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The French Lady Uncovered ?

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  • #91
    'My Secret Life' is certainly an interesting document, isn't it? At one time it was apparently under lock and key at the British Museum and the curators there kept a very close eye on those who wished to read it and other volumes for research into the secret world of the Victorian male!

    They were kept in Private Cases. Ronald Pearsell, the author of a great book on the world of Victorian sexuality, 'The Worm in the Bud', has an amusing story to tell about the third degree he underwent in 1966 when he applied to read them!

    Back to Mary! Children left home early in those days to go into service at better off family homes. Couldn't she have learned some dainty manners and speech if she had been trained as a maid in her early teens? This could have meant an entry into the world of prostitution if she lost her job while she was still in Wales.

    I too think you are onto something very interesting, Jerry. Of course having any sort of connection with France or Gay Paree gave British prostitutes some sort of cachet even in the 1950's. Women called themselves Fifi, Mimi etc., even if the closest they'd been to Paris was a weekend at Brighton!

    Comment


    • #92
      Flogging house. Interesting term. (I am very broad minded about what consenting adults choose to do. Problem with 'My Secret Life' is the writer enjoyed inflicting pain on virgins if he could get one.)

      But if Mary was a servant or seamstress (laundress perhaps...remember the wash boiler under the bed), in an establishment, what entitled her to a box of dresses of "costly description"? My guess is she was some level of dress lodger for a madam, maybe not high in the pecking order, and maybe hoping for the life of the courtesans who rode in the carriages. If she was in debt to a madam for dresses, who paid her bill to the extent she could have her dresses? I have an idea the system indebted the girls to the bitter end, unless a gentleman settled the matter absolutely. Who was her special gentleman? Or did she threaten blackmail against the madam or the establishment or one or more of the clients? Anything is possible.

      I'm really not sure about the protruding teeth. Maybe as some suggested she had what we call buck teeth to an unattractive extent. Maybe it was noticeable to some and not to others. Barnett recognised her by her eyes and ear, not teeth or missing teeth if she had a couple false ones.

      I have another observation about Mary but think I'll start it in a new point to ponder as it's a medical observation.
      The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

      Comment


      • #93
        I’m bumping ip Jerry’s thread since MJW’s other niece married Rosalie Bernstein/Ochse’s son Oscar Bernstein/Ochse.
        Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
        I double checked the meaning of (court) milliner in case there was something specifically British about court milliner. Milliner has always been to my knowledge a person who makes or decorates hats, usually women's hats. The word derives from Milan (Italy), and came into use about 1530 to describe those who imported fancy fabrics and such from Milan.

        I wonder if the addition of the word court defines a location, such as a milliner operating in a court. (Like Mary Kelly trimming hats at Millers Court. ;-)) Alternately could it mean a milliner who provided the service to members of the royal court?

        Mrs. Felix/Phoenix I believe was a milliner. If not her then a close relative working with her was in the trade.
        PS Elizabeth E King was a milliners apprentice right age and birthplace, Cripplegate, to be Elizabeth Phoenix.

        Comment


        • #94
          Originally posted by Jerry Dunlop View Post
          No picture unfortunately but interesting in relation to this thread.

          Christie's had this piece for sale:

          A DAY DRESS OF GOLD COLOURED SILK FAILLE, THE SKIRT GATHERED IN THE LOWER HALF, THE BODICE TRIMMED WITH SELF-COLOURED SILK BOWS AND BLUE EMBROIDERED BUTTONS, LABELLED IN THE WAISTBAND, MME CHARLES OCHSE, ROBES & MODES, 166 PICCADILLY, CIRCA 1868-70

          Price Realized
          £104
          ($170)

          Hi Jerry,

          I, right this minute or these minutes, got Charles Ochse as attending various lodges: The Joppa Lodge, the Samson and the Wanderers with an A Ochse, probably one of his sons.

          (masonicperiodicals.org)

          Comment


          • #95
            It could be possible that Mary and Mrs. Buki went to a "French lady" who was a draper/seamstress, who had been commissioned to make dresses for MJK.

