Suspect Montague John Druitt

Posted by Jenny Phillips, Jack the Ripper Tour Guide on Thursday, July 29, 2021 Under: Jack the Ripper

Suspect Montague John Druitt

Montague John Druitt was 31 years of age at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. He had been born into a reasonably well-off family from Wimborne Dorset, and went to New College Oxford in 1876. He graduated three years later with a third-class honours degree in classics, thereafter taking up a post as a teacher at Blackheath Boys School, a boy’s preparatory school. It was a successful school, run by George Valentine who was widely respected as a headmaster.

Druitt played cricket at the Morden Cricket Club and was appointed treasurer later in1885, becoming a director when this club merged with Blackheath Cricket, Lawn Tennis and Football Club. In 1882 Druitt was admitted to the Inner Temple to study as a barrister. Unfortunately his legal career did not progress as well as it could, and he is often referred to as a ‘failed barrister’ but this is based on an assumption that he took up teaching after entering the Temple which is untrue. He did plead some successful cases but most of the cases he undertook were chamber practice, in other words, he offered legal advice to clients, barristers and others. Maybe he did not have the flair for court appearances? This was quite lucrative work anyway.

In September 1887 Druitt’s father died of heart failure and his mother’s health declined. She began to suffer with delusions and clinical depression. She claimed she was being electrocuted, rejected food and tried to commit suicide. She was sent to the Brook Asylum in Chiswick in July 1888. Two months later she was moved to a place in Brighton where she was attended by Dr Gasquet until May 1890.

Mental health issues were an inherited problem in the Druitt family. Her sister had suffered mental illness and their mother committed suicide. It is highly possible that Druitt inherited this condition, which could explain the events which took place in December 1888. On 30 November Druitt was dismissed from his post at Blackheath Boys School, for a serious offence. This was the last day of term, so it is possible he was not needed anymore, although rumours persist that he was dismissed for sexually molesting a boy pupil. However, if this were the case surely, he would have been dismissed instantly and not allowed to stay until the end of term, unless the incident actually happened in the last couple of days of term. There is no evidence that he was homosexual anyway!

Sir Melville Macnaughten claimed that Druitt was a doctor which of course is totally untrue, that he was 41 not 31, insane and stated he disappeared about the time of Mary Kelly’s murder when this is totally untrue. Ten days after the last victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly was murdered at 13 Miller's Court, Druitt attended a board meeting at the cricket club and three days later he attended court where on family business he won an appeal. He was seen alive on 3 December 1888. Eight days later someone told his brother William that he had not been seen in his chambers for a week. William found out that he had been dismissed from his post as a teacher and discovered a suicide note among his possessions. So Macnaughten’s evidence is full of mistakes and at the best hearsay!

Druitt’s body was washed up on the shore of the Thames at Chiswick on 31 December 1888 and an inquest was held at which part of the suicide note was read out in court. It said, ‘Since Friday I felt I was going to be just like Mother and the best thing was for me to die.’ This is not a direct quote but most likely the gist of it.

Was Druitt Jack the Ripper? I think it is very unlikely as a man who murdered five or six women would not write a suicide note like this, but most likely a bragging confession! Also, Druitt had no knowledge of anatomy, he was a classics scholar! Besides if the Friday mentioned in the note was the same Friday he was dismissed from Blackheath then it easy to see that this suicide is most probably the result of his dismissal.

The date of the discovery of his body also shows he must have killed himself in December 1888 at least a month after the last murder. If he was the killer why did he not strike again that month?

In : Jack the Ripper 

Tags: 1888  montague john druitt  jack the ripper  whitechapel 
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