Charles Thompson 1833 – 1896

Charles Thompson 1833? – 1896 MRCS was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become House Surgeon at the Manchester Homeopathic Hospital, and a member of the British Homeopathic Society,

Charles Thompson also practiced in Bristol, and he was married to Mary Turner Morton, and their daughter Helen died of tuberculosis aged 15 months in 1864, so the family moved to Manchester.

As he once did in Preston (at 7 Winckley Street, Preston, Lancashire), in 1857, Dr. Charles Thompson, in 1864, re-opened his homeopathic surgery from the Thompson residence in Stamford Street, of Manchester’s Ashton under Lyme (226, Stamford Street).

In 1868 when Francis Thompson was almost nine years of age, and living in Ashton under Lyne, an anti-Catholic agitator named William Murphy arrived. He began a series of fiery speeches expounding his hatred for Catholicism. William Murphy appealed for the Protestant crowd to riot against the Catholics.

A large mob descended upon the two small churches of St. Mary and St. Anne. The interior of St. Anne was destroyed. The crowd then attempted to storm St. Mary while the parishioners, who included the Thompson family, mounted a guard inside.

The rioters attacked with bottles and stones. Shots were fired and the Riot Act was read. After three days of continual fighting, the army was called in.

By the end, of the rioting, the church of St. Anne’s school, and presbytery were broken into. They contained altars, paintings, and statues, which were incinerated. A further 111 houses of the Catholic congregation were gutted. For a month, the entire clergy was obliged to leave town….

On December the 19th, 1880, after suffering a complaint of the liver, Mary Morton Thompson, Francis’ mother died. Mary was aged fifty eight… In April of 1887, Dr. Charles Thompson married his second wife Anne Richardson.

Charles Thompson donated medical equipment to the UWO Medical Artifact Collection.

Charles Thompson’s Obituary is in The Homeopathic World in 1896.

Of interest:

Allan Thompson was a British homeopath in 1883.

Edward Healy Thompson 1823 –1891, brother of Charles Thompson, was an English Roman Catholic writer.

He was educated at Oakham School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Having taken Anglican curacy at Calne, Wiltshire. After some years of the Anglican ministry at Marylebone, Ramsgate, and elsewhere, he became a Catholic in 1846 orders, he obtained a a curacy at Calne, Wiltshire.

The rest of his life, the latter years of which were spent at Cheltenham, he devoted to religious literature….

The poet Francis Thompson was his brother.

Edward Healy Thompson married Harriet Diana Calvert, and daughter of Nicholson Calvert of Humsden, born at Humsden, Hertfordshire, 1811; died at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 21 Aug., 1896. On her husband’s conversion she also joined the Catholic Church, and like him devoted herself to literary work. Her chief work is the Life of Charles Borromeo, but she also wrote stories of Catholic life. These include: Mary, Star of the Sea (1848); The Witch of Malton Hill; Mount St. Lawrence (1850); Winefride Jones (1854); Margaret Danvers (1857); The Wyndham Family (1876); and others, as well as articles in the Dublin Review.

Francis Thompson 1859 – 1907, son of Charles Thompson, was an English poet and ascetic, and a friend of William Butler Yeats,

Born in Preston, Lancashire, his father was a doctor who had converted to Roman Catholicism, following his brother Edward Healy Thompson, a friend of Cardinal Manning.

Thompson was educated at Ushaw College, near Durham, and then studied medicine at Owens College in Manchester. He took no real interest in his studies and never practised as a doctor, moving instead to London to try and become a writer. Here he was reduced to selling matches and newspapers for a living.

During this time, he became addicted to opium, which he first had taken as a remedy for ill health. Thompson came to London in 1885 and lived a life of destitution until in 1888 he was ‘discovered’ after he sent poetry to the magazine Merrie England.

He was sought out by the editors of Merrie England, Wilfrid and Alice Meynell and rescued from the verge of starvation and self destruction. Recognizing the value of his work, the couple gave him a home and arranged for publication of his first book, Poems in 1893. The book attracted the attention of sympathetic critics in the St James’s Gazette and other newspapers, and Coventry Patmore wrote a eulogistic notice in the Fortnightly Review of January 1894.

Subsequently Thompson lived as an invalid in Wales and at Storrington. A lifetime of extreme poverty, ill-health, and an addiction to opium took a heavy toll on Thompson, even though he found success in his last years. Thompson attempted suicide in his nadir of despair, but was saved from completing the action through a vision which he believed to be that of a youthful poet, Chatterton, who had committed suicide almost a century earlier.

Shortly afterwards, a prostitute – whose identity Thompson never revealed – befriended him, gave him lodgings and shared her income with him. Thompson was later to describe her in his poetry as his saviour. She soon disappeared, however, never to return. He would eventually die from tuberculosis, at the age of 48.

His most famous poem, The Hound of Heaven describes the pursuit of the human soul by God. This poem is the source of the phrase, “with all deliberate speed,” used by the Supreme Court in Brown II, the remedy phase of the famous decision on school desegregation.

A phrase in his The Kingdom of God is the source of the title of Han Suyin‘s novel and the movie Love is a Many Splendored Thing. In addition, Thompson wrote the most famous cricket poem, the nostalgic At Lord’s. He also wrote Sister Songs (1895), New Poems (1897), and a posthumously published essay, “Shelley” (1909). He wrote a treatise On Health and Holiness, dealing with the ascetic life, which was published in 1905.

Francis Thompson’s grave is in St.Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.

Thompson, an English poet, was suggested as the Ripper by author Richard Patterson in the 1999 book Paradox. Thompson was born at 7 Winckley Street, in Preston, Lancashire, on 18 December 1859 to a respectable Catholic family. His father Dr Charles Thompson, was a homeopathic doctor. His Mother Mary, was a governess, who had previously failed in her attempt to become a nun, she died at the age of 58 on 19 December 1880 from a liver complaint. Francis Thompson was named after St Francis of Assisi.

The family moved to Manchester in 1864, shortly after the death of his sister Helen, at the age of 15 months from consumption. Thompson, as a young man, was described as shy, untidy, unpunctual and unobservant. He entered the Catholic school of St Cuthbert’s, Ushaw College in Durnham, where he excelled in Latin, English and Greek. Taking an interest in poetry from an early age, his writing ability was described by the English master as the best production from a lad of his age.

In 1877 he failed his studies for the priesthood. His teacher Father Tate, wrote to Thompson’s father telling him, ‘With regard to Frank, I have been most reluctantly compelled to concur in the opinion of his director and others that it is not the holy will of God that he should go on for the priesthood’.

On the advice of his father he spent the next six years studying to be a surgeon at Owens medical college, but he was to fail the medical examinations three times. In 1878 he entered his name on the register of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he studied anatomy.

He continued writing poetry, and in April 1888 had one of his poems published in Merry England, a minor Catholic literary magazine. It was around this time, 1879, that he became addicted to opium, after being treated with laudanum for a lung infection. Laudanum was prescribed as a pain killer and sedative, it was also a popular method of suicide.

From 1885/88 Thompson spent the majority of his time as a homeless vagrant in the Dockland area of London. He died at the age of 47 in 1907, when his reputation as a poet was at it’s height. His poem, The Hound Of Heaven, was to sell over 50,000 copies.

When he died, he weighed only 70 pounds (5 stone).

At 29, Thompson was the right age to fit the Ripper descriptions, and we know he had some medical training. He was also said to carry a dissecting scalpel around with him, which he claimed he used to shave. We also know he owned a leather apron at the time the police were looking for a suspect wearing such a garment. He was described as medium height with a slight build, which made him appear taller, dark brown hair which appeared almost black, with a small grey beard, wearing a great Ulster coat and necktie.

There is no record of Thompson ever having been questioned by the police, nor suspected at the time of the murders. He also lived for 19 years after the murder of Mary Kelly.

Thompson and Capper were British homeopathic pharmacists in 1851.

8 thoughts on “Charles Thompson 1833 – 1896”

  1. We have been trying to ‘prove’ Charles and Edward Healy (and James – who went to South Africa – perhaps in 1849) were brothers. I have marriage certificate of Charles and Mary Turner Morton (1857 – lists his age as 33 years), and father as Robert (surgeon – deceased).

    1861 census shows birth for Edward Healy as ‘abt 1814’ (same for 1851, 71, 81, 91).

    If anyone has better proof of birthdates and particular of father or other family, I would very much appreciate it.

    Thanks for this ‘history’; really helped to tie things together a bit.

    Regards, Martin.

  2. Hi Sue.

    I see you have an interest in Francis Thompson. Thank you for bringing my book to your reader’s attention. I would be very happy to have you join our ‘Francis Thompson & the Ripper Paradox’ book group on Facebook. It’s at:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/502480266521400/

    The group’s members have posted a great deal of material on Thompson and your knowledge and input would be very welcome. Thank you.

  3. Do you see the name Kathleen or Kate or Cathrianam Flanagan or French listed as a servant or housekeeper for any of the male relatives of Francis Thomson. She was my Great, Great,
    Great Grandmother and apparently worked as a servant of some sort in the home of one of Francis Thompson’s relatives. She left Ashton Under Lyne and moved to Montreal Quebec and among her possessions was a sewing box that was a gift made to her by the family. I still have it and have always been interested in hearing more about this connection. She was born Cathrianam Flanagan in Roscommon Ireland and married a mr French who was gentry, but he died young and his family was against the marriage. She moved to Lancashire with her 4 (perhaps more) children. Her daughters worked in the cotton mills.
    To your knowledge did Francis have any brothers? Who is Allen Thompson? Please let me know if you can answer any of these questions.
    Thank-you,
    Susan

  4. additional info: I have a family tree posted at Ancesty.ca.
    She was known as Kathleen French after the marriage.
    Her children’s names were Mary Agnes, Nellie, Thomas and Jane or Janet. Mary Agnes French was my Great Grandmother who married Henry Woffenden. (Mother to my Dad’s Mum, also Mary Agnes Woffenden, nicknamed Polly and I knew her as Nana, who married Richard Barrett. My father Gerald was their youngest son.)

  5. Sorry. I only today have read your questions. I do not, off hand know about the name Kathleen French in relation to the Thompson, though I do remember reading somewhere the name of a female who worked for the family, though i can not recall where. A friend on Ancestry.com is performing research into the Thompson family. I can provide screenshots and details of the family tree and put you in contact with her if you email me. In the meantime, please have a look on the website I have given. It contains a lot of info on Thompson and the theory.

  6. Hi Richard,
    I am sorry also as I am just reading your reply. I just tried the link to your page, but I see it is a closed group.
    Any help you can provide would be welcome. This is a sticking point with the tree as the story of Kathleen Flanagan is one of the most interesting in our tree. The people we do have good records for are the boring hard working sort like me. The man Kathleen married has also been purported to be related to the family of Sir John French Earl of Ypres sister to Charlotte Despard. I can’t find her or who he might have been in records any where… then my Aunt brings out this sewing box with a copy of hounds of heaven in it…printed literature, not handwritten unfortunately…it was a clipping and I don’t know where it has gone. The sewing box itself is unremarkable. Thousands similar were made in that era. It has some mother of pearl inlay on the lid and some marquetry along the edges so it’s a pretty thing, but it was a gift to her from a relative of Francis. I am thinking it must have been from Thomas, the father. She herself must have been separated from her children. Perhaps they ended up in a work house? I can find no census record with them all together. Do you really think Francis was the Ripper? I sort of hope he wasn’t. I must read your book.
    Thanks for your time!
    Susan

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