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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Stephenson, Robert Donston

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  #1  
Old 02-17-2008, 12:03 AM
Mike Covell Mike Covell is offline
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Default Ruling out Stephenson as a suspect

In January 2008 despite ill health i made a trip to London to visit both the Islington Archives and Royal London Hospital Archives.

Here are some notes on the discoveries I made,

Robert D'Onston Stephenson went to the hospital on his own accord, this is established in the register under a referal section which is left blank if no one (such as a Dr) has sent you. (1)

Robert D'Onston Stephenson was at the Hospital without the approval of a hospital governor. This is ascertained by the "With or Without Ticket" heading on his admission and discharge papers. (2)

Davis ward was a private ward, in the sense that four beds were partitioned off from the rest of the wards, there is no record of anyone else staying with him in that room. (3)

To gain admittance to the hospital he had to attend a pre admission meeting, if succesful he could gain entrance, which we know he did. (4)

Curry ward was a ward with about 20 beds in. (5)

Both wards were on the 3rd floor, and at nights the gates were locked. The only way in was through the lodge at the front, or for emergancies. (6)

The gates stand at around 7ft high!!! (7)

There are no daily records in existance before 1900!!!
From 1900 they are on microfilm but are not massive documents, they are similar to the registers stating when the patient was admitted and when they were discharged. More detailed documents didn't come into play for a some time after Robert D'Onston Stephenson was in the care of the Hospital. (8)

There are yearly review books but these covered finances and not individual patients. Other information recorded was the names of Wards and how big they were, names of those who donated, names of those who left money to the hospital in their last will and testament. (9)

There were meeting minutes, covering 1888, 1889 with some notes regarding patients, but alas No Robert D'Onston Stephenson. (10)

There is also no mention of there being an investigation into Dr Davis activities during this period. (11)

Islington,
There were No entries for either Stephenson in the Trade Directories, putting to rest the fiction about him Robert D'Onston Stephenson being a DR!! (12)

There are no entries in the Burgess Rolls for either of the Stephenson brothers. (13)

I got some maps of Hollingsworth Road North, and it is almost slum like, the archivist told me that these houses were the lowest class. I will post these maps up later. Much of this area was destroyed in the slum clearance and the blitz, the spot were Robert D'Onston Stephenson lived is now a childrens park. (14)

Gibson Square were Richard Stephenson Jnr resided is however a large, gardened property, in a High Class district!! Gibson Square still stands and is part of a Conservation Scheme. (15)

I also got a map of the Islington Workhouse were Robert D'Onston Stephenson was reported in the 1901 Census, the place no longer exists and is now private housing. (16)

I will post the transcribed register entries in full with explainations for each field later.
I will also post maps and photo's later.


All the best

Mike

1, 1888 and 1889 Patients Registers
2, 1888 and 1889 Patients Registers
3, 1888 and 1889 London Hospital Yearly Review Books
4, 1888 and 1889 Patients Registers
5, 1888 and 1889 London Hospital Yearly Review Books
6, Maps of London Hospital, and conversation with Archivist Jonathan Evans
7, This is evident in several pictures of the hospital and even today
8, I asked to search these records and Jonathan Evans told me they did not exist during that period
9, 1888 and 1889 London Hospital Yearly Review Books
10, Minutes of Meeting's Book covering 1888-1894
11, Minutes of Meeting's Book covering 1888-1894
12, I searched from 1870 to 1912
13, I searched from 1870 to 1912
14, Hollingsworth Map showing location now and then.
15, Gibson Square map, showing location past and present.
16, Islington Map, showing location of Workhouse, cross referenced with modern map of the same location.
Entrance was granted via a caretaker at the front of the hospital who lived in the lodge, he granted access to Staff and emergancies.

This obviously poses a problem as RDS was a patient and would not have had the authority to enter or leave.

The yearbooks show that the hospital was under fiancial strain, now if RDs was given a pass to enter and leave, surely he would be discharged altogether, to save the hospital finacially.
It is also of note that patients suffering were sent to convelescant homes again to free the hospital of finacial burden.

One entry in the Yearbooks made me sit up and take note and regarded the length of time that patients are to stay, and the least time in hospital the better. Only serious cases are to stay under the watchful eye of the staff.
RDS was there for 134 days, befire being discharged as "Relieved" and not "Cured" as the 1889 register states.

Although no maps of the upper floors of the hospital are in exsistance there is a ground floor plan in the 1889 yearbook stating the size and location of both Davis and Curry Ward.

Jonathan Evans also mentioned that the Hospital was locked down at night for several reasons.
Theft was an issue,
The Homeless entering the hospital was an issue,
Patients escaping, especially those of an unstable manner were an issue.

1888 patient register transcripts
Date July 26th
General Nos 1146
Without Ticket 5
With Ticket -
Name Roslyn Stephenson
Address Cricketers Inn, Brighton, Black Lion (illegible)
Age 47
Status M
Occupation Journalist
Recommended By -
Physchian Sutton
Ward Currie (which is crossed out) Davis (which is written over the top)
Neurasthenia
Discharge Dec 7 88
Condition Relieved



Notes on the above
With/Without ticket is a classification made by the hospital governors.
If they send a patient to the hospital they are sent With a Ticket.
Therefore RDS was not reffered to the hospital by a governor.
It also helps if the patient see's a governor so they may back up his/her claim of illness.

The Recommended by field has entries on other patients of Doctors who have reffered this candidate to hospital, as RDS does not have one it appears he went to the hospital on his own accord and not through the regular avenue of a Dr.

Red Ink is fairly common in the registers, there were several entries with Red Ink alterations, and it was also used under the column for those who had died whilst in care.

The classifications under status fall into only two catagories,
Married------M
Single-------S
There is no U for unmarried in any of the registers entries (I looked at every male entry for both 1888 and 1889!!)

As mentioned earlier both Davis and Curry are third floor wards.

1889 patient register transcripts
Date May 13th
General Nos 713
Without Ticket 2
With Ticket -
Name Roslyn D'Onston
Address Burdell Cottage, Burdell Rd, Mile End
Age 50
Status S
Occupation Author
Recommended By -
Physchian Sutton
Ward Davis
Chloralism
Discharge July 25th 89
Condition Cured



Notes on the above
With/Without ticket is a classification made by the hospital governors.
If they send a patient to the hospital they are sent With a Ticket.
Therefore RDS was not reffered to the hospital by a governor.
It also helps if the patient see's a governor so they may back up his/her claim of illness.

The Recommended by field has entries on other patients of Doctors who have reffered this candidate to hospital, as RDS does not have one it appears he went to the hospital on his own accord and not through the regular avenue of a Dr.

The classifications under status fall into only two catagories,
Married------M
Single-------S
There is no U for unmarried in any of the registers entries (I looked at every male entry for both 1888 and 1889!!)
Between 1888 and 1889 RDS has become unmarried.

As mentioned earlier both Davis and Curry are third floor wards.

Notes from annual reports 1888/89
Davis Ward is named after william and John Davis, who were father and son and listed as VP's. The naming took place in 1870, and consisted of 4 small wards for men, each consisting of 4 beds.

Currie Ward is named after Leonard Currie and Sir Edmund Hay Currie, who were again father and son and listed as VP's. The naming took place in 1870 and the ward consisted of around 20 beds.

5 Physicians and 5 Surgeons have charge of the patients, ward nurses and sisters are also present, but usually move around no no specific number could be given.

The 1889 Annual report stated that DR Sutton visited his inpatients every Monday and Wednsday.

Cost per bed for 1888/1889 was listed as
Cost per bed per year was listed at £68, 15S and 4D

There was also a Classified Return of Results of Inspection carried out on Patients who stayed over a set period of usually 1 month.
Severe patients were usually expected to stay at least 2 months.

The information regarding the ward locations and floor they were situated on can be found in the book,
London Hospital Illustrated 250 Years, Claire Daunton, 1990.
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2008, 09:19 AM
Jdombrowski89 Jdombrowski89 is offline
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Mike,

Seeing these notes as well as hearing them on the first episode of Rippercast were quite impressive as well as very interesting. I faintly remembered D'Onston being listed as a suspect in the documentary Jack The Ripper: The Phantom Of Death, and they listed him as a very high suspect because he was "located at London Hospital within range of the murders". And other than that I've heard of him from time to time as far as suspects go but he never seemed like a very interesting suspect to me and from the stories you and Howard were telling it made him even more interesting only of course to find out it was near impossible for D'Onston to leave the hospital to commit the crimes and come back with the illness he had. Props to you!

Regards,
Justin
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They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. - Edgar Allan Poe
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  #3  
Old 02-17-2008, 12:26 PM
Mike Covell Mike Covell is offline
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Hi Justin, Stephenson led a very intresting life, his writings would have us believe they were even more intresting, but he was a good story teller!

