My great, great grandfather may have been Jack the Ripper

Dear Ed... A ‘Jack the Ripper’ evening on August 31 organised by the Stairway to Heaven Trust raised £2,000 towards the 1943 Bethnal Green air-raid shelter disaster memorial (Advertiser, September 6).

The evening with Ripperologists Edward Stow and Christer Holmgren began with a talk about the 1943 disaster—then the connection with one of the families who died, the Lechmeres, and the Ripper 55 years before.

Thomas Allen Lechmere, 66, who died with two of his family in the disaster on March 3, 1943, has just been discovered to be the son of the man who found the body of Polly Nicholls, the first Ripper victim, in Buck’s Row (now Durward Street).

Lechmere’s father was seen standing over the still-warm body at 3.45am on August 31, 1888.

Books and films about the Ripper assume that a cart-driver named Charles Cross found Polly Nichols’ body.

But new research 124 years later shows Cross gave a false name to police. He was only classed as a witness after claiming he must have disturbed the killer.

His real name was Charles Allen Lechmere, who lived at 22 Doveton Street off Cambridge Heath Road—five minutes’ walk from Buck’s Row.

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After two years’ research, I discovered that Charles Lechmere was my great, great grandfather!

Lechmere escaped suspicion because he was just an ordinary working-class man with 11 children who no-one suspected. He didn’t wear a big top hat or cloak, nor carried a black bag, just ordinary working clothes, braces, waistcoat and cloth cap.

Susan Lechmere

(full address supplied)