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The Origins and Acceptance of the Canonical Five

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  • Joshua Rogan
    replied
    Okay. The two are only around a hundred yards apart, so it doesn't alter your point at all. But if you can find a source for any of the pubs they drank at, then great.
    ​​​​​

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  • seanr
    replied
    Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
    Hi Sean,
    Did Pearly Poll say which pubs she and Martha had been to? I thought she only said that they visited several;

    "They picked up with the soldiers together, and entered several public-houses, where they drank. When they separated, the deceased went away with the private. They went up George-yard, while witness and the corporal went up Angel-alley."

    This alley is named for "Ye Olde Angel" pub at the southern end, on Whitechapel High Street, so I'd always assumed this was the last pub they visited. But maybe I'm wrong.
    ​​​​​​
    Interestingly, according to the Telegraph, Poll goes on to say;
    "Before they parted witness and the corporal had a quarrel and he hit her with a stick"

    Which may tie in with the Emma Smith blunt instrument attack?
    Good question... I can find sources which state it was the Angel and Crown they were drinking in, but perhaps I'm less sure the original source of that claim. I'm going to need to do some digging.
    Last edited by seanr; 01-10-2021, 06:49 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Joshua Rogan
    replied
    Hi Sean,
    Did Pearly Poll say which pubs she and Martha had been to? I thought she only said that they visited several;

    "They picked up with the soldiers together, and entered several public-houses, where they drank. When they separated, the deceased went away with the private. They went up George-yard, while witness and the corporal went up Angel-alley."

    This alley is named for "Ye Olde Angel" pub at the southern end, on Whitechapel High Street, so I'd always assumed this was the last pub they visited. But maybe I'm wrong.
    ​​​​​​
    Interestingly, according to the Telegraph, Poll goes on to say;
    "Before they parted witness and the corporal had a quarrel and he hit her with a stick"

    Which may tie in with the Emma Smith blunt instrument attack?
    ​​​​​​​

    Leave a comment:


  • seanr
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael W Richards View Post

    I believe youve struck it on the head with the point above sean. There is very definitely a sinister feel to the Unsolved Murders in the file, the Canonical Group is five of some 12 murders, its within that data that your suggestion blossoms. There were other seriously deviant, violent men there at the same time as a killer with a preference for what comes after the kill was terrorizing the area.

    The nature of many of the non attributed murders is in some cases equally cruel, almost no-one attributes Alice to the same killer working the previous Fall, yet her murder is as vicious as some of the predecessors. Martha Tabram was killed in a brutal way, but in the same manner as Annies murder? Not really. They seem to contrast in many ways. Is that a result of messing up Pollys kill? Maybe. Maybe he tightened things up that time out. But I think its safe to say that Marthas killer revealed a desire to kill, and Annies killer showed us that he coveted.
    What I didn't (or only partially knew) when I wrote that but I know now.

    According to George Haslip's evidence, Emma Smith reported that she had been followed up Osborn Street by three men from Whitechapel church. She was attacked just past the top of Osborn Street at the junction with Brick Lane.
    Almost directly opposite Whitechapel Church, where Emma Smith first saw the men who attacked her, is the pub The Angel and Crown where according to Pearly Poll, she and Martha Tabram had been drinking on the night of Tabram's murder. Tabram was murdered in George Yard, the next turning off Whitechapel High Street after Osborn Street.
    Polly Nichols was last seen alive by Emily Holland at the bottom of Osborn Street. They spoke on the corner opposite to Whitechapel church.

    I'd like to produce a map which would illustrate how close these places are, but like the skills/ tools/ time to do so. All the locations are within about a block of each-other. To illustrate the closeness, the following picture posted elsewhere showing the bottom of Osborn Street includes the street Emma Smith was followed up, the pub Martha Tabram was drinking (the last building on the far right) and the wall Polly Nichols leant against as she spoke to Emily Holland.

