Sunday, 23 January 2011

Edward Grover butcher...not really Jack the Ripper !!

Edward Grover in 1881 was simply a butcher journeyman, living with his wife and children in Fletching, Sussex, but terrible times were to come.
in 1888, it would appear his elderly mother was renting her home from Lord Sheffield, who had property in Fletching and she was about to be evicted. Frances, a widow would have been 73.  In 1881 she had still been farming 9 acres of pasture land in Fletching and at that time she was living in Splains Green Cottage.  At the same time in London, the horrors of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer, frightened everyone in Whitechapel and the news must have travelled to Fletching.
Could Edward stand the situation no longer?  Did he assume the dreaded title “Jack the Ripper”?
In November 1888 it was reported that The Earl of Sheffield was receiving anonymous letters, including a threat of murder by Jack the Ripper. The name was no doubt a hoax but the letter was taken as offensive referring to tenants being turned out of their homes. A reward of £250 was offered for information on the perpetrator.

England, October 27th, 1888. Dear Lord Sheffield. I am sorry, but feeling it is my duty to let you know, as I do not think you do, or would you have the heart to turn out an old tenant like poor Mrs Grover out of her home after such a hard struggle to maintain and bring up her family. Not only that, but allowing anyone to get an honest living there in the butchering line or that have done for a number of years. But it seems to me as though you and your faithful steward want it all, and if you had my wish you would get more than you wanted. Remember, this is a warning to you, but at the same time I should be much obliged to you if you can arrange it for your steward to sleep under the same roof as yourself on Monday night, October 29th, or else I shall have to bring an assistant. My knife is nice and sharp. Oh for a gentleman this time instead of lady. I am sorry for troubling you, but don’t forget the 29th. I remain Yours truly, Jack the Ripper. SAE 6.11.1888’
It would seem Edward was discovered!
The Star, 27 Nov. 1888, contained the following:
Lord Sheffield Satisfied Now.
Edward Grover was remanded at Uckfield yesterday on a charge of inciting several persons to attempt to murder Lord Sheffield. The prisoner was formerly a butcher at Fletching, living with his mother. Lord Sheffield recently gave the mother notice to quit. Grover was arrested on Thursday night at East Grinstead, but, obtaining leave to go upstairs for a coat, let himself out of a bedroom window by means of a blanket, and escaped barefooted across country to Fletching, where he was re-arrested on Sunday. The prisoner is suspected of having written the threatening letters by which Lord Sheffield has been of late so much annoyed.”

On Sunday 2 December 1888 Lloyd's weekly mentioned that on the previous Monday Edward Grover was remanded at the Uckfield Petty Sessions.  Later in the week, the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post of Thursday 6 December 1888, reported that on the previous Tuesday (4 December), Edward Grover, labourer was committed for trial on the charge of inciting persons to murder the Earl of Sheffield.
On 17 December 1888 Edward was acquitted and discharged at the Autumn Assizes, Lewes, Sussex.   I am pleased to report by 1891/1901 Edward was living with his family in Pulborough, and still working as a butcher/slaughterer.  He died in 1906.
Lord Sheffield died in 1909 and was buried in the family vault in Fletching Church.

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