More Lectures coming up

Events, Research No Comments »

I have the pleasure to announce that more lectures are on the way for both Hull and locations within the East Riding until early 2012!  Locations, organisations and dates are still being confirmed and I will be posting details here as and when I get them.

My lectures cover all aspects of local crime, history, and the unexplained, and my services are free.

In the past I have been blessed with speaking at the Carnegie Heritage Centre, Hull History Centre, Hull’s Central Library, the Ghost Club, the 2010 Ripper Conference, and at several Hull schools and enjoy meeting people and discussing various aspects of my research.

Last Weeks research

Archives, Deeming, Libraries, Press Reports, Research No Comments »

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the East Riding Archives in Beverley, a wonderful modern building that houses the archives and local studies.  The problem with Hull over the years is that the Sculcoates district fell under the area of the Diocese of York, and as such a lot of the material from Sculcoates is held at the East Riding Archives.  Because of this any research on Robert D’Onston Stephenson, Frederick Bailey Deeming, and the Murder of Mary Jane Langley has to be conducted between the two centres, Beverley, and Hull.

On this trip I was trying to locate some maps that were used at the inquest into the death of Mary Jane Langley.  The maps were part of a bundle that fell under the Beaumont family, as Mr. Beaumont was the County Surveyor at the time, holding offices in both Hull and Beverley.  Mr. Beaumont was called upon to provide material for the trial to show the locations of the eyewitnesses, houses, Marfleet Station, and the spot where Mary Jane Langley was discovered.  As I was brought the map bundle the roll was placed on the table and rolled out, being held down with maps.  Several members of staff came out to aid the opening and laying of the maps, of which there was 5.  The problem was the maps were incomplete.  The location of Mary Jane Langley was missing from each map!  It appears as though these were used to show the inquest where the body was found, but subsequently this location was cut out and removed to the now missing official files, leaving us with only the 19th Century newspaper accounts of where the body was discovered!

I sat and spoke with one of the archivists who was really helpful, and set about looking at other material.

One of the reasons I travel to Beverley to research is because of the Matheson family.  Helen Matheson and her family had resided in Beverley for some years, owning several properties and businesses throughout the market town.  I was able to trace the families movement through Census returns, trade directories and newspaper articles.  One interesting point that was discovered was that Helen’s grandfather was a well known political man in Beverley, fighting corruption in the local government, and to this day a heritage plaque marks the spot where he lived, with Helen Matheson’s grandmother and mother!

I came away from Beverley with a folder of new material, including

Newspaper accounts of Frederick Bailey Deeming’s 1890 trial for fraud in Hull.

Newspaper accounts of the Hedon/Preston Murder.

Newspaper accounts of the life and death of members of the Matheson family.

Newspaper announcements of births, marriages and deaths of the Matheson family.

Photos of several locations associated with Frederick Bailey Deeming, Helen Matheson, Helen’s mother, and Helen’s grandparents.

Research trip findings on Frederick Bailey Deeming.

Archives, Deeming, Research 1 Comment »

This morning I had the pleasure of fitting a large piece to the jigsaw pertaining to Frederick Bailey Deeming’s life and time in Hull.  

Several weeks ago I found a copy of the typed up Hull Corporation Committee Minutes for the Hull Watch Committee.  The entries referred to featured Deeming, under his alias Harry Lawson, and the Hull Watch Committee trying to ascertain who will pay for the manhunt and extradition of Deeming from Monte Video, and entitled “Harry Lawson vs Regina”.  The two entries, spread over two books dated 1890-91, feature no conclusion to events.  One tantalising clue offered was that the Hull Finance Committee would have to discuss the case at its next meeting.  Sadly the Hull Finance Committee books make no mention of the case and for a short while the trail went cold.  

Some months ago I had spent time at the Hull History Centre and acquired the criminal file of Frederick Bailey Deeming, again under the alias of Harry Lawson and wondered if there was anything after this that might me of interest.  The trial file itself was huge, comprising close to 70 pages of correspondence, magistrates papers, evidence files and telegrams and covering Dec 1889 to Sept 1890. [1]

I then discovered that the National Archives had a Home Office file on Deeming/Lawson and requested copies.  When they arrived they covered the period after the trial file, and covered the dates from Dec 16th 1890 to Oct 20th 1891.  Despite the size of the file it felt like something was missing. [2]    

I was about to give up searching but was kindly informed by the staff at the Hull History Centre that there are other avenues.  This meant searching through a huge file pertaining to all manner of committee meetings, minutes, and correspondence.  Sure enough, there among the Hull Watch Committee Meetings was a note, “Henry Lawson vs Regina” The name was wrong, but as this was becoming common place I ordered the files.  

 This morning I was granted access and to my delight they showed the full events that unfolded between January 14th 1891 and September 30th 1891.  There is some overlap between the other two files, but this file alone is worth reading.  It transpired that questions were asked over who should pay for the manhunt and extradition of Frederick Bailey Deeming.  Usually this would fall on the Hull Watch, however, as the case was an international event it didn’t fall under their remit.  There was also a matter of whether the innocent Mr. Thomas Reynoldson should pay for the apprehension, however, this was declined.  Then there was the problem of Frederick Deeming’s Solicitor, who hounded the police and local government claiming that Deeming nor the Solicitor should pay.  Eventually a conclusion was drawn, and whilst it was never officially typed up, today marked the discovery of a new chapter in Deeming’s life. [3]

 1 CQB 396/1328 CR(A) 1890 under the alias Harry Lawson/Deeming/Denning/Deming.

2 HO144/479/X30712 under the alias Harry Lawson/Deeming/Denning/Deming.

3 CTCW/179 Box 4241 Correspondence and Minutes, Reg vs Henry Lawson alias Deeming 1891.


Archives, Deeming, Libraries, Research No Comments »

Hull Reference Library

 This week I had the pleasure of carrying out research in Hull’s Reference Library.  In the past I have visited the library for various research, most recently for Lloyds Shipping Registers and to peruse the two volumes of Lewis Carroll’s Diaries that are held at the library.  More recently the library has undergone a massive renovation and the Reference library is a vastly improved experience.  The desks are modern, there are more computers available, and whether it was just because the room has been altered it looked as if there were more books and journals on display than in previous years.  I had visited the Reference library just after the renovation for a lecture that I gave on Jack the Ripper- The Hull Connection, however, as this was at night and I was to appear before a crowd my mind didn’t register the new and improved facilities on offer.  


This time I was looking through the Lloyds Shipping Registers for steam ships and the Lloyds Shipping Registers for Sailing Vessels in the search for details regarding the ship that Sadler worked on, “Fez” and all of the ships mentioned by Frederick Bailey Deeming and the people that surrounded him.  These included the Ballaarat, Coleridge, Thames, Samuel Plimsoll, Pretoria, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Zebra, Albany, Ophelia, and Sardinian. 

 The Lloyds Shipping Registers were brought out to my desk and I spent a few hours poring over them and found everything I needed plus more. 

 The Hull History Centre

 After that it was a brief stop at the Hull History Centre to look into the antecedents of the 1890/1891 Home Office File on Frederick Bailey Deeming.  This was essentially Frederick Bailey Deeming’s attempt to accuse the Hull Police and Hull Jail of stealing several articles of Jewellery and Clothing.  It also brought in the East Riding Police, Home Office, and the Criminal Investigation Department from Scotland Yard.  The case then became an International incident with the items of jewellery and clothing actually belonging to a South African man who had reported Deeming stealing them off him, thus bringing the South African Government and Police into the case.  What is odd about the whole affair is the lack of newspaper reports covering what was essentially an international diplomatic mess.  I had, some months ago, viewed the Minutes from the Hull Watch Committee Meetings, and discovered 2 pages that covered Frederick Bailey Deeming.  I had hoped these documents would shed light on the case, but discovered that they had nothing to offer.  These were essentially pages asking the question of who will pay for the International manhunt for Deeming for defrauding Reynoldson’s Jewellers.  Sadly, the 2 pages did not reveal who would foot the bill, and therefore raised more questions.  One of the pages hinted that the Minutes of the Hull Finances Committee might hold the key, however, subsequent searches of this file failed to turn any answers up.  I was just about to give up, as I was expected to make two appointments later in the day, when I asked why there was little information as to the outcome of these financial queries.  Luckily I found the answer in a dusty file that had a list of many of the Hull Corporation Committees.  Here in plain view was a file featuring correspondence, and other material on the question of whether Deeming’s manhunt would be paid for by the Hull Police, or someone else in Local or National Government.  The reason why the file has evaded capture for so long is because Frederick Bailey Deeming’s alias was spelt wrong.  Sadly I was expected elsewhere so could not request the files, but they will be checked at the next available opportunity.    

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