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Old February 6th, 2017, 03:23 PM   #1
AP Wolf
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Default James Johnson 1888 and before?

Looking back at some very old threads on How's excellent site, and I stumbled across James Johnson again, whom I found so many years ago, and thought that he does deserve a lot more research and study. Of course when I first floated his 'double event' before the double event I was seriously employed in the whisky industry; and take due note that I shot myself repeatedly with a repeating revolver in the foot so often that the threads lost the thread. So I'd like to start again with this very interesting chap, who I think encompasses the fear and prejudice that was the East End of London in 1888.
I'm spellbound by the chalked graffiti that was discovered near the scenes of his unproved crimes; and I am captivated by the facts that he was an American living and working in the East End, and that he might have had some very serious previous encounters with the law prior to this 'double non-event'.
The quote is from the Evening Standard, 29th September 1888.
'James Johnson, a pale looking man of 35, with a decided American accent, describing himself as a waiter of Birdhurst-road, St. John's-hill, Wandsworth, was charged before Mr. R. R. Bros, at the Dalston Police-court yesterday, with assailing Elizabeth Hudson by throwing her down on the pavement and threatening to stab her with a knife. - The Prosecutrix said:- At two o'clock this morning I was at the corner of Richmond-road, Dalston, when the Prisoner came up to me, threw me down, and at the same time pulled from his coat pocket a long knife (the witness indicated some eight or ten inches), and tried to stab me. I screamed, "Murder," and he ran away. - Mr. Bros: Are you sure he had a knife? - Witness: Yes, - Mr. Bros: How did he open it? - Witness: It was open, and had a sharp point. - Mr. Bros: Where did he take it from? - Witness: His outside coat pocket. It was something like a carving knife. - By the Prisoner: I did not put my hand in your pocket. You seized me and threw me down without saying a word. - Alice Anderson, said: I was accosted by the Prisoner in the Kingsland-road, between one and two o'clock this morning. It was near the Lamb public-house. He spoke to me, asking, "Where are you going?" I said, "Towards home." He asked, "Shall I come with you?" I replied, "If you please." Going along he tried to throw me down. I screamed, and ran away. - Mr. Bros: Was this in the open street? - Witness: Yes. He not succeed in throwing me down. I knocked at the nearest door, and he ran away. About a quarter of an hour after he had left me I heard screams, and on going in the direction whence they came, I found they came from Hudson. She was standing between the Lab and Swan public-houses, having just got up from the ground. She pointed to the man, who was running away. - By the Prisoner: Hudson and I were together when you first came up, but we separated. We did not ask you for money. We did not ask you to come home with us. We did not put our hands into your pockets. - Prisoner (to the Magistrate): These women would say anything. I would not a fly, much less a human being. These women accosted me, and one of them put her hand into my pocket before I knew where I was. - Police-constable 460J said: About a quarter to two this morning I heard screams of "Police" and "Stop him." I turned round and saw the Prisoner running along the road. I stopped him and asked him what was the matter? He said that two women had stopped him in the Kingsland-road, and wanted him to go down the mews with them, and because he refused they screamed, and he ran away. I took him back to Kingsland-road, where I saw the two women. Hudson said, "That is the man who tried to stab me." She said she would charge him. I took him the station. - Mr. Bros: Did you search? - Witness: Yes. - Mr. Bros: Did you find a knife? - Witness: No, sir. - Police-constable 183J: I was on duty in Englefield-road at two o'clock this morning, when I heard screams of "Murder," "Help," and "Stop him!" I ran towards Richmond-road, and saw Prosecutrix holloaing and saying a man had assaulted her and threatened to stab her. Prisoner did not ask the constables any questions. - Mr. Bros: Is anything known of the Prisoner? - Police-constable 460: Not yet, sir. - Prisoner (in reply to the Magistrate) said: I have no witnesses to bring. Every thing the females have said is entirely the other way about. They used dirty, insulting language to me. If they had not spoken to me I should not have said anything to them. I spoke to them going along. One of them put her hand in my pocket, and I gave her a shove, and she went down. She was so drunk she did not want much force. There is nothing against my character, but I asked the police not to make inquiries because my wife is so delicate. I have never been in a court of justice in my life. I work for my living. I had no knife in my possession. I never carry one - Mr. Bros: You will be put back for your inquiries, and can communicate with whom you please. - Subsequently, the Prisoner was again placed in the dock, and Mrs. Seaton, his landlady, said she had known him as a respectable man for a long time. When Prisoner was asked what he had to say, he said he could only repeat his former statement, with the addition that he came over to Kingsland to see a friend, and, not finding him, he went playing billiards. - Mr. Bros: Why did you run away? - Prisoner: Because I was ashamed of being mixed up in such a matter. - Police-constable 18 J R said he knew the Prosecutrix in this case as a disorderly woman, and had cautioned her not long before this matter occurred. - Mr. Bros discharged the Prisoner, remarking that he had got into an awkward scrape by his own silliness.
The police in this case state that they noticed when they went on duty on Thursday night they saw a very long chalk mark on the pavement in Kingsland-road, one directing point coming to the word "Look!" and, further on, "I am Leather Apron. Five more, and I will give myself up." Beneath this was a rude drawing of a man with a knife uplifted towards a woman. '
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Old February 6th, 2017, 04:13 PM   #2
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There are a number of Old Bailey cases involving robbery and both parties making counter charges. This sounds something like that pattern. I wonder if Johnson threatened to report the women to the police so they got the upper hand by accusing him first?

