Littlechild Letter

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Item of correspondence written by Chief Inspector John Littlechild to the journalist George R. Sims in 1913. It was discovered by Stewart Evans amongst some other material which he had bought from antiquarian book dealer Eric Barton in 1993. It is a typewritten letter in blue ink.


8, The Chase

Clapham Common S.W.,

23rd September 1913

Dear Sir,

I was pleased to receive your letter which I shall put away in 'good company' to read again, perhaps some day when old age overtakes me and when to revive memories of the past may be a solace.

Knowing the great interest you take in all matters criminal, and abnormal, I am just going to inflict one more letter on you on the 'Ripper' subject. Letters as a rule are only a nuisance when they call for a reply but this does not need one. I will try and be brief.

I never heard of a Dr D. in connection with the Whitechapel murders but amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr. T. (which sounds much like D.) He was an American quack named Tumblety and was at one time a frequent visitor to London and on these occasions constantly brought under the notice of police, there being a large dossier concerning him at Scotland Yard. Although a 'Sycopathia Sexualis' subject he was not known as a 'Sadist' (which the murderer unquestionably was) but his feelings toward women were remarkable and bitter in the extreme, a fact on record. Tumblety was arrested at the time of the murders in connection with unnatural offences and charged at Marlborough Street, remanded on bail, jumped his bail, and got away to Boulogne. He shortly left Boulogne and was never heard of afterwards. It was believed he committed suicide but certain it is that from this time the 'Ripper' murders came to an end.

With regard to the term 'Jack the Ripper' it was generally believed at the Yard that Tom Bullen of the Central News was the originator, but it is probable Moore, who was his chief, was the inventor. It was a smart piece of journalistic work. No journalist of my time got such privileges from Scotland Yard as Bullen. Mr James Munro when Assistant Commissioner, and afterwards Commissioner, relied on his integrity. Poor Bullen occasionally took too much to drink, and I fail to see how he could help it knocking about so many hours and seeking favours from so many people to procure copy. One night when Bullen had taken a 'few too many' he got early information of the death of Prince Bismarck and instead of going to the office to report it sent a laconic telegram 'Bloody Bismarck is dead'. On this I believe Mr Charles Moore fired him out.

It is very strange how those given to 'Contrary sexual instinct' and 'degenerates' are given to cruelty, even Wilde used to like to be punched about. It may interest you if I give you an example of this cruelty in the case of the man Harry Thaw and this is authentic as I have the boy's statement. Thaw was staying at the Carlton Hotel and one day laid out a lot of sovereigns on his dressing table, then rang for a call boy on pretence of sending out a telegram. He made some excuse and went out of the room and left the boy there and watched through the chink of the door. The unfortunate boy was tempted and took a sovereign from the pile and Thaw returning to the room charged him with stealing. The boy confessed when Thaw asked whether he should send for the police or whether he should punish him himself. The boy scared to death consented to take his punishment from Thaw who then made him undress, strapped him to the foot of the bedstead, and thrashed him with a cane, drawing blood. He then made the boy get into a bath in which he placed a quantity of salt. It seems incredible that such a thing could take place in any hotel but it is a fact. This was in 1906.

Now pardon me -- it is finished. Except that I knew Major Griffiths for many years. He probably got his information from Anderson who only 'thought he knew'.

Faithfully yours,

J. G. Littlechild

George R. Sims Esq.,

12, Clarence Terrace,

Regents Park N. W.


The 'Littlechild Letter' introduced the field of Ripper studies to the first mention of suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety by a contemporary police official. The 'Dr. D' may possibly be a reference to Montague Druitt. It was also interesting for Littlechild's remarks concerning Thomas Bulling's supposed authorship of the 'Dear Boss Letter' as well as the fact that he claims Sir Robert Anderson only "thought he knew" the identity of the Ripper.

Littlechild also mentions that Tumblety disappeared after leaving Boulogne, when of course his arrival in the USA was heavily covered by the American press.

Evans ultimately followed up research on Tumblety with the book The Lodger: The Arrest and Escape of Jack the Ripper, co-written with Paul Gainey[1].


  1. The Lodger: The Arrest and Escape of Jack the Ripper; Stewart P Evans & Paul Gainey (Century 1995)