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The Claude Mellor suspect: In search of the "real" John Cleary

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  • The Claude Mellor suspect: In search of the "real" John Cleary

    After hearing about the name John Cleary being bantered around during the Pinchin Torso investigation, Claude Mellor, a Star Newspaper journalist, was alarmed. He knew an ex-compositor attached to the Globe office named John Cleary. The mention of Backchurch Lane somehow had a connection to his suspect and that area. Mellor stated that Cleary had been living recently at 2, Savoy Buildings, Strand. His description of the John Cleary he knew was as follows:

    Age 35, ht. 6ft., comp. fresh, hair and heavy moustache dark, bald, medium build, speaks peculiar, as though he has no roof to his mouth; who about 4 months ago was residing at 2 Savoy Buildings, Strand.

    Below I have included a map after finally finding #2, Savoy Buildings (red rectangle). The archway leading to the buildings opened up to Strand. Directly across the street from the Savoy Buildings archway is the printing offices of the Globe at 367 Strand (orange on the map). A short distance west on Strand was 2 Harvey's Buildings which, as we know, was the home of John Arnold, the Charing Cross newspaper vendor who assumed the name John Cleary.

    Savoy buildings was practically on the embankment and would have been a short walk to the New Scotland Yard construction site. I have always felt the victim in the Whitehall case may have been picked up while attending the theatre. I think I get that impression by the wire dress form and the broche satin cloth dress that was found with the remains. Walking out of John Cleary's front door one would be at Terry's Theatre a few steps away. Terry's Theatre opened 17, October 1887 after being a Pub for many years (The Coal Hole and Occidental Tavern).

    Is it possible that John Arnold knew Mellor's suspect and assumed his name while reporting the incident to the New York Herald? They both worked in the newspaper business and lived mere blocks from each other. Why was Claude Mellor alerted with the mention of Backchurch Lane and John Cleary the ex-compositor for the Globe? Had he moved to the Backchurch Lane area after living at Savoy Buildings?

    Savoy Buildings/Fountain Court. At the end you can see the passage I have marked in green on my map leading to Strand.

  • #2
    Reuters Telegram Company

    SPRING 1871

    Reuters’ headquarters moves to 24 Old Jewry in the City.

    1871 England Wales Census:

    24 Old Jewry

    John Cleary
    relation to head of family: serv
    b. Limerick, Ashford
    Editorial Clerk

    Not sure if this is our guy or not. If it is he may have been working for Reuters in 1871?

    There is a John Cleary married to a Mary Kelly that was from near the same area in Limerick. Kilmallock. They had a child born in 1874 so that one is probably not a fit. Was an eye popper, though.


    • #3
      Also in the 1871 census at 24 Old Jewry was a man named George S. Payne. Payne was also an Editorial Clerk I think working for Reuters as was John Cleary. He was 25 years old at the time, b. 1842 Warwickshire, Birmingham. In the 1881 census he is living in Islington at Canonbury Road N. In 1891 he is a patient in St. Clement Danes, Strand listed as a journalist/author. Kings College Hospital, perhaps?

      Is it possible that he is this guy?

      Morning Advertiser (London)
      8 October 1888

      At the Marylebone police court yesterday, before Mr. De Rutzen, George Payne, 42, who described himself as a labourer, and who spoke with a provincial dialect, was charged with being disorderly. Detective Sergeant Gurtner, F Division, said he received information about eleven o'clock on Thursday night that a man in the Harrow road had been heard to say that he had committed half a dozen murders in the East end of London and that he had come to the West end to commit half a dozen more. He had also made defiant remarks about the Home Secretary. The witness went after the man, whom he found, and having questioned him, took him into custody. There was great excitement in the neighbourhood. Mr. George Nash, the landlord of a beer house, No 51 Harrow road, said the prisoner entered his house and was supplied with half a pint of beer. At that time he appeared to be all right, but after a time the prisoner said he knew Mr. John Morley and the Home Secretary would like to get hold of him, but he was too clever for them. He had done five or six murders in Whitechapel, and now he thought he would come to the West end. The witness thought that even if what the man had said was not true he ought not to escape punishment for making the statement. The prisoner said he had not insulted anyone, and he appealed to the public at the rear of the court to say if he had insulted them. He lived at Whitechapel years ago, but he had not been there since. Mr. Dr Rutzen told the prisoner he was one of those mischievous fellows who go about and terrify people by boasting that he had done some horrible crime in the East end. He would have to pay a fine of 10s, or go to prison for seven days. The prisoner: Boasting, eh?