    Click image for larger version

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    There are good reasons why the murder of Polly Nichols was added to an existing file on the murders Emma Smith and Martha Tabram, which had already been connected. I find them much harder to dismiss than most.

    The canonical five looks like a post-rationalisation, after the events.

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  • Gordon
    replied
    Gordon Honeycombe’s The Murders of the Black Museum was published in 1982. He did indeed describe the murders of Emma Smith and Martha Tabram, but added that these were only “once” thought to be the Ripper’s work, referring to the others as the “accepted” Ripper killings. By the time he was writing, belief in the Canonical Five had of course been established for more than two decades.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael W Richards
    replied
    Originally posted by seanr View Post
    I'm of the opinion that the canonical five is a later invention/ guess by Macnaughton. It's not something I think was definitely established by the evidence nor generally agreed to by the investigating officers. It is lifted to near mythic status in recent years by the tendency of most popular histories in newspapers and TV documentaries to start with the murder Polly Nichols.

    I used to have a book published around 1970 I believe, named something like the cases of the Black Museum (it may have been an edition of 'The Murders of the Black Museum' by Gordon Honeycombe but I can't be 100% sure), which covered the Ripper case which started with the murder of Emma Smith. Probably following the progress of the case as it was set out in the Whitechapel Murders case files. The importance of the canonical five has ebbed and waned over the years and it seems very recent that it has reached the status of unassailable orthodoxy.

    Before the world ever heard the words 'Jack the Ripper', Emma Smith and Martha Tabram met untimely ends and the victimology, timings and location led to the very reasonable conclusion the two cases may have been connected and the Whitechapel Murders file were opened. Our modern idea seems to be the police wrongly started searching for a serial killer and as they did so a serial killer suddenly popped up and started an entirely unconnected string of murders with the same traits of victimology, timing and location but only out of pure coincidence. This is a proposition I find hard to swallow, but many who look at the era seem to believe it without ever thinking about questioning it's plausibility.

    The police in 1888 believed the murders of Emma Smith, Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols to be related. It was only later that doubt is placed upon the earlier murders. With organised criminal gangs in operation if all the three women were not murdered by the same hand, it does not necessarily follow that their deaths were unconnected. Women who may have worked as prostitutes continued to be attacked in similar ways on the streets East London into the early part of the twentieth century.

    There really is the possibility of something more brutal, cruel and systemic was happening to the women of Whitechapel and Spitalfields over a number of years which due to the fetishisation of the serial killer myth has been simply missed or ignored.

    I worry that the 'canonical five' is widely considered an accepted fact when it may be better described as a later speculation by the very senior detectives who failed to find any satisfying answers from their investigations.
    I believe youve struck it on the head with the point above sean. There is very definitely a sinister feel to the Unsolved Murders in the file, the Canonical Group is five of some 12 murders, its within that data that your suggestion blossoms. There were other seriously deviant, violent men there at the same time as a killer with a preference for what comes after the kill was terrorizing the area.

    The nature of many of the non attributed murders is in some cases equally cruel, almost no-one attributes Alice to the same killer working the previous Fall, yet her murder is as vicious as some of the predecessors. Martha Tabram was killed in a brutal way, but in the same manner as Annies murder? Not really. They seem to contrast in many ways. Is that a result of messing up Pollys kill? Maybe. Maybe he tightened things up that time out. But I think its safe to say that Marthas killer revealed a desire to kill, and Annies killer showed us that he coveted.

