Notes on Hallie Rubenhold's "The Five" (2019) - Part 5. Mary Jane Kelly


Chapter 18. The Gay Life

Page 315: Mary Jane must have sensed this. She explained the situation to Joe Barnett by telling him that she had gone to Paris but as she 'did not like the part' she did not stay. Barnett seemed to indicate that by 'part', she had implied 'the purpose' of her journey there.

Barnett's comment on this, according to a newspaper report of the inquest, was "She said she did not like the part, but whether it was the part or purpose I cannot say." It is possible that the second part of the comment was in answer to a question. [Daily Telegraph, 13 November 1888; transcript at Casebook]

Page 319: However, rather mysteriously for one earning a labourer's wage, Mr Boekü began to acquire property. By 1880, if not earlier, 79 Pennington Street came into his possession. Boekü appears to have let the former Red Lion to the Millers, who, under his authority, took to subletting rooms to prostitutes. ... Number 79 Pennington Street was likely to have been only one of several similar properties in Louis Boekü's portfolio.

There is no evidence that Louis ever owned any property. He appears in electoral registers in 1880 and 1881 at 79 Pennington Street, in 1883 at 56 Portree Street, Bromley, and in 1885 at 25 Ettrick Street, Bromley (despite his having died at a different address nearly two years before the qualifying date). But electoral registration did not imply ownership, as the franchise had been extended to tenants as well as owners in 1832, and by this time the borough franchise included all householders [R. H. A. Cheffins, Parliamentary Constituencies and their Registers since 1832, p. 10; British Library website, accessed 3 June 2022].

Page 319: However, following his death in 1882, Eliesabeth decided to take control of her husband's investment. Along with her new common-law partner, Johannes Morgenstern, she moved into 79 Pennington Street, upstairs from the Millers, with a view to making a career from the sex trade.

As already noted, there is no evidence that her husband had owned 79 Pennington Street, or any other property (see under page 319 above). Although Louis died on 10 August 1882, his widow remained in Bromley for at least another two years, as she was living at 25 Ettrick Street in late 1884 [death registration of her daughter Louisa Bockee, 15 September 1884]. She had moved to 79 Pennington Street by 27 October 1885, when her twin daughters Elizabeth and Louisa were born there [Neal Shelden, Mary Jane Kelly and the Victims of Jack the Ripper: The 125th Anniversary (2013), Chapter 5]. There is no evidence about what part of the house anyone lived in.

Page 319: Interestingly, at about the same time that Eliesabeth and Johannes moved to Pennington Street, Johannes' brother, Adrianus Morgenstern, moved to a property in Poplar with a woman named Elizabeth Felix. According to Adrianus's descendant, this house was also used as a brothel.1
Note 1 (on page 378): Neal Shelden, The Victims of Jack the Ripper: The 125th Anniversary (n.p., 2013). Adrianus's daughter Wilhelmina claimed that she grew up in a brothel in Poplar between 1884 and 1891.

Adrianus had earlier lived in Fulham with his wife and children, but it is not known when he moved to the East End of London or when he began living with Elizabeth. He was still living in Fulham in 1884 [death registration of his wife Antonettea Morgenstern, 23 June 1884]. Neal Shelden suggested that he and Elizabeth were living at 157 Bow Common Lane (in Mile End) in November 1888 and that she was the Mrs "Phoenix" of that address who told reporters that Mary Kelly had lived in her brother-in-law's house at Breezers Hill, Pennington Street [Neal Shelden, Mary Jane Kelly and the Victims of Jack the Ripper: The 125th Anniversary (2013), Chapter 5]. But the next definite record of Adrianus is in the 1891 census, which shows him, his wife "Elizabeth" and his daughter Anna, all with the surname Felix, living at 20 Cordelia Street, Bromley (in Poplar registration district). At this time his 15-year-old daughter Mary was still in West London, in service (recorded as Mary Morjernstein, at 57 King's Road, Chelsea). His daughter Wilhelmina, who would have been 13, has not been found in the 1891 census.

The descendant of Adrianus referred to was his great, great grandson Grant Fenwick. He did not say that Wilhelmina grew up in a brothel in Poplar, and did not specify any dates. He wrote "I have heard a story that Wilhelmina, when she was a child, was brought up in a brothel in Limehouse" [post on Casebook, 23 March 2005]. The address suggested by the author, Cordelia Street, is not in Limehouse. The dates 1884-1891 given by the author did not come from Grant Fenwick, but were only a suggestion by Neal Shelden on the basis of Wilhelmina's age [Shelden, Chapter 5]. But the earliest known record connecting Adrianus or his children with Limehouse is the marriage of his daughter Anna at St Peter's Church, Limehouse, on 1 August 1892.

