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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Police Officials and Procedures > Anderson, Sir Robert

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Old 04-02-2010, 02:05 PM
Jeff Leahy Jeff Leahy is offline
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Originally Posted by Stewart P Evans View Post
I am pleased to see the use of the word 'claim' as I think there are many who would disagree that 'this is the best lead'.
Tis the nature of Ripperology.

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Old 04-03-2010, 01:40 AM
Jonathan H Jonathan H is offline
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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To Natalie

But that is the point I have been trying to make all along.

Sources which have an inherent bias must be treated with caution, though not dumped either. Anderson and/or Swanson chose a suspect, un-named in public, who seems to fit all too neatly the sectarian prejudices of the time: mad, poor, foreign, local, and not a Christian.

On the other hand, Anderson seems to have been a genuine admirer of Jewish theology and, unusually for the time, happily mixed with English Hebrews on a social level. Therefore, he may have preferred that the Ripper not be a Jew, but honestly came to the conclusion that the murders were committed by this particular Jew.

Yet, Macnaghten rejected the Jewish suspect in favor of a fellow Gentile gentleman and belatedly admitted, in the one public document under his own name about the Ripper, that this suspect was unknown to police until 'some years after' he killed himself. Arguably, both of those elements go against the expected bias of the source.

I do not think a great deal of the book Dan Farson eventually published in 1972, his tome being too thin, too obsessed with a bum lead, too over-reaching in its conclusion, and totally off-track claiming Druitt was a contemporaneous suspect [Mac's memoirs are as usual misunderstood].

Nevertheless, there are lines and thoughts in it I do agree with, provisionally speaking.

'The suicide in the Thames is no evidence in itself. Yet at the very point where the evidence might seem weakest, I can see its strength ... Druitt was the last person to be suspected unless there was evidence ... The very 'innocence' of such a man suggests he must have been guilty to be suspected in the first place.'

p. 125, History Book Club

If there was evidence against Druitt, for example the testimony of the brother or a written confession, it is long gone. What is left is a jaunty amateur's claim that there was evidence which he destroyed. The Etonian 'hail fellow-well met' attitude of Macnaghten would bend over backwards to get Druitt off, to reassure the family -- if he had any contact with them at all -- that they must be mistaken.

Perhaps Macnaghten just hated Anderson so much he chose a suspect who would upset his boss: the antithesis of Kosminski?

On the other hand, the Edwardian propaganda Mac engaged in with Sims gave backhanded praise to the CID of 1888 for allegedly nearly catching the killer, which is unavoidably praise for Anderson [which maybe why Anderson never challenged this rep-enhancing paradigm in public, just switched prime suspects: Jack the Jew, not Jack the Cricketer]

The Tory MP is another gentleman whom we would not expect to want to believe in a fellow Gentleman, and an ex-constituency member, to be the Ripper -- yet it was apparently his 'doctrine'. People who heard the story as he told it were 'convinced'. One of them was so thrilled they leaked it to the press who treated it like Macnaghten: a fabulous scoop which has to be handled, even mangled, due to fear over the libel laws. On the other hand, Farquharson may have been a complete twit who believed that fairies lived at the bottom of his garden?

But would not Mac know this too?

But then what did he really know ...?

Another issue I have with some people's approach to this conundrum of the competing police suspects is that they do not take into account that this competition was not conducted in isolation. In Feb/March 1891 all these suspects may have come into play in a rush: Druitt, Sadler, Kosminski, even Cutbush. I think there was furious jostling, and lobbying, and backbiting, which is all veiled from us by too-discreet memoirs which nevertheless seethe with mutual enmity.

Furthermore, this sudden gusher of suspects maybe how Kosminski became known to Macnaghten and/or Anderson at all.

In that the hunt for the hapless sailor flushed out the information about the Polish Jew suspect. That a Kosminski -- or somebody who knew them well enough to be intimate with their deepest fears -- approached the police during the Sadler imbroglio, anxious not to see an innocent man charged with murders they believed, rightly or wrongly, Aaron had committed?
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:53 AM
Scott Nelson Scott Nelson is offline
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Originally Posted by Jonathan H View Post
In Feb/March 1891 all these suspects may have come into play in a rush: Druitt, Sadler, Kosminski, even Cutbush.
Yes, I don't think it needs to be any more complicated than that.
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Old 04-03-2010, 03:05 AM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Yes Jonathan,thoughtful and thought provoking ideas in there! I really enjoyed reading this last post I must say.
Its getting late here so must leave any further thinking on this till tomorrow.
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Old 04-03-2010, 07:53 AM
Jonathan H Jonathan H is offline
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Thanks Natalie.

By the way do you have a favorite Ripper movie?

Mine are 'Time After Time' (1979), 'The Lodger' (1927) and, in a sequence inspired by the Whitechapel murders, 'The Ruling Class' with O'Toole in 1972.

Which reminds me. We have just had Down Under the first two episodes of the UK TV series: 'Whitechapel'.

God, its awful!?
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:09 AM
Jonathan H Jonathan H is offline
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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Default Misled before he became confused?

On the other site from which I am banned, the confusion theory has briefly surfaced.

This is the theory that Sir Robert became honestly [and self-servingly] confused about suspects and witnesses regarding the Ripper, by the time he came to write his memoirs in 1910, and in which he claimed predictably in etrms of his ego, that he had nothing wrong and he had solved the tabloid-driven mystery -- and kept Jack off the streets.

