RipperCon in Baltimore, April 8-10, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock, Baltimore, Civil War, Edgar Allan Poe, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lodger, True crime, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders, silent motion pictures, stage and screen No Comments »

A brand new Jack the Ripper conference will be held in the U.S. this April after an
absence of several years of such conferences on U.S. soil!  Get ready for RipperCon!
DEADLINE TO REGISTER MARCH 31!  RipperCon headed by famed Ripperologist
Martin Fido will be unique in being held in the historic heart of Baltimore, the Mount
Vernon district, at the Maryland Historical Society & the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel,
within sight of the city’s 200-year-old Washington Monument, the first monument to
honor the nation’s first President. Also making the event “different” and, might we
say, unmissable is that in addition to the Whitechapel murders we will cover the
mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s mysterious death in Baltimore in 1849 plus the relation
of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the Ripper crimes. To cap off the
weekend we have a 4-hour bus tour of Baltimore to sites associated with noted Ripper
suspect “Doctor” Francis Tumblety, the Pinkertons, John Wilkes Booth, and Edgar Allan
Poe.  We’ll visit Poe’s grave and his house on Amity Street, & “Nutshell Studies of”
Unexpected Death” — 1930/1940’s dioramas of murder scenes now housed
at the Maryland Coroner’s office.

Does this sound enticing to you?  If you like true crime, Jack the Ripper, Victorian
history, Sherlock Holmes, mysteries, or Edgar Allan Poe you can’t afford to miss out!
Complete information is at http://rippercon.com/.

The base hotel for RipperCon, the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel, was originally built as
housing for the Peabody Conservatory of Music, named for merchant and philanthropist
George Peabody, the Massachusetts-born merchant who built multi-story dwellings for
the poor of Liverpool & London’s East End and was honored for his good works by Queen
Victoria herself.  Is it any wonder then that the same statue of Peabody can be found
in London and in Baltimore!  In fact the statue in Mt Vernon is a replica of one next
to the Royal Exchange in the City of London, executed between 1867 and 1869, unveiled
in July 1869 shortly before Peabody’s death.

Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, Baltimore

Statue to George Peabody, Mount Vernon, Baltimore

Here is the schedule for RipperCon, April 8-10 in Baltimore:

Friday, April 8

9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Registration at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel;

thereafter, registration at Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) France Hall.

1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Talks in France Hall, MdHS –

1:00 pm. Introduction & Welcome by M/C’s Robert Anderson & Ally Ryder

1:05 pm. Martin Fido, “Ripperology and Anti-Semitism”

2:00 pm. David Sterritt, “The Ripper, the Lodger, Hitchcock’s Existential Outsider”

3:00 pm.  Mikita Brottman, “The Yorkshire Ripper”

4:00 pm. Bruce Goldfarb,  “Nutshell Studies of Unexpected Death

5:00 pm. Michael Hawley, “Dr. Francis Tumblety - Amongst the Best Suspects”

6:30 pm.  Gathering at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel.


Saturday, April 9 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Talks in France Hall, MdHS –9:00 am. Charles Tumosa, ”The Forensic Time Machine: Looking Backward10:00 am. Panel on Jack the Ripper Suspects featuring Robert Anderson, Michael Hawley, and Martin Fido.

11:00 am. Robert Anderson, “Long Island Serial Killer

12:00 noon. Lunch in France Hall. Trivia contest including special book prizes.

1:00 pm. Janis Wilson & Chris George, “The Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, and  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

2:00 pm. Panel discussion on “True Crime versus Fictional Crime” with Robert

Anderson, Mikita Brottman, and David Sterritt, moderated by Janis Wilson

3:00 pm. Discussion with speakers & audience on “The State of Ripperology Today”

4:00 pm. Chris George, “The Last Days of Edgar Allan Poe — Murder or Something Else?”

6:00 pm. Banquet at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel, followed by a performance

of “Poe’s Last Stanza” by C. J. Crowe.


Sunday, April 10

9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Bus tour of Baltimore including sites associated

with Dr. Tumblety, the Pinkertons, and the Booth family. Visit to the

grave of Edgar Allan Poe and the Poe House, including a special visit to “

“Nutshell Studies” in Maryland Coroners’ Office. Space limited. Book soon.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The circumstances of his mysterious death in

Baltimore in October 1849 have never been sufficiently explained.

For complete information on RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/DEADLINE TO REGISTER MARCH 31! DON’T MISS OUT!

The Lodger: From Page to Stage to Screen

Alfred Hitchcock, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger, Uncategorized, silent motion pictures, stage and screen, theater 3 Comments »

 Marie Belloc Lowndes


 

Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868–1947)

Marie Belloc Lowndes published her first version of The Lodger
about a Ripper-like killer named “The Avenger”,  as a short story in
McClure’s Magazine in 1911. By 1913 she made it a full-length novel.
It  is clear that the ’orrible murders were taking place in Whitechapel;
the link to the Ripper is unmistakeable.

Mr and Mrs Bunting suspect that their lodger, Mr Sleuth, is “The Avenger.” 
But whether Sleuth really is the murderer is unclear: the story focuses
on the Buntings’ possibly unfounded terror rather than the crimes.   

The novel was adapted for the stage as a comedy entitled Who Is He? by
by prolific writer Horace Annesley Vachell (1861–1955). It played at the
Haymarket Theatre in London in 1916 with Howard Ainley in the title role. 

In January 1917, the play was done in New York with Lionel Atwill as
the lead. It received mixed reviews when it opened on 8 January 1917 at
the Maxine Elliott Theatre. The critic in the New York Times felt that
Atwill played the role in a “hammer-and-tongs” fashion little suited for
what he termed “such slight stuff” as The Lodger.

Overall, the critic declared the show to be “highly amusing” and that
Beryl Mercer as Mrs Bunting outshone the lead actor.  He said she was
“enormously laughable as the tender-hearted but suspicious landlady.”
It closed after 56 performances. Atwill would go on to enjoy a long
career playing roles in B-movies.

Ten years later, the play was brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchock
in his first major film, using the same title as Belloc Lowndes’ novel, The
Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
. The significance of the subtitle is that
it gives the notion that the crimes were committed in London’s notorious fog,
which Ripperologists know is nonsense, don’t we?  In any case, the idea of
London’s stereotypical fog only added to the myth of Jack the Ripper.

Hitchcock’s version of The Lodger was the 1927 silent classic starring Ivor
Novello. He played the role in enigmatic fashion, alarming the Buntings
while charming their blond daughter, Daisy. As with Hitchcock’s handling
of Cary Grant later in Suspicion and To Catch a Thief, the director toyed
with the audience and hinted at a dark side to the character, although
Novello’s character would turn out a good guy on the trail of the killer.

