He is believed to be the world's first-ever serial killer and even claimed to be Jack the Ripper.

Glasgow-born Thomas Cream, also known as the Lambeth Poisoner, was a doctor who killed his victims including patients with deadly strychnine.

The Glaswegian murdered up to ten people in three countries, targeting mostly poor women, sex workers and pregnant women seeking abortions.

He was convicted and sentenced to death in London and hanged on November 15, 1892.

It's claimed his last words were a confession that he was Jack the Ripper shortly before he was hanged.

So, who was Thomas Cream?

Born in the Townhead area of Glasgow in 1850 he was brought up in Quebec City in Canada after his family moved there in 1854 for a better life.

The then four-year-old wouldn't return to Scotland or his native city for another 24 years.

However, despite his exposure to a new world of sights and sounds, he kept his Glasgow accent dung this time.

His father, William became the manager of a shipbuilding and lumber firm located in Quebec City.

Cream, the oldest of eight siblings, followed briefly in William’s footsteps, apprenticing in the shipbuilding trade and helping out his father when the latter started his own successful business.

Before he turned 20, Thomas, now one of six children, had lost two sisters and his mother, Mary who died aged 43 while giving birth for the eighth time.

By all accounts, he was devastated by her death.

That contrasted with his growing reputation among students and teachers as a wild and extravagant young man.

Well supplied with money from his now-wealthy father, he dressed in high-priced clothing, adorned himself with flashy jewellery, and travelled about in high-class horse-drawn carriages.

He studied medicine in Montreal, graduating in 1876.

Cream, who had written his thesis on the effects of chloroform, would soon demonstrate just how devastating it could be.

His practical training was at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School in London.

His fellow students saw him as a sleazy individual, bad-mouthed with a reptilian charm. 

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Glasgow Times:

While in the capital, Cream developed a dependency on morphine and cocaine to treat migraines.

He was also promiscuous, constantly bragging about his exploits with women during lengthy drinking binges'.

Occasionally he would reveal a collection of pornographic pictures of women that he would carry in his coat pockets.

Cream was also seen as a dandy with a love of expensive coats, top hats and luxury hotels.

In 1878, he qualified as a physician and surgeon in Edinburgh, returning periodically to visit relatives in Glasgow.

During that time, he also studied midwifery which would prove significant over the years to come.

After completing his studies, he practised in Iowa in the USA then relocated to Ontario in Canada.

By then he was already hiding several dark secrets.

In 1876, he torched his student digs in Montreal and claimed $1,000 on the insurance.

That same year he began a relationship with Flora Brooks.

Brooks then became pregnant, and Cream performed a failed abortion leaving her severely ill.

He fled back to Montreal but was caught by Flora's father, who forced him to return and marry his daughter.

It was the day after the wedding that Cream left for Britain to continue his medical studies in London and then Edinburgh.

The Brooks family never saw or heard from him again with Flora dying of consumption in 1877 - abandoned by her husband.

Her doctor, however, couldn't help but wonder if the death was actually linked to the “medicine” that Cream had been sending her from the UK.

Though he never acted on his hunch, the doctor later admitted that he suspected Cream of foul play.

Cream returned to Canada in 1878, and established a medical practice in London, Ontario where he also operated as a backstreet abortionist.

Though found guilty of practising without a licence, he continued to receive patients, particularly young women who had fallen pregnant.

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In 1879, Catharine Gardner was found dead in a toilet behind his Ontario office after she had consulted Cream about an abortion.

She had been murdered with a handkerchief soaked in chloroform and Cream was questioned by the local police.

He claimed Gardner had threatened to poison herself when he had refused to perform the abortion, and that she had written him a letter in which she named a local businessman as the father.

Gardner's family said the handwriting on the letter did not match her own, and it was dismissed by police as a forgery.

Despite overwhelming evidence that Cream had murdered the woman, the authorities took no further action.

However, the Glasgow man decided it was time to leave town and headed back to the USA.

He then established a medical practice near Chicago's red-light district, offering illegal abortions to prostitutes.

He was investigated by police in August 1880, following the death of Mary Faulkner, a woman he'd operated on.

However, Cream again escaped prosecution due to a lack of evidence.

In December 1880, another patient, Ellen Stack, died after treatment by Cream.

Four months later Alice Montgomery died of strychnine poisoning following an abortion, in a house near Cream's office.

