JULY 2020

JULY   2020
Everything Old Is New Again!


Saturday, January 12, 2019

BLOODY JACK Chapter Sixteen

I will, for convenience sake, date the beginning of Whitechapel as the late 19th Century hunting ground of the so-called Jack the Ripper as March of 1643, when developers Thomas and Lewis Fossan foreclosed on a section of land outside the Old Gate (Aldgate, above)  of London. Not being farmers – Lewis was a goldsmith - they “plotted” a crazy quilt pattern of streets around what their maps labeled as Fossan Square and street – later to be “corrupted” to Fashion Street. In August of 1655, one of their 99 year leases was taken by a pair of ambitious bricklayers, John Flower and Gowen Dean. As only the living space produced revenue on their new Flower and Dean Street, the pair agreed their roadway between grand homes would be 16 feet wide at the eastern end, narrowing to just 10 feet wide at the west.
The Fossans now developed “George Yard” to connect Flower and Dean to Wentworth Street, and in 1658 (Henry) Thrall Street to connect George Yard to Brick Lane. By 1663 John and Gowen had subdivided their subdivisions and the street  was largely occupied by Protestant Huguenots escaping religious persecution under Catholic Louis XIII of France. 
The newcomers brought silk weaving technology with them, and built new fortunes and mansions faster rather than better. The London bricklayer's guild noted that Nicholas Higgins and Jacob Sewell had used “bad mortar” in their building on Flower and Dean Street, and worse, Samuel Twinn had hired “foriegners”.  As early as 1704 the Twinn built mansion was said to be “decayed, ruinous and uninhabited”. And by 1750 most of the silk weavers had moved on and the mansions along the narrow street were being subdivided yet again into apartments, as English laborers, left unemployed by the switch from flax and wheat to sheep and wool, sought work and new homes in London.
As the 99 year leases ran out, the patchwork quilt of properties were bought up by corporations, which shielded their owners from financial risks and bad publicity. 
By the 1750's much of Spitafield's and large parts of Whitechapel – including Flower and Dean Street - was owned by poet and artist George Keate (above), of Bloomsbury, West End, London.  Under Keate's disinterested tenure the run-down subdivided mansions were subdivided again and again, with courts and alleys cut into the center of blocks to increase square footage without increasing space, and rebuilt only when they collapsed into the street. When George Keate died in 1797, the rents from the 250 buildings he owned in Spitafield and Whitechapel produced £700 a year in rents– a fortune in the day.
The trustees of the Keate estate noted in 1805 that many of the rental properties were “very old, and in a bad state of repair”. And yet the incomes kept coming. The estate was inherited by George's daughter, Georgina Keate, now Mrs Henry Henderson, of Number 1 Gutter Lane, London. Henry Hendreson's  profession in “Who's Who” was listed as Silk Manufacturer, because Slum Lord sounded too common. 
 It was under the Henderson family that the slums of Whitechapel were sublet yet again, to further shield the owners from the stench produced by the source of their income. As French writer Honre de Balzac wrote just about this time, “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account, is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed.”
This crime was magnified in 1844 with the clearing of slums for the construction of the 100 foot wide Commercial Street (above), as a north/south direct route to and from the London Docks – the investment that fueled a century of British empire.
In the first stage, only as far as Christ Church Spitaflield,  more than 1,300 people - now mostly Irish peasants escaping the potato famine - were thrown out of their homes,  with only the twin traps of doss houses and public house to catch them. The overcrowding in the side streets created “The Wicked Quarter Mile”, where there existed “the riot, the struggle, and the scramble for a living".
Augustus Mayhew - in his 1861 book “London Labor and the London Poor” - explained how men like Henry Henderson grew richer selling coffin sized beds at 4 pennies a night. Mayhew's example lived in “a country house in Hampstead”, but was supported by the 6 doss houses he owned on Thrall street. Each house was run by a “deputy” responsible for paying operating expenses and collecting the nightly fees. The less spent on maintenance, the greater the deputies' income. 