Hitchcock said, “I had seen a play called Who Is He? based on Mrs. Belloc
Lowndes’ novel The Lodger. The action was set in a house that took in
roomers and the landlady wondered whether her new boarder was Jack the
Ripper or not. I treated it very simply, purely from her point of view.”
He disliked the later talkie versions of The Lodger made by other
directors, because they made the story too complicated. 

Sources

Marie Belloc Lowndes, “The Lodger,” in McClure’s Magazine, Volume 36, January 1911, pp. 266–77.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. London: Methuen, 1913. 

Mark Whitehead and Miriam Rivett, Jack the Ripper. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Pocket Essentials, 2006, p. 67

Denis Meikle, Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd., 2002, pp. 44–49.

Gary Coville and Patrick Lucanio, Jack the Ripper: His Life and Crimes in Popular Entertainment. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1999, p. 24.

 “‘The Lodger’ Proves Highly Amusing,” New York Times, January 9, 1917.Ivor Novello in Hitchcock’s silent classic film The Lodger (1927) Ivor Novello in Hitchcock's The Lodger

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.
LONDON. SATURDAY, 17 NOVEMBER, 1888.

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

SCENE AT A WAXWORKS

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.

The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown

British Army, Depression, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Metropolitan Police, Suicide 32 Comments »

Richard Brown presents a most unusual case, for he was not only a seaman but a soldier
and a London policeman in consecutive order, and, as the old rhyme goes, Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor
. . . . Does his suicide by apparent self-inflicted gunshot in Hyde Park
at midday on Friday, 16 November 1888, 3 days after he was allowed to resign from the
Metropolitan Police and almost a week after the 9 November murder and mutilation of
Mary Jane Kelly, have anything to do with the Whitechapel murders? Could Brown even
have been Jack the Ripper? The Jewish Chronicle of 23 November, reporting on the
coroner’s enquiry into his death, tells us that ‘The deceased was a Jew, and before
joining the police force was a soldier in the British army. He served in the Egyptian
campaign and was decorated with four medals. It transpired that Sir Charles Warren
had shown him great kindness, and the deceased became very depressed when the
resignation of the late Chief Commissioner was announced.’ 

The reported facts about Brown’s Jewish religion and reported relationship with Warren
are tantalizing details that are left out of the reports of the coroner’s hearing published
in The Times, Lloyd’s Weekly News, and The Star at the end of November. The date of
Brown’s suicide fits the criterion many students of the case theorize for the supposed
conclusion of the Ripper’s murder spree—that the murderer did away with himself. 

‘. . . a steady, respectable man’

Brown joined the Metropolitan Police on 16 August 1886 as Warrant Number 72041 in E
Division, according to the ‘E’ Divisional Ledger. E Division covered the West End district
of Holborn with stations at Hunter Street, Gray’s Inn Road, Bow Street, and Waterloo
Pier. The division records give Brown’s birthplace as Adelaide, South Australia, his age on
joining as 32 years, and his army service prior to joining the force as Royal Artillery and
Army Reserve. His height is recorded as five feet nine and a quarter inches. P.C. Brown’s
resignation from the force was permitted on 13 November 1888; Police Orders for that
day reveal that the resignation was permitted under Consolidated Orders, Sec. IV., para
128 to 133, page 488, ‘Not parading on duty; and considered unfit for the Police Force.’
Pay was permitted ‘to the 11th [December]’.

Brown was let go on Tuesday, and on Friday, three days after being allowed to resign,
he apparently killed himself. After telling acquaintances of confused plans to leave
the country, the man shot himself with a pistol he bought on Thursday.

The coroner’s inquest into Brown’s death was held at St. George’s Hospital by Mr. John
Troutbeck, the coroner for Westminster. As recorded in the 20 November edition of The
Times
, Inspector Austin Askew, of Hunter Street Police Station, testified about Brown’s
termination from the police and his character:

[Askew] stated that the deceased was guilty of a slight breach of discipline, and with
others appeared before the Assistant Commissioner, who allowed him to resign in order
that he might preserve his testimonial, and he left the service last Tuesday. He… was
a steady, respectable man, and did his duty fairly well.

Askew said the breach of discipline was that the deceased ought to have gone on parade
for night duty at a quarter to 10, and he neglected to do so.

The Strange Death of Richard Brown

Louis Sidney Torre, of 3, Percy Square, King’s Cross, stated to be the deceased’s second
uncle, there being no other relatives, stated he had known Brown for ‘about ten years,
and last saw him alive on Tuesday, the 13th’ when he was at his house—the same day
Brown had resigned from the police, and thus a traumatic day for the former constable.

Torre said his relative ‘seemed rather despondent, but complained of no trouble.’ Brown
informed him that ‘he had resigned his situation in the police force’ and that he intended
to go ‘either to Mexico or to Africa.’ Torre said his nephew was ‘a sober, steady
man, and [that] he had saved about £130.’

William Richards, a pawnbroker’s assistant, of 34 High Holborn, said that Brown came
to his shop on Thursday and bought a revolver, saying he was going to shoot in a match
with a fellow constable. It was a pin-fire revolver with six chambers. Richards said
Brown loaded the weapon outside the shop. Did it cross the disturbed man’s mind
to commit suicide by shooting himself right there in High Holborn?

Harris Bloom, a dealer of 166 Drury Lane, said that the deceased had supper with him on
Thursday night. The former policeman showed him the revolver, which he said he bought
for protection. Brown told Bloom he was going to California. Note that Brown’s stated
intentions to the dealer in regard to the gun and on his plans to go after leaving England
(if indeed he really intended to leave the country) varied from statements he made to the
pawnbroker’s assistant, Richards, and to his uncle, Louis Sidney Torre.

Police Constable Duncan McKenzie, 593 A, described finding Brown’s body:

[McKenzie] stated that he was on duty outside the Hyde Park Police-station
at midday on Friday when he heard a whistle blown. It sounded like a
policeman’s whistle. Upon going along the footpath leading to the
Serpentine he saw the deceased sitting on a seat with the revolver
produced tightly clasped in his right hand and blood flowing from his
mouth. He was removed to the hospital. No whistle was found.
 

 Map of Hyde Park 1833

Map of Hyde Park, 1833, showing paths to the Serpentine

Lloyds Weekly Newspaper November 25 1888 

Report of inquest on Richard Brown’s suicide in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper,
Sunday, 25 November 1888  

 

Questions arise about this odd tale. Why did McKenzie say he heard a police whistle and
and not a gunshot? Who blew the whistle? Did Brown fire the fatal shot or did someone
else? If Brown did commit suicide, why at midday on Friday in a public park close
to a police station? Was the chosen location for suicide, if such it was, meant to
embarrass the police, or merely the product of a disturbed mind?

