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Suggested annotations for Hallie Rubenhold's book "The Five" (2019)

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  • Incidentally, Sarah Cowdry’s maiden name was Manchee, which was also the name of their niece, not ‘Mancher’ as it appears in the book. And Martha Cowdry had been born a short distance from Dawes Court, so she and Polly had something in common.

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    • Page 28, re Polly and William Nichols:

      Shortly before Christmas in 1863, a marriage proposal was made and accepted.

      How on earth could HR know that? She couldn’t, she imagined it.

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      • Some of the things we mention may seem rather trivial. I know Lord Orsam was very dismissive of the 16/18, Rosehill Road discovery. Personally I think that’s potentially quite significant because: a) HR conjured up a baseless fiction about Polly’s lonely sojourn in Samuel Cowdry’s dull household, and b) Francis Cowdry is a very interesting character who briefly interacted with Polly.

        There are numerous other seemingly trivial things that may mean little individually but in combination make you question how well HR knows her subject. There are a few of those in her description of the Ratcliffe Highway. For example, she speaks of its music halls (plural). How many music halls were there in the Highway? None as far as I know. There was Wiltons/The Mahogany Bar in Graces Alley off Wellclose Square, but I don’t know of any others. There were dancing saloons in rooms above several of the pubs, but the term music hall has a very specific meaning. It was a theatre where variety acts performed. The fact that HR speaks of music halls suggests she either doesn’t appreciate what a music hall was or she mistakenly believes there were several of them in the Highway. Either way, she seems not to be on top of her subject.

        There are numerous things she says about the Highway that suggest to me that either she or her researcher did a superficial amount of Googling to produce that context.

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        • I’ve been trying to find a version of the story from ‘Mrs Croote’ about Kate stealing from her employers in the Shields Gazette. Has anyone seen it?

          I can only find it in the Evening News and having come from Mrs Jones.

          Attached Files

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          • According to Sarah this incident would come to define Kate’s future life and the Eddoweses would neither forget it nor forgive her for it.


            I suppose you can assume the refusal to forget or forgive, but if Kate did a runner as soon as her theft was discovered, there may not have been an opportunity for a scolding and a dismissal by her employers or for her to be prosecuted.

            In addition, one of Kate’s uncles was a local police detective, so if a decision was made not to prosecute that may have played a part in it.

            More guesswork.
            Attached Files

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            • More …s

              Page 288/9:

              The newspaper [Daily Telegraph 3rd October, 1888] reported that Kate regularly bedded down on the street, or in a shed alongside what they they called ‘houseless waifs, penniless prostitutes, like herself …’

              HR cites this as evidence that the press equated homeless woman with prostitutes.

              I’m surprised she didn’t leave out the inconvenient comma between prostitutes and like. What did she leave out after herself?

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              • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                I’ve been trying to find a version of the story from ‘Mrs Croote’ about Kate stealing from her employers in the Shields Gazette. Has anyone seen it?

                I can only find it in the Evening News and having come from Mrs Jones.
                No, I couldn't find it either. The Shields Gazette dated 4 October 1888 as referenced has some history from Eliza Gold 'The Sister's Story'

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                • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                  More …s

                  Page 288/9:

                  The newspaper [Daily Telegraph 3rd October, 1888] reported that Kate regularly bedded down on the street, or in a shed alongside what they they called ‘houseless waifs, penniless prostitutes, like herself …’

                  HR cites this as evidence that the press equated homeless woman with prostitutes.

                  I’m surprised she didn’t leave out the inconvenient comma between prostitutes and like. What did she leave out after herself?
                  Of our million of upper and middle class folk, who "live at home at ease," how many have the least conception of the hardships, miseries, and degradations suffered daily and nightly, within a bowshot of their comfortable dwellings, by such utter outcasts as were in life this dead woman and her companion in fatal misfortune, the wretched creature slain and mutilated in Mitre-square? The former had endured every variety of privation, humiliation, and pollution, moral and physical; the latter had times without number been in so abject a state of destitution as to be compelled to share the nightly refuge - a shed in Dorset-street - of a score or so of houseless waifs, penniless prostitutes like herself, without a friend, a name, or even a nickname. This once most unhappy wretch has been identified, but not by any real or fanciful designation, by some of her no less miserable associates, and by two City constables, who had arrested her on Saturday evening for drunkenness, a few hours before her assassination. She was still in custody at Bishopsgate-street Police-station at one a.m. on Sunday, at which hour she was released, and sauntered away along Houndsditch towards the place of her death, which must have occurred barely twenty minutes after her release from custody.
                  https://www.casebook.org/press_repor.../dt881003.html

                  I think a lot of that wouldn't fit in very well with Rubenhold's narrative about the attitudes of the time.

