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Macnaghten on Edalji, Cream and "sexual maniacs" (recovered)

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  • Macnaghten on Edalji, Cream and "sexual maniacs" (recovered)

    cgp100
    11th August 2006, 11:19 PM
    People may find this letter below, written by Macnaghten in 1905, interesting, not least for its use of the familiar phrase "sexual maniac", which was applied to the Ripper in Macnaghten's memoirs.

    It was written in response to the campaign to free George Edalji, who had been convicted of one of a series of mutilations of horses and cattle in Great Wyrley, Staffordshire, in 1903. Edalji was the son of the local vicar, an Indian-born convert from Parseeism. An important aspect of the weak and contradictory case against Edalji concocted by the Staffordshire police was the allegation that he was responsible for a series of anonymous letters mentioning the mutilations. Edalji was later cleared after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle joined the campaign in his favour.

    The letter is mentioned in the recent book on the Edalji case by Gordon Weaver (Conan Doyle and the Parson's Son: The George Edalji Case, 2006). It must have been written between 12 January 1905, when the first of the Truth articles appeared, and 18 January, when its recipient, A. Troup, forwarded it to Mackenzie Chalmers, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Home Office.

    Chris Phillips
    _________________________________________________

    Letter from Mr Macnaghten

    Dear Troup,

    Thinking you might have some anxiety and, and possibly, trouble over the strange case of Mr. Edalji, I read very carefully the article on the subject in Truth on Sunday. I knew of course something of the case before, and had formed the opinion (possibly quite an erroneous one and certainly founded on inadequate facts) that the right man had been convicted....

    There is no doubt that the fellow who perpetrated these outrages was a sexual maniac, and if physionomy goes for anything, Mr Edalji junior has the face of such an individual. But there is one point in the case which appealed to me so strongly that I thought it well to put my views on paper, and that is the writing of the letters, and that Edalji was believed to have written some of them to himself, and thus given himself the opportunity of discussing them with the Police. Now the most important dealings that I ever had with a sexual maniac was in the case of Dr. Neil Cream, who was hung for the poisoning of several prostitutes in Lambeth in November 1892.

    Neil Cream was a man of good education, but morally perhaps the worst specimen I have ever come across. He poisoned his victims with strychnine capsules which took effect about 6 hours after they were administered. There was no question as to gain from, nor as to hatred in any way of, his several victims. As I always believed, he simply poisoned so that he might have pleasurable sensations in dwelling on the sufferings of the women at the time of their death. Sir H. Hawkins came up to see me about the case, and I told him my theories which he seemed entirely to endorse. Having poisoned his victims, Cream invariably wrote letters to any public men whose names were at that time appearing frequently in the papers (Dr., now Sir William, Broadbent, Mr. F. Smith, at the time of his father's death, etc, etc,) accusing them of poisoning the women by strychnine and he also found great pleasure in discussing the case with police officers - the late ex. P.I. Patrick McIntyre to wit, and it was by reason of these imprudent actions that suspicions were primarily attached to him.

    History seems therefore to have, in some measure at any rate, repeated itself....

    (from a typescript copy, incorporating some handwritten corrections)
    UK National Archives, HO 144/985/112737 (105)
    ________________________________________
    aspallek
    12th August 2006, 06:13 PM
    Very nice find, Chris, and completely consistent with Sir Melville's use of "sexual manic" in his memoirs in reference to the Whitechapel killer. I would argue that his much earlier use of "sexually insane" with respect to Druitt was along the same line in meaning.
    ________________________________________
    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 08:14 PM
    Very nice find, Chris, and completely consistent with Sir Melville's use of "sexual manic" in his memoirs in reference to the Whitechapel killer. I would argue that his much earlier use of "sexually insane" with respect to Druitt was along the same line in meaning.

    I still don't see how it would make sense for Macnaghten to say in his memoranda that Druitt was alleged to be a "sexual maniac". I can't imagine what form such an allegation would have taken. But I think we'll have to agree to differ on that.

    Actually, what surprised me slightly was that Macnaghten viewed the mutilation of horses and cattle as the action of a sexual maniac. He seems to have been unique in viewing the Great Wyrley outrages in this light. Can anyone shed any light on whether others viewed cattle mutilation as sexually related a century ago?

