– James Maybrick

So here we come to Maybrick; the most highly publicised and controversial Ripper suspect since the Royal conspiracy in the ‘70s.  So, what is the deal with the diary, and was Maybrick Jack the Ripper?  Short answers: forgery and no.

The basic story is this: in the early ‘90s, a diary purportedly written by the Ripper came to public attention, and ever since then the authenticity of said diary has been debated over and over again, and everything from the ink, through to the accuracies/inaccuracies of the contents have been discussed and analysed.  Now, I’m no expert when it comes to issues of ink and paper; still, I do think that the diary is a fake and that Maybrick is about as unlikely a candidate as you can find (well, aside from Lewis Carroll).

For starters, the man who came into possession of the diary has sworn he faked the document (he did recant his confession, only to admit once again that he really did forge the diary…).  The diary itself smacks of someone creating a work of fiction.  Not only does it contain certain inaccuracies (mentioning the farthings left at the Chapman crime scene, a popular myth that is blatantly untrue), but, just as importantly, it contains no inside knowledge of the crimes.  A killer writing about his crimes would surely add a lot of detail that only he knows, or details never made public.  There is nothing in the diary that couldn’t be obtained from contemporary press reports, or from modern books about the case.

Then there’s Maybrick himself.  He was around fifty at the time of the murders – much older than any of the descriptions given by the eyewitnesses, and older than most serial murderers tend to be (particularly when they are in the early stages of their murderous career, which is what Jack appeared to be).  Also, he had no known connection to Whitechapel, instead dividing his time between America and Liverpool.

So, we have a successful businessman with no known connection to Whitechapel, who was fifty years old at the time of the Ripper murders, with no known history of violence, and whose only claim to fame prior to the arrival of the diary was that he was poisoned by his wife.  There is absolutely nothing about his character or life to suggest he had anything to do with the Ripper murders – other than a diary which is almost certainly a fake.

Take the diary (and the watch, which hardly bears mentioning) out of the equation, and you’re left with an innocent man thrust into the Ripper case for no reason other than someone thought it’d be good for a laugh to fool the world into thinking this man was the Ripper.

Candidacy for James Maybrick: *½ (out of 5)

Published on November 7, 2010 at 11:12 am  Comments (27)  

27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ive been reading the diary of jack the ripper writen by shirley harrison it regards the chilling confessions of james maybrick i have a strong feeling to indicate that the diary could actualy be genuine in the book its describes that the diary was taken to a dr forshaw a physchiatric forensic had the diary was taken to dr forshaw to see if he could work out the man behind the writing to get a view of the type of character he was also the diary was taken to professor david canternow a professor of pyschology at liverpool university he states that if the diary was indeed a forgey then the person who wrote it would have to require a great degree of sophistication. As i read through the diary it mentions the two rings that he took from annie chapmans finger it also states that he knew about that florence was inlove with another man called alfred brierley and that he had thougths of alferd and floence together refering to them as the whore and the whore master and how james would take her on the same night he goes on to say two in a night and laughs about it then the double murders of elizabeth stride and catherine eddowes occured everyone has there own oppion on the diary but it has been proven to be authentic the ink has even been proven i am pretty confident that the diary is genuine and i think james maybrick could well be the ripper due to discription and statements given by witnesses in 1888 most of wich documents got destroyed or lost during the war

  2. i think maybe james could well of been jealous towards his brother michael in the sense that he craved some fame also the fact his young wife was having an affair he became bitter and twisted also the fact he had an addiction to drugs that may of damaged his way of thinking in a normal manner he states that he was a gentle man born and its maybe becuse of all that upheavil in his life witch caused him to commit those sick murders james visited thee museum of anatomy in liverpool where opperations would take place on wax models and the removal of organ this is proberbly where james got his idea of removing his victims organs

  3. Hi Anne Marie,

    Firstly, thanks for your response to James Maybrick; always nice to hear other people’s opinions.

    I do disagree with you on this matter, namely, as I said, that to me, the diary shows no inside knowledge of the crimes, and as a writer of dark fiction myself, I deal every day with writing stories about evil people doing evil things, and that’s what this diary smacks of to me: someone writing fiction.