Each week a company man arrived to check the register of filled “beds” against money's taken in. And from this the company took their “dues” -  the lions share.  Mayhew also reported the company employed  undercover agents, usually a “poor fellow … to go and lodge in … his (doss) houses, and report the number present” to keep the deputies honest.
By 1880, a commentator wrote,  the Wicked Quarter Mile was ’one of the most crime-infected districts in the whole metropolis. There are Flower and Dean and Keate-street, and innumerable other neighboring narrow ways, and courts, and alleys that afford standing room for a terribly wicked lot of common lodging-houses.’ 
Wrote another, “...if I examined the courts which ran out of Flower and Dean Street (above) and the houses in its alleys and lanes...I had seen the very worst that London is capable of producing".  By 1881 there were 20 “doss” houses on Flower and Dean Street alone, in each of which over 200 people slept every night. And such crowding of paying customers allowed Henry Henderson to move his family to a new mansion at 5 Stanhope Street, Hyde Park Gardens, and to make substantial donations to the Conservative Party.
The political connections came in handy when the widening of Commercial Street south of Christ Church was begun. Once again the government bought out the slums. But the slumlords  had learned, and the new programs allowed them to keep collecting rents until the day the crews arrived to tear the buildings down. As that scandal was brewing, the piecemeal construction was found to be driving up property values  ahead of the work, especially south of Whitechapel High Street,  where the road jogged south and east a mile, toward the Limehouse basin, and the larger newer India Docks  By 1860 the entire project had become so corrupt and politically unpopular, that further widening was stopped.. But the decision to not allow low cost housing along the new Commercial Street and Road, also drove up the cost of available housing for the working poor, worsening their plight.  
Thus there was a connection between one of the wealthiest families in England and a Swedish immigrant named Elizabeth Gustafsdotter , a.k.a. Elizabeth Stride.
Long Liz (above) spent most of her last day on earth, Saturday, 29 September, 1888, cleaning two rooms in the doss house at 32 Flower and Dean Street,  for the grand salary of 2 ½ pence, handed to her by Elizabeth Tanner, who worked - through several intermediaries – for the Henderson family estate. 
And before 12 hours had gone by,  Liz Stride would be dead on the pavement between Numbers 40 and 42 Berner Street, Whitechapel – south of the Commercial Road extension, and well outside the killer's previous hunting ground.
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Friday, January 11, 2019

BLOODY JACK Chapter FIfteen

I believe the first challenge to Dr. George B. Phillips' opinions about the murder of Annie Chapman appeared when the inquest reconvened on Wednesday, 12 September, 1888. The first witness was John Richardson, eldest son of Mrs. Amelia Richardson. Between 4:45 am and 4:50 am on Saturday, 8 September, before reporting to his job as a porter at the Spitafields market, John stopped by his mother's residence at 29 Hanbury Street to check on her basement workshop, from which tools had been stolen weeks earlier. The first light of dawn had appeared just after 4:50 that morning - sunrise would be at 5:23 am. And standing on the threshold of the back door, John could clearly see the padlock six feet away on the basement door was still snapped shut, and the door secure. He did not need to move closer. But then John did something crucial.
He sat on the top step, with his feet resting in the yard, and struggled to cut some leather off his shoes, which were crimping his toes. He sat on the step, John estimated, for “two minutes at most”. But it was a crucial two minutes. It was light enough, John said, that he could see the entire back yard clearly. And with his head down, he could certainly see 6 inches.
