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James Kelly Letters
Transcribed by Ryan J. Miller

Euston Station.

            My dear Wife,—Through the trouble between your father and mother and I, I feel I can never live with them more. You and I must leave them soon, and to do so we want money. When you read what I am going to do, do not fret, as it will only make things worse. I am going down to Liverpool to see the solicitors, but shall come back late to-night. Dear Sarah, don't fret, but be quiet and let them all at home see how you can trust me. God knows that they have distrusted me, which is one of the things which has upset us. Dear Sarah, it is hard to go away from you, but it is for the best; rather let me be away from you one day than forever. Dear Sarah, if you have not been examined to-day do not be so. I say again, it will make no difference between you and I. I am afraid the friendship between your mother and I is ended. Dear Sarah, it is strange, but before I married you I thought it would turn out like this; I shall always believe your mother knew you; but never mind, we shall both be happy when living alone. The fault is not yours. Dear Sarah, believe me, I love you with all my heart, although I have acted funny at times. Remember, allow no one to come between us. Dear Sarah, I cannot say more at present. I go at 9.30. Please not to go near Smith's. I shall telegraph to you when I arrive. Dear Sarah, believe me to be your ever loving husband, 

                                                                                                                        James K.




From James Kelly,

H. M. Prison, Clerkenwell,

Sunday, 24th June, 1883.

            My dear Wife,—I scarcely know how to write a few lines to you, I feel so wretched, and have such pains in my head that I have no power to think, so if I omit anything you must forgive me. Dear Sarah, before I say more, I must ask you to write and let me know how you are; tell me if you are getting better. Dear Sarah, I am so sorry and repent to the utmost for what I have done, and I want you to write and say that you forgive me and love me still. I love you, dear girl, and I never meant to stab you as I sat by you asking you to forgive me and you answered no. I took out my penknife and meant to frighten you, but something seemed to come over me and I went mad and stabbed you. Dear Sarah, we have both been mistaken; I thought you did not love me, and you seemed to be sure that I did not love you. Dear Sarah, if it had been so, would not I have taken the opportunity to leave you when you told me to go? but, no, I could not leave you, Sarah. I loved you too much, and you drove me mad. Dear Sarah, I shall be tried next Wednesday. I shall not mention your faults, not even to save myself; you are too good for the world to know you. My dear Sarah, if you had trusted me and given way to me for a few days I feel sure this awful affair would not have happened. Dear Sarah, I am obliged to finish my letter now as I am wanted at Court. So goodbye for the present.  Believe me to be, my dear wife, your ever loving and affectionate, but unfortunate, husband,

                                                                                                James Kelly.

P.S. Dear Wife,—Please send Mr. Stan ton to me; I should so like to see him, and also your father.

Mrs. Sarah Kelly, Bartholomew Hospital.

From James Kelly,

H. M. Prison, Clerkenwell,

Monday, 9th July, 1883.

Dear Mrs. Brider,

            —I feel I must write to yourself to say that I forgive you from my heart for any words you have said or anything you have done to satisfy yourself, and as you thought my poor wife Sarah, but which to me did and has made me unhappy. I know I have been very gay and reckless, but for what I have done to my dear wife I can say truthfully I never have or wished to ruin any girl's life. My dear Sarah and I had many troubles, and although I was a stranger and at liberty to do and go as I pleaded, my love for your daughter was such that I could not leave her. Dear Mrs. Brider, concerning my darling's illness, I did often ask Sarah to go to a doctor for her own sake, but she would not. I got wild and asked her to speak to you, which she did; then after Mr. Brider spoke to me, and I said more than I wished about Sarah because I thought you had deceived me at the risk of making Sarah unhappy. I always felt more for her than myself on that point, and I never did or would allow myself to think that it was her own fault (I shall say no more), but I can see now I had not the sense to inquire in a quiet and proper manner, because I was out of my mind. I had no one to comfort or advise me, not even my only love Sarah. My dear wife seemed to me like a dead person, she either could or would not speak. I cannot say more, as I wish you to get this to-night, Tuesday. I should much like to know how you are all getting on. I have seen my solicitor this afternoon, but I would give no statement, as I wish to hear from you first. Please write soon. I hope that you and Mr. Brider and all at home will accept my best wishes for your happiness, because I sincerely wish it. I remain, Mrs. Brider, your forgiving but unfortunate son-in-law,

                                                                        James Kelly.

            P.S.—You have been much mistaken in me concerning a certain thing.




Mrs. Brider,

No. 21, Cottage Lane, City-Road, London.

