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Spring-Heeled Jack, East-End Disappearances & Other Mysterious Characters


Gone But Not Forgotten
Jul 30, 2001
East End Disappearances 1881-1890

I am trying to find information regarding unusual disappearances which began in the East End of London in 1881 and continued unsolved until January 1890. Apparently men, women and children from all classes disappeared into a 'Fortean void', never to be seen or heard from again -
except in one or two instances when the bodies of victims turned up leaving
no clue as to the cause of death.

Do you have any information on this, or can you recommend any resources I
may study.

Simon Aldis
Hmm - intriguing. I've read reasonably broadly in odd London events, but have never seen this mentioned.

For starters, I'd try tracking down old papers at the newspaper library in Colindale (an offshoot of the British Library, I think - so they should have details of exact address, opening times - its just round the corner from the tube - I think the papers there go that far back). They'd probably have reported this - if you don't already have newspaper reports.

Also, Arthur Machen wrote a story called 'Opening the Door' about a London vicar called Secretan Jones who disappeared thusly from his London home - he was well versed in London oddness so might have written about this himself elsewhere.

Where have you found mention of this so far? I'd be interested to know more about it!
:confused: Come on Alistair I'm as intregued as Big Al, where did you find this info?
East End Disappearances and Ritual Sacrifices

The writer Tom Slemen recently broadcast a documentary about his slant on the Jack the Ripper murders and maintained that Eliza Carter and other people who vanished were victims of a sacrificial murder cult that had connection with Claude Reignier Conder (Jack the Ripper) and a mysterious Colonel Robert Cooke, who was accused of burning a baby in a Satanic ritual in the early 1880s. The documentary has been snapped up by NBC and many magazines and newspapers across the world.
The documentary can be heard in real audio format on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radiomerseyside

Attached pic is of Conder.
Re: East End Disappearances and Ritual Sacrifices

Mechanizmo said:
The writer Tom Slemen [snip...]

Wasn't "Slemen" the mysterious word that was mentioned in FT a bit back, that was appearing on computer screens and print outs?
There were some reports of some strange creature with red skin that breathed blue flames into his victims (who he usually stalked) face to scare them before he .... ate them or something?
Breathing blue flames sounds a bit Springheeled Jack-esque to me...
Yeah, Springheeled Jack terrorized London, bounding around and blowing blue flames on terrified female victims, and slashing at their clothes with his scissor-like claws. Not sure he actually killed anyone, though... and he definitely didn't eat them! He seemed more to be a slightly mad artistocrat playing tricks on people. One of the theories of the time was that he was some kind of playboy, who was taking part in a bet to scare as many people as possible. More recently, however, some people like to think of him as an alien (his bizarre clothes being a spacesuit, his blue breath being a ray gun, and his huge leaps being because he wasn't used to our gravity).

He also terrorized my home town of Sheffield for a bit too... but I reckon this was a moral panic rather than a real manifestation of Jack. He quite a star in the Penny Dreadful comics by then, and so people may have attributed other phenomena to old SHJ.

There's a comprehensive and absolutely excellent Spring Heeled Jack section in Fortean Studies 3.
The nearest thing to this, involving a disappearance and
The East End was the disappearance of David Rodinsky
from his room above a Whitechapel synagogue in the late
1960s. It was the subjects of the book Rodinsky's Room
by Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair which was published in

I think any Fortean exodus in the 1890s would have been noted
by Sinclair in that book and I can't find any reference.

Actually that book is a mystification but a good read if you like
social history. Don't read on if you don't want to know how it ends.

The unfortunate cabbalistic Mr Rodinsky was taken into care and
had died in a mental hospital.:(

The Conder-Ripper tale is a bit stinky. What is it about Liverpool
that is producing all these chancers? I have a short piece about the very
nest of Conders on my site:


While on the Ripper, my own mystifications relate to the earlier
candidate James Maybrick, his composer brother, the Freemasons,
and James bloody Joyce:


The facts are, I think, accurate:rolleyes:
James Whitbread

Hey Whitbread, I have never heard of you man, I HAVE heard of Tom Slemen, at last count he had 12 books out, and Paul Begg - leading Ripperologist - believed Slemen has a very strong case for Conder being Jack - you obviously haven't read or heard the documentary. Whitehall now says that (a) Conder's cousin was a close friend of Walter Sickert and that Claude did visit Charles under the pretence of a brotherly visit when in fact, Claude was keeping an eye on the Russian anarchists and Fenians of Whitechapel and Spitalfields. Conder was not only an occultist and best friend of Sir Charles Warren, he was a trained killer and an Oriental and Altaic student - as you allude to in your crap and inaccurate site. You call Sir William Gull "James Gull". Get your facts straight, write a book, then comment.
Thank you for the correction. You are so persuasive.

