married 26 November 1902 to Ruth, daughter of Isaac Henderson of Rome
                3) Robert Hamilton Lindsay
                Born 30 March 1874
                Married May 1903 to Mary Janet, daughter of Sir William John Clarke
                4) Rev. Edward Reginald Lindsay, M.A. Curate of St Matthews, Bethnal Green
                5) Ronald Charles Lindsay, 3rd Secretary in Diplomatic Service
                Born 3 May 1877
                6) Lionel Lindsay
                Born 20 July 1879
                7) Lady Evelyn Margaret Lindsay
                Born 8 May 1870
                Married 9 February 1895 to James Francis Mason (1 Chesterfield Gardens, W., Freeland Lodge, Woodstock)

                The body of Crawford's father suffered a strange fate:
                The body of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, which was stolen from the vault at Dunecht last year, with the supposed object of obtaining a ransom, was on Tuesday discovered buried about two feet in the earth in Dunbrea Wood, within a short distance of Dunecht House. The discovery was brought about by a story told by a man, since taken into custody, who states that he witnessed the concealment of the body by men with blackened faces, who compelled him to take an oath that he would not divulge the secret. The body, which was wrapped in a blanket, bore no traces of violence.
                Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2255—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 22, 1882, p.87

                From Wikipedia
                James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres (1847–1913) was a Victorian astronomer, politician, bibliophile and philatelist. A member of the Royal Society, Lindsay was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1878.
                Lindsay was elected as a Member of Parliament for Wigan in 1874, and held the seat until his elevation to the peerage in 1880.

                Memoir available online of the family:

                Lives of the Lindsays: Or, A Memoir of the Houses of Crawford and Balcarres By Alexander Crawford Lindsay Crawford

                Brief biog:
                Sir James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford was born on 28 July 1847 at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Ile de France, France.1 He was the son of Alexander William Crawford Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford and Margaret Lindsay.1 He was baptised at Episcopal Church, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Ile de France, France.1 He married Emily Florence Bootle-Wilbraham, daughter of Colonel Hon. Edward Bootle-Wilbraham and Emily Ramsbottom, on 22 July 1869 at St. George's Church, St. George Street, Hanover Square, London, England.1 He died on 31 January 1913 at age 65 at Cavendish Square, London, England.1 He was buried on 4 February 1913 at Balcarres, Fife, Scotland.1 His will was probated in April 1913, at £436,279 gross and £321,509 net.1
                Sir James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford was educated between 1860 and 1862 at Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, England.1,2 He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.1 He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the Grenadier Guards.1 He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) (Tory) for Wigan between 1874 and 1880.1 He was invested as a Fellow, Royal Society (F.R.S.) in 1878.1 He held the office of President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 1878 and 1880.1 He succeeded to the title of 9th Earl of Balcarres [S., 1651] on 13 December 1880.1 He succeeded to the title of 26th Earl of Crawford [S., 1398] on 13 December 1880.1 He succeeded to the title of 3rd Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall, co. Lancaster [U.K., 1826] on 13 December 1880.1 He succeeded to the title of 10th Lord Lindsay of Balcarres [S., 1633] on 13 December 1880.3 He succeeded to the title of 9th Lord Lindsay and Balneil [S., 1651] on 13 December 1880.3 He held the office of Trustee of the British Museum in 1885.1 He was invested as a Fellow, Society of Antiquaries (F.S.A.) on 16 April 1885.1 He held the office of President of the Camden Society in 1888.1 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Thistle (K.T.) on 10 December 1891.1 He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.).3 He held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.).3 He was decorated with the Commander, Legion of Honour.1 He held the office of Deputy Lord High Steward [Scotland].1 He was invested as a Knight of Grace, Order of St. John of Jerusalem (K.G.St.J.).1


                • #9
                  Dan --

                  Of course we will never know for sure. However, since Crawford appears to have spoken directly to the subject of the letter it would seem quite odd if he did not actually know what her name was. I still think he means that the name is "unknown" in the sense that he doesn't recognize it as one he knows.