Page 323: Even for a family like the Boekü-Morgensterns, who would have been accustomed to such conduct from many of their soul-dead, disillusioned boarders, Mary Jane's 'indulgence in intoxicants' had started to make her 'an unwelcome friend'.7 Eventually, either Kelly or her landlords decided it was time for her to leave. However, when she did go, it wasn't very far. Next door to the former Red Lion was 1 Breezer's Hill, a boarding house that belonged to Mrs Rose Mary (or Mary Rose) McCarthy and her husband John.
Note 7 (on page 378): The Echo, 12 November 1888.

The address to which Mary moved and the identity of her landlady there are not known. The newspaper report cited by the author says that because of her drinking, she left her previous lodging and went to lodge with a Mrs Carthy at Breezer's Hill, Pennington Street, about 18 months or two years before (which would mean late 1886 or early 1887). In other versions of the same story, her previous lodging is said to have been at Mrs Buki's [e.g. Star, 12 November 1888] and Mrs Carthy is instead called Mrs McCarthy [e.g. Globe, 12 November 1888]. The number of the house she went to is not given.

The Rose Mary (or Mary) mentioned by the author was not Mrs McCarthy at the time. She did not marry John McCarthy until about two years later, on 17 February 1889, at the Roman Catholic church of St Mary and St Michael, St George's in the East [Neal Shelden, Mary Jane Kelly and the Victims of Jack the Ripper: The 125th Anniversary (2013), Chapter 4]. Nor is there any evidence that they were connected with 1 Breezer's Hill at the time. At their marriage, the addresses of John and Rose Mary were given as 27 Shorter Street and 7 Pennington Street. The earliest known record placing them at 1 Breezer's Hill is the 1890 electoral register, for which the qualifying date was 15 July 1889. Neal Shelden discussed the possibility that Rose Mary Brooks could have living as John McCarthy's "common-law" wife at 1 Breezer's Hill at the relevant time, but points out that Stephen Maywood was living at that address, and in view of the commonness of the surname he concludes that Mrs Carthy (or McCarthy) could be anyone of that name in the area. Stephen Maywood is known to have lived at 1 Breezer's Hill at least until July 1887 [1888 electoral register]. There is no evidence that either the Maywoods or the McCarthys owned the property at any time (see under page 319 above).

Pages 324-325: According to Joseph Barnett to whom she told the story, a middle-aged man calling himself her father 'tried to find her'. He must have been fairly determined, asking after her in the various pubs and drinking establishments, and making enquiries among the young women who plied the streets. Eventually, she 'heard from her companions that he was looking for her'. Mary Jane knew that this man was trouble and went out of her way to hide from him.10 Whatever his identity, he was almost certainly not Mary Jane Kelly's father. Mrs Felix insisted that Kelly had no contact with her family, 'who had discarded her', and Barnett too stated that 'she saw none of her relations'.
Page 378, note 10: Daily Telegraph, 12 November 1888.

The newspaper report cited says only that "Her father came from Wales, and tried to find her there; but, hearing from her companions that he was looking for her, Marie kept out of the way." There is no suggestion in the report that the man was not really her father. It does not mention pubs or drinking establishments or "young women who plied the streets". It does not say that she "knew he was trouble" or "went out of her way to hide from him". As she did not see him, there would be no contradiction with Barnett's statement. But according to the report cited by the author, Barnett did not say simply that "she saw none of her relations". He said that she saw none of them with the exception of her brother, who came to see her once. The Morning Advertiser, 12 November 1888, reported Mrs Phoenix as saying that her family had discarded her, but not that she had no contact with them.

Page 325: However, according to Mrs McCarthy, whose house she left to live with Fleming, he was smitten and 'would have married her'. Mary Jane appears to have reciprocated his feelings and confided her fondness for him to her female acquaintances. For a handful of months at most, the couple inhabited what was probably no more than a single furnished room on Bethnal Green Road, or Old Bethnal Green Road, before the relationship fell apart.12
Note 12 (on page 378): In his testimony, Joe Barnett states that Mary Jane lived with a man called Morgenstern (a reference to Mrs Boekü's husband Johannes) and also Joe Fleming. His statement is a very confused one. At one point he mentions that Kelly lived near Stepney Gas Works, or a gas works with one of these two men. As Pennington Street is not near a gas works and there is no evidence that she lived with Adrianus Morgenstern, it is more likely he was referring to Fleming. The eastern part of Old Bethnal Green Road faces on to what would have been Bethnal Green Gas Works.

Barnett did not say that Mary had lived near a gas works with Morgenstern or Fleming. He specified that it was with "Morganstone" (not with either Morgenstern or Fleming). Although there is some variation in the reports of his evidence, it appears he said that the gas works was in Stepney and was owned by the Commercial Gas Company (though various suggestions have been made about which of the Morgenstern brothers and which gas works were meant). Barnett also stated that Fleming lived in Bethnal Green Road. Presumably Old Bethnal Green Road is suggested by the author as an alternative because the gas works at Haggerston (which was owned by the Gas Light and Coke Company, not the Commercial Gas Company) was not close to Bethnal Green Road.