There is, in the 1881 census, a 23-year-old Mary Kelly, (born in Whitechapel) recorded as being a pauper in the Whitechapel Union Infirmary. Obviously the age is about 5 years out - unless she told Barnett she was younger than she really was, but the woman concerned lists her occupation as "Prostitute", which is refreshingly honest, if nothing else.
I know that Mary Kelly was used as an alias (by Eddowes anyway), but might the only true thing she said about herself have been her name? How ironic would that be?
Apologies. I did try to upload the relevant image, but it exceeded the size limit for a jpeg.
Last edited by Bridewell : 04-11-2012 at 12:44 AM.
I've mulled it this over, and I have to say that I don't think Mary would have had much motive to pretend to be Irish if she wasn't. It simply wouldn’t have been to her advantage socially or economically. There wasn't any glamor attached to being Irish in those days.
19th C. Irish immigrants in London lived in an atmosphere of prejudice, just as they did in America. During the Irish Diaspora that followed the Great Famine, anti-Irish hatred was fomented due to a volatile combination of racial, religious, and economic prejudice, just as it was for the Jews. The prevailing attitude was reflected in the familiar “Irish Need Not Apply” signs.
When I read 19th C. sources, I find that highly prejudicial phrases such as "a woman of the low Irish type" occur again and again. Popular cartoons of the day (including some famously associated with the Ripper case, such as those from Punch) depict the Irish as possessed of grotesquely brutish and apelike features with low foreheads, meant to convey their intellectual and cultural inferiority. They were usually depicted dressed in rags, and either swigging a bottle of booze, engaged in criminal activity, or both. Irish women were commonly characterized as immodest and destitute alcoholics with a swarm of ragged and starving children.
While people of genuine Irish descent continued to take pride in their heritage despite the hard times, there wouldn’t have been much incentive for a local English girl to have “posed” as an Irish immigrant by faking an Irish name and accent, much less to have posed as an Irish Catholic one. (Remember, Mary was buried as a Catholic.)
Mary Jane Kelly seemed to have had an affinity for ‘better things’, with her snow-white apron, her tales of visiting France, her reputation for being “much superior” to others, and her use of the elegantly French-accented “Jeanette”. If Mary wasn’t truly Irish and proud of her heritage, I can’t think of any motive for her pretending to be an Irish Catholic immigrant in 1880’s London. She could have made up a much more glamorous origin for herself.
In regards to Audrey Hepburn and her accent, she was born in Belgium yes, but her father was Scots-Irish and probably started her on learning English when she was very young, or spoke English to her and perhaps Gaelic to for all we know.
As for Mary Kelly from the 1880 census, well, perhaps she was already living in Whitechaple by this date and lied about where she was born on the Census because she didn't want to appear Irish or lied to Barnett, but Archaic makes a good point, folkes tended to down play their Irish ancestory if they had any? I know around 1880 Mary was supposedly married to Davis but perhaps that had already happened earlier then is generally is thought. She could of left Whitechaple for a while too or have just been visiting? Just some theories for you all to mule over. However Mary could of have been older then she claimed to be.