 From James Kelly,

H.M. Prison, Clerkenwell,

Friday, 13th July, 1883.


            Dear Mrs. Brider,—If it would not be asking you too much, I should much like to speak to you privately here; (if you will) please say when you can come. If you are going to the Clerkenwell Court to-morrow, I should thank you much if you would bring with you those slippers dear Sarah worked for me. Please send them to me in my cell. Hoping that you and all at home are bearing up, I remain yours sincerely,

                                                                                                            James Kelly.

P.S.—Dear Mrs. Brider,—I am terribly afraid I shall have to tell all I know, but if you come and tell me any words my dear wife said which will comfort me, I will, with God's help, do what I think is right. I feel I would rather die than say a word against poor Sarah and cause you more trouble. I cry often and say to myself 'What shall I do? is there nothing to save me, and shall I have to tell all?' I have seen the solicitor again this afternoon, but I will not write out my defence till I have seen you. As you know, I gave poor Titty 10l., which she put in the bank, and as I shall want all the monies as I can get I am asking my solicitor to get it. I should be very thankful for a letter from you, so good-bye from your sincere but unfortunate son-in-law,

                                                                                                            James Kelly.




Sunday, 16th November, 1884

Mr. Royston, Sir,

                I am sorry to have to inform you that I am going to leave the upholstering shop. As I can tell you my reasons for so doing in writing better than I can verbally I now write you this letter. But I must first tell you that since I have been here I have tried my best with the little mental and bodily power that I have to improve myself and thereby hoping if I succeed to be able to show my respect to those above me in other ways that touching my cap when I came in yours or their presence but I am sorry to say through circumstances I cannot continue as I have done lately.

                By circumstances I mean the trying ordeals that one has to go though to gain anything for his comfort or benefit, and then worse still is the state of intimidation that he is brought to if he happens to be lucky enough to get something beneficial to the mind or body.  No doubt you have a license to do all this, but I think if you have any feeling for us poor creatures you might find out whether a patient can stand it or better still whether it is beneficial to him or not.  I know that your system of treatment of late has not been beneficial to me.  I have always found a feeling of great anxiety both before and after asking you for anything so from my experience I can say that your treatment is not beneficial to me but the reverse.  I am very sorry that it has come to this, viz – that I should write this letter to you because you have been kind to me but you take all the goodness out of your kindness by your style of lifting up a man one day and then putting him down another, which thing I cannot stand, - nor can I repeatly beg and pray for anything that is in your power to give me.  I am unable to do this not through pride for I have none or through want of humility but simply through the feelings which I have before mentioned.  I have not much more to say except this which you know, that I asked you for a violin and you did not refuse me but (to me weak mentally and bodily and who wants something to keep him up) did worst than that by putting me in a state of anxiety and suspense. I also asked you in  few words to put me in a better block and you told me that it was not in your province to do so.  If you wished to help me you would have recommended me. Then worst than all last Friday (I suppose through my stopping away from the shop) you came to me when I was painting and spoke and looked in such a manner which has upset me. All this I have come to the conclusion is a foretaste of how I am going to be served for any trifling offence I commit.  I think all this is done on the fact of my showing a little willingness to work, (not a mania to work) as my actions after this day will prove for I intend not to strive anymore with any kind of labour whilst I am in the state that I am in now but would rather lie down first and die.  My only hope (of course it is nothing from such as me) is that you with the power you have now will not when before God someday be accused of not raising and keeping up those that have fallen but who would wish to be something better than they have been in the past.

                                                                                                                                I remain Yours Truly, 

                                                                                                                                                                                 James Kelly




Block 4

Sunday, 14th December, 1884


Dr. Orange.

                Dear Sir,

                Although I am comfortable and have plenty of things to occupy my time I think – that after the kind manner in which you spoke to me and ordering me to take rest in the infirmary and also giving me a warm room to sleep in - that I ought to do a little work to show that your kindness is appreciated.  I am glad to say that I am in much better health so with your permission I would be pleased to commence work again soon.

                Hoping that you will enable me to show in my poor and humble way that I have not forgotten the kindness that I have received both direct and indirectly from you.

                                                                                                I remain,                                             

                                                                                                                Yours Obedient.

                                                                                                                                                James Kelly

Related pages:
  James Kelly
       Message Boards: James Kelly 
       Press Reports: John Blunts Monthly - 16 December 1929 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 20 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Times - 2 August 1883 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - James Kelly 
       Ripper Media: Jimmy Kelly's Year of Ripper Murders 
       Ripper Media: Prisoner 1167: The Madman Who Was Jack the Ripper 
       Suspects: James Kelly