Joseph Hyam Levy

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Joseph Hyam Levy (1842-16 May 1914).

Witness who, with Joseph Lawende and Harry Harris, saw a man and woman standing at the corner of Duke Street and Church Passage, leading to Mitre Square, at about 1.35 a.m. on the morning of 30 September 1888, about ten minutes before the body of Catherine Eddowes was discovered in Mitre Square.

On 9 October the Evening News reported an interview with Levy and Harris. Describing Levy as a "butcher, [of] 1 Middlesex street [sic], Aldgate", it said "Mr. Joseph Levy is absolutely obstinate and refuses to give us the slightest information. He leaves one to infer that he knows something, but that he is afraid to be called on the inquest. Hence he assumes a knowing air.".[1]

Levy gave evidence at Eddowes's inquest on 11 October.[2] According to his testimony, he said to Harris, referring to the man and woman, "Look there, I don't like going home by myself when I see those characters about," but he took no notice of them and was unable to give a description. However, he did estimate that the man was about three inches taller than the woman. According to Lawende's evidence, "Mr. Levy said the court ought to be watched".[3]

The fact that Joseph Levy had acted as a surety when a furrier named Martin Kozminski was naturalised in 1877 has led some authors to speculate that Levy may also have known the suspect Aaron Kozminski.[4] But Martin is known to have been born in Kalisz, and to have been the son of Mark (or Markus) Kozminski,[5] whereas Aaron came from Klodawa - some 40 miles from Kalisz - and was the son of Abram Jozef, the son of Iciek. Kozminski was a fairly common name in this part of Poland,[6] and there is no indication that these two families were related.


Born in London in 1842, the son of Hyam and Frances Levy. He was married in the City of London in 1866 to Amelia Lewis.[7][8][9]

His parents appear in the census returns for 1851, 1861 and 1871 at 36 Middlesex Street, where his father was a butcher. In 1881 his widowed mother, employed as a butcher, was head of household.[7] His father Hyam had died on 25 November 1872 at 36 Middlesex Street, and was buried on 27 November at West Ham Cemetery.[10]

Joseph Hyam Levy was running his own butcher's business at 1 Hutchison Street by the end of 1867[11]. Joseph and Amelia were shown at that address in the 1881 and 1891 census returns (Joseph is described in both entries as a butcher), but do not appear to have had any children.[8] His wife Amelia died on 4 September 1912 at Brighton, and was buried on 6 September 1912 at Plashet Cemetery.[12] He died on 16 May 1914 at 124, Mildmay Road, Canonbury (the death was registered at Fulham), and was buried on 19 May at Plashet Cemetery.[13]

His estate was worth £2410, and the beneficiaries of his will, proved 9 July 1914, included his sister, Elizabeth Goldberg, and Alfred, Fanny and Ted Levy. In a legal notice concerning his will, he was described as a "gentleman". His solicitors later advertised for his brother Elias to contact them.[14]


  1. Evening News, 9 October 1888 (Transcript at Casebook).
  2. His deposition is printed in Evans and Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook, pp. 237, 238 (2000). Levy's evidence was also reported on 12 October by the following newspapers: Daily News (Transcript at Casebook); Daily Telegraph (Transcript at Casebook); Morning Advertiser (Transcript at Casebook); St James Gazette (Transcript at Casebook); Times (Transcript at Casebook).
  3. Daily News, 12 October (Transcript at Casebook).
  4. See Begg, Fido and Skinner, The Jack the Ripper A-Z, pp. 232f, 247f (1996).
  5. Scott Nelson, The Polish Jew Suspect - Jewish Witness Connection: Some Further Speculations, Ripperologist, no 53 (May 2004) (Online at Casebook).
  6. The JRI database includes 533 records from the Kalisz Gubernia alone.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mark King, Jacob Levy, Ripperologist, no 26 (December 1999) (Online at Casebook)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Chris Scott, Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands (2004) (Online at Casebook)
  9. Marriage registration, December 1866, Joseph H. Levy/Amelia Lewis, London C. 1c 227 (image of index entry at FreeBMD).
  10. Jewish Chronicle, 29 November 1872; Death registration, December 1872, Hyam Levy, 62, London C. 1c 5 (image of index entry at FreeBMD); United Synagogue burial at West Ham, Hyam Levy, 27 November 1872, P.M. 1 109 (at United Synagogue Burial Database).
  11. Joseph Levy, butcher, was listed there in the 1868 Post Office Directory; there had been no entry for that address in previous years. Curiously, the 1871 census listed him at 1 Hutchison's Avenue, even though the directories continued to list him at 1 Hutchison Street past that date.
  12. Jewish Chronicle, 6 September 1912 posted by Chris, 23 July 2008; United Synagogue burial at Plashet, Amelia Levy, 6 September 1912, N 7 14 (at United Synagogue Burial Database).
  13. Jewish Chronicle, 22 May 1914 posted by Chris, 23 July 2008; Death registration, June 1914, Joseph H. Levy, 73, Fulham 1a 276 (image of index entry at FreeBMD); United Synagogue burial at Plashet, Joseph Hyam Levy, 19 May 1914, N 7 15 (at United Synagogue Burial Database).
  14. Jewish Chronicle, 17 and 24 July and 6 November 1914; see post by Chris, 23 July 2008.