This morning I had the pleasure of visiting the Hull History Centre a location that is almost a second home to me and a place at which I never fail to find new material. A couple of years back I had visited the Centre with a view to researching Frederick Richard Chapman, a suspect first posited by B. E. Reilly and one which had lived in Hull between 1874 and 1888. In the past I had consulted several primary sources such as Trade Directories and Inquest Reports and came away with a couple of new significant finds. Sadly since that visit the material was lost on a pendrive from hell!
Rather than let the pendrive beat me I decided to take time out to research him again, keeping in mind the original sources consulted. Sure enough among the Trade Directories of Hull were several new addresses not listed in the Census nor the UK Medical Registers. I was also able to trace details on both the Hull and Sculcoates Dispensary, where he acted as the House Surgeon, and St Barnabas Church, where he acted as a church warden.
In the past I recall consulting an Inquest report from the early 1880’s and that the report bore the signature of Frederick Richard Chapman so with this in mind I searched once again through the massive card index held at the Archives in the Hull History Centre. After a short while I found the original file that I had read some years earlier but among the listings were other files that I had not seen before. With this in mind I ordered the new files and found several other inquest reports featuring Frederick Richard Chapman as the medical witness. The reports also bear Chapman’s signature and show what he was doing in Hull between 1881 and 1883.
I ordered copies of the files and will be reading them later this evening to ascertain more information.
Watch this space!
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Howden, a village approx 26 miles west of Hull and former home of both Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s wife and Frederick Richard Chapman. The day was dull and damp but being by Annie Stephenson’s grave made up for the wet weather. I visited the cemetery where the workhouse records claim she was buried, the site of the workhouse were she passed away, the site of the original workhouse, and the site of the family home of Frederick Richard Chapman. I came away with some new information and some new leads and it was nice to see the Howden Minister and walk among the ancient graves.
Thank you to everyone who welcomed me to the Cottingham Local History Society in Cottingham on Wednesday January 11th 2012 at the Red Hall, Hallgate Primary School, Hallgate. The lecture started with a bump as the powerpoint, laptop and projector refused to work together and I had to give the lecture without the images and primary sources but it still went really well and was a fantastic evening. The crowd were fantastic and it was nice to see the room full with so many interesting and enthusiastic people. I managed to stay behind and speak to a few fellow local historians and picked up some new material and new leads. All in all it was a wonderful evening. Thank you.
The Case for Jack the Ripper, Ira Krakow and the Contributors to Wikipedia.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1523 KB
Publisher: The Krakow Press, LLC (23 Jan 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Prior to the release of the Kindle a number of books were released that were essentially collections of Wikipedia entries. These included such titles as The Mysterious Jack the Ripper and Profiling History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers: Jack the Ripper. Now the digital age is upon us similar titles are making their way onto the Kindle and this is the latest. Released in January 2012 it features entries on the following topics,
• Jack the Ripper
It is useful if one doesn’t have access to Wikipedia, but I prefer the Casebook Wiki pages over the Wikipedia entries which are only as true as the people that contribute.
On the plus side, the download is free!
Ripper Books – Kindle – Reviews
The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, James Carnac, Kindle Review
Publisher: Bantam Press (19 Jan 2012)
The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, (TAJTR) it is claimed, was written by a man by the name of James Carnac. It is claimed that the item was found in the possession of the late Sydney George Hulme Beaman, an artist, actor, and creator of Toytown and Larry the Lamb. The collection of Hulme Beaman was donated to Alan Hicken, who discovered the alleged Autobiography.
The book is a fascinating read and follows the life of Carnac through childhood, teenage years, then as he stalks the “slums of the East End.” The book doesn’t finish when the Ripper murders conclude though, instead it continues to inform the reader of what happened next, which is just as exciting as the lead up to and carrying out of the murders.
That said there are several problems with the book.