    Chris Phillips
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    aspallek
    12th August 2006, 08:25 PM
    Chris,

    The term "sexually insane" was used in the memorandum. My argument is that he used it with the same meaning as he would later use the virtually synonymous "sexual maniac."

    The Victorian image appears to have been that wanton violence is a manifestation of abnormal sexual tendencies of one sort or another. I'm not a psychologist but it all sounds rather Freudian to me.
    ________________________________________
    robert
    12th August 2006, 08:53 PM
    From AP re Edalji's dad.
    ________________________________________
    apwolf
    12th August 2006, 09:05 PM
    Thanks Robert, it does seem as if things were not quite right in the Edalji household some eleven years before the horse and cattle stabbing nonsense began. This would tend to indicate that someone in the household was involved. Personally I feel Macnaghten may well have been drawn to the case because it involved a young man who was undermining the authority of a powerful official within his own family. A little close to home, perhaps?
    ________________________________________
    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 09:07 PM
    The term "sexually insane" was used in the memorandum. My argument is that he used it with the same meaning as he would later use the virtually synonymous "sexual maniac."

    Yes, I know that what Macnaghten wrote was "it was alleged that he was sexually insane".

    My point is that if you argue that he was using "sexually insane" to mean "a sexual maniac", you end up with "it was alleged that he [Druitt] was a sexual maniac". That's what I find it difficult to make sense of. What kind of allegation could be described in that way? Are you suggesting someone had told the police that Druitt had sexually assaulted a woman, or something like that?

    On the other hand, if Macnaghten used the phrase to mean "homosexual" (as we know it could be used), that is more comprehensible - "it was alleged that he was homosexual". Alternatively, if the phrase was used to mean he was obsessed with sex and was a compulsive user of prostitutes, that's the kind of allegation one can imagine.

    Chris Phillips
    ________________________________________
    robert
    12th August 2006, 09:19 PM
    AP, if I had to pick the hoaxer, it would be the son - inside info and a certain childish mischievousness.

    Robert
    ________________________________________
    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 09:19 PM
    Thanks Robert, it does seem as if things were not quite right in the Edalji household some eleven years before the horse and cattle stabbing nonsense began. This would tend to indicate that someone in the household was involved. Personally I feel Macnaghten may well have been drawn to the case because it involved a young man who was undermining the authority of a powerful official within his own family. A little close to home, perhaps?

    There were four distinct phases of anonymous letter-writing associated with the Edalji family, starting in the late 1880s. The final wave coincided with the campaign to clear George Edalji's name after his release from prison in 1906.

    The background to the case is described in great detail by Weaver, though I have to say I didn't find much of his exposition at all clear.

    Alternatively there is Julian Barnes's recent novel "Arthur and George" - much more readable, though evidently some of the facts have been changed - and the overall picture simplified - for literary purposes.

    Chris Phillips
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    aspallek
    12th August 2006, 09:28 PM
    Are you suggesting someone had told the police that Druitt had sexually assaulted a woman, or something like that?

    Well, probably not that extreme. I'm suggesting that Sir Melville received some information which made him believe Druitt was subject to the type of wanton violent tendencies that could lead to being branded as a "sexual maniac" or "sexually insane." And it appears that a wide variety of behaviors or tendencies could have been so described in the LVP. As you say, we have have to just disagree on this point.
    ________________________________________
    robert
    12th August 2006, 09:59 PM
    I must say, Macnaghten has a rather elastic idea of sexual activity if he includes poisoning in that.

    Robert
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    aspallek
    12th August 2006, 10:03 PM
    I must say, Macnaghten has a rather elastic idea of sexual activity if he includes poisoning in that.

    Robert
    That I think was part of the burgeoning Freudian mindset of the time.
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    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 10:04 PM
    AP, if I had to pick the hoaxer, it would be the son - inside info and a certain childish mischievousness.

    That was the conclusion the police came to during the 1892-5 spate of letters and hoaxes, which apparently explains their eagerness to pin the cattle mutilations, also accompanied by anonymous letters, on Edalji.

    According to one school of thought, Edalji junior may have been responsible for at least some of the letters, though not the mutilations.

