Paul M. Bessel, 32°, K.C.C.H.|
(current address: 3700 Marble Arch Way, Silver Spring MD 20906 -
Armed with the facts, Masons should have no difficulty
responding to alleged
Masonic connections in the Jack the Ripper crimes.
How should Masons respond if told the following "facts"
found in books and films, such as Murder by Decree and
the current movie From Hell, about the Jack the Ripper
- Five women were murdered, all within nine weeks, so this
appears to have been a plot with a specific purpose.
- All the victims had their throats cut, often from ear to
ear. One victim's tongue had apparently been torn out by its
roots. One had her breast torn open, and her heart and vitals
were taken out.
- Four of the victims had their abdomens cut open and their
intestines or bowels taken out and, in one case, burned to ashes.
- Near the body of one of the victims were the words, scrawled
in chalk, "The Juwes are the men that Will not be Blamed
for nothing." Masonically, this can be seen as a possible
reference to three ruffians whose names all begin with the same
two letters. Charles Warren, the head of London's police at that
time and also a prominent Freemason, quickly erased this message
despite the strong protests of other police investigating the
||Sir Charles Warren, head of
the London police at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders,
and also the first Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076
Could reasonable people conclude that there was a pattern and
a specific reason for these Jack the Ripper murders? There is
circumstantial evidence of possible Masonic involvement, so some
say all that is needed is an explanation to connect these facts
Prince "Eddy," the Duke of Clarence, Grandson of Queen
authors and films claim to have an explanation that solves this
case. They claim that Queen Victoria's grandson, who was known
as "Prince Eddy," then 24, secretly fathered a baby
and married the mother, an illiterate Catholic "shop-girl"
named Annie Crook. Supposedly, Walter Sickert, a friend of Prince
Eddy, hired a nanny, who was a witness at the secret marriage,
to care for the illegitimate royal baby.
Britain was then in great political turmoil, and it is claimed
that if word got out that the second in line to the throne had
married and had a child with a lower-class, illiterate, Catholic
commoner, then the people might have toppled the monarchy, taking
with it all those in powerincluding Freemasonswho
were in influential positions.
According to this story, the nanny turned to prostitution and
shared her information about Prince Eddy's marriage and child
with three other prostitutes, who all threatened to go public
with the story. The Prime Minister or Queen Victoria supposedly
called on Sir William Gull, physician to the Queenand a
Mason to eliminate this threat.
The story goes on to allege Gull was mentally unbalanced and
decided to kill all these women using Masonic ritual, calling
on Masonic Brethren to assist him.
Walter Sickert, Prince Eddy's friend and witness at his marriage
to Annie, is said to have told this story to his son Joseph, who
later told it to the author Stephen Knight, who claimed to find
additional supporting evidence. Others, including the authors
of the graphic novel From Hell and the recent movie with
this same title, rely on Knight's story to claim that the Jack
the Ripper murders were not random, but a careful plot to protect
the English royal family and the prominent Freemasons who supported
The Real Facts
Every allegation of Masonic involvement in the Ripper murders
is based entirely on a story that Stephen Knight claims he was
told by Joseph Sickert. But in The Sunday Times of London,
on June 18, 1978, Sickert said of this story: "It was a hoax;
I made it all up," and it was "a whopping fib,"
a pure invention. All the evidence confirms this: "Those
parts of Mr. Sickert's story which can be tested have been shown...to
be untrue." (See Rumbelow's Jack the Ripper: The Complete
Casebook, pages 212, 213; and Begg, Fido, and Skinner's The
Jack the Ripper A to Z, pages 411, 412.)
- Donald Rumbelow is one of the most respected researchers
of the Ripper murders. Commenting on Stephen Knight's book that
identifies the murders as a Masonic conspiracy, he says: "Where
is the evidence? The answer, of course, is that there isn't any
The book becomes more and more frustrating as one searches for
.Whichever way you look, there is not a shred
of evidence to back up Knight's theory." (The Complete
Casebook, pages 207, 209, 212.)
- Those who are familiar with Masonic ritual know that the
mutilations of the Ripper murder victims' bodies do not reflect
any Masonic practices, rules, rituals, or ceremonies. Any seeming
similarity is only slight, inaccurate, and circumstantial.
