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An Account of Deemings Career

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    Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Deeming, Frederick Bailey > An Account of Deeming's Career

    View Full Version : An Account of Deeming's Career

    3rd October 2007, 08:04 PM
    I will be posting in parts the fullest account I have found to date of Frederick Deeming's past. This was published in the New York Times on 23 May 1892. I will be typing this up to go in the Press Reports. Bear with the multiple parts but this is a very long article.

    Part 1

    3rd October 2007, 08:06 PM
    Here is Part 2

    3rd October 2007, 08:08 PM
    Here is Part 3

    3rd October 2007, 08:10 PM
    Here is Part 4

    3rd October 2007, 08:11 PM
    Here is Part 5

    3rd October 2007, 08:14 PM
    Here is Part 6

    3rd October 2007, 08:16 PM
    Here is Part 7

    3rd October 2007, 08:18 PM
    Here is Part 8

    3rd October 2007, 08:21 PM
    Here is Part 9

    3rd October 2007, 08:23 PM
    Here is Part 10

    3rd October 2007, 08:24 PM
    Here is Part 11

    3rd October 2007, 08:26 PM
    Here is Part 12

    3rd October 2007, 08:28 PM
    Here is Part 13

    3rd October 2007, 08:29 PM
    Here is Part 14

    3rd October 2007, 08:31 PM
    Here is part 15 - the last one

    3rd October 2007, 08:32 PM
    Phew!! That's all, folks!

    4th October 2007, 11:09 AM
    Wow, Theres some interesting stuff on here. I looked into Deemings links with Hull a while back but reached a lot of dead ends due to material being destroyed.
    Thanks again Chris
    Regards Mike

    21st November 2007, 09:43 PM
    Well done Chris,
    Thanks for rescuing that rivetting account from the obscurity of a trans-Atlantic archive.
    The writing was wonderful. Incisive, descriptive and exciting.
    Reminds me of the Steve White account in the PEOPLE'S JOURNAL (Dundee).
    Whilst the author of the Deeming article did not indulge in wrongful ' was-Deeming-JTR? ' sensationalism, it is possible to see how his harmless, incidental mention of a suggested link, burnt in the half-closed minds of contemporary readers and was then resurrected years later.
    Keep up the grand work Chris.You have nothing to fear from digitisation!

    22nd November 2007, 02:05 AM
    I would advise the interested Deemingians out there to read A MOST UNIQUE RUFFIAN: THE TRIAL OF F.B.DEEMING, MELBOURNE, 1892 by J. S. O'Sullivan (Melbourne: F. W. CHeshire Publishing, Ltd., 1968), which is the best book I ever read about Frederick Deeming.

    I hope more details do turn up about his possible connection to Hull, although I doubt he'd ever know D'Onston Stevenson.


    22nd November 2007, 03:14 PM
    Hi guys
    Im glad the posts were of use
    The transcription, which will be going in the Press Reports section, is below

