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McCarthy, Kelly and Breezer's Hill
by Paul Daniel

I find it odd that so little seems to be known, or at least written, about John McCarthy - the John McCarthy of 27 Dorset Street, that is. I would have imagined that, at the time, he should have been regarded with considerable suspicion by the police in the murder of Mary Kelly, but all that appears to be left of any police interviews is a short (very short) statement now held at the Greater London Records Office, along with his deposition to the Inquest, which is hardly longer. To learn more about the lesser characters in this case, I feel, is just as important, or at least as interesting, as the backgrounds to the victims, for instance - of which an immense amount has been discovered in recent years.

I began to find out a little about McCarthy when I had an interesting idea regarding Mary Kelly. The only part of her background that is indisputably backed up by witness statement is that during 1885/6 she was living with a Mrs 'Carthy' in Breezer's Hill. This is still the eighty-metre stretch of street it was then, and leads uphill from Pennington Street to The Highway, which in 1885 was called St George Street, just north of the London Docks North Quay. In 1891 there were still just four houses in this street, and at No 1 lived John and Mary McCarthy. I could hardly credit the coincidence that in 1885 there lived in one of those four houses a Mrs 'Carthy', while just six years later there lived a Mrs McCarthy, and came to the conclusion that the press had misquoted her name in their reports after the murder of Mary Kelly. Carthy is an extremely rare name - there is not even one listed in the current Central London Phone Book, and the only one listed in the Post Office Street Directory for 1885 is William Carthy newsagent, 32a Mile End Road.

It was Mrs Elizabeth Phoenix (living at 157 Bow Common Lane in 1888) who told the police that she believed the Mary Kelly who had been murdered was the same woman who had lived at her brother-in-law's house in Breezer's Hill during 1895/ 6. Mary would have been about 22 the year she stayed in Breezer's Hill, and Mary McCarthy just a year older. We know Kelly was said to be 'tall and pretty, and as fair as a lily' (from Elizabeth Prater, and others who commented on her looks), so I took it a step further. What, I thought, if the reason she left Breezer's Hill was not because, according to Mrs 'Carthy', she went to live with a man who was apparently in the building trade and, she believed, would have married her (this, presumably, being Joe Fleming), but because she was actually carrying on an affair with Mary's husband, John, who was 30 the year Mary Kelly was living with them. An affair that was simply getting out of hand? Might Mary McCarthy have found out and demanded that Mary Kelly leave?

Nothing to show one way or the other. So be it. But then comes the very strange coincidence that three years later, there is Mary Kelly living in Miller's Court and paying rent to - yes, a John McCarthy. Could this be the same McCarthy? If so, it could provide a very rational reason for the amount of arrears in rent that she had been allowed to build up for her Miller's Court abode in 1888. At a time when many other women could not get lodgings for a single night if they didn't have the necessary fourpence, here was Mary Kelly owing more than six weeks rent. Was this for 'old times sake', I asked myself. Was something possibly still continuing? It seemed a very logical solution to a question that has puzzled experts on this case for many years.

Further research was needed, but as fate would have it, I swiftly disproved my idea - sad to say, they were not the same John McCarthy! But my continuing research threw up the curious fact that in 1891, living at 157 Bow Common Lane (Elizabeth Phoenix's 1888 address) there was a certain Eugene McCarthy, 31, a cooper, which makes a possibility of another connection between Elizabeth Phoenix and the house at No 1 Breezer's Hill. More research may find a link between Eugene and John McCarthy, but I also began to find out a little bit more about the Dorset Street McCarthy.

Born in 1851 in France, though a British subject, he appears to have been a stable family man. Living in the same house for more than ten years (possibly longer), he provided lodgings for his brother, Daniel, (a competing grocer with premises down the road at No 35 Dorset Street), and his wife, Ann; and for another relation, also called John, and his wife, Mary along with their son George. He outlived his only wife, Elizabeth, by twenty years, dying on 16th June 1934 at 83 years of age, and was buried beside her at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone.

He must certainly have witnessed some great changes in the East End during the years between the Whitechapel Murders and his death. John and Elizabeth had four children by the beginning of the 1890's (all daughters: Margaret, Elizabeth, Ann and Nelly) - and maybe more after that. Further research may reveal the answer to that last possibility, but I doubt that it will bring us any closer to discovering why John McCarthy allowed Mary Kelly to build up 29/- in back rent by the time of her death.

This article first appeared in Issue 8 of Ripperologist, published by the Cloak & Dagger Club.

Related pages:
  John McCarthy
       Dissertations: McCarthy, Kelly and Breezer's Hill 
       Dissertations: Time is on My Side 
       Message Boards: John McCarthy 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 24 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 November 1888 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - John McCarthy 
  Mary Jane Kelly
       Home: Timeline - Mary Jane Kelly 
       Dissertations: Did Kelly Have a Heart? 
       Dissertations: Did Mary Kelly Survive? 
       Dissertations: Estimating Mary Kellys Time of Death 
       Dissertations: Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction? A Response to Des McKenna 
       Dissertations: Kit, Kitty, Kitten: The Story of Kitty Ronan 
       Dissertations: Mary Kelly 
       Dissertations: Mary Kelly is Dead 
       Dissertations: Providence Row Night Refuge 
       Dissertations: Reinvestigating Murder: The Kelly Enigma 
       Dissertations: Room 13 Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Enigmas of Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Enigmas of Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Funeral of Mary Jane Kelly 
       Dissertations: The Kelly Crime Scene Photographs 
       Dissertations: The Mystery of Mary Jane Kelly 
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       Dissertations: The Whitechapel Dossier: Dorset Street and Miller’s... 
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       Message Boards: Mary Jane Kelly 
       Official Documents: Dr. Bond's Post Mortem on Mary Kelly 
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       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Barking and East Ham Advertiser - 24 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: East and West Ham Gazette - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 17 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: East London Observer - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 17 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Echo - 10 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Echo - 9 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Edwardsville Intelligencer - 14 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 14 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 9 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 9 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Florida Times - 10 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 11 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Globe [Canada] - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Globe [Canada] - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Graphic - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Kellogg Enterprise - 16 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Macclesfield Courier and Herald - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Macleod Gazette - 11 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 14 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Marion Daily Star - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Marion Daily Star - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Montreal Daily Star - 14 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 12 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 15 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Munster News - 10 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: New York World - 10 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Ottawa Citizen - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Ottawa Free Press - 9 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 12 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 14 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 24 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Port Philip Herald - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 13 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 14 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 10 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 24 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Weekly Herald - 16 November 1888 
       Ripper Media: Jack l’Eventreur: Le Secret de Mary Jane K. 
       Ripper Media: Mary Jane Kelly: La derniere victime 
       Ripper Media: The Inquest of the Final Victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary ... 
       Ripper Media: Will the Real Mary Kelly? 
       Victims: A Violet From Mother's Grave 
       Victims: Mary Jane Kelly 
       Victims: Testimonies of George Hutchinson and Sara Lewis 
       Victorian London: Dorset Street 
       Victorian London: Overcrowding in a School Room 
       Witnesses: Elizabeth Phoenix 
       Witnesses: Lizzie Albrook 
       Witnesses: Thomas Bowyer 
       Witnesses: Walter Beck 
  Paul Daniel
       Dissertations: Reflections on the Ripperologist Interview 
       Dissertations: The History of the Cloak & Dagger Club: A Personal Remini... 
       Dissertations: The Riddle of New Cottage 
       Dissertations: The Ripperologist Interview 
       Dissertations: The Streets of Whitechapel 

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