Latest News and Finds!!

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As you are aware my research into Robert D’Onston Stephenson is ongoing, and I am making finds weekly on the earlier part of his, and his families life.
Last week I uncovered two, previously unseen, christening entries for the Dawber family, a previously unseen sketch of the Hull Customs House circa 1860 and a folder containing the deeds of said customs house.
This week has been even more fruitful, with 10 new christening entries for both Stephenson and Dawber families, between 1806 and 1837!  These are important as they show that Richard and Isabella were living on Silvester Street in Hull.  A Richard Stephenson had been found previously in this area in the trade directories and polling books, but there was no solid evidence to say wether it was “our” Richard Stephenson.
A previously unseen wedding entry for a member of the Dawber family.
And saving the best for last…..
Four, yes four, photographs showing the birthplace of Robert D’Onston Stephenson!
These show the property after it was opened as a furniture store, and in later years a Co-Op (General Store)  The final photo in the set shows the area during the war after a direct hit from the Luftwaffe!  Sadly, no damage reports exsist for this property, but do of the surrounding properties!
I will share the photo’s soon, but they are third generation and quite dark, but you do get an idea of the size of the former home of the Stephenson and Dawber family!

New Photographic Find!

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This week has been an amazing week of discoveries, from the finds on the Dawber family, to discovering that Dixon Stephenson changed his surname when he was married.  I also met a descendent of Dr. Kelburn King, who was the Stephenson family doctor, so that was a nice coup!

The Photo

The image I discovered has links to the Stephenson family, and shows a set of buildings which are now sadly lost.  The picture forms part of a book, so copyright rules are enforced, and I cannot show the image, but measures are in place to contact the author and holder of copyright.

The Image shows Church Street at the turn of the century, with a row of houses, a public house, and a church.  The church is the Church Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, and the adjoining properties are two rather small tenaments, with a door each, 1st floor window, and attic window. 

The property next to the church was the one which Richard Stephenson Junior gained access to in 1874, during what was termed “The Church Street Scandal”  Stephenson turfed out one Francis Roe and his family, but ended up leaving, and the matter was taken to the police courts.

It was during this period that Richard Junior was a Councillor for the East Sculcoates Ward, and the scandal made the Hull Press, furnishing us with several long stories regarding the Stephenson’s!

This weeks findings.

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Dawber Family Grave: 

After a day spent walking knee deep in mud, shrubs and nettles, I failed to find the Dawber family grave, but did find some corresponding graves in the location, so I know I am getting close.  Next time I will go with some cutting gear!

Richard Stephenson Snr:

After fruitless searches through grave transcriptions, Hull City Archives, and the Local Studies Centre, I contacted Hull City Council Bereavement Centre and enquired about Richard Stephenson.  Sadly there is no record of Richard being buried in Hull!!

Christening Entries:

A thorough search of Christening Entries at Hull’s Holy Trinity came up with several notable finds on the Dawber family, including Mary, Martha, and Robert.  There was also a lengthy entry on Martha Dawber’s Christening entry, as there was some confusion when one of the witnesses called her Mary, which was duly entered in the register!

Dixon Stephenson:

Entries for Dixon Stephenson have been found and it appears as though Dixon took his wife’s surname, not his own, when the two married.  I am looking into this matter, but it might explain why it is difficult tracing this family back to the late 1700’s!

Another Descendant Found!

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This morning I had the pleasure of chatting to a living descnedant of Dr. Kelburn King, the Stephenson’s family doctor, who treated Robert D’Onston Stephenson at Bridlington.

The gentlemen offered the following,

It was well known that King got a message to leave Hull in a carriage bound for Bridlington to treat the son, who had been injured in an accident, but what we always thought weird, was why leave Hull, when there was medically trained staff at Bridlington, who could have done the job

What a fantastic question, and strange that this meeting wasn’t even planned, but we bumped into each other at a local archival centre!

Updates, Findings and other News

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Ripper Research

In the past few months I have devoted little time to actual research, but this will change over the next few weeks as most of my data has now been digitised, and I have looked at several areas that need more research, and fleshing out.

One such area, is the life and death of Annie Deary/Stephenson.  After David Knott found the death certificate, steps have been taken to find out more about Annie and her family.  We know where she was born, and where her death was registered.  We have several census entries for her, so now it is time to flesh out her life, and the lives of those around her.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting a location which houses a massive collection of death registers and grave transcriptions, hopefully shedding some light on the enigmatic Annie Deary.

Other News

sadly, recent appointments have shown that there is no improvement in my heart, and I am to undergo more medical tests including a 48 hour ECG.  After this they plan to place me on drugs to control my heart, then re-test me later in the year!! 

It does mean I can occupy my time with Ripper Research.