    Though a tremendous amount of research went into Gordon Weaver's book (which runs to 371 pages), I was disappointed that there wasn't more analysis of the evidence about the case. Indeed, Weaver says in his last paragraph "Trying to identify the maimer and the scribes was not a prime directive of this research ...".

    Apparently many of the letters still exist. No doubt, even after Weaver's exhaustive rawl of the evidence, there's scope for a more analytical study of the case focussing on the "Whodunit" aspect. Maybe AP could follow up "Jack the Myth" with "George the Myth"? (Though I don't think "From Great Wyrley" has quite the same resonance as "From Hell"!)

    Chris Phillips
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    apwolf
    12th August 2006, 10:24 PM
    Yes Robert, I agree, the young Edalji was sixteen when events began, and I think probably a highly strung and frustrated young man growing up in a world saturated by his free thinking mother and father who had shamed themselves and their world with their mixed race family, obviously shunned by the local populace, as evidenced by members of the congregation actually moving church to avoid their Indian vicar, described by the Chief Constable as a ‘black, worse than a beast’.
    If ever there was a poltergeist in the making then it was young Edalji.
    I think Doyle and others were easily seduced by the mixed race marriage, and then easily outraged by what they saw as blatant discrimination against the family, but I reckon that discrimination was actually based within the fledgling mixed race family, and that because the young Edalji felt he was better than his coloured father who had only achieved his position in life by marriage with an English woman - and a sea change in his religious beliefs - while he the young Edalji was English, had an education and was going to be a lawyer.
    His letter writing is of great interest, and I would dearly love to see more of his letters.
    ‘The Umpire’ carried his letter which caught the attention of old Shylock so if anyone has that…?
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    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 10:28 PM
    I'm suggesting that Sir Melville received some information which made him believe Druitt was subject to the type of wanton violent tendencies that could lead to being branded as a "sexual maniac" or "sexually insane." And it appears that a wide variety of behaviors or tendencies could have been so described in the LVP. As you say, we have have to just disagree on this point.

    Perhaps the disagreement isn't all that fundamental. We agree that a wider range of sexually "abnormal" conditions came under the description of "sexual insanity". Its just that I think the range was rather wider, and included conditions not necessarily involving violence - and I find it easier to imagine one of these non-violent conditions being the subject of the allegation about Druitt that Macnaghten mentions.

    Perhaps the same was true of "sexual mania" (just as in modern parlance "sex maniac" usually just means somebody obsessed with sex). Though I think in all the examples I've seen of Macnaghten's use of the phrase, he is referring to violent behaviour.

    Chris Phillips
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    apwolf
    12th August 2006, 10:47 PM
    I’m certainly tempted Chris, to lay this myth I mean.
    It is highly likely that the injuries to the cattle and horses was caused by the recent introduction of barbed wire in an effort to control the activities of rustlers. I’m afraid it took the poor horses and cows at least twenty years to realise that the new fangled fences were there to protect them, meanwhile they took them as scratching posts and ripped themselves open on them.
    Meanwhile, many of the later letters were written by two very young schoolboys who were copycatting the originals… there is a report in The Times where they are named and shamed.
    I have to say that it is a case that interests me greatly.
    ________________________________________
    cgp100
    12th August 2006, 10:57 PM
    In a way I find it surprising that the Edalji case hasn't attracted more interest from Ripperologists. There are all sorts of parallels - not just the ripping itself and the multitude of anonymous letters, but a similar complement of helpful suggestions about the crimes from members of the public. The ones that made me laugh out loud were that the crimes had been committed by a "hypnotised ape" (shades of Edgar Allan Poe) or "a man disguised as a horse or cow".

    Maybe I should just mention the one definite Ripper reference in Weaver's book, which does introduce a
    brand new Ripper suspect:
    Horace [Edalji, George's younger brother] ... ridiculed Jasper Moore, the recently deceased Ludlow MP and friend of Mrs Edalji's sister, for believing George to be not guilty and for 'identifying' the Great Wyrley maimer as the brother of Courtenay Warner, MP for Lichfield, whom Moore was also said to have believed was involved in the Whitechapel murders.

    Before anyone rushes to adopt this new suspect, it should be pointed out that this information comes at third hand - not only is there no direct evidence that Moore made such a claim, but there is some doubt as to whether Horace Edalji really said he did. And Burke's Peerage (1949) shows only an elder brother of Warner who died in infancy (though perhaps the list is incomplete, as there's plenty of room for other siblings).

