The Carmarthen Mystery revisited

Recently I narrated a podcast for the first time in Rippercast’s Cast of Thousands series.  In the first of two parts I expand on my article about Doctor John Morgan Hopkins and his son-in-law John Rees. In 1888 whilst his wife, the illegitimate daughter of Dr. Hopkins was awaiting trial for murder, Rees claimed that he knew one of the Whitechapel victims, Mary Kelly. He is the only person in Wales to support Mary’s story that she lived there.

By that time Morgan Hopkins was dead, having been acquitted of murder in 1884 after Emily Cope died in his house. It is usually assumed that Emily visited for an illegal abortion, encouraged by the father of the child Andrew Bayntun who was originally charged alongside Hopkins. In the podcast I give some reasons to doubt this assumption.

Most important is a letter that Emily wrote a letter to her sister, saying that the child had been born alive. Secondly is the realisation that Emily’s visit was funded not by Bayntun but her father George who claimed not to know why she was travelling from Chippenham to Carmarthen. In the 1861 census he is listed as a neighbour of Hopkins and, given his trade as an agricultural labourer, probably worked on Hopkins’ farm.

So now we have a missing child and a victim’s father who withheld information. In the second part of the podcast I will talk more about the mysterious Mary Rees.

Paul Williams is a writer best known for his study of the Jack the Ripper Suspects.

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