Jack the Ripper in Wax

Jack the Ripper, Jews, Liverpool, London, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 1 Comment »

The Star, Largest Circulation of Any Evening Paper in the Kingdom.

Revenged on “Jack the Ripper.”

At Liverpool yesterday a young man named Bramwell was charged with damaging a wax
figure at an exhibition. Mr. Raffles asked what the figure was, and he was informed
that it was the figure of “Jack the Ripper.” Bramwell had only landed in Liverpool
two days previously from Canada, and on seeing the figure at the exhibition he
expressed a determination to smash it. - He was ordered to pay the damage and costs.

Perhaps surprisingly, attacks on waxworks, a popular type of period entertainment,
were not that rare.  Five years earlier in Liverpool a waxworks tableau of the 1881
murders in Phoenix Park, Dublin was attacked and destroyed by several “Invincibles”
making a political statement.  The men responsible were tried before the same Mr.
Raffles who heard the case of the man who attacked the figure of the Ripper in 1888.

The incident took place on 16 June 1883 at Allsopp’s Waxworks Exhibition, 51 Lime
Street, apparently the same place where the 1888 attack on the figure of Jack the
Ripper took place, and led to the prosecution of Phillip John Wollohan, Joseph
M’Ginn and William Flannigan.

At the height of the Ripper murders, there was even a small waxworks exhibition in
Whitechapel itself showing the victims of the murders.

East London Observer
Saturday, 15 September 1888.

The vendors of a doggerel ditty meant at first to describe the details of the
Buck’s-row tragedy, but slightly and ingeniously altered in order to include
that of Hanbury-street, reaped a rich harvest of coppers, but by no means so
large as that obtained by the proprietor of a small waxworks concern in the
Whitechapel-road, who, by daubing a few streaks of red paint over three sadly
mutilated figures that have done duty on many previous occasions, and by
exhibiting three horrible-looking pictures outside his establishment, con-
trived to induce several hundreds of the gullible public to pay their pennies
and witness the “George-yard, Buck’s-row and ‘Anbury-street wictims.” But his
triumph was short-lived, for a police-inspector, with some respect for decency,
had the pictures hauled down, and left the waxworks proprietor using the whole
of his h-less (?) and ungrammatical, if strong, vocabulary against the police
in general, and that police inspector in particular.

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
11 September 1888


There is a waxworks show to which admission can be obtained for one penny, in the
Whitechapel road, near the Working Lad’s Institute. During the past few days a
highly-coloured representation of the George Yard and Buck’s Row murders - painted
on canvas - have been hung in front of the building, in addition to which there
were placards notifying that life size wax models of the murdered women could be
seen within. The pictures have caused large crowds to assemble on the pavement in
front of the shop. This morning, however, another picture was added to the rest.
It was a representation of the murder in Hanbury street. The prominent feature of
the picture was that they were plentifully besmeared with red paint - this of
course representing wounds and blood. Notices were also posted up that a life-
size waxwork figure of Annie “Sivens” [sic] could be seen within. After the
inquest at the Working Lad’s Institute had been adjourned a large crowd seized
them and tore them down. Considerable confusion followed, and order was only
restored by the appearance of an inspector of police and two constables. A man
attired in workman’s clothes and who appeared to be somewhat the worse for drink
then addressed the crowd. He said - “I suppose you are all Englishmen and women
here; then do you think it right that that picture (continued the orator, pointing
to the one representing the murder in Hanbury street) should be exhibited in the
public streets before the poor woman’s body is hardly cold.” Cries of “No, no, we
don’t” greeted this remark, and another scene of excitement followed. The crowd,
however, was quickly dispersed by the police before the showman’s property was
further damaged.

