A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
On the morning of Annie Chapman's murder, 8th September 1888, a woman called Mrs. Fiddymont, described as the landlady of the Prince Albert public house in Brushfield Street, reported seeing a bloodstained man acting furtively in the bar of her establishment. For a lady with such an unusual surname she has proved to be remarkable elusive. Researchers, myself included have searched under all sorts of permutations - Fiddament, Fiddyman etc - without success.
I think I can now cast some light in this elusive lady. If my reading of the 1891 census data is correct then her real name was Emma Mounteney but she probably went under the name of Mrs Piddymont or Fiddymont.
In the census data for Brushfield Street, I found details for a public house referred to in 1891 as "The Market House", located at 65 Brushfield Street. The list of residents in that year is listed as follows:
Emma A Mounteney (Head) aged 47-Licensed Victualler Widow
Samuel Piddymont (Servant) aged 38 Manager Married
Jessie Brook (Niece) aged 18
Annie Ingram (Servant) aged 22 Barmaid
Edith Mitchell (Servant) aged 21 Housemaid
Hetty Sykes (Servant) aged 19 Barmaid
George Osborne (Servant) aged 21 Barman
Rose Wright (Servant) aged 17 Scullery Maid
David Lillie (Servant) aged 20 Potman
The very unusual nature of the manager's surname - Piddymont - and its striking similarity to the name we are looking for - Fiddymont - cannot be coincidence, even less so as both concern people running a public house in Brushfield Street! My best guess is that the widowed Mrs Mounteney may have posed as Mr Piddymont's common law wife or in the period 1888-1891 the actual Mrs. Piddymont was living with her husband in the public house.
However the plot thickens, as the name Piddymont in the original census data may indeed be a transcription error for Fiddymont. The place of birth for Samuel Piddymont (in Brushfield Street) is given as Norwich, Norfolk and in March 1876 the marriage of a Samuel Walter Fiddymont was registered at Yarmouth, Norfolk. The maiden name of his bride was either Hannah Riches or Edith Spaulding (the index list all partners for that day's entries). However I have traced Edith in the 1881 census as the wife of William West, the fourth entry on the marriage index. Therefore, by a process of elimination, Samuel Fiddymont's wife would be Hannah Maria Fiddymont (née Riches).
It would therefore be my guess that the Mrs Fiddymont mentioned in 1888 evidence was either Hannah Fiddymont whom I have still to trace in 1891 data, or, and in my opinion, more likely, Emma Mounteney as Samuel's common law wife.
I then managed to trace the three major characters in this domestic drama in the 1881 census data.
Emma Mounteney - is listed in 1881 as Elizabeth A Mounteney but the presence of a niece of the family name Brook (as in 1891) and place of birth make this identification pretty certain:
298 Compton Buildings, London
Elizabeth A Mounteney (Head) aged 34 born Westminster - Waistcoat Maker
Ellen M Brook (Sister) aged 31 born Fulham - Waistcoat Maker
Edith Brook (Niece) aged 17 born Kingston - Waistcoat Maker
Ellen E Brook (Niece) aged 9 born Kensington
Mable C Brook (Niece) aged 3 born St Pancras.
His marriage details give his names as Samuel Walter - in the 1881 census these are reversed (not unknown!) and details are as follows:
51 Station Street, Norwich, Norfolk
James Tuller (Head) aged 55 born Coleby, Norfolk - Carriage maker
Ellen Tuller (Daughter) aged 10 born Stratford, Essex
Walter S Fiddymont (Boarder) aged 28 born Norwich, Norfolk - Carpenter
Hannah Fiddymont - I surmised above that Samuel had married Hannah Maria Riches.
I found Hannah Fiddymont living with her family, the Riches and described as a Carpenter's wife, which fits from both angles:
5 Alfred Terrace, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
John Riches (Head) aged 55 born Catfield, Norfolk - Commission Agent
Emily Riches (Wife) aged 57 born Barton Turf, Norfolk
John M Riches (Son) aged 20 born Catfield, Norfolk - Butcher
Hannah Fiddymont (Daughter) aged 22 born Catfield, Norfolk - Carpenter's Wife
Agnes O Fiddymont (Grand daughter) aged 4 born Catfield, Norfolk
Alfred Fiddymont (Grandson) aged 3 born Ludham, Norfolk
Ethel Fiddymont (Grand daughter) aged 1 born Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
The one missing link is still finding Hannah Fiddymont in the 1891 data but I think we can say with certainty now that the Samuel Piddymont in the 1891 Brushfield St return should definitely be Samuel Fiddymont.