Mr. F. W. Parker, house surgeon, stated Brown died three hours after his admission; the
bullet entered his mouth and penetrated his brain. The jury gave a verdict of ‘temporary
insanity.’

A Mixed Army Record

With the help of genealogist Mark Andrew Pardoe, I have now obtained copies of
Brown’s army records. They reveal a mixed history despite his usual steadiness
while serving in the Metropolitan Police.

Brown joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner, regimental no. 4175, in the 11th brigade,
in Liverpool on 8 March 1878. At that time, his age was given as 24 years and 6 months.
He gave his occupation as sailor, his family’s address as 515 Pitt Street, Adelaide, South
Australia, and his father’s name as ‘John’ but, as noted below, research in Australian
street directory and genealogy records has not so far confirmed this information. Royal
Artillery records show Brown had a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, and
no distinctive marks except for a vaccination mark on his left arm from infancy. His
chest measured 38 inches, his weight 161 pounds, muscular development ‘very good’.

Unlike the 1888 Jewish Chronicle report of Richard Brown’s Jewishness, his religion
in army files is given as Church of England. Two days later, at the artillery depot
at Sheerness, Kent, he was diagnosed with ague and gonorrhoea, and was treated with
quinine and purgatives. He transferred to 11th brigade 12th battery on 15 May. The Royal
Artillery at the time had over 11 brigades with at least 6 batteries each of ca. 200 men.
Gunner Brown first served for 245 days in the unit, for he deserted the artillery while on
furlough at Sheerness on 11 November.

Astonishingly, Brown deserted not to quit the army but to join another army unit.
As noted on Brown’s Statement of Services, he ‘enlisted into 2/5 Foot [i.e., 2nd battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers] as No. 2091 Pte. Richard Brown on 12th
November 1878.’

Contrary to the statement made 7 months earlier on joining the artillery in Liverpool in
which he said he was a sailor from Australia, Brown gave his place of birth as Heligoland
and his occupation as a groom. Heligoland, an island off the German coast, today part of
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, was at the time still a British possession after capture by
the Royal Navy from Denmark in 1807. The land became German in 1890 in a deal
worked out under the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty whereby the British got the rich East
African island of Zanzibar in return for surrendering the coastal island to the German
authorities. The deal was apparently more to Germany’s advantage strategically than
for any intrinsic value that the low-lying windswept island possessed. The Germans
established a naval base on the island and a sea battle of 1914, the opening year
of the First World War in Europe, occurred off it. It could be that Brown’s turnaround in
saying he was from Heligoland might betray European or Eastern European origin rather
than birth in the Antipodes as he told the Royal Artillery in 1878, although it should be
noted that many seamen in this period listed their place of birth or home as Heligoland.

Within six months, the army learned that ‘Private Brown’ was a deserter from the Royal
Artillery. The miscreant was slapped in the guardroom at Chatham on 20 May 1879. He
became non-effective in the Fusiliers on 4 June and was transferred back to the Royal
Artillery while still remaining in custody. He was moved to the ‘Cells’ 24 June and
court martialed. He served 2 1/2 months in the Millbank Military Prison, London,
located where the Tate Britain Gallery stands today, his pay and pension forfeited
at the time of his conviction for desertion.

 Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Brown was released 10 Sept., when he rejoined the Royal Artillery’s 11th brigade and was
sent with the brigade to India, landing in India on 28 October.

Brown apparently stayed an exemplary soldier til the end of his army career in spring
1886, after which he joined the Metropolitan Police. His pension was restored 11 Sept.
1881, two years after his release from his time in the brig. 

A Decorated Soldier

Brown landed in India in late 1880 and would fight in Afghanistan, being awarded an
attestation and medal for bravery the Afghan campaign of 1878–1880. According to the
newspaper reports on the coroner’s enquiry, he reportedly won a total of four medals
although so far we have found record of only two. His ‘Military History Sheet’ confirms
that the other medal was awarded for his service in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt,
on 13 September 1882, described as ‘Medal for Egypt with clasp…Khedive’s Bronze Star.’
Although the note that Gunner Brown won this medal appears on his army history sheet,
mystifyingly, he is not listed in the medals list for the campaign (WO100, War Office:
Campaign Medal and Award Rolls (General Series) 56, Royal Artillery 14 Egypt, 1882).

The battle followed the overthrow of the the Khedive, the British viceroy in Egypt, by
a native force led by rebel Egyptian officer, Colonel Ahmed Arabi in May 1882. Arabi
and his rebel army’s aimed to take over the Suez Canal, recently built in 1869 to
facilitate communications to Asia, and to keep foreigners out of Egypt. After landing
at Ismalia in August and making a night march, British commander Lieutenant General
Sir Garnet Wolseley with 35,000 British and Indian troops surprised and destroyed
Arabi’s entrenched army at the Tel-el-Kebir and restored British rule. 

 The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir 1882

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, 1882

The redoubtable Scottish poet William McGonagall wrote one of his epic poems on the
battle, and it gives the flavor of the battle in which Richard Brown won his medal, even
if the Scottish bard appears, by my count, to underestimate the size of the British force!

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir

Ye sons of Great Britain, come join with me,
And sing in praise of Sir Garnet Wolseley;
Sound drums and trumpets cheerfully,
For he has acted most heroically.

Therefore loudly his praises sing
Until the hills their echoes back doth ring;
For he is a noble hero bold,
And an honour to his Queen and country, be it told.

He has gained for himself fame and renown,
Which to posterity will be handed down;
Because he has defeated Arabi by land and by sea,
And from the battle of Tel-el-Kebir he made him to flee.

With an army about fourteen thousand strong,
Through Egypt he did fearlessly march along,
With the gallant and brave Highland brigade,
To whom honour is due, be it said.

Arabi’s army was about seventy thousand in all,
And, virtually speaking, it wasn’t very small;
But if they had been as numerous again,
The Irish and Highland brigades would have beaten them, it is plain.

‘Twas on the 13th day of September, in the year of 1882,
Which Arabi and his rebel horde long will rue;
Because Sir Garnet Wolseley and his brave little band
Fought and conquered them on Kebir land.

He marched upon the enemy with his gallant band
O’er the wild and lonely desert sand,
And attacked them before daylight,
And in twenty minutes he put them to flight.

The first shock of the attack was borne by the Second Brigade,
Who behaved most manfully, it is said,
Under the command of brave General Grahame,
And have gained a lasting honour to their name.

But Major Hart and the 18th Royal Irish, conjoint,
Carried the trenches at the bayonet point;
Then the Marines chased them about four miles away,
At the charge of the bayonet, without dismay!

General Sir Archibald Alison led on the Highland Brigade,
Who never were the least afraid.
And such has been the case in this Egyptian war,
For at the charge of the bayonet they ran from them afar!