A “New Face” for Mary Jane Kelly

Jack the Ripper, Joseph Barnett, Liverpool, London, Mary Jane Kelly, Victorian Period, Wales, Whitechapel Murders 13 Comments »

Researcher Chris Scott, a contributor Ripperologist magazine and author of Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands (Apropos Books, August 2004) has long been delving into the mysterious background of fifth Canonical victim Mary Jane Kelly, who was killed and mutilated in 13 Miller’s Court, Spitalfields, on the morning of 9 November 1888. Chris has recently found what he describes as the “fullest account of the Kelly funeral that I have read.”  As students of the Ripper case will know, Kelly was the most grievously mutilated of all of the Whitechapel Murders victims. Her face was literally hacked away, which made identification of her difficult, to the point that some have doubted that the body in Miller’s Court was in fact the woman that locals and friends knew as Mary Jane Kelly. The famous crime scene photograph remains stomach churning for researchers such as myself who have seen it many times before.<br>At the inquest on Kelly, her long-time lover, Joseph Barnett, testified, “I have seen the body of the deceased, and I identify it by the hair and eyes. I am positive that the deceased was the woman with whom I lived, and that her name was Marie.” (Illustrated Police News, 17 November 1888).    The account found by Chris in the St. Peter Port Star, Guernsey, 22 November 1888, is therefore useful to quote in full because it does help to give some humanity to the person who was butchered in that low court in Spitalfields:


The remains of Mary Janet Kelly, who was murdered on the 9th of November in Miller’s Court, Dorset Street, Spitalfields, were carried on Monday morning from Shoreditch mortuary to the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone, for interment, amidst a scene of turbulent excitement scarcely ever paralleled even in the annals of that densely populated district where she met her death. On the afternoon of the murder the body of the unfortunate woman was conveyed to the mortuary attached to St. Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch, and there it remained until Monday. Since the inquest a great amount of sympathy for the fate of the deceased has been created, but it remained for Mr. H. Wilton, the sexton attached to Shoreditch Church, to put sympathy into a practical form, and as no relatives have appeared he incurred the total cost of the funeral himself. Mr. Wilton has been sexton for over fifty years, and he provided the funeral as a mark of sympathy with the poor people of the neighbourhood. The body was enclosed in a polished elm and oak coffin with metal mounts. On the coffin plate was engraved the words:- “Marie Jeannette Kelly, died 9th November,1888, aged 25 years.” Upon the coffin were two crowns of artificial flowers and a cross made up of heartsease. The coffin was carried in an open car drawn by two horses, and two coaches followed. An enormous crowd of people assembled at an early hour, completely blocking the thoroughfare, and a large number of police were engaged in keeping order. The bell of St. Leonard’s began tolling at noon, and the signal appeared to draw all the residents in the neighbourhood together. There was an enormous preponderance of women in the crowd, scarcely any had any covering to their heads, and their tattered dresses indicated too surely that they belonged to the very class to which the murdered women belonged. The wreaths upon the coffin bore cards inscribed with remembrances from friends using certain public houses in common with the Deceased. As the coffin appeared, borne on the shoulders of four men, at the principal gate of the church, the crowd appeared to be moved greatly. Round the open car in which it was to be placed men and women struggled desperately to touch the coffin. Women, with faces streaming with tears, cried out “God forgive her!” and every man’s head was bared in token of sympathy. the sight was quite remarkable, and the emotion natural and unconstrained. Two mourning coaches followed, one containing three and the other five persons. Joe Barnett was amongst them, with someone from M’Carthy, the landlord; and the others were women, who had given evidence at the inquest. After a tremendous struggle, the car, with the coffin fully exposed to view, set out at a very slow pace, all the crowd appearing to move off simultaneously in attendance. The traffic was blocked, of course, and the constables had great difficulty in obtaining free passage for the small procession through the mass of carts and vans and tramcars which blocked the road. the distance from Shoreditch Church to the Cemetery at Leytonstone by road is about six miles, and the route traversed was Hackney Road, Cambridge Heath, Whitechapel Road and the Stratford. In the Whitechapel Road the crowd on each side of the road were very great, and there was a considerable amount of emotion manifested. The appearance of the roadway throughout the whole journey was remarkable, owing to the hundreds of men and women who escorted the coffin on each side, and who had to keep up a sharp trot in many places. But the crowd rapidly thinned away when, getting into the suburbs, the car and coaches broke into a trot. Still the number of those who kept up was sufficient to spread the news in advance, and everywhere people stood in groups, or crowded windows to see the cortege pass. The cemetery was reached at two o’clock. The Rev. Father Columban, O.S.F., with two acolytes, and a cross bearer, met the body at the door of the little chapel of St Patrick, and the coffin was carried at once to a grave in the north eastern corner. Barnett and the poor women who had accompanied the funeral knelt on the cold clay by the side of the grave, while the service was read by Father Columban. The coffin was incensed, lowered, and then sprinkled with holy water, and the simple ceremony ended. The floral ornaments were afterwards raised to be placed upon the grave, and the filling up was completed in a few moments, and was watched by a small crowd of people. There was a very large concourse of people outside the gates, who were refused admission until after the funeral was over.

On another front in Mary Jane Kelly research, a Welsh researcher, Jon Horlor, has been delving into genealogical records in Cwmavon, Monmouthshire to try to find out if he can verify Mary Jane Kelly’s husband may have been killed in a mine explosion as the account by Barnett suggests. He has identified a man named James Davies, age 18 who died in explosion at Risca New Pit, Cwmavon, on 16 July 1880. Holor has established that Cwmavon had a number of Irish immigrant families at this period. Joe Barnett testified that he thought the husband was killed in Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire.

Both Mr. Holor and Welsh Ripperologist Gareth Williams think that Kelly may have said that “Cwmavon” might have been misheard by Barnett as “Carnarvon” or “Carmarthen.”   Here is what Joe Barnett said about what he knew of Kelly’s background, as recorded in the London Evening News of 12 November 1888:

She said she was born in Limerick [Ireland] but went to Wales when very young, and came to London about four years ago. Her father’s name, she told me, was John Kelly, a “gaffer” at an ironworks in Wales - Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire. She also said she had a sister, who was a respectable woman, and that she had seven brothers, six of them at home and one in the Army. I never saw any of these brothers to my knowledge. She said she was married when very young in Wales. . . . Her husband was a collier named David (sic) or Davies, and she lived with him until he was killed in an explosion. I cannot say how long the accident was after the marriage. She said she was about 16 when she married. After her husband’s death she went to Cardiff to meet a cousin, and stayed there a long time, being in the infirmary there for eight or nine months. She was living a bad life with her cousin, who was the cause of her downfall.

Mr. Holor has said that he believes that the man he has identified, James Davies, who died in the explosion at Risca New Pit, Cwmavon, in July 1880, was the “right name, right age, right area (for me!) and right time frame for MJK according to Barnett.” (See discussion threads at http://www.jtrforums.com/search.php?searchid=1062293.) It will be interesting to see if this interesting lead on Mary Jane Kelly’s mysterious background might finally help us to know more about this Whitechapel murder victim’s elusive life history.

On the Yo Liverpool forum, some genealogically minded people have found a number of women named Mary Jane Kelly in Liverpool and have wondered if Kelly might have been from there.  Of course, Liverpool historically has had a large Irish population so the names “Kelly” and even “Mary Jane Kelly” are relatively common. Here is one of the candidates: 1871 English Census–8 Victoria St., Liverpool, near Stanley; John Kelly, 50, joiner; Mary Kelly, 50, Mary Jane Kelly, 18, General Servant; Margaret and Harriet Kaybeck, servants.   Responding to this information I wrote, “If this woman was aged 18 in 1871 that would have made her 35 in late 1888, probably too old to have been the Mary Jane Kelly who lived in Miller’s Court, Spitalfields, who by all accounts was in her mid-twenties at the time of her murder on November 9, 1888.” See the discussion at http://www.yoliverpool.com/forum/showthread.php?41892-Mary-Jane-Kelly-(Wilson)&p=356380.  Also see http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ENG-LIVERPOOL/2006-05/1147649833 

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