A Ripper Notes Article
This article originally appeared in Ripper Notes. Ripper Notes is the only American Ripper periodical available on the market, and has quickly grown into one of the more substantial offerings in the genre. For more information, view our Ripper Notes page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripper Notes for permission to reprint this article.
In our January issue, Des McKenna raised
an intriguing possibility, imagining the survival of the fifth
canonical Ripper victim in 'Did Mary Kelly Survive?' Researcher
and author Dave Yost, however, believes the evidence points squarely to
the razored body in 13 Miller's Court as being that of Kelly. We are
pleased to offer his conclusions in respectful counterpoint to those of
Style note: passages, which are numbered, are
relevant quotations taken from Mr McKenna's essay.
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Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?
Some remarks on "Did Mary Kelly Survive?"
by Dave Yost
The survivability of Marie Jeanette Kelly
is interesting. Ostensibly, the underlining theme of the essay is
that, because of the extensive mutilations, it is difficult to know for
a "definitely ascertained fact" that the body found by
Thomas Bowyer on the morning of November 9, 1888 was actually that of
Mary Jane. A sufficient number of arguments have developed over the
years on that point alone, especially with respect to the reliability
of Joseph Barnett. And, it would be nice to imagine that one of
the victims might have survived her impending Holocaust.
To survive in the sense of beating Jack at his own game; and,
to survive in the sense of being strong enough to remove herself from
the squalid, wretched living conditions of the Victorian East End
and pursue a life that many modern people might consider
normal. It would be nice to wish that the victims did not
endure the hardships they did while alive, let alone the desecration
that was accomplished after they were dead. Nevertheless, such is not
1. "Joe Barnett, who would not work to support them."
2. "Her [Kelly’s] relationship with
Joe Barnett became tempestuous after he lost his job"
Barnett had "been out of employment for
the past 3 or 4 months;" hence, no means to "support
them." In consequence, he changed jobs from fish-porter to
laborer and fruit-porter, and even left his fairly recent digs
in New Street to move in with his sister at Portpool Lane. Plus,
"would not work" and "lost his job" offer
3. "It can be supposed that George Hutchinson may have taken money from her."
The economic situation of the area should
be mentioned: Of the 900,000 who lived in the East End, 80,000 resided
in Whitechapel. The "poor" made up about 8% of the
population and consisted of men whose jobs were seasonal, such as
builders, earning what is described as a "meager" but
regular income of between 18-21 shillings a week. The
"very poor" totaled about 11¼ % of the population, and
their income fell below the aforementioned level. The former struggled
to make both ends meet, and the latter lived in a state of chronic
want. 1¼% consisted of the lowest class and was made up of
"dossers" and the homeless.
"Taking the sub-district known as
the Commercial-street Division, which is bounded by Baker's-row on
the east and Middlesex-street on the west or City side; with
Whitechapel-road on the south, there are no less than 146
registered lodging-houses, with a number of beds exceeding 6,000. Of
these 1,150 are in Flower and Dean-street alone, and nearly 700 in
Dorset-street. Some of the houses contain as few as four beds,
whilst others have as many as 350."
Many others were also in want of employment.
"From early morning until past mid-day these poor creatures
[East End dock laborers] are to be seen
standing in the roads and corners, amidst wind, rain, and snow,
with clothes in tatters that are past repair, without food -
patiently awaiting employment outside the dock gates, and when some
of their number are needed, to see them rush, thrusting aside the older
and weaker ones, is a sickening sight to behold."
Kelly asked Hutchinson for money -- "Hutchinson will you lend me sixpence?" And, Hutchinson "had occasionally given the deceased [Kelly] a few Shillings."
4. "In mid-Aug, Joe Barnett lost his job...and it was from about this time that Mary stopped paying her rent."
If payment were "stopped" sometime in mid-Aug, then that would be approximately 12 weeks rent that would have been owed by the time of the murder. The rent was in arrears by 29 shillings with 4shillings/6denarius due each week, (i.e., six weeks rent would be 27 shillings). Plus, Bowyer was sent to collect rent on Nov 9th; so, it can be estimated that the last time the rent might have been paid in full was on or about Sep 21st. "I [McCarthy] sent for the rent [on Nov 9th] because for sometime past they had not kept their payments regularly." Additionally, McCarthy did not seem to be put out by this debt owed him, "Arrears are got as best you can."
5. "and by saving [,] this might hope to stave off her [Kelly’s] own uncouth eviction."
McCarthy could easily have tossed out Kelly and Barnett for non-payment prior Nov 9th, just as they were "evicted," from their digs in Paternoster Row for drunkeness; (hence, Kelly was no stranger to an "uncouth eviction"). The essay also states that McCarthy "took the key back;" hence, Kelly was "evicted" at that point. Or, Kelly and Barnett could have skipped out on McCarthy, like Tabram and Turner did to Mrs. Bousfield. Also, Kelly did not seem to have any difficulty in borrowing or attempting to borrow money from "associates."
References: Kelly Inquest Records, p8, 18, 23; MEPO 3/140, f227, 230-232; Times, Aug 24, Nov 13; Daily Telegraph, Aug 24 p6, Sep 21 p2, Nov 12 p5, Nov 13 p5; The Jack the Ripper A to Z, 3rd ed., p216; Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook, US ed., 1988, p23-24
Kelly sets no precedent.
1. "she [Kelly] was the tenant and hers the responsibility [for the rent and window panes]"
2. "The ownership of a key confers the right to the property"
In the 1800s, women were second-class citizens and barely had any rights (if any at all) to property; that would fall to the husband. Barnett and Kelly obtained the room together, after they left their digs in Brick lane - "I [McCarthy] let the room about ten months ago to the deceased and a man named Joe, who I believed to be her husband."
3. "when he [McCarthy] took the key back."
4. "perhaps she [Kelly] slammed the door furiously behind him [Barnett] as he came into the room and the key shot from the lock where it was habitually kept and disappeared within the room"
5. "When the key was found [After 30 Oct is implied]"
6. "this [saving money] might hope to stave off her own uncouth eviction."
The key was "lost." Nevertheless, there is no time line provided for the chain-of-events, with respect to the key being "lost," "found," and "taken back." But, it can only be assumed that McCarthy took the key back after it was found; albeit, by taking the key, McCarthy removed "right to property" from Kelly (and Barnett). Meaning, they were evicted, and landlords encumbered by arrears would ensure that paying renters were in-residence rather than evicted tenants.