Was George Hutchinson describing Francis Thompson?
George Hutchinson’s was possibly the last person, other than the murderer to have last seen Mary Kelly alive. His description is commonly seen as the best we have of the actual murderer. At first glance a vagrant, like Thompson, who was a struggling opium addicted poet, with a love for the stage, hardly appears to resemble the apparently wealthy man that Hutchinson described.
Thompson, if he had the habit of murdering, could have made himself to look like this man. Thompson was pale skinned with very dark, brown hair. He was 29 years old, but three years on London’s streets may have made him appear older. He was around 5 foot 7 inches in height. (175cms) By November of 1888 Thompson, who shaved with his dissecting scalpel, kept sharp as a matter of routine, sported a moustache. Thompson had come to a small sum of money, from his poems, which he spent, on a suit and coat rather than play costumes, like those worn when in his youth he joined a theater group. By 1888 Thompson had already been attired as a priest for six years, and a doctor for the same number. He had worn the uniform of a soldier, and trained in drill, giving him a sharp gate. Most recently he had worn the rags of a beggar.
Even after finding his works published, Thompson refused to leave the streets. He claimed to be still seeking out his missing prostitute-lover. As a practicing Catholic, he always wore his consecrated medal on a chain. He wore a coat, waistcoat, necktie and a wide brimmed soft slouched hat. Here is a description of Thompson, detailing his clothes and the parcel he carried,
‘His great brown [Inverness] cape...nondescript garb...a basket slung over his shoulder on a strap a strange object his fish – basket’
In 1888, Thompson was using this same parcel to carry his few remaining books from an extensive library that he had sold to sustain his addiction to laudanum. Parts of Hutchinson’s description, of the man seen talking to Mary Kelly on the night she was murdered, tells,
‘He also had a kind of a small parcel in his left hand with a kind of strap round it…age about 34 or 35. height 5ft 6 complexion pale, dark eyes and eye lashes slight moustache, curled up each end, and hair dark, very surley looking dress long dark coat… waistcoat dark trousers dark felt hat turned down in the middle…Wore a very thick gold chain ... Respectable appearance walked very sharp'