My interest in the murders started by default. As a Masonic historian I had a
keen interest in Freemasonry in East London, having been born in West Ham. As a
photographer, I had for some time been collecting photographs, mainly 19th century, with a connection to Freemasonry, and listing the photographers' names and addresses.
Then a friend, Andy Aliffe, asked if I had any details of a photographer on my list called Joseph Martin, who was believed to have been the
photographer who took the mortuary photographs of the Ripper victims. I could tell him that Martin had a shop at 186 Commercial Road from
1879 to 1880, and then at 11 Cannon Street Road from
1888 to 1894.
It appears that he purchased the shop at 11 Cannon Street Road from a Louis Gumprecht. Gumprecht ran the shop from 1867 and seems to have been the police photographer for, on the back of his photographs, it reads: 'Photographs of the unknown dead, in districts where a skilled operator cannot be obtained, Louis Gumprecht, of 11 Cannon Street Road E, is willing to attend on a few hours' notice, on the same terms as Eastern Districts are
served. Wire through H'.
H was the district for the Whitechapel police - in fact the Metropolitan Police had
no official photographers until 1901 - and only used approved freelance photographers. This I confirmed when I found an article in the Photographic News for 1878, where Gumprecht informs them of his services. It would appear that Joseph Martin was still using Gumprecht's mounts when he bought the business in 1887.
Stephen Knight's book intrigued me. Had there any
been any genuine local Freemasons with a connection with the murders?
At the time of the murders there were 2,239 Lodges
under the Grand
Lodge of England (UGLE), with an average membership of 45. In East London there
were nine Lodges that met in the general area of the murders.
These were Upton Lodge and Prince Leopold Lodge, which both met at the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate High Street; Yarbrough Lodge (The Printing Works, 202 Whitechapel Road); Temperance in the East Lodge (6
Poplar); Burdett Coutts Lodge (Swan Tavern, New Bethnal Green Road);
Lodge (London Tavern, Fenchurch
Gity of London Lodge (City Restaurant, St Mary Axe, City); Egyptian Lodge (Hercules Tavern, Leadenhall Street, City); Doric Lodge (The Duke's Head, 79 Whitechapel Road).
The Lodges, or Lodges of Instruction (LOI or practice meetings) that met on the nights of the murders were:
August 30~31, Mary Anne Nichols' murder: Doric LOI (79
Whitechapel High Street); Great City LOI (Masons Arms, City);City of London Lodge (St Mary Axe, City); Langton Lodge (Cannon Street, City); Royal Albert Lodge (The White Hart, Mare Street, Hackney); Egyptian Lodge (Hercules Tavern, Fenchurch Street).
September 7-8, Anne
Chapman's murder: Doric Lodge
(79 Whitechapel Road); Loyalty Lodge (Mare Street, Hackney); Lodge of Stability (London
Tavern, Fenchurch Street, City).
September 29-30, Elizabeth
and Catherine Eddowes' murders
Earl of Zetland Lodge
(Royal Edward Tavern, Mare
November 8-9, Mary Kelly's murder: Royal Atherstone Lodge (Cannon Street, City); Loyalty Lodge (Mare Street, Hackney);
Friendship Lodge and Skelmersdale Lodge (both at the Ship and Turtle, Leadenhall Street, City); Burdett Coutts Lodge (Swan, Bethnal Green);
Egyptian Lodge (Masons Arms, City).
Knight does not mention any of the above Lodges in his book, apart from the Lodge of Stability, which he states met at the Weavers Arms, Hanbury Street, next door to No 29, where Anne Chapman
was murdered. The Lodge did
meet there in 1808, when Hanbury Street was called Browns Lane, but removed to the Anchor in Bishopsgate in 1809.
Web site created by Mark Griffin