- Knight claimed Masonic penalties (which are purely symbolic,
not actual) mention having the heart removed and thrown over
the left shoulder. But he admits it was the intestines, not heart,
that were placed over Jack the Ripper's victims' right shoulders.
- Whatever was meant by the "Juwes" message found
on a wall near one of the murder scenes, that term has never
been used in Masonic ritual or ceremonies.
- The erasure of the "Juwes" message near a murder
site was almost surely a well-meaning attempt to prevent anti-Semitic
mob violence against innocent people, since some were already
thinking of blaming Jewish immigrants for these murders.
- Even more significantly, the baby girl said to have been
the child of Prince Eddy was born on April 18, 1885, so she was
likely conceived between July 18 and August 11, 1884. During
that whole time, Prince Eddy was in Heidelberg, Germany, while
Annie Crook, the alleged mother, was in London.
- Stephen Knight's story says that Eddy and Annie met in 1888
in Walter Sickert's studio. But that building had been demolished
in 1886, and a hospital was built on the site in 1887.
- Dr. Gull is supposed to have been the key man in the Ripper
murders. But he was 72 at the time and had already suffered one
heart attack and, possibly, a stroke. Yet he is alleged to have
brutally murdered five young and reasonably strong women in a
carriage on public streets and discarded their mutilated bodies
in public areas.
- British laws, then and now in effect, say that any marriage
of a member of the royal family can be set aside by the monarch
and that any who marry a Catholic cannot inherit the crown. So,
no murders were necessary even if the story of Prince Eddy's
marriage to Annie Crook were true. In any case, Annie Crook was
not a Catholic. (Begg et. al., The Jack the Ripper A to Z,
- The supposed police cover-up was probably simply due to lack
of experience with murders such as these as well as some degree
of police and government incompetence. When carefully examined,
there is not a single piece of solid historical evidence to support
Stephen Knight's claims of Masonic involvement in the Ripper
murders, a theme central to several books and films, including
From Hell, the recent graphic novel and film by the same
title. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence refuting
these allegations. Armed with the facts, Masons should have no
difficulty responding to alleged Masonic connections to the Jack
the Ripper crimes.
Comments about each book are from "Casebook: Jack the
Ripper," the most detailed Internet web site that deals exclusively
with all aspects of the Ripper murder caseslocated at http://www.casebook.org.
The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, by Philip Sugden
(Caroll & Graf, New York, 1994). Required reading for anyone
interested in the case.
From Hell, by Alan Moore, writer, and Eddie Campbell,
artist (Eddie Campbell Comics, Australia, 1989).
The Jack the Ripper A to Z, by Paul Begg, Martin Fido,
and Keith Skinner (Headline Book Publishing, London, 1991). This
is a must-have book for anyone doing a serious study of the case.
Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook, by Donald Rumbelow
(Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1988). This is highly recommended
for all students of the case, well researched and intelligent,
a wonderful introduction. It has been considered the "bible"
Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, by Stephen Knight
(George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., London, 1976). The conclusions
of this book have been disproved numerous times, but it is still
one of the most widely read books on the subject. Recommended
only to those interested in a good fictional read.
The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper, edited by Maxim
Jakubowski and Nathan Braund (Carroll and Graf Publishers, New
The Ripper and the Royals, by Melvyn Fairclough (Duckworth,
London, 1991). Yet another Masonic Royal conspiracy theory, which
even the author has now disavowed.
Editor's Note: A more detailed and fully referenced
version of this paper will appear in Heredom vol. 9.
||Paul Martin Bessel
is in the progressive line of the Grand Lodge in Washington D.C.,
where he is active in Masonic recognition, jurisprudence, and
education activities. He is a Contributing Member of the Scottish
Rite Research Society and webmaster of the award-winning Washington,
D.C., Scottish Rite Valley web site. He is also President of
the Masonic Library & Museum Association, Librarian at the
George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Fellow of the Philalethes
Society, Past District Deputy Grand Master for Research Lodges
in Virginia, and a Founding Member and Past Master of the Civil
War Lodge of Research No. 1865 and General George C. Marshall
Lodge No. 55 in the District of Columbia. He is also active in
"computer Masonry," as moderator of the Masonic Education
and a New York Masons e-mail group, and webmaster of hundreds
of Masonic information web pages at http://bessel.org.