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Charles Lechmere and the Curious Case of Henry John Holland

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  • Charles Lechmere and the Curious Case of Henry John Holland

    The Curious Case of Henry John Holland.

    Much is being made of Charles Allen Cross (birthname Lechmere) “concealing” his address from the coroner’s inquest. As has been stated many times, Star, in their coverage, did publish Lechmere’s address, but it is nonetheless argued that there is “strong evidence” that Lechmere didn’t give it, as Star wat the only paper to do so, and all other newspapers failed to record it—which, it is argued, they certainly would have done had he given it in open court.

    With this in mind, let’s turn to Henry John Holland, a witness at the Chapman inquest held on September 12th 1888. Wynne Baxter was in charge-- the same coroner in the Nichols inquest--so we can be confident that he followed similar protocols. Holland has been mentioned before, as an example of someone whose address was not given, but I think it is worthwhile to study him at greater length, because there is a surprise ending, of sorts.

    So, without further adieu, here’s how Henry John Holland’s deposition was recorded in the London papers. The following are all direct quotes.

    1. Morning Advertiser:
    Henry John Holland called and examined. -I passed Hanbury-street on the morning of Saturday last, on my way to work, at ten minutes past six o'clock. I was passing No. 29. An elderly man, named P. Davies, I think, came out, and said there was someone lying in his back yard…

    2. Daily Telegraph:
    Henry John Holland, a boxmaker, stated: As I was passing 29, Hanbury-street, on my way to work in Chiswell-street, at about eight minutes past six on Saturday. I spoke to two of Bayley's men. An elderly man came out of the house and asked us to have a look in his back yard…

    3. Evening Standard:
    Henry John Holland said - I passed Hanbury street on the morning of Saturday, on my way to work, at ten minutes past six o'clock. I was passing No. 29. An elderly man, named Davies, came out, and said there was some one lying in the back yard…

    4. East London Observer:
    Henry John Holland - a thin, sickly-looking youth, with straw-coloured hair - who, clad in a rusty-black suit and a red neckerchief, stood, hat in hand, and half frightened, before the coroner, gave merely formal evidence as to seeing the body.

    5. East London Advertiser:
    The only other evidence given was that of Henry John Holland, and the proceedings, after lasting some three hours, were adjourned until the following day, Thursday.

    6. Daily News:
    Henry J. Holland testified that he was one of the persons who saw the deceased lying dead in the yard behind 29, Hanbury-street. He went into the yard, but did not touch the body. Then he went for a policeman, whom he found in Spitalfields Market.

    7. The Eastern Post:
    Henry J. Holland testified that he was one of the persons who saw the deceased lying dead in the yard behind 29, Hanbury Street. He went into the yard, but did not touch the body. Then he went for a policeman, whom he found in Spitalfields Market

    8. Echo: covers the inquest but does not mention Holland’s deposition at all.

    9. North London News:
    Henry John Holland, called and examined: I passed Hanbury-street on the morning of Saturday last on way to work at ten minutes past six ...

    10. Reynold’s Newspaper:
    Henry John Holland, called and examined : I passed Haubury-street on tie morning of Saturday last on my way to work at ten minutes past ...

    * * * * *
    Observations, along with a curious development.

    Note that some papers gave certain details, but left out others, as we would fully expect when faced with different journalists. For instance, only the ELO gave a physical description of Holland, while only the Daily Telegraph mentions that he worked on Chiswell Street.

    Further, not one of these reporters gave Holland’s address, or even the parish where he lived. All but one (The Daily Telegraph) also failed to mention his occupation. Echo didn’t mention Holland at all. Two newspapers didn’t give his full-middle name, John, abbreviating it as ‘J,’ though it is obvious that Holland must have given it, since the other journalists recorded it.

    Now for the punch line.

    Let’s turn to our last London newspaper, The Times, and see how they covered Holland’s deposition.


    "Henry John Holland, 4 Aden-yard, Mile-end-road, stated that on Saturday morning he was passing along Hanbury-street on his way to his work in Chiswell-street. It was about eight minutes past 6 when he passed No. 29. He saw an elderly man come out of the house, and said, "Come and look in the back yard". Witness went through the passage and saw the deceased lying in the yard just by the back door…"



    Click image for larger version  Name:	Henry John Holland.JPG Views:	0 Size:	16.7 KB ID:	772143


    Thus, EXACTLY as we see in the deposition of Charles Cross, only one London newspaper gave Henry John Holland’s address. Just as only the Star gave Lechmere's. (For the most part, with a few exceptions, the address of all the other witnesses at the various sittings of the Chapman inquest were identified).