My Ripper book of the week 18

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Technical Information
London Correspondence: Jack the Ripper and the Irish Press
Author: Alan Sharp - with a foreword by Andy Aliffe
Subject Classification: Irish History/True Crime
Format/Extent: 240 x 170mm, 288pp
Illustrations: c.25 b/w photos/illustrations
ISBN: 1 901658 45 7
Publication Date: 7th February 2005

RRP: £11.99 + £3.00 P+P UK
£11.99 + £4.00 P+P Europe
£11.99 + £4.50 P+P Rest of the World
Available Here,

During my quest to get hold of reading material concerning the Whitechapel Murders and the press coverage they recieved I came across this title. I had read about it from an old issue of Ripper Notes, that I had bought off Amazon, but just couldn’t track down a copy of the book.
Thankfully, Alan was on hand to help me out, and after sending me the link to his website, a copy was ordered.

What struck me about this book, is how big it is, considering it looks at a small selection of reports from Ireland, during 1888, but this is what makes it unique. The book takes the reader on a journey through every twist and turn of the events that unfolded in 1888, including the political events that transpired during the Parnell Commission, and how the Irish Press percieved events in the UK.

The book starts with the first murder, before hitting us with a selection of reports discussing the social conditions that were present in Victorian London. Next up are a collection of reports showing the Irish opinion of Scotland Yard, and how bad the organisation is run, which proves to be a real eye opener.

Chapters on Annie Chapman’s murder, and Leather Apron follow, looking at the arrest, investigation and release of Piser, before we are given a short breather with chapters on the Irish, and how they are percieved as murderers, and bad people by the English! This gives the reader a unique insight into the tensions between the two Nations during this period, but offers little respite before the double event.

It was during this period that the newspaper’s appeared to go into overdrive, the book taking two chapters to cover the murders, victims antecedents, investigations, and inquests.

Another short interlude to look at The Irish Home Rule, with a views and political analysis, before were back to Whitechapel for articles on Bloodhounds, Policemen and Politicians, in what is one of my favourite chapters of the book, highlighting the tensions between the police, press, and polititicians, which is a shame, as they more or less had a common goal!

Next up is the murder of Mary Kelly, looking at Mary’s life and trying to trace her origins, whilst looking at the vicious murders, and how they were percieved by both the public and the press.

Finally, we have time to relax, as the final chapter deals with the aftermath, the resignations, and the final murders, although not attributed to Jack, where a part of the Whitechapel Murder series.

What really struck me about this book is the amount of work Alan has put into it, not only is it packed full of hundreds of reports from a massive range of newspapers, but each report comes with a commentary, pointing out the errors and myths, and giving the reader more information about the people, places, and events that are unfolding in the press.

Alan also undertook a massive amount of research into Mary Kelly, which is presented in the book, and there are also several large appendix, packed full of information for readers wishing to research further.

This is one of the few books that can be picked up and read wherever you are, you really don’t need to follow events, or keep track of what, where and when, as the commentary is written in such a manner, that your informed before you start reading each article, thus making the book, an easy to use reference guide.

I cannot recommend this book enough!!

What’s on the agenda for 2009!

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Well, were already three months into 2009 and with the Hull Local Studies Library closed, and Hull City Archives closed, I am left with very little locations to actually research! 

I have, however, decided to look further once again, and start looking further out at locations that Robert D’Onston Stephenson, had once had connections with.

Here is a short list of destinations on the agenda for 2009!

Bridlington, with a look at the local history centre, photo opportunities at the harbour and quay, and a visit to the Black Lion planned for next month!  It might also mean a stop over at the Black Lion…..

Beverley, home of the East Riding Archives, which I perused last year to find Stephenson’s Christening details and several huge files on the Dawbers.  This time I will be looking for Stephenson’s wife!

Goole, As Stephenson’s wife and family resided in both Thorn and Goole, I thought it a good idea to take the trip to Goole for a day of research.  I am currently in communication with the centre there, and plan a trip out in the not too distant future.  The Local Bus Service, runs a bus, that stops at Goole on it’s way to Leeds, thus making the trip even easier!

Islington, October will be the month of Jack!  As well as the Ripper Conference in London, I will be travelling a day earlier to visit several Islington locations linked to Stephenson’s life, including,

  • The location of the church he was married in,
  • The location of one of his old houses,
  • The location of the workhouse, where he died,
  • The location of his grave, where he was buried,
  • The location of his brother’s house.

Kingston upon Hull, Hopefully by this point in time, the combined Hull History Centre will be up and running and open for research!!!

Other events planned, I have been chatting again with the Dawber family, and will be visiting them soon to discuss their family history and links to Robert D’Onston Stephenson.  I am not sure what I will be doing with any of the findings, but watch this space!!

Healthwise, I have a Cardiologist appointment later this month, and recently had a scare when I lost sight in my right eye.  Thankfully, although my heart is not working too good, I can at least see now!

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