With their bagpipes playing, and one ringing cheer,
And the 42nd soon did the trenches clear;
Then hand to hand they did engage,
And fought like tigers in a cage.

Oh! it must have been a glorious sight
To see Sir Garnet Wolseley in the thickest of the fight!
In the midst of shot and shell, and the cannons roar,
Whilst the dead and the dying lay weltering in their gore

Then the Egyptians were forced to yield,
And the British were left masters of the field;
Then Arabi he did fret and frown
To see his army thus cut down.

Then Arabi the rebel took to flight,
And spurred his Arab steed with all his might:
With his heart full of despair and woe,
And never halted till he reached Cairo.

Now since the Egyptian war is at an end,
Let us thank God! Who did send
Sir Garnet Wolseley to crush and kill
Arabi and his rebel army at Kebir hill.

After Tel-el-Kebir, Brown returned with his Royal Artillery unit to India. During this
time, his medical history seems unexceptional except for a contusion obtained in an
accident on duty in Rawal Pindi in November 1882, and a 23-day episode of lumbago
while at Fort Attack in 1884.

Brown remained in India until returning to England on 20 April 1886 and
being transferred the First Class Army Reserve with the rank of gunner on 19 May,
three months before he joined the Metropolitan Police. On his discharge, his character
was noted as being ‘good.’ In his medical history, and the medical staff noted in their
‘General Remarks on his Habits and Conduct in the Service, Temperance, &c. . . Good,
Regular, Temperate.’ 

Where Did Richard Brown Meet Warren?

It is tempting to think that on one of his overseas tours of duty or even in England,
Gunner Brown’s path intersected with fellow British Army man General Sir Charles
Warren, but documentation of their association prior to both being in the Met in 1888
is so far lacking. In what manner did Warren show Brown kindness? And was that
kindness shown by Warren to the younger man while they were in the army or while
in police service? Possibly study of written army and police records, as well as the
papers of the coroner’s inquest on Brown, if still extant, will reveal these answers.

As Jeffrey Bloomfield mentioned in a 2003 article in Ripperologist, ‘The Making of the
Commissioner 1886’, Warren was in Egypt in 1882, having volunteered his services
in the Egyptian Campaign. Did the two men meet at the time Gunner Brown won his
Khedive’s Bronze Star at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and possibly serve together in the
campaign? After Warren gained fame for tracking down the killers of Professor Edward
Palmer and his expedition in Egypt in late 1882–1883, the general was recommended as
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1886. He took over as Commissioner from
Sir Edmund Henderson on 12 March 1886. Was he instrumental 5 months later in August,
in recommending that Brown to be accepted into the police force? This could be a
possible channel for investigation.

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren 

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren

Brown was discharged from the Artillery on 19 May 1886 and transferred to the
Army Reserve. His discharge date, or rather his transfer to the reserve list, made it 
convenient for him for him to join Metropolitan Police. Of interest to Ripperologists is
an indication in the army records that, on leaving the Artillery, he stated that he was
going to live in London’s East End, since he gave the General Post Office at Bethnal
Green as his postal address. Where was he living while he was in the police, and
specifically during the time of the Whitechapel murders? Would his duties in E
Division have given him an opportunity to be in the East End on the nights of the
murders?  Or could he have been one of the policemen drafted into the East End
at the time of the Ripper scare? These questions represent other areas for research. 

Questions about Richard Brown’s ‘Australian’ Background

Enquiries made for me by Australian genealogist Andrew Peake in Adelaide records have
failed to find Brown’s family at 515 Pitt Street or a father named “John” at that address
as Brown’s army records indicate. The listings failed to disclose an individual or family
who remotely resembled someone connected to Brown. Pitt Street in Adelaide, it turns
out, is a short street connecting two main streets, today filled with commercial addresses
although in the 1870’s it had some private houses. Sydney’s “Pitt St.” is a longer street.
Mr Peake checked directories for Adelaide for 1876 and 1878 but failed to find a family
named Brown or a man named “John” who might have been Richard Brown’s father.

Conclusion

What is the real story of Richard Brown? Was there some type of link between Richard
Brown’s suicide and the Whitechapel murders? Could he even have been the murderer?
His death within days after the Kelly murder on 9 November 1888 and his Jewish
background, given the possible Jewish connections to the case, make the circumstances
of his life and death worthy of study. It is also perhaps odd to note that it was on
11 Nov. 1878 that Brown deserted the Royal Artillery and joined the Second Battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers, that it was also in November ten years
later that he failed to appear on parade as a police constable in E Division of the Met,
was let go from the police on 13 Nov. 1888, and committed suicide on 16 November.
Another oddity is that the contusion Brown received while serving in India in an  accident while on duty, noted on his medical record, occurred on 2 Nov. 1882.

Is it too much to think there may have been a psychological landmark in Brown’s
past that made the month of November traumatic and that caused him psychological
distress? Or do we take it at face value that his desertion at Sheerness in November
1878 and the accident in India in November 1882 had no connection to his actions in
November 1888, i.e., his failure to appear on parade and his later apparent suicide? Was
Brown, as testified at the coroner’s enquiry, really depressed about the resignation of
Warren as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police? Or is there a deeper story concerning
Brown connected to the series of murders that occurred in London’s East End in August
through November 1888?

It might be assumed that our inability to so far to prove his Australian background and
his motley career in the army calls into question a number of ‘facts’ that Brown told
about his background. It is my working assumption that the man’s real name was not
‘Brown’ but some Eastern European name. Research continues into the strange case of
P.C. Richard Brown.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the late Adrian M. Phypers for alerting me to the story of Richard
Brown. I also thank Alex Chisholm, Andy & Sue Parlour, Debra Arif, researcher
Andrew Peake, Bernard Brown, and genealogist and researcher Mark Andrew Pardoe.

Notes

Jeffrey Bloomfield, ‘The Making of the Commissioner 1886,’ Ripperologist 47, July 2003.

Battle of Tel-el-Kebir at http://www.national-army-museum.ac.uk/pages/sudan.html

British Army Records, PRO, WO 97 2388, Richard Brown, Gunner, Royal Artillery,
4175 Descrip; Medical History and Medical History; Record of Service (Proceedings of
Attestation).

Christopher T. George, ‘The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown,’
Ripperologist 49, September 2003. This blog entry is adapted from that article
copyright Ripperologist 2003. 

“Inquest,” Jewish Chronicle, 23 November 1888.

“Inquests,” The Times, 20 November 1888. A similar report on the coroner’s enquiry into
Brown’s death appeared in “A Constable Allowed to Resign,” The Star, 20 November
1888. The Star, 17 November 1888, carried a short report to say that Brown had been
identified as the man who committed suicide in Hyde Park on the preceding day.

