A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Joseph Barnett was the man with whom Mary Kelly was living until a short time before her death. However, the testimony that bore on the earlier life of Kelly mentioned other men with whom she had had relationships:
1) A collier named Davis or Davies to whom Kelly had been married in approximately 1879. This man had been killed in some kind of accident two or three years later.
2) A man named Morganstone who lived near Stepney Gas Works. This man has so far eluded identification.
3) Joseph Flemming, a mason or plasterer, who came from Bethnal Green.
Mrs. Carthy (q.v.) said that Kelly left her lodgings to live with Flemming, with whom she presumably cohabited until she met Barnett. Mrs. Carthy also related that Kelly was very fond of Flemming, that she (Mrs. Carthy) thought Flemming would have married Kelly and also that Flemming still visited Kelly after she was living with Barnett. So, Joseph Flemming is a shadowy but important figure in Mary Kelly's background.
Firstly, the spelling of his name. In census records his name is usually rendered as FLEMMING but in his birth record it is spelt FLEMING. His birth was registered at Bethnal Green in the 2nd Quarter (April to June) of 1859 (Volume 1c page 254). His parents were Richard Fleming, a plasterer, who was born in Ramsgate, Kent in 1822 and Henrietta Fleming, who was born in Camberwell, Surrey in 1822.
His mother's maiden name was Henrietta Masom and the couple were married in Lambeth in the 3rd Quarter of 1842 (Volume 4 page 205). Joseph had an elder sister named Jane who was born in Hoxton in 1857, and two younger sisters, Mary Ann born in Bethnal Green in 1863 and Jessie born in Bethnal Green in 1868. The family is listed in the 1871 census living at 60 Wellington Street, Bethnal Green.
By the time of the 1881 census, Joseph had left home and was living in lodgings in 61 Crozier Terrace which was in Homerton, north east of Bethnal Green. By this time he is listed as following his father's trade as a plasterer. His landlady was Ellen Copping, a 35 year old laundress. Also living in the household were Ellen's two daughters - Emily aged 13, and Ann aged 2 - and a second lodger, John Percy, a 27 year old ropemaker, also born in Bethnal Green.
Joseph's family is listed in the 1881 census as living at 4 Cyprus Street and is listed as follows:
Richard Fleming aged 59 born Ramsgate, Kent - Plasterer
Henrietta Fleming aged 59 born Camberwell, Surrey
Mary Ann aged 19 born Bethnal Green - Brace machinist (Fancy goods textiles)
Jessie aged 13 born Bethnal Green
Alice W Rickiam aged 65 born Southsea, Hampshire, Nurse
Emma E Emsworth aged 41 born Lambeth - Lodger
By the time of the 1891 census, Joseph's father, Richard Fleming, is listed as an inmate in the Shoreditch District Infirmary. His details are given as:
Richard Fleming, Married, aged 70, Plasterer, born Ramsgate, Kent.
Richard Fleming's death was registered in Shoreditch in the 1st Quarter of 1894. (Volume 1c Page 59)
In the 1891 Census, Joseph's mother and younger sister are listed as living at 123, Lever Street, City Road as follows:
Henrietta Fleming aged 69 born Camberwell - Married
Jessie Flaming aged 23 born Bethnal Green - Brace machinist
As for Joseph himself, it looks very much as though he had changed his trade by 1891. At that time he would have been 32 and this, coupled with the fact that he was born in Bethnal Green, led to the only viable identification for him in the 1891 data. This listed him as living in a lodging house at 9 Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green and gave his details as follows:
Joseph Flemming aged 32 born Bethnal Green - Boot finisher.
This entry lists him as married but no wife is included in the listing for the lodging house. The trade of Boot Finisher is not written in as such but is ditto marks from the entry above and I have on occasion found this type of entry to be in error.
By 1901 Joseph's aged mother was still alive and living at 220 Chalk Close, Shoreditch. The household is listed as follows:
Henrietta Fleming aged 79 born Camberwell
Jessie Fleming aged 33 born Bethnal Green - Brace machinist
Henrietta Finch aged 25 born Bethnal Green - Cork factory
To date I have been unable to trace Joseph himself in the 1901 census data.