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A historian has shed new light on a little-known predator who terrorised London a century before Jack the Ripper by luring them with flowers and stabbing them in the buttocks.

Dr Jan Bondeson, a consultant physician at Cardiff University, has revealed serious doubts about whether the man convicted for the sordid crimes was in fact responsible.

The culprit, dubbed The Monster, targeted well-dressed young women in his two-year reign of terror across the city between 1788 and 1790.

Women were kicked from behind with spikes fastened to his knees while some were stabbed in the nose by a barb hidden in a bouquet of flowers they were invited to smell...


Predator dubbed 'The Monster' who stabbed dozens of well-dressed young women in the buttocks during two-year reign of terror in 1780s London was never caught because the wrong man was convicted, historian claims

Historian and consultant Dr Jan Bondeson revealed doubts over whether the man convicted was responsible
The culprit, dubbed The Monster, targeted young women in a London terror spree between 1788 and 1790
Women were kicked from behind with spikes and some were stabbed in the nose with barb hidden in bouquet
Welsh ballet dancer, Rhynwick Williams, 23, was found guilty of his 'misdemeanours' at the Old Bailey


By EMILY WEBBER FOR MAILONLINE
23 February 2020

A historian has shed new light on a little-known predator who terrorised London a century before Jack the Ripper by luring them with flowers and stabbing them in the buttocks.

Dr Jan Bondeson, a consultant physician at Cardiff University, has revealed serious doubts about whether the man convicted for the sordid crimes was in fact responsible.

The culprit, dubbed The Monster, targeted well-dressed young women in his two-year reign of terror across the city between 1788 and 1790.

Women were kicked from behind with spikes fastened to his knees while some were stabbed in the nose by a barb hidden in a bouquet of flowers they were invited to smell.


Welsh ballet dancer, Rhynwick Williams (pictured), 23, who had been sacked from a theatre for committing theft, was identified as The Monster


A cartoon published at the height of the Monster-mania depicting a woman wearing a copper shield as she is saved from the mystery assailant's rapier

By the time The Monster was finally apprehended, his tally of traumatised victims surpassed 50, although there were no fatalities.

Some speculated The Monster was an insane nobleman bent on wounding every beautiful woman in the capital, or even a supernatural being who could make himself invisible to evade detection.

But on June 13 1790, an ungainly Welsh ballet dancer, Rhynwick Williams, 23, who had been sacked from a theatre for committing theft, was identified as The Monster.


A poster showing The Monster attacking the Porter sisters outside Pero's Bagnio, London (left). The Monster Detected: A satirical print depicting him as the Devil (right)


Victim Anne Porter (pictured left) pointed Williams out to vigilante John Coleman who apprehended him in Green Park, central London. Miss Anne Porter's home (right) at Pero's Bagnio, London

Victim Anne Porter pointed Williams out to vigilante John Coleman who apprehended him in Green Park, central London.

Williams, whose fall from grace had seen him descend into the seedy London underworld, was almost lynched by a mob.

He was living in a dirty crowded public house where he shared a bed with another man - leading accusers to believe he was on an 'anti-woman crusade'.

Williams went on trial and was found guilty of his 'misdemeanours' at the Old Bailey, but was spared the death penalty.


One of the wounded women reveals all to the magistrates at Bow Street, with Sir Sampson Wright taking a closer look

He was jailed for six years at Newgate Gaol yet the years after his imprisonment remain a mystery.

In the months before The Monster's capture, hysteria gripped the capital as newspapers put up posters depicting his sleazy crimes with a 100 reward, equivalent to 7,700 today, was placed on his head.

Vigilante 'Monster hunters' beat up innocent men who aroused suspicion, while women wore copper petticoats to protect themselves.

Dr Bondeson, who has written 'The London Monster: Terror on the Streets', said police coerced victims to identify Williams at identity parades, and he was charged even when women didn't pick him out.


Prime Minster William Pitt, alias The Monster, stabs Britannia with his rapier and dashes his diabolical nosegay into her face as rival politician Charles James Fox, The Guardian, looks on aghast


Two old maids are dreaming that the Monster will show them attention to prove that they are still attractive when the fiend suddenly appears


London businessman John Julius Angerstein promised a reward for 100 for the capture of the perpetrator (left). A Monster poster put out by Mr Angerstein (right)

While Williams was an 'unsavoury' character, he believes he may have been used as a scapegoat for for the crimes in an attempt to end the panic on the streets.

After carrying out in-depth research, Dr Bondeson said it is more likely they were committed by a host of miscreants indulging in the first known 'copycat' crime.

Dr Bondeson said: 'In 1790, nearly a century before Jack the Ripper haunted the streets of London, another predator held sway.

'The Monster, as this mysterious miscreant was soon dubbed, used to walk up to a beautiful, well-dressed lady, insult her with coarse and earthy language, and then stab her in the thigh or buttocks.


Dr Jan Bondeson (pictured), a consultant physician at Cardiff University, has revealed serious doubts about whether the man convicted for the sordid crimes was in fact responsible

Cartoon suggesting that Rhynwick Williams, shown in disguise attacking the Porter sisters, ought to be hanged for his crimes+15
Cartoon suggesting that Rhynwick Williams, shown in disguise attacking the Porter sisters, ought to be hanged for his crimes

'He struck at regular intervals, wounding young and attractive women in the London streets.

'Since this kind of sadistic behaviour was unheard of at the time, there was general outrage among the Londoners and the capital's female world was in a turmoil.

'Throughout the first half of 1790, the newspapers were full of The Monster's latest outrages.

'Anne Porter, the Monster victim who had pointed out Williams in Green Park, was certain he was the man who had cut her.

'She was seconded by her three sisters, all of whom testified that the Welshman had been in the habit of stalking them in the streets, making use of the most horrid and insulting language.


The Monster cutting a lady in front of Mr Angerstein's front door (left) and another potential victim being fitted with protective gear (right)


A satirical print showing the courtier George Hanger as the Monster pursuing a court lady (pictured). Women were kicked from behind with spikes fastened to his knees by The Monster

'However, other Monster victims could not pick Williams out, and some declared themselves certain he was not the man who had cut them.

'There is also evidence that the police deliberately coached at least one victim of The Monster to pick out Williams as the man who had attacked them.

'The Welshman was probably a pervert who liked to insult women and one of the misogyinistic characters who roamed the streets, but in my mind it is not proven that he stabbed anybody.

'It is thus quite possible that the Welshman was just a scapegoat, unlucky enough to fall in the hands of the authorities when they needed someone to pay for The Monster's crimes.

'It is obvious that there were several copycat Monsters at large, imitating the original attacker - and this in fact constitutes the earliest known example of copycat crime.'

The notorious Jack the Ripper, whose identity has never been revealed, murdered five women in Whitechapel in 1888.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...0s-London.html