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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.
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
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
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
CRIMES OF A SCOUNDREL.
HOW DEEMING'S DEEDS IN ENGLAND CAME TO BE DISCOVERED.
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.
HIS LAST CRIMINAL DEED.
VAIN REPORTS TO HIDE HIS TRACKS - TALK WITH HIS INTENDED VICTIM.
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.