|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 81, July 2007. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
by Gavin Bromley
Berner Street achieved notoriety as the scene of one of the Whitechapel Murders in 1888, the murder of Elizabeth Stride occurring on the night of the supposed ‘double event’ (30th September 1888); a notoriety that would in time result in its name being changed to Henriques Street. The next street to the east in the parish of St. George’s-In-The-East is Batty Street, which runs parallel with Berner Street from Commercial Road as far as Fairclough Street, unlike its neighbouring street, which then carries on as far as Ellen Street. Batty Street itself had achieved some notoriety in the previous year, 1887, as the scene of the murder of Miriam Angel at No. 16, a murder that led to the conviction and execution of Israel Lobulsk, known better as Israel Lipski. Its proximity to Berner Street and the fact that ‘Lipski’ was allegedly shouted as a racial taunt to a Jewish witness of events linked to the murder of Elizabeth Stride, have been the main reasons for Batty Street being linked to the Whitechapel Murders.
However, events on the night of the double event at No. 22, Batty Street, just three doors south of No. 16, perhaps provide a more direct link to the murders.
The story of the Batty Street lodger was brought to our attention in The Lodger, by Stewart P. Evans and Paul Gainey. (1) Essentially the story was that at some point in the early hours of 30th September 1888, the landlady at No. 22 was disturbed by one of her lodgers returning home. The lodger then mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind a bloodstained shirt. The police were involved and seemingly the story was satisfactorily explained. However, Evans and Gainey asked if there might have been more to the story and tried to see a link with the suspect, Francis Tumblety, who had been forgotten about from the time of the murders.
They gave a possible route that the killer may have taken to get back to Batty Street from Mitre Square, the scene of the second murder that night (that of Catherine Eddowes) if the murderer had gone via Goulston Street to deposit the piece of apron he had taken from the victim. (2) Evans and Gainey suggested that the Batty Street lodger story may have been linked with other newspaper reports. They quoted a report from The Globe of Wednesday 10th October, 1888, which told of a member of the CID travelling to Liverpool in order to trace the movements of a man who had been in a West End hotel. He had been in the habit of ‘slumming’ and had suddenly disappeared leaving a small bill unpaid. He left a black bag with various contents and had not returned. An advertisement seemingly appeared in The Times giving the man’s name and informing him that the bag would be sold if he didn’t claim it.
Some of the contents of the bag were said to be in the possession of the police who were investigating the matter. Certain documents, wearing apparel, cheque books, obscene prints and letters were said to form the foundation of the inquiry. The suggestion had been made that the man had landed in Liverpool from America and the East Anglian Daily Times of Thursday 11th October mentioned the police were watching the port and railway stations in that city.
The Batty Street lodger story broke in several newspapers on Tuesday 16th October 1888. As we will see shortly, when we look at the reports in depth, reference is made to police investigating the lodger’s previous movements. Evans and Gainey link this to the story in the Globe because of the reference to the man’s previous movements and because they speculate that the police would have discovered the Liverpool connection from belongings the lodger left at Batty Street.
As we will see, another story of a man leaving bloodstained clothes at a laundry in Gray’s Inn Road may have been the source of an attempt by the police to kill the Batty Street lodger story in order to avoid alerting the man they were seeking.
The authors refer to a report in the Daily News of Tuesday 9th October titled ‘Remarkable Story’. This tells of an American arrested at 1am the previous morning (Monday 8th) whose conduct and demeanour was said to be suspicious. John Lardy and a friend had followed the man after seeing him approach two women thought to be prostitutes. They followed him from London Hospital to Aldgate at the corner of Duke Street. By then the man seemed to be aware that he was being followed and doubled back to go down Leman Street to Royal Mint Street and across King Street. The latter was a narrow road so the men ran round to the other side to catch sight of him there. When they arrived they heard a door shut and suspected he had gone into a house. He emerged 25 minutes later in different clothes. Lardy described him as being about 5-11 or 6-0 feet tall and said he had what appeared to be a false moustache.
The report is linked to one in the Manchester Evening News 18th October that said a man aged 35 had been arrested. He had been somewhat confused lately and was detained pending further inquiries. The description of this American certainly fits that of Tumblety and the authors link the various reports to this investigation into Tumblety’s movements.
It is often hard to find the truth behind a story. Details get added, misconstrued, garbled and mixed up with other stories. But on the face of it, essentially a lodger at 22 Batty Street had departed on the morning following the double event after disturbing the landlady and left behind a bloodstained shirt. He appeared to be a foreigner and hadn’t been seen since. But what details could we rely on and what was the truth behind the story? Were these other stories necessarily linked with the incident at Batty Street? For example, the reference to the man at the West End hotel and the connection made by Evans and Gainey to the story of the port in Liverpool being watched would more likely have been made from the contents of the bag left at the London hotel rather than any evidence found in Batty Street. The authors make some very reasonable deductions and rightly deserve credit for first discussing this story in detail, but let’s strip away some of the extraneous details to see what the basic facts of the story are and to build a picture of the possible events.
The Batty Street Lodger
The first reports of the Batty Street lodger story appeared on Tuesday, 16th October, 1888. It was reported in a number of newspapers. I am using the Evening News as the main source as it contained more details than other papers. Where details not covered in the Evening News appeared in other newspapers they will be noted. The only source we have for the name of the landlady is the Illustrated Police News of 27th October, 1888, which gave it as Mrs. Kuer.(3) No other newspaper identified her.
On Sunday the police were watching with great anxiety a house at the East-end which is strongly suspected to have been the actual lodging, or a house made use of, by some one connected with the East-end murders.
From various statements made by the neighbours in the district, the landlady had a lodger, who since the Sunday morning of the murder has been missing. It appears according to the statements made by the landlady to her neighbours(4), her lodger returned home early on the Sunday morning, and she was disturbed by his moving about. She got up herself very early, and noticed her lodger had changed some of his clothes. He told her he was going away for a little time, and he asked her to wash the shirt which he had taken off and get it ready for him by the time he came back. As he had been in the habit of going away now and then she did not think much at the time, and soon afterwards he went out.
THE WRISTBANDS AND SLEEVES SATURATED WITH BLOOD.
On looking at his shirt she was astonished to find the wristbands and part of the sleeves completely saturated with wet blood. The appearance struck her as very strange, and then when she heard of the murders a horrible suspicion seemed to flash into her mind. Acting on the advice of some of her neighbours, she gave information to the police, and showed them the shirt and the state it was in. They then took possession of it, and obtained from her a full description of her missing lodger. During the last fortnight she has been under the impression that he would return, and was sanguine that he would probably come back on Saturday or Sunday night, or perhaps, on Monday. The general opinion, however, among the neighbours is that he has left her for good.
A VISIT TO THE HOUSE
On finding out the house and visiting it the reporter found it tenanted by a stout, middle-aged German woman, who speaks very bad English, and who was not inclined to give much information further than the fact that her lodger had not returned yet, and she could not say where he had gone or when he would be back. The neighbours state that ever since the information has been given, two detectives and two policemen have been in the house. The house itself has rather a dingy and uninviting appearance. The curtains are kept partly together, and the shutters partly up. It is approached by a court, and as there are alleys running through from one street to the other adjacent, there are different ways of approach and exit. It is believed that in the information obtained as to his former movements and general appearance, together with the fact that numbers of people have seen the same man, the police have in their possession a series of most important clues, and that his ultimate capture is only a question of time.(5)
This tells us that on Sunday, 14th October, the police were watching the address concerned, which at this point was not identified in the reports. All sources say that the statements came from the neighbours, but the Evening News explicitly mentions that the details were obtained from statements made by the landlady to her neighbours (even its sister paper, the Daily News does not state this despite an otherwise virtually identical report). This can be inferred from the other reports, but this does indicate the landlady had given much of the details to her neighbours. So while the neighbours could have made their own observations and deductions we know some of the details at least came from the landlady herself. Though, of course, what was passed on to the reporter(s) may not necessarily have been what the landlady had told her neighbour(s).(6)
The neighbours were said to come from the ‘district’. This could just be a figure of speech, but it may indicate that these were not immediate neighbours as ‘district’ suggests a wider area than just the immediate houses. This may indicate that the reporter’s source of the story was a few generations from that originally told by the landlady.
There is also the fact from the above account that a reporter apparently spoke directly to the landlady, but she was not giving much information. She was described as a stout, middle-aged woman from Germany who did not speak English very well. That fact needs to be borne in mind when assessing the details. There is a lot of scope here for misinterpretation of what the landlady said (to her neighbours and to the reporter) and also for the landlady misinterpreting questions asked of her. The details obtained from the neighbours are that the landlady was disturbed in the early hours by her lodger returning home and moving about. She got up herself very early and noticed he had changed some of his clothes. There is little scope for ambiguity with this detail—someone came home in the early hours and disturbed her. The explanations given later for the incident do not account for this detail.
A slightly different account is given in other newspapers regarding when the landlady herself got up.
This man was said to have returned to his lodging at an early hour on the Sunday morning on which the Berner-street and Mitre-square murders were committed. His landlady was disturbed by his movements, and she noticed next morning that he had changed his clothes.(7)
Whereas the report in the Evening News can be interpreted as the landlady getting up when the lodger returned or not long afterwards (‘her lodger returned home early on the Sunday morning, and she was disturbed by his moving about’ and ‘she got up herself very early’) the Telegraph states that it was next morning that she noticed he had changed his clothes (suggesting it was later on in the morning—i.e. daylight hours). Another interpretation of the way it was reported in the Evening News is that it could be that when she herself got up it was maybe a couple of hours after the lodger returned but was still very early (for example about 5 o’clock). No indication is given of exactly when the lodger returned, just that it was in the early hours. We have no way of knowing when this was in relation to the time of the murders of Stride and Eddowes. It is not clear from the Evening News account if she got up when he returned. However, it is stated that it was ‘next morning’ that she noticed the lodger had changed his clothes.
The fact that the lodger was said to have changed his clothes is a difficult one to interpret. She must have seen him on at least two separate occasions to know he had changed his clothes. Presumably Saturday evening would be the last time she saw him before noticing the change. Then she may have seen him as he returned home and disturbed her, or not long after this. Or she could have seen him later in the morning when she herself got up. However, at this later time, what would be odd about a person changing their clothes from those they were seen in the previous evening? People do tend to change their clothes the following day. If the observation was made at this time, it may be that he tended not to change his clothes very often. Nonetheless, he would change them occasionally even if it wasn’t every day, assuming he had more than one set of clothes. So why would Mrs. Kuer think it noteworthy if he had changed his clothes in the morning from those worn the previous evening? It may have been because his clothes had already been moved out (if the lodger had arranged to move out that weekend anyway, which is a possibility as we will see) or because he was seen wearing clothes that did not belong to him. In the latter case the landlady may not have had to see him on two separate occasions to deduce he had changed his clothes.
With these snippets of information the inference is clear that the person concerned was a lodger and not just someone who had left clothes to be washed, which was claimed later.
We are also informed that he told her he was going away for a while and asked her to clean his shirt ready for when he returned. The man was said to occasionally leave for a while so this was not regarded as unusual by the landlady. These details may have been misinterpreted for reasons we will come to later.
The man left soon afterwards and had been missing since ‘the Sunday morning of the murder’. In the section where the landlady was spoken to directly, she confirmed that he had not yet returned and she did not know when he would do so. In the section where the information seemingly came from the neighbour, the landlady was said to have been confident that he would have returned on Saturday or Sunday night, or possibly on Monday. Now this would appear to mean from Saturday the 13th to Monday the 15th. As we will see later, there may be an explanation for why the landlady was said to have expected he would return on a particular day. Nothing was said in the original report that when he left he gave a specific day for his return, though maybe she was used to him leaving for about a fortnight at a time. The neighbours were said to believe that he would never come back.
The landlady later discovered the shirt was bloodstained on the cuffs and sleeves. The reference to it being saturated with blood was possibly an exaggeration by the neighbours or the reporter. When she then heard of the murders, this aroused her suspicions and her neighbours advised her to call the police, which she had, and since then the police (two detectives and two uniformed policemen) had been waiting at the house around the clock (presumably in shifts). That she had told her neighbours would explain them being the source for the story.
The report then gives a brief description of the location of the house in relation to nearby passages (‘It is approached by a court, and as there are alleys running through from one street to the other adjacent, there are different ways of approach and exit’). The address was given in subsequent reports and this is an accurate description of the approach to the house. 22 Batty Street can be easily reached from Berner Street by going along Hampshire Court, where it is situated at the end directly on the left of the passageway. Virtually directly opposite the house on the other side of Batty Street is another court (Queen Court) leading to Christian Street. So, as the report stated, there were various ways to reach 22 Batty Street directly.
The final section presents a confi- dent view of the predicted outcome of the enquiry: ‘It is believed that in the information obtained as to his former movements and general appearance, together with the fact that numbers of people have seen the same man, the police have in their possession a series of most important clues, and that his ultimate capture is only a question of time.’ Reference to his former movements and general appearance would probably come from the landlady and may have covered his former address and his movements at the time of the other murders.
Interestingly ‘numbers of people’ had seen the same man. In the Daily News this was expanded to say that ‘numbers of people have seen the same man about the neighbourhood’ (my emphasis). As we will see, the police were not providing any information about this story so this detail would appear to come from the neighbours, or possibly was the result of the reporter asking people in the neighbourhood if they’d seen a certain man and giving a rough description as provided by the landlady or her neighbour. Such a method would be unlikely to yield useful information, as people would want to be seen to have important information. It is possible, however, that this was correct information, in which case a possible implication is that the lodger had been seen in the area since so was possibly still around.
However, the confidence expressed in the Evening News is contradicted in reports by, amongst other newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, the Manchester Guardian and the Irish Times.
Suspicion flashed across her mind, and the police were informed. Inquiry was instituted, with the result that the incidents mentioned are said to have been “satisfactorily accounted for.(8)”
The report that an important clue had been obtained through the discovery of a bloodstained shirt left by a suspected character in an East End lodginghouse had no better foundation than an incident which was satisfactorily explained over a week ago.(9)
These reports suggest that the matter had already been investigated and a satisfactory explanation had been given over a week before. This may point at the weekend before (i.e. Saturday the 6th / Sunday the 7th) that being just over a week before the story became known on Monday the 15th.
So at this point the Daily News and Evening News were reporting that here was an important lead while the Telegraph, Manchester Guardian and Irish Times were reporting that the incident had already been satisfactorily explained. The account in the latter newspapers may represent early access to information that would come to light in the next couple of days.
On the following day the story was expanded.
The Irish Times added:THE EAST-END MURDERS.
THE BATTY-STREET CLUE.
THE BLOOD-STAINED SHIRT.
