A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
The classification of any suspect in the Whitechapel murder is, of course, a subjective matter. However, there is definitely a league system, rather like the divisions in the football league, to which suspects are promoted or relegated. Perhaps a better analogy would be the way in which celebrities are popularly classified. We have the "A list" celebrities, the real big hitters and crowd pullers. But there are also "B" and "C" list celebrities, the lower reaches of which are made up of those who perhaps have had a minor TV series or have been out of the public eye for some time.
We also have "A" list suspects, the big league. It seems that a suspect's status and rating is not a function of how strong the case against him seems to be, but, rather, the amount of attention he has received. Of course, any such rating of suspects is subjective but as examples of "A" list suspects, I think I'd be on fairly safe ground citing Montague John Druitt and Aaron Kosminski as examples. As in many areas of life, fashion can also play its part. A high profile "revelation" or a headline grabbing work can promote a suspect in the credibility stakes. Recent examples of this would be James Maybrick and Walter Sickert. Again, the status of the suspect in question is in no way related to the objective evidence against him - sometimes, it seems to be quite the reverse.
Then there are the oddities, names that stay on the list of suspects against all reason and fact. Of the people I have spoken to who have only a passing familiarity with the Whitechapel murders, the most commonly cited suspect is Prince Albert Victor, later invested with the title of Duke of Clarence and Avondale. If there is one suspect whose guilt can be comprehensively disproved with documentary evidence, it is the Prince.
His known whereabouts on crucial dates show that as a suspect he is simply a non-starter. There are precious few things in this case that can be proven, but in my opinion this is one of them. Another oddity, in more senses than one, was Roslyn D'Onston, or Robert Stephenson. He is certainly a well-studied candidate and has been the subject of a number of major books. He was certainly an odd, eccentric character. He certainly showed a great interest in the case and even wrote to the police nominating his own suspect (See Morgan Davies). It is his wife and her fate that we will be looking at in this section, for the uncertainly about what happened to her has been cited as part of the case against him.
Later on life he consistently used the surname Donston, but his birth name was Stephenson and he was still using that name when he married in Islington in 1876. The couple are listed in the 1881 census as living at 10 Hollingworth Street North, London. This street no longer exists but was incorporated into what is now Paradise Park, Islington. In the 1881 listing she is listed as Annie Stephenson, born 1844 in Thorne, Yorkshire. However, on checking the BMD (Birth, Marriage and Death) records for 1844 there was no Anne Deary listed. I eventually found her birth listed in 1847, not 1844. However, by 1891 D'Onston (as he was then listed) was living at the Triangle Hotel and described as single.
No record of Annie Stephenson's death could be found between 1881 and 1891. This apparent disappearance gave rise to the speculation that, if Donston was the Ripper, he may well have murdered his wife as well. It was even theorised that she may have be one of the bodies parts of which were found in the Thames around and after the time of the Whitechapel murders. It was, therefore, fairly important to find out what happened to her. So, if Annie Stephenson was still alive at the time of the 1891 census, what would we be looking for?
1) I had found no record of a divorce between 1881 and 1891 so technically, if she were still alive, D'Onston and she were still married.
2) I had searched under DEARY in 1891 census and drew a blank. The other major possibility was that she was still using her married name, as of course she would be entitled to do.
3) The 1881 listing of her and many of D'Onston's connections suggested she may well be in or near the Islington area.
4) Her place of birth was Thorne in Yorkshire.
5) Her actual age at the time of the 1891 census would have been 43 - she was born in the latter half of 1847. As I have mentioned, age is one of the least reliable fields on the census data and I have often found this to be wrong, as indeed it was in Annie's census record for 1881.
There was only one person listed in 1891 who fulfilled these criteria:
Address: 16 Douglas Road, South Islington, London
John Hill aged 42 born Clerkenwell
Emily J Hill aged 41 born Peckham
Gertrude Barker (Niece) aged 26 born Leicester - Schoolteacher
Henry B Hammond (Nephew) aged 15 born Wood Green - Solicitor's clerk
Eliza G Bentley (Visitor) aged 26 born Islington
Annie Stephenson aged 40 born Thorne, Yorkshire - Cook, domestic servant (Married)
Martha Dilley aged 21 born Meppershall, Bedford - Parlourmaid
Marie Mitchell aged 17 born St. John's Wood - Lady's maid
Fortunately Anne Deary is a rare name. More than that, it is as far as I have been able to deduce, a unique name. There is only one birth of an Anne Deary listed in all the searches I have made of the BMD registers, that of "our" Anne, born in 1847. Therefore, I was very interested to find a record of an Anne Deary marrying in 1895 to a man named Edward Carr in Liverpool. The details of the marriage are as follows:
Lancashire Marriage indexes for the years: 1895
Church / Register Office LIVERPOOL REGISTER OFFICE
Registers At LIVERPOOL
Reference REG LP/225/27
After repeated searches I have been unable to find Anne/Annie Carr in the 1901 census so the working supposition had to be that she died some time between her marriage as Anne Deary in 1895 in Liverpool and the census in 1901. I have examined the BMD registers for that period and the only likely candidate was one whose death was registered in Ormskirk in 1897 with the following details:
Name ANNIE CARR
For information, Ormskirk to the north east of Liverpool. Anne Deary (as she was originally) was born in 1847 but her year of birth was quoted in the 1881 census as 1844. We would therefore expect her age at death to be quoted as 50 (if her true year of birth had been used) or 53 (if the anomaly in the 1881 data had persisted). Her quoted age in the register is 53.
I decided to trace Anne back to 1871 and found her listed as servant to another R. Stephenson. This man, however, was Richard Stephenson, brother to the man who later called himself Roslyn Donston, which certainly explains how she came to know her future husband. There is a separate section in the present work about Richard Stephenson. Details of this household are given in the 1871 census as follows:
Willow House, 63 Church Street, Sculcoates St. Mary, Yorkshire
Richard Stephenson Jnr.
Aged 31 born Kingston Upon Hull
Consul, Councillor and Timber Merchant
Anne Deary aged 27 born Thorne, Yorkshire
The sequence of events in Donston's marital affairs would seem to be as follows:
1) Donston and Anne are living as man in wife in 1881.
2) At some time between 1881 and 1891 the couple separate but are still married in 1891.
3) At some point between 1891 and 1895 the couple divorce.
4) Anne remarries in 1895 to Edward Carr.
5) Anne dies in 1897.