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Once again this month I have placed a range of interesting items and articles in the archives section. One of the articles is especially of interest to those of you who think James Maybrick could have been Jack the Ripper. The article is by Robert Smith (see picture below), the literary agent and the man who currently owns the Diary. The article was first published in October 2013 in the Whitechapel Society Journal, and revised in January 2016. He writes that his 'primary objective in this article is to establish that the Diary is, in fact, a genuine Victorian document probably written in 1888/89.' Those of you have met Robert and I have been lucky enough to have met him on several occasions, will know that he fair and open-minded man, who wants to unearth the truth rather than perpetuate some myths about the Diary. Apparently, he has a new book coming out very soon about the Diary. Whenever it comes out, I will be one of the first in the queue to buy it. I can guarantee it will be well-written, well-researched and an excellent read.

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Ink testPsychologists and police officers from as far afield as South Africa and Japan met at the conference on Tuesday in an attempt to decide once and for all whether or not the Maybrick diary is a forgery.

The only conclusion they did reach was that the document was written by someone with a "disturbed mind" and it was therefore "fascinating", even if it was not genuine.

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Professor Canter said the Jack the Ripper debate was intended as "light relief" for international delegates attending three days of conferences on investigative psychology at the university.

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I should mention that I am also one of the speakers! I will be speaking about the Trial of Florence Maybrick in 1889. Although she clearly did NOT murder James, I will be looking at the view of the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, who was the Home Secretary who decided to commute Florence Maybrick’s sentence to life imprisonment. He stated that while some doubt did exist over whether Florence did administer the fatal poison to her husband, nevertheless, in his view, she had attempted to administer arsenic to her husband with intent to murder. This was not the crime she was charged with, but in many people's eyes, it was the crime that she was guilty of. But was she guilty of such a crime?

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Henry Matthews was educated at Paris University and University College, London. He became a barrister in 1850 and a QC in 1868. He served as Conservative MP between 1868-74 and 1886-95. In 1886, Lord Salisbury appointed him Home Secretary in his Second Ministry (1886-92), in so doing, making him the first Roman Catholic cabinet minister since the reign of Elizabeth I. Although he could be charming on a personal level, he was not a successful Home Secretary. One of the reasons for his unpopularity both in Parliament and in the country as a whole, was his role in causing the resignation of two Metropolitan Police Commissioners, Warren and Munro, in a period of just two years. Matthews was Home Secretary during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel and both he and the police were severely criticised for not offering a reward for information about the killings.


The second article placed in the archives is one written by myself for the Whitechapel Society magazine concerning Bruce Robinson's recent book on Jack the Ripper and the alleged connection to Michael Maybrick. If you haven't read the book, then you must. It is long and detailed, though you maybe shocked by some of his language; for example, he refers to the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, as the 'boss c--t of his class.' Robinson makes a strong case that there was a Masonic link to the murders and that the Establishment were keen to cover up certain incidents; for example, the truncated manner in which the coroner's inquest into the death of Mary Kelly was conducted. Robinson also makes a strong case that many of the letters sent to the police may have come from the serial killer himself. As well as the canonical murders, he also examines some less well known events which he argues are linked to the Ripper killings; for example, the 'Whitehall Mystery' and the discovery of the human headless, limbless torso on the building site that was to become New Scotland Yard. Some of the most important sections of Robinson's book deal with the relationship between Michael Maybrick and his brother James, and with James's wife, Florence. Three of his core arguments are that Michael 'fingered' James to be Jack the Ripper and (with the help of others) had him murdered and finally, with the help of high-ranking Masonic figures, had Florence blamed for the crime as she had 'discovered the truth of a terrible secret.' Although many of Robinson's arguments are supported by research, some of the important assertions he makes concerning the Maybricks, lack evidence and are therefore open to question. In my article I expose some of the serious weaknesses of Robinson's assertions concerning the Florence Maybrick case.

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Two other items placed in the archives concern Dr Helen Densmore (1833-1904) they are her obituary and her will. Densmore had been one of the driving forces behind a group of American women who campaigned on behalf of Florence Maybrick during her time in prison. She contributed a large sum of money to Florence’s campaign and helped organise the Women’s International Maybrick Association. In 1892, she published, using her own money, a lengthy pamphlet entitled: The Maybrick Case: English Criminal Law. After Florence’s release from prison and her return to the United States, she stayed for a while with Helen Densmore and her husband, who were living back in America. Florence was in fact living with the Densmores when Helen died of heart failure in November 1904.