Engraver, Busy-body and Unrivalled Self Publicist
Albert Bachert is one of those figures who looms large in the press coverage of the Whitechapel murders, largely because of his own tireless endeavours to ensure that he loomed large in the press coverage of the case!
He was born in 1863, albeit this is given as an estimated year of birth in the census of 1871.
His father, John, a tailor by trade, and his mother, Georgina, had emigrated to England from Germany, and, by 1881, the family, which also included two daughters, Emily and Flora, were living at 13, Newnham Street, Whitechapel - the address that would be given as Albert's home address in virtually all his many appearances in the newspapers throughout the Whitechapel murders.
In the 1881 census, eighteen year old Albert's occupation was listed as that of "Engraver".
Intriguingly, in the 1891 census, the family surname is given as Backert and, the fact that the early mentions of him in the newspapers spell his name as Bachert, whereas the later mentions of him - from late 1888 - spell it as Backert, would suggest that, for some reason, the family changed the spelling of their surname around the time of the Jack the Ripper murders.
By 1885, young Albert had become involved in local politics, and was canvassing in the district for an upcoming election on behalf of the Conservative candidate, Colonel Cowan.
In so doing, he incurred the wrath of the local "Liberal clique" and was so incensed by their treatment of him that he felt moved to write to The Tower Hamlets Independent to denounce them:-
NEITHER NATURALISED NOR CIVILIZED
I attended the supposed indignation meeting at Christ Church School, Brick-lane, Whitechapel, on Monday evening, to move an amendment to the meeting, and on making my way to the schoolroom, I was accosted by a number of persons, informing me that the Liberals had engaged a number of roughs for the purpose of beating and ejecting any persons whose opinions differed from that of the speakers.
I entered the room, and the moment the hired audience saw me they yelled and howled like mad dogs; so I saw at once that they were uncivilised as well as unnaturalised, and while Mr. Willis was reading a fictitious letter, purporting to have been sent by the Conservative party, and to which there was no signature, and which Mr. Willis knew to be false, some gentlemen at the lower end of the room expressed dissent at his wrong statement.
They were at once seized, and most savagely beaten and thrown down the stone staircase.
At the conclusion of Mr. Willis's speech, I rose to move the amendment, and in defiance of the opposition, the amendment was moved and seconded, and I feel confident would have been carried had fair play been accorded to my supporters; and this hired Liberal clique are those who claim the right to take part in English politics, but who are not yet civilised.
I remain, sir, your obedient servant,
September 15, 1885.
Source: The Tower Hamlets Independent Saturday, 19th September, 1885.
Evidently, his letter did little to deter his opponents and, on Tuesday, 24th November, 1885, he appeared before Mr, Lushington at the Thames Police Court to seek his advice on what action he should take against his critics.
The Globe, reported on his court appearance in that evening's edition:-
Mr. Albert Bachert, of Gordon House, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, canvasser on behalf of Colonel Cowan, the Conservative candidate for Whitechapel, applied to Mr. Lushington at the Thames Police Court to-day for advice.
Lewis Lyons, the Socialist, he said, had threatened him, and he had also received letters threatening him with death. That morning all his windows were smashed and it was anticipated that during the next day or two a riot would ensue, and his premises would be smashed by the Radicals and Socialists (laughter). Another Socialist had also threatened him, and he desired protection.
Mr. Lushington told the applicant to go to the Inspector and tell him all about it."
Source: The Globe Tuesday, 24th November, 1885.
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, in an article about the Trafalgar Square riots, of February 1886, afforded him a passing mention:-
The crowd surged towards the south, and gave a welcome to Mr. Kenny, with whom appeared to be associated the East End Fair Trade Leaguers, Messrs Lemon, Peters and Kelly, with Mr. Cooke, late Conservative candidate for Battersea, and Mr. Albert Bachert..."
Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper Sunday, 14th February, 1886.
In 1887, he made another plea to Mr Lushington, at the Thames Police Court, this time complaining that he was in danger of being harassed by the local police.
The Morning Post reported his concerns on Tuesday, 16th August, 1887:-
Mr. Albert Bachert, of Whitechapel, made a complaint to Mr. Lushington respecting the conduct of two police-constables.
He said that last Thursday fortnight he saw two constables interfering with a respectable woman, who was walking with her brother-in-law, in the Commercial-road.
Applicant told the officers he knew the woman, and asked them for their numbers. They struck him and afterwards took him into custody, and having dragged him along the road, afterwards let him go, saying they had made a mistake.
Although he had since seen a number of constables, and had been in communication with the inspector, he had been unable to identify the two men in question.
Applicant had since heard that there was a conspiracy among the police to raise a trumpery charge against him and take him into custody.
His object in coming to the magistrate was to make him acquainted with the facts of the affair, in case such a charge might be brought against him.
Mr. Lushington replied that if any case came before him he would remember that the applicant had been there."
Source: The Morning Post Tuesday, 16th August, 1887.
Just over a month later, he made yet another appearance in the newspapers, this time seeking to publicize the fact that his father, John, had disappeared.
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, along with several other papers, gave him his desired publicity on Sunday, 25th September, 1889:-
A respectably-dressed young man, who gave the name of Albert Bachert, of 13, Newnham-street, Tenter-ground, Whitechapel, and who appeared to be in great distress, applied at the Thames police-court, on Monday, for publicity respecting the disappearance of his father, John Bachert, who had been missing since the 10th inst.
His description was as follows:- Age 54, but looks 10 years younger; height 5ft. 7in., complexion fair, light hair, blue eyes, and heavy sandy moustache. Was dressed in black diagonal frock-coat, dark tweed trowsers, side-spring boots, and soft felt hat.
On him was about 400l and several rings, including one large diamond ring."
Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper Sunday, 25th September, 1887.
