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Daily Mail
23 September 1929

WOKINGHAM, Berkshire,

James Kelly, who was sentenced to death at Old Bailey 46 years ago for the murder of his wife, has died at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum form double pneumonia at the age of 69.

Kelly escaped from Broadmoor in 1888, but returned voluntarily in 1927.

He was an upholsterer in Liverpool and was only 23 when he stabbed his wife in a fit of jealousy. At his trial Kelly's counsel, the late Mr. Montague Williams, the famous criminal lawyer, put forward a plea of insanity, but this failed, though the jury added a recommendation to mercy, Kelly was reprieved and sent to Broadmoor.

His escape in 1888 was made with a duplicate key, believed to have reached him in a cake.


A widespread hunt was organized but no trace could be found of Kelly, who it was said, was hiding near the asylum. He reached the east coast, and from there worked his passage in a Channel boat to France. He earned a precarious livelihood in the Montmartre quarter of Paris. He returned to England, and then went to Rotterdam. Later he travelled all over the world as a seaman.

Early in 1927 he worked his passage from New Orleans to Liverpool and tramped to London. In February of that year he walked up to the main entrance of the Broadmoor asylum and asked to be admitted, saying he wanted to end his days where he knew he would be well treated.

His story was disbelieved at first, and the police removed him to Wokingham Police Station. Later an order was made by the Home Office sanctioning his return to Broadmoor.

When brought before the magistrates before re-entering Broadmoor, Kelly said: "I have no friends and am all alone in the world. I have wandered all these years feeling that I am a fugitive who might be pounced upon by any policeman I passed. I am getting feeble now from constant fear, and I dreaded the idea of dying alone."

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