    Leave a comment:


  • Chava
    replied
    I agree with you about preconceived ideas re Tabram's murderer (and about Hallie R's completely useless & mendacious book). And Tabram is the one 'non-Canonical' victim that I think could well qualify as a Ripper murder. Except for the MO. It's similar. But that's as far as it goes. And as I've said on other threads, if Ada Wilson is an earlier victim who managed to survive--and I think she was--then the killer was using the double slash to the throat 5 months before the Tabram killing which is stabbing rather than slashing. Everything else echoes the Canon right down the line. Victimology. Location. Time. You're right about the bayonet. It's not something that anyone would take out on the ran-tan with him. There is something that occurs to me--and it has occurred literally as I'm writing this: could Tabram be the right victim for the wrong reason? Is the Ripper killing her for other reasons. Was he angry with her? Did she get in his way? Did she see something he didn't want anyone to see? Could she identify him? Because the Tabram killing seems motivated by anger or passion. The other killings were in my mind much colder & more calculated.

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  • Gordon
    replied
    A good summary of the early literature, so thank you, Mr. Palmer. There was more there than I knew, though I was well aware that Leonard Matters included Tabram as a victim. In fact his book, bogus as his theory was, was my first introduction to the Ripper case.

    What I’d be interested to have confirmed is whether William Stewart counted Tabram as a victim. This seems to be implied by default but is not explicitly stated here. I suspect the answer is Yes, but the book is so rare and expensive that I’ve never had a chance to read it.

    Assuming that’s true. it’s just as I thought: that nearly everyone writing the few books on the topic before the 1950s took Tabram for granted, until the discovery of MacNaghten’s memorandum caused a rapid volte face.

    I don’t put much stock in the “canonical five” myself, and it’s worth dissecting how it came to be. All I can say is that what looked like authentic information about the Ripper’s identity in particular was so scarce that a mere nugget of information like MacNaghten’s was instantly seized on like gold dust and elevated to a pinnacle of prominence that it didn’t deserve. So the “canonical five” became orthodoxy for an entire generation, at least until Sugden looked at the entire Ripper story with a fresh eye and challenged it in the mid-1990s.

    Rubenhold continued to accept the “canonical five” a quarter century later, but then she was pushing her own agenda. Among other things she was pitching the absurd notion that the victims were “not prostitutes,” and Tabram may be the one victim whose prostitution was most strongly attested--by a fellow prostitute, no less. So Rubenhold may have found it expedient to leave the embarrassing Tabram incident out of her book.

    Apart from the story of Cutbush and Colicott, and a possible insight into Druitt’s “trouble,” it seems to me that the chief value of the MacNaghten memorandum was in naming Kosminski as a viable suspect. (Ostrog has been eliminated, and Druitt seems improbable.) This suspect was suggested by Anderson earlier, though without naming him, and echoed later by the Swanson marginalia. But MacNaghten’s insistence that there were “only five” victims stands on very shaky ground.

    To start with he didn’t even write the memo primarily to identify who the Ripper might have been or how many victims he had. That was secondary to his main purpose, which was to identify who the Ripper was not--that’s to say, it wasn’t Cutbush or Colicott--and also to assure his audience that the Ripper was not still out there killing people. That alone called for minimizing the number of victims, and ruling out anyone who didn’t seem to fit the frame.

    Then too, MacNaghten wasn’t even doing this job at the time of the Ripper killings, so he wasn’t on top of the issue. Any information he received was at second hand and after the event.

    He didn’t even get all his facts right. He misstated Druitt’s occupation and his age.

    And if anyone thought he was recording an “official police position” about the Ripper, I don’t believe there was any such thing. Various officers had varying opinions about who the Ripper was. Swanson apparently believed it was Kosminski. Abberline, strangely, seems to have thought it was George Chapman. No doubt Walter Dew ended up with different impressions of his own. Doctors disagreed on whether Alice MacKenzie might be a victim, and so on. It was very much a matter of opinion--and different people had different opinions.

    Then there’s the question of why Martha Tabram was ruled out. The “obvious” answer of course was the difference in MO. However, that doesn’t have to be an obstacle to including her if we theorize that this was the killer’s first murder, done purely on impulse, while the remainder were planned and more methodical. It’s also worth reflecting that if Abberline really saw Chapman as a possible Ripper, he wasn’t the slightest bit put off by the radical difference in MO between a knife wielder and a poisoner!

