Sir John Williams was Jack the Ripper! ?
Tony Williams, author of Uncle Jack: A Victorian Mystery
AN AUTHOR who claims Jack the Ripper was a Welsh surgeon driven to butcher prostitutes in a crazed bid to cure infertility says he has more evidence to back the sensational allegation.
Explorer and writer Tony Williams believes his grandmother’s great-great uncle Sir John Williams was behind the notorious orgy of bloody killings in London’s Whitechapel in 1888.
In his 2006 book Uncle Jack he made a compelling case for the philanthropist – who founded the National Library of Wales by donating his large collection of books – having a dark alter ego as the notorious serial killer.
And in an updated version of the book containing new material, Uncle Jack: A Victorian Mystery, Williams says glass slides forming part of the Sir John Williams collection at the National Library in Aberystwyth have now been examined.
Mr Williams said: “The tissue on the slides has been examined by a respected pathologist and it has been confirmed it is human uterus tissue.
“Since I wrote the first book I have been inundated with messages, some from experts like gynaecology Professor Ron Jones from New Zealand who says that study of the human uterus at this time was something new.
“Many medical experts who have examined the Ripper killings also say the murderer must have had anatomical knowledge to do what he did.
“These were not the actions of a drunken sailor, it had to be a doctor or surgeon and the glass slides show Sir John was researching the human uterus.”
Carmarthenshire-born Sir John, who once practised in Craddock Street, Swansea, was a friend of Queen Victoria and obstetrician to her youngest daughter.
He had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time of the Ripper killings, which claimed the lives of at least five women.
And Mr Williams says he knew many of the victims, even performing surgery on them in the years leading up to the murders.
Sir John was said to have been devastated to learn he and his Swansea-born wife Lizzie could not have children and he travelled the world looking at methods used to increase fertility.
During the Whitechapel murder spree, the Ripper killed women and removed their sexual and internal organs with surgical precision.
Intriguingly, at the time when the killings suddenly stopped Sir John told friends he had suffered a nervous breakdown. Only in his 40s, he retired from London life and moved to Aberystwyth where he gave up surgery.
As well as books, Sir John also donated his surgical knife and the glass slides to the National Library. Mr Williams now has a replica of the surgical tool.
The author of Island of Dreams (1994) about his family’s experiences on a Pacific Island and Forgotten People (1998) about North Dakotan Indians, Mr Williams stumbled across the Ripper link when investigating his illustrious ancestor’s life story.
Sir John, former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, started doing abortion work on women from workhouses in the East End when he established his practice.
Mr Williams uncovered documents showing his ancestor had carried out an abortion in 1885 on Mary Ann Nichols, later to become the Ripper’s first victim.
Mr Williams said: “He desperately wanted children and you can imagine his frustration when prostitutes were becoming pregnant but did not want the children and then came to him for help.
“Maybe he decided to use his surgical skills to look in detail at women’s reproductive organs or maybe it was just some kind of madness, revenge even.”
Mr Williams even discovered a letter sent by Sir John in 1888 in which he apologises for canceling an evening dinner appointment on September 8 because he had to go to a clinic in Whitechapel.
That was the date of the murder of Annie Chapman, the Ripper’s second victim. She suffered surgical incisions to the abdomen, and the removal of her uterus.
Mr Williams believes by the time of the last killing Sir John might have been intimately involved with victim Mary Kelly who grew up in Carmarthenshire and who later lived in Cardiff.
He said: “Police witnesses say they heard someone speaking to Mary in a foreign language shortly before she was killed – that language might have been Welsh.”
Mr Williams’ book has not gone down well with the National Library of Wales where he is referred to as “the father of the library”.
A spokesman said when the first book was published: “We do not think there is justification for a claim like this on someone who has done so much for the National Library.
“We hope that Sir John’s legacy and reputation will be strong enough to survive this.”