Was Sir William Gull a freemason, as Stephen Knight claimed? In his book “Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution,” Stephen Knight writes:
It is impossible to find out if some of the lesser known people in Sickert’s story were Masons. The chief characters certainly were. Warren, Gull, and Salisbury were all well advanced on the Masonic ladder. Salisbury, whose father had been Vice Grand Master of All England, was so advanced that in 1873 a new Lodge was consecrated in his name. The Salisbury Lodge met at the premier Masonic venue in England, the Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London.
John Hamill, the then Librarian for the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of England (and now Director of Communications), when replying to a paper on The Life and Times of Sir Charles Warren in 2002, made an interesting comment in response to this claim. He wrote:
"The Stephen Knight thesis is based upon the claim that the main protagonists, the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, Sir Charles Warren, Sir James Anderson and Sir William Gull were all high-ranking Freemasons. Knight knew his claim to be false for, in 1973, I received a phone call from him in the Library, in which he asked for confirmation of their membership. After a lengthy search I informed him that only Sir Charles Warren had been a Freemason. Regrettably, he chose to ignore this answer as it ruined his story."
Early in 2008, I visited Freemason’s headquarters in Great Queen Street, London and asked them to search their records again. On 12 March 2008, I received the following reply from the United Grand Lodge of England Library and Museum:
Dear Mr Chilver
SIR WILLIAM WITHEY GULL
Further to your enquiry, we have checked our records for the above name without success. Please note that, for certain periods, our records are incomplete. It may be that this gentleman was a freemason but without a lodge name or number we cannot locate him in our records.
Wow, Allen, an interesting find, to say the least. So, not only was Gull very old and suffered from 2 strokes around the time of the Ripper criems, but there is no basis in evidence that he was even a Freemason. If so, this pretty much throws the whole "executing the prostitutes in accordance with Masonic ritual" proposal.
You know, I'm rather surprised that Gull wasn't a Mason. Given the social circles in which he moved, I would have expected him to join the Masons as a matter of course.
I'm not sure I agree with the premise that freemasonry membership aligns with a certain social class. My experience is that masons are of all types.
If you read the full article for which I posted the link, the author makes reference to Doric Lodge, which met in the Whitechapel Road area in the late 1800s. Its membership included the builder George Lusk (who received the "From Hell" letter enclosing a human kidney), and cart builder Arthur Duttfield (of Duttfield Yard in Berner Street, where Elizabeth Stride's body was found).
Some interesting possibilities, perhaps, for anyone who wishes to develop the masonic connection in a different direction?
Anybody from any background, social-strata can be a mason. My friend at work, who earns $10.00/hr as a office clerk and delivery driver, is a Mason. It's just a group where people get together, drink beer, and have a good time. Maybe, just maybe do a little socializing. Oh, and Salisbury wasn't a mason...his father maybe, but not him. Hey, my dad's a union guy, and I'm not. You could even go on-line and find a list of noteable masons.
As you can a see a lot of different people, from tons of different backgrounds. The biggest question I have is, if I were a mason, and I was out killing women for Queen and Country to protect the monarcy (and our standing in society) do you think that I would cut them up according to "established" mason ritual? Would I then leave trinkets and rings around the bodies and put them in a pattern so that they would form a star or mason symbol? Not to mention grape veins? I mean, wouldn't they still be in the carriage where I slit their necks, which, of course, would ruin the inside of my carriage. I mean try having to explain that the royal cleaners at the stables---"Ah, Mister Gull, how in the world are we going to get all of this blood out of the upholestry---have you been watching that scene in 'Pulp Fiction' again?" Would I then pick them up in my carriage and dump their bodies so a police detective with a high school education could draw lines to their bodies so they would form a pentagram on a map? Would I then leave them at sites that have special significance to masons? People who believe in conspiracy forget the first rule of conspiracy--the more people who know---no matter what oath they take--no matter how secret a secret society you belong to-the greater the chance of the secret getting out.
Being a Mason myself, I can assure you that their response to your question may have very well been a cover up. There is a tendency to cover things up, sometimes worse than the government. However, from my research and studies, which is highly extensive, that was more in the past when we were known as a "secret society."
The biggest question I have is, if I were a mason, and I was out killing women for Queen and Country to protect the monarcy (and our standing in society) do you think that I would cut them up according to "established" mason ritual?
If you were a true Mason, why would you NOT do according to established Masonic ritual?
I always find that Gull and the Royal Family's ties to the Masons are always considered proof of a Masonic connection to the Whitechapel Murders, and it is looked at with dismay that such a sorry connection could exist.
While I find the Royal Conspiracy has been pretty much debunked in recent years it still is flung up occasionally, as proof of the corruption of upper-crust British society.
Like most social groups, most Masons are nice and good people, who use the group to help charities and such. However, there have been Masons who were not so nice.
1) Dr. Edward William Pritchard, the Glasgow poisoner, was a high ranking Mason.
2) Frederick Seddon, the poisoner of his live-in tenant Eliza Barrow in 1911, not only was a Mason, but proclaimed his innocence in court under his Masonic banner to basically call upon his fellow Mason, Mr. Justice Bucknill, to do something to overcome the guilty verdict. Bucknill was deeply upset and moved by Seddon's action, but proceeded to condemn him to death, but then tried to comfort Seddon to reflect on the crime, and to recall that Masons are opposed to crime.