Jill Stratton, ed. The Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885. Adelaide, 1986.

William McGonagall On-Line, “The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir,” available at
http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/poems/pgkebir.htm

Metropolitan Police, Police Orders, 16 August 1886 [‘Joined the force this day.— . . .
E 489-72041 Richard Brown’]; 13 November 1888 [Brown’s resignation permitted]

Street Directories for Adelaide, South Australia, 1876 and 1878.

City P.C. George H. Hutt, Police Poet, and the Issue of Horse Cruelty

Animal cruelty, Horses, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Poetry, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 7 Comments »

George H. Hutt, known as “The Police Poet” was the gaoler of Bishopsgate Police Station within the area patroled by the City of London Police. As such, in the early morning hours of 30 September 1888, he let the shortly to be fourth Jack the Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes out of gaol before she was murdered in Mitre Square, Aldgate.

Hutt is known to have written numerous letters to the press, including one condemning the anti-semitism that grew out of the Ripper crimes, the East End of London at the time having a large immigrant Jewish population, and rumors circulated that the Ripper could have been a Jew.  He appears to have been an unusually compassionate man with regard for the dignity of both human beings and animals.

Hutt wrote a poem called “Saved by a Dog” about a dog who saved a woman cook’s life in Leeds in 1893 and another poem about the marriage of Princess Victoria Mary (May) of Teck and George, Duke of York (the future George V) that same year, for which he received an acknowledgement from the Royal family.

Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper
Sunday, May 28, 1893


In the pages of Ripperologist we have been running a series on City of London policemen of the Jack the Ripper period written by those excellent researchers Rob Clack and Neil Bell. George H. Hutt is one of the London coppers that they have covered. He joined the City Police in 1879. He left the City Police in 1889 and then served as a constable for Smithfield Meat Market.

I recently came across another poem by P.C. Hutt which further shows the humaneness of the man:

 A HORSE’S LETTER to Ex-Police Constable 365 John Pegg

Dear Mr. Pegg, you’ve proved our friend,
No one can deny,
By oft detecting cruelty
While others pass it by.

Your life has been devoted to
The ailments of my race,
And when the tongue was devoid of speech,
Yours kindly took its place.

Before we had your kindly aid
Our pleading proved in vain,
And often with a heavy load
We’ve struggled on in pain.

While drivers in their ignorance
Have vowed that we did shirk,
And though we have been weak and ill
Have urged on to work.

‘Tis you and only such as you
Who mark the mute appeal,
Of us poor helpless quadrupeds
When indisposed we feel.

I’ve had the horrid toothache, Pegg,
And fast I could not go,
But as a medicine received
A cruel, stinging blow.

Again I’ve stood hour after hour
Till corns have made me kick,
And blamed for vicious temper been
Belaboured with a stick.

Sometimes a drunkard held the reins,
And muddled, did not think
That I as well as he required
A cool refreshing drink.

He loitered, tippling on the way,
Till working hours were past,
Then homeward thrashed me, and all night
Left me, unclean, to fast.

But dear old Pegg, you found it out,
And when ’twas brought to light,
You had the rascal punished well,
While Sangster set me right.

Now nearly thirty years you’ve been
An agent of the law,
And through your tact oft saved us pain
By finding out the flaw.

Ans though we are but helpless brutes,
Without the power of speech,
Yet in our gratefulness, dear Pegg,
A moral we can teach.

So horses, mules, and asses, too,
Their wishes to you give
By neighing “Honhy, honhy, hon!”
Which means “Long may you live.”

May those who have the care of us
With your kind acts agree,
Then animals of every class
Will better treated be.

George H. Hutt

The poem references P.C. John Pegg, “Who, during his 29 years of service in the City of London Police Force obtained 1,300 Convictions for Cruelty to Horses, etc.”  The “Sangster” that is mentioned is the veterinarian Thomas Sangster, M.R.C.V.S., who died on November 28, 1893. Following is an excerpt from an article on horse cruelty cases in which both Pegg and Sangster involved, as reported in the Illustrated Police News of September 23, 1882.

 Illustrated Police News Sept 23 1882

.

 .

.

Victorian Cab Stand 

It is conceivable that P.C. Hutt may have been partly inspired to write his “Horse’s Letter” by a similar literary effort by Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832–1902), the American Presbyterian preacher and social campaigner. For more on Rev. De Witt Talmage see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_De_Witt_Talmage
 
The book by Rev. De Witt Talmage, Around the Tea-Table (Philadelphia: Cowperthwait & Company, 1874) contains a chapter called “A Horse’s Letter” (pp 88-90) written by “Charley Bucephalus” from “Brooklyn Livery Stables, January 20, 1874.” The Brooklyn horse’s letter seems to have appeared in newspapers worldwide, e.g., see National Library of New Zealand site on Papers Past > Bruce Herald (New Zealand) > 25 Huitanguru 1876 > Page 3 > A Horse’s Letter at http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=BH18760225.2.6&l=mi&e=——-10–1—-2-all

Thus, it could be as with his poem about the hero dog in Leeds who saved the woman cook’s life, George Hutt was partly thinking of this earlier “Horse’s Letter” in composing his poem.  Talmage’s composition also touches on the topic of cruelty to horses.

A Horse’s Letter.
(From the Christian Age)

My dear gentlemen and ladies,— I am aware that this is the first time a horse has ever taken upon himself to address any member of the human family. True, a second cousin of our household once addressed Balaam, but his voice for public speaking was so poor that he got unmercifully whacked, and never tried it again. We have endured in silence all the outrages of many thousands of years, but feel it now time to make remonstrance.

Recent attentions have made us aware of our worth. During the epizootic epidemic, we had at our stables innumerable calls from doctors, and judges, and clergymen. Everybody asked about our health. Groomsmen bathed our throats, and sat up with us nights, and furnished us with pocket-handkerchiefs. For the first time in years we had quiet Sundays. We overheard a conversation that made us think that the commerce and the fashion of the world waited the news from the stable. Telegraphs announced our condition across the land and under the sea, and we came to believe that this world was originally made for the horse, and man for his groom.

But things are going back again where they were. Yesterday I was driven fifteen miles, jerked in the mouth, struck on the back, watered when I was too warm, and instead of the six quarts of oats that my driver ordered for me, I got two. Last week I was driven to a wedding, and heard music, and quick feet, and laughter, that made the chandeliers rattle, while I stood unblanketed in the cold. Sometimes the doctor hires me, and I stand at twenty doors waiting for invalids to rehearse all their pains. Then the minister hires me, and I have to stay till Mrs Tittle-Tattle has time to tell the dominie all the disagreeable things of the parish.