Inevitably, the media savvy Albert Bachert spotted the opportunities for self-promotion afforded him by the events around the Bloody Sunday confrontation in Trafalgar Square, on November, 13th 1887, and, a month later, he popped up as a witness at the trial of the leaders of the protest, where he testified to the brutality meted out by the police towards the protesters.
The London Evening Standard published his testimony in its edition of Thursday, 1st December, 1887:-
Albert Bachert, an engraver, Gordon House, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, said that he tried to pass through the Square, but was pushed back by the police from every point where he tried to pass.
He got as far as Morley's Hotel, and there the police were riding on the pavement, and scattering the people.
Then he took up a position opposite Morley's Hotel, within a yard of the cordon of the police.
In a moment he heard some of the police say, "There's Burns!", and a number of the constables put their fingers on their truncheon cases. They then rushed past him, pushed him on one side, and one of the police shouted. "Give it to the ------", I don't know if I may swear (laughter). "Give it to the --------, smash their skulls in."
He saw the Defendants crossing the road towards the Square, and as the police were looking vicious he ran away to get out of their way, and when he looked round again he saw that the police had already charged the two Defendants, and had their truncheons out striking. He saw one constable strike another constable on the head.
By Mr. Poland. - There was a rush when the police began pushing the people. There was no chance of breaking into the Square.
The Defendants walked across to ask permission to go into the Square. They were walking sharp, not rushing.
He saw no sticks, and no stones thrown. The police were the cause of the whole affair.
He would not undertake to swear that the expression he quoted was not used by a rough with regard to the police. The police were all roughs for the matter of that (laughter).
By Mr. Asquith. - There were only police standing where the foul expression came from."
Source: The London Evening Standard Thursday, 1st December, 1887.
Evidently, by 1888 Albert Bachert had discovered that he enjoyed being in the spotlight, and he was well aware of how to get his name in the papers by injecting himself into events that had captured the imaginations of the press and public at large.
Thus it was that, when the Whitechapel murders got underway, in September, 1888, the irrepressible Albert Bachert was quick off the mark to link his name to the hunt for the killer, or killers.
On Wednesday September 5th, 1888, he fired off a letter to the editor of the London Evening Standard, which the newspaper published the next day:-
Permit me, as an inhabitant of twenty years in Whitechapel, to express on behalf of a number of tradesmen and shopkeepers in Whitechapel our deepest regret and indignation at the shocking and revolting murders which have further disgraced the unfortunate district of Whitechapel of late.
The question that now arises is what is to be done, and what can be done to check and prevent the further spreading of such dastardly crimes?
In the first place I would suggest that the police force should be strengthened in the East End, and secondly that there should be more gas lights in our back streets, courts, and alleys.
There is no doubt but that these unfortunate women were butchered by their bullies (men who gain their livelihood from these unfortunates) and were the police to watch the haunts and dens of these villains and thieves, no doubt in a short time we should have a decrease of these crimes which have disgraced the capital of England.
There are several supposed clubs in Whitechapel which these villains frequent, which are open all night for the sale of wines, spirits, and beer, and where any non-member can be admitted and served with as much drink as he or she can pay for. It is in these vile dens that the seed of immorality and crime is sown which brings forth the fruits we have just witnessed.
The police must know of these places; if not, I am prepared, if required, to give the names of these places to any person in authority.
The East End police are, with a few exceptions, a good and noble body of men who at all times have a hard and difficult duty to perform, and I feel sure that the heads of these police, such gentlemen as Arnold, Final, and West will do their uttermost to stop the breeding of further crimes by these ruffians.
In the second place I suggest more gas lights in our bye-streets, courts, and alleys. We pay rates and taxes, and have a right to have our district properly lighted.
Only a little while back a City manufacturer living opposite me was knocked down, beaten, and robbed of a valuable gold chain within a few yards of his own street door, the villains escaping because the spot is dark.
My sister also a short time ago was knocked down by some cowards. They also got away, the place being dark.
Now, Sir, I hope and trust that the Whitechapel Board of Works and the Commercial Gas Company will awake to their duty, and do their best to have this grievance removed.
Apologizing for trespassing upon your valuable space, I am, &c.,
Source: The London Evening News Thursday, 6th September, 1888.
However, simply writing to the newspapers to express his, and other residents, views of the murders and the murderer doesn't seem to have been particularly satisfying for Albert Bachert and, in the wake of the murder of Catherine Eddowes, he had managed to link himself more directly with the murders, as is evidenced by the following article, which appeared in The West Somerset Free Press, on Saturday, 6th October, 1888:-
A man named Albert Bachert has made the following statement:-
I was in the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate, on Saturday night, when a man got into conversation with me. He asked me questions which now appear to me to have some bearing upon the recent murders.
He wanted to know whether I knew what sort of loose women used the public bar at that house, when they usually left the street outside, and where they were in the habit of going.
He asked further questions, and from his manner seemed to be up to no good purpose.
He appeared to a shabby-genteel sort of man, and was dressed in black clothes. He wore a black felt hat and carried a black bag.
We came out together at closing time (12 o'clock), and I left him outside Aldgate railway-station."
Source: The West Somerset Free Press Saturday, 6th October, 1888.
He then went on to make a further statement about his encounter with the mysterious stranger which the same newspaper included in the aforementioned article:-
The young man Albert Bachert, of 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, made a further statement on Monday morning.
It will be remembered that the man who spoke to him in the Three Nuns Hotel on Saturday night carried a black shiny bag, and it is remarkable that the only man Mrs. Mortimer observed in Berner-street, nearly two hours afterwards, also carried a black shiny bag.
Albert Bachert says:-
On Saturday night, at about seven minutes to 12, I entered the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate.
While in there an elderly woman, very shabbily dressed, came in and asked me to buy some matches. I refused, and she went out.
A man who had been standing by me remarked that those persons were a nuisance, to which I responded, "Yes."
He then asked me to have a glass with him, but I refused, as I had just called for one myself.