    New York Times
    23 May 1892
    Deeming was in many respects the greatest criminal in the century's police history. It is difficult to say under how many aliases he has operated, or how many murders he has committed. While he is credited by some English newspapers with being "Jack the Ripper," there is, as yet, no direct proof that he was the man, nor is it ever likely to be proved.
    To follow up the movements of Deeming, alias Lawson, alias Williams, would be difficult indeed; still with this object in view the writer called upon a brother of the murderer, living in very neat and comfortable apartments at 55 Canning Street, Birkenhead, a city which bears the same relation to Liverpool as Brooklyn does to New York, being separated by the River Mersey and accessible by ferry. There were three brothers, James, Albert, and Frederick, the latter being the murderer. Frederick and Albert married sisters, and it was the sister of the woman murdered in Rainhill who told the writer the facts as far as she knew relating to Frederick Deeming.
    The father of Deeming was the late Mr. Edward Deeming, a whitesmith, who for many years was a respected resident of Birkenhead. Frederick early showed a desire to roam about the world, and ran away from home and went to sea as the steward of a sailing vessel. According to his story, when he returned home he had visited nearly every country on the globe. This was in 1880. He appeared to be well to do, and gave out that he was a mining engineer, successfully engaged in opening up mines in the Ballarat district of Australia. He spent a year at various English seaside resorts, notably Blackpool, Morecambe, and Scarborough, with periodical visits to London.
    On some of these excursions he was accompanied by Miss Marie James, a sister of his brother's wife. She was then assistant in a fishmonger's market. He turned the young lady's head with a lavish display of money, and in February, 1881, he married her in St. Paul's Church, Tranmere. The marriage was though to be a happy one, and many a girl envied the fishmonger's assistant.
    About two months after the marriage Deeming suddenly announced his intention of returning to Australia, and apparently did so, saying that he would soon send for his wife. This he did, and she left for Melbourne in August. It was learned later, however, that neither she nor Deeming went to Melbourne. When next heard from they were in Cape Town, South Africa, where Mrs. Deeming wrote to friends saying that Deeming was very prosperous, making a deal of money in mining ventures, but no explanation of why they had not gone to Melbourne was offered.
    From a Mr. Ellis, a private detective, who in 1889 had been instructed by a solicitor to make inquiries as to the whereabouts of a man named Frederick B. Deeming, something of his doings in South Africa has been obtained. The solicitor was acting on behalf of two important Cape and Australian merchants who had been victimized in the following manner:
    Early in 1889 Deeming appeared at Durban, representing himself as a mining engineer about to proceed to Johannesburg to take up some concessions and open out what he described as one of the finest mining properties in the world. This land, according to Deeming, was a perfect El Dorado, and would make enormous fortunes for all who were associated with it. He succeeded in worming his way into the confidence of a gentleman in Durban named Wilson, and so impressed him with his story that Mr. Wilson was induced to advance £600 to enable him to begin operations.
    Having obtained this money, Deeming, with the aid of a confederate, who has since disappeared, set about a greater swindle. They went to Cape Town, where they remained a few days, and then Deeming started for Johannesburg. On arrival there he put up at the best hotel, and, on Mr. Wilson's money, lived in most lavish fashion, and by his affability and liberal expenditure soon gained the acquaintance of a number of the residents. Among those whom he honored with his particular intimacy was a jeweler named Ansell and a Mining Secretary named Grice.
    Deeming had in his possession at this time a number of deeds purporting to refer to grants of property and mining rights over a large tract of country in South Africa, and these he showed to Messrs. Grice and Ansell, telling them that he was about to develop this property. and making the most generous promises to them as to what he would do when the enormous wealth which he talked of was realized. In June, 1889, Deeming intimated that he wanted money, some to send home to his family and the remainder to help in developing his mining schemes, and Grice readily introduced him to his banker, who agreed to advance £3,500 upon the bogus deeds and Grice's personal security. The bank manager asked for references and Deeming, being evidently prepared for this, with cool audacity gave the name of a well known Cape Town banker at an address in Cape Town. To this address the manager wired and received a most satisfactory reply in the name of the banker. This reply, as it afterward was found, had been sent by the confederate Deeming had left behind him in Cape Town.
    The deeds were deposited, Grice signed the guarantee, and Deeming received the £3,500. In the meantime, however, he had not been idle, but had made very good use of his friendship with Ansell, from whom he had purchased jewelry to the amount of £420. Ansell, knowing that the £3,500 was being obtained from the bank, and payment being promised as soon as the cash was received, readily allowed him to have whatever he required.
    A few days afterward Deeming disappeared, and the Mining Secretary and jeweler, having their suspicions aroused, proceeded to make an investigation, when they discovered that all they had in the shape of security for nearly £4,000 was a bundle of worthless deeds, two boxes, and some articles of wearing apparel. It was also discovered that the confederate, with whom Deeming had been in regular communication at Cape Town, had vanished, and though a warrant was issued for the arrest of the principal actor in the daring plot, it could not be executed, for Deeming was out of the jurisdiction of the Transvaal Republic. The bank authorities, finding that the deeds deposited with them were of no value, called upon Grice to make good his guarantee, which he did, and was ruined thereby.