    But the MO was not the only reason Tabram was excluded, when we consider the investigation into her murder. First there was “Pearly Poll” Connolly who, along with Tabram, had been drinking with two soldiers that night before they split up. She tried but failed to identify suspects in barracks. (She picked one out but he had an alibi.) Then there was Constable Barrett, who challenged a soldier hanging around George Yard later that night, and was told he was “waiting for his chum who had gone with a girl.” Barrett, like Connolly, also tried to identify a suspect in barracks but was similarly unsuccessful in picking a viable candidate. On top of that was the evidence of Dr. Killeen, who testified that the wound penetrating Martha’s breastbone could have been done with a bayonet.

    Now to start with, Tabram was killed two hours or more after she split from “Pearly Poll.” Although she was with a soldier earlier, it’s unlikely he was her killer. Connolly had done with her client after thirty or forty minutes. Tabram similarly had plenty of time to finish with her client and find a new one, the man who probably killed her.

    As for Constable Barrett’s soldier, while he was hanging around George Yard, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the “girl” his “chum” was with was Martha Tabram. She was probably someone totally different.

    I must also wonder how many soldiers made a habit of detaching their bayonets from their rifles and carrying them around in case they needed a weapon. Or possibly a tool to cut something with. There were of course different styles of bayonets. Some were triangular and not much use except for stabbing. There were also “knife bayonets” that could be used for cutting as well. I have not made a study of what type of bayonets might have been in use by the regiments in question in 1888 on the end of their Lee-Metfords! (Or were some of them still toting the good old Martini-Henry during the changeover?)

    I can only say that a bayonet seems an awfully long weapon for anyone to tuck into his pocket for a Bank Holiday evening’s drinking. A couple of old bayonets I happen to own myself--one triangular, another “knife” style--are about 20 inches long. How do you even hide a thing like that?

    The fact is, there is no evidence that Martha Tabram was stabbed with a bayonet. She only might have been. A stout enough knife, much shorter than a bayonet, could have done the job, and was a far more likely weapon for anyone to be carrying around.

    In spite of this, I’m sure the police were firmly convinced that Martha Tabram’s killer had to be a soldier. That’s what MacNaghten was echoing--that “if only” that soldier had been properly identified, they would have caught him. The police were grasping at straws--not unlike the way Ripperologists in the late 1950s were grasping at the “straw” of the MacNaghten memorandum itself. The police never did find Tabram’s killer, whether he was the Ripper or not. Connolly and Barrett were the only leads they had, and both of them led to a soldier. The whole “soldier” motif was only reinforced by the notion that Tabram had been stabbed with a bayonet, as unlikely as that was in reality.

    I think it was one of those instances where once people get an idea fixed into their heads, they can’t shake it off. We’ve heard of these cases before, with police alone, where they got their eyes fixed on a suspect and neglected to pursue other avenues of investigation. The excessive focus of police on “Wearside Jack” as a Yorkshire Ripper suspect is another example, while neglecting other suspects. If Tabram’s killer just “had” to be a soldier, while suspects in the other Ripper murders did not answer to the description of a soldier, then ergo, Tabram could not have been killed by the same “Ripper” who killed the others.

    But that didn’t have to be true. And in my opinion it probably wasn’t.

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  • Scott Nelson
    replied
    Post #3 was a question. Seanr answered it.

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  • C. F. Leon
    replied
    Originally posted by seanr View Post
    And another thing...

    Another important source for the canonical five is Dr Thomas Bond's report dated November the 14th, 1888. In which Dr Bond examined the medical evidence in the cases Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Liz Stride, Kate Eddowes and Mary Kelly and concluded that all 5 murders were committed by the same hand.

    It is a misunderstanding or wishful thinking to think they by this Dr Bond meant that *only* these five were murdered by the same hand in his opinion. The argument is that the evidence is strong that these five cases were connected and committed by the same hand.

