Tomorrow, April 20th, marks the 171st birthday of Robert D’Onston Stephenson. Stephenson, who was born at 35 Charles-street, Sculcoates, Hull, was suspected of being Jack the Ripper by George Marsh, an unemployed iron monger, in December 1888.
Detective Inspector Thomas Roots of the Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland Yard, did not take the claims seriously and Stephenson was, at the time, ruled out as a suspect. Despite this numerous books have followed citing him as a suspect.
Stephenson worked in Hull at the Hull Customs House, which was situated at the Neptune Inn, on Whitefriargate, Hull. The site today is occupied at street level by “Boots” and “The Works” but once a year, during the Heritage Open Days, the upper floor is open to the public.
During a recent research trip I was fortunate enough to uncover a photograph of the birthplace of Robert D’Onston Stephenson, a building that is no longer there. Sadly Charles-street was partially destroyed during the construction of Freetown Way and his birthplace today is occupied by offices and a car park!!!