It all began with Jack the Ripper
Many years ago, when I was only fourteen years of age, my grandmother sowed the seeds of curiosity in me by hinting that we had a skeleton in our family cupboard, which was in some way connected to "Jack The Ripper".
The third victim of the Ripper as most readers will know, was Elizabeth Stride, (Long Liz), nee GUSTAFSDOTTER, and was the only victim that escaped being disembowelled. She was also the first of two murders that took place on the same night.
Her husband was John Thomas Stride (b1827), but he came from Sheerness and we all came from the east end of London, so how could we be related?
John Thomas Stride was the second son of my 3x great grandfather, William Stride. John was supposed to have drowned together with two of their children when the "Princess Alice" went down after a collision on the Thames.
Donald Rumbelow, in the first edition of his book, indicated that he had doubts about the veracity of that and in view of his very thorough research, especially in the case of Elizabeth, I had to agree with him.
I obtained first John and Elizabeth's Marriage Certificate, which took place 7th March 1869. In 1861 he was still single age 30 living in Sheerness with his parents and other siblings.
One of the most Notorious Serial Killers in British History
The name Jack the Ripper is well known by most, and the serial killer is probably the most notorious in British history.
The name itself originates from a letter to the Central News Agency claiming to be responsible for the violent murders, although the exact identity of the killer was never discovered, and the name has become legendary.
The killings began in East London in 1888, all within a one mile area, including Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Aldgate and City of London proper. What made the story so famous was the involvement of the press, a new prominent force in society due to increasing literacy amongst the population.
It was the news press, especially London newspapers, that hyped up the story of Jack the Ripper and sparked fear into the residents of London. The papers logged the daily activities relating to ‘the ripper’ including anonymous letters, police evidence and the latest killings.
The victims of the ripper were all casual prostitutes, their throats cut and bodies left in a public or semi-public place. All the bodies of the conical victims with the exception of Elizabeth Stride were mutilated.
There were 6 suspects according to the police, and another 4 according to contemporary opinions, and later 14 people were added to the list by historians and theorists. However, none of these suspects were ever charged and the identity of Jack the Ripper remains a mystery.
The Whitechapel Murders: