HENRY WENTWORTH BELLSMITH
“Murder, adultery, selfishness, hypocrisy, everything we call evil or sinful are equally meritorious with the most spotless purity of soul and body … sin becomes a misnomer and crime another name for virtue”
The above words were written in the 1890’s by an Anglo-Canadian in his forties called Henry Wentworth Bellsmith, of whom all evidence suggests he was a member of the notorious Ripper Gang which stalked the streets of East London in 1888 during an ‘Autumn of Terror,’ brutally claiming the lives of five Whitechapel prostitiutes. Born in London in 1849, he moved to Toronto in 1878 with his wife & children. However, by early 1888 he had separated from his wife & moved to London & at first took up a job with the Toronto Truss Company.
It was on hearing of his old lodger in 1889 that year-old suspicions were reawakened in a certain boarding house keeper, E Callaghan, who strongly suspected Bellsmith of being the Ripper. He stated that Bellsmith was a multilingual mysogonist who kept three loaded guns in his rooms, who had lodged with him in Finsbury Street between April & August 1888, leaving his room with bloodstained bedsheets a few days after the death of Martha Tabram (August 7th), a possible Ripper victim. He also stated that Bellsmith had at some point gone to America, but must have returned in 1889, adding, “We all regarded him as a lunatic, obsessed with women of the street, who he said should be drowned.” A certain Dr Forbes Winslow took a statement from Callaghan – dated Aug 8, 1889, 20 Gainsborough Sq, Victoria Park – & on investigations became positive that Bellsmith was the Ripper – the Jamaica Gleaner reports (24 October 1889);
“I know for a fact,” said the doctor, “that this man is suffering from a violent form of religious mania, which attacks him and passes off at intervals. I am certain that there is another man in it besides the one I am after, but my reasons for that I cannot state. The police will have nothing to do with the capture. I am making arrangements to station six men round the spot where I know my man is, and he will be trapped.” The public had laughed at him, the doctor went on to say, but on the Tuesday before the last body was discovered he had received information that a murder would be committed in two or three days. In conclusion, Dr. Winslow remarked, “I am as certain that I have the murderer as I am of being here.”
Winslow told the police that Bellsmith could be found at 8AM every morning at St Paul’s Cathedral, but chose to ignore him. This, then, is the closest the police ever got to catching this particular member of the Ripper Gang. That he was not working alone was strongly hinted at by Dr Winslow who stated; ‘I am certain that there is another man in it besides the one I am after.’ Perhaps this was the man placed by the People newspaper (7 October 1888) at the murder of the third victim, Elizabeth Stride;
The police have also received information that about half past ten on the Saturday night a man aged about 33 years entered a public house in Batty street, Whitechapel, and while the customers in the house were in conversation about the Whitechapel murders, he stated that he knew the Whitechapel murderer, and that they would hear about him in the morning, after which he left.
This leads us to the only witness account to a Ripper murder that actually seems to observe a murder in progress, that of Elizabeth Stride, the 4th of the canonical five. The witness concerned was a Hungarian immigrant Jew named Israel Schwartz, who through a translator gave the following account to the Star newspaper;
When he first came homewards about a quarter before one he first walked down Berner Street to see if his wife had moved. As he turned the corner from Commercial Road he noticed some distance in front of him a man walking as if partially intoxicated. He walked on behind him, and presently he noticed a woman standing in the entrance to the alleyway where the body was found. The half-tipsy man halted and spoke to her. The Hungarian saw him put his hand on her shoulder and push her back into the pass- age, but feeling rather timid of getting mixed up in quarrels, he crossed to the other side of the street. Before he had gone many yards, however, he heard the sound of a quarrel, and turned back to learn what was the matter, but just as he stepped from the kerb a second man came out of the doorway of a public house a few doors off, and shouting out some sort of warning to the man who was with the woman, rushed forward as if to attack the intruder. The Hungarian states positively that he saw a knife in the second man’s hand, but he waited to see no more. He fled incontinently to his new lodgings. He described the man with the woman as about 30 years of age, rather stoutly built, and wearing a brown moustache. He was dressed respectably in dark clothes and felt hat. The man who came at him with a knife he also describes, but not in detail. He says he was taller than the other but not so stout, and that his moustaches were red. Both men seemed to belong to the same grade of society.
The account given to the Star differs in a few places to that given to Chief Inspector Swanson earlier that day, which is understandable given that he, as the Star tells us,’ Could not speak a word of English, but came to the police station accompanied by a friend, who acted as interpreter.’ However, the differences are relatively minor such as the first man trying to pull Stride from the passage & the second man was holding a pipe, not a knife. Despite the darkness of the night, Schwartz gave the police a fairly detailed description of the Rippers, which when combined with those of the Star account, give us the following;
Man 1 (who threw the woman down) – 30 years old / 5 ft 5 in / fair complexion / dark hair / small brown moustache / full face / broad shouldered / respectable dress: dark jacket and trousers / black felt cap with peak / stoutly built / brown moustache
Man 2 (who warned man 1 & chased Schwartz down the street) – 35 / 5 ft / 11in /healthy complexion / light brown hair / respectable dress: dark overcoat / old black hard felt hat, wide brim / had a clay pipe or knife in his hand / Not so stout / red moustache
There are three tallies between the man 2 of Scwarzt & the description Callaghan made of Bellsmith , as in;
5’11 // 5’10
Healthy complexion // Dark complexion
Respectable dress // Respectable dress
We can now assume that Bellsmith had an accomplice during the murders, the peak-capped wearing short, stocky 30 year-old we shall call from her on in , THE SAILOR. His identity at this point remains unknown, but it was observed during the Autumn of Terror that the murders all took place on the weekends certain ships were berthed in London.
A further link between Bellsmith & the murder of Elizabeth Strude comes from another witness called Matthew Packer, who tells us (through the Daily News – 15th November); On Tuesday evening two men came to my house and bought twelve shillings’ worth of rabbits off me. They then asked me if I could give an exact description of the man to whom I sold the grapes, and who was supposed to have committed the Berner-street and Mitre-square murders, as they were convinced they knew him, and where to find him. In reply to some questions by Packer, one of the men said ‘Well, I am sorry to say that I firmly believe it is my own cousin. He is an Englishman by birth but some time ago he went to America, stayed there a few years, and then came back to London about seven or eight months ago. On his return he came to see me, and his first words were “Well, Boss, how are you?” He asked me to have some walks out with him, and I did round Commercial-street and Whitechapel. I found that he had very much altered on his return, for he was thoroughly harem scare-em. We met a lot of Whitechapel women, and when we passed them he used to say to me, “How do you think we used to serve them where I come from? Why, we used to cut their throats and rip them up. I could rip one of them up and get her inside out in no time.” He said, “We Jack Rippers killed lots of women over there. You will hear of some it being done over here soon, for I am going to turn a London Jack Ripper… The man who states he is the Ripper’s cousin is giving us a perfect blueprint of the activities of Bellsmith, who spent a decade in America before returning to London in March-April 1888, which was indeed 7-8 months before the above news story appeared.
Bellsmith, or at least a man strongly resembling his description, turns up in another Whitechapel boarding house, as reported by the Port Philip Herald (Australia) 22 November 1890. The story is similar to that of Callaghans, who on seeing Bellsmith in 1889 remembered his activities in 1888. In this case, an unnamed landlady sees her lodger in 1890, & remembered how he had raised suspicions in her of his being the Ripper. She tells us how a multilingual, revolver-owning Canadian rented her room who, ‘Was a man who could so alter his appearance that if you met him in the street once you would not know him again.’ She described him as being of middle-height, with a small, fair moustache and light brown hair, an exact match for the description of Man 2 made by Schwarzt in relation to the Elizabeth Stride murder. The landlady also tells us that in 1890, her old lodger had returned to London with a new wife in her mid-twenties, which fits in neatly with what we know about Bellsmith, who did indeed remarry Carolin Taylor (b.1866) in 1889.
THE LOOK OUT COUPLE
Knowing that Jack had an accomplice, we can now understand why he was given several descriptions by eye-witnesses, the confusion of which ensured his, or rather their, elusiveness. It has often been noted how amazingly the Ripper eluded capture, despite such a brazen modus operandi of killing prostitutes in the streets. On one occasion a policeman patrolled a section of Whitechapel & found nothing untoward, then only ten minutes later returned to the same place & found a dead woman who had suffered crude, organ-removing surgery. It seems, then, that a look-out system was in place, & at three of the murders, witnesses place a man & a woman gently carousing while only feet away a ghastly murder was taking place.
That a woman was part of the Ripper Gang helps us to clear up two perennial mysteries of the case. The first is the female DNA found on the licker of the stamp that sent the Openshaw Ripper latter, said to be the most viable Ripper letter. The second is that on the morning of the last murder, witnesses swore they saw Mary Jane Kelly in the street at 9AM, when she had evidently been slain at around 4.00AM. Detectives investigating the room in which Mary was butchered discovered the charred remains of a burnt bonnet, & what appears to have happened is that the female member of the Riper Gang has swapped her blood-stained clothes for those of MJK. Confirmation comes through the description of a 5’5”, stoutly-built 30-year-old man said to be seen with MJK at 9AM, an exact match to THE SAILOR.
At the murder of Annie Chapman, one witness describes hearing what sounded like a body dropping against a fence, while five minutes later another witness describes a man & a woman cavorting on the street-side of the fence. Her description is vague, but she gives the man a dark complexion & was perhaps over 40, which fits in with Bellsmith (shabby genteel, foreign, dark complexion, age 39 at the murders). Thus, while Chapman was being brutalized on the other side of the fence, the couple were keeping an eye on the street.
At the murder of Elizabeth Stride, a resident of 36 Berner St, Fanny Mortimer, describes; A young man and his sweetheart were standing at the corner of the street, about twenty yards away, before and after the time the woman must have been murdered, but they told me they did not hear a sound. Evening News, 1st October 1888
At the murder of Catherine Eddowes a man & woman were seen quietly conversing at the entrance to Mitre Square ten minutes ten minutes before the body was found. The woman was standing facing the man with her hand on his chest, but not in a manner to suggest that she is resisting him. Some reports say that the clothes of the women were said only to be only similar to those of Catherine Eddowes, introducing doubt & the possibility the two women were not the same person. An amalgamation of the descriptions of the man give us; 30-35 years old, 5 foot 7 inches tall, fair complexion, brown hair small fair mustache (some said descriptions said big) with a medium build. He was wearing a pepper and salt colored jacket which fits loosely, a muffler, a grey cloth cap with a peak of the same color. He has a reddish handkerchief knotted around his neck. Over all he gives the appearance of being a sailor.
Let us now compare this description with that of THE SAILOR described by Isaac Schwartz as having killed Elizabeth Stride less than an hour before Eddowes was slain.
30 years old // 30-35 years old,
5 ft 5 in // 5 foot 7 inches tall
fair complexion // fair complexion
dark hair // brown hair
small brown moustache // small fair mustache
respectable dress: dark jacket and trousers // pepper and salt colored jacket
black felt cap with peak // a grey cloth cap with a peak of the same color
The tallies are such that they are possibly the same person, & the SAILOR had taken on the role of Look-Out for the second murder of the night. We can definitely place him in that part of Whitechapel only a few minutes before the murder by a report in the ‘Star’ newspaper of October 1: “From two different sources we have the story that a man, when passing through Church Lane at about half past one, saw a man sitting on a doorstep and wiping his hands. As everyone is on the look-out for the murderer the man looked at the stranger with a certain amount of suspicion, whereupon he tried to conceal his face. He is described as a man who wore a short jacket and sailor’s hat.”
