|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
Samuel Augustus Barnett
Not considered a suspect at the time of the Whitechapel murders, suspicion has focused on him more recently. Barnett was an English clergyman and social reformer who spent his life preaching and working among the poor in the East End of London. He used music, nonbiblical readings and art to teach those with no education or religious leanings. He was particularly associated with the establishment in 1884 of the first university settlement, Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street, Whitechapel.
Toynbee Hall was founded in memory of Arnold Toynbee 1852-1881, the Balliol historian, and was the first university settlement for university men to live in close contact with their East End neighbours. Barnett was also instrumental in 1901 of founding the Whitechapel art gallery and the Whitechapel public library.
Born in Bristol on 8 February 1844 the son of Francis Augustus Barnett, an iron manufacturer, he was educated at Wadham College, Oxford. He then travelled to the United States and the following year was ordained to the curacy of St Mary's, Bryanston Square. He took priest orders in 1868 and became the rector at St Jude's Church, Whitechapel, in 1873. St Jude's had a notorious reputation for it's squalid and overcrowded housing, and the Barnett's worked hard to improve the conditions for the poor of the parish. That same year he married Henrietta Octavia 1851-1936, an English social reformer and philanthropist. At their first Sunday service his wife, of whom it was said could not sing a note in tune, led hymn, singing with gusto to a congregation of six old women.
Barnett wrote frequently to the press about the conditions in the East End, among his many complaints and suggestions were that street lighting and sanitation should be improved, the poor should treat their womenfolk better and that women should be stopped from stripping to the waist for fights. He also wanted the slaughterhouses removed because of the brutalizing effect it was having on the locals health and morals. Barnett believed in vigorous self help and made it plain that financial relief, often expected from the church, would not be forthcoming from him. He also believed in thrift and believed the poor should exercise better money management. He said of the murders, 'The murders were bound to come, generation could not follow generation in lawless intercourse, children could not be familiarized with scenes of degradation and the end of all be peace'.
He wrote Practicable Socialism in 1888 in conjunction with his wife, who wrote his autobiography in 1918, and in 1924 became Dame Commander of the British Empire. Samuel Augustus Barnett died at the age of 69 in 1913.
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