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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Police Officials and Procedures > Swanson, Chief Inspector Donald

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  #11  
Old 10-11-2012, 01:39 PM
robhouse robhouse is offline
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It was a great piece of work... great Job to you both Adam and Keith.

Yes Adam that is a good point about his choice of the word "murderer". I do think it is interesting that Jim Swanson said "my grandfather referred to Kosminski as "the suspect" because he was never brought to trial."

To Abby Normal... yes that is also a good point. I have always felt that Swanson believed Kozminski was the Ripper, partly because of the point you raise. Also partly because there is a sort of tacit corroboration in the fact the he does not contradict anything Anderson says... we see in some of the other marginalia Adam has cited that Swanson did not hesitate to contradict what he saw as errors in the text. Surely, he would have noted Anderson's statement "By saying that he was a Polish Jew I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact."... and would (in my opinion) have made a notation if he had disagreed with this statement.

RH
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  #12  
Old 10-11-2012, 11:54 PM
Jonathan H Jonathan H is offline
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But nor does Swanson fix the errors in Anderson's account, in fact he adds a problemmatic element of his own -- if it his element -- about the Seaside Home, and the murderer-suspect being deceased (a critical error shared by Anderson according to the biography by his son) yet Macnaghten knew this was not the case.

The notion that Kelly was the final murder -- and that the police knew this at the time -- and that 'Kosminski' was sectioned after Miller's Ct. but before the McKenzie murder in July 1889 matches fictional information by Anderson's confidential assistant but not the real Aaron Kosminski.

Primary sources from 1892 arguably show Anderson with no knwledge as yet of 'Kosminski', let alone of Aaron Kosminski -- let alone about a positive witness identification which turned a debacle into a near-triumph.

Why in 1891 would you wheel in a Whitechapel witness to have a 'confrontation' with Lawende if you knew that the real murderer was already 'safely caged'?

If Swanson actually agreed with this tale then it was one, as was noted, that he did not correct.

But he did not correct it because perhaoshe had no first-hand experience of it, of 'Kosminski', hence no first name for 'Jack'. He was relying completelyon what Sir Robert had confided in him and specifically about the witness identification maybe as late as 1910 -- a seminal event yet one which does not appear in the scanty extant record until that date.

This maybe how the 'Seaside Home', from Sadler's Sailor's Home, partly entered the scene: a perplexed Swanson asked his beloved ex-chief how the Polish Jew could have been identified without his knowledge? Sir Robert, sincerely and mistakenly -- whose fading memory by then could mix up entirely different ministers in opposing political parties-governments from completely different years -- replied that it was because of the maniac being transported by City police to a location outside of London.

Are other interpretations possible of this material? Of course, because the surviving records are so contradictory and scrappy.

Critically these 1910 sources are arguably at odds with the primary police sources from 1888 to 1891 (and into 1895) and do not match what little we know about Aaron Kosminski in a couple of vital details (hence one of the reasons Fido stuck with Cohen, because at least he was off the scene so much earlier).

While these sources, Anderson and Swanson, are sincere -- and real -- they are not straight-forward and are, as late primary sources often are, soself-serving: eg. we solved it, he was safely locked up and then even more safely dead, and all that painful press criticism and gutless political pressure (from Harcout?) was entirely unjust!
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  #13  
Old 10-12-2012, 01:06 AM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Amazing work, Adam and Keith. There can be no argument made that the marginalia was in any way faked. And that address book has me salivating. I can't wait for your follow up pieces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamNeilWood
One small thing which I think has been overlooked is Swanson's choice of words:

because the suspect was also a Jew and also because his evidence would convict the suspect, and witness would be the means of murderer being hanged which he did not wish to be left on his mind. (my emphasis)

Swanson's use of the word 'murderer' would seem to indicate that he believed Kosminski was the killer, and not 'just' a suspect.
Actually, Swanson was just being accurate in his choice of words. No doubt from years of writing reports. He personally identifies Koz as a 'suspect', but from the witness' point of view, if he were convicted (and thus ready to be hanged), he would legally be a murderer and no longer a suspect. Because there was no conviction, he remained a 'suspect' as far as Swanson was concerned.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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  #14  
Old 10-12-2012, 06:08 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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A well researched and, just as important, a well present articlean

Its a denfinitive piece with regards the Marginalia. A very well done to Messers Wood and Skinner.

"...because the suspect was also a Jew and also because his evidence would convict the suspect, and witness would be the means of murderer being hanged which he did not wish to be left on his mind"

I do not think 'murderer' is in reference to the individual but rather the played out potential scenario the witness may have to endure.

As for the address book, oh yes Tom. To me that is better than the marginalia. When Adam mentioned it to me some months back now I'm afraid he was innundated with questions from me.

I managed to get a few names outta him, just a coupe anyway. Yes, I suspect a follow up piece from Mr Wood.....there had better be.

Monty
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  #15  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:06 AM
Phil Carter Phil Carter is offline
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Hello Adam,

A very good article from your good self and Keith Skinner. My congratulations to you both.

After due consideration, I feel the history of the marginalia shows, in my personal opinion, a strengthening for the idea that when Swanson wrote his annotations etc, he was expanding on Anderson's theory, and not his own knowledge. Why? Well, for two reasons.

One, that "wild horses" wouldn't drag what HE knew about the name of JTR out of him, and two, that he was commenting on Anderson's story as HE knew it or was told it.

Therefore, IF Swanson knew the true identity of the Whitechapel Murderer, he would not, in my opinion, have written any mistakes into his annotations. He would have been in total knowledge of how, when, why etc etc. He would have known if the suspect was alive or dead. He would have known in far more detail exactly what had happened and when first "revealing" it, would have been factually certain.

I believe that IF Swanson knew any identity, he really did take it to his grave, and wild horses didn't drag out of him what he actually knew. From what I read of the man's character, the comments from family members, he was a man that kept his word in reference to his work, and actually spoke very little of his case work in general.

It therefore seems far more likely to me that Swanson is expanding on Anderson's tale, and what Swanson knew of it, giving more details of Anderson's story.

The 2nd thing of interest is that the Stride murder outside the Berner Street Club seems to be singled out, as of a different character. This has strengthened my idea that Anderson, with his work involving radicals etc, whom were known to frequent that same club, is concentrating upon this one murder only, and by dint of grouping, gave the Stride murderer the responsibility of having committed all the murders.
I believe that Anderson had no idea, in actual fact, of the name of any potential multi-murderer or additional murderers that committed the other crimes. Swanson, on the other hand, may well have known. That "wild horses" comment is particularly striking and reinforces the general view that Swanson may well have known more than others. Anderson included.

Now that leaves a potential possibility for the name of the murderer of Elizabeth Stride. Was this "Kosminski" responsible? If Anderson's Polish Jew was infact "Kosminski", as stated by Swanson in his recollections of the Anderson story, and the Berner Street Club was being shadowed (as we know at least at a later date that it was) regarding radicals, then the obvious possibility is to find a connection between a "Kosminski" and the club, or any group likely to be shadowed. The fascinating discovery of Wolf Kozminski's previous addresses (in 1882) was 38 Berner Street, right next door to the future home of the IWEC and the site of the Elizabeth Stride Murder as shown in the Marshall/Phillips article. The shame is the time. 1882 and the club not being there at that time. But a physical connection between Berner Street and a "Kozminski" we have. And that brings in the grouping that Anderson was fully connected with..Special Branch.

Remembering that Special Branch had, and has, a tradition for keeping their work, especially undercover work, strictly in-house, and strictly on a need to know basis, the only answer would be some form of documentation from that specific source. If this source is infact the original "secrecy" of the WM genre, then it is understandable to a certain degree that an aura of secrecy has grown up and surrounded the case.

So why then, one asks, would Anderson "break" with tradition, and in-house policy, and start revealing details through his writings? Well here I believe his personality comes in. Strikingly, for me, is a thought of a man with a massive ego. He is "morally certain" of people that he believes committed crimes when not being tried, certain that the WM murderer was "caught" and safely locked away, and doesn't class the WM crimes as an unsolved case. These conclusions, by definition, because of the notorious nature of the case, elevates, in Anderson's own mind, his own sense of superiority and sense of achievement.

The last thing that strikes me when reading this esxcellent historical article, involves again, the "wild horses" comment. If Swanson DID know the identity of the Whitechapel murderer or murderers, then what would cause Swanson to make the decision that "wild horses" wouldn't drag the name out of him?
It didn't take much for his to pencil in "Kosminski". The name of a lowly Polish Jew wasn't someone he needed to keep quiet about forever, obviously. This was an utter nobody, whom the revealing of the name would not cause a problem to man nor beast. The world could easily have been told about this man, without fear of repercussion, especially after Kosminski's death. By that time, any possible backlash from the Jewish Community was almost non-existant. So who was it Swanson knew but kept tight lipped about?

Jonathan will argue that Druitt would be the ideal man. Others have their doubts. Here I introduce a few thoughts of my own.

The existance of the comment from 1956 that a connection between the WM and the leader of an Irish group plotting to kill a politician, Balfour, raises enormous questions in itself. Anything Ireland connected was certainly a "hot potato", certainly needing work by Special Branch and certainly would have caused secrecy to be paramount. Now whether this little tit-bit was enough to keep Swanson, for example, quiet, one has only specualation to live on. But I'd wager that any group that was SO dangerous, SO threatening and SO powerful in it's deeds, would keep most men to keep quiet. Speculation... what if Swanson DID know the name/names of the killer/killers and there WAS an Irish connection? How safe would Swanson feel regarding him revealing a name? Even to his family? A family he would protect at all costs, I'd wager. He wouldn't want to endanger them in the slightest. That, I believe could very well be why he was so insistent that he would NOT tell even his closest family. "Jack" may have been long dead, but the group to which he/they belonged wasn't. Even whilst Swanson was alive, the Irish problem raged on incessantly, and violence was regular. I wonder therefore, if the person/person he had in mind HAD died a long time before. (The leader of a plot to kill Balfour, whoever that was). What makes this interesting, is that in 1956 when this tit-bit was revealed, it was Macnagthen who is the connection. Not Swanson, not Anderson, not Littlechild, not a Special Branch man at all.