    With this in mind, the questions I would pose to Christer Holmgren and his fellow Lechmere theorists are simple.

    Are we to believe, based on the above, that Holland took pains to “conceal” his address from the inquest? And if so, should he be considered suspicious? Or was it simply a matter that he did give it—as reported by The Times—and the other journalist either didn’t catch it, or simply got lazy in their reporting since it was of little significance?

    And should we put the blame Holland, or was it really a very simple matter of individual journalists making different decisions about what to report? And if we concede that Holland did not conceal his address, why can’t this also explain what we see with Lechmere?

    In short, let's keep it real.


    All the best,

    R P

    P.S. Before anyone goes hunting, as far as I have been able to determine, only two other papers, The Hampshire Advertiser and the little-known The Sussex Agriculture Express (both of 15 September) also gave Holland’s address, but it is clear that these distant parochial papers di not have reporters at the Chapman inquest, but were simply reprinting The Times’ coverage of two days earlier.

    PPS. It might also be noted that Henry John Holland, as in the Buck's Row murder, ran off to find a constable and had a Robert Paul moment: Holland had trouble getting a constable willing to go to Hanbury Street, and he would even file a complaint with the police. Henry was evidently ignorant that their were 'fixed point' constables that were instructed not to leave their posts.
    Last edited by rjpalmer; 10-28-2021, 04:54 PM.

  • #2
    Devastating!


    What a great post!



    The Baron

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, The Times made a particular effort to record the addresses of witnesses. When they omitted them, there must have been a reason for their so doing.

      I wonder what the reason was in Lechmere’s case?



      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
        Yes, The Times made a particular effort to record the addresses of witnesses. When they omitted them, there must have been a reason for their so doing.

        I wonder what the reason was in Lechmere’s case?
        Looks to me like The Times, having royally bolloxed up its reporting of the Nichols inquest with mention of some nonexistent entity called 'George Cross' [LOL!] -- and no bleedin' address, either -- had told its reporters that they had to up their game and, in future, get the important details from the guy on the desk ... just as the hack from The Star had previously done, in order to make sure he had everything straight before his paper's early afternoon deadline...

        M.
        Last edited by Mark J D; 10-28-2021, 07:17 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Year after year we hear it screamed:

          "But Lechmere was just a man who discovered a body!"

          Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
          Are we to believe, based on the above, that Holland took pains to “conceal” his address from the inquest? And if so, should he be considered suspicious?
          Shall I go first...?

          "But Holland was just a man who didn't discover a body!"

          M.

          Comment


          • #6
            Great post RJ.
            Stand by for a fish slap!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
              Yes, The Times made a particular effort to record the addresses of witnesses. When they omitted them, there must have been a reason for their so doing.

              I wonder what the reason was in Lechmere’s case?
              Guess you're trying for guilt by innuendo.

              Standard procedure was for all witnesses at an inquest to publicly state their address. The only way to avoid doing so was with the approval of the coroner and even then they still had to give their address to the coroner. It was also an unusual step that the Times typically noted.

              "George Hancock, who objected to his private address being made public, and wrote it down for the benefit of the Coroner, said he was a carpenter." -20 November 1888 Times.

              "Beatrice Williams, who objected to her address being publicly known, stated she was a widow." -20 November 1888 Times.

              The only way Charles Lechmere could have avoided giving his address in open court is if he publicly objected and the coroner approved. While that's not impossible, the far more likely answer is that Lechmere gave his address, but most of the newspapers didn't bother recording it.

              The Times appears to have been above average at recording addresses, but whoever they sent on the day that Charles Lechmere testified made a lot of errors. The article claimed Lechmer left home "at 20 minutes past 3", instead of the correct 30 minutes past 3. It botched his first name, recording it as George. And it omitted the house number for the next witness mentioned - William Nichols.

              At the Chapman Inquest, the Times omitted the address for "Fontaina Smith". What do you think was their reason for omitting Smith's address?

              At the Eddowes inquest, the Times omitted the full address for Frederick William Wilkinson. What do you think was their reason for omitting Wilkinson's full address?

              At the Eddowes inquest, the Times omitted the address for George James Morris. What do you think was their reason for omitting Morris' address?






              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fiver View Post

                Guess you're trying for guilt by innuendo.

                Standard procedure was for all witnesses at an inquest to publicly state their address. The only way to avoid doing so was with the approval of the coroner and even then they still had to give their address to the coroner. It was also an unusual step that the Times typically noted.

                "George Hancock, who objected to his private address being made public, and wrote it down for the benefit of the Coroner, said he was a carpenter." -20 November 1888 Times.

                "Beatrice Williams, who objected to her address being publicly known, stated she was a widow." -20 November 1888 Times.

                The only way Charles Lechmere could have avoided giving his address in open court is if he publicly objected and the coroner approved. While that's not impossible, the far more likely answer is that Lechmere gave his address, but most of the newspapers didn't bother recording it.

                The Times appears to have been above average at recording addresses, but whoever they sent on the day that Charles Lechmere testified made a lot of errors. The article claimed Lechmer left home "at 20 minutes past 3", instead of the correct 30 minutes past 3. It botched his first name, recording it as George. And it omitted the house number for the next witness mentioned - William Nichols.

                At the Chapman Inquest, the Times omitted the address for "Fontaina Smith". What do you think was their reason for omitting Smith's address?

                At the Eddowes inquest, the Times omitted the full address for Frederick William Wilkinson. What do you think was their reason for omitting Wilkinson's full address?

                At the Eddowes inquest, the Times omitted the address for George James Morris. What do you think was their reason for omitting Morris' address?

                They also omitted the address of Thomas Eade.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mark J D View Post
                  Shall I go first...?

                  "But Holland was just a man who didn't discover a body!"

                  M.
                  Nichols was the dead woman's estranged husband.

                  Morris was a night watchman with an open door facing the murder scene who somehow heard and saw nothing.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fiver View Post
                    At the Chapman Inquest, the Times omitted the address for "Fontaina Smith". What do you think was their reason for omitting Smith's address?
                    Do you mind if I answer that? I’ll give you the official, indisputable answer, but let’s start with some background:

                    The following information was posted some years ago by the always sensible Chris Phillips, but it’s worth repeating: the Coroner was required to record the witness’s name, abode, and occupation. The pattern we see in the 1888 inquest coverage is not random. It was the standard procedure.

                    The following comes under the heading “Coroner’s Court – Practice” in Richard Clarke Sewell’s A Treatise on the Law of Cororner.



                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Procedure.JPG Views:	0 Size:	43.8 KB ID:	772181


                    When this was uploaded some years ago, this was Fisherman’s response:

                    Originally posted by Fisherman View Post

                    Yes, it is SUPPOSED do be done - but there are examples when people omitted it. Fontain Smith is seemingly such an example.

                    Why would all the papers have omitted his specific address if he gave it...?


                    So, as you say, let’s look at Fontain Smith, shall we?

                    Fisherman is correct that no coverage of the Chapman inquest gave his address. Here’s some examples:


                    St. James Gazette: The first witness called was Mr. Fontain Smith, a printer's warehouseman, who deposed that, having seen the body in the mortuary, he recognised it as that of his eldest sister…

                    The Evening Standard: Mr. Fontaine Smith, a printer's warehouseman, said - I have seen the body in the mortuary and recognise it as that of my eldest sister, Annie…

                    The Daily Telegraph: Fontain Smith, printer's warehouseman, stated: I have seen the body in the mortuary, and recognise it as that of my eldest sister, Annie, the widow of John Chapman, who lived at Windsor, a coachman…

                    Similar accounts can be found in The Times, The East London Observer, etc.

                    But, please note: not only do they fail to give his address, they also offer no explanation as to why they did not give it. Had you been reading The Daily Telegraph all those years ago, you wouldn’t have any explanation whatsoever. It would indeed look as if Smith simply failed to give it when asked by the coroner.

                    Yet, as luck would have it, we have a rare instance where some newspapers took time to explain the omission.