Her death was investigated as a murder but never solved.

On July 1881, 61-year-old Daniel Stott died of strychnine poisoning at his home in Boone County, Illinois,

Stott had been sending his thirty-three-year-old wife, Julia, into the city regularly to pick up pills that Cream had recommended as a remedy for epilepsy.

This time, Cream was arrested, along with the victim's wife Julia Stott.

She had become his mistress and obtained the poison from the Glaswegian to do away with her husband.

Stott died within minutes of taking the pills. Mrs Stott only had the charges dropped after she agreed to give evidence against Cream

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder but released in June 1891 after only serving ten years.

His early release was said to be due to bribes to powerful people in Illinois' corrupt political system.

Cream's father, who died in 1887, had left him a small fortune which was already proving useful.

On his release, he returned to Canada briefly, then using money inherited from his father, Cream sailed for England, arriving in Liverpool on October 1891. From there he headed to London.

The city was booming due to the Industrial Revolution and there was an increase in the demand for doctors from all classes.

Cream found accommodation in Lambeth which was then riddled with poverty, petty crime, and prostitution.

As in his student days, Cream enjoyed London life and all of its temptations.

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He spent many evenings dancing, drinking, and picking up prostitutes and any women who showed interest in the good-looking lothario.

One of his regular dining companions at the time later described Cream as: “Exceedingly vicious and a man who seemed to live for nothing but the gratification of his passions".

In October 1891, Ellen "Nellie" Donworth, a 19-year-old sex worker died from strychnine he had given her.

A week later, Cream met a 27-year-old prostitute named Matilda Clover, and offered her pills for a medical condition.

She began experiencing violent, painful spasms later that night and died two hours later.

Her death was assumed to be heart failure due to alcohol withdrawal.

Cream, using a false name, then wrote a letter to the prominent physician Dr William Broadbent, claiming to have evidence of his involvement in Clover's death and demanded £25,000 for his silence.

Broadbent contacted Scotland Yard who then waited for the mystery blackmailer to collect the money. However, he never arrived.

In April 1892, after a holiday in Canada, Cream returned to London, where he met Louise Harvey, another sex worker who also had medical problems.

He offered her two pills, insisting she takes them right away.

However, Harvey was suspicious of him.

Instead, she pretended to swallow the pills but secretly threw them away.

Later that month Cream met two more prostitutes, Alice Marsh, 21, and Emma Shrivell, 18, and spent the night with them in their flat.

Before leaving he offered them three pills each and some tinned salmon.

Both women died later that night from strychnine poisoning.

However, the net was now closing in on Cream.

Through his earlier blackmail letter, he had unwittingly incriminated himself.

He had referred to the death of Matilda Clover as murder, despite it being recorded as death due to her drinking.

The letters Cream sent to the potential blackmail victim revealed knowledge that only the poisoner could have known.

Detectives quickly realised that the blackmailer was also the man who the press had dubbed the "Lambeth Poisoner."

Around this time, Cream met a policeman John Haynes from New York City who was visiting London. The cop had heard of the Lambeth Poisoner, and Cream gave him a brief tour of where the various victims had lived.

The American mentioned this to a local policeman who found Cream's detailed knowledge of the case suspicious.

Scotland Yard then put Cream under surveillance and soon discovered his habit of visiting sex workers.

They also visited colleagues in the United States and Canada and learned about their suspect's history, including the conviction for murder by poison.

In June 1892, Cream was arrested for the murder of Matilda Clover, and the following month he was charged with the murders of Clover, Donworth, Marsh, and Shrivell, the attempted murder of Harvey, and extortion.

His trial in October 1892 lasted five days.

After only 12 minutes of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of all charges.

Trial judge Henry Hawkins sentenced him to death telling the prisoner that his cold-blooded deeds could “be expiated only by your death.”

Less than a month after his conviction Cream was hanged at Newgate Prison by public executioner James Billington.

On the morning of his execution, 5000 people gathered outside to await the imminent execution of the prisoner within.

It was the largest crowd for an execution in London since public hangings had been brought to an end in 1868.

Although they wouldn't get to witness the death of the prisoner first-hand, they were nevertheless eager to cheer his demise.

As one newspaper reported the next day: “Probably no criminal was ever executed in London who had a less pitying mob awaiting his execution.”

While the News of the World described Cream as "the greatest monster of iniquity the century has seen"

Inside the prison walls on the morning of Cream’s execution, the mood was far more sombre.

