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Old August 24th, 2013, 03:53 AM   #1
Jonathan Hainsworth
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Default The Macnaghten Marginalia?

It is assumed by everybody that Swanson is putting down what he knew or repeating what he has been told, at some point, by Sir Robert Anderson, with whom he remained on good, even reverent terms with.

This is a very reasonable assumption.

I myself argue that Anderson told Swanson and this all originated with Macnaghten, in 1895, but most people dismiss this as impossible, even ludicrous.

Evans and Rumbelow, in their masterwork of 2006, argued that perhaps Swanson's memory became muddled and he passed along this 1891 muddle (of Lawende, Sadler & Kosminski) his desk-bound boss and the latter's memoirs.

The marginalia is thus Swanson adding, or even correcting a story that originated with him, and with him alone.

A textual analysis suggests another possibility.

That Swanson did not see Anderson, at least not to see him and then bring up a case which he knew the old man found very, very tiresome--and minor in the scheme of things, certainly of his overall and distinguished crime-fighting career.

Instead, at some point, Swanson met the affable Macnaghten in the 1900's, when the later was Assistant Commissioner (Mac had always outranked him and been a class above in the stratified, Victorian society).

And that the latter, Macnaghten, provided the tale we know as the 'Swanson Marginalia'.

The whole lot. Consider the following:

1. Anderson and Macnaghten do not mention each other in each others memoirs, a damning omission from both sides (Anderson started this airbrushing out of existence of the other). So no love lost there.

It is commonly written in secondary sources that they came to disagree about who was the likeliest Jack.

This is a fair assumption, backed by nothing in the surviving primary sources. We know that Macnaghten knew about both Druitt, who really was deceased and Kosminski, who was not. We have nothing by Anderson (or Swanson) about Druitt, or knowing anything about that similarly deceased suspect--except Druitt really was dead and theirs was very much alive.

There is no evidence that the police chiefs, face to face, disagreed about the Ripper.

In a way they didn't.

Both believed that the Ripper was a sexual madman who was believed by those closest to him to be the fiend, and that he died soon after the final explosion.

Therefore it is possible that Macnaghten never shared with his boss that when he said he agreed that the Ripper was no more, that he privately meant an English gent and not some poor foreign Jew.

How do we know, therefore, that when Mac was conferring with Anderson, (and Swanson?) he did not appear to agree with them wholeheartedly, for his own reasons, that the Ripper was a deceased, insane Jewish immigrant from the East End?

For example, we would expect the vain and conceited Anderson to denounce a competing, stubborn theory at CID--especially from such a silly, jelly-backed second-in-command he was lumbered with by Monro--yet he does not.

2. Other sources also strongly suggest that Macnaghten would tell very different versions of the Druitt tale depending on the audience. To Tom Divall he allegedly said it was a man who fled to the USA and died in an asylum.

There's that theme here we see in the Marginalia, of dying soon after, and it was not true of Tumblety--if that is whom Mac had in mind--and nor was it is true of Aaron Kosminski either.

Jack Littlechild tells Sims, in writing, that somebody 'believed' that Tumbelty had taken his own life, which is also not true. This echoes the Divall bit.

Littlechild is praised with great affection in the Mac Memoirs, as is Swanson.

3. Macnaghten is named in one of Swanson's annotations, as the nerves-of-jelly cop who vexed Anderson about a threatening note. How did Swanson know that? Because Anderson could have bitchily told him, for sure.

But so could Macnaghten.

Consider that the bit about Anderson claiming he knows the identity of the hoax reporter, Swanson has added that all senior chiefs knew this.

How did Swanson know that? Perhaps he always knew it, but he sure did not act like it in 1896 over a new Ripper letter.

On the other hand, Macnaghten claims, in 1914, to have found the hoaxer after a strenuous search in about July 1890. It also sounds like Mac's modesty in not claiming sole ownership for finding presumably Tom Bulling (which brings us back to Littlechild again).

4. With the 1897 Elizabeth Camp murder in the Mac Memoirs we see a variation of the Kosminski 'error'. He writes that the un-named barrister suspect went into an asylum and, if his memory is accurate, he died there.