His works can be found on the dissertations and he wrote several articles at the time of the murders.

I have him as a crime enthusiast, story teller and drunk.

He will never be any more than that, but he is worth looking at.

Mike
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:46 PM
auspirograph auspirograph is offline
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Default Correction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Covell View Post
In January 2008 despite ill health i made a trip to London to visit both the Islington Archives and Royal London Hospital Archives.

Here are some notes on the discoveries I made,

Robert D'Onston Stephenson went to the hospital on his own accord, this is established in the register under a referal section which is left blank if no one (such as a Dr) has sent you. (1)

Robert D'Onston Stephenson was at the Hospital without the approval of a hospital governor. This is ascertained by the "With or Without Ticket" heading on his admission and discharge papers. (2)

Davis ward was a private ward, in the sense that four beds were partitioned off from the rest of the wards, there is no record of anyone else staying with him in that room. (3)

To gain admittance to the hospital he had to attend a pre admission meeting, if succesful he could gain entrance, which we know he did. (4)

Curry ward was a ward with about 20 beds in. (5)

The gates stand at around 7ft high!!! (7)

Notes on the above
With/Without ticket is a classification made by the hospital governors.
If they send a patient to the hospital they are sent With a Ticket.
Therefore RDS was not reffered to the hospital by a governor.
It also helps if the patient see's a governor so they may back up his/her claim of illness.

The Recommended by field has entries on other patients of Doctors who have reffered this candidate to hospital, as RDS does not have one it appears he went to the hospital on his own accord and not through the regular avenue of a Dr.
Mike,

As much as it is admirable that you have done your own research, I hate to break it to you that by now claiming to have ruled out Stephenson as a suspect is the equivalent in Ripperology of having re-invented the wheel. It has been generally known for some time that D'Onston could not have been the Ripper in the field. So your 'discoveries' are not new and it would say a lot for your integrity if you were to at least be aware of and acknowledge the efforts of past researchers.

The London Hospital registers for D'Onston were first published in 2002 by Ivor Edwards and as I had also researched them for an article, had shown in September 2006 that these versions were altered by ommision of essential details in a suspect based book. I still have the dated emails with the archivist at the London Hospital to prove that.

As did Mr Edwards, you also have failed to note the reference numbers for the registers which of course are the vital statistics for further research. The reference numbers for D'Onston's stay at the London Hospital during the Whitechapel murders for anyone wishing to enquire further are:
1888 LH/M/1/16
1889 LH/M/1/17


Two further points I would like to comment on are your mention of D'Onston's referal tickets and his stay in Curry and Davis wards.

I feel it is misleading to state that "To gain admittance to the hospital he had to attend a pre admission meeting", as this tells us nothing of a medical condition that would have allowed him to be admitted. This is important as the nature and extent of his ailment is a considerable factor in his suggested abilities to have committed the murders, and which Chris George has addressed in a past article.

From my notes with the Hospital the archivist stated that Without ticket number "implies that the patient did not have a letter of referral (ticket) from a governor of the London Hospital but rather had been admitted via the hospital's Receiving Room on the authority of the medical officer who saw him in that department". Clearly this confirms that D'Onston had a medical condition that enabled his long stay at the Hospital, a central fact to his inability to have been the Ripper already established. The issue of security at the Hospital has always been secondary as with some British ingenuity D'Onston could have found a way out if he was well and determined enough.

It is also misleading to say that "Davis ward was a private ward, in the sense that four beds were partitioned off from the rest of the wards" without specifying when his transfer had taken place from the larger Curry ward or elaborating on what is meant by 'private ward' in comparison to D'Onston's police statement of 26 December 1888. Certainly D'Onston understood it as you have as a small ward but private wards were not introduced at the London Hospital until the 1930's. I had posted the results of my research in September 2006 that D'Onston was transferred from Curry to Davis wards after 16 October 1888 and before his discharge as "relieved", that is against medical opinion that he was cured and as a voluntary patient, on 7 December 1888.

I am not really interested in endless debate on this and will simply leave the record to speak for itself and for others to make up their own minds on the details in considering D'Onston as a suspect for the Whitechapel murders.

However, it would be accurate to say that misleading comments help no-one in researching the subject regardless of the medium they are conveyed and despite the avoidance or perhaps ignorance of past work by capable researchers. Along with the conspiracy theories of Howard Brown that somehow D'Onston is instrumental for having faked the Maybrick Diary and well, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that.
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Old 02-17-2008, 04:35 PM
Mike Covell Mike Covell is offline
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Thanks for your critque Aus,

This was an attempt to re-install some of the threads that were lost, this being from the second week of January, were several comments were left.

I though it more suitable to start the topic off with him Not being a suspect than filling endless threads with speculation on Stephenson as soldier, Stephenson as Black Magician and Stephenson as Doctor.

The thread also appeared on the JTR Forums, with a much larger post appearing on my blog, which is seems has now been lost along with the photo archive.

The longer post Did have the reference numbers to the 1888/1889 registers, as well as the 1887/88 and 1888/89 yearbook reference numbers.

It also stated just how difficult it is to get into the hospitals archives, having to make endless appointments, and on the day having to have an identification badge whenever i walked around the building (it is in the basement of a bank's offices)

The mention of Davis/Curry wards and their bed allocation appeared in both the "History of the London Hospital" with full details on my initial post, and from Jonathan Evans, who was a wealth of knowledge and a pleasure to spend time with. The book also contains maps and a layout of the ground floor of the hospital, with other floors overlayed to ascertain were the wards were situated.

Mike
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:34 PM
Howard Brown Howard Brown is offline
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However, it would be accurate to say that misleading comments help no-one in researching the subject regardless of the medium they are conveyed and despite the avoidance or perhaps ignorance of past work by capable researchers. Along with the conspiracy theories of Howard Brown that somehow D'Onston is instrumental for having faked the Maybrick Diary and well, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that.

Spiro:
Excuse me....What on earth are you talking about ?

I have explained in detail how Melvin Harris invented the "faked neurasthenia" theory elsewhere as well as here before the crash.

Placing this post either in jest or in a serious vein is misleading to anyone interested in Stephenson.

I'd like an explanation for why you placed this here.
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:55 PM
Howard Brown Howard Brown is offline
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You know what,Spiro.....don't respond.

This is the second time you have made a statement in public, which was either insulting to me or inferring that some sort of "conspiracy" was underfoot regarding the books written about Stephenson. The first time you did it, you included Andy Aliffe in some sort of conspiracy and I let you go with that one. This time I ain't.

There was no conspiracy. Melvin Harris did not know the date that Stephenson entered the London Hospital during the writing of his book, The Ripper File, in 1989. He placed Stephenson entering the LH after the MJK murder.

This,obviously,was wrong. He entered the LH on July 26th,1888.

Harris had every opportunity to correct his gaffe within the release of his third book, The True Face, in 1994....but didn't. He realized his mistake but did not accept the actual dates and came up with the "faked neurasthenia" concept. Prior to me mentioning this "flip flop", no one else had made this observation,at least not on message boards or in private conversation to my knowledge.

Stephenson was a "contemporary police suspect" for TWO days....December 24th to December 26th,1888. He is no longer a suspect unless one believes in fairy tales.
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:23 PM
auspirograph auspirograph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Brown View Post
This is the second time you have made a statement in public, which was either insulting to me or inferring that some sort of "conspiracy" was underfoot regarding the books written about Stephenson. The first time you did it, you included Andy Aliffe in some sort of conspiracy and I let you go with that one.
Howard, to refresh your memory this post was made on 27 November 2007. And Mike, more marvelous fluff from you. Here is the statement and my response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by How Brown
"I think that Mr.Harris's own attempt at foisting a hoax was upstaged by the Maybrick diary and story...as they both came out at roughly the same time...and there's no question that the implications of the diary,at first, were far and are still far more crucial towards a solution,whether one "likes" or "dislikes" Maybrick as a suspect or not. For this reason,I find Mr.Harris' position at the forefront of the anti-Maybrick camp a natural reaction to the less than all consuming involvement of Ripperologists in researching Stephenson. In short,he saw the rug pulled out from D'onston and wanted nothing more than to do the same to Maybrick. There's no one with more knowledge on how to foist a hoax than one who makes a living at "busting" them up. Sadly he isn't around so I could grill him on the nearly 60 points that make up the Donston Hoax."



Well this would have to take the prize for the most original conspiracy theory of the year.

I disagree that the diary, as yet another hoax consideration in Ripperology, is "still far more crucial towards a solution,whether one "likes" or "dislikes" Maybrick as a suspect or not". Where is your evidence that the diary can be relied upon for a solution to the Whitechapel murders as opposed to the police file of D'Onston placing him firmly in the area?

D'Onston is a weak suspect with Maybrick in my view a non-starter but Melvin Harris at least was aware from his writing of that distinction which you appear unable to make.