    Inquiries disclosed that Deeming had travelled by a circuitous route to England, arriving at Birkenhead in September 1889.
    At Birkenhead the Deeming’s hired a house, furnished it in almost luxurious style, and here was born the youngest child, a girl, named Marie, after her mother, and one of the children murdered by her father in Rainhill. During their stay in Birkenhead Deeming appeared restless, and many times he announced his intention of returning to Cape Town and resuming his mining operations. It was while working upon his schemes, which he told his wife required his being in London a greater part of his time, that he visited Hull, and there, under the alias of Harry Lawson, made love to and finally, in February 1890, married a Miss Matheson, the daughter of a well connected widow who carried on a stationery and fancy goods business in Beverly, near Hull.
    In this case Deeming represented himself as a rich Australian cattle owner, and told glowing yarns about his broad acres and his thousands of cattle, sheep, and horses. The young woman, who, by the way, is remarkably handsome, packed up her belongings preparatory to going to settle down upon the broad acres, when her dream of wealth was rudely shattered, for her husband deserted her in the course of their honeymoon, leaving her penniless in a costly suite of rooms in a hotel in Hull, the rent for which had not been paid for two weeks.
    She then discovered that he had bought a quantity of jewelry in Hull, paying for it with a check for £150 which, when presented for payment, came back endorsed, "not good, funds withdrawn." It was said that Deeming took away quite a large sum of money belonging to Miss Matheson.
    Warrants for his arrest were procured, and in April he was found in Montevideo, arrested, and taken back to Hull. In October he was convicted and sentenced to nine months' hard labor. While he was serving his time in prison it was learned that he had a wife and family living in Birkenhead. Miss Matheson then proceeded to prosecute him for bigamy, but, by the extradition laws of Uruguay, a criminal can only be tried for the offense with which he is charged when first taken into custody and, therefore, Miss Matheson was prevented from imprisoning Deeming. Had she been able to do so it would have prevented the murders which have since been laid at Deeming's door.
    Deeming left Hull Prison June 15 1891, and after remaining a few days in the town trying to meet Miss Matheson left for Birkenhead. There he acknowledged to his wife that he had married Miss Matheson in Hull, and asked his wife that in case the subject was brought up to deny that she was his wife. This the wife, after consulting her sister, refused to do, and Deeming again periodically absented himself, this time, however, carrying on his villainous operations nearer home. His wife learned that he had taken a house in Rainhill, and after various bickerings with him when he visited his Birkenhead establishment, she took her children and went to the Rainhill house, from which she never returned.
    The writer visited Rainhill, a small town about ten miles from Liverpool, on the line of the London and Northwestern Railway, on Wednesday, March 16 last, and found the usually quiet village in a state almost verging on insanity, owing to the awful discoveries made by the police of wholesale murder. The circumstances which led to this ghastly discovery show that the world is a small affair nowadays.
    The week before the cable had announced the discovery in Windsor, a suburb of Melbourne, of the body of a woman buried in cement under the fireplace in one of the rooms of a house which had been rented by a man named Williams. It was learned that Williams and the woman came from Rainhill. The police inquiries disclosed the fact that the woman found murdered in Australia was a Miss Mather, the daughter of a woman who kept a stationery shop in Rainhill, and who married a man named Williams some time last September.
    Then it became known that Williams had rented a house of Mrs. Mather and had cemented the floor. This reminded a gardener that he had seen a woman and children about the place and that they had mysteriously disappeared. This set the local authorities to thinking that there possibly might be some connection between the two cemented floors, and upon investigation this was found true.
    The writer called upon Mrs. Mather, the other of the woman found murdered in Australia, and found her bowed down with grief over the untimely death of her daughter. From her it was learned that a rather good looking man arrived in Rainhill on July 5 and registered at the leading public house as Col. A.O. Williams, an Inspector of Regiments. He said that he would thereafter make Rainhill his headquarters, and desired a suitable house, which he said would be occupied part of the time by him and part of the time by an old gentleman, his friend, Baron Brooks by name.
    Mrs. Mather was the agent for a house known as Dinham Villa, Lawton Road. This house seemed to suit Mr. Williams, and during the negotiations tending to its rental he became acquainted with Miss Mather and subsequently married her.
    At this time Deeming was preparing in his own mind a scheme for doing away with this family. His wife being so hot upon the track, he had determined to take their lives to free himself from what he considered an encumbrance.
    Soon after the occupancy of the house by Williams, a lady and four children called upon him, and on subsequent occasions they went and took luncheon. He explained to Miss Mather that it was his sister and her children. After their disappearance he said they had gone to Port Said to meet her husband. Williams went away to London for two weeks and then returned, wearing regimentals and cutting quite a dash, apparently well supplied with money. He gave some very creditable entertainments to some of the residents and was voted an acquisition to society. At one of his dinners he announced his engagement to Miss Mather, which created a sensation. They were married late in September, early enough to catch the 8:30 a.m. train for London en route to Australia. Mrs. Mather received several letters from different points saying that they were happy. These ceased entirely, and the next news that the anxious mother had was the cable news of the awful fate of her daughter and the arrest of her husband.