            It is we who conflate "West End brothel" with the "French lady." So far as I know the only mention of the French lady comes from Mrs. Phoenix/Felix. We sort of assume that since Mary went to France, apparently from a West End brothel, that the head of that brothel must have been a French lady.

            Some have also suggested that Mrs. P., for instance in saying Mary had two false front teeth that protruded from her lip, may have been jealous. Mrs. P. was a milliner and should have known the value of fabrics. Perhaps some nice clothes of decent fabric had been ordered for Mary and she and Mrs. B. picked them up when finished. That could be expanded into "her box of costly dresses." Perhaps I am right to suggest Mary had a matching black velvet outfit of skirt, bodice and jacket.

            So again I wonder if Mary was intimately involved with one of the Morgensterns and if he ordered a couple nice dresses for Mary. Two nicely made dresses of good fabric could easily constitute a "box of costly dresses."

            Some of us, like me for instance, think the box of dresses may have contained exotic brothel costumes or evening gowns yet Mrs. P. did not elaborate and since she was a milliner, and especially if Mary had had to sell the dresses as some think, I would have expected Mrs. P. to know more about those dresses and to have said more. If Mary had to sell dresses like evening gowns, to support herself, IMO Mrs. P. would have been in line to see or purchase them as fine fabrics could be used in the millinery trade.

            Even though I have suggested a Morgenstern as a partner for Mary, there really isn't any reason that Joe Flemming who wanted to marry her could not have bought dresses for Mary. Mary herself could possibly have ordered and paid for a couple nice dresses with money earned on the trip to France. Maybe Mary knew of a fine draper/seamstress, a French lady, in the West End or thereabouts.
            The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

            Comment


            • #96
              Originally posted by San Fran View Post
              Hi Jerry,

              I, right this minute or these minutes, got Charles Ochse as attending various lodges: The Joppa Lodge, the Samson and the Wanderers, with an A Ochse, probably one of his sons.

              (masonicperiodicals.org)
              Thanks SanFran,

              I haven’t delved much into any masonic angle.

              Comment


              • #97
                Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
                It could be possible that Mary and Mrs. Buki went to a "French lady" who was a draper/seamstress, who had been commissioned to make dresses for MJK.

                It is we who conflate "West End brothel" with the "French lady." So far as I know the only mention of the French lady comes from Mrs. Phoenix/Felix. We sort of assume that since Mary went to France, apparently from a West End brothel, that the head of that brothel must have been a French lady.

                Some have also suggested that Mrs. P., for instance in saying Mary had two false front teeth that protruded from her lip, may have been jealous. Mrs. P. was a milliner and should have known the value of fabrics. Perhaps some nice clothes of decent fabric had been ordered for Mary and she and Mrs. B. picked them up when finished. That could be expanded into "her box of costly dresses." Perhaps I am right to suggest Mary had a matching black velvet outfit of skirt, bodice and jacket.

                So again I wonder if Mary was intimately involved with one of the Morgensterns and if he ordered a couple nice dresses for Mary. Two nicely made dresses of good fabric could easily constitute a "box of costly dresses."

                Some of us, like me for instance, think the box of dresses may have contained exotic brothel costumes or evening gowns yet Mrs. P. did not elaborate and since she was a milliner, and especially if Mary had had to sell the dresses as some think, I would have expected Mrs. P. to know more about those dresses and to have said more. If Mary had to sell dresses like evening gowns, to support herself, IMO Mrs. P. would have been in line to see or purchase them as fine fabrics could be used in the millinery trade.

                Even though I have suggested a Morgenstern as a partner for Mary, there really isn't any reason that Joe Flemming who wanted to marry her could not have bought dresses for Mary. Mary herself could possibly have ordered and paid for a couple nice dresses with money earned on the trip to France. Maybe Mary knew of a fine draper/seamstress, a French lady, in the West End or thereabouts.
                Hi Anna,

                Good thoughts.

                Rosalie interests me most because of their shop location practically being in Knightsbridge. She was also known to travel to Paris and ride around Regents Park in a carriage.

                My other interest is in Caroline Hammond, nee Cotte. She was a brothel owner and French. She wasn’t a milliner though, as far as I know.

