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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Victims » Mary Jane Kelly » The French Woman from Knightsbridge « Previous Next »

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Chris Scott
Assistant Commissioner
Username: Chris

Post Number: 2154
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 6:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Press report:
"It would appear that on her arrival in London she (Kelly) made the acquaintance of a French woman residing in the neighborhood of Knightsbridge, who, she informed her friends, led her to pursue the degraded life which had now culminated in her untimely end."

In the 1881 census there only appears to be one French born woman living in the civil parish of St. Margaret's which included Knightsbridge. She is listed as follows:
5 Knightsbridge Green, Knightsbridge, St Margaret's, London
Head: Frederick W Rother aged 53 born Neisse, France - Tailor
Wife: Filisy L Rother aged 43 born France
Victoria G aged 13
Louise M aged 11
Both born in Chelsea
Elizabeth Silverlock aged 32 born St Alban's - Furrier

In 1871 the family was listed as follows:
15 Yeoman's Road, Brompton
Head: William Rother aged 42 born Prussia - Tailor foreman
Wife: Filisy Rother aged 33 born Charlents, France
William aged 11
Filisy L aged 8
Isabella J aged 6
Victoria aged 2
Louisa aged 4 months

and in 1861 as follows:
53 Marshall Street, Westminster
Head: F William Rother aged 33 born Prussia - Tailor
Wife: L Filisy Lippin aged 23 born France
F W Rother aged 2
Charles aged 4 months
Both born in London

Further census listings:
20 Exeter Street, Chelsea
Head: Frederick Rother aged 65 born Prussia, Germany - Tailor
Wife: Louise (sic) Rother aged 53 born France

Her death was registerd as Filicy Rother aged 56 in June 1893 in Kensington

St Joseph's Home, Portobell Road, Kensington
Frederick Rother (Widower) aged 75 born Prussia - Tailor

Frederick W Rother died in Kensington in September 1902 with his age at death being given as 72
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Gareth W
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2005 - 2:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


Knightsbridge, in the 1880s as now, straddles a number of parishes/boroughs - including Kensington & Chelsea, Mayfair and parts of Westminster. A quick census search of French-born women living in each of these areas threw up scores, if not hundreds, of possible matches.

One "hit", intriguingly, shows three young women living together at 7, Pembridge Square, Chelsea in 1881. They are as follows:

M(adame) Leunda, Age 22, Domestic Servant, b. Villa, France
Juana Phimede (?), Age 40, Domestic Servant, b. Spain
Mary A Kelly, Age 30, Domestic Servant, b. Loughborough

These three would appear to be an extended family of servants living in what may be a next-door annex to a wealthy sugar merchant's family (headed by a Mrs Emma Engelhardt). I don't think this is "our" Mary therefore - probably too old (30), probably too soon (if it's true that Mary arrived in London in 1884), born in the wrong place (as far as we know), and seemingly in respectable employment.

It's that "respectable" bit that I'm using to try to narrow the field down. If I hit a census return (like yours) that shows children and *permanent* male occupants of the same family I'm inclined to mark it down.

The hits that have caught my eye tend to have a woman as Head of Household in a dwelling almost entirely composed of (non-related) females below 40. Sometimes the females will have "vague" occupations, sometimes the Head of Household will be described as a "Lodging House Keeper" or "Supported by independent means" - all potentially euphemisms for prostitution. If the domestic setup is augmented by one or more males listed as "Visitors" that can also set alarm-bells ringing for obvious reasons! These matches *do* turn up reasonably frequently and if I get time I'll put some structure around them.

There are, as I said, loads more French-born women in the area in and around Knightsbridge. Please also bear in mind that, just because Mary's former "madam" appeared French, she needn't have been born there and you'll find even more matches if you widen the net to Belgian and Swiss-born women. Haven't tried Quebec yet!

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