Was this Jack the Ripper’s Knife?

Was this Jack the Ripper’s Knife, and if so, could the hand that wielded it have belonged to Lizzie William’s husband, the surgeon Sir John Williams? Is it worth noting Sir Williams was surgeon to Queen Victoria, herself a fixture in many Ripper conspiracies? Could the autumn of fear have been precipitated by Sir Williams’ frustration with his wife’s infertility? Is there anything at all, well, suspicious about the fact that in the past year, Sir William’s great-great-great nephew has found himself linked to not one but two potential Rippers?

Writer Jesus Diaz, who penned the aforementioned, linked Gizmodo article on the subject, makes a fatal error in his opening paragraph. He suggests there were “eleven Whitechapel murders.” This sort of misinformation does little to establish credibility. Most serious Ripperologists insist Jack was only responsible for five “canonical” murders, with some believing there were six if you include Martha Tabram.  But, I digress. It is not our task to get caught up in details… or is it?

Moving on. According to this particular theory, Sir Williams’ previously mentioned nephew, Tony Williams, stumbled upon the knife and three uterine cell slides in his late relative’s possessions. The knife is believed to be a match with the description of the weapon outlined in case pathologist Dr. Thomas Bond’s postmortem reports.  Allegedly, Sir Williams was so distraught about his wife’s inability to bear children that he took to murdering random prostitutes so as to discover a cure for infertility.

Or at least that’s the story Tony Williams is trying to sell. He claims his ancestor left London after the final Ripper murder, which would, of course, make sense if he were in fact Jack.  But, again, as in the case against Lizzie Williams, is there any evidence?Owning a knife similar to that which was believed to have been used in the murders (as documented by Dr. Bond) is quite damning, assuming there was only knife of its kind ever produced. Post Industrial Revolution, however, we know weapons were mass-produced like any other commodity. We also know that owning a weapon isn’t necessarily proof that the owner personally used it in the commission of crimes. Owning three uterine slide cells is evidence of nothing, particularly when one is a surgeon.

The connection to Queen Victoria is worth remarking on. In last week’s post, I debunked the idea that the Queen’s physician, Dr. Gull, would have had the physical strength to carry out these crimes, whether he was part of a far-reaching Masonic conspiracy or simply liked hacking up hookers for kicks. So, with Sir Williams, we have a loose thread tying him to another potential conspiracy. Unfortunately, it’s a conspiracy that’s been more or less dismissed by serious scholars of the case.

Sir Williams’ so-called motive is rather dicey as well. Certainly, there have been no shortage of men throughout history who’ve despaired of getting a child/heir on their lawfully wedded wives. Case in point? Paging Henry VIII, who had two wives beheaded for this “crime” (among others conjured up to assuage his conscience). But to opine a man with no other history of violence suddenly decided to start carving up perfect strangers for “research purposes” is quite ludicrous.

Speaking of motivation, we can’t fail to examine the motives of Tony Williams, who – naturally – has written a book on this subject: Uncle Jack: A Victorian Mystery. He can’t possibly be hoping to profit from “exposing” his long-dead relative as a cold-blooded killer, can he?

In a nutshell, just as in the case of Sir Williams’ spouse, there are simply no facts to establish this theory as remotely credible.