John Chapman

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Late husband of Annie Chapman.

Born 11th August 1844 in Newmarket, Suffolk, son of George and Ann Chapman.

Worked as a coachman and married Annie on 1st May 1869 at All Saints Curch, Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge. Annie's sister Emily and George White, gentleman's coachman and friend of John, attended as witnesses. White lived at 1 Brooks Mews North, Bayswater and this is where the Chapmans settled after the wedding. In 1873 they had moved to 17 South Bruton Mews off Berkley Square, Mayfair.

From c.1880, John worked for Sir Francis Bess Terry as a coachman and domestic servant at St Leonard's Hill Mansion in Clewer, Berkshire. It seems that around this time, Annie developed a repuation for drinking and was known to go away to stay with family members from time to time. Indeed, John is believed to have paid 12d a week to have Annie sent to a home for 'the cure of the intemperate' and all was well on her return, though obviously not for long. One story has it that Annie, on smelling whisky on John's breath (he'd drank a hot toddy before going to work one day) went back to drinking with a vengeance.

Annie and John separated by mutual consent in 1884/5; various reasons are given, though they seem to lean towards Annie's behaviour and drinking as a catalyst for the break-up (according to a Mrs. Pearcer, John had been a valet in the employ of a nobleman who lived in Bond Street but that he was fired because of his wife's dishonesty). He had endeavoured to send Annie an allowance of 10s a week, though this was not always regular. In mid-1885, he sent his daughter a Bible inscribed with the message "Annie Georgina Chapman, A Birthday Present from her loving father, June 5th 1885".

By the summer of 1886, John was described by his sister-in-law as a grey-haired, broken-hearted man; he had resigned from his job at Clewer due to ill-health. His payments to Annie suddenly ceased which prompted her to walk from London to Clewer after she'd heard of her husband's illness. It is not known whether they met on this occasion.

John Chapman died on 25th December 1886 at 1 Richmond Villas, Grove Road, Windsor of cirrhosis of the liver and dropsy. This poses the question whether it was only Annie's supposed drinking habits that ended their marriage.


The Victims of Jack the Ripper, Neal Stubbings Sheldon (Inklings Press 2007)