The discovery of a surgeon’s knife belonging to Sir John Williams, a surgeon and abortionist who is a chief suspect in the notorious Victorian “Jack the Ripper” murders is raising new questions about whether or not he was responsible for the killings.
The Telegraph is reporting that a new book published by Tony Williams, 49, the great-great-great-great nephew of surgeon Sir John, reveals many details about the man and the murders which may link the two together and solve the case once and for all.
Most disturbing is the discovery of a surgeon’s knife belonging to Sir John which fits the description of the murder weapon. It was found among the surgeon’s private possession at National Library for Wales which he founded shortly after fleeing London in the wake of the murders.
”Dr Thomas Bond, a pathologist who examined the body of Mary Kelly, said the ripper had used the same six inch knife in all the murders,” Williams said. ”He said it would have been at least six inches long, very sharp, pointed at the top and about an inch in width – a surgeon’s knife.”
This is an exact description of the knife he found at the National Library.
“I am convinced that this is the knife used by Sir John Williams to murder those women,” Williams said. “‘It is widely know that the person who carried out the killings would have had significant medical knowledge. Sir John Williams was an accomplished surgeon and routinely performed abortions on women. He held surgeries all over London at the time of the murders.”
Five women were killed by the Ripper between August and November, 1888: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. All of them had been expertly sliced open. Some were disemboweled and two had their uteruses cut out.
Williams claimed that along with the knife he also found some glass slides which were tested and found to contain matter from a human uterus.
”I know Sir John was obsessed by the fact that his wife, Mary Hughes, could not have children. I think that was his motive,” Williams said. ”I think he was a Jekyll and Hyde-type character who may have been driven to commit murder because his wife could not have children. He was also known to be working on a cure for his wife’s problem.”
Although there have been many suspects considered over the years for the unsolved murders, it wasn’t until this century that Sir John Williams came under suspicion.
Known as “Uncle Jack” by his family, he was the surgeon to Queen Victoria and lived in London at the time of the slayings. He was raised to the baronetcy by her for his work in 1894. He left the city after the murders and founded the National Library of Wales in 1907. He died in October 1926 and left a sum of money, books and a number possessions to the library, which is where Williams came across them.
Other evidence also points to Sir John. For instance, George Hutchinson, who saw Mary Kelly on the night of the murder said she was with a man matching a description of Sir John who was wearing a long dark coat with a red stone. Sir John was known to always wear a dark silk tie held by a pin set with a red stone.
Sir John is also known to have had contact with another victim, Mary Ann Nicholls, when he performed an abortion on her at an infirmary in Whitechapel in 1885.
Williams said: ”There is compelling evidence in my view that Sir John Williams was Jack the Ripper. When I began to look into this I found a terrible truth – that I was related to this serial killer.
”The knife, his possessions and all the evidence points to it. A lot of members of our family don’t really speak about it – I think they are a bit upset.
”But in my mind the case has been solved – it was Sir John Williams.”
Williams is the father of three who lives in Swansea with wife Catherine, 49. His book is entitled, Uncle Jack – A Victorian Mystery.
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Photo of Sir John Williams and the surgeon’s knife by SWNS.