Below the skin of history are Londons veins. These symbols - the miter, the pentacle star... Even someone as ignorant and degenerate as you can sense they course with energy and meaning. I am that meaning. I am that energy. One day, men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century!
~ Sir William reveals what he believes to be his destiny
I have no peers present here. No man amongst you is fit to judge the mighty art that I have wrought. Your rituals are empty oaths you neither understand nor live by. The great architect speaks to me, he is the balance where my deeds are weighed and judged. Not you...
~ Gull condemns his fellow Freemasons

Sir William Gull is the main antagonist in the 2001 movie From Hell. He was a renowned surgeon though he was not able to perform after suffering from a stroke. Due to his immense medical knowledge, he also was physician ordinary to the Royal Family, especially trusted by Queen Victoria. As a member of the Freemasons he considered it his duty to the crown to kill the five prostitutes who were aware that Prince Albert married a catholic prostitute and fathered a child on her, resulting in the creation of Jack the Ripper.

He was portrayed by Ian Holm, who also portrayed Ash in Alien.


When Prince Albert Victor, the Prince of Wales, marries a prostitute, his grandmother, Queen Victoria, orders Gull to “handle it discreetly”. Gull concocts a plan to kill the woman and the other prostitutes who witnessed the wedding, and make it look like the work of a maniac calling himself “Jack the Ripper”.

At the Royal London Hospital, Gull invites a few of his colleagues to witness a new way to treat mental illness: a crude version of lobotomy. He asks Dr. Ferral, another Freemason, whether they could watch him perform, which he allows. The supposed mad patient is Ann Crook, who the Freemasons thereby prevent from revealing the Prince's secret. The same night, Gull kills Polly Nichols in front of Cleopatra's needle, luring her with expensive grapes and giving her a drink containing laudanum. He then attacks her from behind, slicing her throat. He leaves her body and walks off into the night.


Sir William with his colleagues at the hospital

Arriving at the place where Polly was found, Inspector Frederick Abberline realises that she must have been killed somewhere else, because it was raining that night and the corpse is dry. He also finds the remaining grapes nearby and realises that Polly's mouth smells like laudanum. Though Abberline tells his superior Sir Charles Warren that the murderer must have forensic knowledge, Warren, who is a freemason as well, protects Gull, instead claiming that they should search for a butcher.

The next night, Gull prepares for the next murder, drinking wine and listening to music while Netley - Prince Albert’s coachman and Gull’s accomplice - waits outside. He then grabs his bag with his equipment and puts out the grammophone. Meanwhile, Netley finds the prostitute Annie Chapman and convinces her to come visit his master, claiming that his master would like her. Netley lures her into his coach, also offering her grapes. He then drives Annie to the destination, where she is swiftly killed by Gull, while a train nearby covers the noises. Gull leaves a butcher’s leather apron to send the police on a false trace.

Meeting Abberline

With the coroner unable to look at dead bodies without vomiting, Abberline tries to get the permission from Warren to have Dr. Ferral help them. Warren forbids it, claiming that this would only cause unrest, in truth trying to protect Gull.


Gull meets Inspector Abberline

At London hospital, Gull is present when John Merrick, the “Elephant Man”, is presented to a high society gathering. He later witnesses Ferral arrogantly refuse Abberline's offer, who despite Warren's orders has decided to ask Ferral for help. He then invites Abberline into an empty lecture hall, where he kindly asks Abberline why he came. Abberline asks whether Gull is a surgeon which Gull confirms. However, Gull states that he had a brain seizure six months before which forced him to limit himself to teaching. Claiming that this position would make him ideal to answer questions, he declares that he would be ready to help Abberline. Ironically, Abberline puts his trust in the Ripper to find the very same. While reading the police report about the killngs, Gull asks questions like why no one heard the screams to seem oblivious and to find out how much Abberline already knows. Abberline tells him that he also smelled Laudanum. This makes Gull tell Abberline that the smell of laudanum is something only those accustomed to opium would recognize, prompting him to ask how long Abberline has "chased the dragon".


Gull reveals himself as physician ordinary of the Royal Family

Inviting Abberline to his office, Gull writes a prescription for a tonic for the inspector. In the office, Abberline finally realises who is standing before him, calling himself a fool as he has not recognized the physician ordinary to the Royal Family. Gull laughs it off, instead telling Abberline that the Ripper must be right-handed as he slit the victims throats from left to right. He also tells Abberline that they should consider that the ripper used more than one knife, suggesting that the Ripper carries a portable amputation kit like the one he owns, showing Abberline his kit. Abberline then asks whether it is possible that the Ripper is an educated man. Gull tells him that though he had hoped otherwise, it seems that way as the Ripper removed liver and uterus from his victims while working quickly and in the dark, something an amateur could hardly perform.

Meeting with the Queen

You are a true physician, Sir William. In always you attend to the health of our Empire. We are greatful!
~ Queen Victoria to Sir William

Gull with Queen Victoria

Gull is then called to the Buckingham Palace, where Queen Victoria asks him how far the syphillis of Prince Albert, her grandson, has advanced. Gull tells her that he is confident that the disease can be contained. Victoria also tells Gull that the sickness seems to harm him psychologically as well. Gull confirms that of course Albert is depressed because of the diagnosis but tells her that this will improve upon the regaining of his strength. However, Gull in truth knows that Albert will die of the sickness. When they are parting, Queen Victoria calls Gull a true physician, as he always tends to the Empire's health.