      George Spencer Payne is exactly the right age and of more interest the self confessor in the clip above said he knows John Morley. Morley was the Editor for two newspapers. The Fortnightly Review (1867-1882) and The Pall Mall Gazette (1880-1883) before becoming an MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne. George S. Payne would probably have known a few editors. He was listed in one census as just that. I imagine Payne would also speak with a "provincial dialect" being from Birmingham? He would certainly have known the John Cleary that worked for Reuters. The only thing that gets me is the Payne mentioned confessing to the murders stated he was a laborer.

      It's also interesting that another self confessor to the murders, William Wallace Brodie, shacked up at the same address as John Arnold as I've stated many times before. Brodie said he was "one" of the Whitechapel murderers.

      I assume 26, old Jewry was the site of the City Police Headquarters in 1871? The two men may have known a few cops and their habits as well having worked right next door to the headquarters!

      All this has to be coincidental, right?


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jerry Dunlop View Post

        All this has to be coincidental, right?
        At the very least, an extremely interesting coincidence!

        Thanks for posting these. The strange story of the premature message about the find of a torso certainly implies that more people were involved in...something.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
          At the very least, an extremely interesting coincidence!

          Thanks for posting these. The strange story of the premature message about the find of a torso certainly implies that more people were involved in...something.
          Hi Kattrup,

          Harry D posted this on the Casebook forums awhile back. Has a familiar ring to Pinchin Street but it is regarding the Whitehall torso.

          Sheffield Evening Telegraph
          11 October 1888


          An extraordinary story is going the round of journalistic circles in connection with the mysterious discovery on the Thames Embankment. It will be remembered that the woman's remains were found on the Monday afternoon of last week. The previous evening, however, a man went to most of the daily newspaper offices, saw the respective subeditors[?] and inquired if they had heard of a woman's body being discovered on the Embankment. The man evidently expected remuneration, but, in accordance with practice, was required to call again after inquiries had been made. Reporters were despatched in hot haste to Westminster, and calls were made at all the police stations and other likely quarters, but without result, no discovery of the kind reported having been made. In less than twenty-four hours the remains of the unknown woman were found between the Embankment and Whitehall at the spot previously described. If this reported discovery was a hoax, and a strange coincidence, it is very singular indeed. Moreover, the man who called at the newspaper offices did not call a second time.


          • #6
            Catching up a bit here.

            I came across in the Westminster Rate Books an entry in 1888 for a Matthew Cleary, living at #3 Savoy Buildings. He is listed in the census as a compositor. He could very well be the "John" Cleary that Claude Mellor was speaking about. Mellor stated his, John Cleary, was living at #2 Savoy Buildings in 1888. Mellor stated Cleary was age 35. Matthew Cleary was born in 1850 so would have been 38 in 1888. He was born in Glin-Tarbert, Limerick, Ireland. The Globe News Office was across the Street from this residence. (see map on first post)

            Interestingly, in the 1890 rate books the owner of #2 Savoy Buildings is listed as Edward Terry. Terry owned "Terry's Theatre" which was across the footway from this address. The occupant of #2 in 1890 was listed as C.H Fox. Wondering if that was the well known wig and disguise maker, Charles H. Fox who went by the initials C.H.?


            • #7
              Jerry: You have done it again! Absolutely fascinating and useful research. Thank you!
              The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript


              • #8
                Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
                Jerry: You have done it again! Absolutely fascinating and useful research. Thank you!
                Thank you for the kind words, Anna.

                On a side note regarding C.H. Fox. He stated his business picked up considerably in 1888 due to the Ripper murders. He could outfit a person to fool even their own family in 10 to 30 minutes. His clients included detectives, journalists, actors and criminals. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if he disguised Jack the Ripper, himself!

                In 1893 he apparently was in dire financial troubles. He walked to Hyde Park after a performance at a theatre and shot himself in the chest. Attached to him was an unfinished bloody note, addressed to no one in particular that read:

                I am afraid I only told you a little of my troubles last night. I have been worse than foolish, and God knows how I shall get along. If I am sold up there will be enough to pay everyone. I am glad I did not borrow that £100 from you, for I owe you enough already. It is only just now that I see my true position. The prospects are very disheartening and I am broken hearted. All my speculations have been failures.


                The interesting thing about this "John" Cleary that Claude Mellor was so anxious about, was his close proximity to the River Thames at the Savoy Buildings address. In particular, close to the embankment and the New Scotland Yard Police offices. He was also close to John Arnold's abode, nearly across the street. I wonder what alerted Mellor to John Arnold's mention of BackChurch Lane and Cleary of Savoy Buildings? I am trying to find out the connection there.

                Btw, Matthew Cleary is the only person with that surname living at Savoy Buildings at the relevant time. I found him in the 1887 Rate Book as well. He also shows up at #6 Savoy Buildings in a census record.


                • #9
                  Interesting finds, Jerry.


                  • #10
                    Great stuff, Jerry!


                    • #11
                      Good work, Jerry !
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                      • #12
                        Thanks Debs, Gary and Howard!

                        These mysteries within mysteries are always fun to look into.


                        • #13
                          Matthew Cleary Census:

                          There might have been a separation of marriage between the 1881 and 1891 census? He is living with only the two boys at Savoy Buildings.


                          25 Brownlow Street, St Giles

                          Matthew Cleary- Head
                          Age- 22
                          Compositor Printer
                          Born- Glin Tarbert, Limmerick

                          Mary Ann- Wife
                          Age- 21
                          Born- Queen St. St Giles

                          Mary Ann- Dau
                          Age- 1 (m )
                          Born- St Giles


                          16 Noel Street, St James

                          Matthew Cleary- Head
                          Age- 31
                          Born- Ireland
                          Compositor Printer

                          Mary Ann- Wife
                          Age- 31
                          Born- Middlesex, Westminster
                          Artificial Florist

                          Mary Ann- Dau
                          Born- Middlesex, Westminster

                          Born- Middlesex, Marylebone

                          Arthur- Son
                          Born- Middlesex, St Pancras

                          Mary Alice- Dau
                          Born- Middlesex, Westminster


                          6 Savoy Buildings

                          Matthew Cleary- Head
                          Age- 41
                          Born- Ireland
                          Compositor Printer

                          Stephen- Son
                          Born- London, St. Pancras
                          Compositor Apprentice

                          Arthur- Son
                          Age- 15
                          Born- London, St. Giles
                          Compositor Apprentice


                          25 Model Buildings, Holborn

                          Matthew Cleary- Head
                          Born- Ireland
                          Compositor Printer

                          M.A. Cleary- Wife
                          Age- 47
                          Born- Neal Street, London

                          Stephen- Son
                          Age- 26
                          Born- Charlotte Street, London W

                          Arthur- Son
                          Age- 25
                          Born- unreadable, London W
                          Head Bartender & Cellarman

                          Bertha Cleary- Dau
                          Age- 21
                          Born- Poland Street, London W


                          13, St. Georges House, Coptic Street, London W.C.

                          Matthew Cleary- Head
                          Age- 60
                          Born- Limmerick, Glin
                          Compositor Printer

                          Minnie Cleary- Wife
                          Born- London, St. James

                          Bertha- Dau
                          Born- London, St James
                          Last edited by Jerry Dunlop; May 21, 2019, 09:52 PM. Reason: Changed Brown Cow to Brownlow


                          • #14
                            Matthew Cleary in the Rate Books

                            15th April, 1887- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            4th November, 1887- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            14th November, 1889- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            11th April, 1890- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            6th November, 1890- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            13th November, 1890- 3, Savoy Buildings
                            27th April, 1891- 3, Savoy Buildings (name crossed out)


                            • #15

                              I think Arthur’s POB was Store Street (WC).