A previously secret list of Freemasons members is to reveal how the official inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic may have allowed establishment figures to escape punishment, according to reports. Several high-profile names such as Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and Lord Kitchener are already believed to have been members of the secret society, which is thought to have held influence across all levels of British society for centuries.
Genealogy website Ancestry.co.uk is now set to publish the names of more than two million Masonic members between 1733 and 1923, including kings, top military personal and scientists. Elsewhere, a man suspected to have been Jack the Ripper, was protected by his fellow Freemasons, reported the Daily Telegraph.
According to reports, the list will also include those who oversaw the inquiry into the sinking of the famous vessel in 1912, which left more than 1,500 people dead. A British investigation ito the tragedy avoided placing the blame on the British Board of Trade for a lack of safety regulations, including a severe lack of lifeboats.
One of those who headed the inquiry, John Charles Bigham, is reported to be included on the list of Freemasons, along with then president of the Board of Trade, Sydney Buxton. According to the Daily Telegraph, the names of at least two of the inquiry's five expert assessors – naval architecture specialist Professor John Harvard Biles and senior engineer assessor Edward Chaston – can also be found in the Masonic archive.
Elsewhere, Lord Pirrie, chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, which built the Titanic, also appears to have been a Freemason.
Titanic Expert Nic Compton, author of Titanic on Trial, told History.com: "The Titanic inquiry in Britain was branded a "whitewash" because it exonerated most of those involved. Only three passengers were interviewed, and they were all from first class. Even Captain Smith was exonerated on the grounds that most other ships at that time also sped through the ice at full speed with no serious consequences.
"The only person both inquiries heaped scorn on was the captain of SS Californian, the ship that had stood by about eight miles off, its crew watching the emergency flares being fired by Titanic, without doing anything about it until it was too late."
According to a new book, by Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson, notorious Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper was a musician called Michael Maybrick who escaped prosecution because of his ties to the Freemasons.
According to the book, entitled The All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper, all the murders had elements of masonic ritual, including one example where a compass was carved into a victim's face.
Robinson told the Telegraph: "It was endemic in the way England ran itself. At the time of Jack the Ripper, there were something like 360 Tory MPs, 330 of which I can identify as Masons. The whole of the ruling class was Masonic, from the heir to the throne down. It was part of being in the club. Part of the whole ethic of Freemasonry is whatever it is, however it's done, you protect the brotherhood – and that's what happened.
"They weren't protecting Jack the Ripper, they were protecting the system that Jack the Ripper was threatening. And to protect the system, they had to protect him. And the Ripper knew it."