The startling story published yesterday with reference to the finding of a blood-stained shirt and the disappearance of a man from a lodging-house in the East-end proves upon investigation to be of some importance. On Monday afternoon the truth of the statement was given an unqualified denial by the detective officers immediately after its publication and this presumably because they were anxious to avoid a premature disclosure of facts of which they had been for some time cognisant. From the very morning of the murders, the police, it is stated, have had in their possession a shirt saturated with blood. Though they say nothing they are evidently convinced that it was left in a house in Batty-street by the assassin after he had finished his work. Having regard to the position of this particular house, its close proximity to the yard in Berner-street, where the crime was committed, and to the many intricate passages and alleys adjacent, the police theory has, in all probability, a basis of fact. An examination of the surroundings leads to the conclusion that probably in the whole of Whitechapel there is no quarter in which a criminal would be more likely to evade police detection, or observation of any kind, than he would be in this particular one. At the inquest on Mrs. Stride one of the witnesses deposed to having seen a man and a woman standing at the junction of Fairclough and Berner-streets early on the morning of the murder. Assuming that the man now sought was the murderer, he would have gained instant access to the house in Batty-street by rapidly crossing over from the yard and traversing a passage, the entrance of which is almost immediately opposite to the spot where the victim was subsequently discovered. The statement has been made that the landlady of the lodging-house, 22, Batty-street—the house in which the shirt was left - was at an early hour disturbed by the movements of the lodger who changed some of his apparel and went away; first, however, instructing her to wash the cast-off shirt by the time he returned. But in relation to this latter theory, the question is how far the result of the inquiries made yesterday is affected by a recent arrest. Although, for reasons known to themselves, the police during Saturday, Sunday, and Monday answered negatively all questions as to whether any person had been arrested or was then in their charge, there is no doubt that a man was taken into custody on suspicion of being the missing lodger from 22, Batty-street, and that he was afterwards set at liberty.(10)
There is no doubt that a man was taken into custody on suspicion of being the missing lodger from 22 Batty street, and that he was afterwards set at liberty. The German lodginghouse-keeper could clear up the point as to the existence of any other lodger absent from the house under the suspicious circumstances referred to, but she is not accessible, and, it is easy to understand that the police should endeavour to prevent her making an statement. From inquiries in various directions this afternoon a further development is very likely to take place.
First of all we have a reference to the fact that the police were denying the story on Monday afternoon (15th). This was expanded later in the story to include Saturday (13th) and Sunday (14th). This would suggest that none of the information relating to the story came from, or was confirmed by, a police source. The assumption was that the police were keen to keep the story under wraps to avoid jeopardising any operation in progress. Of course it could be that there were denials because the matter had already been resolved.
If the press had enough information to ask the police questions on Saturday it appears odd that there was no mention of the story in the press on Monday. We’ll examine the timing of when the story broke later.
This report also tells us that the police had been aware of the incident for some time—in fact from the very morning of the murders when the landlady told them of the incident and handed over the shirt. There is a reiteration of some of the details given the previous day, but we are now told the address of the house—22 Batty Street.
The latter part of the report is interesting. We are told that ‘in relation to this latter theory, the question is how far the result of the inquiries made yesterday is affected by a recent arrest’. This is the first mention of an arrest relating to the incident, though it may tie in with the report in the Telegraph on the previous day that the matter had already been explained satisfactorily. Though the police had denied it, the reporter was certain that someone had been arrested on suspicion of being the missing lodger and that he had been released. If the report in the Irish Times (16 October) is correct regarding the matter being satisfactorily accounted for over a week before, then it may point to an arrest on the weekend of October 6-7. Of course, there is also the point that this arrest may involve some confusion with the incident at Gray’s Inn Road, which we will look at in more detail later.
Interestingly, there seems to have been a turnaround in the two press camps in their reports of the 17th. On the 16th the Daily News and Evening News had been optimistic in reporting that the man’s capture was imminent, while the Telegraph, Manchester Guardian and Irish Times were reporting that the matter had already been satisfactorily accounted for. On the 17th the Daily and Evening News were reporting that a man had already been arrested and released while the other camp were now reporting that ‘from inquiries in various directions this afternoon a further development is very likely to take place’. That there was information at all, let alone optimism, regarding further developments is odd if the police were being reticent regarding the matter. That is unless there was another source for this information – such as the landlady, though she was likewise said to be unforthcoming, or possibly the neighbours. Also there is the possibility of confusion with other leads being followed up by the police where perhaps the police were expressing some optimism, but the press had associated their optimism with the wrong story.
Also of interest in the Irish Times is that it was felt the landlady had been made inaccessible and this, it was said, was because the police wanted to ‘avoid a premature disclosure of the facts’. This would reinforce the point made in the Evening News on the 16th that the landlady was ‘not inclined to give much information’.
Another point of interest in the Irish Times (also reported in the Morning Advertiser, 17th October) is that ‘the German lodginghouse-keeper could clear up the point as to the existence of any other lodger absent from the house under the suspicious circumstances referred to’. Why the reference to ‘any other’ lodger being absent or missing? Could it be that someone had been arrested and released, but attention was now being turned to someone else? It could just be a misleading or clumsy expression, but reference to ‘any other lodger’ being absent is interesting. This suggests there was already one man absent and this man was accounted for; but there was now interest in another man. The Irish Times carried the same report as the Daily News about the arrest and release of the man, so is this an indication that someone else was now being sought?
On the 18th the story seemingly was explained by reference to the man being a laundry customer of Mrs. Kuer’s. However more questions are raised. The landlady was interviewed on the 17th and this was reported in the Evening News on the 18th.
INTERVIEW WITH THE LANDLADY IN BATTY STREET.
A Press representative had an interview, yesterday, with the landlady of the house, 22, Batty-street, Whitechapel, which place was alleged to be the resort of the owner of the blood-stained shirt. The lodging-house is kept by a German woman, the wife of a seaman. She denied that the man for whom the police were searching was one of her lodgers, and asserted that he simply had his washing done at the house. He was a ladies tailor, working for a West-end house, and did not reside in the Leman-street district. She explained the presence of blood on the shirt by saying that it was owing to an accident that occurred to a man (other than the one taken into custody) who was living on the premises, and that the police would have known nothing of it but for her having indiscreetly shown it to a neighbour. The woman denies that the detectives are still in possession of her house.(11)
The landlady, here described as being the wife of a seaman, now said that the man being sought was not a lodger, but someone who had his washing done at her house. Further reports would refer to her as a laundress. The man was said to be a ladies tailor and did not live in the area. She referred to someone being taken into custody but, importantly, said that this man was not the one responsible for getting the blood on the shirt. This was caused by ‘an accident that occurred to a man who lived on the premises’. The story died after the reports on this day and was not followed up in the press. But this information from the landlady opens up many questions. The whole incident is seemingly dismissed—the shirt was brought in by someone to be cleaned, someone in the house got blood on it accidentally, and the police had now left the house. Everything is explained. Well not quite.
An ambiguity in the report is that the man responsible for getting blood on the shirt was someone ‘other than the one taken into custody’ but it doesn’t actually equate the man taken into custody with the laundry customer. It is implied, but not explicitly stated. However, this point is clarified by the further details that appeared in the Daily News of the same date:
With regard to the statements current as to finding a blood-stained shirt at a lodging-house in Whitechapel, it appears the story is founded on some matters which occurred more than a fortnight ago. A man, apparently a foreigner, visited the house of a German laundress, at 22, Batty-street, and left four shirts, tied in a bundle, to be washed. The bundle was not opened at the time, but when the shirts were afterwards taken out one was found considerably blood-stained. The woman communicated with the police, who placed the house under observation, detectives at the same time being lodged there to arrest the man should he return. This he did last Saturday, and was taken to the Leman-street Police-station, where he was questioned, and within an hour or two released, his statement being proved correct.(12)
Additional information given by the Daily News is that the man was foreign and had brought in a bundle of four shirts to be washed, one of which was found to be bloodstained. The police were informed and waited for his return, which he did ‘last Saturday’ (apparently the 13th). He was taken to Leman Street Police Station for questioning and was then released, the police being satisfied with his statement. This seems to contradict Mrs. Kuer’s initial answers to reporters published on October 16 when she just asserted that the man had not returned yet.
Also, in these later reports the landlady said that the police were not ‘still in possession of the house’, which implies that they had been.
Regarding the story at this point that the man was a customer rather than a lodger, if police were said to have been looking into his former movements (from the reports on the 16th) this would be unlikely to apply to a customer on whom they would not have much information. However, in the case of a lodger, there may have been information that the landlady or other lodgers could give from details he had given them while he lived there, as well as items left at the house by the man.
However, the most important detail here is that the landlady said that the customer who brought the clothes was not responsible for getting the blood on the shirt. This raises the question as to why the customer was arrested. If he was not responsible for getting the blood on the shirt, why would he be arrested?
So the story about the customer, even if true, is irrelevant in that it was someone ‘living on the premises’ who was responsible for getting blood on the shirt. That the man ‘was living on the premises’ may imply he was no longer living there, possibly supporting the theory that there was still a missing lodger. The point is that this statement is supposed to be cooling the story by explaining that the bloodstains were not due to some missing lodger still being searched for by police, but the report implies that the person responsible for getting blood on the shirt no longer lived there. Again this could be an example of sloppy expression and the person referred to by Mrs. Kuer was still living there.
Perhaps tellingly, the landlady was reported as indicating to the journalist that ‘the police would have known nothing of it but for her having indiscreetly shown it to a neighbour’. This implies that the landlady was not pleased that the police had been informed and blamed her own indiscretion in showing the shirt to a neighbour. Could the landlady have had an initial suspicion and shown her neighbour the shirt, but later regretted this as she had dismissed her own suspicions and felt obliged or coerced into informing the police due to pressure from her neighbour? Could this account for the seemingly uncooperative nature of the landlady with the press? This may be an indication that Mrs. Kuer did not willingly aid the police’s investigation.
But when did Mrs. Kuer find out that it was one of her householders who had got blood on the shirt? Was it before the arrest of the customer? Or only afterwards? Was it as a result of the police inquiry into the customer’s statement after they arrested him that this information emerged? Could the arrested man’s insistence that there was no blood on the shirt when he gave to the landlady have led to further questions at Mrs. Kuer’s house? Moreover, did the police even know about this information given by the landlady to the press? Also, does this account for the references in the reports of the previous day to ‘any other lodger absent from the house under the suspicious circumstances referred to’? Had attention turned to someone else? Or had the police been given a satisfactory explanation for the blood being on the shirt from the person living at the house who was responsible for it getting there?
This person couldn’t have been Mrs. Kuer herself (and who was then trying to cover up this fact), else why would she show the shirt to a neighbour and express her suspicions in the first place.
Also to consider is the fact that this report does not account for the original story about a lodger disturbing the landlady in the early hours. A customer is not going to leave his shirts in the early hours. Nor does it account for the fact that the landlady noticed the man had changed his clothes.
While the Daily News and Evening News seemed to believe the incident was now explained, the Irish Times continued in the other direction, though expressing some doubt in the public’s faith in the optimism seemingly shown by the police.
The “bloody shirt,” having long figured as a standard of American party warfare, is likely to appear in this community as a flag of justice. For it is declared that the police are in possession of a most important clue to the Whitechapel assassin. This clue is a shirt saturated with blood, and supposed from circumstances needless to narrate to have been worn by the murderer when he killed his two latest victims. Great importance, it seems, is attached by the experts of the Criminal Investigation Department to this ensanguined garment, and the resources of the institution are at present directed to the discovery of the wearer. It must be said that the public do not share the great expectations of the authorities.(13)
Reference to the shirt being worn by the killer could just be straightforward, but saying ‘worn by’ and ‘wearer’ as opposed to ‘owned by’ and ‘owner’ may be an important distinction. If this was a deliberately subtle distinction, is this another indication that the inquiry had shifted from the man who left the shirts to the man who got blood on them?
One other very interesting item is to be found in the Evening News of 18 October, 1888—a letter from one of the lodgers at 22 Batty Street. This was written on the 17th.
A LETTER FROM 22, BATTY STREET.
We have received the following letter:
SIR - Referring to your issue No. , I beg of you to publish a contradictory statement respecting the Whitechapel murder; in fact, your reporter has been wrongly informed, or else it his own suggestion.
The police are not in the house, nor has the woman had a lodger who is now missing, but a stranger brought the shirts, and when he fetched them, he was detained by the police, and after inquiries discharged. As regards our house, it is not as your report describes it, for it is a most respectable house and in good general condition; although it is certainly not Windsor Castle. There are only two lodgers, one a drayman, name of Joseph, who works for the Norwegian Lager Beer Company, and the other a baker, name of Carl Noun, who has been at work in Margate, and only returned on the 6th of this month after the season was over. I trust you will publish these statements as I put it to you, in fact it may injure the poor woman in her business. - Respectfully.
C. NOUN (a lodger in the house).
22, Batty-street, Commercial-road, E., October 17.(14)
This letter gives us some important information. From it we know there were two lodgers at 22 Batty Street—Joseph, a drayman for the Norwegian Lager Beer Company, and Carl Noun (the letter writer), a baker. Noun was keen to put the record straight and despite starting diplomatically, suggests that the reporter may have made the story up. Here Noun largely tells the same story as Mrs. Kuer. He states the police were not in the house (though, unlike with the landlady’s statement, we can’t infer from his letter that the police had at some point been in the house) nor was there a missing lodger. He reiterates the story that someone brought the shirts to the house and the police arrested him on his return, though he was later released. As an incidental point Noun also rebuts the statement in the Evening News of the 16th that the ‘house was dingy and uninviting’. He also states the reason for writing the letter is that he believed the story may adversely affect the landlady’s business (presumably as a laundress). This may be why the landlady gave the interview. Her original tactic to be evasive was unfortunately not working, so she gave an interview and Noun, to help out, wrote a letter to the press.
Noun referred to the customer as a ‘stranger’. This may imply that the man was not a regular customer of Mrs. Kuer’s or it could be that the man was just a stranger to Noun.
However, one detail in Noun’s letter is important. This is that he tells us he had been away (at work in Margate) and only returned on 6th October. This was a week after the incident. Noun would not be in a position to know first-hand what happened in the house on 30th September. He may have been in the house for the arrest of the customer on the latter’s return, but he would not be able to refute the stories in the press from first-hand knowledge.
A few possibilities present themselves here. Firstly, there was the denial that there was a missing lodger. However, if Noun was away for the season, could the landlady have brought in someone else to use the room while Noun was away? Presumably Noun would have to pay a retainer to keep the room until he returned. Could the landlady have sought to make more money by letting the room in Noun’s absence, on the understanding with the new lodger that they must find somewhere else to live prior to Noun returning on 6th October (if she knew that would be his date of return)? Maybe this was done without Noun’s knowledge and, to keep this from him, she came up with a story about a customer leaving some shirts to be cleaned, rather than a temporary lodger leaving them. The reference to the person who got blood on the shirt who ‘was living there’ may also indicate someone having moved in while Noun was away and that the person concerned no longer lived there.
Could the story about the missing lodger leaving for a while every now and then also be a reference to Noun? Maybe the scenario was that the landlady told her neighbour about the lodger leaving the shirt and explained how she let the room while Noun was away and that Noun would often go away for a time, but the neighbour thought this detail was about the missing lodger. This also raises the possibility that the reports mentioning ‘any other lodger absent from the house under the circumstances referred to’ may have been a result of Noun’s return. Noun was a lodger at the house who would have been absent at the time of the incident and knowledge of his circumstances may have been behind this reference to ‘any other lodger’.
Also, reference is made to an arrest in several reports. The Daily News (Wednesday, 18 October) refers to this being ‘last Saturday’. Strictly speaking this would refer to Saturday the 13th. However, use of ‘next’ and ‘last’ when referring to a day of the week can be ambiguous in terms of which week the statement is referring to and earlier reports in the Irish Times (Tuesday, 16 October) referred to the matter being resolved over a week before (i.e. before Tuesday the 9th), which may mean the arrest actually occurred on Saturday, 6 October. This was the day that Carl Noun said he returned to Batty Street. Could it be that Carl Noun was the man detained by the police? If they were in the house, probably even waiting in his room, it could be they believed this was the missing lodger when he returned if he vaguely fitted the landlady’s description and she was not in the house at the time of the arrest to explain their mistake.
A combination of these facts could account for different aspects of the story. It could be that there actually was a customer who left some shirts on Saturday the 29th of September (or possibly earlier). From the landlady’s account someone living at 22 Batty Street got blood onto one of these shirts. This must have been on Saturday night or Sunday morning (29/30) as the bloodstained shirt was said to be in the possession of the police from the morning of the murders. From the landlady’s explanation of events to her neighbour who persuaded her to inform the police, certain details could have been confused. The landlady would possibly have explained about the lodger disturbing her and her later discovery of the bloodstained shirt which had been brought in by a customer who asked her to have it ready for when he came back on a specified day. She may also have explained that the lodger was living there while Carl Noun, one of her regular lodgers, was away. Due to language problems or a process of ‘Chinese whispers’ the story became that it was the lodger who asked for the shirt to be cleaned (when this was actually the customer) and who was in the habit of going away for a while (when this was, in fact, Noun).
Gray’s Inn Road Laundry story
As already mentioned, Evans and Gainey suggest that the story given by Mrs. Kuer about a laundry customer leaving shirts may have been suggested to her by the police based on an incident that had happened the previous week at the Clothing Repairing Company in Gray’s Inn Road, Holborn, which was actually part of a chain of shops. The idea is that in order to kill the story a statement was given to the press relating a story based on this earlier separate incident, with the additional hope that the stories would then be confused. Alternatively, it may be that elements of this story simply got mixed up by the press with the Batty Street lodger story in their early reports of the latter. It has also been suggested that the Batty Street lodger story was just a result of details being confused from the Gray’s Inn Road story and other stories.
The reports about the Gray’s Inn Road incident first appeared on Tuesday, the 9th of October.
THE EAST-END MURDERS.
The Central News states that the Metropolitan Police last night made an arrest which was thought to be of importance. The arrest was made through the instrumentality of the manager of a clothes repairing company in Gray’s Inn-road. Last Wednesday afternoon a man called at the shop between twelve and two o’clock in the afternoon with two garments—an overcoat and a pair of trousers to be cleaned. They were both blood-stained. The coat was especially smeared near one of the pockets, and there were large spots of blood on various parts of the trousers. The manager was away at the time, and his wife took charge of the garments. The man said he would call for them on Friday or Saturday. The wife naturally called her husband’s attention to the blood stains on his return, and he communicated with the metropolitan police, who, having examined the clothes, took them to Scotland-yard. Since then, two detectives have been secreted on the premises awaiting the stranger’s return. Friday and Saturday passed by without his calling, but last evening he stepped into the shop a few minutes before closing time. Detective-sergeant George Godley and a companion seized him without much ceremony, and he was taken straight to Leman-street Police-station. Meanwhile the prisoner accounted for the presence of the blood marks by the assertion that he had cut his hand. It is stated, however, that his explanation was not altogether consistent, as in an unguarded moment he spoke of having cut himself last Saturday, and then suddenly recollecting himself stated that he had also cut his hand previously. The prisoner further stated that he had had the garments by him in his lodgings for two or three weeks, but he refused to give his address. A later communication from the Central News says :- The man was liberated after the police had satisfied themselves of his innocence. The apparent inconsistency of his explanation was doubtless due to his embarrassment.(15)
The Irish Times of the same date added the detail that the suspect was “a middle-aged man of good physique and respectably dressed”.
Extra details were given in the Star the same day:
The detectives seized him, and took him to Leman-street Police-station. He stated that while employed as a waiter at the Alexandra Park he had broken some glass and cut one of his hands rather severely. Inquiries made at his residence and at the Palace corroborated his story, and as there were no further grounds for detaining him he was discharged.(16)
The reference to ‘Alexandra Park’ appears to be a mistake as the report later refers to ‘the Palace’ and the man’s place of employment was given as the Alexandra Palace in the St. James Gazette on the same date.
The City Press, on the following day, added the detail that “inquiries are being made of his antecedents”.
So seemingly on Wednesday, 3 October, the man left the clothes at the shop and returned on Monday the 8th (17) when he was detained by police. The police would naturally be looking into the antecedents of any suspect—so this fact cannot be used as evidence that the stories are necessarily linked.
Firstly, this is obviously a separate incident to that in Batty Street. It is not the case that the reports of the Batty Street incident were merely misreports of the incident in Gray’s Inn Road. That the address was very specifically given, Mrs. Kuer was spoken to and there was a letter from one of the lodgers, all tell us that there was actually a separate incident concerning bloodstained clothing at Batty Street and this was not merely the result of the press getting details wrong about the customer at Gray’s Inn Road.
There are certainly parallels between the two stories. Both involved a customer leaving clothes with bloodstains on them (a bundle of four shirts, one of which was bloodstained at Batty Street; an overcoat and trousers, both of which were bloodstained, at Gray’s Inn Road). Both involved the police waiting on the premises for the man to return (two detectives at Gray’s Inn Road; two detectives and two policemen at Batty Street) and both involved the customer returning, being taken for questioning and then being released.
Early reports of the Batty Street incident (for example, by the Daily Telegraph and the Irish Times) on the 16th of October made reference to the story being satisfactorily explained more than a week before. This timeline would fit in with the Gray’s Inn Road arrest. However, the return of the customer was said to be on a Saturday in the case of the Batty Street customer, whereas it was a Monday in the case of the Gray’s Inn Road customer. If this explanation of the Batty Street incident being satisfactorily explained over a week before was the start of the confusion between the two stories, those papers reporting the explanation must have had some information not available to the other papers (such as the Daily and Evening News) because it wasn’t until Mrs. Kuer was interviewed on the 17th that the customer aspect of the Batty Street story was given and reported in those papers on the 18th, at which point the two stories shared a lot in common. It could be that since Mrs. Kuer had been interviewed on about the 15th (as referred to in the Evening News on the 16th) she had given the detail about the customer to one reporter and not another. So the Irish Times could have reported details on the 16th relating the information Mrs. Kuer subsequently gave to the Evening News which was reported on the 18th. Of course this story could have been a falsehood inspired by events at Gray’s Inn Road given by the police or the landlady to deflect the attention of the press. However, it may be that there was a genuine incident of a customer of Mrs. Kuer’s, on returning to 22 Batty Street to pick up his shirts, being taken in for questioning by police sometime between 6th and 8th October.
To explain the ‘satisfactory account’, it seems unlikely the Irish Times (among others) on the 16th had confused the Batty Street incident with that in Gray’s Inn Road as the customer aspect of the story had not yet been explicitly reported; the man was still referred to as a lodger. If this detail was a result of an early deliberate confusion by police, they had to react immediately to press interest with this tactic.
While Mrs. Kuer may have been instructed by the police to tell the ‘customer’ story, Noun’s letter seems genuinely to have been out of concern for Mrs. Kuer and to give the real story (as he saw it) to refute the details of the initial report in the Evening News even down to disagreeing with the comment about the condition of the house.
So while it is possible that the Gray’s Inn Road story was used as the inspiration for a cover story at Batty Street (either instigated by the police or by Mrs. Kuer and aided by Noun who wrote a letter accordingly to the press to further get the denial story across), it is clear that the Batty Street lodger story related to a separate incident.
Mrs. Kuer’s reluctance
The press reported that Mrs. Kuer was not being very co-operative. This uncooperative attitude may also have been shown by her to the police. Certainly her statement that the police would not have known about the incident had she herself not ‘indiscreetly’ shown the shirt to a neighbour indicates that she was not pleased that the police were involved. This reluctance to get the police involved may have been due to her own judgment about the man concerned. Certainly, there was reason for her to have suspicions in the first place else she would not have spoken with her neighbour. She may then, on reflection, have changed her mind and decided that her lodger (or customer) could not have been involved in the murders. It may be that her assessment that the man was innocent was correct, but it seems a common reaction from some people who know serial killers that they had no idea or would not have believed it of them.
However, there may have been a further reason for her reluctance to aid the police. The murder of Miriam Angel and execution of Israel Lipski had happened just over a year before (28th June and 22nd August 1887 respectively). The murder had occurred just three doors away from Mrs. Kuer’s house. The case had been widely reported and following the trial, before the execution, there was a widespread belief that an innocent man would be hanged. This was due to a campaign by his solicitor, John Hayward, who produced a pamphlet detailing evidence that he believed proved Lipski’s innocence. This argument was taken up by some Jewish newspapers and the Pall Mall Gazette. Petitions were signed, mostly by the Jewish community, and by MPs to at least get Lipski’s sentence commuted. Questions also were asked in the House of Commons regarding the case. This would, initially at least, have helped some people to question the verdict and the sentence.
Though Israel Lipski confessed to the murder on the eve of his execution, and though this was reported in most papers at face value, certain elements of the press (Jewish radical newspapers especially) viewed this confession with some scepticism at best. The Home Secretary had been criticised in the period between the trial and the execution and the confession was seen as vindication for his position by most newspapers. However, it may be that some people still believed in his innocence and if Israel Lipski was still professing his innocence just a few days before his execution to Philip and Leah Lipski, it could be that they, in particular, still believed he was innocent even after reports of the confession.(18) They had known him for two years and had spoken to him directly in prison, so they perhaps would not be swayed from their first-hand experience of the man by the newspaper reports and by the confession that may have been viewed merely as expedient for all concerned rather than a genuine admission of guilt.
If Mrs. Kuer was living at 22 Batty Street at the time or if the Lipskis were still living in Batty Street when Mrs. Kuer moved in possibly at some point in 1888, it could be that she knew the details of the murder and the opinions of the Lipskis. It may be that Mrs. Kuer knew them to talk to and almost certainly would have been aware of the case even if she hadn’t lived in Batty Street at the time of the murder. If she felt her story might lead to the execution of a man she believed to be probably innocent, she might well have wanted to play down the events to the authorities.
Other events that may have played on Mrs. Kuer’s mind were various attacks by the husband of Miriam Angel on Leah Lipski just prior to and after the execution. On the Saturday before Lipski’s execution, Isaac Angel went to the house with his two brothers. Mrs. Lipski was knocked over and kicked in the stomach, being told that ‘I will not rest till I have killed you...I will do for you as you have done for my wife’. On the day of Lipski’s execution, Angel returned to No. 16 with his siblings and damaged the door and windows, and also kicked Mrs. Lipski. The following day Angel returned with a mob and threatened to kill her. (19)
Again, even if she was not living there at the time, Mrs. Kuer may have heard of these events and the feelings in the area may have left an impression on her. This may also have made her want to avoid a repeat of such incidents at her own house. Given that feelings regarding the Whitechapel murders were running high in the area, if there were reports in the press that the murderer may have lived at her house such attacks may have seemed a very real possibility.
Initially she tried to play down the matter without giving too many details. She may have hoped that giving few details would stifle interest in the story. Obviously this was futile, so she was then forced to give more details to try to explicitly state that the matter had been satisfactorily explained. Either the matter had actually been resolved or the police were actually still looking for the man. Even if the matter had been resolved, it could be that Mrs. Kuer feared attacks because of the ambiguous reports in the press and so she gave out more details to try to stop the interest from the press.
That she did not mention the arrest the first time she was spoken to—when the reporter said she was being evasive—could be that she thought just not saying a lot would be better in order to cause interest in the story to cool down. However, as that didn’t work and there were further reports on the 17th (including the addition of the address), she may then have chosen to give more details, while indicating (whether true or not) that the matter had been resolved.
It could be that a combination of these factors may have caused her not only to be uncooperative with the press but also with the police. Fearing how the situation might develop, she may have feared if the police did catch the man and he was convicted of the crimes then she would have a mob outside the house where he had lived. She may also have dismissed the idea in her own mind that the man could be the murderer, but felt that the evidence of the shirt with other evidence, may have been used to ‘force through’ a conviction, which is what some still may have felt had happened to Israel Lipski.
At this point it may be worth listing the options of what had happened and why she was responding in such a way:
• She had not told the police that a member of the household had got blood on the shirt. The police had waited for the customer to return and on doing so he was arrested and released having given a satisfactory account. This ended the matter for the police but Mrs. Kuer felt guilty about her deceit, or did not want to let prospective customers know they might be arrested like the luckless customer who had been.
• She had not given the press or the police the full details as she did not want her house to be the target of attacks from those incensed by the murders.
• She had not given the press or the police the full details as she did not believe the man responsible for getting blood on the shirt was guilty of any murders.
• The police had arrested the customer, then it had come to light about the lodger getting blood on the shirt and they turned their attention to him. So Mrs. Kuer’s statements were true and given in good faith, albeit not wanting too many details to be given and wanting to play down the matter, though if the latter was her intent she was not doing a good job.
• There was no customer, and the man being searched for all along by police was the missing lodger.
• There was no missing lodger; it was the customer that the police sought. Mrs. Kuer and/or the reporter mistook reference to the customer to be reference to the lodger.
If she was keen to play the story down this could have backed up by one of her lodgers writing to a newspaper. Now there are a few reasons why Mrs. Kuer would have been keen for this to happen:
1) Nothing had happened that didn’t have an innocent explanation and the story she gave was the truth.
2) The story she gave was essentially the truth but played down the details that still indicated some suspicious activity by a lodger – she wanted to avoid harm to her business or she wanted to avoid attacks on her property. Less likely, the police told her to do this, but if they wanted to cover it up they’d have perhaps wanted more deviance from truth.
3) The story she gave was not the truth (and was based on the Gray’s Inn Road story) in order to try to kill the story as she felt her home might be attacked or her business would suffer.
4) The story she gave was not the truth in order to try and keep the fact from Carl Noun that she had let out his room in his absence.
5) The police told her to tell the story that was not the truth in order to try to kill the story as they did not want to alert the culprit.
Timing of the story
The story did not appear in the press until October 16, indicating that it was only known by the press on the 15th. If the police were in possession of the shirt since the day of the murder, and Mrs. Kuer had been advised by neighbours to contact the police, then the story of the lodger returning with a bloodstained shirt would appear to have been known by some neighbours from 30th September.
Given the tendency for people to pass on their stories to the press and for the press to print anything as soon as they had the information, it seems strange that it was just over a fortnight after the incident that the press got wind of the story. Of course, regarding the reference to ‘neighbours’ in the report any use of the plural does not give us an accurate impression of the numbers involved. If there had been just reference to a neighbour advising her to contact the police you know just one neighbour was involved. However since it was said to be ‘neighbours’ who advised her and who informed the press this could be just two people or could be many more. Possibly one or two discreet neighbours were shown the shirt by Mrs. Kuer when she had her initial uneasiness about it. In her press interview in the Evening News, Mrs. Kuer referred to having indiscreetly shown a neighbour.