In fact this man was cleared of Camp's murder and was only temporarily sectioned and then lived on. The suspect Mac writes about in his memoirs seems to be a confection of different suspects creating a single good yarn.

The point is we see a remarkably similar tale to that of the Marginalia: a suspect the police know is the culprit; a witness identification that failed though it was the cop's fault (we could not force the murderer to wear the false moustache prop as we are not the Frenchies); and he then went into an asylum; and, thankfully, hopefully, expired there.

In 1895 Swanson allegedly said to the press that the Ripper was deceased. Who told him this? Was it Anderson? Macnaghten?

The sexed-up 'Aberconway' version, for once correctly, shows that Mac knows that Kosminski is alive.

5. That glaring error in the Marginalia about there being no more such murders, when of course Coles was killed six days after Kosminski was incarcerated.

That's pure Macnaghten retro-telescoping the action to end with Kelly, and that the police knew she was the final victim at the time. We see it time and again in both Griffiths and Sims: the 'autumn of terror'.

6. That bit about the City CID watching the suspect night and day. The words are almost identical to the early 1892 interview by an anonymous cop source who mentions M.P. Farquharson., by name, and claims that the politician's theory is 'naturally exploded' because the cops are allegedly watching the real Ripper, night and day. This prevents the killer from killing again but the source says that they may never be able to arrest and charge him.

I think the 1892 interview is by Macnaghten, quashing the MP's tale which he actually believed in. Later he recycled the night-and-day bit for Swanson.

7. When Sims damns Anderson's memoirs as 'fairy tales' he also back-peddles on the Ripper being definitely the English Doctor. He writes that the 'final' version of the 'Home Office Report' leaves it open as to which of the trio might be Jack.

This is an accurate depiction of the official version of Mac's Report, not 'Aberconway' wherein Druitt is clearly ascendant.

Macnaghten seems to have been keeping his options open as Assistant Commissioner, about whether a Polish Jew was a strong suspect for Jack, or not.

Did he also communicate such an opinion to Swanson?

8. Finally 'Kosminski' the single surname is exactly how Mac writes about this ssupect in both versions of his slippery Report. Nor does he name the Mitre Court witness (albeit a Bobbie rather than a Jew, but that document was for the cronies and not the cops).

Did at some point Macnaghten plant the 'Seaside Home' story with Swanson?

Or did Swanson go to Mac perplexed about what was in Anderson's memoirs and the Commissioner 'clarified' what had happened, adding--as he often did with variations of his yarn--that 'Kosminski' was safely deceased?

Mac would not say that these events had involved him, of course, as he had not been there in 1888 when 'Kosminski' was revealed to be the Ripper.

In fact this all happened much, much later when Mac was there. He could say to Swanson that he had 'consulted the files' and this what they told him.

All very above board and objective, and a diversionary con.

The police hospital element was perhaps deployed to explain away why Swanson could not recall why he was out of the loop for the positive yet failed identification--apparently, said Mac, the file says it was done outside of London and it had been 'difficult'.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 06:19 AM   #2
Lynn Cates
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Default common source

Hello Jonathan. Thanks for starting this thread.

Mac as supplier of information to Swanson is interesting. There are certainly commonalities in many of the ex post facto copper tales. It would be lovely to get at the bottom of all this and find out if there is a common source.

Cheers.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 06:40 AM   #3
Jonathan Hainsworth
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Thanks Lynn

I think it is worth pondering too.

This is what 'Good Old Mac' writes about Swanson in his memoirs, p. 273, after a few lines about Jack Littlechild and before a few lines Fred Abberline, all warm and affectionate:

'Donald Swanson a very capable officer with a synthetical turn of mind, who subsequently held the post of Superintendent at the Department for seven years. To him was entrusted in 1888 the general supervision of the inquiries made into the Whitechapel murders.'
[My Italics]

This was at a dinner for James Monro in November 1891. If my theory is correct at this dinner he knew whom the Ripper was--or thought he did--but was keeping it to himself.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 07:26 AM   #4
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What do you make of this Lynn?

Considering that Swanson will later write to himself that there were no further Ripper-style murders after the sectioning of 'Kosminski', let us say he means in Feb 1891 (I think he means more like March 1889).

This was posted on the other site by Roger Palmer some years ago:


The following was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, while Aaron K. was safely caged.

