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Annie Farmer: more to it?

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  • Annie Farmer: more to it?

    What are opinions on the Farmer attack? I was interested in this from a Bury perspective, as I will discuss later, but putting aside my interest and bias towards Bury for a moment, there are definitely some points on interest.

    I think one of the most intriguing aspects is the time of the attack. Farmer seems to have been wandering the streets all night when she met her attacker about 7.30 am. He then treated her to several drinks and got her partly intoxicated. At his suggestion, they took a room, which he paid for. They took a double box room at about 8 and at around 9.30 Farmer said the man had tried to cut her throat. If this was a botched ripper attack, it raises the very real possibility that Caroline Maxwell was telling the truth/not mistaken, and the later ToD for Kelly could well be accurate, unlikely as it seems (IMO).

    The other interesting aspect of this case is the man’s description, given as a short and stout man (5.4-5.6), ~35 years old, respectably dressed with a mustache (some reports give it as slight and fair, others dark). More interesting is the Telegraph report from one of the witnesses:

    He wore a blue-black diagonal overcoat, speckled grey trousers, and a hard black felt hat. There was a white handkerchief round the throat’. Could the speckled grey trousers by called ‘salt and pepper’ as per Lawende’s ‘sailor’, as well as the neckerchief (although Lawende’s man’s was red)? Several of the witnesses say the man had an abscess/scar on the side or back of his neck. It crossed my mind as to whether Lawende’s man’s neckerchief was JtR’s touch of vanity to hide the scar.

    Another couple of points. The man was handy with his fists as during the pursuit, one man got so close that the man stopped, punched his pursuer and made off. Only one report states this, the rest say he was lost to sight in the chase. Also, there seems to be some sort of ‘horsey’ affinity. One report has Farmer stating she thought the man was a saddler, another states that as he left he struck a man with a whip (although most reports say he had nothing in his hands).

    As for Farmer’s injuries, they were not serious but hardly superficial. Reports have her standing in her chemise bleeding profusely and Bagster Phillips stitching her throat – other say he ‘dressed’ it. One witness who helped Farmer said the main wound was gaping. There were about 5 wounds in total. Although this level of botch seems incompatible with Kelly’s attacker, in reality the difference could be a matter of seconds. Some noise, disturbance, slip or fumble that allowed Farmer to react where Kelly didn’t.

    As for Bury, my main interest was that this attack comes just before he suddenly sells his horse and cart in early December. But he got clean away, so why would he cut and run? Perhaps it was this statement that was in every paper:

    ‘The following telegraphic communication has been circulated among the police:--"Wanted, for attempted murder, on the 21st inst., a man, aged 36 years, height 5ft. 6in., complexion dark, no whiskers, dark mustache. Dress: Black jacket, vest, and trousers, round black felt hat. Respectable appearance. Can be identified."

    The age, height (with hat and boots) and are right for Bury and the whip suggests transport using a horse. Farmer also stated that she knew the man 12 months previous and he ill used her. Abuse like this is definitely part of Bury’s known behaviour.

    My main conclusions are about the time – the later Kelly ToD looks possible. Also, the attack took place on a Thursday and their time together covered about 2 hours. To me, this would categorically rule Lechmere out (despite the whip).

  • #2
    Hi Aethulwulfe.

    I always thought a man named John Arnold fit this description to a "T". He was a newspaper vendor that frequented Whitechapel and had a drinking and gambling problem. Below is a brief description of Arnold.

    He was a young man, apparently between twenty-five and twenty-eight years of age. He was short, his height being about 5 ft. 4in. He was of medium build, and weighed about 140 lb. He was light-complexioned, had a small fair moustache and blue eyes. On his left cheek was an inflamed spot, which looked as if a boil had lately been there and was healing. He wore a dark coat and waistcoat. His shirt was not seen, the space at the throat being covered by a dirty white handkerchief tied about his neck. His trousers were dark velveteen, so soiled at the knees as to indicate that he blacked shoes. His hat was a round, black, stiff felt. He walked with a shuffle and spoke in the usual fashion of the developing citizens of Whitechapel, whom, in all respects, he resembled.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jerryd View Post
      Hi Aethulwulfe.

      I always thought a man named John Arnold fit this description to a "T". He was a newspaper vendor that frequented Whitechapel and had a drinking and gambling problem. Below is a brief description of Arnold.

      He was a young man, apparently between twenty-five and twenty-eight years of age. He was short, his height being about 5 ft. 4in. He was of medium build, and weighed about 140 lb. He was light-complexioned, had a small fair moustache and blue eyes. On his left cheek was an inflamed spot, which looked as if a boil had lately been there and was healing. He wore a dark coat and waistcoat. His shirt was not seen, the space at the throat being covered by a dirty white handkerchief tied about his neck. His trousers were dark velveteen, so soiled at the knees as to indicate that he blacked shoes. His hat was a round, black, stiff felt. He walked with a shuffle and spoke in the usual fashion of the developing citizens of Whitechapel, whom, in all respects, he resembled.
      That is interesting, certainly fits the description. My queries are:

      1 - Why do we know about this Arnold chap - was he suspected and is there any indication he was capable of the crime? Also, as a newspaper vendor that frequented Whitechapel I would have thought he would be quite easy to track down, but no one ever seems to have been arrested.

      2 - I'm not convinced a shuffling gait tallies with the attacker who seems to have made off at a fair lick being pursued by what seems like a gang of men, and stopping to dish out a beating.

      3 - Arnold sounds a bit scruffy and soiled and I'm not sure this sounds like Farmer's 'respectably dressed' man.

      One other thing I meant to mention in my original post is the choice of victim. After two close shaves with Stride and Eddowes, the ripper must have known the chances of continuing to get away with on the streets was slim, so he opted to go indoors. After Kelly, I can't imagine any woman with a private room in Whitechapel would be too willing to take a stranger home. So he seeks out someone he knows and would trust him (even if he did beat her previously). However, by failing to kill Farmer, if this man was the ripper, he has created a situation where a survivor and several witnesses in the heart of Whitechapel can definitely identify him. In this context, if we look at the next attack that people postulate could be the ripper (Mylett), it makes sense that it takes place far removed from the C5 locations where he could be identified.

      Overall, I think I've talked myself into believing Farmer's attacker was the ripper and Farmer was 1 or 2 seconds away from ending up like Kelly.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post

        That is interesting, certainly fits the description. My queries are:

        1 - Why do we know about this Arnold chap - was he suspected and is there any indication he was capable of the crime? Also, as a newspaper vendor that frequented Whitechapel I would have thought he would be quite easy to track down, but no one ever seems to have been arrested.

        2 - I'm not convinced a shuffling gait tallies with the attacker who seems to have made off at a fair lick being pursued by what seems like a gang of men, and stopping to dish out a beating.

        3 - Arnold sounds a bit scruffy and soiled and I'm not sure this sounds like Farmer's 'respectably dressed' man.

        One other thing I meant to mention in my original post is the choice of victim. After two close shaves with Stride and Eddowes, the ripper must have known the chances of continuing to get away with on the streets was slim, so he opted to go indoors. After Kelly, I can't imagine any woman with a private room in Whitechapel would be too willing to take a stranger home. So he seeks out someone he knows and would trust him (even if he did beat her previously). However, by failing to kill Farmer, if this man was the ripper, he has created a situation where a survivor and several witnesses in the heart of Whitechapel can definitely identify him. In this context, if we look at the next attack that people postulate could be the ripper (Mylett), it makes sense that it takes place far removed from the C5 locations where he could be identified.

        Overall, I think I've talked myself into believing Farmer's attacker was the ripper and Farmer was 1 or 2 seconds away from ending up like Kelly.
        He was tracked down, but during a different crime. He was the newspaper vendor that foretold of a body to be found in Backchurch Lane and stated his name was "John Cleary" during the Pinchin torso discovery in 1889.

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        • #5
          I think the whole Annie Farmer tale is a bit of a red herring. Clearly a robbery attempt or slight of hand trick gone wrong. Too many inconsistencies for it to be believable as anything else. Though I am convinced that were some abortive murder attempts made. Though unfortunately these were either not reported or written off as fanciful bit like the case in point. The whole my grandmother survived Jack the Ripper trying to kill her. Chances are one of those family legends or urban legends is actually true.
          Best Regards,

          Tristan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Losmandris View Post
            I think the whole Annie Farmer tale is a bit of a red herring. Clearly a robbery attempt or slight of hand trick gone wrong. Too many inconsistencies for it to be believable as anything else. Though I am convinced that were some abortive murder attempts made. Though unfortunately these were either not reported or written off as fanciful bit like the case in point. The whole my grandmother survived Jack the Ripper trying to kill her. Chances are one of those family legends or urban legends is actually true.
            You could well be right, but I think there are some good similarities of note:

            1-Age, height, build, dress of the attacker certainly a good match with other descriptions.
            2-Farmer was obviously in bed in some way when she was attacked as she is described as wearing a chemise when she raised the alarm. This is similar to Kelly.
            3-Prior to the attack, there was total silence - none of the many people in the lodging house heard anything. Similar to other attacks.
            4-Despite a major ruckus and pursuit, attacker somehow vanishes into thin air at a busy time of day. Reminiscent of the ripper's ability to seemingly vanish.
            5-I wonder if the money Farmer had on her was some variation of the 'shiny pennies' inducement?
            6-Attacker also described with a reddened face - blotchy or Wilson's 'sunburnt man'?

            As you say could be a red herring.

            For those that favour the Bury solution, I think this is the best bet as to why he sold his horse and cart shortly after, and probably abandoned Whitechapel, eventually leaving the area. The presence of a survivor and witnesses who could almost certainly ID him was too much of a risk.

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