Was Jack The Ripper Welsh?

19 March 2021 ·

There have certainly been plenty of theories in the past regarding possible local links to the most notorious serial killer.

There’s even a suggestion the killer – who murdered a number of prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of East London in the late 1800s – may have been a former Swansea GP who killed his victims in a crazed attempt to cure infidelity.

Did The Ripper cast his deadly shadow over Barry’s Thompson St?

However, according to one expert, the infamous figure may have ended up amongst the ranks of a vicious gang that ruled the dock area of Barry back in the dying days of the 19th century.

Former Mayor turned Town Councillor Nic Hodges spotted the possible link when he and his wife Shirley were researching material for the free historic walking tours he regularly holds around the seaside town.

Spanning the years 1890 to 1910, he discovered, in amongst the tales of prostitution, stabbings, illegal drinking dens and criminal groups, a dangerous crew called The High Rip Gang – so named because of their predilection for slicing rival villains from ear to ear.

“They came down from Liverpool originally, probably because the local police were starting to breathe down their necks. So they chose Barry as the pastures new on which to rebuild their criminal empire – an extremely violent bunch who’d rip off visiting sailors, run brothels and get up to all sorts of no good

Nic Hodges – Victorian Barry Experience

But it was the gang’s leaders – George Baker and his brother John – who drew Nic’s attention

They’d grown up in various borstals and jails around Merseyside, but, prior to coming here, there were a number of years where they seemed to disappear altogether.”

Nic Hodges

And it was during this point that a letter, dated October 1888 and allegedly penned in a mix of red ink and blood, was printed in a number of national newspapers, including The Dundee Courier & Argus in Scotland.


The Central Press has received the following letter bearing the E.C. post mark written in red ink in a round hand apparently by a person indifferently educated. At the foot is a rude drawing of a sharp pointed knife, the blade measuring three inches and the handle one.

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Did this chilling confession penned by George Baker give away The Ripper’s identity?
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Illustration shows the police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes, in London September 1888 (Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In it, George Baker talks of his participation in a two man reign of terror being conducted across London.

“Two more and never a squeal,” it reads, boasting of the rising body count of disembowelled victims.

“O, I am a master of the art.”

He goes on to write about moving on from the bright lights of the West End to try ‘holidaying’ in Brighton – “Splendid high class women there – my mouth waters” – before adding that his “pal” will continue plying his own similarly grisly trade “in the East.”

After signing the letter, Baker adds that it was written in “red ink, but with a drop of the real in it”, meaning blood.

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Thompson Street – probably the first sight that George and John Baker of the HIgh Rip Gang saw when they arrived in Barry in 1894.

Meanwhile, underneath the words is what the newspaper describes as “a rude drawing of a sharp pointed knife” with a three inch blade.

And, for Hodges, the significance of the reference to “my pal in the East” is clear.

“George must have been talking about the East End in that part of the letter, while the publication date – 1888 – is relevant because that was when the Ripper began his killing spree, and the murders ended a few years before the Bakers arrived in South Wales.”

Nic Hodges

“As for ‘my pal’, that probably refers to his brother John – and what’s the general nickname for John? That’s right, it’s Jack.

In category:Myths & Legends
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