He then asked me if I knew how old some of the women were who were in the habit of walking outside. I replied that I knew or I thought some of them who looked about 25 were over 35, the reason they looked young being on account of the powder and paint.
He asked if I could tell him where they usually went, and I replied that I had heard that some went to places in Oxford-street, Whitechapel, others to some houses in Whitechapel-road, and others to Bishopsgate-street.
He then asked whether I thought they would go with him down Northumberland-alley - a dark and lonely court in Fenchurch-street.
I said I did not know, but supposed they would.
He then went outside and spoke to the woman who was selling matches, and gave her something.
I bid him good night at about 10 minutes past 12.
I believe a woman was waiting for him. I do not think I could identify the woman, as I did not take particular notice of her.
I should know the man again. He was a dark man, about 38 years of age, height above 5 feet 6 or 7 inches. He wore a black felt hat, dark clothes (morning coat), black tie, and carried a black shiny bag."
Source: The West Somerset Free Press Saturday, 6th October, 1888.
An intriguing question about Bachert at this point in his "media career" is, was he a member of the vigilance committee?
His name certainly wasn't linked to the committee in any of the newspapers in the autumn of 1888; and, given the fact that, in the future, he would often make a point of stating his credentials as a member of the committee, it seems highly likely that, had he been a member, he would most certainly have mentioned it.
There is, of course, the possibility - it might even be more accurate to say probability, given his track record for getting involved in local politics - that he might have been a member of one of the Vigilance patrols set up by the committee.
However, whether he was a member of the committee or not, the fact that he had gone on record with a possible description of the murderer, and this description had been reported extensively by the newspapers, it wasn't long before Albert Bachert was targeted by one of the "Jack the Rippers."
On the 19th November, 1888, he was, so he claimed, approached by a policeman who informed him that a rather sinister message had been chalked onto his wall overnight.
The Nottingham Evening Post, covered the story in the evening's edition:-
ANOTHER MESSAGE FROM THE RIPPER
The blank wall of a house in Newnham - street, Whitechapel, in which Albert Bachert, who gave the description of the supposed Whitechapel murderer lives, was found this morning to have the following words chalked up:-
"Dear Boss - I am still about - Look out.
Jack the Ripper."
They were afterwards partly obliterated to avoid attracting a crowd."
Source: The Nottingham Evening Post Monday, 19th November, 1888.
It would appear that, in early 1889, Mr George Lusk's Whitechapel Vigilance Committee was disbanded, since no mention of it appears in the newspapers throughout the first half of the year.
But then, on 17th July, 1889, the murder of Alice McKenzie took place, and the Committee made a return to the media spotlight, albeit with a new Chairman at its helm.
In the wake of the murder, many newspapers reported that Albert Backert had received a missive from "Jack the Ripper" in which the killer had threatened to start murdering again around the middle of July.
Although it should be noted that Backert did not make the letter public until after the murder of Alice McKenzie, the newspapers took him at his word that he had received it prior to the murder.
What is interesting is that many of the newspapers that reported on the letter referred to Albert Backert as having "taken a leading part in the Vigilance proceedings of last year..."
Since the newspapers of the previous autumn make no reference to him being involved with the Committee, let alone playing a leading role, and since the articles that mentioned him were evidently syndicated from a single source, it can be surmised that the reason the articles claimed he had taken a "leading part", was because Albert Backert told the original reporter that he had played a leading part!
It was also around this time that his name began appearing in the newspapers as Backert, and, given the fact that many of the mentions of him were to do with correspondence that he had written to the newspapers, it is probable that he was responsible for the new spelling of his name.
As for the letter he had received, Freeman's Journal published the details on Thursday, 18th July, 1889:-
A later Press Association telegram says that the police now have more belief in the theory that the murderer is a foreign Jew butcher; and instructions have been given to the police to watch all vessels about to leave the Thames, especially cattle boats which trade between London, Oporto, and other Spanish ports, and also American ports.
The Press Association learns that as corroboration of the above theory, and justifying the actions of the Thames Police, a letter was received a a few days ago by Mr. Albert Backert, 13 Newnham street, Whitechapel, as chairman of the Vigilance Committee, from "Jack the Ripper," announcing his intention of recommencing his operations about the middle of July.
It commenced, "Eastern Hotel, Pop----."
Since this morning's murder, inquiries have revealed the fact that there is an Eastern Hotel in East India Dock road, Poplar, used as a rendezvous by seamen. It is within a stone's throw of the docks."
Source: Freeman's Journal Thursday, 18th July, 1889.
What is certain is that, with the murder of Alice McKenzie, Albert Backert discovered that, the more he co-operated with the gentlemen from the press, the more coverage he would receive, and, from that point on his name was constantly turning up in the newspapers in connection to the Whitechapel murders.
In fairness to him, he does appear to have gone out onto the streets by night with a view to apprehending the murderer, and it wasn't long before he was presented with an opportunity to demonstrate his mettle to his newfound "fans."
On the night of Friday, 19th July, 1889, Alfred Backert was out with the vigilance patrol near the scene of the murder of Alice McKenzie, which had taken place two days before in Castle Alley, off Whitechapel High Street, when he saw a man approaching a woman whom was standing under a nearby lamppost.
After a brief exchange, the couple headed off in the direction of Aldgate, and Albert Backert followed them at a discreet distance.
Suddenly, an altercation broke out between the couple, and the man took out a knife and proceeded to attack the woman.
Albert Backert was quick to intervene and grappled violently with the man, wresting the knife from his hand and then handing him over to the police.
The speed of his intervention was only matched by the speed with which he alerted the press to his act, and he later gave a newspaper interview, in which he recalled what had happened, which the The Guernsey Star published on Tuesday, 23rd July, 1889:-
Albert Bachert, of 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, one of the Vigilance Committee, who seized the knife, and whose clothes were bloodstained has made the following statement:-
“At twenty minutes to ten on Friday evening, I was standing at the corner of Goulston-street, near Castle-alley, when I saw a woman standing under the lamp-post at the corner of Goulston-street and Wentworth-street.
