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New book Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman links killings to Welsh woman

Tabernacle Morriston

IT was the unlikeliest of revelations that linked a little-known Welsh village with the most notorious killer in British history.

But parishioners say they are less than convinced that Jack the Ripper was in fact Lizzie Williams, daughter of wealthy and renowned local tin magnate Richard Hughes.

In his new book Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman, author John Morris claims he has proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that Lizzie was behind the infamous Ripper mass murders.

Lizzie grew up in Ynystawe, near Swansea, and her family worshipped at the Tabernacle chapel in nearby Morriston. Her father donated the land for the chapel at a greatly reduced price but lost his money in 1888, ending up in Swansea bankruptcy court. This, John believes, was the catalyst for Lizzie’s murderous 19th century campaign.

Her husband, famous doctor Dr John Williams, allegedly took the final victim Mary Jane Kelly as a mistress after Lizzie turned out to be infertile – a legitimate motive for the brutal murder, John claims.

David Morgan, a member of the chapel, said the story was “intriguing” but was dubious about its legitimacy.

Mr Morgan, who is also secretary to Tabernacle’s choir, said: “It’s intriguing, and not what you expect to hear. I’m not convinced but it’s certainly interesting.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the chapel, but I’m going to tell the choir at our next rehearsal. A lot of them are members of the chapel too, it’ll be interesting to see what people make of it.”

Villager Yvonne James, 52, said she hoped “speculative myths” wouldn’t have a negative effect on the area’s reputation.

Yvonne, from Clydach Road, said: “I don’t know how to react to this book. It’s shocking, yes, but it’s another conspiracy theory about who this person was and there have been many.

“Things can have a big effect if people believe them and take them seriously. The likelihood is we will never know, but yes if this is true it’s a ground-breaking discovery.

“I don’t think anyone will start talking about the area being cursed, it was a very long time ago. It won’t bring the community to its knees.”

Author John told the Wales on Sunday: “Five years ago, my father was researching Dr John Williams independently for an article when a local author named Dr Williams as the Ripper.

“He suggested that Dr Williams had enjoyed an affair with the final victim, Mary Jane Kelly, then he killed her for reasons that were extremely vague.

“My father refused to believe that Dr Williams could possibly be the killer and, after all, what motive could he possibly have had?

“But as we discussed the case, my father realised that there was someone who had a reason to kill the doctor’s mistress – his wife, Lizzie Williams.”

John admitted he was initially sceptical the murders could have been committed by a small-town Welsh woman – but soon discovered there was no conclusive proof in the police witness statements, inquest testimony and medical reports the killer was a man.

“It was quite a revelation,” said John, who practised law in Swansea but now lives in Ireland.

“So when we began to look more closely at the murders, we found that there were clues which suggested a woman was involved, but because the killer was always considered to be a man, the clues were always ignored or pushed to one side.”

Dr Williams’ great great nephew Tony Williams, his only known living relative, previously published a book alleging Dr Williams himself was responsible.