He insisted, “I could not have failed to notice the deceased had she been lying there, then.” And if she was not there, then - within 6 inches of John Richardson - then Dr. Phillips was wrong when he said Dark Annie died between 3:30 and 4:30 that morning,
John's mother, Amelia Richardson, then testified that the leather apron found in the back yard belonged to her younger son. She had washed it under the backyard tap on Thursday and left out to dry. It was still lying there on Saturday morning, and had nothing to do with the murder, despite lurid press reports the killer had left it behind.. This supported the next witness, John Pizer, a shoemaker from Mulberry Street. He'd been arrested for his own safety by Detective Sargeant William Thicke – who earned his nickname when a prostitute once greeted him, "Why fuck me, if it isn't Johnny Upright!”. The terrified cobbler was well known about Whitechapel as “Leather Apron”, and despite headlines nicknaming the killer “Leather Apron”,  the police had cleared Mr. Pizer. He had been known to frequent prostitutes, to threaten them with knives and tell them "I'll rip you!" But he was testifying to “vindicate my character to the world at large” -  and to discourage the vigilante street gangs which had been threatening to cut his throat. With no mention of his predilections, the inquest moved on. The next witness returned to events that did happen on the morning of 8 September, 1888. And again, Dr. Phillip's reputation did not come out well in what they saw and heard.
As the clock atop the Black Eagle Brewery struck 5:30 a.m. - 7 minutes after sunrise - Mrs. Elizabeth Long was walking south on Brick Lane. She then turned west on Hanbury Street, heading to the Spitsfield Market, on Commercial Street. Just before reaching Number 29 Hanbury,  Elizabeth passed a man and woman in loud conversation on the building side of the sidewalk. They were facing each other and Mrs. Long had a good look at the woman's face.  After viewing the body in the morgue, Elizabeth had positively identified her as Annie Chapman.
The man had his back to Mrs. Long, but she described him as not much more than 5 feet tall (Annie Chapman was just 5 feet), about 40 years old, wearing a dark overcoat and a brown deerstalker hat. He was, she thought,  foreign looking with a dark complexion and a “shabby genteel” appearance. She distinctly heard the man say -  in a “foreign accent” -  “Will you?” To which she heard Dark Annie respond, “Yes.” Elizabeth took little notice of the two. Later, when news of the murder spread like wildfire through the market, Elizabeth Long realized what she had seen and heard might be important
That same morning, carpenter Albert Cadoche was hurrying to the privy in the back yard of 27 Hanbury Street. He was suffering from a UTI – a urinary tract infection. A few painful moments later he was returning to the back door when he distinctly heard a woman say, “No”. Albert also took little notice, and was not even certain which direction the voice had come from. But UTI's being what they are, within a few minutes Albert was making the same round trip again. This time, on his way to the outhouse, he heard something thud against the 5 foot high fence dividing the back yard of number 27 from the yard of number 29. 
A few moments later, as Albert was walking down Fournier street (above), he saw the clock atop the Christ's Church Spitafields tower (below). He said it read 5:32 am. 
The times did not match up, and they are all at odds with Dr. Phillip's time chart. But... If Elizabeth Long did see Annie Chapman and her killer reaching a business arraignment closer to 5:15 a.m....And if Albert Cadoche heard the thud against the fence about 5:25 a.m....And if the Christ's Church clock (above) actually read closer to 5:42 a.m...Then Annie Chapman died about 5:30 a.m.. And that would have left the murderer 15 to 20 minutes to mutilate the body and leave the house with his bloody trophy before John Davis discovered the dead woman. Could both these witnesses be that far off in their timing?
Before the second half of the 20th century all clocks were mechanical, and effected by wear, temperature, humidity, maintenance, and their purpose. The clock in the Spitafields Church was a call to prayer. The Black Eagle Brewery clock (above, right)  was designed to make the name ubiquitous in Whitechapel. Neither clock was meant to be accurate, in the modern meaning of that word. And the witnesses did not carry their own watches. To them, time was not a second by second measurement of their lives. Besides, the important thing about all three stories is not the exact time they occurred, but the place in which they occurred.
