According to Wales Online, Swansea-based writer Tony Williams recently called for Metropolitan Police to release the case files on Jack the Ripper, as he believes that his ancestor might be a suspect.
However, the Met has refused his and other requests to view the documents on the basis that “Information relating to informants is never released, for the protection of the informants and their families.”
Tony Williams argues however, “The Met says even today informants’ families could be targeted.
But if there is information in those files from informants about who the Ripper could be, surely now is the time to make them available to researchers?” In his book, Uncle Jack: A Victorian Mystery, Williams discusses the evidence linking his ancestor, Sir John Williams, to the brutal killings of 1888. Though critics of the book have dismissed his evidence as circumstantial, he makes a compelling case for the philanthropist physician.
John Williams was born Carmarthenshire in 1840. His father died when he was very young, leaving him in the care of his mother; an old-fashioned matriarch of a woman who toiled on the family’s farm. Though John was groomed for a life in the church, he took an interest in science which led him to study mathematics and eventually medicine, notably surgery. After establishing himself as a talented surgeon, he was appointed as a court physician in 1886. John Williams was also known for being an avid reader and he famously donated his immense collection of literature to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. A marble bust of him can be seen there to this day.
So what evidence is their linking him to the Ripper case? Apparently, Tony Williams found amongst his ancestor’s possessions a knife and slides labelled “animal matter”. In addition, there was a letter which proved that John Williams was in Whitechapel at the time of the murders. Perhaps most interesting of all, there is a little black book where John Williams kept notes on each of his patients, one of which is “Mary Ann Nichols” whom he performed an abortion for in 1885; though whether this is the same Mary Nichols of the canonical five is anyone’s guess.
Some intriguing links no doubt, but hardly solid evidence. As for a motive? Tony Williams claims that his relative would stalk the streets of Whitechapel, harvesting the internal organs of prostitutes in a bid to find a cure for his wife’s infertility.
Though this case is perhaps a little far-fetched, John Williams is now one of many names added to an ever growing list of suspects. To date, the Ripper murders have never been solved and, like Tony Williams, a great many researchers and Ripperologists would love to get their hands on the original case files…
Though it is unlikely that the Met is going to give up its secrets anytime soon, you can still learn the gruesome ins and outs of the case on one of our Jack the Ripper Tours. Led by Ripper enthusiasts, the tour takes you to the back streets of the East End, where Jack the Ripper plied his bloody trade…Full details are available online, book your place today!