At some point in the following fortnight perhaps the story was passed on by one of these neighbours to someone else, and may at some point have come to the ears of someone who then told the press. As stated earlier, the neighbours were said to come from the ‘district’ and so may indicate that they were not immediate neighbours. It could be that the presence of the police at the house may have roused the curiosity of someone who learnt some of the details for the reason the police were on the premises and told the story to the press.
Certainly, the details were not well known in the neighbourhood, else it would not have taken so long to appear in the press. Stories such as suspicious-looking strangers in public houses or men being seen with blood on them very quickly found their way into the newspapers, so a story such as this would not have been passed up by reporters hungry for details.
It may be that the arrest, if it occurred on (or about) Saturday, October 13, may have been the reason why the story first broke. However, the arrest was not a confidently asserted detail of the original story so the arrest, even if it occurred, is unlikely to be the reason the story first broke.
In terms of the reasons for the deviance from the original story as relayed by neighbours, there are a number of reasons:
1) The story was passed on by the neighbours as it had been told to them by Mrs. Kuer with one or two minor details being incorrect. Mrs. Kuer then told a different story to the press for one of the reasons noted above.
2) The story, as told by Mrs. Kuer, was interpreted wrongly in some details by the neighbours.
3) The story as told by Mrs. Kuer went through a process of Chinese whispers with the result that some details were wrong by the time they reached the press.
Also bear in mind that when the story first broke on the 16th some of the reports stated that the incident had been satisfactorily accounted for, some stating this had been a week before, which may allude to the Gray’s Inn Road story or may be in reference to actual events at Batty Street. The police denials at that time could be for the same reasons.
That the police were said to be on the premises at all times and that this was the information as given in the reports that appeared on the 16th would suggest that as late as the 15th the police were still on the premises. The three options here are:
• The neighbour giving the story to the press was giving week-old information and the police were no longer on the premises
• The police were still on the premises waiting for the customer (or the lodger) and had been since the 30th of September.
• The police were still on the premises, but were now waiting for the lodger, having turned their attention to him from the customer when they found out who was responsible for getting blood on the shirt.
That it took over two weeks to reach the attention of the press suggests very few people knew about the events at 22 Batty Street.
In discussions on the forums of the Batty Street lodger it is clear that there is some confusion caused by elements from other stories reported that might not have been connected to Batty Street.
The report in the Daily News (18th October) regarding the Batty Street lodger was sandwiched between two other stories, but they all ran consecutively leaving the impression that there may have been a link in some of the details. This indeed has been commented on in the Batty Street Lodger thread on Casebook.org(20). This is how the report appears (the section directly regarding the Batty Street lodger has already been quoted above so it is indicated where it appears in context).
From more than one source the police authorities have, it is said, received information tending to show that the East-end murderer is a foreigner who was known as having lived within a radius of a few hundred yards from the scene of the Berner-street tragedy. The very place where he lodges is asserted to be within official cognizance. If the man be the real culprit, he lived some time ago with a woman, by whom he has been accused. Her statements are, it is stated, now being inquired into. In the meantime the suspected assassin is “shadowed.” Incriminating evidence of a certain character has already been obtained, and, should implicit credence be placed upon the story of the woman already referred to, whose name will not transpire under any circumstances until after his guilt is prima facie established, a confession of the crimes may, it is said, be looked for at any moment. The accused is himself aware, it is believed, of the suspicions entertained against him. With regard to the statements current as to finding a blood-stained shirt at a lodging-house in Whitechapel, it appears the story is founded on some matters which occurred more than a fortnight ago.
[Story then continues as detailed above. Then the report goes straight into the following account:]
Some strange statements have been made with reference to a foreigner, residing in the Leman-street district, who has already been in custody on suspicion of being concerned in the murders, and who was released after an exhaustive inquiry. It has been reported to the authorities that this man has again been seen flourishing a knife, and acting in a suspicious manner in the neighbourhood. The police are keeping him under surveillance at present, as there are some doubts as to his state of mind. It should be mentioned, however, that while the man was previously in custody a doctor declined to pronounce him insane. The additional police and detectives are still on night duty over the greater portion of the eastern police district.(21)
The first story is from the top of the report to the part where it says ‘the accused is himself aware, it is believed, of the accusations against him’. This has been linked to the Batty Street lodger story because reference is made to a suspect who was a foreigner living within a radius of a few hundred yards of Dutfield’s Yard, Berner Street, the scene of Elizabeth Stride’s murder, and also because it states that the place where the suspect lodged was being watched by the police. This story also has the additional detail that the suspect lived some time ago with a woman who had now made accusations against him. It has been suggested that this could have been a reference to the landlady at 22 Batty Street.
However, the report refers to where the man ‘lodges’ as opposed to where he ‘lodged’. It may be that again this is not something upon which we should put too much significance, but if it is a significant use of tense then it suggests that the man was still living there and that the report also states that the suspect was being ‘shadowed’, which implies he was being followed, would support the fact that he still lived there, rather than being missing from his lodgings. In the case of the Batty Street story, the suspect had either still to be traced or had been arrested and released. Of course it could be he had left his lodgings (in Batty Street) that the police had initially been watching awaiting his return and they had now traced him to another address. Of course in the latter case it could be that a watch was subsequently kept on him.
While the details could be said not to conflict with what we know of the Batty Street lodger, the report is clearly differentiated from the Batty Street lodger story as the latter is introduced by saying ‘With regard to the statements current as to finding a blood-stained shirt at a lodging-house in Whitechapel’, which implies the report is now talking about something else.
A similar link is made to the third story, which is clearly about another suspect. This refers to someone who had already been arrested on suspicion of being involved with the crimes and who had been released after an ‘exhaustive enquiry’. Again, the man was a foreigner and was living in the Leman Street district. There are also comments about his state of mind and the fact that a doctor had refused to pronounce him insane when previously in custody. The identity of this person is made clear in a report in the Star on 17 October:
A German named Ludwig, residing in the Leman-street district, who has already been in custody on suspicion of being concerned in the murders, and who was released after an exhaustive inquiry—it has been reported that this man has again been seen flourishing a knife and acting in a suspicious manner. The police are keeping him under surveillance at present, as there are some doubts as to the state of his mind. While the man was previously in custody a doctor declined to pronounce him insane. The additional police and detectives are still on night duty over the greater portion of the eastern police district.
So it’s our old friend Charles Ludwig up to his old tricks! He had been arrested on September 19 for ‘threatening behaviour with a knife’. This behaviour had led to a belief that he might be the Whitechapel murderer, but he was exonerated of the murders as he was on remand on the night of the double event. Actually, there are more parallels between this story about Ludwig and the first one regarding the suspect accused by a woman with whom he had lived than there are between the first story and the Batty Street incident. Ludwig also was reported to be kept under surveillance, was a foreigner and lived in the Leman Street district, which would be within a few hundred yards of Dutfield’s Yard. Such a description of distance in relation to 22 Batty Street, although true, seems a little excessive. Mrs. Kuer’s house was about 75 yards from Dutfield’s Yard and so more accurately could be said to be within just one hundred yards of the site of Elizabeth Stride’s murder.
Of course, one aspect of the first story—that the police were expecting a possible confession—could not relate to Ludwig as he had been proved to be innocent of the murders, being in custody on the night that Stride and Eddowes were killed.
Evans and Gainey raise some valid arguments to relate the Batty Street story to Tumblety, and some comments on Casebook forums and JTRForums suggest that the idea that the Batty Street lodger was an American is taking hold.(22) Certainly, the report of the man leaving a West End hotel suggests some links to an American and there were stories in the press relating to suspects with black bags and to mysterious Americans, so there may be some link between some of these stories. Already mentioned is the report in which a mysterious American was followed by John Lardy and another man. Another example is given on the Monday (1st October) after the double event:
Shortly before midnight a man whose name has not yet transpired was arrested in the Borough on suspicion of being the perpetrator of the murders in the East-end. Yesterday morning a tall dark man wearing an American hat entered a lodging-house in Union-street, known as Albert-chambers. He stayed throughout the day, and his peculiar manner rivetted [sic] the attention of his fellow-lodgers. He displayed great willingness to converse with them, and certain observations he made regarding the topic of the day aroused their suspicions. Last night this mysterious individual attracted the notice of the deputy keeper of the lodging-house, whose suspicions became so strong that he sent for a policeman. On the arrival of the officer the stranger was questioned as to his recent wanderings, but he could give no intelligible account of them, though he said he had spent the previous night on Blackfriars Bridge. He was conveyed to Stone’s End Police-station, Blackman-street, Borough. (23)
Someone in the house provided extra details to the Echo:
He [the lodger] entered very vigorously into the details as supplied by the Sunday papers, and expressed an opinion that the police would never capture the murderer, who would remain at large until he gave himself up.
“Oh,” said he, “he’s a lot too ‘cute for these London detectives.”
The “deputy’s” attention was attracted to this mysterious individual by the singular amount of excitement he displayed while discoursing upon the subject. There were about twelve men in the room- a long, scrupulously clean, though somewhat scantily furnished, apartment. Each one seemed afraid of the individual, and ultimately the police were summoned, and the luckless American was marched off in custody as a “suspect.” (24)
Further explanation was given about what happened after his arrest.
DISCHARGED BY THE POLICE.
He told the police he spent the previous night on Blackfriars-bridge, and appeared unable to account for his previous movements. Accordingly, he was conveyed to Stones-end Police-station, in Blackman-street, Borough.
“But he came back this morning,” said my informant.
“Came back?” I essayed in surprise.
“Yes,” was his cynical reply, “and he’s in bed now.”
My informant went on to say that the police, after conveying him to the station, at once instituted inquiries, but could find nothing whatever against the man, who they accordingly allowed to leave. I then called at the police-station in Blackman-street, but from the officer there could get no information. He so stolidly obeyed the “orders” he said he had received, that he refused to answer—”Yes” or “No”—whether the man had gone or not, and even to say whether he had really been in custody.(25)
The account in the Daily News referred to him giving an unintelligible account of his movements, which may imply that he gave a ‘confused’ or rambling account. However the report in the Echo simply said that he was unable to account for his movements. Also note that the police were not giving out details of the arrest so the Batty Street lodger was certainly not unique in respect of the police seemingly being evasive and nothing should especially be read into it. It may be that the police were holding their cards close to their chest, but it could simply be that the matter had been satisfactorily explained.
There were other reports of Americans being suspected or arrested.
THE EAST END MURDERS.
REPORTED CAPTURE OF “JACK THE RIPPER.”
Telegraphing this afternoon the Central News says:- The American who was arrested last night on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murder was released at ten o’clock this morning, inquiries having shown that his account of himself was entirely satisfactory. At the present moment there is no one in custody. The rumour of the actual murderer being caught has created intense excitement in London, but it is entirely unfounded.
All persons arrested today on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murders have been released on giving satisfactory explanations, and none is now in custody.(26)
Also, the following was reported by a Polish newspaper:
The perpetrator of the abominable crimes in London, of whom we wrote several days since, was at last arrested. He’s name is Fitz Gerald, he comes from America and has confessed his guilt. The killer performed his work with anatomical accuracy, a skill in which, the London physicians say, he has an unusual ability. He shall not escape strict punishment.(27)
While the details of the latter report especially should be treated with some scepticism, it shows that the idea of the killer being an American and alluding to medical or anatomical skill was a widespread idea. There appear to have been several suspects on whom the police were following leads at the time. Some of the seemingly different stories may have related to the same suspect, but there is no firm evidence for this, and some of the details appear to indicate that the reports were about different suspects. Another report of a man and a black bag was given on the 19th:
AN IMPORTANT CLUE.
The Press Association says:- Much importance is attached by the police to the arrest made at King-street Police-station, Whitehall. On Tuesday morning a man entered the above named station about nine o’clock, and complained of having lost a black bag. While the officials were taking note of his case, he commenced talking about the Whitechapel murders, and offered to cut off the sergeant’s head, and other rambling nonsense. It will be remembered that several people have testified to seeing a man with a black bag in the region of the murders, and who has not since been traced. The fact was at once remembered by the police, and the man was further questioned. In answer to an enquiry as to his business, he said he studied for some years for the medical profession, but gave it up for engineering, and that he had been stopping for some nights in coffee-houses. His manner then became so strange that Dr Bond, divisional surgeon, was sent for to examine the man. The doctor subsequently gave it as his opinion that the man was a very dangerous lunatic of homicidal tendency, and, as his appearance somewhat tallied with that published of the man who was seen with the murdered woman, he was removed to Bow-street, but before being taken thither, photos of his person were taken. He was also asked to write his name, and it is stated that the writing is somewhat similar to that of the letters received by the police and others. He gave his age as 67, but it is said he looks fully 20 years younger. The police are endeavouring to trace his antecedents and movements for the past few weeks.(28)
Elements of these reports may account for the details of those stories where the police were looking for unnamed suspects. This would include the Batty Street lodger story, for example, where the report that the suspect was a foreigner may have derived from other reports—though this was only in reference to the customer rather than the missing lodger.
What I have attempted to show here is that there were many stories of suspects living in the area, including those of Americans and while it cannot be discounted that some of these stories may relate to the same individual caution must be exercised when linking the different accounts. Similarities exist between the different stories, but there are also enough details in most cases to suggest that they relate to different suspects and different incidents. In the previous section we looked at reports that clearly related to the incident at 22 Batty Street, and these are the only stories we can rely on that definitely relate to the events at that address. Of course, some of those details may be wrong for the reasons already discussed. However, some of these other stories provide better potential links with Tumblety than the Batty Street lodger story.
There is nothing in the reports (that clearly refer to the incident at 22 Batty Street) to suggest that the wanted man was an American. Some reports relating the customer story given by Mrs. Kuer refer to a foreigner and refer to the man being a tailor. An American would most likely have been referred to as an American rather than as a foreigner. However, since Mrs. Kuer was herself from another country she may have referred to an American as a foreigner, just knowing that the man did not have an English accent. Still, while there is nothing in the reports to refute that the man was an American, there is nothing to suggest that, in fact, he was.
The confusion between different stories by the press may be the reason for certain generalised statements made in respect to one story that actually may have been true for another story. For example the statement in the press in relation to the Batty Street lodger story that the man’s ‘ultimate capture’ was only a matter of time may have stemmed from police confidence in relation to another lead.
The story of the mysterious American followed by John Lardy may tie in with other reports mentioned of Americans, but there is nothing to suggest that this report and the report of the black bag found at the West End hotel are linked, or are linked to the story of the lodger in Batty Street.
Assessment of Landlady story from 1908
Stewart Evans located an article by the journalist George R. Sims in the Yarmouth Independent of 25th February 1911. The article was headed ‘ADVENTURES OF A JOURNALIST’, part VIII ‘ON THE TRACK’ – ‘The Unsolved Mysteries of Crime’. The first case referred to was that of the Whitechapel Murders, in which appeared the following:
Three years ago, when the discussion as to Jack’s identity cropped up again in the Press, I wrote on the subject. Soon afterwards a lady called upon me late one night. She came to tell me that the Whitechapel fiend had lodged in her house. On the night of the double murder he came in at two in the morning. The next day her husband, going into the lodger’s room after he had left it, saw a black bag, and on opening it discovered a long knife, and two bloodstained cuffs. The lodger was a medical man, an American. The next day he paid his rent, took his luggage and left. Then the police were communicated with but nothing more was heard of the American doctor with the suspicious black bag.
“But,” said my lady visitor, “I have seen him again this week. He is now in practice in the North West of London.”
She gave his name and address and the names of two people who were prepared to come forward and identify him as the lodger with the black bag, the knife, and the incriminating cuffs. The next day I took the information, for what it might be worth, to the proper quarters. But the doctor was not disturbed in his practice. There was ample proof that the real author of the horrors had committed suicide in the last stage of his maniacal frenzy.”
The incident in question occurred on the night of the ‘double event’ and so comparisons with the Batty Street lodger story are understandable. Evans points out that although the Batty Street landlady was German and spoke poor English, twenty years later her English would likely have improved greatly. His argument is perfectly valid, but it appears from some posts on Casebook.org forums, that some believe that the woman who spoke to Sims in 1908 was definitely German. However this is not stated in the article and is not asserted by Evans. All that he was trying to do was explain how the German landlady who spoke poor English in 1888, if she were the same woman, could be understood (and quoted in English) by Sims in 1908 without any reference to poor English or requiring an interpreter (though either could be unreported details of his conversation).
While it is certainly a point of connection that this incident was on the night of the ‘double event’, there are a number of stories from people reported in the ensuing years of suspicious lodgers at their house. Walter Sickert apparently told the story of his landlady telling him that the room in which he lodged (claimed to have been in Mornington Crescent) had been used previously by the Whitechapel murderer. The newspaper supplement in the St. Arnaud’s Mercury in 1890 (29), also gave a story told by a landlady of how she suspected one of her lodgers to be the murderer. There are certainly a few of these stories and so it is not necessarily the case that the landlady who spoke to Sims in 1908 was the landlady at 22 Batty Street. That is, of course, not to say that they be the same woman, just that they were not necessarily the same. It could be that a black bag and a knife were also found at Batty Street but these details never made it into the press reports. However, the black bag is one of those features of the legend that had been lodged in people’s minds from the time of the murders.
Batty Street Lodger summary
Though, it appears a satisfactory explanation was given in later reports, there are elements of the story that suggest the matter cannot be so easily dismissed.
Certainly there was blood discovered on the shirt as this is confirmed by Mrs. Kuer herself in her interview to give a satisfactory explanation of the incident. She also certainly had an initial suspicion about the circumstances as she informed the police. Also to consider is that Mrs. Kuer was spoken to as early as the 15th (for the report to be published on the 16th) where her claims that she did not know when her lodger would return contradicted the claims she made in her interview published on the 18th.
Elements of the story
A lodger returned in the early hours and disturbed the landlady
This element is derived only from the early reports as told by the neighbours. This may have been invented or may have arisen as a result of Chinese whispers. Nonetheless, there is no easy explanation of how this was derived from the facts that emerged later. The story of a customer leaving shirts would not explain why the landlady was disturbed in the early hours.
A lodger who was in the habit of leaving from time to time
Again, this element is derived only from the early reports as told by the neighbours. This may be the result of Chinese whispers from Mrs. Kuer telling her neighbour about Carl Noun who would return on the 6th, but was construed as referring to the missing lodger.
Bloodstained shirt left
Initially, this was said to have been left by the lodger. Later, Noun and Mrs. Kuer said this was left by a customer as part of a ‘bundle’ of four shirts. However, Mrs. Kuer qualified this by saying that though the customer left the shirts, it was someone in the house who got the blood on it. This early report that the lodger had asked the landlady to clean it ready for his return could have been misinterpreted from Mrs. Kuer explaining that a lodger got blood on a shirt that had been left by a customer to be cleaned ready for the customer’s return.
This was told by both Mrs. Kuer and Carl Noun. It also appeared in early reports of the story, though whether the source for this was Mrs. Kuer is not known, but from the way it was reported it does not appear to be Mrs. Kuer who was the source for those early reports. The person arrested may possibly have been Carl Noun who returned on the 6th. If the missing lodger had used Noun’s room in his absence then the police would possibly have been waiting in this room and arrested Noun by mistake. If it was the customer who was arrested on his return, why would he be taken in for questioning if he was not the one who got blood on the shirt?
The description of the customer as a ladies tailor working in the West end who did not live in the Leman Street district—and possibly a foreigner— could be a genuine description of the lodger if the story of a customer was in fact a lie.
While it may be that the bloodstained shirt was satisfactorily explained and the police knew all the details of the circumstances, there are certain details that suggest this was not resolved satisfactorily. Firstly, that Mrs. Kuer was awoken by a lodger returning in the early hours. The later story that a customer left the shirt does not explain this part of the story. That Mrs. Kuer said it was someone in the house that got blood on the shirt suggests there may be something in the original story. Also, if the customer didn’t get blood on the shirt, why was he taken by the police for questioning (Mrs. Kuer makes it clear that the man taken into custody was not the one who got blood on the shirt)?
Of course, it may be that the explanation of someone in the house (not necessarily another lodger, it may have been a member of Mrs. Kuer’s family if she had family living in the house) innocently getting blood on the shirt was the reason the matter was closed. But at what point would this have been known? If it was prior to the police taking up their vigil then surely they would have been told by an albeit embarrassed Mrs. Kuer and they would not have awaited the customer/lodger’s return. The same would surely apply if this fact was discovered by Kuer prior to the arrest of the customer (or Noun). Another possibility is that it was after the customer was arrested that this fact came out as a result of further police enquiries based on the customer’s denial of getting blood on the shirt.
Another person to consider is Joseph the drayman. If Noun’s statement in his letter that he did not return until 6th October is accepted, and if there was no other lodger using his room in his absence, then it’s possible that Joseph was responsible for getting blood on the shirt. The only names we have for people living at 22 Batty Street at that time are Mrs. Kuer, Carl Noun (who, it appears, was actually absent on the night concerned) and Joseph (who, from the implication in Noun’s letter, was still living at the house on 17th October and did not leave the house on or immediately after 30th September).
Somehow Mrs. Kuer realised the lodger was responsible for getting blood on the shirt. Initially suspicious, particularly after finding out about the murders the previous night, she showed the shirt to a neighbour who advised her to contact the police. Mrs. Kuer did so, but had second thoughts about her suspicions, not believing her lodger could possibly be responsible for such crimes and believed the reason for the blood was a totally innocent one. However, the police were now involved, or she was coerced into contacting the police by her neighbour. Did Kuer tell the police about the lodger being responsible for the blood or did she just tell them about the man who left
the shirts? If she had not told the police about the lodger being responsible but let slip to the press about this, this would seem a silly thing for her to do. It does seem from other snippets that the man taken into custody was the customer (Kuer and Noun are both sources for this), and certainly not the man responsible for getting blood on the shirt (Kuer).
However, if it was a customer who genuinely roused suspicion in her mind, he must have left the shirt on the morning (not the early hours) of the 30th and the detail about her being disturbed in the early hours and the man changing his clothes must have been a distortion of the story that Mrs. Kuer told her neighbour.
So, on the weekend that Noun returned (6/7 Oct) or a couple of days after, the customer returns for his shirts. Waiting police take him in for questioning. As a result of their questioning/investigation it is clear the man is innocent and is released. However, as a result of this did Mrs. Kuer admit that it was a (now-departed) lodger who had got the blood on the shirt? Did the police then turn their attention to this missing lodger and when the story got out to the press, told Mrs. Kuer to say the matter had been cleared up with the arrest and release of her customer?
It may be that the police were never told about the lodger and did, themselves, believe the incident was explained with the release of the customer.
Here are some possible sequences of events:
Sometime prior to Saturday 29th September:
Carl Noun leaves for seasonal work in Margate. Mrs. Kuer possibly lets out his room on the understanding with the new lodger that he must leave at the end of September.
Sometime prior to, or on, Saturday 29th September:
• A customer leaves four shirts for Mrs. Kuer to clean, saying he will return at the weekend (or during the following week) to collect them.
• There is no customer. Mrs. Kuer later invents this part of the story on her own or the police’s instigation
Early Hours Sunday 30th September
The new lodger returns in the early hours disturbing Mrs. Kuer and leaves a bloodstained shirt (either his or that of the customer) and moves out either because he fears the police will search the area, or because he was moving out anyway due to his understanding with Mrs. Kuer regarding Noun’s return.
Morning Sunday 30th September
Mrs. Kuer discovers blood on the shirt and is concerned, showing it to a neighbour who advises her to contact the police, which she does.
Sunday 30th September
• Mrs. Kuer tells the police about her lodger.
• Mrs. Kuer tells the police about the customer.
• Mrs. Kuer falsely tells police that a customer left the shirt to hide the details of her lodger, either fearing
Noun will find out his room was let in his absence or fearing for her safety if her lodger is believed to be the murderer, and possibly as she believes the man is innocent despite her initial suspicions.
Sunday 30th September onwards
The police lie in wait at the premises for the lodger / customer to return.
Saturday 6th (or 13th) October
• Carl Noun returns (6th) and is mistaken by police for the missing lodger and taken for questioning.
• Customer returns (6th or 13th) and is taken in for questioning by police. He is released when he makes it clear he did not get blood on his shirt.
In either case, Mrs. Kuer then tells Carl Noun about the customer or about the lodger.
Following arrest on Saturday 6th (or 13th) October
• Police continue to wait for the missing lodger.
• Police attention turns to the person who got blood on the shirt
• The matter is explained satisfactorily, at least as far as the police are concerned, and closed In the case of the first two options, the police possibly give up the vigil and seek the man through other lines of inquiry
Monday 15th October
The story is leaked to the press. A reporter speaks to Mrs. Kuer who does not give much information, just saying that the lodger had not returned yet.
• The police issue denials as they are still hoping the lodger will return and do not want to alert him.
• The police issue denials because as far as they are concerned the matter has been resolved.
Wednesday 17th October
• Mrs. Kuer is interviewed and tells a false story that possibly derives from the Gray’s Inn Road incident. This is either done on her own instigation (for reasons given earlier or because she fears for her business) or on police instructions. However, she leaves in part of the truth by saying it was a person living at the house who caused the bloodstains.
• Mrs. Kuer tells the truth to the press about the customer.
In either case Carl Noun also sends a letter to play down the story, giving the same information as Mrs. Kuer (without the detail of the lodger causing the blood to be on the shirt).
Feasibility of the lodger being murderer
A point to consider is at what time the lodger returned home. An early hour may be 12:45 to 1:15 if the occupants retired early so did he return between the murders or after the death of Eddowes. Also to consider is, if this lodger was a killer, did he kill Stride AND Eddowes, just Stride or just Eddowes.
If the lodger was responsible for both murders, one problem against such a theory would be why he would commit a murder close to his lodgings, go on to murder again three-quarters of a mile away and then have to return to his base so close to the scene of the first murder where there would be a lot of police activity.
It could be that the killer had psyched himself to commit another murder and may have gone home for some final preparation or for some other reason before then intending to scour the streets for a victim. However it may be, in his excited state, he saw an opportunity close to home and, though it was not advisable, whatever drove him to kill and mutilate got the better of him. But something went wrong and he had to flee the scene. At this point maybe he just felt he had to get safely away from the location, but in the following minutes may have regretted his hasty action particularly as he had not fulfilled his intentions. It may have occurred to him that it would not be advisable to seek another victim as the area near where he lived would soon be full of police. However, it might be that in his frustrated state he ignored his concerns, particularly if he thought finding a victim on following nights would be more difficult as there would be fewer women on the streets following this murder as there had been in the days immediately following the murder of Annie Chapman, and perhaps believed that he would manage to avoid the problem somehow when the time came to return to his lodgings.
A man returning to his home in the area at an early hour would not be such a rarity, and if he could circumvent the immediate hub of activity in Berner Street and approach his lodgings from Christian Street, he would then be able to walk along Queen Court and go directly across Batty Street to No. 22. Mrs. Kuer did not seem to have been disturbed by police activity caused by the murder in Berner Street.
A route from Mitre Square to Goulston Street may not appear to be taking the murderer directly to Batty Street, however, if he wished to avoid the main roads then a route like that given by Evans and Gainey would get him to Batty Street quickly and avoid the main thoroughfares. Also to consider is that his exit from Mitre Square may have been caused by a police officer approaching and this forced him to just get away from the immediate area as quickly as possible before then considering an appropriate route back home. Roughly, he could have gone along Wentworth Street, continued into Old Montague Street then cut down a side road to cross Whitechapel Road, gone through more streets via Fieldgate Street to Commercial Road and then ultimately to Batty Street or via Christian Street and Queen Court from where he could then cross the road to 22 Batty Street. Such a route would keep him reasonably clear of police activity and get him back to Batty Street relatively quickly.
Man in the Red Lion story
In light of the Batty Street lodger story the following, reported on 1st October, is possibly of some interest.
Again, there were quite a few stories of suspicious men in public houses talking about the murders. This report is intriguing because a murder would occur later that night in the next street and the Red Lion, at No. 24 Batty Street, was just across Hampshire Court from No. 22.
On Saturday night last, about half-past ten o’clock, a man entered the bar of the “Red Lion” public-house, in Batty-street, Commercial-road, and calling for half a pint of beer, plunged at once into a conversation with the landlord and the customers present about the murders in Hanbury-street and Buck’s-row. He declared that he knew the man who committed them very well, that more would take place yet, and there would be another before the morning. The landlord observed that he thought he was talking very foolishly, and that as he seemed to know so much about the man who did them, perhaps he was the man himself. The man, who had indulged in a good deal more talk of a suspicious nature, upon this hastily put down a penny for his beer and decamped without another word. Information was given to the police of the above facts after the murders of Sunday morning, and they are now anxiously looking for the man, who is thus described:-Height about 5ft. 8in., dark hair, dark moustache of stubbly growth, dark complexion, smoothly shaven chin and cheeks, and dark blue eyes. The man wore a dark single-breasted coat and waistcoat, black corduroy trousers the worse for wear, a felt hat with a narrow brim, and had a comforter round his neck. He had no jewellery, and looked like a common man cleaned up for the evening. The landlord took particular notice of him, and would know him again among a thousand. Mrs. Warwick, of 19, Batty-street, who was also in the house at the time getting her supper beer, says she could also identify him, and so could, it is said, others who were present in the bar at the time. Batty-street is the next street eastward to Berner-street, and is the street in which Lipski’s crime was committed.(30)
A PUBLIC-HOUSE PROPHECY.
