|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
Daniel Barnett was the older brother of Ripper suspect Joseph Barnett. He was born in Whitechapel in 1851, to John and Catherine Barnett, who like many of their fellow countrymen had fled Ireland to seek a better life for themselves in London. John Barnett worked as a fish porter at Billingsgate market, it was a trade Daniel would later follow him into. In July 1864 John Barnett died at the age of 47 after contracting pleurisy. The death of her husband and loss of income, hit Catherine hard, and resulted in her fleeing the family home, leaving the children to fend for themselves. By 1871, Daniel, like his father before him, was working as a fish porter at Billingsgate market. On 1 July 1874 he received his porters licence, and was still working there as late as 1891. When his elder brother Dennis left home to get married, the responsibility of being head of the family fell to Daniel. Life was a struggle, and the family were forced to move to Great Pearl Street, which was considered one of the worst streets in the East End, with severe overcrowding and most homes classed as unfit for human habitation. Daniel however did his best in difficult circumstances and ensured that the children attended school.
Daniel's life was seemingly uneventful after this and the next we hear of him is the night that Mary Kelly was murdered. Joseph Barnett told The Star newspaper 10 November, that his brother had met Kelly the night before, though does not offer us an explanation why, nor at what time the meeting took place. It is speculated that Joseph had turned to his older brother for advice and support in an attempt to win Mary back after their relationship had ended. Maurice Lewis, a tailor and Dorset Street resident, had claimed that he had seen Mary Kelly in the Horn Of Plenty public house, Dorset Street, between 10.00 and 11.00 pm in the company of some women, one of them named Julia (this was probably Julia Van Turney) and a man named Dan, or Danny, who sold oranges in Billingsgate market, and with whom she had lived with until recently. Lewis claimed to have known Kelly for five years, a claim which cannot be correct, as it predates her arrival in London. The newspapers probably incorrectly quoted the time Lewis had known Kelly, from five months, to five years. Lewis, regardless of the length of time he had known Kelly, would presumably also have known, and been able to recognise Joseph Barnett, the man she had, until recently, been living with. Though the man Dan - Danny is often credited as Joseph Barnett, was it in fact Daniel Barnett. The story Joseph Barnett gave to the Star newspaper about his brother visiting Kelly appears to support this. Daniel Barnett it is said bore a facial similarity to his younger brother. The man she was with could not have been Joseph Barnett because the alibi he gave the police claims he left Kelly at around 8.00 pm and did not see her again after returning to his lodgings, where he played 'Whist' before going to bed at around 12.30. It is entirely possible Lewis simply mistook Kelly for someone else, or simply got his days confused. Daniel Barnett, at the time of the Whitechapel murders, was 36 years of age, 5 ft 4"tall with a fair complexion. We know from the statement given by his brother Joseph Barnett that Daniel went to meet Kelly on the night she was murdered, and was probably the man spotted with her in the Horn Of Plenty public house. We also know he knew one of the victims, Mary Kelly, and was possibly with her only a few hours before she was murdered. He lived in the heart of the Ripper's hunting ground, at the Victoria Home For Working Men, co-incidentally, also living there at that time was another Ripper suspect George Hutchinson, though there is no evidence they were acquainted. All this is mere speculation, however and there is no evidence against Daniel Barnett and no real reason to suspect he was Jack the Ripper.
Barnett resided at 18 New Gravel Lane, Shadwell, and died on 22 December 1906 from heart disease at the age of 57.
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