James Carnac, in TAJTR, claims to have been born at Tottenham, but searching the British BMD index fails to turn up a James Carnac born in the UK that matches, never mind any born in Tottenham. James Henry Sproule Carnac  is listed but at a much earlier date and in a different district. The next James Carnac to be registered is James William Carnac  but he is born in 1891 and thus after the murders. In TAJTR Carnac reveals that he was 69 years old shortly before his death. He also claims that the murders took place between 40 and 42 years previously, thus giving us a birth date of around 1859 and 1861. Again, there are no births during this period bearing this name. Another major event in Carnac’s life is the death of his parents who died between 1877 and 1879 when he was nearly 18 years of age, but searching the British Death Registers fails to show any Carnac’s registered in the vicinity of Tottenham during this period.
Dr. Carnac, it is claimed, was James Carnac’s father and a doctor in the Tottenham district. Searches of the UK Medical Register failed to turn up any mention of a Carnac in any capacity in the medical profession. Searches of the UK Census collection failed to turn up any mention of James Carnac or his father. Searches of the 19th Century British Press failed to turn up any mention of James Carnac or his family. Searches of the Times Online Archives failed to turn up any mention of James Carnac or his family.
Dr Styles, it is claimed, ran a school which Carnac was sent to when he was 12 years old. He was religious and overbearing. Searching the UK Medical Register failed to turn up any Dr. Styles for the period in question. The 1899 edition did feature an Australian by the name of Arthur Styles Vallack but this gentleman did not gain his qualifications until 1893.  Searches of the British 19th Century Newspapers, Times Archives, and Historical Trade Directories failed to find a Dr. Styles at a school in Tottenham.
Mr. Pearson, it is claimed, taught Carnac on occasion at Dr. Styles School.
Dr. Sims, it is claimed was a doctor that operated in the same district as Dr. Carnac. There are numerous entries for “Sims” in the UK Medical Registers, 88 to be precise, but of these 88 several names appear over and over again and not one of them is registered as practicing in the district of Tottenham. The Times Archive found numerous Dr. Sims, but none working in Tottenham.
Dr. Norcote, it is claimed, was the father of both Julie and John Norcote and a doctor. Searches of the UK Medical Register fail to turn up any mention of a Norcote or any spelling variation which is odd given that John Norcote, it is claimed, is said to be partners with his father at their family run surgery.
Julie Norcote, it is claimed, met James Carnac in the early stages of 1888,
John Norcote, it is claimed is Dr. Norcote’s son and partner in the family run doctors surgery. There are no records of a Norcote in the UK Medical Registers.
Norcote family: Searching the entire United Kingdom Census collection reveals no such family as the Norcote’s. The Times Archives did reveal Norcote’s but none working in the medical profession.
Dr. Short, it is claimed, gave evidence after the death of James Carnac. Searching the UK Medical Register failed to find a Dr. Short practicing in the time frame suggested in the book, nor any bearing that name registered in the UK other than two New Zealand doctors … residing in New Zealand. The Times Archive did reveal a Dr. Short, but none giving evidence at any inquests pertaining to gas leaks and/or fires.
Mrs. Hamlett, it is claimed, was Carnac’s landlady who had a property “not far from Russell Square.” Searches of the British Death Registers failed to find a Hamlett who had died in the district. Searches of the Times Archives also failed to find a Mrs. Hamlett.
Minnie Wright, it is claimed, was Mrs. Hamlett’s maid. A search of the 1911 Census showed several people by the name of Minnie Wright, but none of them in the district suggested, none working for a Hamlett, and none in any property with a Carnac. Searches of the Times Archive failed to find a Minnie Wright.
Carnac claims that Tabram, or in his case Tabron, is the first true victim of Jack the Ripper. He describes how he met her and took her life, using the two knives, but the problem here is that he quotes from the press of the period, mentioning the autopsy reports by Drs Killeen and Phillips. Information that was readily available at the time and after. It is further claimed that the writer had press cuttings from the events. With this in mind it reads as though the writer has read the press cuttings and created their own story around them.
The murders of Nichols and Chapman follow, and Carnac claims that Chapman had a pet canary that was eaten by a cat. Nothing of this has ever been discussed before but I find it highly unlikely that she could afford a bird. Of Elizabeth Stride it is claimed that Carnac bought grapes from Matthew Packer. The issue of grapes has been debated for some years and will continue to be debated. The problem here is that Carnac gives a description of himself early in the book, and we know historically that Packer gave a description of the alleged murderer, but this doesn’t fit in with Carnac’s self description. Carnac then describes how he killed her, and how he was disturbed.
Eddowes is tackled next and again the known eyewitness statements do not match the events described. It does mention that the couple went into “a cul de sac” but other than that it does not match the known eyewitness accounts, and statements made by the police of the period who were patrolling the streets that night.
When Carnac tackles the murder of Mary Kelly is where a lot of falsehoods are discovered. Carnac claims that the room in the house where Mary Kelly resided was at the front of the property, but this is wrong. Millers Court was at the rear, not the front. He then claims that Kelly was flashy, her clothes were flashy and that she had face powder on. These descriptions do not match descriptions that were given at the time of Mary Kelly’s death. Carnac then claims that as he entered Kelly’s room, at the front, he noticed that the window was covered by a thin muslin curtain. We know from contemporary reports and photographs that Mary’s room had two windows, one of which was covered by an old coat, and the other appears to have a thick curtain hanging on the left hand side.  Carnac then claims that Kelly had a lamp which was lit but again we know of no lamp in the room, certainly none were mentioned in the reports of the period with the press discussing the fire and a penny candle as the only means of light available. Carnac also draws attention to the bed and claims that it was metal, but contemporary crime scene photos show the bed to be wooden in appearance, not metal with contemporary press reports backing this up. Carnac also claims that Mary Kelly had a mirror in her room, a fact that is not backed up by contemporary descriptions. A search of the British 19th Century press failed to turn up any mention of such a mirror. As did a search of the Times Archives. A search of the Casebook Press Reports also fails to turn up any mention of a mirror in Millers Court.
All in all as a piece of detective fiction it is a cracking read. It gives us an idea of the mentality of a murderer and suggests motives and themes for why the crimes was committed. As a genuine confession/autobiography it fails to connect tangible primary sources with the information it is trying to put across as the truth.
1 Born 1846, Lymington, Vol 8, Page 175
2 Born 1891, Windsor, Vol 2c, Page 442
3 1893 UK Medical Directory, Page 1756
4 See here http://wiki.casebook.org/index.php/Image:13MillersCourt1888.jpg
This morning I took delivery of the Amazon 3G Kindle, a beautiful piece of technology that will allow me to read and take delivery of new Ripper Kindle releases on the move!
The specs of the model are as follows,
Connectivity: Free 3G and Wi-Fi
The ability to download books directly onto the Kindle is a bonus and as many Ripper related titles are available on Kindle, and much cheaper than their print releases, I thought it a good idea to check out some titles. The following is a list of titles sent today to my Kindle:
Bloody London, Morgan, R.G
Dracula Meets Jack the Ripper and Other Revisionist Histories, Druxman, Michael B.
Inspector Frederick George Abberline and Jack the Ripper The Reality behind the Myth, Thurgood, Peter
Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum, Stevens, Mark
A Handbook for Attendants on the Insane: the autobiography of ‘Jack the Ripper’ as revealed to Clanash Farjeon, Farjeon, Clanash
In Miller’s Court, Andrew Hoffman
Jack the Ripper: The 1888 London East End Serial Killer, Ashley, James
Jack’s Place, steve kenning
Jack the Ripper - Through the Mists of Time, Hodgson, Peter
A Criminal Investigative Analysis of Jack The Ripper, Douglas, John
Dark Streets of Whitechapel (Jack the Ripper Mystery), Flowers, R. Barri
The Whitechapel Murder Mystery, Hamilton, RobI have also downloaded a number of free titles covering Jack the Ripper, Local History, Ghosts, Hauntings, and the Unexplained. I will be following this post with reviews of some of the Jack the Ripper Kindle titles that are available.