Melvin Harris did become obsessed with his suspect...so what's new in Ripperology? Suspect bias has touched the entire subject with false leads and misleading enthusiasms but to suggest, as if it were a fact, that Harris and his research protege Andy Aliffe actively and knowingly constructed a hoax as a reaction to the Maybrick diary, is as tenable as the 17th September letter at this stage being real.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:14 AM
Howard Brown Howard Brown is offline
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Spiro:

I don't what you are thinking here...but it appears that you are confusing Mr. Harris with D'onston.

Previously,you mentioned:

Along with the conspiracy theories of Howard Brown that somehow D'Onston is instrumental for having faked the Maybrick Diary and well, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that.

Again....I ask you: Where did you come up with this idea that I said D'onston faked the Maybrick Diary?
*******************************

Once more,you dredge up this ridiculous idea that I somehow am proposing this:

Suspect bias has touched the entire subject with false leads and misleading enthusiasms but to suggest, as if it were a fact, that Harris and his research protege Andy Aliffe actively and knowingly constructed a hoax as a reaction to the Maybrick diary, is as tenable as the 17th September letter at this stage being real.

Thats going once more below the belt,Spiro...as I have never even considered such an idea...and this is now the second time I have had to waste my fukcing time explaining this to you on public message boards.

I have no idea what sort of bug is up your ass,but its getting irritating to see posts like this appear. While I am at work and thousands of people see the nonsense you are claiming that I have said here or elsewhere has now made you a persona non grata with me. I have far more important things to do than correct your asinine aspersions.

Last edited by Howard Brown : 02-19-2008 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:59 AM
Howard Brown Howard Brown is offline
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Where is your evidence that the diary can be relied upon for a solution to the Whitechapel murders as opposed to the police file of D'Onston placing him firmly in the area? -Auspirograph



I have no evidence either way about the Diary, just like anyone else at this point in time. Yet,it differs from the Donston Hoax since Stephenson walked into Scotland Yard....gave Inspector Roots his address....and walked away. At that point,he ceased to be a suspect,since the subsequent Roots Report does NOT indicate one iota of suspicion being cast upon Stephenson, hence eliminating him from his 48 hour "candidacy"....a candidacy that we do not even know if the police followed up upon, following George Marsh's deposition to the very same Inspector Roots two days prior,on Christmas Eve. I for one do not think they gave it much credence in the first place. It is quite likely that the report taken down by Roots from Marsh was never acted upon,if the number of suspects was still "that high".

Had Roots had any suspicion,he would have mentioned it in the Roots Report. There was nothing to prevent him from detaining Stephenson upon his entry at Scotland Yard if there was some sort of "manhunt" out after Stephenson....

And yes...despite my own feeling that the Diary is less than plausible, the fact remains that its a better theory than Donston-as-Ripper is now,in light of the research done that Stephenson could not have left the hospital that Mike Covell uncovered...and that we see that Melvin Harris did not know that RDS went into the LH when he did,resulting in his "invention" of faked neurasthenia in the making of The True Face.

Why don't we all here just say that every man who was in the Hospital during the Autumn of Terror could have been the Ripper....since,like D'onston, they were "probably faking their claims" as well?

We don't do that for very good reasons and the main reason we don't do that is because its easier to single out the only patient we know of wrote a letter to the PMG...wrote letters to the police...tried to fit up a doctor as a suspect....tried to impress a stranger in a public taproom with his knowledge of the crimes....and was endowed with numerous fictitious attributes and quirks by a woman who had no fear in lending money,living and working with, taking his word that no more murders would occur and burglarizing the "veritable" Ripper,D'onston. Right. Buy that and I have a bridge to sell to the next one in line. H-e c-o-u-l-d- n-o-t l-e-a-v-e t-h-e H-o-s-p-i-t-a-l.

This statement you made about "the police file on Donston placing him firmly in the area" means nothing after December 26th,1888....if it ever meant anything at all. This police file that was put together after Marsh's visit,once again, has never been seen by any of us...and the Roots Report,if anything,mentions Dr. Davies as being the focus of Stephenson's suspicions,along with the background Roots knew about Stephenson and the lies that Donston told ( getting a degree in New York and all that balderdash ).

Because Stephenson wrote letters to the press,police,and his bizarre behavior in trying to fit up Dr.Davies...that doesn't make him any more of a suspect than any other man in the London Hospital....just one more affected by the situation outside the walls of the Hospital.
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