ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Was Jack the Ripper Hung?

Updated on October 19, 2012

The infamous Jack the Ripper had not been active around London, at least noticeably, since 1888. But, in October1891 an intern from Lambeth Medical Institute rushed to the scene of an urgent call at a lodging house off Commercial Street. There, 19 year old Ellen Donworth was found convulsing in her death throes.

Friends told the intern a man described only as “a gentleman,” had given her something to drink from a bottle. The symptoms were obvious…poisoning. He immediately summoned the authorities. On the way to St Thomas’s hospital, Donworth died. A post mortem found strychnine in her stomach and the next day a newspaper carried the headline “The Lambeth Mystery.” The only suspect was a man who had been living with Donworth, but he was soon cleared of suspicion. For the next half year her death was considered just an isolated incident.

Between 1800 and 1900 the East End of London and areas such as White Chapel and Lambeth, were ridden with extreme poverty, crime and disease. It is somewhat understandable then, to survive some women turned to the streets to eke out a living.

Another two women were found at a lodging house on Stamford Street in April, 1892 similarly poisoned by strychnine. They also never made it to the hospital. Witnesses later said they recalled seeing the women with a gentleman in a top hat. Police believed they were looking for one man.

Then, a number of physicians came forward with blackmail letters they had received. The letters threatened to expose them as the murderer if they didn’t pay a certain amount. Strangely, the signatures were signed by the same person, but a different name used in each case. The extortion letters not only contained the names of the murdered women but also of two others the police were not yet aware of. A full police investigation was launched.

At this time John Haynes, an American detective, was also living in London above a photographer’s studio on Westminster Bridge Road. He had come to England in hopes of joining the New Scotland Yard police. It was at the photographer’s studio he ran into a man claiming to be a doctor by the name of Thomas Neill. Invariably their conversation turned to the recent Stamford Street murders.

As a detective, Haynes was naturally interested in the case. When he found Neill was equally interested they agreed to meet for dinner later to discuss their views. Over dinner that evening Haynes was surprised by how much his dinner companion knew about the case and others as well. Following dinner Neill took him to the scene of the crime pointing out where the murders had taken place. His descriptions were so explicit it was almost as if he had been present to witness them.

He even took Haynes to Waterloo Bridge and theorized that could have been the place where the killer had given strychnine capsules to another victim, Lou Harvey. This was a name Haynes had had not read in any newspaper and his detective senses began to smell a rat. He took his suspicions to Patrick McIntyre, head of the Criminal Investigation Department at New Scotland Yard. Haynes related the events concerning Neill and amount of detail he had revealed. McIntyre, like Haynes, agreed such information looked more than educated guesswork. Neill was immediately put under close observation.

It was soon discovered Neill was actually Canadian Dr Thomas Neil Cream. An investigator was sent to Canada to scrutinize Cream’s Background. Cream had been born in Scotland in 1850. At four years old his family had moved to Ontario. The investigation also revealed he almost killed the daughter of a wealthy hotel owner, Elizabeth Brookes, by botching an illegal operation. The outraged family insisted he marry Elizabeth. He did, but fled to London, England a day later.

In 1876 he enrolled in medical school, but flunked out. He later moved to Edinburgh and successfully completed studies in midwifery at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Returning to Canada, he set up business as a physician and surgeon and continued performing illegal operations getting rid of unwanted pregnancies.

In May 1879 the body of Kate Gardener was found in a shed on his premises. The young woman had died like the others. Cream claimed he had only attempted to help her but didn’t perform the operation. No charges were filed, but his reputation was ruined so he moved to Chicago in August that same year and continued in the same vein.

The following year the body of Mary Anne Faulkner was discovered. She also had died from a botched operation by Cream. Initially Cream was charged, but later released due to lack of evidence.

However he was eventually prosecuted for the murder of Daniel Stott. Stott had also died of Strychnine poisoning in June 1881. Cream had been having an affair with Stott’s wife and had murdered him. Cream was tried, found guilty and sentenced to life in Illinois State Penitentiary, known to be operated by corrupt officials.

In 1891 he bought his way out using an inheritance obtained from the death of his father. Some accounts say he was released three years earlier. But, in either case he returned to London, England in October 1891.

New Scotland Yard was now convinced they had their man. They compared Cream’s handwriting with the blackmail notes. Although the evidence was circumstantial he was arrested in June 1892. It wouldn’t do to have him roaming the streets while they searched for more evidence. They found it in the form of Louise Harris, also known as Lou Harvey. She hadn’t died after all.

During his inquest she testified Cream had given her two pills to take to “improve her complexion,” but sensing something wasn’t quite right, only pretended to take them. More and more evidence began to mount. He was found guilty of numerous murders by the jury in less than ten minutes.

Thomas Neill Cream was hung November 16th 1892. But, it’s what he blurted out before the noose tightened that’s in question. Cream yelled “I am Jack……” The rope strangled out the rest.

Was he going to identify himself as Jack the Ripper? The debate revolves around the date he left the Illinois State Penitentiary. Was he in prison in 1888 or the East End of London?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I guess I'm just one of a kind. Thank you Jama, you're sweet.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Okay, this where I announce I'm really NOT stalking you AND you aren't the only hubber I follow. I've been absent from HP lately because I've been working on a history project that requires keeping my nose in books that can double as door stops, so I'm taking a break by reading the hubs I've been "starring" in Gmail, and yours happen to be the ones I've starred most frequently. You simply write on such a wide range of topics that happen to be of particular interest to me OR tickle my funny bone...OR in this case, both. Who else would tie ginzu knives and ID theft to a Jack the Ripper hub! Bravo!! ;D

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Avian, no nothing proven.

      Jama, It could've been his ginzu knives finally got dull and since his credit had been ruined by identity theft he couldn't order any more. :-)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Interesting... If Cream was out of prison in 1888 and WAS JTR, why the decided difference in the methods used to kill those unfortunate women? Perhaps I've been watching too much "Criminal Minds" and other crime profiling shows, but I'd assume JTR would've started with poison and "moved up" to disemboweling his victims, not the other way around. However, perhaps he found slicing his victims open much too messy and switched to the less messy poison instead. Just a thought... ;D

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This sounds like "Jack," for sure. Nothing was ever proven, now was it?

    • Nick Burchett profile image

      Nick Burchett 

      6 years ago from IL, MO & KS

      Interesting hub... quite intriguing...


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)