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Did Mary Jane Kelly Really Exist?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Patrick Kelley View Post
    Like Jack himself, I believe it will always prove elusive to positively identify Ms. Kelly - and not to discount the opinions of others - but I feel that is more to blame on spotty record keeping, the hectic life swirling around the East End, and no one really caring about unfortunates.
    I have always felt that the Kelly killing was unique. Is she Jack’s Work? I’m not certain either way. Is Joseph, or Daniel her killer? I feel Joseph is the stronger candidate, but Daniel shouldn’t be excluded. I think he had strong reason to kill Kelly also - for several reasons. I’ve had a suspicion of him for years. He’s like my personal ‘pet’ theory - I lean towards him even though I think there are far better suspects!
    I don’t like to see conspiracies and cover ups unless the evidence for them begins to mount and grow stronger.
    Just my two pence.
    In what way did no one care about unfortunates? Their births were registered; if they married or had children, that also produced records; and they would appear on censuses. If they had brushes with the law, that would generate criminal records and possibly press attention. And no doubt they would occasionally have required assistance from their local parish and that would be recorded. The records they generated would have been no less than the average working class person at the time (possibly more if they were regulars at their local police court).

    The problem is not that such records don't exist for MJK because of her chosen profession, but that we have not been able to locate them.

    It may well be that she used a false name, but there are records out there in her real name. Of course, if her family had been located at the time of her death, we would have something to go on and there would probably be no mystery.

    And while her story may have contained elements of fiction, some of what she told Barnett seems to have been corroborated by her contacts in the Highway.

    Comment


    • #17
      Excellent post, Gary.
      And as you mention, parts of MJK's story that took place in London do have corroboration in that both Joseph Fleming the mason's plasterer and 'Morganstone' as one of the Morgenstern brothers, have been traced, as has 'Mrs Buki' and they are all in the right place at the right time, as mentioned by Barnett.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by Adam Wood View Post
        Hi all,

        I'm looking at this possibility in my forthcoming book on Swanson.

        He had himself investigated such a case in the early 1880s. In this instance, the girl, 23-year-old Hannah Brannan, was aware of the reason for her travelling abroad and had applied for a passport at the Foreign Office, Whitehall, with a medical certificate provided by a Dr. Well of Wandsworth Road.

        In his personal memoranda Swanson recorded:

        "I ascertained that this girl was about to be sent across to Holland for purposes of prostitution and she knew perfectly well that it was so, but was determined to go, lived by the representation of a designing woman who earned her livelihood by procuring good looking English girls for the Dutch brothels.

        The system was carried on as follows:- having gulled her victim into the idea of an idle life of lust & pleasure, [the procurer] then searches the register at Somerset House, getting the certificate of register of birth of another girl over 21, whose name the victim adopts. Some inferior surgeon known to her then medically examines the victim, and gives her an application certificate for the passport in the forged name. On production of this at Foreign Office, the necessary passport is frauded, and then the victim is taken over to Holland by this woman. The fee paid by the Dutch brothel keeper to the procuress is £13 13s.

        In the case of Hannah Brannan I prevented her going by advising Foreign Office to keep the passport until I had thoroughly enquired into the matter, the result being as stated. It is no offence against our English law, or in other words, there is no English law to meet the necessity."

        Adam
        For the most part women procured for prostitution in brothels abroad had to sign documents that stated they knew what they were doing and what was expected of them. Women were trafficked, but it seems that 'white slaving' was considerably less common than popularly believed at the time or since.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Paul View Post
          For the most part women procured for prostitution in brothels abroad had to sign documents that stated they knew what they were doing and what was expected of them. Women were trafficked, but it seems that 'white slaving' was considerably less common than popularly believed at the time or since.
          But that was only once they had reached the continent, wasn't it? Brothels in several continental countries were legally registered and the women working there had to provide documents to prove they weren't under age and were subjected to intimate physical examinations before they were employed and at regular intervals thereafter.

          There was one case where a 'placeur' named Klyberg took two 18-year-olds over from London to Holland on the pretext that they would get work as 'actresses'. They both had sisters over 21, so they obtained their sisters' birth certificates to use as ID in Holland. They were then given a rudimentary examination by Mrs Klyburg to ensure they were 'clean' before Mr K forked out the train fare, and off they went.

          The story gets rather complicated after that.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
            Excellent post, Gary.
            And as you mention, parts of MJK's story that took place in London do have corroboration in that both Joseph Fleming the mason's plasterer and 'Morganstone' as one of the Morgenstern brothers, have been traced, as has 'Mrs Buki' and they are all in the right place at the right time, as mentioned by Barnett.
            Debs I also had in mind the collection of the dresses from these London house and MJK's alleged fluency in Welsh. And, of course, Jack McCarthy's statement that she received letters from her mother in Ireland.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
              Debs I also had in mind the collection of the dresses from these London house and MJK's alleged fluency in Welsh. And, of course, Jack McCarthy's statement that she received letters from her mother in Ireland.
              Thanks, Gary. Yes. I was concentrating more on the people who Barnett mentioned that MJK was involved with prior to him that are traceable in the records, Giving Barnett's story more credibility.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                But that was only once they had reached the continent, wasn't it? Brothels in several continental countries were legally registered and the women working there had to provide documents to prove they weren't under age and were subjected to intimate physical examinations before they were employed and at regular intervals thereafter.

