Notes on Hallie Rubenhold's "The Five" (2019) - Part 2. Annie Chapman


Chapter 5. Soldiers and Servants

Page 93: Fortunately, on 20 February 1842, two years after they had begun courting, George received permission to marry his sweetheart. Whether it was George's expressed wish or the thoughtful intercession of his commanding officer, the date of his nuptials was then backdated by two years on his military records.

Apparently the date is intended to be the date of the marriage, not the date when permission was given. But the date of the marriage was 22 February 1842 [Neal Shelden, The Victims of Jack the Ripper (2007), p. 13; see also an extract from the marriage certificate in the online article "Deconstructing Hallie" by David Barrat, 18 July 2020]. The "backdated" date given in military records - 22 February 1840 - was posted in 2016 by Debra Arif at Casebook, together with the suggestions that it was "backdated by George for the army records to cover Annie's illegitimate birth, or, the couple were pretending to be married at that time and living as a married couple in barracks."

Pages 99-100: Miriam at two and a half would have come under twelve-year-old Annie's eye, when her mother was busy with her newborn, William. At that age, Miriam would have been toddling about the family rooms, giggling and prattling, turning over chairs and getting underfoot. A fever and sore throat, flu-like aches and much crying replaced this. When the rash appeared, there would have been no doubt as to what had befallen her. She suffered until 28 May, and was buried quickly on the following day.

Miriam did not die on 28 May 1854, but on 25 May [see image of death certificate posted by Jose Oranto at Jack the Ripper Forums].

Page 100: In the time Ruth and George were nursing their youngest girl, William too had succumbed to the rash and fever and died five days later, at the age of five months, on 2 June.

William did not die on 2 June 1854, but on 1 June. The cause of death given was not scarlet fever, but inflammation of the throat [see image of death certificate posted by Jose Oranto at Jack the Ripper Forums].

Page 100: After carrying away the two youngest, seven days later [i.e. on 9 June] scarlet fever took its next victim: Eli, aged five.

Eli did not die on 9 June 1854, but on 7 June. The cause of death given was not scarlet fever, but typhus fever [see image of death certificate posted by Jose Oranto at Jack the Ripper Forums].

Page 100: What George and Ruth thought when their eldest son, George Thomas, who had just turned twelve, began to sicken cannot even be imagined. Like the others, his fever raged for two weeks, and a rash spread across his body. When they buried his brother Eli, he lay in his bed, his condition worsening. As families of enlisted men were not permitted to call upon the services of the regiment's physician, the Smiths were forced to summon a doctor whose fees they could hardly have afforded. George Thomas was diagnosed with typhus. He struggled with it for three weeks, before expiring on 15 June.

George Thomas did not die on 15 June 1854, but on 14 June. The cause of death given was not typhus, but scarlet fever (two weeks) and dropsy (3 weeks) [see image of death certificate posted by Jose Oranto at Jack the Ripper Forums].

Pages 101-103: Whether or not it was the first position she held, by 1861 Annie Smith was working as a housemaid for William Henry Lewer, a successful architect who lived at numbers 2-3 Duke Street, in Westminster, an area that served as home to a number of designers and engineers. Several doors down, at numbers 17-18, lived the great creator of railways, bridges and tunnels Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his family. ... It is likely that Annie and her fellow housemaid, Eleanor Brown, as well as the Lewers' housekeeper, Mary Ford, would have at least recognized the Brunel family, if not had the privilege of waiting upon them in their master's drawing room.
In 1861, Annie was the most junior of the three women who tended to 67-year-old William Lewer and his bachelor brother, Edward, a retired stockbroker. ...
In the Lewer household, where space appears to have been plentiful, Annie and Mrs Ford had their own rooms above the architect's office at number 2 Duke Street, while Eleanor slept in the attic at number 3.

It is not certain that the Annie Smith listed in the 1861 census of Duke Street is the same person as the later Annie Chapman. Neal Shelden [Mary Jane Kelly and the Victims of Jack the Ripper: The 125th Anniversary (2013), Chapter 6] suggested it only as a probable identification.

The identification of the household is problematical, because apparently an error was made by the census enumerator and not clearly corrected. For Mary Ford, the first of the two people listed at number 2, the marital condition was left blank and "W" (for Widow), rather than "Servant", seems to have been incorrectly entered as "Relation to Head of Family". There is also a cross in the column that indicates an uninhabited house, even though another column shows one inhabited house [see image posted by Jose Oranto at Jack the Ripper Forums]. It is possible that number 2 was uninhabited and these two servants lived at number 1, the "Robin Hood and Little John" public house. Although the Lewer family owned numbers 1-5 [National Archives, IOR/L/L/2/1586-1600], no evidence is given that William Henry Lewer was occupying number 2. The 1860 directory shows him only at number 3, and does not show anyone at number 2 [see image posted by Gary Barnett at Jack the Ripper Forums and further discussion in this thread].

The census return describes the three women only as servants, not a housekeeper and two housemaids. Nor does it indicate which rooms people slept in.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel did not live at numbers 17-18 Duke Street in 1861, as he had died in 1859.