I don't think Johnson is JtR and the chalked message I think was just someone playing a joke.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 04:35 PM   #3
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So Johnson was arrested on the 29th of September 1888, which is a Saturday, and two nights before on the Thursday the 27th of September, the police found chalk graffiti on the same street, indicating that a woman, or several women, might be attacked there by a man with a knife, and then hey presto it sort of happens! I quite like that.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 04:35 PM   #4
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Anna:

Yes, it does seem to resemble one of the stories we come across where a woman cries wolf when a punter didn't come across with a few coins, instanter.

Speaking of Wolf, thanks a lot for posting that, A.P. It would be interesting to see whether this Johnson had been up in front of the beak for a prior assault.
Thanks again.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 04:40 PM   #5
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Anna:

Yes, it does seem to resemble one of the stories we come across where a woman cries wolf when a punter didn't come across with a few coins, instanter.

Speaking of Wolf, thanks a lot for posting that, A.P. It would be interesting to see whether this Johnson had been up in front of the beak for a prior assault.
Thanks again.
An Old Bailey case I just love concerns a woman who claimed a man unknown to her simply walked up to her in a pub and slashed her throat. Ah-ha!, I thought, I have found Jack before he got good at it! HIS defense was they had spent the night together and she had taken all his valuables before going to the pub for her liquid brunch.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 04:53 PM   #6
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Interesting stuff, AP. It appears he was a bus conductor (groom) in 1891, living in Salisbury Mansions, Putney.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 05:25 PM   #7
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Yes, it looks like him - right age and US birth.


It sounds like he was waylaid by the women although, in view of his future occupation, they probably waited a long time for him to show up.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 05:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Robert Linford View Post
Yes, it looks like him - right age and US birth.


It sounds like he was waylaid by the women although, in view of his future occupation, they probably waited a long time for him to show up.
Hello Robert,

Any mention of this man in later censuses perchance?


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Old February 6th, 2017, 06:10 PM   #9
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'Eliza Clare' is I think, Robert, the fly in the waiter's soup!
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Old February 6th, 2017, 06:27 PM   #10
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Indeed Robert and Gary, grooms are never there when you want them, and then they hang around all night when you don't want them, see George Hutchinson for more details! I think it salutary to remember when looking at complicated cases like this that the police force of the day were very local, and part of their unsolicited brief was to keep the streets clean, and that they would have looked after the interests of small time offenders, like 'unfortunates' to keep things nice and dandy on their beat. I do see this at work here, and in many other similar cases. This has happened in our own day as well, with three of the most prolific serial killers in our country avoiding arrest simply by the killer's own selection of victims, they were beyond the pale, and so he was. We must look beyond the pale.
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