She was fair, and wore a red bodice, with a white apron. She had no hat or jacket on.
A dark man with a slouch hat came up and spoke to her. He was about 5 ft 8 in. tall, and about forty years of age.
They walked towards Aldgate together.
I followed them.
When they got near Aldgate East Station. I heard her say, "No, I won't."
With that, he caught hold of her and struggled with her. She screamed, and he dragged her to the kerb opposite Wood's the butcher's, where he threw her down.
She screamed, "Jack the Ripper," and I rushed at him. I saw then that he had drawn a long knife or dagger from his sleeve, or pocket, and was holding it in his hand. He held her hair in the right hand and the knife in the left.
He made an attempt to, or did, stab her when I closed with him.
He struggled violently, but I got the knife from him.
Others came up in response to my cries for help, and he was held till the police arrived. He struggled hard to get away.
There was a crowd of about six or seven hundred there.
A large number of City and Metropolitan police came up and surrounded the Prisoner, who was cut and bleeding. The crowd became very violent, and tried to lynch him, and threw all kinds of missiles at him.
The police got him to the station, where he presented a sorry appearance, cut and exhausted. I detailed what I had seen, and I handed the knife to the inspector.
I noticed that the Prisoner wore a belt round his waist, with a leather sheath attached.
I have blood on my cuffs, shirt, and tie; but I am not cut.
The knife is a formidable weapon with a black handle. It has a broad blade, about seven or eight inches long, which comes up to a point.
I did not see the woman while I was in the struggle, but the police were looking for her."
Source: The Guernsey Star Tuesday, 23rd July, 1889.
By September, 1889, Backert could be relied on to give an opinion on the murders to any journalist who was willing to listen, as is evidenced from the following story, which appeared in The South Wales Daily Gazette, on Wednesday, 11th September, 1889:-
VIEWS OF THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S CHAIRMAN
Mr Albert Backert, chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, writes as follows:-
"As chairman of the last formed Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, I have been questioned by a large number of people about today's discovery.
From the time our committee was formed, my colleagues and myself have done all in our power to discover the Whitechapel murderer.
Night after night I have been out watching and making inquiries, but when the dock labourers strike commenced the interest in the murders seemed to cool down, and thus several of my supporters relaxed the energy they had hitherto displayed.
From inquiries, I am confident that the murderer is a Whitechapel person, or, at any rate, he is well acquainted with the back streets.
It is a curious fact that in all places where these murders have occurred the houses are such that any person can enter by pulling a string, which lifts the latch.
My opinion is that the murderer knows this, and the moment he has committed a murder he enters one of these houses.
I firmly believe that if the police had searched the houses in the vicinity the moment a murder was discovered, the murderer would have I been captured.""
Source: The South Wales Daily News Wednesday, 11th September, 1889.
In his capacity as Chairman of the Vigilance Committee, Backert appears to have convinced the press that he was very much in the confidence of the local police, who were, so it seemed, sharing information with him, which he was then happy to pass on to the newspapers.
The Shields Gazette mentioned one of the stories that he gave the press in September, 1889:-
EXTRAORDINARY THEORY - JACK THE RIPPER A WOMAN
The chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, Mr Albert Backert, informs the Press Association that the police at Leman Street Station, having received a letter stating that it has been ascertained that a tall, strong woman has for some time been at working different slaughter houses attired as a man, searching inquiries were yesterday made at the slaughter houses in Aldgate and Whitechapel by the police.
It is presumed that this has something to do with the recent Whitechapel murders and it has given rise to a theory that the victims may have been murdered by the hands of a woman.
It is remarked that in each case there is no evidence of a man being seen in the vicinity at the time of the murder."
Source: The Shields Daily Gazette Friday, 20th September, 1889.
A month later, following the discovery of the Pinchin Street Torso, Backert was back in the news, this time with regards a letter that he had received purporting to come from the Jack the Ripper and denying responsibility for the torso murder:-
THE LONDON MURDERS - A LETTER FROM JACK THE RIPPER
If the expectations of the police are verified, writes a London correspondent, the metropolis will again be horrified by the addition of yet another murder to the series that have been perpetrated in Whitechapel.
Their fears of such a thing happening are not based on anything that the police themselves have found out, but on a letter that was received on Saturday by Mr Albert Backert, the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, apparently from the individual who has adopted as his own the hideous sobriquet of "Jack the Ripper."
The letter was as follows:-
"Whitechapel, October 9, 1889.
I write you these few lines to let you know, as you are the Boss of the Vigilant Committee, that the last job was not me. You might have known it was not me, for I would not have made such a botch of it.
Never mind, young man, you can keep your lamps open for the 18th of Oct. I am on the job again.
There's no blood knocking about or I let you see some.
Never mind. Look out, old man. You're brave sort, you thought you had me once.
Yours, in haste, Albert Backert
Jack the Rip."
The letter was apparently written on Wednesday, but the post-mark shows it was not mailed until Saturday morning at the East London Post Office.
It is closely written on ordinary cheap notepaper, and on the envelope, which is also of common quality, are the letters J.R., in addition to the address.
The letters "per" were left off the word "Ripper," as the writer had not room to put them on the paper. The communication was smudged in places.
The words "you thought you had me once," refer, Mr Backert thinks, to a time when he captured a man in Aldgate just by the baths, who had a knife in his hand with which attempted to stab a woman.
The man was then taken by the police to the station with much difficulty, as the crowd that gathers in that district as if by magic was fully persuaded that the man was "Jack the Ripper," and was anxious to wreak summary vengeance."
Source: The Shields Daily Gazette Monday, 14th October, 1889.
Then, on Saturday, 26th October, 1889, he received another missive, in which the author explained why he had not carried out the threatened murder on the 18th:-
On the 12th inst. the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee received a letter purporting to have been sent by "Jack the Ripper," threatening to commence operations again on the 18th.