    The fact being known that Williams, now known as Deeming, had cemented the kitchen of Dinham Villa led to the investigation and discovery of the bodies of five victims. Upon the day when Williams's identity became known in Rainhill, the Inspector of Police, accompanied by two policemen and armed with pickaxes, entered the kitchen of the empty house. They began work by raising the hearthstone and picking away the cement from beneath it. This was very laborious, as the cement here was of excellent quality, much better than the remainder of the floor. It looked as if a deep trench or hold had been dug in the floor and several barrels of unadulterated cement, hard as concrete, had been poured into the hole.
    The two constables persevered and finally brought to light the corner of a white table cloth and part of a checked gingham apron. A few moments' work uncovered the bodies of two little children. They were lying face downward, with arms and legs doubled up. The bodies were covered only by a night gown. The heads were tied up tightly in a cloth, evidently a woman's skirt torn in two. The first body taken out was that of a boy five years old. When the wrapping was removed from the head, it was found to have been pounded to a pulp on top, and the throat cut, nearly severing the head from the body.
    The body of a seven year old girl was next taken out, and found to be horribly mutilated about the head and throat.
    Another hour's work in the concrete mass brought to light a felt house slipper, and the outline of the woman. Beginning at the woman's head, the constables found a rope sticking up through the cement. This was found to tied around the woman's neck. Finally the woman's body was exhumed. The rope was cut off, both end even, as though the woman had been hanged and cut down. The body was wrapped up in a new quilt wound around with a rope. She was fully dressed except one foot, from which the shoe and stocking were missing. Her apparel was of fine quality and new. Her throat was also cut.
    While digging this body out, the constables came upon the bodies of baby girl lying at her feet and a girl ten years old lying by her side. They were fully dressed, but had evidently been strangled.
    The work of burying his victims had been proceeded with by Deeming in a systematic manner. When he had placed the bodies in the trench, he had poured in the cement, and then placed the flagging over them, and on top of this had spread six inches of cement. Had it not been for the accidental discovery of the Australian murder, the woman and four children might have lain in cement forever.
    Person who know Deeming describe him as a man appearing to be anywhere from thirty five to fifty years old, rather flashy looking, with a supercilious air - in fact, a man who had an excellent opinion of himself.
    Very few reliable facts concerning Deeming's doings in various parts of the world have been gathered, as his letters were infrequent and vague. He was a notorious liar and therefore his yarns told in England do not figure in his history.
    Melbourne, April 23.
    If ever living man was predestined gallows meat it is the keen, calculating scoundrel who is proved already to have been guilty of the Windsor and Rainhill atrocities, and is believed by all who have become closely associated with him - including the detectives who have worked up his case in all its bearings - to be answerable for at least a portion of the crimes committed by "Jack the Ripper."
    Whether Deeming and that mysterious monster are identical will probably never be known unless the prisoner, after his inevitable conviction, makes a full confession of his criminal life. This, in view of his vain, boastful character, he is expected to do, and it may even be that, before this letter reaches its destination, the cable will have flashed across two oceans the inmost details of his history. Unless all opinions regarding the man are at fault, he will not fail to leave the world amid the greatest sensation that he can prepare for it, although the cautious reticence that he has displayed continuously since his arrest will prompt him to withhold his revelations until he actually sees the hangman's noose dangling before his eyes.
    Meanwhile, while waiting for Deeming's confession, many circumstances are coming to light which give strength to the hypothesis that he is the author of the Whitechapel butcheries. In the first place, his wife, whose mangled body was found beneath the Windsor hearthstone, was often heard, both during the voyage from England and in Melbourne, to address him as "Jack." This circumstance, slight in itself, is given some significance by the fact that never, so far as his various aliases are known, was the name of "John" or "Jack" used by him, and it is probable that the appellation employed by his wife was a pet name that was applied at his suggestion, as appealing to that morbid condition of mind which he now constantly evinces. To his grim humor the use by his wife in affection of the name by which he was known to the world as the most mysterious and fearsome criminal of the age would appear as the most subtle pleasantry, and one who has seen him can imagine how he gloated upon the secret which was suggested to him whenever the work "Jack" fell from the lips of his doomed and unsuspecting companion.
    Another point which strongly confirms the theory of Deeming's identity with "Jack the Ripper" is this, which has been kept from the public, but has been made known to me by the highest authority. It has been long believed by medical men and others who have studied into the peculiarities of the Whitechapel murders and their attendant mutilations that the deeds were committed by some one who had not only a more than common knowledge of anatomy, but who was also suffering from disorders contracted among the unfortunate class in which all the victims were found, and that the murderer took these means to revenge himself for his affliction. A medical examination made of Deeming in the jail a few days ago reveals the fact that he is suffering from serious symptoms of evidently long standing, while the autopsy on the body of "Mrs. Williams" shows that her throat was so skilfully cut that although the windpipe was not lacerated, all the arteries and blood vessels on both sides of the neck were completely severed. No ordinary, bungling murderer could, it is believed, have inflicted the fatal wounds with such intelligent accuracy, and every attendant circumstance tends to show that they were caused - as in the case of the Whitechapel victims - by surgical knives wielded by a skilled and practiced hand.