                There was one case where a 'placeur' named Klyberg took two 18-year-olds over from London to Holland on the pretext that they would get work as 'actresses'. They both had sisters over 21, so they obtained their sisters' birth certificates to use as ID in Holland. They were then given a rudimentary examination by Mrs Klyburg to ensure they were 'clean' before Mr K forked out the train fare, and off they went.

                The story gets rather complicated after that.
                There are cases of women held in foreign brothels against their will and, as Judith Walkowitz says in Prostitution and Victorian Society, ‘W.T. Snagge, the Lords; committee’s chief investigator, was able to document a small international traffic in British girls. His report heavily implicated Belgian officials in the criminal activity and castigated British police and diplomatic authorities for their complacency and indifference.’ (pg. 248) But both the moral campaigners, the authorities, and later researchers have found little evidence that it was as large as the likes of Josephine Butler claimed. To quote Walkowitz again, ‘During the 1870s and 1880s officials and reformers were able to uncover a small traffic in women between Britain and the Continent, although the women enticed into licensed brothels in Antwerp and Brussels were by no means to young innocents depicted in the sensational stories.’ (pg. 247) I did quite a bit of work on this question, but I do think Kelly’s story fits perfectly into the way it seems these placeurs worked and I think what she told Barnett may well be true, especially if it is confirmed by the tale of going to collect some expensive dresses.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Paul View Post
                  There are cases of women held in foreign brothels against their will and, as Judith Walkowitz says in Prostitution and Victorian Society, ‘W.T. Snagge, the Lords; committee’s chief investigator, was able to document a small international traffic in British girls. His report heavily implicated Belgian officials in the criminal activity and castigated British police and diplomatic authorities for their complacency and indifference.’ (pg. 248) But both the moral campaigners, the authorities, and later researchers have found little evidence that it was as large as the likes of Josephine Butler claimed. To quote Walkowitz again, ‘During the 1870s and 1880s officials and reformers were able to uncover a small traffic in women between Britain and the Continent, although the women enticed into licensed brothels in Antwerp and Brussels were by no means to young innocents depicted in the sensational stories.’ (pg. 247) I did quite a bit of work on this question, but I do think Kelly’s story fits perfectly into the way it seems these placeurs worked and I think what she told Barnett may well be true, especially if it is confirmed by the tale of going to collect some expensive dresses.
                  From the research we've done on here it seems there were connections between the sex trade at the western end of the Highway and the continent, Belgium in particular.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                    From the research we've done on here it seems there were connections between the sex trade at the western end of the Highway and the continent, Belgium in particular.

                    Belgium certainly seems to have been the place.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Paul View Post
                      Belgium certainly seems to have been the place.
                      They're a very resilient people, the Belgians. Hence the expression "Never let Zeebrugge grind you down".
                      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                      "Suche Nullen"
                      (F. Nietzsche)

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                        They're a very resilient people, the Belgians. Hence the expression "Never let Zeebrugge grind you down".
                        Linguistically challenged, though - surely it's a twerp, not Antwerp?

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                          Thanks, Gary. Yes. I was concentrating more on the people who Barnett mentioned that MJK was involved with prior to him that are traceable in the records, Giving Barnett's story more credibility.
                          You should stop concentrating on all those 'peripheral' characters, they'll never lead anywhere.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                            You should stop concentrating on all those 'peripheral' characters, they'll never lead anywhere.
                            I know! All the time I've wasted on peripheral characters and trying to understand the main characters through the peripherals. Nearly as much time as I've spent on digging out and posting primary source material on the torso cases.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                              I know! All the time I've wasted on peripheral characters and trying to understand the main characters through the peripherals. Nearly as much time as I've spent on digging out and posting primary source material on the torso cases.
                              Debs,

                              If you want to be a real Ripperologist, you need to bone up (?) on the details and timings of Buck's Row and Berners Street, have an opinion on Hutch, and at all costs avoid showing an interest in Eddowes extended family. As for the torsos - only a handful of crazed Lechmerians are interested in them.

                              Why spoil the fun by adding more complexity?

                              Gary

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                                Debs,

                                If you want to be a real Ripperologist, you need to bone up (?) on the details and timings of Buck's Row and Berners Street, have an opinion on Hutch, and at all costs avoid showing an interest in Eddowes extended family. As for the torsos - only a handful of crazed Lechmerians are interested in them.

                                Why spoil the fun by adding more complexity?

                                Gary
                                I'm well boned up, Gary. The torsos are the next big academia thing after the next big feminist thing next March!

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