A week in Ripperology.

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Frederick Bailey Deeming

This week I have been busily researching Frederick Bailey Deeming when I came across more articles pertaining to him in the Hull press.  The articles, covering the period of 1894 until 1950, feature a number of local slants on Deeming’s time spent in Hull.  There are retrospectives of his time spent on the run, his time in Hull Prison, and the discovery that he was a murderer.

A number of articles mentioned Deeming in passing, concentrating on Hull crime and criminals in general, with a few looking at the police officers and local government officials involved in the Deeming fraud trial of 1890.    

Jack the Ripper in the Hull and Yorkshire Press 1888 – 1950

This week I searched both The Hull Packet, The Hull Daily Mail, Yorkshire Evening Post, The York Herald, and Yorkshire Gazette for any articles pertaining to Jack the Ripper.  The search resulted in 277 articles featuring Jack the Ripper from the perspective of the Yorkshire press.   Topics include suspects, theories, murders, police officials, and local scares.  There are also a number of articles that look back at the “Autumn of Terror” as well as articles written and submitted to the Yorkshire press by police officials and theorists from the period.  Among some of the most interesting are articles covering Jack the Ripper and the Black Magic theory, but sadly Robert D’Onston Stephenson does not feature!   


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New Finds:

Whilst I have been housebound I had the pleasure of seeking out new articles in the Hull Press via digitisation projects.  This has allowed me to search from the relative comfort of my home and has turned up some fascinating results.

Over the years my scope of work has covered 10 suspects with links to my home town of Kingston upon Hull, so with access to the Hull Daily Mail archives I decided to search for any articles pertaining to any of the 10 suspects, resulting in the finding of numerous articles on the likes of Frederick Bailey Deeming, and even some material from the 1920’s exploring Lewis Carroll’s connections to the city.  Among the articles were many reports on the Whitechapel Murders, many of which I have never seen before, and other similar atrocities and Ripper scares.  There was a fascinating article regarding Jack the Ripper and Black Magic, that appeared in the Hull press in the 1920’s, and some fascinating material on the likes of Betty May and Aleister Crowley.

New Photographic Finds:

In the last 6 years I have searched and searched for a photograph showing the birthplace of Hull born Robert D’Onston Stephenson.  Despite poring over hundreds of books, webpages, and photo archives I could not trace an image, then, within the space of a week, I uncovered not one, but two!!  The images show two different views of the Stephenson family home.  One from the street facing the property from a side and showing the neighbouring houses, the other shows the property from the front, but at a much later date!!  Needless to say I am very excited about these images.


This month marks my third year on social networking site Twitter.  It has seen me post almost 7,000 tweets, and I have a little over 900 followers.  The site has become a useful networking tool for likeminded Ripperologists, Historians, and True Crime followers.  Here is to another 3 years!!

Frederick Richard Chapman Files

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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!

Year in Review 2011

Archives, Books, Deeming, E-Books, Events, Hull Press, Jack the Ripper Doc's, Libraries, National Press, Opinion, Podcast, Press Reports, Research, Stephenson Family, TV/Documentaries, Theories No Comments »

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.

Other projects:
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!!!
The books
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!!


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Jack the Ripper: From Hell, From Hull? Vol I is coming along nicely.  I have spent many hours editing and moving chapters around so that the book has a chronological timeline running throughout.  I had some really amazing material come this week regarding Robert D’Onston Stephenson in Bridlington, so have been spending time reading the information and inserting it in the relavent places. 

Jack the Ripper: From Hell, From Hull? Vol II is almost finished. 

Jack the Ripper: From Hell, From Hull? Vol III is still being typed, I was sent some material on some of the suspects this week, I am just deciding on where to insert it, and whether or not it is pertinent to their life stories to be included.  One article is often mention but has never been published since it appeared in the 1970’s so that was of great interest.

Frederick Bailey Deeming and the Preston Murder of Mary Jane Langley is almost finished.  I found several reports on Deeming and the case that were published when Thomas Reynoldson passed away, and later when Harry Webster passed away.  I also found several retrospective looks at the case from the 1940’s and 1950’s which were of interest.  It is interesting to note that most people in Preston claim that only one murder has ever occured in their parish, I discovered this to be false, another female was found almost 80 years after Mary Jane Langley was discovered.  In almost the same spot!  A man was brought to trial and is currently serving a sentance for the murder. 

Jack the Ripper- Newspapers From Hull is on the back burner, the research has been done, but the newspaper reports are filed away awaiting typing up at a later date.

I recently made the decision, after some discussion with a publisher, and have decided to split “Mike Covell’s Haunted Hull” into three books.  The overall page count was over 1,000 so by splitting it into three I can feature more cases and still come in at around the 350 page mark for each book.  The first in the series will cover the “Haunted” side of things, the second will cover “The Paranormal in the Press” and the third will cover “The Paranormal in Hull“.  I have aquired every newspaper article ever published in the Hull Press from 1801 until 2011 that covers ghosts, hauntings, SHC, UFO’s, Aliens, Crop Circles, Wildcats, Airship Scares, and other weird phenomena such as A local church with the face of christ on the wall, and a Hull ship that went in search of Noah’s Ark!  All three are fully referenced with an extensive source list, bibliography, and illustrations throughout. 

This Saturday I have the pleasure of appearing on West Hull Radio talking about West Hull’s Ghosts and the darker side to West Hull’s history. 

On November 10th I have the pleasure of lecturing at Hull’s Central Library at the Food for Thought cafe with my Mike Covell’s Hull’s Ghostly Myths and Legends Lecture.  The lecture, first presented at the Ghost Club in London in 2010 has had a succesful run at Carnegie Heritage Centre and more recently at the Hull History Centre.  I have bookings for this lecture up until September 2012.

All lectures are free of charge, and bookings can be made via contacting me direct at mcebe@hotmail.co.uk

London Research Trip 2011

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One of the most important aspects of any research trip, other than the research of course, is the planning and preparation that goes on in the days leading up to a trip.  In the past I had thought about spending a day at the British Library in London, but during my previous visits to the Capitol I just didn’t have the time to squeeze in a visit.  This week I was able to plan a day in London and visit the library to spend some time researching certain aspects of the case.  With primary research on Jack the Ripper, From Hell, From Hull? Vol. I coming to a close I thought it would be the best, and probably last time I would get to visit before the final copy was ready.  The trip would be one of both primary and secondary resources, taking in correspondence, financial papers, and articles from the period, coupled with material written after the fact.  Some of these have often been alluded to, but never published and they proved to be quiet interesting.  They would include,

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


With these topics in mind I searched for both primary and secondary sources associated with Stephenson and Co, and my searches came back time and time again with two locations, the most important of these, holding the most information, was the British Library.  I had arranged to see a collection of books and files to cover the majority of the topics above and packed my bag for the trip, booking my tickets online.

 The train journey began from Hull at 7.40 on a very wet Friday morning.  The last time I had taken this journey was the day my father passed away, it felt strange, but at the same time it felt right.  Dad loved history and was the first person I showed my research to. 

 The first stop on the journey was Hessle Station, a place associated with several notable families, and several names that appear in Jack the Ripper, From Hell, From Hull? Vol. III.  The station itself retains much of the Victorian architecture, but now stands in the shadow of the modern monolith that is the Humber Bridge.  The train eventually passes the Hearfield family mill at Little Switzerland.  It was here at the black mill that the Hearfield family crushed chalk, the present day Humber Bridge Country park being the site of their quarry.  Thomas Hearfield was a Hull based Solicitor who was often called in to defend Richard Stephenson Junior in the 1870’s.

 Another station on the way is Goole, a location associated with Annie Deary in the later years of her life.  From the station one can see the cranes that dominate the docks, as well as both the Victorian and more modern water towers. 

 Thorne North is another station stop and another location associated with Annie Deary.  It was in Thorne that Deary was born, and registered in the 1841 Census with her parents.  The station retains much of its Victorian fittings and fixtures, and the main station house dominates the outward bound platform side, albeit with modern automatic doors. 

 A quick change at Doncaster and I was on the much quicker train that sped through the English countryside to London, arriving at 10.45.

 After completing my pre-registration at the British Library I left my belongings at the locker room and with writing pad, laptop, and wish list made my way to the Rare Books Room.  The first thing that strikes you about the British Library is the size, it is essentially a multi-storey building with lifts and stairs and very much reminded me of Relativity by M.C. Escher.  Lifts, stairs and escalators going back and forth and I got lost in the building at least once during the day.

 The Rare Book Room is enormous, and after familiarising myself with the layout and rules I approached the desk and found that my items were ready.  Within minutes I had sat down and found some of the material I was looking for.  These gave new insights into some of the aspects of Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s life and it surprised me that despite the age of the material it had never been published in recent years.  I typed up the relevant passages and sought out some other material.  I spent from 11.00 until 13.00 in the rare book room and managed to come out with a pile of material that I had typed up and written up onto an A4 pad. 

 I still had more material to look at, but it was on order and could take up to 70 minutes for delivery so I went for lunch.  Outside of the British Library is a massive seating area with numerous café’s and coffee houses.  It was a warm afternoon and quiet busy.  After eating lunch I realised I still had some time to spare so visited the Sci Fi exhibition being held at the British Library, entitled Out of this World.  This involved a lengthy timeline, finely illustrated by books, and periodicals, and touched on famous authors, stories, theories, ideas, shows, and comic book heroes.  Sadly photos were not allowed, which is a shame as the exhibition had some amazing set pieces featuring giant flying saucers, talking robots, giant metal bugs, and props from Doctor Who.

 Heading back to library I headed for the Humanities Room where one of the items I requested had been delivered.  I spent some time in here looking for the relevant information before returning the book and heading to the Rare Books Room for the final stint of my research.  I sat here until 5 o’clock and found letters that were pertinent to my research, reading and copying them out.  I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see, but found some fascinating snippets on Robert D’Onston Stephenson that had never been discussed before and has opened up new avenues of research for the future.

 It is always nice to have direct access to the source material and to not have to rely on others for it.  I also came across several articles on Frederick Bailey Deeming that will come in handy at some point.

 Leaving the British Library I headed for the tube to take a trip to Kensington with a view to visiting a Family History Centre.  Turning up in Kensington the building I sought had closed.  Although this was something of a setback and I was quiet disappointed I decided to visit the nearby museums.  First of all I took in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a building that was so big I got lost and had to ask for directions for the way out.  The museum was packed with some fascinating objects but because of the name I was expecting objects and information about Victoria and Albert.

 Across the road was the Natural History Museum, a location I had longed to go but never made the trip.  I loved it, and spent quiet some time admiring the dinosaurs, animals and displays on offer, and hope to return with the children one day. 

 After leaving the museum I head back via the tube for King’s Cross and my journey home.  It had been a long day but well worth it as I came away with more material that I thought I would get and some information that I had thought might exist, but never imagined that it did, or that I would get my hands on it.  

Richard Stephenson Snr.

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It seems like an eternity since I last discussed Robert D’Onston Stephenson or his family.  Here is a post about Stephenson’s father, Richard Stephenson Senior.

There has been some discussion of late regarding the role of Richard Stephenson Snr, Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s father, whilst in Hull with several sources claiming that Stephenson was the “Treasurer for the Hull Corporation.” This is misleading and quiet frankly a load of rubbish.

To fully understand the role of Water Bailiff’s in Hull one must look back at Hull’s history. Hull during the 1700’s and 1800’s had a dock system that was expanding at an incredible rate. As such the old harbour was no longer fit for purpose, and several inland docks were created around the old town of Hull. Because of this move there was quiet a shift in taxatation and how the local organisations could take advantage of this. This resulted in the Hull Corporation, Hull Docks Committee and Hull Guild of the Holy Trinity taking a slice of the taxes that were obtained from ships coming into Hull. Any finances paid were split three ways and as such all three organisations had their own collecters. Richard Stephenson Senior, Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s father was employed by the Hull Corporation to be their collector. He was never in the role of the Treasurer.

1866 The Hull Packet and East Riding Times features the following advertisement,

WATER BAILIFF. THE TOWN COUNCIL will on the 12 of January, 1866, proceed to Elect a WATER BAILEIFF and Receiver of the Corporation Dues, who shall make that his sole business a Salary of £120 per annum, with a further [illegible] of One percent upon the total amount of [illigble] received by him. Additional information may be known at the Clerk’s Office, where written applications for the role will be received up to noon on Saturday the 6th of January 1866, By Order- Robert Wells, Town Clerk.

1866January 12th Richard Stephenson becomes Water Bailiff for the Hull Corporation. He receives a quarterly wage of £30 plus commission and expenses. A letter held at the Hull History Centre reads,

Sculcoates 12th. Jan 1866. Gentlemen, I beg to thank you for the honour you have done me in electing me to the office of Water Bailiff and Receiver of Corporation Dues. It will be my constant endeavour to merit the confidence thus reposed in me. NB. My sureties are, Mr. Robt. Dawber, Linnaeus Street. “ J. Shirley Richardson, Parliament Street. I am Gentlemen, Your most ob. Svt. Richard Stephenson. To The Mayor
Aldermen and Councillors Kingston Upon Hull.

1866 January 12th The Hull Packet and East Riding Times carries the following,

TOWN COUNCIL MEETING YESTERDAY. ELECTION OF WATER BAILIFF. The first business of the meeting was the election of a water bailiff to collect the corporation’s port dues. The salary is £120, with 1 per cent on the amount collected. 50 voted. Mr. Richard Stephenson, broker, was elected, having 26 votes.

Over the years I have read through the Hull Committee Meetings Minute books which features a quarterly rundown of the finances that Richard Stephenson collected, the money that he was paid, and the expenses that he was eligible for, including coal and stationary.

Furthermore, the following names can be found in the Hull and East Yorkshire Trade Directories of this period,

White’s Hull and District Trade Directory 1867
Water Bailiff Richard Stephenson
Borough Treasurer William Bolton Esq
William Bolton, Borough Treasurer, 4 Victoria Terrace.

Field’s 1876 Trade Directrory of Hull
Treasurer George Cobb
Receiver of Dock Dues for Hull Dock Company Mr. J. Wright

Kelly’s North and East Riding of Yorkshire Directory 1879
Town Treasurer Edward Headley Witty

White’s 1882 Hull Directory
Town Treasurer Mr. E. H. Witty
Water Bailiff Richard Stephenson

Kelly’s 1885
Town Treasurer Edward Headley Witty

Atkinson 1888
Borough Treasurer Mr. J. Thelwall

Images of the 1866 Minutes of Committee Meetings by the Hull Corporation can be seen here,


Last Weeks research

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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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