The back yard of 29 Hanbury Street (above) was empty when John Richardson left about 5 or 10 minutes before 5:00 a.m.  While he was there Annie Chapman was still alive - at least half an hour after Dr. Phillips said she must already be dead.  But she must have been within half a mile of the spot, because she was found there dead, just before 6:00 am. And...
Either the killer left the yard by climbing over the 5 foot high fence and then running between yards (above)  – odd enough behavior to attract attention in a crime ridden area.  Or, the stranger walked out the front door, something which would attract no more notice at Number 29 Hanbury Street then a figure sleeping on the stairs of a building in George Yard.
So it is likely Annie Chapman entered the backyard of number 29 Hanbury Street (above) between 5:00 am and 5:30 am - which roughly supports both John Richardson's and Elizabeth Long's stories. Dark Annie was found dead in the yard between 5:30 and 6:00 am, which roughly fits Albert Cadoche's time line. But none of the witnesses support Dr. Phillips estimate.
Coroner Wayne Baxter (above) would later say at the inquest, “It is true that Dr. Phillips thinks that when he saw the body at 6.30  the deceased had been dead at least two hours, but he admits that the coldness of the morning and the great loss of blood may affect his opinion; and if the evidence of the other witnesses be correct, Dr. Phillips has miscalculated the effect of those forces...”  In fact, the good doctor had been recalled on Wednesday, 19 September. He was pressed to provide more details about the mutilations, and resisted until all women and children had left the room – children? At a grisly murder inquest? And did the Victorian doctor think women were unaware of the existence of a womb withing their own bodies?
It is understandable  that Dr. George Phillips (above) might be trying to protect evidence only the killer would know, but the jury wanted to know, and Dr. Phillips was forced to reply. The details of the cuts to the vagina and bladder went on the record - and in the newspapers.  But he was able to protect that the womb had been removed, saying only, “One of the organs was entirely absent from the body”. And then Dr. Phillips added, “The appearance of the cut surfaces indicated that the instrument used must have been very sharp, and showed a certain amount of anatomical knowledge.”
Combined with his testimony of Monday, 10 September (above) - “Obviously the work was that of an expert...” - and his belief the weapon was “...a doctor's knife, or the kind of knife used in a slaughter house or by a butcher”,  makes Dr. Phillips the  “ad fontem” - the original source - of Jack the Ripper as a professional man, someone – pardon the expression – a cut above the mass of Whitechapel uneducated working poor.
And from this bit of Victorian bias was born the century long industry of the killer as a doctor, an actor, a painter, an intellectual, a detective or even a member of royalty. It made a lot of money for a lot of people, most as yet unborn in 1888.  But it disguised the killer who moved about Whitechapel as only a resident of Whitechapel could - unseeen because he was unremarkable.
And Dr. Phillips offered yet another misdirection to the mystery. When asked by Coroner Wayne Baxter how long it would have taken to performed the mutilations, Dr. Phillips said, “I myself could not have performed all the injuries I saw on that woman, even without a struggle, under a quarter of an hour. If I had done it in the deliberate manner usual with a surgeon, it would probably have taken me the best part of an hour. The conclusion I came to was that the whole object of the operation was to obtain possession of a certain portion of the body.”
It added to the mystery. It enforced the image of the killer as a calculating fiend. It implied he was searching for one particular organ - the womb. But was it not more likely the killer sliced that organ from Annie Chapman's body without knowing what specific organs he was removing?  Then he would not be a doctor fiend, or a slaughterhouse mad man, but rather just a mad man, what modern criminology would call a disorganized serial killer,  who left his physiological diagnosis on display at the murder scene.
At the final session of the inquest into the death of the second victim, Polly Nichols...and after 4 days of testimony in the still open inquest of Annie Chapman's murder....and with the case of Martha Tabaum still unsolved, Coroner Baxter seemed to sense the horror that was yet  to come.  “I suggest,” he told the jury in the Nichol's case , “...these... women may have been murdered by the same man with the same object...and having failed in the open street he tries again, within a week...in a more secluded place....the audacity and daring is equal to its maniacal fanaticism and abhorrent wickedness...but one thing is very clear - that a murder of a most atrocious character has been committed.” 