                Didn’t part of the French Lady story evolve from testimony from Joe Barnett? The other was a Press Association reporter who visited the Ratcliff area. He stated she (MJK) visited a French Lady near Knightsbridge and was candid about riding in carriages.

                Comment


                • #98
                  I just double-checked the press reports on Casebook. It says, according to Joe ( correction: Elizabeth “Phoenix”), Mrs “Buki” was Mary Kelly’s “first experience” in the East End. So the “French Lady” was suggested to be in the West End. Since we now know Mrs Buki was real, it lends credence to the story of the box of costly dresses.

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    Jerry: It looks like the only mention of the French lady comes from Mrs. Phoenix. She directly mentioned the French lady/Buki/dresses in her interview and there is another article not directly credited to her. The second article says Mary made the acquaintance of a "French woman" soon after arriving in London and this woman led Mary into the life that was her downfall.

                    It is easy to put it all together but in so doing are we accurate? It is possible the French woman or lady was a seamstress. She could have introduced Mary to a brothel owner, the brothel owner could have been French--or not. Or maybe the French lady was a brothel owner as we suppose.

                    My point is, I think all of us have assumed the French lady was a brothel owner. Then we have the problem of how Mary earned "costly dresses" since she was apparently not in that brothel for long and may have rejected a client in returning home early from France.

                    There was a dress boarder system where girls earned their dresses but that was notorious for methods that kept the girls from ever really owning the dresses. The dresses could have been a gift but again, if a brothel owner had felt she lost money on Mary, it seems the dresses would have been kept for expenses, real or imagined.

                    If the dresses were evening wear or special brothel attire, Mary would surely have had to sell them since she was living in the East End. If so it seems natural that Mrs. B. would have contacted Mrs. P. the milliner and the latter would have further commented on the dresses, even to say they were the dresses of a lady who road about in a carriage, etc.

                    There is no reason the French woman/lady could not have been a brothel owner and there is no reason that she could not have been a seamstress with ties to the brothel world. Or there could have been two French females, one a brothel owner and one a seamstress. These avenues of thought open some new areas to investigate.

                    Think of the box of dresses as a lot of money. If we read that Mary and Mrs. B. went to the French lady for a lot of money we would be wondering what I am wondering because brothels tended to keep the girls in debt and not owed large amounts though some girls in certain brothels did earn a nest egg with which to begin a new and better life. Perhaps looking for a kindly brothel would also be useful. If the dresses were tied to a brothel, the brothel must have been decently and fairly run.

                    The rest of the story is that Mary was not in the West End for very long, she went to France but did not like it and returned in a couple weeks. This does not sound like a girl who deserved any rewards.

                    Here is a wild thought that might be worth tucking in the back of the mind. What if there was a seamstress, perhaps French, who got some of her clients indebted to her and then suggested the girls could earn money to pay the bills by working at a brothel? Mary could have come to London with an amount of money from Cardiff and commissioned dresses for herself, then been unable to pay the final bill.
                    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

                    Comment


                    • You’re right, Anna. It was Mrs “Phoenix” who made the statement about the French Lady which makes the story even more reliable.

                      If the French Lady was Mary’s first contact in London, then any real clues to her origin would be in the West End because that’s where she went first. She would likely go to where she had relatives or contacts. As the possible “spokesperson” for the Morgensterns as you suggested, Mrs P doesn’t claim that Mary was related to them even by old country nationality.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by San Fran View Post
                        You’re right, Anna. It was Mrs “Phoenix” who made the statement about the French Lady which makes the story even more reliable.

                        If the French Lady was Mary’s first contact in London, then any real clues to her origin would be in the West End because that’s where she went first. She would likely go to where she had relatives or contacts. As the possible “spokesperson” for the Morgensterns as you suggested, Mrs P doesn’t claim that Mary was related to them even by old country nationality.
                        I long ago ruled out Mary being related to the Morgensterns. I still think Mrs. P. fronted a sanitized story to cover something. Since there are a couple indications the Morgensgterns MAY have had some interest in a brothel in Limehouse, there is a large point to ponder.