On Saturday morning last Mr. Backert again received a letter in a similar handwriting, which he has handed over to the police. The letter bears the Customs post-mark, and was posted on Friday night. The following is the letter:-
You are one too many for me this time. Whitechapel is too well watched. I could not bring a job off on the 18th. However, I intend to do the next job indoors.
Yours in haste,
Jack the Ripper. — Albert Backert. ""
Source: The York Herald Thursday, 31st October, 1889.
But, in early November, 1889, Backert found himself on the wrong side of the law when he appeared in court as a defendant:-
ALLEGED WHOLESALE PASSING OF COUNTERFEIT COIN
On Monday evening last Albert Backert, an engraver, of Newnham-street, Whitechapel, Henry Norman, stock broker's clerk, Poplar, and Albert Stanley, a barman, of Westminster Bridge-road, were remanded at Romford, on a charge of passing two counterfeit florins, at the Cherry Tree Inn, South Hornchurch, on the previous evening, with intent to defraud Mr. F. W. Turpin, the landlord.
On Sunday evening, a party of strangers called at the inn and were supplied with liquor and a cigar by Mrs. Turpin. Two florins were tendered in payment, and the coins were afterwards found to be bad.
The visitors drove away in two traps, and they were followed by Mr. Turpin.
The three prisoners occupied one trap, and Mr. Turpin came up with them at Dagenham and gave them into the custody of the Metropolitan police. The two men who occupied the other trap escaped.
The prisoners were handed over to Inspector Willsmer, of Romford, the same night, and were removed to Romford.
The prisoners were brought on remand before Jos. Fry, Esq., and C. P. Matthews, Esq., at the Romford Petty Session on Thursday last.
Mrs. Turpin corroborated foregoing.
P.C. Alfred Sharp, of the K Division, Metropolitan police, deposed to apprehending the prisoners at Dagenham; he found a pewter mug in the cart, which belonged to landlord of the Chequers Inn, Dagenham.
Mr. A. H. Hunt appeared for Norman and Backert.
The prisoners were remanded for a week, but Norman and Backert were admitted to bail.
The prisoners were then charged with passing two counterfeit florins at the Ship and Shovel Inn, Rippleside, Barking, on Sunday evening.
The prisoners were remanded.
The prisoners were further charged with passing two counterfeit florins with Mr. Henry Lucas, landlord of the Chequers Inn, Dagenham, Sunday. This case fell through.
The prisoners were next charged with stealing the pewter pot found in their cart. The prisoners were also remanded upon this charge."
Source: The Essex Newsman Saturday, 9th November, 1889.
Backert and his companions appeared in court in early December, 1889. Commenting on his appearance, The Essex Newsman reported that he was, "smartly dressed and seemed to be well educated."
He actually conducted his own defence, and the aforementioned newspaper was impressed by his eloquence, commenting on how he, "conducted his case with much skill, having prepared a brief."
Inspector Willsmer admitted that he thought Backert, Norman, and Stanley were innocent and that Backert had done all could to help find Smith, at last identifying his photograph, taken, when Smith went for five years penal servitude, at Scotland-yard.
Backert called witnesses to character, among others being two detectives, who deposed that he bore the highest possible character a man could bear.
Mr. Wightman Wood [prosecuting counsel] said that he would not press the case against Backert and Norman, but the jury expressed a wish to hear their defence.
Backert made a capital speech, in which he insisted on the absence of any guilty knowledge on his part.
After a long trial, the jury dismissed the charge against Backert and Norman.
Source: The Essex Newsman Tuesday, 10th December, 1889.
On Wednesday, July 30th, 1890, Walter Alfred Hargen shot dead William Lambert and John Wheeler, two members of a gang of ruffians who had pursued him in the district of Kingsland, Dalston, in East London.
He was subsequently charged with murder and, having been found guilty at his trial, was sentenced to 20 years penal servitude by the judge, Mr. Justice Charles.
There was a huge outcry against the harshness of his sentence, and many people wrote to the newspapers to express their indignation, amongst them Albert Bachert, whose letter was published by the Islington Gazette, on Monday, 22nd September, 1890:-
Another correspondent (Mr. Albert Bachert) writes:-
I feel sure the public will read with satisfaction that an attempt is being made to obtain mitigation of the very heavy punishment passed on the man Hargan, who, in saving his own life from the hands of two thieves, shot them.
Having lived for many years in Whitechapel, and having taken the keenest interest in the past number of murders in the East-end and their motives, I feel convinced that he was justified in what he did under the circumstances.
It may all be very well for a judge who gets about in a carriage, escorted and protected by his servants, to say that a man should not use a weapon (revolver or otherwise) in self-defence; but how about the poor man whose position in life compels him to be out and about at all hours of the night, and whose income compels him to live in the poorest and most dangerous districts? Is he to stand against the many thieves to be robbed and, perhaps, beaten to death, without protecting himself, and, if does, be arrested and sentenced to 20 years penal servitude?
If that is so, then the law of self-defence (justifiable homicide) no longer exists.
I know for a fact that it is a matter of impossibility for persons to get about certain parts of the East-end without being armed against the robbers and would-be murderers, who haunt the back streets and beer-shops seeking their prey.
I sincerely hope that the public will take this case up, and thus help to obtain a reduction of this extreme and heavy sentence.""
Source: The Islington Gazette Monday, 22nd September, 1890.
Bachert then claimed that the friends of the murdered men had been so incensed by his correspondence in the press that they had paid him a visit; and he duly turned up at the Thames Police Court to seek the advice of the Magistrate, Mr. Mead.
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, reported on his appearance on Sunday, 5th October, 1890:-
THE KINGSLAND MURDERS
At the Thames Police-court on Monday, Albert E. Backert, who took a prominent part in forming a vigilance committee during the excitement caused by the Whitechapel murders, asked Mr. Mead's advice.