What on earth could have possessed me to use words like
stinky and chancer in connection with an author whose readers are so
If you ask me, London must have been a really weird place to live in around that time....
Almost as weird as the modern day NYC
Pray silence please for the most impossibly unhelpful comment ever posted; (ahem) a couple of years ago, this got discussed in the FT letters page. As I recall, someone mentioned a book on the subject...and that's all I can remember. Sorry about that but if I can find the issue in question, I'll post the details.

Apparently, there was also a role playing game (!) based around the disappearances. I don't know much about 'em, but it was HP Lovecraft related; possibly some connection to the stories of sacrificial cults? It does seem a bit 'Call of Cthullhu'.
That would be a seriously odd RPG! I used to have one called 'Victorian Villainies', but as far as I can remember it didn't mention any disappearances.

They must be pretty obscure - they're not mentioned anywhere by Iain Sinclair or by Alan Moore in his Jack the Ripper notes (which seem very exhaustive) in 'From Hell'.

Thinking about it, one person who might have run into them is a guy called Richard Jones. He runs ghost walks all over London and seems to have done pretty extensive obscure research. He's got a book out - unsurprisingly known as 'Walking Haunted London' (publ. New Holland, 24 Nutford Place, London W1H 6DQ) - you may well be able to reach him through them.

Anyway, Simon - you've yet to put any more details of this up! Where did you first run into mention of this?

And - Californian dude - Chill Out! Always best to separate criticism from abuse, methinks...

Big Al
Well, apart from Spring Heeled Jack and Jack The Ripper, the only other such monstrosity, demon or whatever you want to call it, that springs to mind is The Highgate Vampire, but he was only about in the 1960s & 70s, he was a cloaked creature, 7-8 feet tall and bearing metal claws and burning red eyes. His attacks weren't focused on any gender or age. Many Vampire "Hunters" and "Slayers" went hunting for him but to no avail!
Maybe your phenomenon lies with one of his predeseccors or the Vampire himself, they are imortal...
Jack da rippa

I'm pretty sure that the period you're talking about was the period in which Jack the Ripper was 'active'.

Check out this web site, it's pretty darn good for info. on this particular track.


Have fun,

Evilsprout said:
Yeah, Springheeled Jack terrorized London, bounding around and blowing blue flames on terrified female victims, and slashing at their clothes with his scissor-like claws. Not sure he actually killed anyone, though... and he definitely didn't eat them!

There was one murder associated with Sprinheeled Jack. He was supposed to have thrown a prostitute off a bridge. Unfortunately I can't remember my source for that.

I think the "Jack threw prostitute off bridge" story was debunked by Mike Dash in Fortean Studies 3, as having a source in fiction rather than "factual " accounts. I'll check it out, though...
Evilsprout said:
I think the "Jack threw prostitute off bridge" story was debunked by Mike Dash in Fortean Studies 3, as having a source in fiction rather than "factual " accounts. I'll check it out, though...

Fair enough. I bow to your superior knowledge. It always seemed a bit off to me. It just doesn't fit with Sprinheeled Jack's MO but who's to say that a bouncing, firebreathing, steel clawed 'demon' has to have a fixed MO :D

(Why were all the Victorian psychos called Jack anyway?)
The woman you mention killed by Springheeled Jack was called Maria Davis, and, as I thought, the report in Fortean Studies 3 comes to the conclusion that the whole story is ficticious. The author, Mike Dash, could find no mention of Davis in the coroner's records of the time.

The whole story seems to stem purely from Peter Haining's 1977 book 'The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Springheeled Jack'. The "evidence" used in there, a contemporary engraving of Davis supposedly being pulled out of Folly Ditch, actually has nothing to suggest it has anything to do with the case except for the caption in that book.

[Source: Mike Dash, 1996, 'Spring-heeled Jack: To Victorian Bugaboo from Suburban Ghost', in Steve Moore (ed.), Fortean Studies 3, John Brown, London, pp7-125]
A bit off thread now, but Sprout, you mentioned the Jack sightings in Sheffield. I read the Sheffield Star reports on those events and something has always bothered me; the description of the Sheffield Jack stressed enormous staring eyes, which were a feature of the very earliest reports. They were also a notable trait of the Marquis of wherever (sic) who Peter Haining believed to be the original Jack.