    Also, the writer of the diary mentions the farthings left at Chapman’s crime scene, of which there is no official record of being (just some unsubstantiated newspaper reports).

    And the man who gave the diary to the world, Michael Barrett, has claimed he forged the diary.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy my Ripper site.


  4. yes i enjoy your site and thank you for replying. Im am actually astonished that someone like barrett would forge a diary full of sick thoughts and murderous events and claiming it belonged to the ripper. I think barrett must have a really bizzare and deluded mind to do such a thing was he convicted in anyway for this forgery im going to do some research ile get back to you.

  5. looks like michael barrett has got more than what he bargained for with the diary has’nt done himself any favours seen now his wife and daughter have ran out on him and hes been attacked and tormented. Shirley harrison is still trying to prove the diary is genuine. All in the name of money looks like the diary has been more of a hingerence than a proffit.

  6. Yes, it is disgusting what some people will do simply for profit and notoriety. I don’t think Barrett was convicted for forgery – he confessed, then recanted, only to confess again…

    Thanks for your replies, Anne Marie.

  7. Why should a purported diary be expected to have unpublicized details about, what by the centenary of 1988, was the most thoroughly analysed crime of all time?

    And to believe there were no farthings and/or rings laid out at the feet of Annie Chapman means you have to believe he took them with him, which is harder to believe for me, since he only ever took body parts.

    • Hi Frank,

      By all appearances, some rings had been yanked from Annie’s finger and they weren’t found at the crime scene – the conclusion being the killer took them as trophies (it’s not uncommon for serial killers to take trophies from their victims, including body parts). There was, however, no mention of the farthings in the official reports, and so we have to assume the killer never took nor left any coins. He only took some of Annie’s organs and her cheap brass rings.

      Thanks for your comments,

  8. I am surprised that William Bury is not listed on this site as a serious suspect? The diary is undoubtedly a forgery, written by Michael Barrett and his wife. Maybrick was no more The Ripper than Queen Victoria

    • Hi, Michael,

      I agree with you regarding Maybrick and the diary. As far as Bury goes – there’s simply too many suspects for me to write about all of them, and so I had to be selective with which ones I chose (also, comparatively speaking, I haven’t read a whole lot about Bury). Perhaps I will add to the suspects lists as time goes by, and if so, Bury will most certainly be one of them.


  9. There’s no way on Earth *if* the diary is a forgery (I’m not saying it isn’t!) it was forged by Barret and his wife. There’s no way they had the time, experience, skill and knowledge to have created it. Especially at the cost of their marriage and to make next to nothing from it.

    The best expert statement about the ink and paper is that it’s 90 years old at least. While the authors in question say it’s either genuine or a modern forgery I think there’s a 3rd option. A contemporary forgery by someone who perhaps *was* the Ripper and knew Maybrick well…

    I think an open-minded look at all the evidence shows the case is still very much out on the Diary. Experts have disagreed on so much.

    I still think it’s entirely possible there was no Ripper.

    Plenty of prostitutes were murdered over that period in time, without the Dear Boss letter, no-one would have connected those 5 together… Over the years there’s been debates about the ‘canonical’ killings and whether to include others. I’ve seen lists that have 12 or more victims…

    If there indeed was a strategic mastermind behind the Whitechapel killings, then Maybrick’s a perfectly reasonable suspect… Better than some, worse than others.

    TBH I think physically Maybrick matches several of the eyewitness descriptions… Particularly the very recent artists impressions…

    Also, if the Diary is a modern forgery, I think it warrants MORE investigation anyway. It’s one of the greatest technical forgery’s in history.

    I think he warrants more than a half out of five.

    • Hi Mike,

      I stand by my assessment of Maybrick/Barrett. Aside from the diary, there’s not a shred of evidence for Maybrick being the ripper, and I absolutely believe the diary is a forgery. Whether it was written by Barrett and his wife, I can’t say for sure, although based on what is currently known, I’d say it’s a safe bet. As I’ve said, there’s nothing in the diary that lends itself as being authentic: it doesn’t give any real insights in the murders, any details that can’t be gleaned from newspaper accounts. The diary reeks of a work of fiction, and not a particularly good one at that (I mean, honestly, how many real-life serial killers kept a diary? I can’t think of one. The idea of the Ripper writing in a diary is laughable). As for there being no Ripper? Of course, that topic is a contentious one, but in my mind, there was definitely a serial murderer at work during the period. Murders weren’t as common as you may think in the area; brutal lust-murders such as the Ripper crimes were an aberration. The press knew these murders were something different than the average street killing or domestic homicide; the police knew it. These series of killings were unique, very particular methodology and pathology, and both connected the murders early on, even without the Dear Boss letter (the killer was initially known as Leather Apron or the East End Killer, so most definitely the murders were thought to be related).