    Chris Phillips
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    robert
    12th August 2006, 11:07 PM
    Well Chris, according to one account Edalji was so short-sighted, that in the dark he'd have had trouble finding the field, let alone the horse.

    Robert
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    Joanna
    13th August 2006, 12:42 AM
    Excellent find Chris!

    Its interesting to find that Macnaghten's theories on 'sexual maniacs' were influenced by witnessing the Cream case in 1892, two years before he wrote his infamous memoranda, it seems it would have almost certainly influenced his choice to make Druitt his pet suspect, believing him to be a doctor like Cream. In the Jack the Ripper and Edalji cases Macnaghten believed that the suspects like Cream committed violent crimes then wrote letters incriminating themselves and linking themselves to crimes they could have (in theory) otherwise got away with. Also, Macnaghten sees both crimes as expressions of sexual hatred; both Macnaghten and Sims implied that the Ripper was supposedly motivated by an obsessive hatred for a 'certain class of women'. In the Edalji case, Macnaghten implies that Edalji could be motivated to mutilate cattle as an expression of hatred, both perhaps against the community that shunned his mixed race family and his parents themselves for bringing their children into such a hostile world. Macnaghten could also be implying that both the Ripper and Edalji were sexually repressed individuals.

    However, in the case of Jack the Ripper the question is that did Macnaghten have evidence to imply that Druitt was the kind of sexual maniac he felt was capable of committing the Ripper murders or did he on examination of the avaliable evidence come to feel that Druitt must be a sexual maniac (although there was no evidence for this) and his 'sexually insane' commet refers to another form of (or he believed to be) sexual perversion?
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    chrisg
    13th August 2006, 01:17 AM
    Hi Chris

    Yes, an excellent find, Chris. Although I have to say, that as I believe we have remarked before here, the terms "sexually insane" or "sexual maniac" seem to reflect more on Sir Melville possibly than on the crimes (the Ripper case/Druitt). That he used a similar term to refer to such diverse individuals as Druitt, Cream, and Edalji to me appears to set off somewhat of an alarm bell that he used it as a blanket term. Thus I am not sure this find helps us to understand why he used such a designation for Druitt. To my mind, this new information actually muddies things and makes Sir Mel appear not quite the discriminating and informed copper we might hope for.

    Chris
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    mayerling
    13th August 2006, 04:15 AM
    Hi all,

    Mr. Sharpe (or Sharp) was the schoolmate of George Edalji, who Arthur Conan Doyle was certain caused the maimings and the poison pen campaign against George.

    I wonder if it is possible that Royston (who was active with his knife in 1888) might have been occupied elsewhere than in Staffordshire. Probably not, but why not consider it?

    Best wishes,

    Jeff
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    cgp100
    13th August 2006, 09:29 AM
    Mr. Sharpe (or Sharp) was the schoolmate of George Edalji, who Arthur Conan Doyle was certain caused the maimings and the poison pen campaign against George.

    I wonder if it is possible that Royston (who was active with his knife in 1888) might have been occupied elsewhere than in Staffordshire. Probably not, but why not consider it?

    I think Royden Sharp really is too young to be of interest in 1888, as he wasn't born until 1880. The Great Wyrley cattle maimings didn't start until 1903.

    Chris Phillips
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    cgp100
    13th August 2006, 09:37 AM
    Yes, an excellent find, Chris. Although I have to say, that as I believe we have remarked before here, the terms "sexually insane" or "sexual maniac" seem to reflect more on Sir Melville possibly than on the crimes (the Ripper case/Druitt). That he used a similar term to refer to such diverse individuals as Druitt, Cream, and Edalji to me appears to set off somewhat of an alarm bell that he used it as a blanket term. Thus I am not sure this find helps us to understand why he used such a designation for Druitt. To my mind, this new information actually muddies things and makes Sir Mel appear not quite the discriminating and informed copper we might hope for.

    It certainly shows he used the term "sexual maniac" to cover people exhibiting a wide range of behaviour.

    I do think it's important to distinguish between his use of "sexual maniac" and "sexual insanity", though. I think I'm right in saying he uses the latter only once, in relation to Druitt, and that he uses the former of the Whitechapel murderer, but not specifically of Druitt.