Does anyone know anything about the Jack outbreaks in Liverpool and Huddersfield in the early 20th century?
Lucky for you I've still got Fortean Studies 3 here in front of me!

I reccomend anyone who's into SHJ gets a copy. In it there's a whole loads of reproduced contemporary news articles about the Sheffield and Liverpool "Jacks". By the Huddersfield accounts, I'm guessing you mean the ones in nearby Bradford, which are also here.

The Sheffield Jack seems to be a hoaxer in a sheet pretending to be a ghost in the Norfolk Park area, in April-May 1876, which somehow managed to incite a vigilante mob of people wanting to kill it! It sounds comparable to the News of The World-inspired mob that were drummed up during last year's paedophile moral panic. The ghost was said to be a tall man dressed in a sheet, who was seen to leap over fences. It was only recollections of the panic, and not the contemporary media, that attributed the spook's antics on Springheeled Jack. Speculation was that it was an artistocrat who was wagered to scare as many people as possible (which was also an early theory for the London Jack).

The Liverpool Jack appeared nightly for about a week in Sept 1904, in William Henry street in Everton, and was said to appear to women more often than men. It also seemed to be centred round poltergeist activity. He was said to be a man dressed in white, who threw objects from the rooftops. Contemporary reports did say that locals were naming him "Spring Heeled Jack".

The Bradford Jack was a tall man in white, Klu Klux Klan-style robes, who startled women, during September 1926, and was said to have the athletic ability of an "olympic champion". Like the Everton case, he enjoyed bounding along rooftops. Like the Sheffield case, the appartition attracted angry mobs, this lot armed with iron bars and pit bull terriers! Again, contemporary reports did not name the spectre "Spring Heeled Jack".

[see my previous post for source].
Fascinating, the recurrence of the themes, though? All very similar. It's been something of an obsession of mine, ever since my Gran admitted that her mother used to use him to get her to go to bed early...'or Spring Heeled Jack will get you'.

And yes, I did mean Bradford. Just goes to show, always check your facts before posting. Darn.

There's even a film, starring the wonderfully named Todd Slaughter, but it bears little resemblance to the mythical (?) Jack...
It's true... the recurring themes are very intriguing. The Sheffied, Bradford and Everton Jacks don't seem to have anything concrete to associate them with the "real" Springheeled Jack of London, but they do seem extremely similar to each other.

To me, they seem to be moral panics rather than "real" manifestations... but it seems a very odd part of the Victorian psyche that bouncy, white-clad ghost-men would become a popular folk devil!
Time travelling maniac...

I have had a thought, what if all of them were time travelling maniacs. I mean, now we can create equipment that would allow a person to breath blue flame, gas flame thrower sprouted from a vent of some sort from a mask, those new boots that have been developed for running faster, with sprung heels that you balance on, they allow a person to jump about five feet or so if used properly by a light enough person, and from the reports, Jack wasn't exactly Shaquil O'Neill! In the future advances will be made into time distortion and travel, the boots will be enhanced to allow a higher jump to be atchieved, and the mask, well we can make them now! It may seem far fetched but doesn't the alien thoery, the cyborg theory might not be that far from the truth, all will be revealed when we achieve TT and gravity manipulation on a personal level...
"Anti-Grav belt anyone, yes sir and your name is?"

There, problem solved!
Then again it could have been an insane firebreathing acrobat, a case of mass hysteria, a normal attacker hyped up by the London news media, or a big ghost.

Remember Occam's razor, boy!
Might well be...look what the media did with Eminem, they made him look like some sort of criminal!
Yeah... popular paranormal books in 100 years time will tell of a blonde-haired, chainsaw-wielding ghost that haunted arenas across the world, scaring children by grabbing his crotch and shouting "motherf*cker".

Seriously though, from what I can gather, the non-London Jack sightings lead to nothing more than bizarre moral panic and/or hoaxing. But the subjects of moral panic and mass hysteria are, to me, just as mysterious and interesting as ghosts, aliens and time travellers!

The London Jack is less easy to explain away as this, however... though I don't think we can take the writings of the media of the time as fact (as, indeed, you can't now!). Also, SHJ research has been mired considerably by sensationalist retellings since he came back into fashion in the 60s and 70s, and also by certain details being hyped to help him fit extra-terrerstrial hypothoses.
Arenas? You mean to say that we humans are going to be plunged into some sort of intergalactic gladitoial event, fought out in arenas like ancient times, all for the enjoyment of some alien asswipe who wants us out of the way!?
<take deep breath and regains full conciousness>