The police authorities have received an important statement in reference to the Berner-street crime. It is to the effect that a man between 35 and 40 years of age, and of fair complexion, was seen to throw the murdered woman to the ground. It was thought by the person who witnessed this that it was a man and his wife quarrelling, and consequently no notice was taken of it. The police have also received information that at about half-past ten on Saturday night, a man, aged about 33 years, entered a public-house in Batty-street, Whitechapel, and whilst the customers in the house were in conversation about the Whitechapel murders, he stated that he knew the Whitechapel murderer and that they would hear about him in the morning. He then left. This was regarded as mere boastful talk, and no notice was taken of the matter. After these murders had been discovered information was given to the police.(31)
That Mrs. Warwick (Emily Warwick), who lived in the same street virtually opposite No. 22, obviously did not recognise the man concerned would suggest he didn’t live in that street. However, is it possible that the man had suspicions against someone who lived at No. 22? Maybe he was a visitor to the house (if not actually a lodger there) or maybe had received hints from the suspect (or saw signs that the man was preparing to act again). Obviously, the person in the Red Lion was not acting as most people would. Bragging about having information regarding when a serial killer is going to strike again is not something most people would do, whether they genuinely had the information or not (and hopefully most would just pass on the information, if they genuinely had it, to the police). The story was probably just empty boasting by the individual and it was just coincidence that the murderer did indeed strike again that night and in the next street. In fact, the area was in a state of high alert and a murder was overdue by about a week given the time between Nichols’s and Chapman’s murders so it wasn’t really an indication of special information. However it is worth bearing this incident in mind. Also the description of him having a moustache of ‘stubbly growth’ could also account for the differing versions of PC Smith’s description of the man he saw with Elizabeth Stride; in one the man had ‘no whiskers’(32) and in another the man had a slight moustache(33). There are differences in the dress but these could be put down to certain witnesses being less observant or that the man changed his clothes between the sightings. So, while very unlikely, it cannot be totally dismissed that this was either the murderer unwisely giving warning in a public place of what he was planning to do, or someone having some inside information from the killer (either having been told, again unwisely, perhaps in boast by the killer or basing it on his own suspicions of the man).
Who lived at Batty Street?
So who lived at Batty Street? Who could the Batty Street lodger have been who woke Mrs. Kuer on the night of the double event and got blood on a shirt?
The 1881 Census for 22 Batty Street looked like this:
In an area where houses were often crammed with people, No. 22 did not seem to have many in comparison. 53 people were listed in the 1901 Census at No. 20 Batty Street, in a house that does not appear any bigger than No. 22. The flats that replaced No. 16 (and other houses north of No. 16) had 35 people listed in 1901. Yet No. 22 had only 5 listed in the same year.
In 1887 no. 16 had four bed-sitting rooms, a kitchen and an attic room which Israel Lipski used as a workshop. On the ground floor Philip and Leah Lipski lived in the front room with their seven children. On the first floor Isaac and Miriam Angel lived in the front room and Mrs. Lipski’s mother with a friend and her child lived in the back. Israel Lipski lived in an attic room. A total of 15 people lived there.
If Mrs. Kuer spoke bad English then she would likely have been a relatively recent immigrant to the country. The ever-changing population in the area means that we cannot necessarily get an idea of who was living there in 1888 from the 1891 census, but there is a problem with this line of inquiry, because for some reason the records for the even-numbered side of Batty Street are not to be found in 1891. Searches on Ancestry.co.uk for the 1891 Census are difficult based on just the street name. A person’s name is needed to get a start unless you know the Census Piece/Folio number. The ‘Red Lion’ at no. 24 seemed to be a good place to get a name as records appear in the PO Trade directories.
In the 1881 census, the publican at 24 Batty Street was William May, along with his wife, Elizabeth. Also living there were servants Julia Paddon and Thomas Noble.
The PO London Street Directory of 1882 lists George Allis at the Red Lion, 24 Batty Street. In the 1884 PO London Trades Directory it appears to be back in the hands of Elizabeth May. In 1891 James Baldwin is listed there, and again in 1895. By 1899 the landlord is Charles Luker.
None of these names gave a significant result in the 1891 Census and after chasing the records along those streets it appeared the records for the even-numbered side of Batty Street were missing.
Just where it appears that the even numbers for Batty Street should be, the records continue with a new Census Piece and Folio (37) at Commercial Road, picking up where it left off earlier in the Census sheets. Where the Batty Street records start with number 1 (and continue with the odd numbers) is directly after Murden’s Place (which appears to be identical with Hampshire Court) on the same sheet so there is no possibility of missing sheets there. The Piece ends with 39 Batty Street (and that Folio, 174, has ‘END’ written under the folio number). If such folios ever existed I would expect the relevant records to be on Folios 175 and 176 (and possibly 177).
A check on another website (38) listing the census records seems to confirm this. The records are not detailed for the Berner Street area, but it does list the house numbers covered and for Batty Street only the odd-numbered houses are listed. This has also been confirmed by searches by Debra Arif.(39)
Mrs. Kuer is difficult to trace. While the name is mentioned in the Census and BMD records there are no clear indications that any of the people listed are the same woman. As she was German and the name may well have been spelt incorrectly I tried alternatives such as Kuher or Koher. The Trade directories also did not give any positive results.
A ‘Mrs. Kohr’ is listed in the 1895 PO street directory at 10 Culford Road, Kingsland, North London. No trade was given. However, in the 1899 PO Trade Directory at the same address, a John Kohr was listed as a ‘Letter of Apartments’. This may have tied in with the role of Mrs. Kuer as landlady at 22 Batty Street. The German-born John Kohr of 10 Culford Road, Hackney, appears as a widower in the 1901 census. The same man is listed in the 1881 census along with his wife, Jane Kohr, who died in 1897. They were married in the third quarter of 1878 in Mile End Old Town. However Jane Kohr (née Reeves) was born in 1860 in Bethnal Green, which means she would not be a middle-aged German woman who could not speak English very well in 1888 (she would have been about 27 at the time).
No Carl Noun of the right age can be found in the Census or BMD records and obviously ‘Joseph’ is impossible to find in those records alone!
There was much redevelopment of the western side of Batty Street between 1873 and 1894 (as shown by comparing the OS maps from those years). We know that nos. 10 to 16 were knocked down for apartments to be built in 1888 (as the stonework above the door bears the mark ‘1888’) so it could be that much of the western side of Batty Street was being rebuilt at the time of the census. The Red Lion was still standing at no. 24 and James Baldwin is listed as publican there in 1891 and 1895, so at least he should appear in the 1891 census, though not necessarily if he was away from the premises on the day of the census.
The flats that replaced No. 16 and other houses (Nos. 14–10) in 1888 were seemingly originally numbered 16, but at some point became no. 14, which it remains today. The numbering was adjusted as we can see that the three houses between these flats and the passage that was formerly Hampshire Court are now numbered 16 to 20, as opposed to 18 to 22. It is possible that Philip and Leah Lipski left the area when No. 16 was knocked down. They may have left before then if the attacks against them following the execution of Israel Lipski had forced them to move away. No such people can be found in the 1891 census searches. This may be because they still lived on the western side of Batty Street and, as already noted, the records are missing, or it could be that they changed their name or even left the country.
Who could the Batty Street lodger have been?
Who this lodger could have been, if there was such a lodger, is an open question. One possibility is that it was in fact Carl Noun who could have been in the house on the 29th/30th, even though his letter implies he was not, and may have then gone missing until the 6th when he said that he returned. But I will explore another possibility because there is someone we know of who fits broadly with what we know about the Batty Street lodger in that he was a foreigner who left his lodgings in the vicinity of Berner Street on the night of the double event. That man was Israel Schwartz.
As we have seen, though, the point about the lodger being a foreigner may not be the case as it may have been a rogue piece of information relating to another suspect.
First, let’s recap on what we know about Israel Schwartz. His statement is one of the more important ones in the saga and yet he only came to our attention in the mid-1970s from the research of Stephen Knight.
Israel Schwartz went to the police on the evening of September 30 with a friend to act as translator. His original police statement is not available to us, but we have a summary provided by DCI Donald Swanson dated 19 October, 1888, just less than three weeks later.
12.45 a.m. 30th. Israel Schwartz of 22 Helen Street [sic—Ellen Street], Backchurch Lane, stated that at this hour, on turning into Berner Street from Commercial Street [sic—Road] and having got as far as the gateway where the murder was committed, he saw a man stop and speak to a woman, who was standing in the gateway. The man tried to pull the woman into the street, but he turned her round and threw her down on the footway and the woman screamed three times, but not loudly. On crossing to the opposite side of the street, he saw a second man standing lighting his pipe. The man who threw the woman down called out, apparently to the man on the opposite side of the road, ‘Lipski’, and then Schwartz walked away, but finding that he was followed by the second man, he ran so far as the railway arch, but the man did not follow so far.
Schwartz cannot say whether the two men were together or known to each other. Upon being taken to the Mortuary Schwartz identified the body as that of the woman he had seen. ...
If Schwartz is to be believed, and the police report of his statement casts no doubt on it, it follows ... that the man Schwartz saw and described is the more probable of the two to be the murderer.(40)
Schwartz’s story was also given in the Star, though in the newspaper reports he was not named.
Information which may be important was given to the Leman-street police late yesterday afternoon by an Hungarian concerning this murder. This foreigner was well dressed, and had the appearance of being in the theatrical line. He could not speak a word of English, but came to the police-station accompanied by a friend, who acted as an interpreter. He gave his name and address, but the police have not disclosed them. A Star man, however, got wind of his call, and ran him to earth in Backchurch-lane. The reporter’s Hungarian was quite as imperfect as the foreigner’s English, but an interpreter was at hand, and the man’s story was retold just as he had given it to the police. It is, in fact, to the effect that he saw the whole thing.
It seems that he had gone out for the day, and his wife had expected to move, during his absence, from their lodgings in Berner-street to others in Backchurch-lane. When he came homewards about a quarter before one he first walked down Berner-street to see if his wife had moved. As he turned the corner from Commercial-road he noticed some distance in front of him a man walking as if partially intoxicated. He walked on behind him, and presently he noticed a woman standing in the entrance to the alley way where the body was afterwards found. The half-tipsy man halted and spoke to her. The Hungarian saw him put his hand on her shoulder and push her back into the passage, but, feeling rather timid of getting mixed up in quarrels, he crossed to the other side of the street. Before he had gone many yards, however, he heard the sound of a quarrel, and turned back to learn what was the matter, but just as he stepped from the kerb a second man came out of the doorway of the public-house a few doors off, and shouting out some sort of warning to the man who was with the woman, rushed forward as if to attack the intruder. The Hungarian states positively that he saw a knife in this second man’s hand, but he waited to see no more. He fled incontinently, to his new lodgings. He described the man with the woman as about 30 years of age, rather stoutly built, and wearing a brown moustache. He was dressed respectably in dark clothes and felt hat. The man who came at him with a knife he also describes, but not in detail. He says he was taller than the other, but not so stout, and that his moustaches were red. Both men seem to belong to the same grade of society. The police have arrested one man answering the description the Hungarian furnishes. This prisoner has not been charged, but is held for inquiries to be made. The truth of the man’s statement is not wholly accepted. (41)
But elements of the lodger story suggest the man did not leave until later in the morning. The Star report states that Schwartz fled to his new lodgings, but again this may not have been correct. Either Schwartz deliberately gave misleading information, or he may have said he fled to his lodgings—not specifying which, and the reporter or interpreter assumed it was his new lodgings. It may be that he was asked if his wife had moved and Schwartz confirmed this, and the reporter just assumed Schwartz would have returned to his new lodgings. That reporters would ‘fill in the gaps’ and make assumptions has to be considered when assessing press reports. The report ends though with a doubt about Schwartz’s story and the Star followed up on their story the following day.
In the matter of the Hungarian who said he saw a struggle between a man and a woman in the passage where the Stride body was afterwards found, the Leman-street police have reason to doubt the truth of the story. They arrested one man on the description thus obtained, and a second on that furnished from another source(42), but they are not likely to act further on the same information without additional facts. If every man should be arrested who was known to have been seen in company with an abandoned woman in that locality on last Saturday night, the police-stations would not hold them. There are many people in that district who volunteer information to the police on the principle of securing lenient treatment for their own offences, and there are others who turn in descriptions on the chance of coming near enough the mark to claim a portion of the reward if the man should be caught, just as one buys a ticket in a lottery(43). Even where such information is given in good faith, it can rarely be looked upon in the light of a clue.(44)
Such doubts are not apparent in the surviving police and Home Office records. Swanson in his report of 19th October states that the police did not doubt Schwartz’s story. There was also long-running correspondence between the police and the Home Office relating to the shout of ‘Lipski’ that Schwartz claimed to have heard.
In the Star report we are told that Schwartz returned to Berner St. to see if his wife had moved to their new lodgings. “It seems that he had gone out for the day, and his wife had expected to move, during his absence, from their lodgings in Berner Street to others in Backchurch Lane”.
22 Batty Street, as we have seen, could be reached easily from Berner Street, as it was just at the other end of Hampshire Court leading from Berner Street to Batty Street, so a person going there from Commercial Road could have walked down Berner Street and then along Hampshire Court to get there.
In the Star report, though, his old lodgings were said to be in Berner Street. However, his new lodgings were said to be in Backchurch Lane when they were actually in Ellen Street, off Backchurch Lane. In the same way his previous lodgings in ‘Berner Street’ may have actually been just off Berner Street. 22 Batty Street along Hampshire Court would fit that description.
That the lodger was said to have gone missing may have been a confusion of the fact that he had actually moved from the address that day anyway. In the newspaper report Schwartz did not know if his wife would have moved when he came down Berner Street at about 12:45. It is implied that he went to check at his old lodgings first. But why would the police wait at the house if they knew he had moved out permanently? Even if Mrs. Kuer and the police knew that her lodger had moved out they may have thought that he would return to collect some items left at her house, so it would still be advisable to have men waiting at the man’s old lodgings.
Also, there is reference to the lodger having been seen in the neighbourhood by numbers of people.(45) This could just be a detail made up by someone or may be a reference to the lodger being seen around the area prior to the incident. However it may be that someone who was aware of the man in question had seen him around subsequently. Still, if this had been the case and he had been seen by numbers of people then surely he would have been located quickly by the police.
Reasons for his story
Other than to cover up his own involvement in the death of Stride, Schwartz may have had another reason for lying. His story actually has some similarity with that given by Emmanuel Delbart Violina, who claimed to have seen Annie Chapman arguing with two men, one of whom threatened to knife her, on the morning that she was murdered. Eventually the police suspected that Violina had made up his story in order to be able to see the body. The second man in Schwartz’s story had an ambiguous role (was he chasing Schwartz or just himself fleeing from the man said to be attacking Stride) but for both witnesses it was convenient that there was a second man which would justify their not wanting to get involved for fear for their own safety. It may be that Schwartz’s motive for his story, if it was invented, was the same as Violina’s and he had a morbid wish to see Elizabeth Stride’s body.
There is also the motive suggested in the Star that people gave descriptions of men supposedly seen with victims in the hope that they may come close enough to the real perpetrator, if caught, and so be able to claim some of the reward money. There is also the possibility that Schwartz was lying to protect someone else.
A plain reading of his story is that he was running away from the scene of a murder about quarter of an hour before the body was discovered there.
Schwartz’s nationality is only mentioned in the Star reports and he was stated to be Hungarian. There is no mention of his nationality in any of the police or Home Office references. He is merely referred to as a ‘foreigner’. No census records exist for an Israel Schwartz born in Hungary. The records found for an Israel Schwartz, if they relate to the same man, indicate that he was Polish or Russian.
In 1885 there were newspaper reports relating to a Sarah Schwartz, aged 18 who was said to be Hungarian or Austrian. She had entered the service of Louis and Mary Keavy as domestic servant at a coffee shop in Church Lane on Sunday, 11 October, 1885. Because the establishment was frequented by rough looking men, Sarah Schwartz decided she didn’t want to stay and gave her notice the same day. Mary Keavy was annoyed at this and told 28 men who were in the house that they could do with the girl as they wished, whereupon Sarah was attacked in a cruel and horrific way, encouraged by the Keavys. She was able, finally, to crawl away and saw a doctor the following day who said she was suffering from the ‘effects of gross violence’. The Keavys were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour. At the time of the trial Sarah Schwartz was said to be living at 22 Backchurch Lane.(46)
This may indicate there was a family called Schwartz from Hungary in the area. No other records for Sarah Schwartz have so far been found.