    He does not in fact consider the evidence in the cases of Emma Smith and Martha Tabram and the reason seems to be a focus on the victims with a cut throat.

    The report states the canonical five cases discussed were connected. It is (rightly) silent on any cases not discussed in the report.
    I mentioned Dr. Bond's report in post #3, above.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael W Richards
    replied
    I just thought of something I would add to my previous post.....I said I thought he only killed so he could mutilate. Might that suggest he didnt have access to bodies to cut into in his normal existence? If someone doesnt mind, or even enjoys mutilating dead things, or even killing, as part of their job...does it seem feasible that he would still crave it even more than he already had access to? I dont think so. Surely his day to day activities would be enough for him,.. so maybe not a butcher, med student, hunter, or slaughterhouseman. Maybe just an accountant. Or a dock worker. Or a political terrorist action. Maybe it was just some dangerous kook running about at night who at one time had studied some anatomy.

    Maybe just one man, but with 2 or 3 victims in total. One thing I think is a fixture in his MO is to attack strangers. Its far easier to evade investigations. Yet in Mary Kellys case one can make a very good case for her killer being well known to her..intimately. In Strides case the brevity of the attack and the lack of any evidence of any further intentions of the killer after the single 2 second cut, there are a number of possible scenarios that can address that murder without inserting a theory of interruptions... without any supporting evidence, into the mix. A "Ripper" wasnt in Berner Street that night. Though he may have been in Goulston later on.

    Yes, 2 killers...or more.. can work on the same night,...poor Mrs Brown found that out on the Triple Event evening.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael W Richards
    replied
    Originally posted by c.d. View Post
    Since no-one has any proof that any of the women in the Canonical Group, formed by conjecture and guesswork, are connected in their death with any other Canonical victim, how could you possibly say that the Group theory is "more likely to be true" cd? Based on what?

    I shouldn't have spoken for others but for me it is the preponderance of the evidence meaning I think it more likely than not.

    c.d.
    Scenario....2 people are found dead within the same neighborhood within 1 week. Both are the result of illegal drug overdoses. Is that enough to say that both people intended to kill themselves, that they died accidentally, or that someone intentionally overdosed them. Mutilated remains of cats are found openly displayed in the same park multiple times in a month. Several cats were also discovered in garbage bins, in a nearby neighbourhood also mutilated. Is that enough to suggest 1 person is responsible for both sets of crimes? Or did one person kill and mutilate cats and then leave his dirty deed to be found because that was part of his thrill, and did another person do something terrible and then try to hide his sins in garbage bags? Point here is it very possible 2 different people killed and mutilated cats for 2 different reasons. 1 was ashamed and secretive about it. 1 threw himself a Evil Man parade. Same actions, same animal, same kinds of mutilations....but different motives. 2 people. This is the reason I fight back here on the C5 concept, it seems to naively assume that only 1 person can have evil thoughts and do evil deeds at any given place, in any given period of time. What was done to any of the women could have been done by anyone with a knife and the stomach to do terrible things to someone (we dont know if all were strangers to him). In a few cases it appears that some knife skills and anatomical knowledege was needed, in some others, not at all. WHY they were done at all is the key. Not WHAT was done.

    The person responsible for Pollys murder is I think someone that wanted to mutilate a body, a female body, and he likely enjoyed the emotions and reactions of the public to his evil acts. The fact that within 10 days and in the same neighborhood another woman is terribly mutilated and also just left in place displayed for all to see, and that the murder seems to follow an identical pattern to the previous one in victimology, actions taken and wounds inflicted, makes matching these first 2 "Canonicals" relatively easily. 1 man did these 2 murders, and part of his thrill was to watch, or read about, the shock and horror he caused with his acts. He only killed so he could mutilate, and he left the bodies in the open to frighten, shock and intimidate. Identifying this is a first step in creating a profile for this man. If you carry that profile forward, only Kate Eddowes could be logically included with those 2 victims.