Problems with Netley

There, there, Netley, I shall tell you where we are. We are in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A radiant abyss, where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in hell!
~ Gull to Netley
At night, Gull meets Netley at Netley's place. When asking why Netley has called him, Gull is told by Netley that he cannot take it anymore, as three more have to be killed and the story is in all papers. Stating that he is no great man like Gull, but just a simple chap, Netley tells Gull that he doesn't know where he's at anymore. Gull calms Netley, telling him that he will tell him where they are. However, Netley is even more shocked when Gull tells him that they are in the most extreme region possible - hell.

Meeting Abberline again

After having found out that Prince Albert married Ann, Abberline returns to Gull, who confirms that Prince Albert had a faible for prostitutes. He however claims that Prince Edward could certainly not be Jack the Ripper and, after telling Abberline that he never may speak of this to anyone, tells the Inspector that Albert has syphillis. Abberline thinks that this speaks for the theory that the prince is the murderer, as he would now be out for revenge. However, Gull tells him that the prince's physiological condition would make it unable to kill as brutally and precisely as Jack the Ripper. He also tells Gull that the prince knows little to nothing of human anatomy.


The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing
~ The Ripper's graffiti

Gull, aided by Netley, kills the next victim

During the next night, he approaches his fourth target, the prostitute Liz Stride. He offers her a drink spiced with laudanum and asks her if there is a more private place where the both could go. In an alley, he plans to stab her from behind, but she sees him approaching with the knife, which mirrors in a puddle. She pushes him away and tries to run, but when she gets out of the alley she is tackled by Netley. Netley holds her while Gull cuts her throat, but before they can remove any organs, Netley warns Gull that someone is coming. This forces them to retreat. When Abberline is called to the scene, he realises that the Ripper won't be content with the murder, as it was not finished. This is proven true when Gull kills his next victim, Kate Eddowes, just forty minutes later. Gull also leaves a graffiti on the wall. He also leaves another apron.

When Warren, claiming that the graffiti would cause riots and progromes against jews, orders Abberline to wash it off, Abberline refuses to do so as he would destroy evidence. This gives Warren the pretext to suspend Abberline.

Truth revealed

During a hallucination caused by his opium consumption, Abberline finally realises the truth. He heads to Gull's house, telling him that the place where the bodies were found form a pentacle star, a symbol of the Freemasons. He reveals that he knows that Gull is the Ripper and is merely serving the Royal Family by killing everyone who knows about the Prince's secret marriage, as the Freemasons are sworn to serve the Empire.


Gull moments before killing the women he considers to be his last victim

Gull tells him that he fears that Abberline might not be allowed to arrest him, but Abberline reveals that he doesn't intend to. Gull then admits that initially he as a loyal mason was approached to cover up the prince's marriage, but then he found out that the prince had syphilis and would in fact die from it, meaning that the child of a catholic whore would be one day heir to the British Empire. Being tasked with the well-being of the royal heir, Gull saw these prostitutes destroy his life's work, so he killed them. Abberline then intends to shoot Gull, knowing that with the Freemason's influence he would most likely walk free. However, before he can pull the trigger, Abberline is knocked out by Kidney, who had watched out at Gull's house.

With Abberline left in Kidney's hands, Gull then leaves to kill his last victim, Mary Kelly. He breaks into her house and sits on the side of her bed for a brief moment of reflection before savagely killing her. However, unbeknownst to him he did not kill Mary Kelly but a friend of hers, who slept in her bed. While Gull then cuts out the woman's heart, it is reveales that while murdering his victims, he thinks himself into his lectures, believing himself to stand before a crowd he is lecturing about the organ's he is removing. After removing the woman's heart and putting it into the room's chimney, he hallucinates himself standing before all the other Freemasons who vividly applaud him.


Gull in his hallucination

After Mary's supposed death, Warren allows Abberline to come and see the body. When Abberline sees the mutilated body of the woman he loved, he grabs Warren at the throat, demanding Gull. Warren remains calm, telling Abberline that Gull will be taken care of. He also tells Abberline that by the order's leave he is reinstated and promoted, but he will be very closely watched as he knows the prince's secret.

Final fate

The head of the Freemason order visits Queen Victoria, who states that she ordered Sir William to remove a threat to the throne and not to engage in ghastly rituals. Both agree that in his own way, Gull has been loyal and fulfilled his duty. The Queen tells the Lord that she is grateful for William's service and does not want to hear anymore of the matter, no matter how the Freemasons fare with Gull.


Gull's punishment, life in a hell of his own making

To protect themselves and to serve a kind of justice to the victims, the Freemasons decide not to give up Gull to the police. Though they all were aware of his actions and even hid the truth, Gull is called before the council to be punished for what he did. When he stands before them, Gull is accused of putting the order in jeopardy, but when the ceremonial phrase:" You stand before your peers" is said, Gull disagrees, telling them that he is the only one who understands the true might of the freemason's rituals, claiming that none of them is fit to judge him.

The Freemasons then decide that Gull is to be punished, and they perform the same crude lobotomy Gull showed his colleagues earlier on. Gull is then confined to an ayslum, a man broken in body and spirit.