February 14, 1891.

A Clew to London's Brutal Murderer

Extra Efforts Being Put Forth to Capture the Ripper---His Latest Guise.

Special Dispatch to the Chronicle.


London, February 13.-- The latest victim of "Jack the Ripper" has been identified as "Carroty Nell." It was about 2 o'clock Friday morning, as Patrolman Thompson was passing under an archway of the Blackwall Railway leading from Chambers into Royal Mint Street, that he stumbled over the body of a woman.
She was lying in a pool of blood, which was oozing from a gash in her throat. As he stooped to listen to the sound as of heavy breathing coming from the prostrate form he suddenly heard receding footsteps.
In an instant he had darted forward, expecting to grasp the assassin, but nobody was to be seen. He raised the alarm, and when assistance came every nook and doorway was searched without result.
When the police surgeon, Dr. Phillips, arrived the woman was found stiff in death, she having breathed her last while the search for the murderer was being made.
The police declare, of course, that none but "Jack the Ripper" was guilty, and that the arrival of the constable prevented the usual mutilation which he has hitherto indulged in.
The spot where the body was found is a favorite resort for women at night, two having been arrested there for loitering early Thursday evening.
Inspector Swanson says that any ruffian might have cut the unfortunate woman's throat in the way that this was done, but when a second soft felt hat rolled from under the victim's arm, in addition to the one she wore, he felt that this must have been done by the "Ripper." The theory has long been that he paraded in woman's attire, and Swanson thinks he dropped the hat while struggling with his victim.
Commissioner Sir Edward Bradford professes to be confident that he will unearth the murderer of "Carroty Nell," and the public hopes he will.
The location of the tragedy is near the city boundry in the vicinity of the docks, and viler in some respects than the scenes of the "Ripper's" former crimes. For this reason had not the officer actually stumbled over the body the "Ripper" might have returned to his horrible task after the policeman had passed, and the officer's statement indicates that the murderer was waiting in the darkness with this object when frightened into [retreat?] by the officer's detection of the body.
Constable Thompson is the most unhappy man in London to-night, as he fels that he had the most noted criminal of the age almost in his grasp.
The inquest will be held tomorrow (Saturday). Meanwhile, the police are scouring the city for suspicious characters, and Sir Edward has spent all day in his office directing the operations."
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:52 AM   #5
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Quick question...

"Inspector Swanson says that any ruffian might have cut the unfortunate woman's throat in the way that this was done, but when a second soft felt hat rolled from under the victim's arm, in addition to the one she wore, he felt that this must have been done by the "Ripper." The theory has long been that he paraded in woman's attire, and Swanson thinks he dropped the hat while struggling with his victim"

Without going into the claim that people believed the Ripper was in women's clothes.....did Swanson at one time believe the Ripper was the murderer ?

Jon... my apologies, as I see now that you were asking almost the same question.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:58 AM   #6
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By the way....the original front page story which Rajah ( R. J. Palmer ) transcribed :

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Old August 24th, 2013, 10:00 AM   #7
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Hello Jonathan. Thanks.

Indeed. Odd he makes no mention of Sir Robert.

Cheers.
LC
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Old August 24th, 2013, 10:04 AM   #8
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Hello (again) Jonathan. Thanks.

Yet another interruption theory?

Cheers.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 10:34 AM   #9
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Lynn, JH...

I'm curious as to what you two or anyone else think about the sentence construction here :


Inspector Swanson says that any ruffian might have cut the unfortunate woman's throat in the way that this was done, but when a second soft felt hat rolled from under the victim's arm, in addition to the one she wore, he felt that this must have been done by the "Ripper."


It seems to suggest that the reason Swanson arrived at the conclusion that the Ripper had murdered Coles was based upon the discovery of the second hat.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 12:14 PM   #10
Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO
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That's how it reads to me Howard

Seems a bit erroneous for him to relate that in some way to the Nichols case or to a "Jill the Ripper" theory

I can't remember if there was a contemporary theory about the Ripper tempting or treating the women with clothing such as bonnets and handkerchiefs or whether that was suggested about William Bury or Walter

I found it intriguing that in the Secret Life of Walter that he mentions paying prostitutes with silk handkerchiefs and the like
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