    I must say I didn't think his comment about Edalji's "physionomy" inspired much confidence in his professional judgment, even allowing for the unenlightened nature of the Edwardian era.

    Chris Phillips
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    johnr
    13th August 2006, 10:02 AM
    Well Done, Chris P.,
    A very interesting find. A case I was not aware of.
    Sir Melville's letter has a couple of illuminating things in it: first, despite Neil Cream being an educated man, he was morally the worst specimen Sir Melville had ever encountered.Montague Druitt was educated...
    I agree, that tells us more about Sir Melville than Neil Cream!
    Secondly, the underlining in the letter is interesting. It is almost as if Sir Melville is saying, usually a sex maniac gains pleasure from his attacks upon the victims, and usually harbours a hatred of them as well.
    In this case, he is saying Neil Cream was an exception. A sexual maniac who did not hold a grudge or gain from his poisoning of his victims, but derived his pleasure from the power his actions exerted over the life and death of these hapless women! Six hours later.
    Did he think it must have been sexually motivated because he killed only women I wonder?
    Lastly, we should bear in mind Sir Melville Macnaghten had experience of living in India.
    He would have known of the ways of the Parsee...perhaps he was drawn to the case because of that (amongst other attractions and similarities to the Cream - and perhaps other...cases).
    By the way, do the Parsee happen to have a ban on eating cows, or harming cows?
    JOHN RUFFELS.
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    apwolf
    13th August 2006, 06:11 PM
    We sort of come full circle in this discussion yet again to what seems to be a basic fault in Macnaghten’s thinking - and Memo - in that he appears prepared to classify Druitt as some kind of sexual manaic - or suffering from sexual insanity, whilst happily dismissing Thomas Cutbush as a harmless ‘rambling’ idiot.
    Remember that Thomas Cutbush was a convicted sexual maniac of the ilk of the infamous ‘London Monster‘- at the time Macnaghten wrote his Memo - who was jailed for life for stabbing women with a knife, whilst poor old Druitt appears as a harmless, ineffectual and repressed wimp who may well have struggled with his own sexual identity.
    The essential difference being that young Thomas struggled with his sexual identity and a lot of others too.
    If I read Macnaghten right - and I reckon I do - his attitude towards Druitt was shaped around his own obvious distaste for a young man who might have had what they termed in those days ‘unnatural inclinations’; and his attitude towards Edalji was just plain old Colonial prejudice.
    And Macnaghten’s attitude to Thomas Cutbush was based entirely on the fact that the Force was with him.
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    Ravenstone
    13th August 2006, 07:34 PM
    I believe there was some comments made at the time about the cattle mutilations being some kind of 'weird' religious practice, with the finger firmly pointed at Parsees. Much the same thing, of course, being said about Jack the Ripper at the time.

    Edalji was, indeed, incredibly short-sighted. Doyle's account of the matter is my favourite source. Barnes' Arthur and George I found terribly tedious and dull.
    ________________________________________
    robert
    13th August 2006, 10:59 PM
    AP sends this from the mother.
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    apwolf
    13th August 2006, 11:02 PM
    Thanks Robert.
    Interesting how high the Edalji case reached.
    From the Bodleian Library at Oxford featuring the papers of Herbert Henry Asquith:
    F.5 Miscellaneous papers classified while in the hands of the executors as 'unimportant papers', 1902-27 (mainly 1908-16)
    Shelfmarks: MSS. Asquith 92-4


    1902-11
    Shelfmark: MS. Asquith 92
    Extent: 197 leaves
    Includes, inter alia, papers on:
    (fol. 3) Conservative or Liberal Unionist free traders (list of names),?1903-4
    (fol. 8) trade disputes, 1905
    (fol. 16) shipbuilding, 1905
    (fol. 22) earned and unearned income,?1907
    (fol. 26) the Edalji case, 1907
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    apwolf
    13th August 2006, 11:15 PM
    http://www.prairieghosts.com/doyle7.jpg

    This is the face that Macnaghten didn't like.
    George Edalji.
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    robert
    13th August 2006, 11:45 PM
    He obviously never saw Cutbush, whose face no one seems to have liked.

    Robert
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    Ravenstone
    14th August 2006, 08:25 PM
    Apparently, Edalji and Slater were two of the main reasons the Court of Appeal was formed.
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    apwolf
    14th August 2006, 09:45 PM
    I reckon a lot of the Edalji story remains unread and unsaid, as the following slices show.

    From the Christie’s 2004 auction of the Conan Doyle collection:

    ‘Lot 54: THE EDALJI CASE
    Owner: Unsold; still the property of the heirs of Anna Conan Doyle
    There is considerable correspondence relating to his various causes – for example, to right miscarriages of justice, in what became known as 'The Edalji Case' (involving a young Parsi lawyer wrongfully accused of mutilating animals) (estimate £30,000-50,000) and in 'The Slater Case' (which revolved around the gambler Oscar Slater) (estimate £15,000-20,000).’

    And the folks at Kew ain’t happy either:

    ‘Only about six per cent of the biographers in the ODNB cite materiaI from the National Archives at Kew, and even then it is not always to good purpose. In the bibliography appended to the life of Shapurji Edalji (father of George in Julian Barnes's Booker Prize runner-up, Arthur & George), his birth and marriage certificates at Kew are mentioned but not the more than 330 files relating to his campaign to vindicate the honour of his wrongfully imprisoned son. These include a fat bundle of autograph letters from Arthur Conan Doyle, which Julian Barnes didn't look at either - but then nobody expects Julian Barnes to be much bothered about sources.’

    So you can get 330 files at Kew for absolutely nothing, or pay the heirs of Anna Conan Doyle £50,000 for a couple of copies.
    It does appear that Julian Barnes did neither.
    But hey, he got a best seller out of it.
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    cgp100
    14th August 2006, 10:40 PM
    And the folks at Kew ain’t happy either:

    ‘Only about six per cent of the biographers in the ODNB cite materiaI from the National Archives at Kew, and even then it is not always to good purpose. In the bibliography appended to the life of Shapurji Edalji (father of George in Julian Barnes's Booker Prize runner-up, Arthur & George), his birth and marriage certificates at Kew are mentioned but not the more than 330 files relating to his campaign to vindicate the honour of his wrongfully imprisoned son. These include a fat bundle of autograph letters from Arthur Conan Doyle, which Julian Barnes didn't look at either - but then nobody expects Julian Barnes to be much bothered about sources.’

    I know the new ODNB has had mixed reviews - maybe inevitably, as it's composed of articles written by a mixed bunch of academics, amateurs and enthusiasts (sound familiar?) - but I'd be interested to know who at Kew put that criticism of the ODNB - and of Julian Barnes - into print.

    I think it has to be said that Gordon Weaver has evidently made an extremely thorough study of the files at Kew. I'd like to see more by way of analysis of the evidence, but as far as sheer identification of evidence goes, I doubt anyone can outdo Weaver.

    Chris Phillips
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    apwolf
    14th August 2006, 11:20 PM
    Chris
    It was AD Harvey in 'The Oldie' December 2005, as follows:

    www.btinternet.com/~akme/Odnb07.html (http://www.btinternet.com/~akme/Odnb07.html)
    ________________________________________
    cgp100
    14th August 2006, 11:34 PM
    Chris
    It was AD Harvey in 'The Oldie' December 2005, as follows:

    www.btinternet.com/~akme/Odnb07.html (http://www.btinternet.com/%7Eakme/Odnb07.html)

    Thanks for that. I didn't realise the ODNB had received public funding to the tune of £3.5m. I have suggested a few corrections to them, and would have been tempted to ask for payment!

    Oh well...

    Chris Phillips
    Say hello: http://www.myspace.com/alansharpauthor

  • #2
    From Macnaghten to Julian Barnes: the truth about Edalji

    Have only just picked up on this exchange. Am interested as I read the Kew material, including the Macnaghten documents, whilst researching my book ‘Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes’ (Vanguard). I must say that I did not think there was anything in Macnaghten’s claims worthy of mentioning in my account of George Edalji’s case.

    As for the speculation about the dynamics of the Edalji family I think it would be very difficult for anyone who has not seen the full range of evidence, including the Home Office papers at Kew, to reach any convincing conclusion. I myself think George was innocent of the attack on the pony on the night of August 17/18 1903, as of all the other outrages of 1903-4. It also seems very unlikely that he had a hand in the anonymous letters, though one cannot rule it out completely.