The other night, after our owner had gone home, and the ostlers were asleep, we held an indignation meeting in our livery-stable. “Old Sorrel” presided, and there was a long line of vice-presidents and secretaries, mottled bays, and dappled grays, and chestnuts, and Shetland, and Arabian ponies. “Charlie,” one of the old inhabitants of the stable, began a speech, amid great stamping on the part of the audience. But he soon broke down for lack of wind. For five years he had been suffering with the “heaves.” Then “Pompey,” a venerable nag, took his place, and though he had nothing to say, he held out his spavined leg, which dramatic posture excited the utmost enthusiasm of the audience. “Fanny Shetland,” the property of a lady, tried to damage the meeting by saying that horses had no wrongs. She said: “Just look at my embroidered blanket. I never go out when the weather is bad. Everybody who comes near pats me on the shoulder. What can be more beautiful than going out in a sunshiny afternoon to make an excursion through the park, amid the clatter of the hoofs of the stallions? I walk, or pace, or canter, or gallop, as I choose. Think of the beautiful life we lead, with the prospect, after our easy work is done, of going up and joining Elijah’s horses of fire.”

Next I took the floor, and said that I was born in a warm, snug Pennsylvania barn; was on my father’s side, descended from Bucephalus; on my mother’s side, from a steed that Queen Elizabeth rode in a steeple-chase. My youth was passed in clover pastures, and under trusses of sweet-smelling hay. I flung my heels in glee at the farmer when he came to catch me. But on a dark day I was overdriven, and my joints stiffened, and my fortunes went down, and my whole family was sold. My brother, with head down and sprung in the knees, pulls the street-car. My sister makes her living on the towpath, hearing the canal boys swear. My aunt died of the epizootic. My uncle — blind, and afflicted, with the bots, the ring-bone, and the spring-halt — wanders about the common, trying to persuade someone to shoot him. And here I stand, old and sick, to cry out against the wrongs of horses — the saddles that gall, the spurs that prick, the snaffles that pinch, the loads that kill.

At this, a vicious-looking nag, with mane half pulled out, and a “watch-eye,” and feet “interfering,” and a tail from which had been subtracted enough hair to make six “waterfalls,” squealed out the suggestion that it was time for a rebellion, and she moved that we take the field, and that all those that could kick should kick, and that all those that could bite should bite, and that all those who could bolt should bolt, and all those who could run away should run away; and that thus we fill the land with broken waggons, and smashed heads, and teach our oppressors that the day of retribution has come, and that our down-trodden race will no more be trifled with.

When this resolution was put to the vote, not one said “Aye,” but all cried “Nay! nay!” and for the space of half an hour kept on neighing. Instead of this harsh measure, it was voted that, by the hand of Henry Bergh, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I whould write this letter of remonstrance.

My dear gentlemen and ladies, remember that we, like yourselves, have moods, and cannot always be frisky and cheerful. You do not slap your grandmother in the face because, this morning, she does not feel so well as usual; why then do you slash us? Before you pound us, ask whether we have been up late the night before, or had our meals at irregular hours, or whether our spirits have been depressed by being kicked by a drunken ostler. We have only about ten or twelve years in which to enjoy ourselves, and then we go out to be shot into nothingness. Take care of us while you may. Job’s horse was “clothed with thunder,” but all we ask is a plain blanket. When we are sick, put us in a horsepital. Do not strike us when we stumble or scare. Suppose you were in the harness and I were in the waggon, I had the whip and you the traces, what an ardent advocate you would be for kindness to the irrational creation! Do not let the blacksmith, drive the nail into the quick when he shoes me, or burn my fetlocks with a hot file. Do not mistake the “dead-eye” that nature put on my foreleg for a wart to be exterminated. Do not cut off my tail short in fly-time. Keep the North wind out of our stables. Care for us at some other time than during the epizoptics, so that we may see your kindness is not selfish. My dear friends, our interests are mutual. I am a silent partner in your business. Under my sound hoof is the diamond of national prosperity. Beyond my nostril the world’s progress may not go. With thrift, and wealth, and comfort, I daily race neck and neck. Be kind to me, if you want me to be useful to you. And near be the day when the red horse of war shall be hocked and impotent, and the pale horse of death shall be hurled back on his haunches, but the white horse of peace, and joy, and triumph shall pass on, its rider with face like the sun, all nations following!

Your most obedient, servant, Charley Bucephalus.

Heartbreaking stuff!  We can readily see how caring people at the time such as the policemen George Hutt and John Pegg could become disturbed at such mistreatment of horses, who literally carried the burden of the economic and social life of people in the late Victorian period.It is emblematic of P.C. George Hutt that he seems to have cared equally for the poor of the East End, for the Jews who lived in the neighborhood, and for the working horses of the capital.For more on P.C. Hutt, read the excellent article by Neil Bell and Rob Clack that appeared in Ripperologist 110, January 2010.  You might consider taking out a subscription, too. George Hutt in Ripperologist 110 January 2010

Short Course on the Whitechapel Murders, Baltimore, Oct-Nov 2011

Jack the Ripper, Jews, Joseph Barnett, London, Mary Jane Kelly, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders No Comments »

I am teaching a short course on the case this Fall in the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore.

 THE MYSTERY OF JACK THE RIPPER

 The Whitechapel Murders that occurred in the Autumn of 1888 in the East End of London continue to fascinate new generations. Although the crimes constitute the classic “cold case,” it seems that annually new suspects and theories are proposed. Yet, no one has yet managed definitely to identify the anonymous murderer known as Jack the Ripper. 

On Evening One, I will evaluate the known facts of the murders. On Evening Two, I will examine the different theories and theorists. On Evening Three the class will discuss the enduring legacy of the Ripper murders and the portrayals of the crimes in novels, movies and stage plays, and try to come to some conclusions about what the murders were and were not. Who was Jack the Ripper? Warning: not for the squeamish. Powerpoint images will be projected that will show the murder scenes and the corpses of the women killed, and the mutilations caused by the killer will be discussed in detail.

Three Sessions $75
Thursday, October 20, 27, and Wednesday, November 2
7:00 – 9:00 pm

 Complete course catalog available at http://www.rpcs.org/Kaleidoscope/pdfs/Fall_2011_Catalog.pdf

Apply: 

Roland Park Country School
Office of External Programs
5204 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21210
Or call with credit card information, 410-323-5500 ext. 3091

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 WHITECHAPEL MURDER.
FUNERAL OF THE VICTIM.


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 

The Question of Jack the Ripper and the Jews

Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 6 Comments »

In 1910, the poor Jews of London’s East End began to collect funds to erect the Edward VII Memorial Drinking Fountain in Whitechapel Road in honor of the reigning monarch, the son of Queen Victoria. At around the same time, Sir Robert Anderson, former head of Metropolitan Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the time of the murders, claimed in his memoirs that it was a “definitely ascertained fact” that the Whitechapel Murderer was a poor Polish Jew, and he indicated that the suspect’s family had protected the man from “Gentile justice”. The man Anderson apparently meant, according to a marginal notation left by retired Detective Superintendent Donald S. Swanson was Aaron Kosminski, a deranged Polish-born Jewish barber. Other police officials maintained that “Jack the Ripper” was never positively identified, and Anderson’s claim remains controversial to this day. Some Ripperologists believe Anderson held the answer to the mystery that has persisted for the last 123 years. But, did he?

edward-vii-memorial-fountain-by-john-bennett.JPG

Edward VII Memorial Drinking Fountain, Whitechapel Road, funded by subscriptions raised by poor East End Jews. Photograph courtesy of John Bennett.

What are the true facts? Is it possible that a Jew could have been the killer? Could Jews really have protected the killer and refused to identify the man as the killer as Anderson claimed? A number of East End Jews were suspects who were taken in to be questioned but were later released. An early suspect in the murders was a man named “Leather Apron” who was allegedly terrorizing local prostitutes. In September 1888, a Jew named John Pizer was arrested on suspicion of being Leather Apron, but he had to be let go when it was proved that he had a solid alibi for the times of two of the murders.

Thousands of Jewish homes were visited during house-to-house enquiries in October 1888. A number of Jews were witnesses at the inquests into the murder victims, particularly in the cases of second canonical victim Annie Chapman, killed and disembowelled in the squalid back yard at 29 Hanbury Street on 8 September, and that of third canonical victim Elizabeth Stride, her throat in Dutfield’s Yard beside a mostly Jewish socialist club in Berner Street early on 30 September. Although Liz Stride had her throat cut from ear to ear in the same manner as the other canonical victims she was otherwise not mutilated, the traditional explanation being that the killer was disturbed by the arrival of a Jewish man who arrived with pony and cart.

Could the man who so cruelly despatched those women—the prostitutes or “unfortunates” of the East End, the man known by the infamous name of Jack the Ripper, have been a Jew? And even if the killer was not a Jew, what was the exact role of the Jews in the case?

In early medieval times, Jews lived in the area now known as London’s East End. The street called “Old Jewry” is a reminder of this presence of Jews in the vicinity until their expulsion from England in 1290 during the reign of Edward I. With the return of Jews to Britain in the seventeenth century, Dutch and German Ashkenazi Jews established synagogues outside the gates of the City of London. Sephardic Jews established the Bevis Mark Synagogue off Bury Street, and it remains to this day an architectural gem well worth a visit.

Bevis Marks Synagogue, Whitechapel

Bevis Marks Synagogue, Whitechapel. Photograph courtesy of John Bennett.

The Great Synagogue in Duke Street, Aldgate, was founded in 1690. Heavily damaged in 1940 by the German bombing during the Second World War, the building was subsequently demolished. The Great Synagogue plays a part in our story because fourth canonical victim Catherine Eddowes was murdered in the early morning hours of 30 September 1888 in Mitre Square behind this Jewish house of worship.

By 1888, the East End was home to many immigrant groups including Irish, Germans, and Eastern European Jews. The largest influx of Jews would occur with a surge of immigration of Eastern European Jews in the late nineteenth century. While wealthier “Anglicised” Jews moved to the prosperous suburbs, Yiddish-speaking poor Jews, some 150,000 of them, flooded into the East End of London during 1881–1914 after many of them fled Eastern Europe following Tsarist progroms in Russia and Poland. While some of the newcomers only stayed a short time before moving on to other countries, particularly to the United States, thousands remained in the area. The Yiddish speakers crowded into local tenements and caused concerns to the authorities, both the British Government and local authorities as well as to the Jewish Board of Guardians because of the fear of rising disease and crime rates.

Indeed, the influx of poor new Jews panicked as well as helped mobilise the Anglo-Jewish establishment of the day, largely made up of the descendants of Jews who had settled in Britain since the seventeenth century. The Jewish establishment wanted to solve the problem. This was, it might be said, partly a self-protective gesture, since in the face of Gentile prejudice and Government pressure, the richer Jews did not want to be seen as part of the problem but wanted to be reactive to it. Lord Rothschild, one of richest British Jews of the day, wrote: “We have now a new Poland on our hands in East London. Our first business is to humanise our Jewish immigrants and then to Anglicise them. . . .” One part of the solution, facilitated by Lord Rothschild, was the founding of the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter at 84 Leman Street to help provide shelter, clothe, and educate the new immigrants, find them housing, and, in some instances, move them on to other countries.

It was in the immigrant working class streets of the largely Jewish East End in an area that constituted barely a square mile that at least five women, or—if you can believe the press of the day—some eleven women were slaughtered by the same hand—that of the mysterious murderer known as “Jack the Ripper”.

Particularly on the night of the so-called “Double Event”, 30 September 1888, with the murders of the third and fourth canonical victims, Stride and Eddowes, aspects of the case converged to create a series of Jewish links to the murders. Do these links indicate a real connection between the crimes and the Jews of the East End or are they only coincidental links that remain intriguing even if they tell us nothing about the reason for the murders? Jim Leen has written:

There is a truism that, delicately stated, birds do not soil their own nest. If we accept that lives would probably have been lost then we must consider why the killer selected this almost exclusively Jewish area in which to operate. Furthermore, the murder scenes [of the five canonical victims of autumn 1888] are, in themselves, provocative.

Buck’s Row [now Durward Street, murder of Mary Ann Nichols, around 3:00 AM on 31 August]—[south of] Brady Street Ashkenazi Cemetery.

Hanbury Street [murder of Annie Chapman about 5:00 AM on 8 September]—Glory of Israel and Sons of Klatsk Synagogue situated at no. 50a; Synagogues at 19 Princelet St. and 17 Wilkes St.

Berner Street [murder of Elizabeth Stride soon around 12:30 AM on 30 September] —St. George’s Settlement Synagogue [and beside the mainly Jewish International Working Man’s Educational Club].

Mitre Square [murder of Catherine Eddowes around 2:00 AM on 30 September]— [behind] the Great Synagogue [and near the Imperial Club at 16–17 Duke’s Place from which three Jewish witnesses emerged]. Miller’s Court [murder of Mary Jane Kelly circa 4:00 AM on 9 November—beside Spitalfields Great Synagogue, Church St. (now Fournier St.)

Consider the pattern of “silent” killings in almost open ground. How could the killer escape so easily? Why did he continue operating in an area where police activity and public vigilance was heightened? What if: he knew that he was guaranteed sanctuary in a place of worship? Notice the two Great Synagogues? It would seem that the killer was deliberately laying a trail towards Jewish culpability, possibly responsibility. (“Jacob the Ripper?” by Jim Leen available at http://www.casebook.org/dissertations/jacob-the-ripper.html.)

The third canonical victim, Stride, was murdered at around 12:55 AM on 30 September 1888 in Dutfield’s Yard, in Berner Street, at the side of a socialist club frequented by Jewish men. Was the killer making a statement of some kind by killing Ms. Stride at that location? Stride was a Gentile born in Sweden as Elizabeth Gustafsdotter who happened to speak Yiddish. Her ability to speak Yiddish might indicate that some of her clients were Jewish, and could also explain her presence close to the club.

A Hungarian Jew named Israel Schwartz said he saw a man to accost her (either Jack the Ripper or another man before the fatal murderous attack). A man shouted out to him, “Lipski!” and Schwartz fled the scene. It appears that the term “Lipski” was a common pejorative term used in the area for semitic looking people, the slur coming from the name of Israel Lipski, an umbrella maker who lived in nearby Batty Street in 1887 and who had poisoned his landlady Miriam Angel, a crime for which he was hanged after much controversy in the press and as well as mob scenes on the streets of the East End.

About an hour and a half after the Berner Street murder a second murder occurred, this time in Mitre Square, Aldgate. The victim was Catherine Eddowes, yet another prostitute or “unfortunate”. The murder occurred not far from a then notorious location—St. Botolphe’s Church, where prostitutes traditionally circled the church touting for business.

Eddowes was killed behind the Great Synagogue. She was last seen alive talking to a man in a passage leading to the square. This according to the testimony of three Jewish men who were leaving the Imperial Club, a Jewish men’s club, at 16–17 Duke’s Place at around 1:30 AM in the morning.

The three men, Joseph Lawende, Joseph Hyam Levy, and Harry Harris, saw the couple at the entrance to covered Church Passage that ran down the east side of the synagogue and led to the secluded square. Questions linger as to whether the men told the police all they knew about the man they saw and whether any one of the three recognized him. Lawende is thought to have been asked by the police later to identify a suspect at the Seaside Home in the scenario described by Sir Robert Anderson and may have refused to do so, if we believe the story told by Anderson.

Soon after the Eddowes murder, at around 2:55 A.M., a chalk inscription was found in a doorway in Goulston Street by Metropolitan Police Constable Alfred Long 254A. The inscription was on the painted brickwork inside a doorway leading to Wentworth Model Dwellings, a tenement known to be home to immigrant Jews.

Although we cannot be certain that the so-called Goulston Street Graffito was written by the murderer, a bloodied piece of white apron that had belonged to Eddowes was found below the writing, which has strongly suggested to many students of the case that the inscription was also left by the killer. Nonetheless, the graffito remains one of the most controversial and exasperating parts of the puzzle known as the Whitechapel Murders.

First and foremost, the wording, written in one-inch high lettering in five lines with odd and unconventional capitalisation, was ambiguously worded:

The Juwes are
The men That
Will not
be Blamed
for nothing

The writing presents us with a conundrum. Was the writer somehow blaming the Jews for the murders? Or was he saying that the Jews should not be blamed? It’s the double negative that is to be blamed, my friends. And a double negative, we might note, is typical of Cockney speech. Such a phrase or grammatical tick, if you will, would not be a typical speech pattern, one should think, for a recent Polish or other Eastern European Jewish immigrant whose English language skills and knowledge of Cockney dialect might be limited.

Famously, exponents of the Royal or Masonic conspiracy theory such as Stephen Knight in his Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution (1976) have argued by contrast that the reference was not to the Jews at all but to the “Juwes” (builders of Solomon’s Temple, supposedly something that in 1888 was a part of masonic tradition known to practising English freemasons. According to the Royal Conspiracy advocates, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, being, as some writers claim, a high and active freemason immediately recognized the masonic reference to “Juwes” and ordered the graffito removed for that reason. This theory seems a bit too convenient for the theorists, and may be less persuasive than that the writing, written in a Jewish neighborhood, really did refer to the Jews.

Let’s put our cards on the table here, friends. The idea that the Ripper was a madman—whether a Jewish lunatic or not—is rather an old-fashioned notion, even if it was one favored by the police who were doing their best to apprehend the killer. We now know that serial killers are cold and calculating and usually don’t outwardly appear mad. American serial killers Ted Bundy, Dennis L. Rader (the BTK Killer), and Gary L. Ridgway (the Green River Killer), were respectively, a suave and handsome much-travelled lover (killing as he went), an efficient if coldly officious community enforcer who enjoyed mentally torturing the good citizens around Wichita, Kansas, and a seemingly innocuous working class house painter in the rainy Pacific northwest. All three men, seemingly respectable by day, led secret lives as vicious sexual serial killers but no one knew it except the men themselves and, ultimately, their victims. They each operated for years, slaughtering women seemingly at will. None of the three could remotely be viewed as a foaming-at-the-mouth killer, and yet the latter, from the writings left by the police of 1888, appears to be what the police of the day were seeking.

I’m not a butcher, I’m not a Yid,
Nor yet a foreign Skipper,
But I’m your own light-hearted friend,
Yours truly, Jack the Ripper.

This rhyme, with its anti-Semitic reference at the end of the opening line, was evidently written in a now-lost “Jack the Ripper” letter. It is cited by former Scotland Yard Chief Constable Sir Melville Macnaghten in his autobiography The Days of My Years (1914). In this memoir, Macnaghten told his readers that information came into his hands years after the Autumn of Terror to showing that the killer was an unbalanced “doctor”. He was referring to Montague John Druitt. The man was a barrister and part-time schoolteacher at a boys’ school in Blackheath. He was the son of a Dorset surgeon but not himself a trained doctor. Druitt committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames. Although Macnaghten is correct that Druitt died after the murder and mutilation of Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November 1888, the suicide was not until the end of November, three weeks after the Kelly murder.

What is the real answer to the identity of Jack the Ripper? Was Sir Robert Anderson correct that the Ripper was a Jew or did Sir Melville Macnaghten have the answer that the killer was a Gentile and the son of a doctor? While a local Jew would have the knowledge of back streets to enable him to escape the police dragnet, there is no compelling evidence that we know about today that the killer was in fact a Jew.

It has been suggested by some that the murderer could have been either a shochet, i,e., a Jewish ritual slaughterman, or a Jewish butcher. It amuses me that people in such professions—whether Jews or not—are put forward as candidates for Jack the Ripper. Where’s the thrill to murder and mutilate if your day job is to cut up corpses? The same thing might be said of doctors. The saving grace though for the Jews of 1888 is that there were not many Jewish doctors in Victorian England. No, a better candidate might be, say, a Jewish shoemaker or leather worker, who while he cuts up leather, might be hankering all day to cut into real live warm flesh.

The puzzle of whether the Whitechapel Murderer was a Jew yields no ready answer.

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