How One Man Wrote His Name into London’s Dark History - Broke in London

How One Man Wrote His Name into London’s Dark History

Guest post by Aaron Bridges

Any keen historian will be quick to tell you that London has a far from clean-cut history with episodes aplenty of dark ongoings inside the nation’s capital. While the bloody drama of the United Kingdom’s kings and queens has been well-documented, especially inside the Tower of London where you can learn about executions and other villains dating back to medieval times.

However, here we will not be focusing on any of the country’s royal family, political figures or other associated personalities. In fact, we will be looking at someone who has successfully remained anonymous for more than a century – known simply by the moniker of Jack the Ripper.

Why is Jack the Ripper Famous?

Even if you would not consider yourself to be a true-crime expert, you have likely heard about Jack the Ripper and know that he is a serial killer that was active in London. The name became associated with the Whitechapel Murderer following the signing of one of the infamous letters supposedly penned by the killer. The origins of the letters remain disputed, with many of them universally considered to be fake, while experts consider a select few to potentially be real.

The anonymous murderer is linked to five killings, known collectively as the Canonical Five, each of which was women who made ends meet through prostitution in Victorian London. Their names are: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. All five murders took place between 31 August and 9 November 1888.

While the killer was never caught, and will forever remain a mystery, the main linking factor between all five of the murders (as well as several other potential Ripper murders) is the method of the kill. Serial killers have their own preferred method and the Ripper’s was a blade – thought to be a surgical blade, due to the clean nature of the cuts. Each murder demonstrates an evolution, which may be as the result of the Ripper perfecting his methods and becoming more comfortable in his activity. This is especially true in the case of Mary Jane Kelly, whose body was almost unrecognisable as her killer was afforded complete privacy to kill his victim and then mutilate her body.

Why Jack the Ripper Remains a Person of Interest

Jack the Ripper will never be identified, in spite of the attempts of many who claim to have unmasked the killer (with different suspects named by different people). It is this mystery that keeps the imagination running wild, with new theories and suspects brought to life as the years roll by. As much as we would love nothing more than to definitively name the man behind the nickname, it will never be done.

The closest that Londoners, and anyone who visits the city, will ever get to knowing everything there is to know about the Whitechapel Murders is by going on a Jack the Ripper tour, where an expert guide will take you to each of the murder scenes and other places of interest. While you will leave still wondering who could have been so ghastly as to commit those horrific murders, inflicting such levels of violence on defenceless women, you certainly won’t feel short-changed.

While this is certainly not one of the city’s proudest moments, it remains a vital part of history. From this case, we can see how policing and the methods utilised have evolved after what is a considerably short frame of time in the grand scheme of things. Jack the Ripper will forever be a part of the history of London, rightly or wrongly.