Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1843, was born Frederick Abberline.

Abberline was a copper who tried to hunt down Jack the Ripper but couldn’t catch him.

Frederick George Abberline was born on 8th January 1843 at Blandford Forum, Dorset, son of Edward and Hannah Abberline. We know little about his early life but we know that in 1863, he was living in Islington and there he joined the Metropolitan Police as a constable. He worked conscientiously for the police force at Whitechapel, Stepney and Westminster, being promoted to sergeant then inspector and in 1887, first class inspector. He was then assigned to investigate a series of murders, presumed to be all by the pseudonymous culprit, Jack the Ripper.

The Ripper case was one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in British crime history, involving the murderer of at least seven women, all prostitutes, in or about Whitechapel in the East End of London's East End, in the latter months of 1888. There were at least five victims of the Ripper, and there were other murders that could be attributed to him. The five certain victims, known as The Canonical Five, were killed while soliciting in the street. Their throats were cut and the bodies mutilated in a way that suggested that the killer had some knowledge of anatomy and surgery. On one occasion, a part of a human kidney, purporting to have been taken from a victim, was sent to the police through the post. The police also received a number of notes, from a person calling himself Jack the Ripper, mocking the inefficiency of the police and their inability to catch the murderer. The murders ceased abruptly but the Ripper was never caught. The case has become an enduring mystery and is the source of numerous lurid literary and cinema productions.

A major difficulty in identifying the Ripper is the considerable number of horrific attacks against women at this time, and the lack of police manpower to deal with them. In addition, The Metropolitan Police did not have access to fingerprinting, DNA sampling or other forensic science techniques that are today taken for granted. Abberline had many suspects but could not pin down any of them. His main suspect was Seweryn Antonowicz Kłosowski, alias George Chapman, a Polish immigrant who was hanged in 1903 for murdering three of his mistresses. Also in the frame was Francis Tumblety, an American so called doctor, who had no authenticated qualifications. He was arrested in 1888 on charges of gross indecency, homosexuality was then a crime, and fled to America before the case came to court. The murders ceased abruptly once he had left. Also William Bury who left London for Dundee in 1888 and in 1889 was hanged for murdering his wife and carving up her remains which he tried to dispose of in a suitcase.

When in retirement, Abberline was interviewed by a reporter. He refused to make any specific comments about the case saying he had been told “to keep my mouth permanently closed about it”. He did mention that "I know and my superiors know certain facts." The Ripper was not “a butcher, a Jew or a foreigner. You'd have to look for him not at the bottom of London society at the time but a long way up”. At the time this was taken to mean that the Ripper was a professional man, presumably a doctor.

Abberline died in 1929, without discovering the identity of the Ripper and was buried in Bournemouth. [Wimborne Road Cemetery, Bournemouth, BH3 7AB. Grave unmarked] An East End pub frequented by many of the Ripper's victims now contains memorabilia, including original newspaper clippings, of the gruesome events. [The Ten Bells, 84 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LY]

Previous day       Next day      

©2006 Ward’s Book of Days