    My book does contain one Ripper reference, but only to the way in which memories of the Ripper sharpened anxieties in Great Wyrley during the events of 1903.

    When it comes to ‘Whodunit?’, Gordon Weaver was right not to make any definite claims. Jack Hart, Royden Sharp and Harry Green must be in the frame, but at this distance in time it is impossible to prove anything. That’s the beauty of this tantalising mystery!

    See www.outrage-rogeroldfield.co.uk for more.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here is a letter by Managhten which argues in favour of a convicted criminal as a sexual maniac whom was later found to be innocent by no less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

      Macnaghten also comes cross as racist about the man's facial features.

      Letter from Mr Macnaghten

      Dear Troup,

      Thinking you might have some anxiety and, and possibly, trouble over the strange case of Mr. Edalji, I read very carefully the article on the subject in Truth on Sunday. I knew of course something of the case before, and had formed the opinion (possibly quite an erroneous one and certainly founded on inadequate facts) that the right man had been convicted....

      There is no doubt that the fellow who perpetrated these outrages was a sexual maniac, and if physionomy goes for anything, Mr Edalji junior has the face of such an individual. But there is one point in the case which appealed to me so strongly that I thought it well to put my views on paper, and that is the writing of the letters, and that Edalji was believed to have written some of them to himself, and thus given himself the opportunity of discussing them with the Police. Now the most important dealings that I ever had with a sexual maniac was in the case of Dr. Neil Cream, who was hung for the poisoning of several prostitutes in Lambeth in November 1892.

      Neil Cream was a man of good education, but morally perhaps the worst specimen I have ever come across. He poisoned his victims with strychnine capsules which took effect about 6 hours after they were administered. There was no question as to gain from, nor as to hatred in any way of, his several victims. As I always believed, he simply poisoned so that he might have pleasurable sensations in dwelling on the sufferings of the women at the time of their death. Sir H. Hawkins came up to see me about the case, and I told him my theories which he seemed entirely to endorse. Having poisoned his victims, Cream invariably wrote letters to any public men whose names were at that time appearing frequently in the papers (Dr., now Sir William, Broadbent, Mr. F. Smith, at the time of his father's death, etc, etc,) accusing them of poisoning the women by strychnine and he also found great pleasure in discussing the case with police officers - the late ex. P.I. Patrick McIntyre to wit, and it was by reason of these imprudent actions that suspicions were primarily attached to him.

      History seems therefore to have, in some measure at any rate, repeated itself....


      On the other hand, look more carefully.

      Macnaghten admits right at the start that he knows the case only at arm's length, and therefore concedes that he may be wrong.

      Compare this private letter with these words from the 'Aberconway' version about Druitt -- which Mac had disseminated to the public via reliable proxies:

      '... Personally and after much careful and deliberate consideration, I am inclined to exonerate the last 2. but i have always held strong opinions about No. 1, and the more I think the matter over the stronger these opinions do become. The truth, however, will never be known and did indeed, at one time, lie at the bottom of the Thames if my conjections (sic) be correct ... From private information I have little doubt but that his own family suspected him of being the Whitechapel murderer: it was alleged that he was sexually insane.'

      and,

      Coshocton Tribune (Ohio, USA)
      3 June 1913

      JACK THE RIPPER RECALLED
      Scotland Yard Sleuth Says Noted Murderer Ended Own Life in 1888

      London, June 2.
      Sir Melville MacNaughton (sic) chief of the criminal investigation department of Scotland Yard, who recently retired, reveals the fact that the mysterious murderer, "Jack the Ripper," who killed seven women on the East End, London, in 1888, and whose end remained a mystery until now, committed suicide in November of that year.

      "I have a very clear idea who he was and how he committed suicide," said MacNaughton, "but that and other secrets will never be revealed by me." He adds that no record exists of the secret information he possessed during his connection with the service and he says he will not write any reminiscences.'


      I argue that these sources show that Macnaghten is claiming that he knew exactly who Druitt was and believed -- rightly or wrongly -- that based on a thorough knowledge, a thorough investigation though a private one, he was probably Jack (eg. Druitt could never receive due process).

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