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                  • Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post

                    No, I couldn't find it either. The Shields Gazette dated 4 October 1888 as referenced has some history from Eliza Gold 'The Sister's Story'
                    And that story was provided by Sarah Eddowes and an unnamed aunt.



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                    • Add a , but leave out:

                      Attached Files

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                      • In the chapter about Catherine Eddowes:

                        "The situation would only worsen. In December of that year, she was arguing furiously with Conway again. Shortly before Christmas, she had left him and taken nine-month-old Frederick with her to the casual ward for the night." 9

                        Footnote 9 -"Workhouse admission records also indicate that Kate was pregnant during the summer and autumn of 1877 for the sixth time. There is no indication that the pregnancy was brought to term or resulted in a live birth."

                        The workhouse admission records don't indicate Eddowes was pregnant. I believe this is a mis-interpretation of the layout of the record. Catherine and her children were discharged from Woolwich Road workhouse on 6 September 1877.The workhouse register has the format of left hand page for admission and facing right hand page for discharge with the first two columns of the discharge page actually the last two columns of the admission page carried over and are headed 'Date of the order of admission' and 'cause of seeking relief.' So the right hand discharge page for Catherine Eddowes and her children appears like this with the words 'destitute and pregnant opposite Catherine Eddowes name :


                        Click image for larger version  Name:	eddowes 1.jpg Views:	0 Size:	111.8 KB ID:	594097

                        The first two columns opposite Eddowes name actually relate to the admission information (and are divided visually by a thicker black vertical line) on the left hand page for a woman named Charlotte Massey, admitted 6 September, 'destitute and pregnant'. Eddowes admission details appear higher up on the right hand page in line with her name on the admission page and show she was admitted on 5 September as 'destitute,' with her infant son Frederick.

                        Click image for larger version  Name:	eddowes 2.jpg Views:	0 Size:	57.2 KB ID:	594099

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                        • Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                          The workhouse admission records don't indicate Eddowes was pregnant. I believe this is a mis-interpretation of the layout of the record. Catherine and her children were discharged from Woolwich Road workhouse on 6 September 1877.The workhouse register has the format of left hand page for admission and facing right hand page for discharge with the first two columns of the discharge page actually the last two columns of the admission page carried over and are headed 'Date of the order of admission' and 'cause of seeking relief.' So the right hand discharge page for Catherine Eddowes and her children appears like this with the words 'destitute and pregnant opposite Catherine Eddowes name
                          That's a good spot. If she searched on Ancestry, went straight to the page and hadn't seen that record format before, she would have had to notice the slightly thicker vertical line dividing the admission entries from the discharges. Evidently she didn't.

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                          • Just going back to Polly's visit to the workhouse, said to be at Easter 1880, another thing that's not clear to me about Rubenhold's treatment is why she specifies it was Renfrew Street workhouse she went to - "she went directly to Lambeth Union Workhouse on Renfrew Road" (p. 44). The examination she cites just says "Lambeth Workhouse". According to information at workhouses.org.uk, Renfrew Gardens was relatively new (opened in 1874). Princes Road was the original workhouse, and was closer to the historical centre of Lambeth.

                            But judging from the records, for some reason Princes Road was admitting very few people at this time, and continued to admit very few until 1885. Rubenhold does refer to Polly's absence from the 1880 records for Princes Road. Should we conclude that she was aware of the situation, and assumed it must be Renfrew Road?

                            In fact the examination record says "I went direct into Lambeth Workhouse", not just "to" the workhouse. There was a casual ward at Renfrew Road, but the LMA has no records listed for it. I wonder if the answer could be that she initially went into the casual ward, and therefore avoided the workhouse proper at that time.

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                            • Yes, a good spot by Debs.

                              In December of that year, she was arguing furiously with Conway.

                              Where did she obtain that info from?

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                              • Hallie R. tells us:

                                Mrs Felix recalled an incident that she claimed occurred shortly after Mary Jane arrived at 79 Pennington Street.

                                And that incident was the repossession of Kelly’s expensive dresses from the ‘French Lady’ in Knightsbridge.

                                Of course, Mrs Felix said nothing of the sort. The story of the repossession of the dresses was uncovered by a Press Association reporter who visited Breezer’s Hill/Pennington Street on either the 11th or the 12th November. The way his report reads, he made contact with ‘Mrs McCarthy’ but not with Elisabeth Boekee. So it seems he heard the story second hand. The question then arises, where did Mrs McCarthy hear the story? Was it from Boekee, from Kelly or someone else?

                                It’s quite conceivable that the French lady/French trips/riding in carriages/expensive clothes etc were entirely fictional.

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