He said that he had been writing to the newspapers respecting the Kingsland murders, and, a few days since, one of the friends of the murdered men came round to his house with the intention of "paying" him.
He wished to know if the men again came to his house if he could give them in custody before they assaulted him.
Mr. Mead said that, if the men threatened the applicant, he could obtain a summons against them, but the best thing he could do would be to complain to the police."
Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper Sunday, 5th October, 1890.
That same weekend, Albert claimed to have received another letter from the Whitechapel murderer, and duly wrote to The Daily Chronicle to make public this latest missive.
His letter was reproduced by the The Portsmouth Evening News, on Monday, 6th October, 1890:-
ANOTHER THREATENING LETTER,
The following letter is published by the Daily Chronicle:-
Yesterday morning (Saturday) I received a postcard signed "Jack the Ripper." It was addressed "Albert Backert, Chairman of the Vigilance Committee, Whitechapel," and ran thus:-
Be prepared for another murder and mutilation, not Whitechapel, but in the Hackney district, perhaps the Strand way.
I never mean to quit my ripping. I love my work too much for that. Ha, ha!
Ten more murders I intend to do. Look out!
Jack the Ripper."
This postcard I have shown to several heads of the police, who state it is the same handwriting as the letter they received some days ago.
I left the postcard in the hands of the police at Leman-street; extra precautions have been taken both by the police and several of my Committee men.
As showing the interest taken in the matter in the East-end, a gentleman called at my place yesterday, and has offered a reward of £10 to any person who can give information leading to the discovery of the writer of the letters.
13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel
Source: The Portsmouth Evening News Monday, 6th October, 1890.
Having found a willing publisher in the Daily Chronicle, Backert shared another letter with the newspaper, when on the morning of Friday, 10th October, 1890, he was approached by a distressed lady who informed him that she suspected she may have been jack the Ripper's landlady.
"Mr Albert Backert, chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, has written the following letter from Newnham-street, Whitechapel, dated Friday, to the Daily Chronicle:-
"In connection with the late Whitechapel murders, the most remarkable and sensational statement was made to me this morning at my place.
At eleven o'clock a very respectable middle-aged woman called at my house, and wished to see me.
She was asked in, and then made the following statement to me, which she declared was all quite true.
About two years ago, she said, she was living in the model dwellings close by here, and had a bedroom to let, furnished.
A young man called and engaged the room.
After living for some time with her he stated that he had been to sea, and that at the present time he was receiving £1 a -week from his father, and was also receiving an allowance from his brother, who was a doctor, and that he did not work himself.
She also noticed that he had plenty of clothes, including hunting breeches, revolvers, guns, and many other articles, which an ordinary working man would not have.
He had the door key and could go out and in at all hours of the night, and used generally to get up at about five p.m., but she could not say what time he arrived home at night.
On several occasions she noticed that his towels were very bloodstained, for which he accounted by saying that he was fond of painting, and had wiped his brush on them.
She also stated that she knew he had sent the liver [sic], because one afternoon she happened to go to his room and saw him with several pieces of liver on a newspaper, which he stated he had got from a New Zealand boat, as he knew a friend who was on board a frozen mutton boat.
She saw him pack it in a box and address it to the chairman of the then Vigilance Committee.
He also put some pieces into different envelopes, which he intended sending to the Central News and the Press Association, and the police, but he forgot them, and she threw them into the dustbin.
She noticed also that he had several brass wedding-rings on the mantel-shelf, and, on one or two occasions, he brought home a white-apron bloodstained, and gave them to her, which she has at the present time.
He always seemed to have plenty of money, and on the morning of the last murder (the Castle alley) he left, and has never returned.
He left a pair of silent shoes, several bags, which she says are bloodstained, and a long overcoat, which is also bloodstained.
I asked her if she had been to the police, and she said she had not, as she was afraid of getting into trouble for not having given information before.
She said she could hold the secret no longer, and she feels convinced that the man she had lodging with her was the real ";Jack the Ripper"; and Whitechapel murderer.
I feel sure that she was in earnest about this statement, and she appeared very nervous, and did not wish her name to be published.
I have no doubt that the police will make inquiries into this statement at once, and I directed her to go to Leman-street [police station] and give all particulars.
I may add that there was another person present when this statement was made this morning.""
Source: The Globe Saturday, 11th October, 1890.
Having placed himself firmly in the media spotlight, Backert, as he had now, apparently, taken to spelling his surname, was quick off the mark to comment on the spate of "Jack the Ripper" letters that had recently been sent.
On Sunday, 12th October, 1890, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper published the following letter from him:-
"TO THE EDITOR LLOYD'S NEWS
The reports which have appeared during the last few days concerning the supposed "Jack the Ripper" have caused great alarm in the East-end, and, being chairman of the Murders Vigilance committee I have been asked by many persons for information concerning these threats.
I may say that, a few days ago, I received a letter purporting to have been sent by "Jack the Ripper," stating to look out for some more murders during the coming winter.
Having received so many threats, I took no notice of the matter, but in view of the fact that the murders have been committed after I have received letters threatening to do so, and also that the dark nights are approaching, one cannot fail to take some notice of the matter.
Should any more letters be sent, either to the police or myself, I shall at once call a meeting and re-organise the Vigilance committee, and appeal to the Home Office and Scotland-yard to grant the same power to the committee men as is accorded to special constables, as something must be done to step both these threatening letters and a repetition of those horrible murders, which have so greatly injured the East-end.
Oct. 3rd, 1890."
On Saturday Mr. Backert wrote again to say he had just received another card signed "Jack the Ripper." It was from Whitechapel-road; and ran thus:-
Be prepared for another murder and mutilation, not Whitechapel, but in the Hackney district, perhaps the Strand way.
I never mean to quit my ripping. I love my work too much for that. Ha, ha!
Ten more murders I intend to do. Look out!
Jack the Ripper."
Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper Sunday, 12th October, 1890.