It is now time to look at the final member of the Ripper Gang, Francis Tumblety, who in recent years has become one of the chief candidates for the elusive serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. His name surfaced again in the 1990’s, after the discovery of a letter by an English policeman named Stewart Evans. It was written in 1913 by John J. Littlechild, Chief of CID Special Branch during the murders, who tells us;
I never heard of a Dr D. in connection with the Whitechapel murders but amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr. T. (which sounds much like D.) He was an American quack named Tumblety and was at one time a frequent visitor to London and on these occasions constantly brought under the notice of police, there being a large dossier concerning him at Scotland Yard. Although a ‘Sycopathia Sexualis’ subject he was not known as a ‘Sadist’ (which the murderer unquestionably was) but his feelings toward women were remarkable and bitter in the extreme, a fact on record. Tumblety was arrested at the time of the murders in connection with unnatural offences and charged at Marlborough Street, remanded on bail, jumped his bail, and got away to Boulogne. He shortly left Boulogne and was never heard of afterwards. It was believed he committed suicide but certain it is that from this time the ‘Ripper’ murders came to an end.
Those ‘unnatural offences’ were acts of homosexuality against five men over the entire period of the murders. The first incident took place on the 31st August, the very date of the killing of Mary Ann Nichols, the first of the five canonical Ripper victims. This is only the first of many coincidences that must surely put beyond reasonable doubt that Tumblety was Jack the Ripper. However, it appears that he was in fact the mastermind of a cult of murder which I shall now present as the RIPPER GANG. Indeed, the first instincts of the police were that the murders were perpetrated by a gang, as in; ‘One of the chief theories of the police with respect to the matter is that the sort of “High Rip” gang exists in the neighbourhood.’(Echo – London, U.K. – 1st September 1888)
Evans & Gainey present many points which strongly suggest Tumblety was the murderer, being;
1 – He was in Whitechapel at the time
2- He was arrested for “unnatural acts” during that period (homosexuality) & released on bail
3- After he fled Britain, the murders stopped
4 – British detectives followed him to the USA.
5- He was remembered for collecting female uteri in jars & extreme mysogony
6 – His wife had worked as a prostitute whilst married to him
7- He had pretensions of being a doctor
8 – He was known to use aliases
9 – Scotland Yard asked the San Francisco police for a copy of his handwriting in October 1888 – before he was arrested
10 – Was suspected of murders in the US, & was tried for manslaughter
11 – Rings in his inventory upon his death matched those taken from —
The only known material ‘trophies’ taken from a victim by the killer were the two imitation gold rings (brass) taken from Chapman
12 – Peddled porn in his childhood
13 – Was wealthy enough to change both clothes & residence frequently
We can now tie Tumblety to Bellsmith through an account given by the anonymous landlady who seems to have had Harry Wentworth Bellsmith lodging with her, whoremembers that he had a brother who visited him two times. She described him as Canadian, being much older than Bellsmith & residing in the neighborhood of Oxford street. Let us presume for one moment that this ‘doctor’ was Tumblety, who would have been 56 at the time of the murders fitting his elderly description. That he lived in the vicinity of Oxford Street seems to be the foundation of a news story published ten days after the double killings.
A certain member of the Criminal Investigation Department has recently journeyed to Liverpool and there traced the movements of a man which have proved of a somewhat mysterious kind. The height of this person and his description are generally ascertained, and among other things he was in possession of a black leather bag. This man suddenly left Liverpool for London, and for sometime occupied apartments in a well-known first class hotel in the West End. It is stated that for some reason or another this person was in the habit of ‘slumming’. He would visit the lowest parts of London, and scour the slums of the East End. He suddenly disappeared from the hotel leaving a black leather bag and its contents, and has not yet returned. He left a small bill unpaid, and ultimately an advertisement appeared in The Times, setting forth the gentleman’s name, and drawing forth attention to the fact that the bag would be sold under the Innkeeper’s Act to defray expenses, unless claimed. This was done last month by a well-known auctioneer in London, and the contents, or some of them, are now in possession of the police, who are thoroughly investigating the affair. Of these we, of course, cannot more than make mention, but certain documents, wearing apparel, cheque books, prints of obscene description, letter, & c., are said to form the foundation of a most searching inquiry now afoot, which is being vigilantly pursued by those in authority. It has been suggested that the mysterious personage referred to landed in Liverpool from America, but this so far is no more than a suggestion.” The Globe of October 10, 1888.
Here we have the black bag of a doctor, the slumming in the East-End, the arrival from America (via Liverpool), & the obscene photography, which Tumblety used to peddle as a young man. If it is Tumblety, it seems he absconded from the hotel at some point in September, at which point we should look at the following story from the Evening News (19th September 1888) where we have a tall, well-dressed man attempting to cut a woman’s throat near Oxford Street at the same time a Ripper suspect flees an Oxford Street Hotel.
Another terrible outrage was committed in London, this morning, at the West end. A woman was stabbed in the breast in Down street, Piccadilly, by a man who attempted to cut her throat. He was seen and pursued, but escaped. The woman was taken to St. George’s Hospital, where she lies in a precarious position. The man is described as a tall man, well dressed. Adelaide Rogers, of 21 Stangate, Westminster Bridge road, ran out of Down street between two and three o’clock this morning, and informed a policeman stationed in Piccadilly that she had been stabbed. She was bleeding profusely from a serious wound on the right cheek, and had already become faint from loss of blood
It seems that in 1888 the Ripper killings were conducted & orchestrated by two Canadians, Henry Wentowrth Bellsmith & Francis Tumblety, & that they were assisted by several people. The motive, I believe, was a pseudo-religious mission to highlight the poverty in the East End slums. In his book – Henray Cadevere – Bellsmith writes ‘0h, Liberty! What crimes are done in thy name! The work of Socialists?” mused Cadavere, bitterly. “This the work of brotherhood and humanity?” His work was the murder of the underclass, & his mentioning of the scoialist William Morris – who himself was arrested on suspicion of being the Ripper – leads us to Morris’ comrade-in-socialism, George Bernard Shaw, who in a letter to The Star (September 24th 1888) wrote;
Will you allow me to make a comment on the success of the Whitechapel murderer in calling attention for a moment to the social question? Less than a year ago the West-end press, headed by the St. James’s Gazette, the Times, and the Saturday Review, were literally clamering for the blood of the people… The Saturday Review was still frankly for hanging the appellants; and the Times denounced them as “pests of society.” This was still the tone of the class Press as lately as the strike of the Bryant and May girls. Now all is changed. Private enterprise has succeeded where Socialism failed. Whilst we conventional Social Democrats were wasting our time on education, agitation, and organisation, some independent genius has taken the matter in hand, and by simply murdering and disembowelling four women, converted the proprietary press to an inept sort of communism. The moral is a pretty one, and the Insurrectionists, the Dynamitards, the Invincibles, and the extreme left of the Anarchist party will not be slow to draw it. “Humanity, political science, economics, and religion,” they will say, “are all rot; the one argument that touches your lady and gentleman is the knife.” That is so pleasant for the party of Hope and Perseverance in their toughening struggle with the party of Desperation and Death!
Is it possible that the murders were contracted out to Tumblety & Bellsmith by the Socialist intelligentsia? Perhaps, Tumblety’s bail was set at £300, about £25,000 pounds today, which was met by persons unknown. Two or three days later he was on his way to New York & political immunity. Whether Shaw & Morris are involved or not, however, from now on I believe the identity of the Ripper(s) can be classed as a mystery no more.