    Among Deeming's effects have been found a small but strong and keen silver plated axe, or tomahawk, with an iron hammer head opposite the blade, and a singular long bladed knife, with which weapons, it was at first believed, the Windsor murder was committed. It has been proved that the fracture of the skull - which evidently preceded the cutting of the throat - could have been inflicted by the axe in question. The comparative dullness of the knife blade, however, has puzzled the doctors in their effort to associate it with the keen, deep cuts in the throat, and it was noticed by many during the inquest that at the display of this weapon as the probable instrument of death Deeming manifested a grim, chuckling amusement, as one who should say to himself, "Well, you are quite off the trail there, at all events."
    Since the inquest, however, a very striking circumstance has come to light. Messrs. Ward, cutlers of Swanston Street, state that about the 18th of December a man, whom they positively identify as the prisoner now awaiting trial for the Windsor murder, came into their shop and bought a pair of nail scissors. They particularly noticed him because his arrogant manners and profuse display of diamond jewelry, and also observed that he was accompanied by a woman of sad expression and quiet manners, who seemed to be afraid of him.
    Two or three days afterward he came in again with a pair of surgical dissecting knives, which he wanted cleaned and sharpened. Each had a pointed blade about four or five inches long, and was fitted with a cross barred handle. They were badly stained, and in some parts bore actual cakes and clots of hardened and coagulated blood. The cutler drew attention to their condition, where upon the customer replied, "That's not blood. The stains are caused by lemon juice. The knives have been used during a sea voyage to cut fruit with." Although this was a palpable lie, the cutler took the knives, and handed them to a workman to put in order. The man who received them was so struck with their appearance that he made the remark, "My word! These knives have seen some work. They seem regular Jack the Rippers."
    Deeming left the shop after directing that when the knives were cleaned they should have a keen edge put upon them, and on the following day returned and carried them away. The next day after this is the one upon which the murder is believed to have been committed. The knives have since disappeared - a fact which seems to add force to the theory that they are the weapons by which the unfortunate Emily Williams met her death. There may be some connection between Deeming's possession of these instruments and the semi scientific mutilations of the Whitechapel victims; and the belief is gaining ground in official quarters that the murders of which Deeming is now known to the author, (at Rainhill and at Windsor,) and that of Miss Rounsfell, his Bathurst fiancée, for which he was undoubtedly preparing when arrested, are the same in kind as those committed in Whitechapel - being attributable to a debased and horrible view of the sexual relationship, which has been developed by morbid imaginings, and, perhaps, by a brain affected by a disease caused by excesses, until it had become a species of monomania.
    As significant of his intentions concerning Miss Rounsfell - whom, it will be remembered, he met on the steamer from Melbourne to Sydney, and accompanied to her home in Bathurst, where he became engaged to her after less than a week's acquaintance - a fact may be remembered which has not yet appeared in print. It has been stated that, after securing a house for her at the Southern Cross gold fields, he procured two barrels of cement, and used a portion of it to prepare a floor in one of the rooms.
    It is not generally known, however, that he sent to Freemantle, some seventy miles away, for this material, and was so eager to get it that he had it sent to Southern Cross by special carrier, which so augmented the cost that the price he finally had to pay for the two barrels was £18, or nearly $90. Only some more than ordinary emergency can explain this action, and had it not been for the mere accident that Deeming, in burying his wife at Windsor, left so little room about the body that the expansion of the gases of decomposition forced up the hearthstone, Miss Rounsfell herself would by this time, in all probability, be encased in the floor of the Southern Cross cottage, while her murderer, with changed name, would be seeking other victims in some other part of the globe.
    Other collateral circumstances give color to the belief in his murderous intentions toward Miss Rounsfell. When he first reached Fraser's gold mine, where he had the extraordinary luck to be engaged at once as engineer at a salary of £6 per week, with promise of an increase to £8 if he gave satisfaction, he found the machinery in such condition that it could run only eighteen hours without the necessity of stopping and cleaning it, by which a third of each day was lost. In a short time he had so improved it that it ran continuously for a week, and increased the usual output of gold by some twenty to twenty five ounces. The second week, however, the yield fell off some eight ounces, and, although this excited no suspicion at the time, it is now believed that Deeming (or "Baron Swanston" as he then called himself,) diverted the difference to his own uses. Color is given to this suspicion by the fact that he says in one of his letters to Miss Rounsfell that he could easily make £3 a week above his salary, and there is every reason to suppose that he was from the first deliberately laying his plans to secure enough money to escape from Western Australia whenever he chose to do so.
    Believers in the Nemesis which follows the criminal with steps that may seem laggard, but are still inexorable and sure, may find much material to confirm their opinion in Deeming's history during the last three months. If he is the wholesale malefactor that indications show him to be - guilty of swindles without number, robberies of gigantic proportions, bigamies two or three, murders in England, Africa, and Australia - his long immunity from detection, or even suspicion, acts as a foil to the swift and unhesitating discovery which has now brought him in sight of the hangman.

