In our second installment of our profile on Robert Anderson, we will be taking a look at his involvement in the Ripper murder case and his own personal thoughts on the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Later Down the Line

Anderson wanted the police to arrest all unfortunates they came across on the streets at night or warn them the police would not protect them, which, considering the number of women who were forced into prostitution on the streets of Whitechapel at this time would be an impossible task. His reasoning, however, can perhaps be ascertained by in his biography where he described the current practices as:

“Wholly indefensible and scandalous; for these wretched women were plying their trade under definite police protection.”
Perhaps it was Anderson’s religious views that were clouding his judgement.

Following the resignation of Sir Charles Warren in November 1888, Monro would be appointed his replacement and the two would enjoy a close working relationship until Monro’s resignation in 1890, when – for reasons unknown – their close friendship would also come to an abrupt end.

Anderson retired from the police force in 1901 and received his knighthood after more than a decade as a very successful assistant commissioner. He would spend his retirement writing articles and letters (particularly on theology) and lecturing on penology. In 1918, he passed away in his bed whilst writing and reading his Bible. The cause of death was sudden heart failure brought on by a bout of influenza.

Before his death though, Anderson would also write extensively on his police case and the Ripper case – including his belief that the case was not an unsolved one. Writing in “The Lighter Side of My Official Life”, Anderson had this to say about the killer’s identity:

“One did not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to discover that the criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent type; that he was living in the immediate vicinity of the scenes of the murders and that, if he was not living absolutely alone, his people knew of his guilt and refused to give him up to justice. During my absence abroad, the Police had made a house-to-house search for him, investigating the case of every man in the district whose circumstances were such that he could go and come and get rid of his blood-stains in secret. And the conclusion we came to was that he and his people were certain low-class Polish Jews; for it is a remarkable fact that people of that class in the East End will not give up one of their number to Gentile justice.

And the result proved that our diagnosis was right on every point. For I may say at once that ‘undiscovered murders’ are rare in London, and the ‘Jack the Ripper’ crimes are not within that category. And if the police here had powers such as the French police possess, the murderer would have been brought to justice. Scotland Yard can boast that not even the subordinate officers of the department will tell tales out of school, and it would ill become me to violate the unwritten rule of the service. So, I will only add here that the ‘Jack the Ripper’ letter, which is preserved in the Police Museum at New Scotland Yard, is the creation of an enterprising London journalist.

Having regard to the interest attaching to this case, I am almost tempted to disclose the identity of the murderer and of the pressman who wrote the letter above referred to. But no public benefit would result from such a course, and the traditions of my old department would suffer. I will merely add that the only person who ever had a good view of the murderer unhesitatingly identified the suspect the instant he was confronted with him, but he refused to give evidence against him.

In saying that he was a Polish Jew, I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact. And my words are meant to specify race, not religion. For it would outrage all religious sentiment to talk of the religion of a loathsome creature whose utterly unmentionable vices reduced him a lower level than that of the brute.”

It is believed today (thanks to the copy of the book owned by Donald Swanson, who made extensive notes in the margin) that Anderson was referring to Aaron Kosminski.

However, could Anderson himself have been Jack the Ripper? Or, at least, been involved in the crimes somehow?

According to the Royal Conspiracy Theory, as told by Joseph Gorman Sickert and chronicled in the book “Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution” by Stephen Knight, Anderson was enlisted in the trio of conspirators. This was because he was apparently a high-ranking Mason (though he wasn’t), to act as lookout and help cover-up the crimes. Knight himself believed that it was actually Joseph’s father, Walter Sickert, the artist, who fulfilled that role in the trio.

So, who do you think was the real Jack the Ripper? Why not let us know your thoughts on one of our Jack the Ripper walks, or better yet click here to read more about our walks.