Cream was quiet and composed when he was led to the scaffold to meet the fate he had earned during a six-year killing spree.

As various officials looked on, hangman James Billington placed his hand on the lever that would send the doctor to his death.

Billington later claimed that Cream's last words on the scaffold were to confess that he was Jack The Ripper and then boasted to reporters he had executed the notorious Victorian murderer.

However, others who attended the same execution said they hadn't heard Cream admit anything.

His body was buried the same day on the prison grounds along with other executed criminals as was normal practice.

His body was exhumed in 1902 and moved to a nearby public cemetery where he is buried in an unmarked grave.

Shortly before Cream was sent to the gallows, he also told prison officers that his sentence was deserved and admitted to murdering many other women.

Could some of them been victims of Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper was the term coined by newspapers to describe a man believed responsible for the murders of eleven women - some prostitutes - in the Whitechapel area of London between 1888 and 1891

Some of the victims had their internal organs removed by the killer suggesting he had anatomical and medical knowledge.

In fact, Cream was in prison in the USA at the time of the Ripper murders in 1888 serving his sentence for the murder of Daniel Stott, so it was impossible for him to have been Jack the Ripper.

Or was it?

Ripper expert Donald Bell later claimed that Cream, having bribed officials, had been let out of prison even earlier.

Another expert Sir Edward Marshall-Hall suggested that Cream's prison term had been served by a look-alike in his place.

Cream's past as an illegal abortionist could be seen as evidence of his tendencies towards ripper-style butchery.

During Jack the Ripper's reign of terror, hundreds of letters were sent to the police and press, all claiming to have been written by him.

Though most are believed to be fakes, it's suspected the real killer may have been responsible for two or three.

Recently a British graphologist by the name of Derek Davies compared samples of Cream’s handwriting with the handwriting on one of the Ripper letters, and with that on one of the hoax letters.

He found striking similarities between all three.

Cream is also said to match a description provided by a labourer named George Hutchinson of Jack the Ripper

He said the man had a dark complexion, a dark moustache twirled at the ends, and was sporting a watch chain and a horseshoe tiepin.

Cream was photographed wearing such a pin while he was a student at University in Montreal.

Harvey, the sex worker, who evaded Cream's attempts at poisoning her in October 1891, wrote in a letter to authorities claiming he had been wearing a fancy watch chain when she'd met him.

Photographs of the day show that Cream had the archetypal appearance of a Victorian villain, complete with a top hat, silk cape and twirly moustache.

He was a charming good-looking egomaniac who consistently sought out the spotlight.

It's possible his last words about Jack the Ripper were nothing more than an attempt to take credit for the murders of someone even more infamous than him.

In many ways, Cream was a serial killer before the term had ever been coined.

The advent of trans-Atlantic ships meant he was able to travel across continents in a manner that would have been impossible a couple of decades previously.

Last year author Dean Jobb published a book about the Glaswegian titled: “The Case of The Murderous Dr Cream.

He had been fascinated by how the Scot managed to get away with his killing spree for so long in so many locations.

Jobb wrote: "What he did was mad but he did it in an absolutely methodical, preplanned way."

So how had a good Presbyterian boy turned into such a sadistic killer? The truth is no one knows

Cream was what we would now call misogynistic and narcissistic.

The motive for the series of poisonings has never been established.

However, it is assumed that Cream was a sadist who enjoyed the thought of his victims' agonising deaths from the poison he dispensed.

The fact that he was a doctor meant that they trusted him.

It's also possible that Cream committed the murders so that he could profit from them

The poisoning of Daniel Stott was committed with the hope that Stott's wealthy widow would share her dead husband's estate with him.

In addition to the five poisonings, Cream was suspected of the murder of his wife Flora Brooks in 1877 and at least four other women who died in his care while undergoing abortions.

If true, then he is the most prolific serial killer Glasgow has ever seen.

Even eclipsing the more recent savagery of two other Glasgow-born multiple murders Angus Sinclair and Ian Brady.

So, what drives doctors to kill?

Kenneth Gibson, the MSP for Ayrshire's Cunninghame North, wrote a book on the subject in 2012.

He chose 17 doctors from history including the Nazi war criminal Joseph Mengele, Harold Shipman, and Thomas Cream.

Gibson concluded: “They are a varied bunch but they have one thing in common -- utter contempt for human life."