|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
On Sunday morning, 30 September, 1888, at a little past 1.30am three men left the Imperial Club on Duke Place in the City. The trio comprised furniture dealer Harry Harris, butcher Joseph Hyam Levy and commercial traveller Joseph Lawende. As they exited the club, the three noticed a couple standing by the entrance to Church Passage. Harris was made uncomfortable by their presence and Levy gave them scant attention, but Lawende took one brief, though good, look at them as he passed. And, as the three men walked away into the night, little did they realize they were soon to enter a place of prominence in JtR lore.
No more than 10 minutes after the three men left the Imperial Club the badly mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes was discovered in nearby Mitre Square. It is widely believed that the couple was actually Eddowes and Jack and that the men who left the club, especially Lawende, had a real look at the face of the Whitechapel murderer. Yet, for all the attention Joseph Lawende has received in the past 119 years no one but his family has ever seen a photograph of the man who saw the Ripper—until now.
It’s always the dream of a researcher to uncover new evidence or illustrative material, but when something of great importance literally lands on your doormat, it’s a dream indeed.
That’s exactly what happened when Adam Wood received an email out of the blue earlier this month from a lady named Melanie Dolman explaining that she was a descendant of Joseph Lawende, and would he like to see a photograph? After a brief, understandably exciting, exchange of emails, Melanie volunteered some family information and agreed to send the photograph for publication in Ripperologist. The original photograph was taken in 1923 to commemorate Joseph and Annie Lawende’s Golden Wedding, and was taken by Wakefield’s Photographers of Chiswick and Brentford.
On the back are handwritten captions, in black and green pencil, of the childrens’ names. They tie in exactly with the results of the 1891 and 1901 censuses:
Eli, listed in the 1891 census as ‘Ellis’ and in 1901 as ‘Eleazar’ was 39 at the time of the photo being taken;
Poppy, listed in 1891 and 1901 as Pauline, was 43;
Harry, listed in 1891 as Henry and 1901 as Harry, 46;
Ruby, not born in 1891 but listed in 1901, 28;
Jack, listed in 1891, but as ‘Julius’ in 1901, 41;
‘Ray’, for some reason not listed in 1891 but named as Rachael in 1901, 37;
Eva, listed in both censuses and aged 49 in 1923;
Lily, aged 35;
Leonard, born on 22 November 1896, aged 27 in 1923;
May, aged 33;
Fanny, aged 37;
and Rose, aged 45 in 1923.
Joseph Lawende was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1847, but by 1891 has become a naturalized British Subject. According to the family, he spoke excellent English, and was a very quiet man, while wife Annie was more forthright.
It is understood by the family that while Joseph married Annie, brother Leopold married her sister.