Virtually a success!

The confusion theory is arguably shadowed by another factor which is little noted or debated.

Sir Robert did not know what his confidential assistant,
Melville Macnaghten, did accurately know about 'Kosminski'.

That Mac knew that the latter was not deceased (see 'Aberconway') and was at large for a considerable amount of time after the Kelly murder before he was sectioned (Sims, 1907).

Based on his own memoirs, and hiscomments about the case (but only from 1895) and his son's biography, Sir Robert does not seem to know either of these facts which match the real Aaron Kosminski.

Yet the person he worked alongside did. Macnaghten was a fellow police administrator, yet one more hands-on, upon whom the more desk-bound Anderson relied upon for information.

Was all the information which Anderson knew about 'Kosminski' verbal only and unverified? Well, unverified by Anderson -- it had been verified, he must have thought, by his assistant who had actually gone to the asylum and read that 'Kosminski' was a chronic masturbator.

Yet Mac gets wrong when Aaron Kosminski was sectioned by two years, backdating it to a time before he started on the Force? Did the assistant also tell his boss that the Polish madman was long dead, just like the real posthumous suspect he actually believed was the fiend?

Is that just another coincidence?

The reason that Macaghten, in all his conscious or unconscious fictionalising of his trio of suspects did not have 'Kosminski' deceased is becasue it blew his 'awful glut' thesis; which pointed towards Druitt as the mostly likely suspect because he had instantly jumped in a river. So, for the cronies, and via them the public, they were told the truth: 'Kosminski' is probably alive -- and he was.

It is why secondary sources prior to Aaron's identification in 1987 assumed that Sir Robert must mean a suspect during the 1888 investigation -- perhaps Pizer -- because that is the time he seems to be referring to, eg. the police knew McKernzie was not a Ripper victim in July 1889 because Jack was already safely caged by then(and deceased?), and the messy events of 1891 do not get a mention at all -- a least not directly.

This leads to the theory that Sir Robert -- and by extension Swanson if he is just repeating Anderson in his marginalia -- was originally misled about the Polish Jew suspect, presumably by Macnaghten. From scraps we can see that they did not like each other and airbrushed each other out of their memoirs, quite vicious by ruling elite standards.

This misleading of course is convenient too, for an arch gameplayer like Mac, as it means that Sir Robert would be unlikely to enquire about a suspect who was deceased. It is like an Eton boy being caught sneaking out of dorm for a beer yet slyly fooling a stern, egocentric and disliked master.

Swanson wll repeat three of Anderson's most glaring errors in his private notation: that the 'Jack' murders stopped after this suspect was identified and caged, that it all happened seemingly soon after Kelly, and that the maniac died soon after being sectioned (he certainly does not contradict his former boss on any of these points). Yet his last line that 'Kosminski was the suspect' is arguably a significant comedown from the definitive way Anderson has written about the Ripper in the book and the magazine version.

The confusion theory is arguably strong, it's just that it began to happen after Anderson was misled.

For example, by 1908 Anderson has mixed up not only the broken pipes between different muders -- perhaps revealing that his memory once included the McKenzie murder as by Jack -- but also that he has also mixed up the Liberal Home Sec from before the murders with the Tory one he actually dealt with. What an extrordinary mistake: the wrong minister from the wrong government from the wrong party, and yet he describes that man, William Harcourt instead of Henry Matthews, as being the spineless pol putting him under unreasonable pressure to find the murderer.

Again Sir Robert's slipping memory also shows its bias; in this case a partisan one as he was himself a Tory and now he is blaming the left-wing Liberals -- who were entirely blameless for the Whitechapel crimes.

Sound familiar?

Another potentially revealing aspect of this confusion of Home Secretaries is that William Harcourt was a major Liberal figureby 1895, the same year that for the first time Anderson switched from having no idea who Jack was to asserting that he was caged in an asylum -- at least in the extant record.

This suggests the events of 1895, involving Lawende saying yes to Ripper suspect Grant, with former Home Sec. Harcort priminent in politics at that time, has intersected and calcified in his fading memory, along with Sadler and the Sailor's Home and Lawende saying no, all from 1891. The year when, initially, the police, or some police, thought Frances Coles -- also young and pretty just like Kelly -- was considered the final victim of Jack.

There is demonstrably confusion in what Anderson is writing between 1908 and 1910, most particularly the addition of the 'Seaside Home' location (admittedly only in the marginalia). We will never know but the marginalia maybe Swanson's recording of Anderson trying to make sense to his former subordinate inquiring about the two different versions of his own tale (between the mag version and the book), eg. was the suspect positively identified before or after he was permanently sectioned -- when he would not have been mentally fit to stand trial?

If he was misled by Macnaghten then Anderson was not to blame for his initial msistakes about 'Kosminski'.

Later his own fading memory and ego did the rest. For what the story -- what story? -- lacked is the clincher piece of evidence that would explain why he was so sure, and 'umentionable vices' was not going to be enough even for the most sexually repressed of Victorians.

Then in Sims, 1907, was the notion that the Polish Jew had been seen with Eddowes, and that a witness -- supposedly a beat cop -- later had a look at this same suspect in some kind of confrontation. How easy would it be for a deteriorating memory which has already transposed the wrong politicians and pipes, to combine Sims' Jewish suspect with a Jewish witness (which is correct) saying yes (Grant, 1895) and no (Sadler, 1891) to the Polish Jew which he, mistakenly, thinks Sims has got right?
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