      Thanks for your thoughts, and I guess we’ll agree to disagree.


      • I’d generally agree the Diary is *probably* a forgery. I’ve read up on a lot of the evidence presented in Harrison and Feldman’s books, and I think there’s a pretty convincing case that it’s old… Perhaps someone wanted to frame or discredit Maybrick at the time??? (just idle speculation). I think a modern forger would need to be massively skilled to produce the book, and I just don’t think Barret and his wife had or have the necessary knowledge.

        Real life killers keeping diaries… Jason Massey. Westley Dodd. I agree, it’s not common, but not unheard of.

        The ‘torso’ killing and a few other killings (about 11? )were investigated over that 2 or 3 years and then there were at least 7 or so over the following 3 years that were all suspected (at least for a short time) of being the Ripper’s work…

        Without that letter would we be discussing 20 or so murders in Whitechapel over a 8 year period? There are some genuinely interesting lines of thought that the ‘Canonical five’ could have been the work of 2 (or more) different people… I suppose only a handful of people knew for sure, and they’re no longer in any position to discuss it!

        Still, always a fascinating subject.

      • Look at the Maybrick signature, compare it with the watch,
        compare it with the From Hell letter. It is EERIE!!!

  10. Great site Brett but please direct me to the unequivocal evidence that confirms the diary is a Hoax? The last I’d read seemed to indicate that some said in their opinion it was genuine & others said it was a modern hoax. To create such an elaborate and modern day hoax would require so many skills which are clearly not possessed by the Barrets. Had someone tried to discredit James Maybrick, I’m sure the diary would have surfaced long before it did. IMHO the diary finally puts to rest the true identity of the Jack the Ripper.

    • Thanks, glad you like the site.

      Other than Barrett’s confession that he forged the diary, there’s no evidence to say one hundred percent either way; if there was, then we’d either have the Ripper at last, or discussion would have stopped regarding the diary’s authenticity. As it stands, there’s no way to completely rule out the diary, but there’s nothing conclusive to say it’s genuine (and not just genuine of the period, but genuinely having been written by the killer known as Jack the Ripper).
      You could say that without the diary, there’s nothing else linking Maybrick to the crimes.
      Based on the evidence we currently have, I’m inclined to believe the diary is fake and Maybrick innocent of the crimes.

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond with your thoughts.


  11. My pleasure & Thank you Brett, its good to hear the views of someone who can speak on this subject with such good knowledge, Best regards, Z

  12. I wanna know why would someone forged such a diary,for what purpose,i don’t believe in coincidences because they doesnt exist in real life,only in our minds.For example why on earth James Maybrick…? Why is not sir William Gull diary or Montegue John Druitt’s diary? The answer is because everything is possible..Why is so hard to believe that the Maybrick was maybe a
    Ripper? Thank’s for appreciation

    • Hi Dalibor,

      Coincidences don’t occur in real life? Can’t agree with you there. As to why someone would choose Maybrick? Only the forger knows, but to me, the diary was most definitely a forgery, as there’s simply no real evidence supporting Maybrick as the author.

