Syphilis – Jack the Ripper’s Main Competition

DATED: 28.09.15

The Victorians didn’t have a great time when it came to the health side of things. While they battled with rats, waste disposal and sanitation, there was another killer on the loose – and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper. Syphilis was a cold blooded killer too.

What is it?

The disease takes the form of a bacterial infection that’s typically transmitted via sexual intercourse with an infected individual. Any close contact with an infected sore could result in tragic consequences. The sores in the primary stage could be overlooked as they would disappear in 2-6 weeks, which meant the infection had actually advanced. Upon reaching the third stage, symptoms could result in death.

While the modern day forms of catching the disease are more to do with the sharing of needles or dishonest sexual partners, 19th century civilians weren’t so aware of the causes, treatments or preventative methods, which in turn meant that this was a silent killer amongst those working in the ‘underground’. Get a feel and understanding of the real Victorian London right here, on one of our Jack the Ripper Walks.

Why was it so problematic?

Sadly, the disease can be passed from person to person very easily,  particularly those participating in prostitution. However, perhaps even more sadly, the disease could also be passed to foetuses and infants via their mother. When this was the case, they would often not survive childbirth, and the trauma could be enough to kill the mother too.

Due to the lack of education and knowledge of the infection, it was easily passed from person to person and caused a vicious circle of infectious persons.

Some of Jack the Ripper’s victims had lost family and loved ones to the disease. However,  it is not clear whether Jack himself may have been exposed to the bacterial infection,  and, therefore, a carrier.

A Royal Infection?

Rumours were rife during the 19th century, and they continue to haunt many of those within the public eye. However, during post-Ripper investigations, a theory began to gain prominence in the public eye that Prince Edward had contracted syphilis and was reaping his vengeance. There were records that came from the Palace to denounce such rumours,  but they persisted.

Many more rumours, theories and conspiracies are ready to be discussed – with no risk of syphilis – with us here at the Jack The Ripper Tours. If your inquisitive nature and mildly concerning love of the grisly murders are just too much to bear, then pop on over to London, and we’ll show you around where it all took place.


 7 Days a Week

AT 5:00PM & 7:30PM

Tour Duration

1 hr 45 mins


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