– Montague John Druitt

Druitt was first named as a Ripper suspect by Sir Melville Macnaghten in his 1894 memoranda.  Though Macnaghten named two other suspects, he seemed to favour Druitt as the man most likely to be the murderer, as he wrote: “He was sexually insane and from private information I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer.”  What this information was, we’ll most likely never know, as Macnaghten claimed to have destroyed all the documents pertaining to this secret information.  While it’d be wrong to say that Macnaghten was either lying or greatly exaggerating the worth of this secret information, it’s worth pointing out that almost every detail Macnaughten wrote in regards to Druitt is incorrect, and so his word is to be taken with some amount of caution.  For instance, Macnaghten wrote that Druitt was forty-one years old, a doctor and that he disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder.  Well, Druitt was thirty-one, a barrister and schoolmaster, and was last seen alive early December, almost a month after the Miller’s Court murder.

Montague John Druitt was an intelligent, studious man, with no known violent tendencies or mania.  While he came from a family of good standing, there was a history of mental problems; depression seemed to run in his family (both his mum and sister attempted suicide and were admitted into asylums).  In late November 1888, Druitt was dismissed from his teaching job, and committed suicide shortly thereafter.  When his brother went to Druitt’s house after not hearing from him in over a week, he found a suicide note, which read: Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die.  Druitt’s body was fished out of the Thames on the 31st of December, 1888.

While it’s not known why Druitt was dismissed from his job at the school (it has been speculated that it was due to homosexual relations with a student; though I stress, this is purely conjecture), what it important is that his suicide followed shortly after the dismissal, and going by the note he left, and the mental illness prevalent in his family, it’s safe to say that he threw himself into the Thames while in a bout of depression over losing his job.  There’s no indication that he killed himself over the guilt over the murders, or that his mind gave way completely after the glut at Miller’s Court (which is what Macnaghten speculated).  It’s rare for serial killers to commit suicide, and so this reasoning doesn’t hold much stock.

Furthermore, there’s nothing connecting Druitt to Whitechapel.  While his chambers were apparently within walking distance of the East End, that’s still a far cry from actually living in the area and knowing all the cramped alleyways and dead-ends that littered the place.  And on two occasions (the first and second canonical murders), Druitt played cricket the morning following the murders.  So while it may have been technically possible for him to catch a train from Whitechapel to the locations of his cricket matches, it’s still highly implausible that such a thing would happen.

So, apart from Macnaghten’s mysterious information regarding Druitt, and the fact that Druitt committed suicide just over three weeks after the murder of Mary Kelly, there is nothing linking him to the murders, nor anything that makes him a particularly suspicious character.  Troubled, yes; a deviant lust-murderer?  Highly unlikely.

Candidacy for Montague John Druitt: ** (out of 5)

Published on November 7, 2010 at 11:09 am  Comments (7)  

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How did the Ripper avoid detection? Historical documents suggest that the area was swarming with Police Officers. It may be that the man, Jack, was expected to be in the area at that time & in consequence didn’t draw attention to himself. Perhaps a member of the Vigilance group, a reporter, private Detective or heaven forbid a Police Officer? We know he took care to avoid blood splatter from his victims and his clothing, which presumably was dark, would have masked traces of blood, but when one considers the disemboweling, he must have smelled surely? OR was he free to kill because of human error? I was part, albeit briefly, of the YR investigation and we gave him so much ‘credit’ for avoiding capture, yet when the facts were eventually disclosed, he wasn’t captured due to a filing system that didn’t work & human error. Occam’s Razor.

    • I think it would have been extremely difficult for the police to catch and identify the Ripper on the street; nigh impossible. Even in the early hours, the streets were relatively busy, with all manner of workers coming and going at all hours, including butchers and slaughtermen. You have to remember the conditions in the East End at the time: there was a lot of filth and squalor in the streets, people bathed a lot less, it was dark, and with all the narrow alleys and backstreets, it would have been easy for the Ripper to simply slip away and walk the streets unnoticed, just another man walking the streets of Whitechapel.
      But, as you say, maybe human error was also involved. Then again, back then there wasn’t even the resources (not even fingerprinting!) the modern police force have nowadays, and, as you know, criminals still manage to evade capture, so really, what hope did the Victorian police have, aside from catching the Ripper in the act?
      Fascinating that you were a part of the YR case!


  2. Thanks Brett, your points aid my understanding of those times.

    It was a fascinating time. The old teleprinter used to kick into life and the moment we saw an APB from WYMP, we knew he’d struck again. I remember ACC George Oldfield and the effect it had on him in particular. It was a defining moment in British policing in that the recording of crime & cross referencing changed as the computer age arrived. The carousels which contained a card index system must have been 10ft across. A logistical nightmare. I remember a DI drawing comparisons with the YR letters and the original Dear Boss & other supposed jack the ripper letters. Of course the originator was later captured by DNA, he was from Sunderland & as it turned out had nothing to do with the YR but he did massively obstruct the investigation. There were several ID markers, one being a Geordie accent, which PS didn’t possess & that aided in eliminating him for so long, although as history revealed he fitted the profile in most other respects even down to the gap in his front teeth. I knew the DS who who was first to interview him (PS) after his arrest in Sheffield. I’ve heard the ‘I’m Jack’ recording so many times I can still recite it. I still think about those poor women, a tragic loss of life.
    Best regards and thanks again for your reply, Z.

  3. Not a chance. This guy was not Jack The Ripper. The cricket match in Dorset (Sept1) completely rules him out.

    • Agree, Druitt was almost certainly not the Ripper.

  4. Macnaughten wasn’t involved in the case at the time of the murders and was never involved at’ground level’. There are very few surviving concrete facts surrounding the case and the facts about Druitt especially regarding his cricket performances within hours of 2 of the murders make it extremely unlikely he was the killer. This aligned to his character references and known personality nake him an even less likely suspect.
    I think it is safe to say that Montague John Druitt was NOT Jack The Ripper.

  5. Druitt cannot be completely ruled out as a suspect, he is the only suspect who had a reason to be at Mitre square, going to or coming from London Bridge station (I don’t believe Elizabeth Stride was a victim before Catherine Eddowes) Jack the Ripper must have known Mitre Square previously so as to make his escape, there is a school Sir John Cass on the south side, could Druitt have taught there for a couple of terms? also the graffiti written on the wall in Gulston Street presumably by the Ripper on that night was marked with chalk, the only suspect who would have carried chalk would have been a teacher?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: