Every year around this time I always post a Year in Review, showing the books, magazines, articles, TV shows and research that other Ripperologists have done throughout the year, but this past year has seen so many changes and I have been so busy that I have not really kept up with the latest developments. Plus a major hard-drive explosion and the loss of several files didn’t help. Luckily much of the material was on pen-drives. So this year I thought I would write a year in review based on my research, rather than other peoples work, to show what has been done locally and nationally.
In January I was cast head first into the world of Frederick Bailey Deeming when it was revealed that a skull had turned up in Australia and was possibly his. The find caused mush debate and discussion and was covered in blogs, newspaper reports, and even made its way onto TV. At the time I was fortunate enough to have quiet a large collection of newspaper articles that showed the passage of Deeming’s skull, from the hanging in 1892, it being buried, dug up, allegedly stolen and through various hands of ownership. It has to be the most talked about skull in Australian history, second only to Ned Kelly, and I am pleased to say that the skull turned out to be that of Ned Kelly’s and not Deeming as previously thought. The case did mean that several members of the Deeming family came forward, and I certainly got a lot of messages and emails from people wishing to know more.
February saw me visiting Hedon and Preston in search of material for a book and articles on the murder of Mary Jane Langley. Mary Jane was murdered in 1891 and at the time Frederick Bailey Deeming had just been released from Hull Prison. His name actually came to light in relation to the investigation in 1892 when Deeming’s links to Hull and Yorkshire were explored in both the Hull and Beverley press and so it would only be a matter of time that I explored the case. What was weird about this, is that some of the descendents of Mary had actually previously been in touch and mentioned the case to me, and asked if I knew anything, so it was lovely to be able to send them material and news every time I researched Mary and her family and to be able to answer some of the question and queries they had regarding the case.
March saw a trip to Beverley’s East Riding Archives, where I secured newspaper cuttings on Frederick Bailey Deeming and his frauds in 1890/1891, and the Rainhill and Windsor Murders of 1891/1892. I also visited several locations associated with Deeming, and Helen Matheson and her family and secured interviews and photos of some of the locations.
April saw the discovery of Frederick Bailey Deeming in the Hull Watch Committee Minutes. These proved invaluable as it put a price on the manhunt for Deeming after his frauds in 1890 in Hull. Many of the books and publications mention Deeming in relation to Hull in only a passing manner, many of which erroneously state that he was married in Hull, and stayed at the Station Hotel in Beverley. The Hull Watch Committee Minutes are a great find as they finally reveal how much was spent on following Deeming to Southhampton and Monte Video, and then returning him to Hull. With this information I was able to find shipping manifests that showed Deeming on board with Detective Grassby of the Hull Police as well as several other documents that were created at the time and show the events that transpired.
May was filled with another Deeming related file. The Hull Watch Committee Minutes books also helped me discover the massive Hull Trial File, which is packed with primary sources from his time in Hull, and features letters, telegrams, and eyewitness statements. It also made me realize that as well as Deeming and his alias Lawson, I should be aware that sometimes the authorities get it wrong and can often misspell names! It also saw an exciting visit to the Hull Prison Exhibition which was fascinating.
June saw some newspaper based research, tackling Frederick Bailey Deeming and Robert D’Onston Stephenson from a different angle and helping me uncover 40 new articles associated with them, their lives in Hull, and the people whose lives they affected. It also saw me get my hands on another Frederick Bailey Deeming file, the Home Office Files. These featured 43 pages filled with material on Deeming and his life and the legal wranglings that were going on over his arrest in Monte Video. This year I visited Whitby with my wife and took in the Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker/Dracula locations. I also managed to obtain several books on the duo, including one that links Stoker to the murders! Stoker, it is claimed, was inspired by the Ripper Murders and stated so in an Icelandic Edition of Dracula.
July saw some research trips to the East Riding Archives in Beverley where I uncovered material on Robert D’Onston Stephenson, Frederick Bailey Deeming, and the murder of Mary Jane Langley. I was also back in the Hull History Centre and found yet another file on Deeming, this time it was in the Hull Watch Files and covered Thomas Reynoldson and his quest for justice against Deeming. Also at the Hull History Centre I found several reports on Deeming in the Hull Watch Committee Minutes, and Hull Finances Committee Minutes. At the Hull Reference Library I discovered information pertaining to the ships that Thomas Sadler had sailed on. This month saw the discovery that Deeming had been discussed in the House of Commons, and that police officers were sent to Australia from Scotland Yard, and asked to help with the Rainhill Murders. Despite these snippets being mentioned in the local and national press to date there have been no files that cast any light on who went and why.
August was the month of Mary Jane Langley, with my article appeared in Ripperologist Magazine, on my blog, and the case attracting attention in the local media. It also gave me a chance to finally meet Mary Jane’s descendants in a rather touching moment at her graveside. This month some some material on Annie Deary/Stephenson surface. I had been researching the events leading up to and surrounding her death and not only traced the location, but several other primary sources from the period. I also managed to secure a photo of the building in which she died. David Knott had found Annie Stephenson’s death certificate some years ago, and from the information contained within I was able to search the logs that were written when Annie died. They proved quiet interesting and showed what she was up to in the latter years of her life in Lincolnshire. August was also the annual Heritage Open Days and I once again visited the Customs House in Hull, filming and taking photos of the visit.
September saw a visit to London for material on both Frederick Bailey Deeming and Robert D’Onston Stephenson. I had the pleasure of visiting the British Library and searching numerous books, periodicals and correspondence and came away with pages and pages of new material. These included material on Robert D’Onston Stephenson and Grant Richards, Robert D’Onston Stephenson and Theosophy, Robert D’Onston Stephenson and the Workhouse, Robert D’Onston Stephenson and Betty May’s Tiger Woman, Robert D’Onston Stephenson and Highgate Hill Infirmary, Robert D’Onston Stephenson and the Islington Board of Guardians, It was a lovely trip and I also had time to visit the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. This month also saw some fascinating finds on Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s Religion that I posted on jtrforums.com. Sadly the registers never had him down as a Black Magician! Despite this numerous books have been released since that still claim he was a black magician!
October was devoted to researching some paranormal material that I had been working on for some time. I was able to secure interviews with key witnesses and appeared on West Hull Radio to discuss some of my research.
November began with an appearance on BBC Radio Humberside discussing the Central Library Lecture. The interview went really well, and the lecture at the library was packed out. I also met and spoke to a number of people that helped with my research, and got more bookings for 2012!
Sadly in early November I was back in hospital with my heart, investigations are ongoing, and hopefully next year the cardiologists will get to the bottom of it.
This year has seen Jack the Blogger, in Ripperologist Magazine, go from strength to strength, sadly the computer outage has stopped me for a while, but the column will be back in 2012 bigger and better than ever. I cannot thank the gang at Ripperologist enough for their ongoing support.
The year also saw some new lectures at both the Hull History Centre and the Hull Central Library, both of which were well filled with every seat taken and great fun. I have more lectures booked into 2012 so it should prove to be another good year. I do not charge for any of my lectures and my time is free.
This year also saw me meeting with a film production crew making a documentary on Frederick Bailey Deeming. Hopefully the show will air soon so I can discuss the matter in detail. All that I can say it that it was great fun and the team that I had the pleasure of working with were all a lovely bunch and it was nice to have them in Hull and show them the sights.
I have also been approached about other possible future projects but cannot divulge what they are!!!
This year has seen a number of developments with the writing projects, and a number of fantastic names are on board to write the forewords of some of the titles. The first quarter of the year was devoted to the writing and research on the Mary Jane Langley project, which was a by product of the work on Frederick Bailey Deeming. The same occurred with the Deeming newspaper book, and the Dawber history book which was created when editing the Robert D’Onston Stephenson book.
The decision to split the paranormal book into three was made when it was discovered that at its present phase it was just too big, so it was split into three. Earlier this year a lot of the material was lost when a computer outage took over 100 pages of work, luckily I still had the research so it is being typed up again.
Jack the Ripper - From Hell, From Hull? Vol I Robert D’Onston Stephenson 261,423 words over 362 pages
Jack the Ripper - From Hell, From Hull? Vol II Frederick Bailey Deeming 207,113 words over 259 pages
Jack the Ripper - From Hell, From Hull? Vol III 66,493 words over 101 pages
Jack the Ripper - From Hell, From Hull? - Newspapers From Hull 104,379 words over 133 pages
Frederick Bailey Deeming and the Murder of Mary Jane Langley 101,831 words over 136 pages
Frederick Bailey Deeming in the International Press 175,320 words over 200 pages
Mike Covell’s Haunted Hull 133,521 words over 217 pages
Mike Covell’s Haunted Hull - The Press Perspective 31,256 words over 43 pages
Mike Covell’s Haunted Hull - Paranormal Hull 108,087 words over 155 pages
Emily Dimmock Camden Town Murder Project 37,633 words over 35 pages
The History of the Dawber family in Hull 1700-2000 15,296 words over 31 pages
Untitled Fact vs Fiction Project 161,669 words over 165 pages
Thank you for a great year:
All the staff at Hull City Council’s Hull History Centre, including the Local Studies and Archives. All the staff at Hull’s Central Library, Reference Library and Holderness road Library for putting up with me. All the staff at Hull Museums and the staff at the East Riding Archives in Beverley. Rob Nicholson of Her Majesty’s Prison, Hull. Adam Wood and Chris George at Ripperologist. Howard and Nina Brown at Jtrforums.com. Ray from the Hedon Blog, All the staff at the Nags Head, Preston, the staff at the Hedon Museum, All the staff at the British Library, British Museum, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, for putting up with my emails and requests and for providing a brilliant service. And a thank you to all my Facebook and Twitter friends that have supported me through what has been a tough year. Here is to 2012!!