Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Jack the Ripper and Ashby-de-la-Zouch

We will never know the identity of Jack the Ripper, but one of the suspects came from Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Frederick Deeming was born at Ashby in 1853. As a young man, he went to sea, and visited many countries. He met and married Marie James at Liverpool in 1881, but soon left her and sailed to Australia.

He was imprisoned for theft in Sydney, and was then joined by his wife, with whom he had four children. Perhaps she should have stayed in Liverpool.

The restless Deeming left Australia after a few years, in the wake of rumours of arson and more theft. This time he resurfaced in South Africa, and became a suspect in three murder cases.

Returning to England in the late 1880s under the assumed name of Lawson, he contracted a bigamous marriage with Helen Matheson, in Yorkshire.

After a brief spell in Uruguay, from which he was extradited back to England and prison, he assumed the name Albert Williams and was reunited with his original wife and children.

But he told friends that they left him, and he got married yet again, this time to Emily Mather. The pair sailed to Australia, and he now took the name Druin.

After Emily disappeared, he moved from Melbourne to Sydney, using the name Baron Swanson, and proposed to Kate Rounsefell.

But then the Australian police started making discoveries and unravelling some of Deeming’s aliases. They showed that he had killed Emily by blows to the head and cutting her throat. And tips to English police resulted in he bodies of Marie and his four children being discovered.

Frederick Deeming was hanged in Australia in 1892, to the general joy of the Australian public, who suspected that he had killed more people than had been proved.

The five generally accepted Jack the Ripper murders were all committed in 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London, and it is possible that Frederick Deeming, a convicted murderer, could well have been in London at the time.

He is only one of many people who might have committed the ghastly murders in the East End, but Frederick Deeming is a serious suspect.

Watch out for the very popular “Jack the Ripper” Guided Walk that I lead in London from time to time.