                        My thoughts on Mary's history is that she was married or had a serious relationship with a young man in Wales. He died or left her. She either went to Cardiff with a cousin or went to Cardiff and linked up with a cousin. (The Welsh papers have a number of articles about country girls going to Cardiff to enter prostitution. Some of the girls did it voluntarily to improve their lives and they were sorry when the law cracked down on prostitution and they were sent home. Others were lured, even trafficked and were very sorry how it ended up for them.)

                        However Mary lived in Cardiff, I have an idea she was young and attractive enough that someone encouraged her to go to London or she got herself to London. Maybe there is some truth to the tale that she had family in London, whether it was six brothers or not.

                        Did she GO TO a French woman or did she meet or find that woman once she got to London? Can we connect any London brothels to Cardiff? (So far I cannot and I have tried.) Could the "French lady" and "French woman" be two different women, one a seamstress?

                        My knowledge of London geography is poor but I think Adrianus Morgenstern lived closer to the West End circa 1884. As I recall, his wife died sometime around 1883-84? Did Mary meet him at that time? Did he or an associate of his take her to Paris/France? Is he the link between the West End and a Morgenstern--or himself-- in the East End? Did Mary have a romantic relationship with "Morganstone"/Morgenstern or was there business involved?

                        Who cared enough for her to provide "her box of costly dresses"? (Think in terms of money--clothes in those days had intrinsic value.) True, it could have been as few as two dresses, of excellent fabric and workmanship, made for everyday wear. Still, Mary rated some new clothes circa 1885 while most of JtR's other victims practically had clothes from a trash bin. Mary may have had a black velvet skirt, bodice and jacket at the time of her death. It sounds like those could have been "costly" at some point and they sound like they were very nice whenever they were new.

                        An aside about clothing at that time is that though there were some ready-made garments, frequently produced through the sweat trade such as women sewing many, many shirts for a few pennies, fine and expensive clothing was very different. Look at some of the censuses, at drapers' shops with many employees. Better clothing was made through measuring and fitting, a skill called draping.

                        If we could connect Cardiff to London and West London to East London, at least concerning Mary Kelly, we might learn something.
                        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

                        Comment


                        • What if Mary Jane hung around Pennington Street also drunk and an 'unwelcome friend' and Mrs Boeuku took her in, but just as she did McCarthy a couple of years later, Mary Jane racked up a debt she couldn't repay and so codded her landlady, Mrs Boeuku, in to thinking she had money in the form of material possessions that she needed help to get her hands on. We don't know if the mission was successful or what the real outcome was. Did the French lady just say - Se faire bourrer

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                            What if Mary Jane hung around Pennington Street also drunk and an 'unwelcome friend' and Mrs Boeuku took her in, but just as she did McCarthy a couple of years later, Mary Jane racked up a debt she couldn't repay and so codded her landlady, Mrs Boeuku, in to thinking she had money in the form of material possessions that she needed help to get her hands on. We don't know if the mission was successful or what the real outcome was. Did the French lady just say - Se faire bourrer
                            LOL! My mental picture of Mrs. Boeuku's involvement was that Mary needed someone who spoke French and there would be a good chance Mrs. B. might fit in that category.

                            The dresses are so frustrating. Did she get them? Did she sell them? What were they? How many? Who ordered and paid for them? Were they connected to the trip to France? If so, how? Was Mary's black velvet outfit part of it/them? Did they exist? Maybe a rescue mission had a box of donated dresses promised to Mary and she implied it was something more? IMO Mrs. B. would be unlikely to help Mary retrieve dresses if Mary was in any sort of relationship with Johannes.....
                            The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

                            Comment


                            • Jerry pointed out Charles and Rosalie Ochse were in Bankruptsy Court in 1886. That means they were probably going broke in 1885. That fits with Mary Kelly’s timeline of falling out in the West. Charles was known for chasing women around for dress payments. The Knightsbridge part is what I can’t explain as the Ochses lived in Regent Park North Gate and had a store in Piccadilly.

                              Comment


                              • It appears that Rosalie’s representative was her sister Julie (Truth, The Weekly Journal, 1878, Google Books).

                                She married Henry Swaebe. He was Belgian so there’s your Belgian connection. She was also a dressmaker and a milliner.

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