The votes are in. A Londoner has won BBC History Magazine’s much-coveted Worst Briton of the Past 1000 Years award. Nearly a quarter of all voters picked Jack the Ripper ahead of such notables as Eadric Streona (?), Sir Richard Rich (what, off Bottom?), and the Duke of Cumberland (???).
BBC History Magazine editor Dave Musgrove said:
The public's choice of Jack the Ripper... as the worst Briton reflects the fact that the Victorian murderer remains an iconic figure today, and perhaps is seen by many as the forerunner of the serial killers that society has had to deal with since the Ripper's time.
More likely, the Ripper won because he’s the only candidate most people would know anything about.
Hmmm, let’s see. Titus Oates? Is that some kind of porridge? Hugh Despenser? Sounds like something you’d buy chocolate from on a Tube platform. Ah, but the Ripper, now he was bad. Tick.
Actually, given that the Ripper's identity is unknown, who's to say he's British anyhow?
The poll was to find the worst Briton, but not the worst Londoner. That would open up several additional possibilities. Stalin, for example, lived for a time off Whitechapel Road in the early 20th century. Then there’s Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin, Timmy Mallett. Perhaps we should have a separate poll: who would you vote as worst Londoner ever? (No rippers allowed.)