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"The Windsor Street Stakeout"
Dr. Frederick Walker

A stakeout for Jack the Ripper! What could be more exciting?

Here is the story, from The Times of October 2nd:

Shortly after the first horrible murders were committed some weeks ago,
special precautions were taken by the City Police authorities with a view
to detect the criminal or criminals, several plain-clothes constables being
ordered on the beats in the district which has become so notorious. ...
At about the time that the Mitre Square murder was being committed two
of the extra men who had been put on duty were in Windsor Street, a
thoroughfare about 300 yards off, engaged, pursuant to their instructions,
in watching certain houses, it being thought possible that the premises
might be resorted to at some time by the murderer. Five minutes after the
discovery of the murder in Mitre Square, the two officers referred to heard
of it, and the neighbourhood was at once searched by them, unfortunately
without result.

This is terribly important, if true. Please note that a stakeout on the night of the double event would have to have been ordered the day before. The implication is astonishing: that the police, before they ever heard of 9/10ths of the material that fills most Jack the Ripper theories, already had enough evidence that it only remained to trace the fiend to his lair and make the bust.

Howells and Skinner ignore clear references to Windsor Street and 300 yards off Mitre Square. They force this story to mean that officers in Mitre Square itself saw the killer. Thus Windsor Street is merged with the Stephen White story to suggest an identity for Macnaghton's "City PC at Mitre Square." We know from Ripperana #18 that it was Watkins, not White, who saw the killer at Mitre Square. According to Martin Fido (who provides no map), Windsor Street is a mile away. He suggests an emendation: Windsor Place. Problem: Windsor Place, though closer to Whitechapel, is still nowhere near Mitre Square. Emendation 2: Finsbury Square! "Mitre" for "Finsbury" seems an unlikely error. But what defeats Fido's reading is the last line, which he fails to quote. The stakeout men heard of the Mitre Square murder within 5 minutes, and acted as if the killer might already be home, washing his hands or destroying evidence. The most detailed map I have is the one from 1862 reprinted in Paley's book. Oddly enough, Windsor Street is clearly indicated, behind Bishopsgate Police Station. A runner, dispatched through the back door, could have reached the stakeout men almost immediately.

But in Bacon's New Large-Scale Ordnance Atlas of London and Suburbs, 1888, Windsor Street is called Sandy's Street! Buller's Lodging House in New Street was two blocks south, 300 yards from Mitre Square. Joseph Barnett lived there from the end of October. He could have been a visitor even earlier. New Street connected to Sandy's through Catherine Wheel Alley, and could have been kept under surveillance by a pair of undercover men walking a beat through "Windsor." They wouldn't even have to cross the street.

Could Barnett have been suspected as early as September 29th? Yes. Dark Annie was said to know Mary Kelly. As Kelly's boyfriend, Barnett could have been noticed during the Chapman investigation. Also, the original suspect, Leather Apron, was supposed to have a sinister friend named "Mickeldy Joe." After Pizer was cleared, police could have turned their attention to Joe; (Joe Barnett?)

The Echo, a radical newspaper, printed this on September 20th, a week after Pizer was cleared, and 10 days before the stakeout:

Inspector Reid, Detective Sgt. Enright, Sgt. Goadby and others then
worked upon a slight clue given by "Pearly Poll." It was not thought
much of at the time; but from what was gleaned from her and other
statements given by Elizabeth Allen and Eliza Cooper of 35 Dorset
Street, Spitalfields, certain of the authorities have had cause to sus-
pect a man actually living not far from Buck's Row. At present, how-
ever, there is only suspicion against him.

The Paley map reveals a remarkable coincidence: two more roads called "New," both within blocks of Pizer's house and the early crime scenes. New Street, Whitechapel and New Road could both be described as "not far from Buck's Row."

I believe Connelly and her friends had suggested "New Street" as a place where "Mickeldy Joe" might be found. Perhaps this clue was considered "slight" when police were really looking for Pizer, but it would have gained importance when Mickeldy Joe became a suspect in his own right. The first "New" streets they checked would have been the ones "not far from Buck's Row." After Hanbury, the search would have moved west. A pair of policemen patrolling a Sandy's Street/ Catherine Wheel Alley/ New Street beat are more likely to have been looking for Barnett than any other suspect.

UPDATE, 3/26/98

John Smithkey's research has discovered a confirming fact of which, as a non- Londoner, I was unaware. There is a local tradition that the Ripper was "last seen" at a pub called the Kings Stores, which still stands at the corner of Widegate and Sandy's Row. This pub is located right in between the 2 known addresses of Joe Barnett during the murders, approximately 3 blocks from each, and only a couple of blocks from Sandy's Street, which I have identified as the locale of the stakeout. "Last seen" implies a sighting after Miller's Court, the final canonical crime. And ducking into a pub at Widegate and Sandy's Row is just what Joe would have done on the morning of Nov. 10th, to steady his nerve and elude possible pursuit -- he would be halfway home on the shortest and most likely route.


Martin Fido, The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper.
Howells and Skinner, The Ripper Legacy.
Bacon's New Large-Scale Ordnance Atlas of London and Suburbs, 1888.

Bruce Paley, Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth.
The Times.
The Echo.

Related pages:
  Dr. Frederick Walker
       Dissertations: Joe Barnett...Jack the Ripper...Not One in the Same 
       Dissertations: Joseph Barnett 
       Dissertations: Odd Omissions: Scott Morro's Plea for Barnett's Innocence 
       Dissertations: The Men Who Suspected Kosminski 
  Joseph Barnett
       Dissertations: Hey Joe! Your Porter Story Sounds Fishy! 
       Message Boards: Joseph Barnett 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 26 October 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 9 April 1880 
       Ripper Media: Catch Me When You Can 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Joseph Barnett 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: The Mystery Solved 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth 
       Ripper Media: Unfortunates 
       Suspects: Joseph Barnett