  • #2
    His very experience of sagacity or luck has, however, been his undoing. Had he but taken the simple precaution of paying in advance for the house in Windsor for three months instead of one, the hearthstone, lifted from its setting by the gases of decay, would have fallen into place again and given no hint of the ghastly secret beneath it. Had he immediately fled the country, the probabilities are that he would never been detected; had he not met Miss Rounsfell, or had he restrained himself from courting her, he would not have made the fatal error of going to Western Australia. It was in accordance with her suggestion, that Western Australia was a new colony, and promising as a place of residence for a man of her lover's abilities, that he set out for that region - under the circumstances, the last place in the world to which he should have gone. For Western Australia, being the last in which the English penal establishments flourished, is today largely populated by a class of half reformed convicts, upon whom the most efficient body of police in the colonies keeps a careful eye. Incomers and outgoers are scrupulously observed, and until the legitimacy of his purpose is established, the visitor is subjected to a system of espionage of which we must search in Russia itself for a parallel. When the identity of the Windsor murderer was established, and his taking boat for Western Australia known, his apprehension was certain, and he had no more chance of escaping than a rat in a trap.
    His arrest was fully in keeping with the dramatic character of his entire history. The policeman who captured him walked into his house at Southern Cross and laid his hand upon his shoulder at the very moment what he was reading the announcement of the Windsor murder in a Melbourne paper that had just arrived. He turned around to the constable with undisturbed demeanor and said, pointing to the paper: "I suppose that is what you want me for." "Yes," said the officer. "I know nothing about it," said deeming, "and to the best of my recollection was never in Windsor in my life."
    The impeturbable coolness of the man has been maintained, almost without a moment's wavering, from that time until the present. Only once during his long journey to Melbourne - and that at York, where the train that carried him was nearly upset by the rush of an angry crowd, who loudly declared their intention of tearing him to pieces between two bullock teams, and would undoubtedly have carried it out had it not been for a display of force by the large body of police which accompanied him - did he show any marked apprehension.
    On board the Ballaarat, from Albany to Melbourne, he was quite unconcerned, and showed one of the singular inconsistencies of his character by rebukes of the large contingent of marines on board for the sinfulness of the profanity in which they were prone to indulge. It is remarked by all who have come in contact with him that he is particularly scrupulous in the avoidance of any improprieties of language, and Miss Rounsfell has informed me that the chief thing which impressed her in his favor was the deference of his association with her, which caused her to regard him less as an impassioned lover than as a wise and considerate brother. He gently reproved her for the fondness of dancing to which she confessed, and remarked that his observation of the pastime has showed him that, although innocent in itself, it was apt to lead to light views of life and duty, and that he should wish his wife to have no desire for it.
    In point of fact, a copybook of the old style could not more bristle with moral apothegms than did the conversation of this consummate scoundrel with the woman whom, he must even then have intended to ruin and kill - and Miss Rounsfell’s talk with me about him has had the effect of adding the last touch of horrible grotesqueness to the picture I have formed in my mind from observation of him in the Coroner's court, and from information that has been given me by those who have come most closely in contact with him.
    It is unnecessary to go into a detailed account of the inquest, from the evidence of which any justice would find enough reason to don the black cap and consign the miscreant to the gallows without further formality. A more complete and formidable indictment was never made against mortal man, and the crowded courtroom listened with a breathless attention that was the least impressive feature of the whole affair.