Interestingly, it would appear that the newspapers were growing suspicious of the way in which the name of Albert Backert was frequently popping up in connection to the case, and, over the weekend of 10th-12th of October, 1890, several newspapers began questioning the veracity of his statements, and several were even questioning whether his so-called "Whitechapel Vigilance Committee" actually existed outside of his own imagination, as no other members ever featured in any of the stories or letters he sent in to the papers.
Throughout the week of 12th - 18th October, several newspapers were adding caveats to stories about him, such as the following from The Western Gazette of Friday, 16th October, 1890:- "Mr Albert Backert, the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee (the members of which are totally unknown)..."
It also transpired that a reporter from Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, had succeeded in tracking down the lady who had made the statement to Mr Backert the previous Friday, and her version of what she said didn't quite tally with the version that Backert had made public.
With newspapers now questioning his veracity, Backert was stung into action, and he duly wrote to the Daily Chronicle to defend himself, and to stress that self-publicity was something that simply did not interest him!
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reprinted his letter on Tuesday, 14th October, 1890:-
THE JACK THE RIPPER SCARE
Mr. Albert Backert, chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, has addressed the following letter the Daily Chronicle:-
"Several newspapers have attempted to throw some doubt upon the statement which was sent to you on Friday concerning the woman who called at my place and made the statement.
From the information I supplied to a "Lloyd's News" reporter, he was able to trace the woman and get a statement from her.
I swear positively that every word mentioned in my letter was said by her, although I notice in the newspapers this morning that several passages have been contradicted - in fact, the woman appeared so upset that I firmly believe she does not now remember what she really did say.
I never stated that I wished notoriety, in fact I have always shunned it; and, in reference to the murders, I have all along endeavoured to trace the murderer and have been assisted by many others who elected me as their leader and chairman. The names of many these men can given if required.""
Source: The Sheffield Daily Telegraph Tuesday, 14th October, 1890.
However, Backert's letter did little to deter his press critics, and, on Sunday, 19th October, 1890, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, not only published its full interview with Jack the Ripper's alleged landlady, but also published an angry missive from the lodger in question in which he was, to say the least, extremely disparaging of Mr. Albert Backert!
The newspaper then expressed its unflattering opinion of the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee - which, so far as the newspaper could make out, consisted of just one member:-
A RIDICULOUS SCARE
Following close on the publication of certain threatening letters alleged to have been sent by "Jack the Ripper," came last week a circumstantial story of the most extraordinary character from the chairman of the so-called "Vigilance Committee" in Whitechapel.
The statements contained in it pointed to a direct clue to the Whitechapel murderer, and were said to have been made by a woman.
Further inquiry by reporters brought out apparent confirmations of a still more startling character. These were worked up in certain directions with an amount of gruesome detail and ghastly horror that left little to the imagination.
On sending a representative of Lloyd's to make independent inquiries into the matter, Mr. Backert could not be found, and from the account of an interview which appeared in the Evening News, he was not aware of either the name or address of the woman who made the statement.
Even the initial was unknown to him, for when the pressman said, "Give me her name and I'll find her out," Mr. Backert replied, "The name is Newcome or Newcomb, but I'm not sure. I think it began with an N."
"Nicholson, Nelson, Newman, Newton, Ner-?"
"She didn't want her name published."
Researches in another quarter, however, ultimately led our representative in the right direction, and on finding the woman, she told a very different story to that sent to the papers by Mr. Backert.
It was given at length in a large portion of our Special Edition of last week; and went to show that a simple tale of feminine fright had been magnified into a sensational horror.
Notwithstanding this, Mr. Backert sought to defend his conduct in the following letter, which appeared in Monday's Chronicle:-
"Several newspapers have attempted to throw some doubt upon the statement which was sent to you on Friday concerning the woman who called at my place and made the statement.
From the information I supplied to a Lloyd's News reporter he was able to trace the woman and get a statement from her.
I swear positively that every word mentioned in my letter was said by her, although I notice in the newspapers this morning that several passages have been contradicted - in fact, the woman appeared so upset that I firmly believe she does not now remember what she really did say.
I may add that the report which appeared in The Star on Saturday is entirely untrue. The conversation I had with the reporter was not at all as reported. There were two gentlemen present (Mr. Long and Mr. Copleston) who will swear that what appeared in the Star concerning what I was supposed to have said is not true. I never stated that I wished notoriety - in fact I have always shunned it; and in reference to the murders I have all along endeavoured to trace the murderer and have been assisted by many others who elected me as their leader and chairman. The names of many of these men can be given if required.
In justice to myself and others who have helped me, I trust you will insert this note in your next issue.
Albert Backert, 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel.
We may tell the chairman of the Vigilance committee that he is altogether mistaken in supposing that he gave our representative the clue.
AN IMPORTANT LETTER
On Friday, the following communication, which throws an interesting light on the story of the latest scare, came to us from Ipswich:-
"To THE EDITOR OF "Lloyd's News"
I have just had my attention drawn to the paragraph in your issue of the 12th inst., containing the account of the interview of your reporter with my ex-charwoman at ---- square, Mrs. -----; also to a copy of Mr. Backert's letter to the Daily Chronicle, giving his version of an interview with the same informant.
I am the "Captain" referred to, and I wish to thank you for the sensible and able manner in which you have investigated the matter.
The information given by Mrs. ----- to your reporter is straightforward and correct in almost every detail.
My memory, however, in one respect, does sot serve me so well as hers; for I do not recall as clearly as she appears to my movements at the time of the murders, with the exception of the occasion of the last one, which occurred while I was spending a fortnight with friends in Kent.
I am quite aware that the various incidences were so remarkable as to furnish Mrs. ---- with reasonable grounds for suspicion, especially as on one occasion to which she refers, I was suffering from an acute attack of cystitis, for which I was treated tor about a fortnight as an in-patient at University College Hospital.