Fear of his life is one very good reason for keeping quiet. Fear for his family's safety would be a certain second reason. And it would certainly trump any idea of a "famous" person, to be the source of any secrecy (PAV etc).

I only have one other, unconnected point to make.

Whilst the furore of the handwriting blew at it's strongest, the most obvious and shortest, quickest way to pour water over any possible suggestion of fakery was to produce more examples, both in Anderson's book, of the handwriting, and other examples, i.e. the address book for immediate comparison. It would have quashed any question stone dead. Why, pray, was this not done and ioffered for obvious immediate inspection? So many examples of the handwriting would have killed the notion stone dead. With that kind of certainty, an awful lot of rancour and ill feeling could have been avoided. I do not blame any individual for the lack of such materialistic presentation, but it seems obvious to me that it should have been done. Just my opinion.

Adam, again, an excellent article. Many thanks again for your (plural) work and presentation. The History of the Marginalia certainly answers many questions about it. For my own thoughts, it should have been presented a long time ago. But that's just my opinion.

best wishes

Phil
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Last edited by Phil Carter : 10-12-2012 at 11:13 AM.
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  #16  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:15 AM
Hunter Hunter is offline
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I've always been of the opinion that the vast majority of Ripperology has been fluff with little real substance, and that few ever take the approach of the historian or apply the proper criteria in research, analysis and presentation. That is certainly not the case with this article. This is a textbook example of how it could and should be done... Excellent!

I hope that others who strive for honest credibility in this field take note from the lesson these gentlemen have exemplified. This is how a greater understanding of these events and the people involved is achieved.
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  #17  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:40 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter View Post
I've always been of the opinion that the vast majority of Ripperology has been fluff with little real substance, and that few ever take the approach of the historian or apply the proper criteria in research, analysis and presentation. That is certainly not the case with this article. This is a textbook example of how it could and should be done... Excellent!

I hope that others who strive for honest credibility in this field take note from the lesson these gentlemen have exemplified. This is how a greater understanding of these events and the people involved is achieved.
This was worth repeating Cris.

Monty
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  #18  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:44 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Whilst the furore of the handwriting blew at it's strongest, the most obvious and shortest, quickest way to pour water over any possible suggestion of fakery was to produce more examples, both in Anderson's book, of the handwriting, and other examples, i.e. the address book for immediate comparison. It would have quashed any question stone dead. Why, pray, was this not done and ioffered for obvious immediate inspection? So many examples of the handwriting would have killed the notion stone dead. With that kind of certainty, an awful lot of rancour and ill feeling could have been avoided. I do not blame any individual for the lack of such materialistic presentation, but it seems obvious to me that it should have been done. Just my opinion.
Nor should you.

Blame the individual who made scurrilous remarks and those who were so quick to support them.

Monty
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  #19  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:52 AM
AdamNeilWood AdamNeilWood is offline
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Phil,

Many thanks for your considered response to the article and kind words.

In answer to your question as to why the 'new' handwriting samples weren't posted here when the finger pointing was at it's worse, they simply hadn't been discovered by Nevill Swanson at that time, only after I'd made my announcement that the article was going to published and work was well under way.

Also, the point of the article was to collate all the known information and evidence and to add to it with new research. If I'd have posted a photo of a page of the address book or a letter, or the News of the World memo, debate would have continued here and the evidence would have become fragmented .

Now, there's a 55-page article in which all the information you could want on the Swanson Marginalia is preserved in one place for posterity and easy access.

Finally, I'd like to think those who accused the Swanson family of fakery - to the extent of suggesting the News of the World didn't publish the story because the name Kosminski wasn't on the endpaper in 1981 but had mysteriously appeared by 1987 - will have the integrity to hold up their hands and apologise.

The Swanson family were incredibly open and helpful during our researches, at a time when accusations thrown their way could have resulted in them pulling down the shutters, and who would have blamed them.

Hunter, thank you!

Best wishes
Adam
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  #20  
Old 10-12-2012, 12:17 PM
Chris Chris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamNeilWood View Post
If I'd have posted a photo of a page of the address book or a letter, or the News of the World memo, debate would have continued here and the evidence would have become fragmented .
Indeed. It's worth remembering that even after the correspondence with the News of the World in 1981 - referring to the annotations "naming" a suspect - was published here, doubts continued to be cast on the authenticity of the marginalia.

Given what has happened in the past, I think it was far better to produce a comprehensive survey of the evidence that would enable the question to be settled for once and for all. Adam and Keith have done that in a masterly fashion.
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