A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Joseph Hyam Levy
Joseph Levy was one of the two companions of Joseph Lawende (q.v.) who saw a man and a woman standing at the entrance to Church Passage shortly before the murder of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square. Levy has aroused particular interest for two main reasons;
1) Press reports suggested that Levy may have been evasive and reluctant to give evidence. The Evening News went so far as to say "He leaves one to infer that he knows something but that he is afraid to be called on the inquest." Levy was called to testify at the inquest and his deposition contained the phrases that "he did not look at them", "he did not take much notice of the man and woman", "he could not give a description of either of them."
2) It is known for sure that Levy knew Martin Kosminki, a Polish born furrier who ran a successful business for many years. Levy supported Kosminski's application for naturalisation in 1877. It has been speculated that Martin was connected by family with Aaron Kosminski, a major suspect and that Levy may have indeed recognised the man he saw at Church Passage and have been unwilling to testify to seeing a family member of a friend of his. However, it has to be pointed that no link between Aaron and Martin Kosminki has been established.
Joseph Hyam Levy was born in Aldgate and his birth was registered in the London East district in March 1842 (Volume 2 Page 209). He married Amelia Lewis and their marriage was registered in London City in December 1866 (Volume 1c Page 227.) For the period covered by the censuses from 1871 to 1891 inclusive, the couple lived at the same address, 1 Hutchisons Street, Aldgate, although in 1871 the address was entered as 1 Hutchisons Avenue. The couple appear to have remained childless.
In 1871 Joseph's household is detailed as follows:
1 Hutchisons Avenue, Aldgate
Joseph H Levy aged 30 born Aldgate - Butcher
Amelia Levy aged 29 born Aldgate
Margaret Connolly aged 19 born Aldgate
The 1881 census saw the following information entered for them:
1 Hutchisons Street, Aldgate
Joseph Levy aged 39 born Aldgate - Butcher
Amelia Levy aged 39 born Aldgate
Jane Figg aged 20 born Limerick, Ireland - Domestic Servant
In the 1891 census data we are told the following:
1 Hutchisons Street, Aldgate
Joseph Levy aged 49 born Aldgate - Butcher
Amelia Levy aged 47 born Aldgate
Maggie Birt aged 19 born Brompton - General servant
And there the trail, at the moment, runs cold. I have been unable to trace any record in the 1901 census for either Joseph or Amelia, nor have I been able to find a record of the death of either partner in the period from 1891 to 1901. What happened to them we can only speculate. There may have been a change of family name for some reason, but this seems unlikely. It was not uncommon for Jewish immigrants to Anglicise their names, but Joseph was born and grew up in England and had lived with his surname for nearly 50 years up to the time of his last appearance in the census records. They may have left the country, either temporarily at the period when the census was taken, or permanently by means of emigration. But after 1891 the records on Joseph Levy fall quiet.