The only Hungarian in the 1891 Census for a ‘Schwartz’ of about the right age is one J. Schwartz. By ‘of about the right age’ I mean someone in adulthood. This man was born in 1860 in Budapest. In the 1901 Census this same man’s name is given as John and he was listed as born in 1863. In 1891 he had a wife named Emily but no children. In 1901 his wife’s name was given as Emilia and they had two children (born since 1891).
Israel Lipski had amongst his possessions, when arrested, a business card for his own business of walking-stick makers that gave his name as J. Lipski. Also on his person was a pawn ticket in the name of John Lipski. This would probably have been used as a more English-sounding name. John may have been a common name adopted and seen as an equivalent of Israel by immigrants. John Schwartz’s occupation was hairdresser and Sam Flynn suggests that this occupation may fit in with the Star’s ‘theatrical’ description of the Berner Street witness. However, there was an Israel Schwartz in the 1891 Census living just a couple of streets away from Ellen Street.
22 Samuel Street
In Jack The Ripper A to Z (47) reference was made to the fact that the Berner Street witness could be the same Israel Schwartz listed in the 1891 census as living at 22 Samuel Street. In the early stages of looking at further records, Casebook poster ‘Sam Flynn’ had very kindly found out for me the records relating to various men named Israel Schwartz in 1891 and 1901.
Something had always lodged in my mind about Schwartz living at 22 Ellen Street according to Swanson’s report and the A to Z mentioning an Israel Schwartz at 22 Samuel Street in the 1891 Census. This ultimately led me to make the connection with 22 Batty Street.
When I first made the connection I had remembered about the records Sam had found, which included a likely match in the 1901 census for the same Israel Schwartz as listed in the 1891 census. I couldn’t remember what the number of his address was in 1901, though I couldn’t recall it being 22. It wasn’t. It was 21!
In reality it’s doubtful that a poor immigrant family would have the luxury of choosing where they lived based on the house number even if, for example, they considered it gave them good fortune for whatever reason and it was most probably just coincidence. But it was this that first led me to link Schwartz with the lodger at 22 Batty Street. Actually the house number 22 crops up a lot in the Whitechapel murders—Leon Goldstein, the man seen walking down Berner Street by Fanny Mortimer, lived at 22 Christian Street; John Pizer, allegedly the man known as Leather Apron, was arrested at 22 Mulberry Street; Charles Cross who found Polly Nichols’ body, lived at 22 Doveton Street. Also, Sarah Schwartz, as we have seen, lived at 22 Backchurch Lane.
Further records found for the same family did not involve an address with that house number, but out of idle curiosity I did look to see if there was some significance in the number 22.... And the number is of significance in Judaism. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet (‘Aleph-Beit’) and it is believed by Jews that these letters are meant to represent much more than just sounds.
In Jewish thought, the Aleph-Beit is unlike any other alphabet; it is not merely a haphazard collection of consonants whose order was determined by convention ... The individual letters, their names, graphic forms, gematriaos [numeric equivalents], and respective positions in the Alpha-Beit are Divinely ordained. ... A corollary of this principle is the halachic requirement that every letter in a Torah scroll, Mezuzah, and tefillin must be written perfectly. No part of a letter may be omitted or distorted, nor may its individual integrity be compromised by contact with any other letter. Every word must be spelled correctly; a missing, extra, or transposed letter can invalidate the entire scroll.(48)
While the Old Testament in the Christian bible has 39 books and the Hebrew Old Testament, as it is currently, has 24 books, according to early records by numerous Jewish and Christian scholars and authorities going back to the 1st century, the Old Testament originally (and during the time of Christ) contained 22 books. (49) There is no text missing, these anomalies being the result of differing arrangements and divisions of the books. (50)
Also seen as significant in relation to the number is that God was said to have made 22 things in Genesis, culminating in Adam, and that there were 22 generations from Adam to Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel and who was acknowledged as the ‘father of the spiritual nation of God’. (51)
Schwartz Census records
1891 Census record for 22 Samuel Street, St. George’s In The East (census taken on 5th April).
But the question remains: Is this the same Israel Schwartz who was the witness at Berner Street? The man at 22 Samuel Street is the only Israel Schwartz in the 1891 Census and he lived just a couple of streets away from Ellen Street. However, he was recorded as being born in Poland, whereas the newspaper report stated that the Berner Street witness was Hungarian. The report stated that the witness was married, as indeed this Israel Schwartz was. The Samuel Street family had a daughter who would have been about three years old in 1888, suggesting that they were married at the time. This child was born in Poland in about 1885, which would give a date for moving to England sometime after that. Schwartz was said to not speak good English, so the daughter’s birth would indicate a relatively recent immigration. Their son was said to be four-months old (or possibly one month, the record isn’t very clear and not helped by the fact that all ages are crossed through).
There were two men named Israel Schwartz of about the right age in the 1901 Census.
Both were said to be Russian, but one of them had a child who had been born in Russia in 1895 and another child later born in Glasgow, which would suggest this would not be the same man. The other record for an Israel Shwartz (spelt without the ‘c’) of 21 Jubilee Street, Stepney is as follows.
1901 Census record for 21 Jubilee Street, Stepney (Census taken on 31st March)
The spelling of ‘Shwartz’ may have been an error, as the surname of their youngest son, Abraham, is given as ‘Schwartz’ on the next page. The birthplace of Russia as opposed to Poland could be because much of Poland was part of Imperial Russia at that time. The daughter is named as ‘Esther’ rather than ‘Dinah E’, but her birthplace is given as Russia, rather than London as with the other children, which would tie in with the daughter named in the 1891 census record. Also the ‘E.’ could stand for Esther. The son is called Louis, although his age is given as 12 when it should be 10 if the same person as listed in 1891, where the age is more likely to be correct especially as he was a newborn at the time. The loss or addition of a few years to a person’s age is not uncommon in the records. His wife’s name is also given as ‘Esther’ whereas it was ‘Eva’ in 1891. However, this could have been a mistake by the enumerator. Contrary to the belief of some, the enumerators did not go round asking the questions and filling in the records. Forms (or schedules) would be left at each house for the inhabitants to fill in, as it is done now, and the enumerators would write down the details from these schedules into their books(56). In this case, possibly the same name was written twice mistakenly as the details were transferred to the enumerator’s book.
In 1891 Schwartz was said to be a tailor’s presser. In 1901 it would appear his occupation had changed to ‘provision dealer’. This was a similar occupation to a grocer and the PO Trade Directory for 1899 lists a ‘Hodgman, John William, grocer’ at 21 Jubilee Street.
Could the fact that Schwartz was a ‘journeyman tailor’(57) or ‘tailor’s presser’ link with Mrs. Kuer saying that the customer who left the shirts was a ladies tailor? If the ‘customer’ part of the story was a lie by her (for reasons already discussed) but the description given was true of her missing lodger, could this detail tie in with what we know about Schwartz? Schwartz likely worked in one of the many sweatshops in the area as did a lot of other Jewish tailors, but considering the description of him given by the Star reporter that he was ‘well dressed, and had the appearance of being in the theatrical line’, or the fact that he may have exaggerated how good his job was to his landlady, there could be some connection with Mrs. Kuer’s ‘customer’ who was said to be a ladies’ tailor and worked in the West End.
More on Schwartz’s nationality
The information in the newspaper report that he was Hungarian could have been an error by the reporter—for example that may have been the nationality of the interpreter. However, it may have been genuine information that was in part true. The political boundaries in Eastern Europe were very complex at the time. Poland was not a self-ruling country and was mostly in the Russian Empire. However, part of Poland had been annexed in the 18th century by the Austrian Empire which had since become the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, and the rest of Poland’s borders adjoined those of Austria-Hungary.
In the northeast of Austria-Hungary was a state called Galicia that comprised part of Poland and part of modern-day Ukraine. There was a wide ethnic spectrum in that state, mostly Roman Catholic Poles in the west and mostly Ruthenians (Ukrainians) in the east. That Israel Schwartz of Samuel Street gave his place of birth as Poland and Russia in the censuses would suggest he came from the part of Poland that was then within Imperial Russia. However, the pogroms in the early to mid 1880s had caused many Jews to flee the country. Although people were poorer in Galicia, they had more freedom than those Poles in Russia. Large numbers of those fleeing went first to Brody, a town in Galicia just across the border. They would have to stay at the refugee camps there possibly for some time, before then moving onto other areas of Austria-Hungary or mostly to other countries. At about the same time there was the start of an economic migration of people from Galicia to other countries, mainly to the United States, sometimes via other parts of Austria-Hungary. The overcrowding and disorder that led to disease at Brody was over by the end of 1882 as most refugees had left, but there was still emigration to other countries via the town for years afterwards, though in a less chaotic way.(58) Further pogroms occurred in 1883 and 1884 and for many Jews they probably thought more would happen after that. It is possible that it was just after the birth of their first child in 1884 or 1885 that Schwartz and his wife decided to flee Poland into Austria-Hungary (the eastern side of the dual monarchy being generally described as Hungary), maybe staying there a while, before moving to Britain.
If this was his situation, the fact that Schwartz then told people in London that he came from Hungary would be true in the sense that he came to Britain after an extended period in Galicia, with this then being interpreted incorrectly as meaning he was Hungarian. It could be that in being given the full details of Schwartz's flight from Poland, the reporter may have misunderstood or lazily condensed the details of his origins to say that he came from Hungary. Possibly, if the influx of Polish Jews was causing resentment with the native Londoners, it may also have been marginally preferable for an immigrant to say he came from Hungary rather than Poland.
Schwartz birth records
The birth records for Israel Schwartz’s children noted in the 1901 Census were located (except for Dinah, who was born in Poland, and Edward).
Mile End New Town
We have quite a lot of spelling variations here. In the case of the records for Louis and Abraham, Israel was the informant, while for Daniel it was Eva who was the informant. From the signature column we can see that Israel was literate as he gave a signature, but his wife was not as she had to leave a mark. So the spellings given on Daniel’s birth certificate are less likely to be correct, i.e. the family surname as ‘Swartz’ and Eva’s maiden name as ‘Rosinavitch’.
Note that Israel spelt his name with a ‘Y’. This is not just an elaborate ‘I’; it is clearly supposed to be a ‘Y’. On Louis’s certificate the surname is spelt ‘Schwatz’ (without the ‘r’). Again, this could be a spelling mistake by the registrar. His wife’s surname is probably supposed to be spelt ‘Radzenovich’ which is the consistent spelling on the two birth certificates where Israel, who was literate, was the informant. Despite a few differences, all records relate to the same parents of Israel and Eva Schwartz. The children’s names match those on the 1901 census and Louis, said to be a month (or four months) old in April 1891, was born on the 3rd of March that year—so he would have been a month old (or four weeks) at the time of the census on April 5. Schwartz was said to be a ‘journeyman tailor’ or tailor’s presser on the elder boys’ birth certificates (and was a tailor’s presser in the 1891 census). For Abraham’s certificate he was listed as a Grocer, tying in with his occupation as provision dealer in the 1901 census record.
Having taken a look at the similarities that link the records, let’s now take a look at some of the anomalies of what is presented to us.
Israel Schwartz records
The first two records are definitely linked to each but may not link to the six others. The last six are definitely linked to each other.
The birth of Louis was said to be on 3 March, 1891, at 19 Brunswick St. This was registered on 10 April, 1891, where the informant (Israel) was said to live at the same address. However, on census night five days earlier, (5 April), the family were listed at 22 Samuel Street. Either the whole family were visiting (though their presence there was not recorded as such), or, to simplify things (possibly due to limited English, or a mistake by the registrar from what was said) the same address for the birth and the residence of the informant was given at registration. There may have been a move of house in that period. Possibly, Louis was born at 19 Brunswick Street and then the family moved, prior to 5 April, to Samuel Street, where they were listed in the census. Five days later, when Israel registered the birth, he gave his current residence as 19 Brunswick Street as well, either because he did not understand the information requested (believing it to still be linked to the birth address), the registrar did not understand his response, or Israel gave the same address thinking it would be easier. Alternately, the family may have moved from Samuel Street to Brunswick Street between the 5th and 10th of April, but for the reasons already outlined Louis’ birthplace was given as the current address rather than Samuel Street where he would have been born in this scenario.
Abraham is listed on the census of 1901 (taken on 31 March) as being a year old—implying the birth was in 1899–1900. However, on his birth certificate his date of birth is given as 29 May 1901—two months after he was said to be one-year old on the census. His birth was registered on 4 July 1901. It could be that to avoid a fine for late registration, his birth date was given as 29 May 1901 when it may have actually been 29 May 1900 (or even 1899). Or, this could be another child altogether, but he would unlikely have been given the same name as a sibling (even a deceased one60, though there are no records to indicate this).
I have been unable to trace a birth record for Edward, or any other records definitely relating to the family. A marriage certificate for a Louis Shwartz in 1908 looked promising, but he was aged 27 and his father was named Harris.
Marriage records for various women named Esther Schwartz between 1904 and 1909 also proved not to be for the daughter of Israel.
Israel’s wife has a few name changes—‘Eve’ on Louis’s birth certificate, ‘Eva’ on the 1891 census and on Daniel’s birth certificate, ‘Esther’ on the 1901 census and ‘Hava Serel’ on Abraham’s birth certificate. So on Louis’s certificate, Israel gave the name as ‘Eve’, but gave it differently on Abraham’s certificate ten years later.
This is not because it was a different woman, as the maiden name was still the same and Hava is the Yiddish form of Eva. Israel may have made more of an attempt to integrate into an English life early on and anglicised their names (Israel is an anglicised form of the Hebrew Ysrael or Yisrael). But there are signs that he perhaps wanted to acknowledge his roots by 1901. His older children have reasonably common names in England—Louis, Daniel and Edward. However, Abraham is not a commonly used name in England and is clearly of Jewish origin. Also his wife’s name on Abraham’s birth certificate appears in Yiddish form and his own signature is given in what appears to be Russian letters.
Interestingly his wife is noted as having a second name on Abraham’s birth certificate, the only time it is given in the available records. This is Serel which is actually the Yiddish form of the Hebrew name, Sarah. Could there be some link with Sarah Schwartz of 22 Backchurch Lane in 1885? Sarah could not speak English very well according to the reports in 1885, and though we don’t know exactly when Dinah Esther was born in Poland/Russia, it would have been in 1884 or 1885 (she was six years old according to the 1891 census) and so could have been earlier than the assault on Sarah Schwartz in London in October 1885. Sarah was said to be 18 years old at the time of the assault, and so was born circa 1867, which would be about two years younger than Eva Schwartz would have been—birth circa 1864/65 from the census records. However, an age discrepancy of just two years may not be significant given the incorrect ages between different records which were fairly common in those days. The report of the assault on Sarah Schwartz implies she was single as she was going into domestic service and so would live on the premises. However, it’s possible that a newly immigrated young family would find work where they could and try to get around their family situation of having a baby daughter as best as they could.