                  Chris --

                  Thanks much for this info. Quite a lot to digest. It will keep me busy and out of trouble for a good bit.


                  • #10
                    Hi Andy
                    Glad it helped

                    Interestingly Crawford was involved with inquiries into the East End in the year of the murders. He was a member of a Standing Committee of the House of Lords set up in March 1888 to inquire into the Sweating System in the East End. One of their early witnesses was the Secretary of the Jewish Board of Guardians.
                    The clipping below is from The Times of 17 March 1888
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      I note that Crawford had a son who was curate at St. Matthew, Bethnal Green. Though Crawford was born in France, I take it he was a Scotsman? That raises interesting possibilities of a relationship with Farquharson. They both attended Eton and Cambridge, though Crawford was quite a bit older. Also, Crawford had served as an MP before Farquharson.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by aspallek View Post
                        There was also another Emily Druitt who lived behind the London Hospital in Whitechapel. We do not know whether she was related to Montague, probably not.
                        She didn't live on Turner Street, did she? On my first trips to London, there was a charming little pub on that street, right behind the London Hospital, where one could meet dozens of young nurses who would frequent the place after their shifts. I have fond memories of it. I hasten to add that this was long before I was married.


                        • #13
                          The Emily Druitt who lived behind the London Hospital was at 288 Oxford Street.

                          Interestingly, Edward Reginald Lindsay was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1901 and later took holy orders, quite like John Henry Lonsdale only 20 years later. It must have been a somewhat common practice.


                          • #14
                            Archives and Jabez Druitt

                            A quick search of the National Archives reveals the following sources of info,
                            The Druitt Papers,
                            Created by,
                            Druitt family of Wimborne Minister, Dorset and London
                            item: Letters - [no ref.] - date: 1889

                            33 letters etc

                            From F.H. Arnold, Emsworth; Rev. E.B. Cruikshank, Midhurst, with a cutting on the execution of the brothers Drewett of Midhurst (2); James D. Drewett, Mitcham, with a completed questionnaire issued by Gertrude (4); Jane Drewett, Forest Hill; S. Drewett, Seine, France (2); Francis N. Druitt, East Dulwich; Charles Druitt, West Kensington, with an account of a branch of the family by Miss Jane Druitt of Drogheda (5); Jabez Druitt, Mile End Road; James Searle Druitt, with a note from his son James and a note on their branch of the family (2); Richard Druitt, Roman Road; S.W. Kershaw, hamleth; Palace library; Charles Mayo, Long Burton, Sherborne, with notes on the family, a cutting from a directory, a letter from R.L. Carpenter, Bridport, to Mr. Solly and one from Horace V. Thompson, Devizes, to Mr. Mayo (9); John B. Moncklin, Guildhall; J. Smyth, Dublin; copy of G.E. Druitt's circular letter to other Druitts asking for information about the family
                            The official archive of the UK government. Our vision is to lead and transform information management, guarantee the survival of today's information for tomorrow and bring history to life for everyone.

                            Held at the Sussex Archives

                            Seine, France (2); Francis N. Druitt, East Dulwich; Charles Druitt, West Kensington, with an account of a branch of the family by Miss Jane Druitt of Drogheda (5); Jabez Druitt, Mile End Road; James Searle Druitt, with a note from his son James and a note
                            Date: 1889

                            From Jabez Druitt, Mile End Road, with a memorial card to his wife Sophia (2); F.D. Drewitt, Grosvenor Square; William Drewitt, Easebourne, with his business cards (3); Rev. Geo. {George?} E. Gardiner, Bor, Wilts.; (C.H. Mayo, Long Burton Vicarage, Sherborne
                            Date: 1888

                            Hope this helps
                            Regards Mike


                            • #15
                              Thank you Mike. The information you give relates to the letters held at the West Sussex Records Office in Chichester but they it does give some information as to the content of the 1888 letter from Jabez to the Christchurch Druitts. The occasion for the letter was the death of Jabez's wife Sophia, recorded in third quarter 1888, roughly the time the WM started. I remember reading that a long time ago but I had completely forgotten it. There is another letter from Jabez in 1889.