A contemporary drawing of the scene at Annie Chapman’s inquest still exists.
It was done by a courtroom artist working for the Pictorial News and is undoubtedly an accurate depiction of the scene.
Such artists were employed much as they are today – to record scenes in courtrooms in which, then as now, photography was not allowed.
Combining it with the detailed descriptions of the event, which appeared in the local papers the following Saturday, it is possible to account for most of the people in the picture.
Coroner Baxter sits on the far side of a heavy, leather-skivered table beneath the portrait of Princess Alexandra.
Always an imposing figure with his black walrus moustache, on that day he wore a white waistcoat, crimson silk tie and check trousers.
To his left, facing the end of the table, sat the jury of 18 men.
Immediately to his right was Dr George Bagster Phillips, the senior police surgeon to the Metropolitan Police’s H Division, and at the end of the table, facing the jury, were the two representatives of the police.
But it is one of the remaining figures in the picture who is perhaps the most interesting.
Three men are seated at a table in the foreground, their backs to the artist.
They are gentlemen of the press.
There were about 20 or 30 reporters present in the court that day according to accounts in the newspapers, contrasting with the two or three that had attended Martha Tabram’s inquest only a month earlier.
The three that are visible are seated in the front row and only the middle one can be seen with any clarity.
The reporter believed to be Francis Craig, circled (Pictorial News)
His head is turned half to the right as he appears to stare intently at the jury.
He is a mild looking, bespectacled man, cleanshaven except for the bushy sideburns that most men of the time wore.
As one of the local reporters, Francis Craig may have known Mr Banks well enough to ensure that a seat in the front row was reserved for him on each day of the inquest, or he may have queued sufficiently early to secure one for himself.
If, as seems likely, he was the reporter for the East London Advertiser who had used the Americanism ‘rouse’ for the more usual English ‘ruse’ just a week before, then it is probable that he was sitting in the first row of the press benches that day for, when writing about the evidence of identification given by Fountain Smith, Annie Chapman’s brother, he wrote, ‘He gave his evidence in such a low tone as to be all but inaudible two yards off.’
Jack the Ripper’s victim Annie Chapman (Rex)
The distance between the reporters in the front row and the witness in the picture does indeed appear to be about 6ft.
So is this Francis?
There are no other known pictures of him but there are several of his father.
One of them, an engraving done from a photograph of him allegedly taken when he was 80 years old, was used as the frontispiece to his memoirs published in 1885.
It shows a man who looks at least 20 years younger than his stated age with a high, domed forehead, a receding hairline, clean-shaven but with the characteristic bushy sideburns of the time and small, wire-rimmed glasses.
Another shows E.T. at the age of 88, now with a Messianic beard below his chin but still looking much younger than his stated age, an undoubted advantage since it was used to illustrate one of his many tracts on how to achieve longevity through the use of the health salts that he sold by mail order.
In all of his portraits he bears a striking resemblance to the younger man in the courtroom picture with one important difference.
Whereas the father in all his portraits wears a resolute, almost overbearing expression, his son, if it is him, appears mild, thoughtful and even sensitive.
Apart from that and an age difference of perhaps 30 or 40 years they could be the same man.
Are we looking at pictures of the Craigs, father and son?
A street near Whitechapel: the latest crime of Jack the Ripper (Alamy)
If so it does not, of course, mean that the inoffensive looking reporter in the picture is necessarily the man responsible for the Whitechapel murders.
Francis is known to have been a reporter in the area at the time and it would be no surprise for him to appear in the courtroom depiction of Annie Chapman’s inquest.
But if he was also the agent of her death then, unlikely as it seems, we may be looking at the only surviving portrait of the man known to history as Jack the Ripper.
And if that is the case it most dramatically gives the lie to all the hundreds of imagined likenesses, serious or fantastical, of the most notorious serial killer in history and perhaps helps to explain why it was so difficult to pin him down at the time.
Who could possibly believe that this man, looking for all the world like a curate at a vicarage tea party, could be responsible for all the blood-letting of those three months in 1888?
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The Real Mary Kelly: Jack the Ripper’s Fifth Victim and the Identity of the Man that Killed Her by Wynne Weston-Davies is published by Blink priced £16.99. To order your copy for £14 plus p&p call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk