Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Jack the Ripper Mormons

Jack the Ripper Mormons

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 24, 2012

William Jarman, with his wife and young children, joined the Church in England and emigrated to Utah in 1868. He didn’t stay there long – before many months had passed, he was back in England, becoming one of the most notable anti-Mormon lecturers of his generation.

His book, U.S.A.: Uncle Sam’s Abscess, or, Hell on Earth, suggests some reasons for his popularity as a lecturer.

He had a way with words:

I afterwards found his sins were not only ‘scarlet and crimson,’ but as black as a blind Ethiopian in a dark cellar at midnight, just before new moon, looking for a coal-black colour-blind tom cat.

Were I to tell all I then saw and heard this book could not be sent by mail, while I myself would be sent to jail.

He was salacious. He told the people what they wanted to hear: Mormon men were sex-crazed; Mormon women were sex slaves. Mormons were murderers.

Those guilty of Murder are sent out as Missionaries, and should they leave the Church while on a Mission, and attempt to expose Mormonism, extradition would fetch the murderers back to expiate their crimes.

He painted mind-boggling word pictures:

Polygamy is Slavery – men barter, sell, or exchange wives with impunity. I witnessed a mule trade where a man threw in a wife and five dollars to boot, and got the mule. I find most men inquisitive to know how so many wives are supported: that they have enough to do to support one. Why not ask how slaveholders support so many slaves? the fact is, the wives are slaves; these work in the fields, the very affectionate husband sits on the fence with a whip – if they lag, he whips them like a refractory mule, in fact, he holds a mule in higher estimation than a woman for if he beats his mule to death it costs money to replace it, whereas he can get another wife without money or price at anytime, or so soon as a new batch of emigrants arrive from Europe. One man I know well, who has twelve loving wives – fancy thirteen souls with but a single thought, thirteen hearts that beat as one. He takes contracts for sheep shearing, and loading up his dozen wives in a waggon, each armed with a pair of sheep shears, he drives them to the field of operation – there, like a nigger driver, he sees that they perform their work faithfully. When sheep shearing is over the haying time has come, then follows the grain harvest, and when out-door labour is over, the spinning jenny and loom are kept busy by the same wives.

And most awful of all his tales was the story of how his son was murdered and how Brigham Young married his (Jarman’s) wife.

Jarman’s lectures must have caused quite a bit of trouble for the elders in Britain, because he is the subject of frequent complaints in the Millennial Star. The elders tried to refute his claims with reason. That murdered son, for instance, was appealed to and produced this affidavit:

United States of America, Territory of Utah, County of Salt Lake. } ss.

Albert Edward Jarman, being first duly sworn, deposes and says: My true name is Albert Edward Jarman; I am twenty-five years of age, was born at Exeter, England. My parents’ names are William Jarman (known as the anti-Mormon lecturer), and Maria B. Ford, formerly Maria B. Jarman. I am now residing in Salt Lake City, County and Territory aforesaid, and am employed at the machine shops of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company in said city. I have resided in Salt Lake City for some twenty-one years, and I have never been injured, molested, or in any way threatened or disturbed by any one – Mormon or other person – during my said residence as aforesaid.

I regret to hear that my father, the said Jarman, in his anti-Mormon lectures in England, states that I have been murdered by the Mormons, and if such statement has been made, it is not only absolutely false, but utterly without any foundation whatever.


This affidavit by the poor, murdered son was accompanied by supporting affidavits of his mother, and of the mayor of Salt Lake City.

But, after all, who wants to believe something as dull and dry as an affidavit, when Jarman is distributing handbills advertising his upcoming lectures … handbills like this one:



Today’s professional anti-Mormons are so tame by comparison!



  1. Not only tame, but dull.

    But I rather like the continuation of the assassination theme. It sure beats “Rape and Pillage Week” over at By Common Consent.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 24, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  2. Lawrence O’Donnell and Bill Maher could take lessons from this guy, but I really don’t want them to do that. They are bad enough as it is.

    Makes me wonder if Jarman’s book had any influence on Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story, written in 1886. Doyle initially claimed his depiction of bloodthirsty Danites exacting retribution on foreign soil was “historical.”

    Doyle only seemed to be slightly more interested in accuracy than Jarman, as indicated by his “murdered” son.

    Comment by kevinf — May 24, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

  3. I thought I had a reference to Jarman in my family history, but I can’t see it. The reference that came up, surprisingly, in a blog search was this entry from Henry Overson’s London missionary journal:

    Sunday April 28th [1895]

    Nice morning. Spent the day at 36 until 230. then attended Testimony Meeting Was invited to Bro Birds to dinner then 630 Meeting meeting again Bro Jarman and the Pres spoke to a full Hall including 5 strangers event to Birds again to spend the evening and had a very nice time.

    I wonder who he meant. I’m guessing he didn’t mean William.

    Well, I can’t find the reference I was looking for, but I see that there will be a presentation on Jarman at the upcoming MHA Conference in Calgary. Bitton’s Guide lists a diary of Mrs Jarman (Maria Bridgood Jarman Ford) which mentions that she took a trip to England in the late 1880s, as well as a couple of other confrontations with William Jarman by missionaries in England.

    Comment by Amy T — May 24, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  4. Amy, I just went through the Missionary Index, thinking I’d be a showoff and come back to say, “Oh, that was so-and-so.” There are a lot of Jarmans (Jarmen? har har) on the index, but not one who was in the British Mission in 1895. He may have been a local man, or man have been an American visiting Britain (like Mrs. Jarman was in the late 1880s, apparently), without a formal mission call.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 24, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  5. “Jack the Ripper Mormons” — what a disgustingly genius melange! Kinda like the more recent (and equally ridiculous) term “Kenyan Socialist.”

    Comment by David Y. — May 24, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  6. We’re far enough removed from these calumnies that we can laugh, but they must have been a trial to some at the time, especially the “deceased” Jarman fils. Its suggestive of all sorts of back story and hidden family drama.

    Comment by Adam G. — May 25, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

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