According to authors Chris Jones and Daniel Dolgin in their recent book ‘The Maybrick Murder and The Diary of Jack the Ripper: The End Game’, James Maybrick was a man whose financial health, as well as his physical state, was in significant decline by 1888. In their opinion, it is cited as a reason why the ‘Maybrick Diary’ is a hoax.

“More significant than this is the use of the word ‘flourishing’ in terms of the state of James’ business at that time. This is significant because all the evidence suggests that rather than flourishing, James’ business was actually struggling. We know from a letter written by Florence in late 1887, to her mother, that James’ financial assets had been greatly reduced and he had made only £125 profit in the past five years. Florence suggested to James that they move to a smaller and cheaper house, but James was concerned if that happened then all his creditors would be at his door, and he would face financial ruin. By stating James’ business was flourishing when it wasn’t is a clear indication that the Diary is a forgery, and its author copied some of its content from books on the Maybricks.”

‘The Maybrick Murder and The Diary of Jack the Ripper: The End Game’

FINISH WITH A FLOURISH

Chris’s main point with the above extract is that the word ‘flourish’ is directly linked to an extract in Bernard Ryan’s book ‘The Poisoned Life of Mrs Maybrick’ (1977). What Ryan actually wrote is, “Maybrick’s cotton brokerage flourished.” In the scrapbook, the writer penned, “Business is flourishing.” It seems that Chris might have been wrong on this point. It appears business was flourishing for James.

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES

Chris Jones wrote, in my view, one of the best encyclopedic books on James Maybrick in 2008 called “The Maybrick A-Z”. I have a copy which actually took a bit of hunting down, even on the internet. Not like a Victorian scrapbook, though, which is apparently in excellent abundance.

The Maybrick A-Z by Chris Jones (2008)

That book aimed to offer information on the Maybrick family, which might not have been known. In fact, I used many parts of the book as the basis of certain scenes in my own fictional story of ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads’.

However, his latest book, a collaboration with Daniel Dolgin, attempts to offer more new information on the Maybricks (particularly Florence) while simultaneously attempting to demonstrate that the diary is a modern hoax. He could well be correct, but this book, in my view, fails to achieve that goal. There is a lot to unpack. This is just one such example.

MONEY ON HIS MINE

On 30th April 1888, James Maybrick formed a company called ‘The Carnarvonshire Freehold Copper Mining Company (Limited)’, with a capital of £25,000. That is equivalent to roughly £2m in today’s money. James was one of seven equal shareholders.

South Wales Echo (15th May 1888)
Company share structure upon formation (30th Apr 1888)

The above suggests that he must have initially contributed £3,571 towards the £25,000 capital. For a man who was seemingly worried about the wolves scratching at his door to go and form a mining company with thousands of pounds of investment, it seems rather at odds with what Florence was reporting to others. In fact, if anything, it supports the notion of a man who is experiencing a flourishing business life, which is what the diarist wrote.

Chris will argue why he did not write about this investment in the scrapbook; that’s another reason to call it a hoax. I once made over £250k in a day selling shares. That is quite a lot of money for me. This is the first time I have ever written about it, and I write a lot. Admittedly not into a diary, but neither is the scrapbook a diary.

DID FLORENCE LIE?

One of my biggest criticisms of academics who study cases like this is their inability to understand humans. I do not think Florence was lying. He most likely did say these things to her. He probably did give her that impression. Why? One word – control. Money is power. He knew Florence’s spending habits gave her comfort, and at this point, he was deeply suspicious of her promiscuity, even if he may not have had direct proof. To control her, he had to control her spending. It would not be a wild guess to suggest one of Florrie’s biggest fears was being poor, probably engrained into her from her mother. Control is better than trust.

BUT HE HAD NO PROFITS!

Cash-rich people who appear on paper as breaking even, or making a small profit, are usually the smartest business people. They know how to move money around to ensure their businesses remain tax-efficient. Does anyone recall the recent scandals involving the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google manipulating international tax laws? James was probably doing the Victorian equivalent.

A DATE TO REMEMBER…

In September of that year, James was looking for investors. The date of the article would interest many.

Mining Journal (29th Sep 1888)

In the early hours of the 30th of September 1888, the double murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes took place. Was James in London looking to drum up investment from the city or from other contacts that day? I do not know. However, I do know he was most likely in London in September 1888.

CONCLUSION

I think Chris might have been a little quick off the mark to declare that James was suffering from financial difficulties when it is apparent he was not.

The strategy of ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ to the diary has lost one sheet already.

  • MAILING LIST

    I promise no spamming or your data being passed on to any 3rd parties.
    * indicates required