  13. I feel Jack the Ripper was the type of character that like to play games and boost his ego like the dear boss letter and the from hell letter with the half kidney (saucy Jackie) James maybrick may never have been a suspect but the diary hoex or not has put James maybrick as a suspect and people ignour little clues that all experts in the case ignour the name Jack comes from James maybricks name something the ripper would love and make him feel superior, with the righting on the wall Jews could turn into James especially in the Victorian scroll, his wife Florence infedility and James’s drug taking properly scrambled his mind led to his drug fuelled anger towards women and prostitues are easy pray, his wife Florence was young and pretty and maybricks final victim Mary Kelly was similar age young and pretty and unlike the other victims he went inside and littrely destroyed Mary Kelly destroying a young attactive women like his wife, maybrick did live in Whitechapel and was known to go to prostitutes in the area he also went back home to Liverpool and went to America he was allways came back to Whitechapel and was there when all the murders took place and eye witness account of the man they beleive was Jack descibed his look and build, weather or not the diary is a hoex or not whoever wrote the diary may just have helped solve the ripper murders, however it happened I beleive James maybrick was Jack the Ripper, the fact no one can prove even to this day the diary is fake leads you to the question why? Doesn’t that tell you something, I think the experts no it’s solved but in the end everyone loves a mistery and don’t want to beleive what’s steering them in the face the ripper was James maybrick.

    • Hi Jack,

      Supposition is fine, after all it’s very difficult to remain completely impartial and not have an opinion, but the fact remains there’s just no hard evidence linking Maybrick with the Ripper murders. I don’t believe he was the Ripper – too old, wrong personality type, not intimate with the East End.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  14. Hi Brett
    If there ever was conclusive evidence to name who Jack The Ripper was would it not be the end of a very lucrative industry that is JACK THE RIPPER. You have mentioned that there is “not a shred of evidence” to suggest that James Maybrick was our man…… Can you please direct me to the “evidence” that exists that link all the other suspects to this case? To nonchalantly dismiss or even disregard the diary as you have done is bewildering…..

    • Hi Mark,

      I do believe that the majority of Ripperologists would like to see the case solved (me included). Doubt that will ever happen, though. And there is no evidence linking any other suspects, which is why the case remains unsolved. It’s all mostly people’s opinion, what you accept or reject as compelling or absurd with the available information. So in my opinion, the diary is a fake; it contains no insight into the murders other than what you can read in books or the papers, and smacks of someone writing a piece of fiction, not a person suffering from psychopathy or a braggadocio sociopath.


  15. James maybrick turns into Jack (the ripper) coincidence, there’s lots that points to maybrick and I just can’t get the name thing out of my head

    • Patricia Cornwell quotes in “Jack the Ripper—Case Closed”,
      FBI profiler Ed Sulzbach : “There really aren’t many coincidences in life.
      And to call coincidence after coincidence after coincidence a coincidence is just plain stupid.”
      If one accept this statement, James Maybrick is the ripper, because the amount of coincidences and circumstances surrounding his person are too many!
      And whatever people claimed, The Diary and the watch are NEVER proven forged, and please don’t mention Michael Barrett again !

      • I wouldn’t put much stock into what Patricia Cornwell says, and it’s hard not to continue to involve Michael Barrett, as he’s a vital component to the whole Maybrick-as-Ripper story. Maybrick wasn’t the Ripper; case closed.

      • Few people ask themselves whether it is even possible to compose such a writing at all, without being at least tormented or/and drunk (at times) themselves?
        We have a shabby writer who is claiming things that are ridiculous, but have painstaking knowledge of : Jack the Ripper, Ripper letters, drug abuse (arsenic/strychnine etc.. ), knowledge of 18th Century writers (oh costly…) and the Maybrick family…
        not to speak about ‘the corrosion of scratches’ on a Victorian watch, resembling the last Maybrick signature (the will, which have a complex designed last letter “K”)
        The text is literally composed (if it was forged?) so to speak, and goes from intimate (small) writing to rage (page large),
        and when the subject seems to get too embarrassing for the writer, it becomes unreadable!
        The capital letters are formed differently all the time! The writing style in general is uneven, just like many Ripper letters!
        Two teams of researchers (Harrison and Feldman) spent a lot of time and money to unravel and check the content of the diary (you have to know where to look!).
        So I think there is only one man who could have written this text: James Maybrick himself! But of course this does not prove for a 100% that he is Jack the Ripper.
        But if it looks like a duck, it flies like a duck, eating duck-food and walks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Ha ha!
        Example of a Maybrick coincidence: the very suspicious “May-bee” – signed anonymous card ( October 11th 1888), resembles the writing on a “Liverpool Cricket Club – New Member card “ of JM from 1885.

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