A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Before the ghastly nom de plume "Jack the Ripper" first appeared and became current, the killer of the East End was known in the press by various names - the Whitechapel Fiend, the Whitechapel murderer, the Monster and, most bizarrely of all, Leather Apron. The creature known as Leather Apron was a repulsive mixture of an anti Semitic caricature, a pantomime villain and a demon in human form.
He was repellent in appearance, trod noiselessly, threatened violence to women and always wore the signature garment that gave him his name. The leather apron was a very practical and hardwearing protective garment and must have been worn by those who followed a number of trades in Whitechapel at the time. However this article of clothing was most closely associated with those trades, which were concerned with the making and repairing of shoes.
The figure of Leather Apron as described in the press was certainly a mythical character, concocted from a potent mix of semi hysteria and the desire for notoriety. It was definitely a story, which grew in the telling. Leather Apron, or some figure very much like him, may have been current in the area as a sort of local bogeyman and been drummed into service as a custom made focus for fears and frissons about the killings. The one real person most closely identified with Leather Apron is John Pizer (q.v.) who denied he was known by the name but was taken into custody and, when it became apparent that he no connection with the killings, was allowed to appear in the inquest proceedings to give an account of himself to clear his name.
However, an account was found recently which gives the name of another man who was allegedly known as Leather Apron. This information was contained in an article in The News of the World dated 21st October 1900:
A JACK THE RIPPER SUSPECT DEAD
The death has just occurred in the East-End of London of Julius Lipman, nicknamed "Leather Apron", a cobbler, who in 1889 fell under suspicion of being "Jack the Ripper." He satisfied the police of his innocence, but the stigma never left him. His business gradually disappeared, and he went to another neighbourhood, where he took to drink. He died of neglect and semi-starvation.
That is the only information that extensive searches of newspaper archives have so far revealed.
His name was actually spelt Julius Lippman and he was born in 1861. Therefore at the time of the Whitechapel he would have been 27 years old and 39 years old at the time of his death. Lippman was born in Birmingham (or Germany) and first appears in the 1881 census:
Dwelling: 3 Richmond Street, Newcastle on Tyne All Saints, Northumberland
Born 1861 in Birmingham, Warwickshire.
Head of household: Mark Kinsler aged 49 born Poland - Slipper manufacturer
Rebecca Kinsler aged 56 born Poland
Ezekiel aged 23 - Slipper maker
Abraham aged 17 - Slipper maker
Celia aged 15
Raphael aged 25
All children listed as born in Birmingham
Lippman's marriage was registered in March 1887 when he married Esther Berkson in Sunderland.
In the 1891 census Lippman was living in Sunderland and his birthplace is given as Germany:
Address: 11 High Street, Sunderland, Durham
Julius Lippman aged 29 born Germany (British subject) - Slipper maker
Esther Lippman aged 27 born Russia (British subject)
Marcus aged 3 born Durham
Jacob aged 1 born Newcastle
Annie Bergson (Servant) aged 11 born Russia (British subject)
Nicholas Waite aged 19 (Boarder) born Durham - Labourer
And that is all the data has to offer about Lippman. There is no evidence whatever of any connection with London, let alone the East End. So how he came to die of neglect in 1900 in the East End, and why no surviving other press account so far seen makes any reference to him, remain currently unknown.