And would be committed again, and again, and again.
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

BLOODY JACK Chapter Fourteen

I think modern readers will be surprised to learn that congestion on surface streets had driven Londoners underground as early as January of 1863, when the first subterranean coal burning, smoke belching steam engines began running on the 4 mile Metropolitan Line, connecting Paddington, Euston and King's Cross railway stations. The Underground's passengers were breathing so much smoke and foul smelling fumes, the management encouraged employees to grow beards to act as air filters. Then they gave up and started calling the atmosphere “invigorating”. It didn't matter. More than 11 million Londoners – out of a population of 3 million – hacked and coughed up the 2 pence for tickets the first year of operation. After that, a dozen private companies started raising money and digging tunnels beneath the streets, fighting, merging and suing each other until there were only two left.
The first construction method was “cut and fill”, used for the new sewers built a decade earlier. A trench was dug down the middle of a street and tracks were laid in it. Then it was lined with bricks, and covered over. But in 1866 “the shield” revolutionized subway construction. A circular metal ring was hammered into the face of the tunnel. “Navies” then dug out the soil within the shield (above), which protected them during their work. Brick layers followed closely behind, lining the tunnel as they progressed. Thus was born “The Tube”, aka the London Underground.
The public fell in love with mass transit, and in 1887 the "North Metropolitan Tramsway Company" began laying tracks down both sides of the 100 foot wide Commercial Street (above). Historian Bernard Brown noticed one oddity of this project. "'The work continued day and night until completion in November 1888. During  the construction... Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered...15th November 1888, a week after Kelly s murder, the Commercial Street tramway finally opened with a line of brown painted horse trams running between Bloomsbury and Poplar (fare 3 pence). Any real connection between the line and murders is a highly speculative theory, at best.
The construction was aided by the hard chalk soil of southern England, which made tunneling easy, and a “laissez faire” labor market, which made replacing injured or killed workers just as easy. But the mindless competition between Met trains and District lines produced expensive duplication and delayed the first underground service for Whitechapel until 1876. 
With stations along the High Street at Aldegate, St. Mary's Matfelon Church and Whitechapel Station (above), next to the Working  Lads Institute (above) and across the road from the London Hospital, made attending the Coroner's Juries investigating the Whitechapel murders, convenient for members of the press and public.

Attendance had been growing since the August murder of Martha Tabram, and on Monday, 10 September, 1888, the upstairs meeting room of the Working Lads Institute (above) was jammed. The first witness at the Annie Chapman inquest was John Davis, who recounted his discovery of the body. But the second witness was the widow Amelia Palmer, who had known the 47 year old “Dark” Annie "a short plump, ashen-faced consumptive"  for 5 years, and had last seen her on the afternoon of Friday, 7 September, in the kitchen of the Dorset Street doss house where they both slept.
In the slang of Whitechapel the short, cramped brutal east/west block between Commercial and Crispin Streets (above) was known as Doss Street- a doss being a cheap bed, originally just a bundle of straw thrown on the floor. On an average night 1,200 men and almost as many women were sleeping in the stinking filthy dormitories along Dorset Street (above). The only business on the street not making a profit by renting coffin spaced “beds” at 8 pence a night was a grocery store at number 7 and the Blue Boy pub at number 32.
As Manhattan had it's Needle Park in the 1960's, Whitechapel had it's “Itchy Park”, opposite the eastern end of Dorset Street,  across Commercial Street, in what had once been the graveyard of Spitalfields Christs' Church.  There gangs waited even in daylight - "mug hunters" -  who watched in the dark for a robbery victim's face to shine, which gave rise to the term mugger -  "demanders" - who bullied their victims -  or "Bludgers" - who beat or garroted any man woman or child who might have money in their pockets,   It was the darkest dark corner of Whitechapel, and Bobby's were assigned the night beat on Dorset Street only in pairs.