    Every step of the murderer was uncovered with fatal clearness, and even those who had most closely followed the published history of the crime and its detection were appalled at the bright light that was shed upon what was apparently at first a secret and tortuous pathway. Never perhaps in the history of crime was a charge sheeted home more convincingly. The murderer was shown coming on board the Kaiser Wilhelm II at Southampton, voyaging to the colonies with his wife and pet canary bird, landing at Melbourne and putting up at the Federal Coffee Palace, renting the house in Andrew Street, ordering cement and building tools before his victim came into it, transferring his luggage and canary bird to his new domicile, smoking and feeding the bird on the veranda, and escorting a woman from the house of an evening en route for the theatre. He was shown digging sand in the yard, and afterward heard laying bricks within; getting his effects way from the house in a cart which he himself drove; selling them by auction - canary and building tools included - in a shop which he had rented; cheating a jeweler out of diamond rings and brooches, and lodging at a Melbourne hotel while these things were going forward. His taking a holiday trip to Sale, in Gippsland - this before the auctioning of his effects, since he then had the canary with him as compagnon de voyage - where he makes himself conspicuous by his braggart demeanor; going by steamer to Sydney without entering his name in the passenger list, evidently with the intention of covering his tracks prior to departure for America, but losing sight of his purpose in his new passion for Miss Rounsfell; meeting in the streets of Sydney, while in her company, one of his old shipmates on the Kaiser Wilhelm, and thus connecting beyond doubt the identity of "Baron Swanston" with that of "Albert Williams;" his returning secretly to Melbourne with a ticket for Western Australia, taken out in Sydney, and taking boat therewith to Freemantle, after leaving the record of his presence in Victoria on the books of the steamship company - all these and many other details accounting for almost every hour of his stay in the colonies and weaving together a web of circumstantial evidence which shows how weak and foolish are the cunningest devices of man against the clear eyed inexorableness of fate.
    When it is remembered that all or nearly all of this evidence was totally unknown to Deeming until he heard it in court, and that he must have been wholly unprepared to meet a prosecution that was absolutely flawless and without room for cavil and doubt, his bearing before the Coroner's jury must be regarded as one of the finest exhibitions of nerve that has ever been seen. As witness followed witness, to the number of some thirty odd, and all, in unbroken unanimity, pointed at him as the man with whom they had had various dealings in this stern affair, it was impossible not to look at him as standing in the light of one at the bar of the Last Judgment, when all the most secret things of life are brought to view.
    The prince of devils himself could not have seemed more callous and indifferent. His muscular, broad shouldered figure did not shrink even when the most compromising evidence was turned upon him; his evil, magnetic, steely eyes glistened like those of the basilisk above the disdainful lips that were drawn in a sardonic grin, and the strength and inflexibility of purpose which was shown in his projecting, ironlike jaw was repeated in his general bearing and in all the features of a face which seemed set like a flint against the tempest of accusation that lightened and thundered about his head.
    He must have known before the first day was over that his doom was already written, but during all the awful hours that followed he never once lost his self control nor relaxed from his cynical and contemptuous attitude. No detail of the evidence, no feature of his surroundings, escaped him, and his constant scintillations of grim humor added a lurid light to the oppressive and fateful proceedings.
    "Here comes the menagerie," he remarked, as the canary was brought in its cage. "Why doesn't the band play?" Of a reporter who was plying his pen near him he said that "he wrote like a hen," and of an inaudible witness remarked: "Why doesn't he speak up? He's got no more voice then a consumptive shrimp." He ogled the women in the gallery, and expressed the opinion that one of them was "a naughty girl," and declared that Miss Rounsfell was worth in looks the whole of the assembled female audience.
    When the verdict of "Wilful murder" was returned, the Coroner remarked that he should make out a warrant for his committal to take trial at the next session of the Criminal Court.
    "Then," cried Deeming, in a shrill, strident cackling sort of voice, "you can put it in your pipe and smoke it."
    At this, the crowd, which had hitherto commendably refrained from any manifestation of feeling, broke our into hisses and groans, and in the midst of it the murderer was seized by two constables and hustled out to his cell. At the doorway stood a young woman looking at the miscreant with horror stricken eyes. Deeming, passing near her, made a dash in her direction and chuckled her under the chin. "Oh, you duckie!" he exclaimed and vanished. It was a characteristic exit, an appropriate last farewell to the sex that has been the cause of his undoing.
    That Deeming is insane on points of sexuality and murder is probably true, and that he has no moral sense or conscience is not an improbable supposition with any one who has studied him. Of his responsibility and knowledge of what he is doing there is still less question, and if he is not hanged for the deterrent effect his execution may have upon others, he is sure to be on his own account, as a devil incarnate, a wild beast, who has no place in human society.

