It all began with Jack the Ripper

It all began with Jack the Ripper

Many years ago, when I was only fourteen, my grandmother sowed the seeds of curiosity in me by hinting that we had a skeleton in our family cupboard that was in some way connected to Jack The Ripper.

Ken and Barbara Stride, TheGenealogist Subscribers

Ken and Barbara Stride

TheGenealogist Subscribers

We had a skeleton in our family cupboard which was connected to 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”. At that age I was not interested in family history and so it was many years later before my curiosity surfaced.I was looking for a book to read on a flight home from Singapore and spotted “The Complete Jack The Ripper”, by Donald Rumbelow, and could hear the bones in our cupboard rattling.

How could we be related to Elizabeth Stride, third victim of 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?

By now I was hooked and felt I just had to research my family tree. Unfortunately at that time I was still earning a living in our own business and could spare very little time for such a time consuming hobby.

A further six years went by before I could start in earnest, and only then because I was forced to retire early through ill health.

I now enjoy family history research enormously and feel I have progressed quite well in the short time we have been researching. I say “we” because my wife and I both work together as we have done for many years.

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.

On the 1871 census they were living as husband and wife at Tower Hamlets, Poplar. She was born in Sweden, so I next sent for her Birth Record.

In the 1881 census, three years after the “Alice” disaster, I found John and Elizabeth supposedly living together at 69 Usher road. However, there was no sign of any children some twelve years after their Marriage in 1869.

I have obtained the Death Certificate of John Thomas, which took place on 24th October 1884 in the Union workhouse sick asylum, age 63. This was 4 years prior to Elizabeth’s untimely death on the 30th September 1888.

It was said by a few that Elizabeth had said she had children in order to obtain money from both the Swedish authorities as well as others in London.

The name Jack the Ripper is well known by most, and the serial killer is probably the most notorious in British history.

One of the most Notorious Serial Killers 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.

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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.

Cartoon by John Tenniel criticising the police's alleged incompetence
Cartoon by John Tenniel criticising the police's alleged incompetence


  • The Whitechapel Murders:
    • 1887
      • December 26 Murder of alleged victim ‘Fairy Fay’
    • 1888
      • February 25 Murder of alleged victim Annie Milwood March 28 Ada Wilson stabbed in neck, survives attack
      • April 3 Murder of alleged victim Emma Smith
      • August 7 Murder of alleged victim Martha Tabram
      • August 31 Murder of Mary Ann Nichols
      • September 8 Murder of Annie Chapman
      • September 30 Murder of Elizabeth Stride & Catherine Eddowes
      • October 1 First hoax letters received. ‘Dear Boss’ letter printed in Daily News. Bloodstained knife found in Whitechapel road.
      • October 12 ‘From Hell’ letter received, containing half a kidney which was claimed to have been taken from victim Catherine Eddowes.
      • November 9 Murder of Mary Jane Kelly
      • November 20 Murder of alleged victim Annie Farmer
      • December 20 Murder of alleged victim Rose Mylett
    • 1889
      • June Murder of alleged victim Elizabeth Jackson
      • July 17 Murder of alleged victim Alice MacKenzie
      • July 25 Letter from ‘Jack the Ripper’ arrived at Scotland Yard
    • 1891
      • February 13 Murder of alleged victim Frances Coles
      • April 24 Murder of alleged victim Carrie Brown

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