Sarah’s nationality was given variously as Hungarian and Austrian in the press but, as already noted, Austria-Hungary was joined as one country at the time and her circumstances may have been similar to Israel Schwartz’s.
If they had been in the country for about three years, it may still have been the case that Schwartz’s English remained poor enough by 1888 that he needed an interpreter to go to the police and speak to the reporter from the Star. Israel Lipski had been in the country for two years when he was arrested and yet he needed an interpreter in his dealings with the police and the courts. Also Charles Ludwig required an interpreter in court despite one of the witnesses saying that he spoke English well enough (albeit ‘broken’ English). It could have been simply that in such a serious position they opted to use an interpreter to ensure they knew exactly what was being said or it may have been used to lessen the impact of the questioning technique, the effect of which would be diminished by having to go through an interpreter.
Another thing to note about the family is that we never see them at the same address twice, even though in a couple of cases independent records are taken at about the same time. Concentrating on the Samuel Street Schwartz family, in March/April 1891 they moved between Samuel Street and Brunswick Street. By November 1895 they had moved to Queen Street. In 1901, between March and July, they had moved from Jubilee Street to John Street. In 1899 they were not living at 21 Jubilee Street as the grocer at that address is given as John William Hodgman. So the family does not appear to have settled at one address for very long before moving, or having to move on. If the Berner Street witness is the same man, then even with only a glimpse of him on the one night of 29/30 September 1888, he was in the process of moving from an address in Berner Street (or the Berner Street area) to 22 Ellen Street.
If his wife (and child) had moved out during the day on Saturday 29 September, Schwartz would have had to check at the old lodgings to see if they had moved or he may have still intended to stay there for the night rather than disturb his family and landlord at the new lodgings. It is also possible that Schwartz did go to Ellen Street after cleaning up at Batty Street, as the timing of events is not clear. It may also be a reason why Mrs. Kuer may not have believed her lodger, a man with a wife and child, would be the killer.
To summarise the options of Schwartz as the Batty Street lodger
1) Schwartz was the Batty Street lodger
a) but was telling the truth in his police statement and had an innocent explanation for the events that disturbed Mrs. Kuer.
b) but lied to the police about events witnessed in Berner Street so he could satisfy a morbid curiosity and see the body of Elizabeth Stride, though this would more likely apply to option 2 below.
c) and responsible for one or both deaths in Berner Street and Mitre Square that night.
d) but lied for another reason—such as wanting a share of the reward or to protect someone
2) Schwartz was not the Batty Street lodger with the same sub-options above (except that disturbing Mrs. Kuer would not be a factor).
Problems with Schwartz being the lodger
If Schwartz’s name was given by Kuer to the police, they would have connected it when Schwartz turned up with his statement. Assuming Schwartz used a real name at the police station or at Mrs. Kuer’s—otherwise it would be unlikely that the further records found were for the same man. It could also be that the name was not recognised as the police wrongly transcribed the name Mrs. Kuer gave them.
It may be Kuer did not give the name of the lodger to the police as she gave them the customer story from the outset, which may have been true. However, as we have seen Mrs. Kuer told the press it was someone in the house who got blood on the shirt, and it is possible there was another lodger there while Noun was away. It may be that the police were never told of the other lodger or an innocent explanation was given for the blood for reasons already explored. The full details did not appear in the press so we cannot know the full details of what went on. It is clear, however, that there was a suspicion by Kuer initially based on the story of her being disturbed in the early hours and the fact that she let a neighbour see the shirt.
If there had been a man, his wife and child there, then the neighbours would surely have known, and such details could have been told by them to the police who would surely have asked questions around the neighbourhood. But, again, if they were looking for the customer this may not have been a detail they considered important. If Schwartz’s wife moved out on the Saturday, it may be that the neighbours felt this excluded the family from being involved in the incident.
If Mrs. Kuer had tried to keep from Carl Noun the fact that she had rented his room out in his absence, surely he would have found this out from Joseph or from neighbours. Some neighbours may not have realised a family was living there in the meantime, especially if this had been short term. But also to consider is that while some did realise it, they would not have any reason to speak to Noun about it, and other immediate neighbours—such as the one to whom Kuer showed the shirt—may have been asked by the landlady to keep it quiet from Noun. Joseph may well have been asked to do so as well and he may have felt obliged, not wishing to cause problems that might then have affected his living arrangements. Of course Noun may well have found out about such lodgers subsequently (after his letter on the 17th), but by then the story was of no interest to the press so the fact would not be on record.
Don Souden also suggests another explanation for Schwartz being the lodger that would not involve his wife and child being there. For whatever reasons, the family may have had to leave their current accommodation and if the Ellen Street room would not be available until the end of the month, his wife and child may have found space with friends, or at least compatriots, who would put them up, but either because there was no room or (especially if it was with older women) they did not want a man around, Israel had to find somewhere else to stay and heard about the spare room at Mrs. Kuer’s. The implication of the Star report is that they shared the old lodgings as it talks of moving ‘from their lodgings’, though it is possible that, again in condensing the details, the report gives a false impression.
Certainly there are problems, but given that the full details are not known, the possibility cannot be dismissed that Israel Schwartz was Mrs. Kuer’s lodger.
Problems with Schwartz being the killer
The question of why Schwartz would kill someone so close to home and then go on to kill again and have to return home with a heavy police presence by his home was discussed earlier in regard to whomever the lodger was.
An objection specific to Schwartz is why he would go to the police. This is certainly a good point. It would seem to be a mistake to go to the police when it would be better to remain silent and blend in with the thousands in the area. There would have to be a good reason to go to the police, even under the guise of a witness. Possible reasons are:
• Someone had seen something suspicious and Schwartz knew about it – he allayed their suspicions with a story of witnessing an attack and was thus forced to go to the police.
• Schwartz wanted to see Stride’s body—perhaps as the only victim he did not eviscerate.
Could the reason have been that Schwartz got wind of police activity at 22 Batty Street? Could he then have decided it was only a matter of time before they found him as the missing lodger? Maybe he then went to the police with his own version of events, not initially mentioning he was the lodger, perhaps leaving scope in his story for getting blood on his clothes as a result of the supposed pursuit, an option that actually may never have been required as the police believed his story and didn’t link him to the lodger? With so many leads to follow up connections with the same man could be missed, as was the case with the Yorkshire Ripper investigation in the 1970s.
Related to this objection is the fact that the police did not appear to doubt his story. They spoke to the man face-to-face and did not suspect him. However, an interview conducted through an interpreter is going to lose some advantages gained from hearing the responses a person gives first-hand. Also, if Schwartz went as a witness, the beleaguered police would perhaps have been more interested in getting the information from him as a witness. If he was a killer, he wouldn’t be the only one to have been interviewed and not considered suspicious by police. Also worth considering is the fact that Melville Macnaghten, in his memoranda, stated his belief that Stride was a victim of the Whitechapel murderer, but said that no-one saw the killer, which would raise the question of whether the police believed Schwartz. However, Macnaghten’s statement is qualified in his draft version to say ‘except possibly the beat PC near Mitre Square’. It has been much debated to whom Macnaghten was referring, as the only reported sighting near Mitre Square was by three men leaving a Jewish club. A Met PC saw Elizabeth Stride in Berner Street with a man, and it’s possible these two sets of witnesses were confused in Macnaghten’s mind. So it’s possible, but less likely, that Macnaghten really got confused about events that occurred on the same night and actually meant a citizen in Berner Street (referring to Schwartz) when he said a ‘PC near Mitre Square’. However, if Schwartz was at some point discredited presumably the police would have looked into him being a possible suspect but found no evidence against him.
Another objection is that Schwartz lived for many years afterwards (records relating to him exist at least up until 1901) and serial killers rarely just stop killing. Counter arguments to this objection are:
1) We cannot be sure that the Israel Schwartz for whom we have found records is the same man. If he isn’t, then we do not know what happened to the Berner Street witness after he moved to Ellen Street in 1888.
2) Serial killers have been known to stop killing for years (Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, and Dennis Rader, a.k.a. BTK, for example). It can be argued that these were different types of serial killers, but we do not have a clear idea of which ‘type’ the Whitechapel Murderer was to make firm comparisons. Some serial killers start up again, but had anything happened to them (incarceration or death) in the meantime, even decades after their last murder, then obviously the killing would not have restarted. Some also may just simply stop as their reason for killing no longer exists.
These are just possible arguments to counter the objections. There is certainly no clear case against Schwartz. It is simply that I believe Schwartz is a crucial witness and that his story has problems. For example no-one else saw or heard the events he described despite there being other witnesses around, and though the role of the second man is ambiguous, why would Schwartz need to run away so far if he wasn’t sure if the second man was following him? Some of the problems with Schwartz’s story, its timing and inconsistency with those of other witnesses involved are discussed in Smith’s Beat (Ripperologist 70, August 2006). Such problems with his story could have an innocent explanation or could be explained by the fact that Schwartz, like Emmanuel Delbart Violina in the case of Annie Chapman, just wanted to see the body and invented the story for that reason. However, his lodging arrangements on the night of the double event may fit in with the disappearance of the lodger at 22 Batty Street so perhaps Israel Schwartz requires a closer look.
There is another intriguing possible link with Schwartz. Chris Scott discovered a report in 1905 in America that an elderly Egyptian-born man named Charles Y. Hermann had confessed to the Whitechapel murders.(61) He said he had lived in the East End of London at the time of the murders. Chris found a record in the 1891 census for a Nap Hermann who was born in Egypt. He was, however, just 24 at the time which would make him only 38 in 1905, so he would unlikely look like an old man, unless he was particularly ill and haggard-looking as a result, though Charles could have been an older relative who lived with him for a while. What is interesting, however, is that Nap’s address in 1891 was 22 Ellen Street, where Schwartz moved to on the night of the double event.
Many thanks to Don Souden, Adam Wood for the photos and maps, Debra Arif, Sam Flynn and Chris Scott.
Many thanks also to Adrian Phypers and all those who have contributed to the invaluable Casebook Press Section, as well as to Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner for the godsend that is the Sourcebook/Companion.
1 The Lodger – The Arrest and Escape of Jack The Ripper (1995) by Stewart P. Evans and Paul Gainey, Chapter 9. An earlier reference to the Batty Street lodger story was made by Martin L. Friedland in The Trials of Israel Lipski – A True Story of a Victorian Murder in the East End of London (1984), p. 202
2 The Lodger, p. 123
3 Information provided by Stewart Evans on Casebook.org Forums
4 This explicit statement that the story was told by the landlady to the neighbours is the main difference between the account in the Evening News and that in its sister newspaper, the Daily News
5 Evening News, 16 October 1888
6 Henceforth I will refer to ‘neighbours’ but it may have been just one neighbour with whom Mrs. Kuer initially shared her suspicions.
7 Daily Telegraph, 16 October 1888
8 Daily Telegraph, 16 October 1888
9 Irish Times, 16 October 1888
10 Evening News, 17 October 1888
11 Evening News, 18 October 1888
12 Daily News, 18 October 1888
13 Irish Times, 18 October 1888
14 Evening News, 18 October 1888
15 Daily News, 9 October 1888
16 The Star, 9 October 1888
17 The newspapers refer to the man returning ‘yesterday’. Strictly, if writing from the perspective of when the newspaper will be read this is a reference to Monday 8th. However the perspective is not always clear, and on occasion the perspective appears to be from when the report was written – therefore ‘yesterday’ would refer to Sunday the 7th. The Irish Times (9th) seems to be guilty of this as they refer to the ‘man arrested to-night’. The newspaper is clearly referring to Monday the 8th here.
18 The Trials of Israel Lipski – A True Story of a Victorian Murder in the East End of London by Martin L. Friedland, chapters 5 and 9
19 Ibid. pp. 191-192
20 The main participants on this thread were Stewart Evans, Wolf Vanderlinden and Andrew Spallek.
21 Daily News, 18 October 1888
22 Also, in a recent documentary presented by Vic Reeves, it was accepted as fact that Tumblety lived at 22 Batty Street.
23 Daily News, 1 October 1888
24 Echo, 1 October 1888
26 Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser, 5 October 1888
27 Kurier Codzienny (Poland), 12 October 1888
28 Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser, 19 October, 1888
29 See Jack The Ripper A to Z, p. 121
30 Morning Advertiser (London), 2 October 1888
31 Echo, 1 October 1888 (also headed as 10 October on Casebook Press Reports Section)
32 Inquest testimony for Elizabeth Stride - see Ultimate Jack The Ripper Sourcebook / Companion
33 Swanson’s report of 19th October - see Ultimate Jack The Ripper Sourcebook / Companion
35 ‘do’ is short for ‘ditto’, and used mostly to denote that the surname is the same as the record above.
37 A Census Piece is a compilation of Census sheets (or Folios) from the enumerators’ books bound into an individual book. A Census Folio is both sides of a sheet, numbered on one side. A page number is given on both sides of the sheet but these are irrelevant to the sequence in the Piece as a whole – though the page numbers are sequential, they can be repeated (e.g. more than Page 1) as the various books used by the enumerators were then compiled into one Piece (or book). www.british-genealogy.com/resources/census/ index.htm
40 Reproduced in The Ultimate Jack The Ripper Sourcebook / Companion by Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner., p. 136
41 The Star, 1 October 1888
42 This ‘other source’ may suggest there had been a statement made by another witness who had seen at least some of the events related by Schwartz. Of course it could be that this was related to another incident entirely and had no bearing on the men Schwartz said he saw.
43 And Schwartz had bought two tickets with his second man!
44 The Star, 2 October 1888
45 Daily News, 16th October 1888
46 The Times, 19th October and 14th November 1885 – reports provided by Debra Arif
47 Jack The Ripper A to Z (1996) by Paul Begg, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner, p. 385
48 The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael Munk, page 33.
49 Various sources, see Restoring the Original Bible by Dr. Ernest L. Martin, ASK Publications, Portland, Oregon, 1994; www.askelm.com/ restoring/res003.htm
50 One alleged reason for the change by the Jewish authorities is that the addition of the 27 New Testament books to the Old Testament would give 49 books. 49, being the square of 7, was considered of huge significance. One belief is that to ‘spoil’ this, two books were split and so the Old Testament was increased to 24 books. Another reason given is that alternate forms of one of the Hebrew letters increased the ‘Aleph-Beit’ to 24 letters and so, to match this, the books in the Old Testament were split accordingly. Incidentally the 39 books that make up the Old Testament in the Bible as it is today, when added to the 27 New Testament books give us a figure of 66, a multiple of 22.
51 www.askelm.com (Associates for Scriptural Knowledge).
52 Reference of Schedule given to each family within a house. Not to be confused with house number which coincidentally is the same for Israel Schwartz.’
53 The dot may be an aborted attempt to write an ‘s’ as it seems quite large and the enumerator may have felt there was not enough room to write the full name. The name of the daughter is given as Esther in the 1901 census.
54 Stated as 4 months in the index, however it looks like it may be ‘1’.
55 Withowick according to the index
57 See later records
58 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galicia_(Central_Europe); www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/pale.html; www.shtetlinks.jewishgen. org/brody/Brody.htm
59 Could possibly be ‘101 John Street’
60 Don Souden points out that, though not relevant here, it was a common practise for 17th century New England Puritans to give the same name to a successive child if one had died.
61 Syracuse Post Herald, 10 April 1905.