    22nd November 2007, 05:00 PM
    More great material for Deeming.
    He visited The Royal Station Hotel which was also visited by Queen Victoria, Albert Edward and Albert Victor. Each put forward previously as suspects.
    I enquired at the Hotel if they had put something in the tea there
    Deeming also defrauded a jewellers on Whitefriargate (RDS was in employement at the customs house down here albeit many years earlier) The building is now a Shoe shop called Shue.
    Deeming also spent a short while at Hull Prison because of this.

    Coincidently the hotel was severley damaged in a fire many years ago and the paperwork for the pasts visitors was destroyed.

    And i still have the letter from Hull Prison stating they only hold ldocuments for 7 years , might post it on here later.

    30th January 2008, 09:48 PM
    Yesterday I was able to visit the Hull City Archives and had a look through the 1890 Magistrate Papers were I found Deeming, using his alias Harry Lawson.
    It wasn't a massive file but more an entry in the Quarterly Magistrate Book!

    I will post full details at some point although most of it is common knowledge.

    I also managed to get some reports from the Hull Newspapers which covered Deeming's Arrest in Australia, and his trial.

    I also managed to get some maps from the period of several locations he had connections with here in Hull.

    With the help of a couple of Trade Directories for the period I located several people and businesses that Deeming had connections with whilst in Hull.

    I am also in weekly contact with a possible descendant of Deeming who has been sending me her own snippets of info on the notorious murderer.

    Regards Mike

    31st January 2008, 01:14 AM
    does queens place and st pauls church still exist, if so will gladly take photies
    If no-one knows if they dont exist will try to find them both if anyone is interested, as I live in Tranmere.

    2nd February 2008, 07:42 PM
    Hi Doormat, I know all the place that Deeming had links with in Hull are still here albeit looking a little different.

    Reynoldsons Jewellers is now Shue, a shoe shop!

    Royal Station Hotel is the Quality Royal Hotel and hasn't changed much.

    Spring Bank is still there, I am still trying to pinpoint the actual house were he had his photo taken.

    The mens clothes shop on Carr Lane exists albeit as a womans clothes shop.
    Hull Jail is still there albeit slightly bigger than in Deeming's day.

    Not sure about the other areas away from Hull though,

    Regards Mike

    3rd February 2008, 09:14 PM
    Hi Mcebe,

    I'm just curious - is the area of Rainhill, near Liverpool anything like it was in 1891 - 92? I imagine that it must look different from the time that Deeming murdered Maria and the children there, but I wonder how different.

    There is an account of the recovery of the bodies of Maria and the four kids that Guy B. H. Logan wrote in one of his books, which is fascinating because Logan appears to have been in the crowd watching the police dig up that kitchen floor and remove the remains. Oddly enough, Logan spoiled the account by saying it happened in 1893!

    By the way, I look up criminals on FIND A GRAVE, and found, among others, Dr. Crippen, George Joseph Smith, and George Chapman (also Chester Gillette, Dr. John White Webster, and John Wilkes Booth - and Florence Ricardo and Florence Maybrick). Montague Druitt is on FInd A Grave. I looked up Frederick Deeming, and found one on a military monument in Belgium from World War I - his parents (I think) are "Mad Fred"'s brother and sister-in-law, and this soldier his nephew and namesake!


    4th February 2008, 12:52 PM
    I Jeff,

    I am from Hull and have never been up to Rainhill, but I imagine not a lot has changed, at least I hope it hasn't.

    Here is the best site for all thing's Deeming,

    It has loads of documents online, photo's and articles.

    Regards Mike

    5th February 2008, 06:00 AM
    Hi Mcebe,

    As you mentioned in passing a while back, you are in a good position to look into D'Onston Stevenson's career in Hull.


    6th February 2008, 10:29 AM
    Hi Jeff,

    In terms of Robert D'Onston Stephenson I am able to nip into the city archives and local studies library which are about 15 minutes away. I am also close to a lot of the locations associated with him and his family.

    I even visited Islington archives to see if i could find any info on the last years of Robert D'Onston Stephenson's life but came away with maps etc.

    I visited the archives recently and got some great stuff on Deeming (he was using the alias Lawson at the time) including his magistrates report on him defrauding a jewellers!!

    I also have vip access Royal Station Hotel were Deeming stayed.


    9th February 2008, 07:32 AM
    The difficulties about Deeming is the scope of his travels mean that potential source material is in Australia, Africa, South America (Uruguay) and England.
    Which is why every new study on his career is always somewhat fascinating.

    I wish there was more material about D'Onston's career or association with Stead. That is of interest to me.

    Best wishes,


    9th February 2008, 11:43 AM
    Morning Jeff,

    You will remember that Black Magic Rituals had a three page chronology on RDS, mine currently stands at about 100 pages with over 1000 entries!!

    I have friends in Australia who are helping me with that aspect of Deeming's life and they have sent me some stuff already.
    The lady who sends it is married to a Deeming, who may possibly related to Frederick Bailey Deeming!!

    I also contacted the Uraguay consul but they said they had no records on either Deeming or RDS brother Richard who was the Uraguay rep here in Hull.

    I am in the next few days attempting to create a chronology for Deeming, I shall see what I can dig up!!


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    Its a pity Chris's excellent work hasen't come out.but still some good info.