                    And it’s nothing sinister: Smith simply had trouble projecting his voice! The acoustics were bad. His larynx was weak. There was a shuffle of papers, etc. Who knows, except that he couldn't speak in a loudly enough that the journalists could hear it.


                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Fontain Smith.JPG Views:	0 Size:	74.0 KB ID:	772182


                    Fontain Smith "gave his address inaudibly."

                    Thus, Fisherman’s suggestion that Fountain Smith simply failed to give his address has not aged well. He did give it; the journalists just couldn’t tell what he had said, and so they didn’t record it.

                    Equally important, most papers didn’t even bother to explain why they didn’t record it!
                    Last edited by rjpalmer; 10-28-2021, 08:26 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mark J D View Post

                      Looks to me like The Times, having royally bolloxed up its reporting of the Nichols inquest with mention of some nonexistent entity called 'George Cross' [LOL!] -- and no bleedin' address, either -- had told its reporters that they had to up their game and, in future...
                      Ah, excellent. So they quickly figured out that there was no such person. Did they notify Inspector Helson? Did Pickford & Co?
                      Last edited by rjpalmer; 10-28-2021, 08:45 PM. Reason: whoops. wrong division.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In the Eddowes case, it’s interesting to compare the Times reporting of the witnesses’ evidence as given in court to the written statements signed by the witnesses.

                        Morris’s address, for example, is missing from both the Times report and the court document.

                        Times: George James Morris, the next witness called, said he was watchman at Messrs. Kearley and Tonge’s, tea merchants, in Mitre Square…

                        Statement: George James Morris Watchman to Messrs. Kearley and Tonge, Wholesale Grocers in Mitre Square…

                        According to Evans and Skinner, the differences between the statements and the Times accounts may have arisen because the statements were the ‘initial evidence’ of the witnesses.

                        In the cases of Fountain Smith and Wilkinson, their full addresses do appear in the statements, but were clearly not picked up by the journalists in court. What does all this mean - that their names were given twice, once as part of their initial statements and then again for public performance from the witness stand? If so, the coroner’s duty to record their abodes may have been satisfied by the information given in the initial statement and repeating it before the jury and assembled public may not have been crucial.

                        That said, it does appear that Morris may have avoided giving his home address altogether. And if he could skip both, CAL could surely have got away with one.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
                          Yes, The Times made a particular effort to record the addresses of witnesses. When they omitted them, there must have been a reason for their so doing.

                          I wonder what the reason was in Lechmere’s case?


                          This rather side-steps the issue at hand.

                          If he didn't give it in court, how was is that The Times managed to record Henry John Holland's address, when nobody else did?

                          More more needs to be done, but let me hazard a guess. I wonder if it isn't the same old culprit: weak voices and bad acoustics.

                          I'm failing to find any Aden-Yard, Mile-End Road on the Goad maps, nor any mention of it in census reports, etc.

                          There is, however, a No. 4 Hayfield-yard, Mile End Road.

                          Did the sickly young man say 'afield-yard' and no one knew what he said and so left it off? And The Times made a rather bad stab at it, recording is as Aden-yard?

                          I don't know, but the 'Robert Bauls' and 'George Crosses' along with the inaudible Fontain Smith tells me that the Working Lad's Institute was no Royal Albert Hall when it came to acoustics.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                            Ah, excellent. So they quickly figured out that there was no such person.
                            No. They quickly figured out that they -- 'the newspaper of record' -- had been left *hanging out to dry* by a reporter, secretary or typesetter who perpetrated a Christian name that appeared in no other paper.

                            M.
                            Last edited by Mark J D; 10-28-2021, 10:28 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
                              That said, it does appear that Morris may have avoided giving his home address altogether. And if he could skip both, CAL could surely have got away with one.
                              Ah, but George Morris was an ex-copper, some 22 years in the force (he retired in T Division in the early 1880s), and if you notice, the home addresses of policemen are frequently omitted during the inquest. I'm guessing, but I think this is very possibly a courtesy to the police, who may not want any unpleasant home visits from people they've nicked in the past.

                              A more interesting example is Eliza Gold. Her address is not given in the 'official' Eddowes inquest records, but is recorded in The Times, The Daily News, etc., which rather puts doubt on the commonplace observation by Ripperologists that 'official' records are always more reliable than what is printed in the press.

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