According to the pale, dark haired Amelia Palmer, Annie Chapman (above) had been ill for years, and most Fridays she sold crochet work and flowers to earn money for food, a doss for the night and alcohol. 
But this Friday Annie (above) was so sick she did not have the strength. Amelia said her friend had put on a brave face, insisting, “It's no good my giving way. I must pull myself together and get out and get some money or I shall have no lodgings.”
Mrs. Palmer was followed on the stand by Timothy Donovan, who worked at a the 35 Dorset Street doss house. At about 2:30 pm that Friday Annie Chapman told Donovan she had spent part of the week in a charity infirmary, and he had then given her permission to use the kitchen. 
She was still there, eating a potato, 12 hours later at 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning.  When she confessed to not having the 8 pence for her “bed”,  Donovan had chastised her, saying “You can find money for your beer, and you can't find money for your bed." After stalling for a few minutes, Annie gave up. She said, "Never mind, Tim; I shall soon be back. Don't let the bed." The last he saw of her, Annie Chapman was heading off to find 8 pence 
When Coroner Wayne Baxter (above)asked where he expected Dark Annie to find the money, Donovan replied with the mantra of capitalism concerning the source of all profits: “I do not know”, meaning, “I do not care.”
And finally there appeared before the coroner's jury this first day the most controversial witness – and certainly the most opinionated - Doctor George Bagster Phillips (above). He was a 53 year old physician for the power structure, who had already spent half his life as a respected doctor and since 1865 the official surgeon for Whitechapel “H” division of the Metropolitan police. It was Dr. Phillips who gave physicals for the staff at the Leman and Commercial streets and the Arbour Square “H” station houses, even giving them their smallpox inoculations in 1871.
Dr. Phillips contended that he reached his own conclusions, and "...ignored all evidence not coming under my observation." The failing of that self imposed limitation would only become evident with time. At 2:30 on the afternoon of the murder – less than 8 hours after his first cursory examination in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street - Phillips performed his autopsy at the Montague Street mortuary. He found the victim's face was swollen, and had old bruises. But the throat had been slashed, left to right, he thought, leaving “two distinct cuts” two inches apart in the spine.
Dr. Phillips offered the opinion that Annie was not a drinker, and she had not alcohol in her stomach. What had slurred Annie's speech and caused her to stagger, was damage to her brain caused by the loss of oxygen over years of suffering from an advanced case of pneumonia - modern day COPD. She had very little food in her stomach, and was also suffering from malnutrition. In short, when she had been murdered, Annie Chapman was already within weeks of dying.
As to what specifically had killed her that morning, Dr. Phillips was equally certain. The murderer had first strangled Annie, perhaps with the handkerchief found around her neck, if not to death at least until she was unconscious . This caused her face to swell up and her tongue to protrude. Only then had he slashed her throat, grabbing her by the chin with one hand and swinging the knife left to right with the other. This had happened 2 to 3 hours before examination, at 6:30 that morning – putting time of death between between 3:30 and 4:30, the morning of Saturday, 8 September, 1888.
After death, said Dr. Phillips, the victim's legs were shoved apart. Her dress was pushed up above her waist, and the killer had sliced her abdomen fully open. The intestines had been cut free from the colon, lifted from the body and placed or tossed over her right shoulder. The uterus “and its appendages”, the upper portion of the vagina and 2/3rds of the bladder were all removed. And they were gone. Said Dr Phillips, "Obviously the work was that of an expert - or one, at least, who had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of the knife."
And with that horrifying testimony, the jury adjourned for the day, not to reconvene until Wednesday, 12 September. The certain Dr. Phillips did not return for the second day of testimony, so he missed the witnesses who destroyed his positive time of death estimate.
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