    This study has drawn people to it to try and discover what single person killed the Five women. Students start off assuming a series and think that this is then just a matter of identifying the culprit. Thats ass backwards detective work. Its the evidence that leads the way. Conclusions cannot be assumptions. Facts are not widely accepted premises. As we are a group of students more informed than your average person on these cases, and with the resources at our fingertips here, we can help future students immensely by creating a valid foundation from which to begin that is without predjudice, guesswork, or widely accepted premises.

    There can be a day when someone decides to study the Ripper crimes without beginning with a Canonical Group. Its my hope anyway.

    Leave a comment:


  • seanr
    replied
    And another thing...

    Another important source for the canonical five is Dr Thomas Bond's report dated November the 14th, 1888. In which Dr Bond examined the medical evidence in the cases Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Liz Stride, Kate Eddowes and Mary Kelly and concluded that all 5 murders were committed by the same hand.

    It is a misunderstanding or wishful thinking to think they by this Dr Bond meant that *only* these five were murdered by the same hand in his opinion. The argument is that the evidence is strong that these five cases were connected and committed by the same hand.

    He does not in fact consider the evidence in the cases of Emma Smith and Martha Tabram and the reason seems to be a focus on the victims with a cut throat.

    The report states the canonical five cases discussed were connected. It is (rightly) silent on any cases not discussed in the report.

    Leave a comment:


  • seanr
    replied
    I'm of the opinion that the canonical five is a later invention/ guess by Macnaughton. It's not something I think was definitely established by the evidence nor generally agreed to by the investigating officers. It is lifted to near mythic status in recent years by the tendency of most popular histories in newspapers and TV documentaries to start with the murder Polly Nichols.

    I used to have a book published around 1970 I believe, named something like the cases of the Black Museum (it may have been an edition of 'The Murders of the Black Museum' by Gordon Honeycombe but I can't be 100% sure), which covered the Ripper case which started with the murder of Emma Smith. Probably following the progress of the case as it was set out in the Whitechapel Murders case files. The importance of the canonical five has ebbed and waned over the years and it seems very recent that it has reached the status of unassailable orthodoxy.

    Before the world ever heard the words 'Jack the Ripper', Emma Smith and Martha Tabram met untimely ends and the victimology, timings and location led to the very reasonable conclusion the two cases may have been connected and the Whitechapel Murders file were opened. Our modern idea seems to be the police wrongly started searching for a serial killer and as they did so a serial killer suddenly popped up and started an entirely unconnected string of murders with the same traits of victimology, timing and location but only out of pure coincidence. This is a proposition I find hard to swallow, but many who look at the era seem to believe it without ever thinking about questioning it's plausibility.

    The police in 1888 believed the murders of Emma Smith, Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols to be related. It was only later that doubt is placed upon the earlier murders. With organised criminal gangs in operation if all the three women were not murdered by the same hand, it does not necessarily follow that their deaths were unconnected. Women who may have worked as prostitutes continued to be attacked in similar ways on the streets East London into the early part of the twentieth century.

    There really is the possibility of something more brutal, cruel and systemic was happening to the women of Whitechapel and Spitalfields over a number of years which due to the fetishisation of the serial killer myth has been simply missed or ignored.

    I worry that the 'canonical five' is widely considered an accepted fact when it may be better described as a later speculation by the very senior detectives who failed to find any satisfying answers from their investigations.

    Leave a comment:


  • c.d.
    replied
    Since no-one has any proof that any of the women in the Canonical Group, formed by conjecture and guesswork, are connected in their death with any other Canonical victim, how could you possibly say that the Group theory is "more likely to be true" cd? Based on what?

    I shouldn't have spoken for others but for me it is the preponderance of the evidence meaning I think it more likely than not.

    c.d.

    Leave a comment:

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