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."
A few things that may be helpful here. I believe I am correct in saying the following.
First of all, Mr. Knight caused a great stir in the UK with his book. So much so, infact, that Grand Lodge in London issued a letter to every Lodge in the country about the book and it's author, his research and his (as they saw it) anti-masonic comments. When all this hullabaloo started, at the time (early 1970's), it was official policy of Freemasonary in the UK to NOT comment to the Press nor the public in any way about the man, his theory or his book, let alone his accusations. Nor about themselves nor the organisation.
The only thing that was said at the time, in answering questions from the press referring to Freemasonary being a "secret society", came from Grand Lodge, and was along the lines of the following:-
"We are not a secret society, but prefer to call ourselves a society with secrets, the rituals and allegory pertaining to those rituals being secretive. The rituals are like a play, acting if you prefer, and all totally innocent. We pride ourselves on being first and foremost a charitable organisation."
It is important also to remember that Freemasonary in the UK had two different factions, one in Scotland and one in England and Wales. The Scottish one based itself nearer to the American form of Freemasonary.
At this time in the 1970's, all sorts of things were going on within Freemasonary in England. Certain Lodges were exposed by various people for different things, but one of them was a Lodge in London that was formed directly from and for Police Officers only. There were various investigations into alleged back scratching through the promotion system within the force, and that in turn led to more serious investigations within the Police itself.
It all created a very poor public image for Freemasonary, that still refused to say anything publically. Then, on top of all of this, some individuals from Freemasonary from all over the UK, including Scotttish members, leaked certain things to Mr. Knight about Freemasonary, which culminated in his book entitled "The Brotherhood", which was perceived as an all out attack on Freemasons and their "goings on."
Not only the police were scrutinised, and many other groups within the society, with alleged Masonic dealings. Lawyers, judges, doctors, all ranks infact.
This led, eventually, to a complete review and overhaul of how Freemasonary was percieved by the general public from within the organisation itself.
Eventually, it was decided that a far more open presentation was needed. There were many within the masonic orders that were up in arms over this decision, but for the most part, when the idea was put into action in the UK, with Grand Lodge becoming far more helpful to requests for historical information, for example, the change of attitude worked, and the attitude towards Freemasonary became calmer. Instead of people being encouraged NOT to reveal their membership of a Lodge, they were encouraged to do so. Grand Lodge became far more open to scrutiny.
In other countries, this open approach has even led to lists of Freemasons being made public, which is still the case today.
As to whether Sir WWG having been a Freemason or nay, there are others on the boards here who have also investigated this, from a while back I believe, and may be able to give a definitive answer.
As I stated at the start, I believe the above to be correct, but doubtless other more attuned to the history of the situation may be able to help more. I hope this has been helpful.
Chelsea FC. TRUE BLUE. 💙
Justice for the 96 = achieved
What's interesting to what you believe, freemasons were either behind getting rid of monarchs, the American revolution and the French revolution, the Russian revolution, or supporting them, the Royal conspiracy theory. Can't have both.
Just for accuracy's sake (and this doesn't mean I believe in the 40 year old Masonic theory), there are times when lack of documentary evidence doesn't prove a thing when it comes to Masonic membership.
Even for the Presidents of the United States, there is an official and an unofficial list of members. At least two are on the unofficial but probable list:
Jefferson and Madison.
With Madison, the strong evidence in favour are a personal letter from a Governor, testimony from a Grand Secretary, and a report of attendance at a march with Masons. Yet still, he is not on the official list.
Couldn't the lodge records have been lost as they were with Madison's alleged lodge?