With regard to Mr. Backert's letter, I am certainly of the opinion, after reading Mrs. ---- straightforward and temperate statement to your reporter, that, as your paper remarks, "there was nothing to justify the heated and exaggerated letter he sat down to write."
I enclose copy of a letter which I am sending to Mr. Backert, and of which, as well as of this, you are at perfect liberty make any use you please.
Enclosed you will find my card; but you will of course understand that I do not wish my name in full to be brought before the public.
your obedient servant,
COPY OF LETTER TO MR BACHERT
"Ipswich, Oct. 16, 1890.
I have just seen two reports of certain information supplied by my ex-charwoman, Mrs ----, formerly of ----- square, E., in one case to yourself, in the other to a Re[porter from Lloyd's Paper with regard to the so-called "Jack the Ripper" murders.
May I suggest that you might have shown more wisdom had you communicated the information unobtrusively to the police instead of rushing into print with a slipshod and highly-embellished version of what was evidently intended to be, and was in almost all particulars, an honest truthful statement by an honest, though ignorant woman; for by the former method of procedure you would have put the matter into the hands of experts, and would have avoided not only the trouble and excitement caused by your letter, but the possibility of having to answer for your unjustifiable conduct.
I enclose my card, but trust that you will have sufficient discretion to understand that my name is not for publication.
I remain, sir,
THE MAN REFERRED TO."
THE WOMAN'S STORY
Last night we received a letter from the woman herself - too long for publication - in which she says of Mr. Backert, I solemnly declare I was only two minutes in this man' company ... but I was about half an hour in his sister's company; ... He describes me as a nervous woman - how, then, could I lodge such a man?
I can assure you, sir, I was not so nervous as not to remember what I told him.
In the first place, I had only two rooms - one leading out of the other.
I now declare I never let a furnished room, and never on oath did I tell this man [Backert] such a story. He has injured me a great deal.
Why did he not send his sister for a policeman?
He says he had not time; but he found time to sit down and write to the paper.
A more cruel attack against a defenseless woman was never read."
The poor woman is afraid she will be called "Jack the Ripper's landlady."
This need not be if she will only keep her own counsel.
We have refrained from printing her name or address, and so far as we are aware it is unknown to Mr. Backert to this hour.
In the public interest, as well as that of all parties concerned, silence is best; but the "Vigilance" chairman - we do not hear of any committee - does not appear to be of this opinion.
Not satisfied with the unwarrantable publication of the mass of hysterical nonsense of last week, he appeared at Lloyd's office last night, showing a letter bearing the post-mark, "Low-hill, Liverpool," which ran as follows:-
I am sorry for troubling you, but, since my last epistle, I have altered my mind as regards Hackney, London, and intend to do a bit in Liverpool for a short time in the vicinity of Hanover-square.
I am already billeted here, as you will see by the postmark.
I intend to give the Liverpool police the chance of their skill this time.
JACK THE RIPPER"
In giving publicity to this letter, we must state that we do not attach the smallest importance to it.
The police authorities say that threatening letters have become so common that they are convinced they are designedly written for mere wantonness or to create a scare.
A "vigilance committee," if it is to be of the slightest public good, should discountenance sensational excitement.
Let Mr. Backert, instead of rushing into print, quietly hand over any letters he may receive to the police, and he will be acting far more wisely than he has done in the past."
Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper Sunday, 19th October, 1890.
In view of the mauling he was taking in the daily press, Mr. Backert appears to have retreated from the limelight for a few months, in order to give the furore time to die down.
However, when Frances Coles was murdered, in the early hours of the 13th February, 1891, he was quick to fire off a letter to the newspapers, claiming that he may well have seen this latest victim in the company of her murderer.
The Dundee Courier published his letter on Monday, 16th February, 1891:-
Albert Backert, who has already taken a prominent part in the tracking the Whitechapel fiend, writes to the press as follows:-
"It may be of interest to the public to know that the tradesmen of Whitechapel and myself think that the murder was not done by the supposed "Jack the Ripper."
The woman who has been murdered was seen by a friend and myself last night at a quarter past twelve outside Leman Street Railway Station speaking to man, and when I arrived home (only a few yards from the scene of the murder), it being then five minutes past one, the same woman was talking to a man opposite my house.
I went inside, and later I heard some loud talking. I looked out of the window, and heard the man say, "Well, you won't come home with me?"
She made some reply which I did not understand.
He then said, "If you don't, you will never go home with another man."
They then walked in the direction of the arches in Chambers Street.
I have been called upon to serve on the jury tomorrow afternoon, and it is my intention to inquire into this case.
If evidence is brought forward which can prove that it has been committed by the late Whitechapel fiend, I shall at once reform the Vigilance Committee and appeal to the public for aid.""
Source: The Dundee Courier Monday, 16th February, 1891.
As it transpired, Albert Backert's boast that he had been called to serve on the jury at the inquest into Frances Coles death, was, in fact, untrue; albeit, this didn't stop Backert from turning up at the inquest, which led to an angry exchange between him and the Coroner, Wynne Baxter.
The Times reported the exchange between them on Monday, 16th February, 1891:-
On the names of the jurymen summoned being called out by the Coroner's officer, it was found that only eight answered, the remainder of those present being substitutes.
Some of the latter were accepted, but when Mr. Backert, the chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, offered himself as a substitute in place of a Mr. Fielder, the Coroner declined to allow him to serve.
The CORONER:-"Because I decline."
Mr. Backert:-"You decline simply because I happen to be chairman of the Vigilance Committee, and you think I shall fully investigate this matter. I have a right to be on the jury."
The CORONER:-"I have decided you are not to serve on this jury."
Mr. Backert:-"Yes; because you know I shall inquire into the case."
The CORONER:-"You have already been told I shall decline to accept you."
Mr. Backert:-"(walking to the back of the court). - You will hear more of this."
The jury, having been sworn, proceeded to view the body. On their return Mr. Backert, addressing the Coroner, said:- "It was only after you heard who I was that you would not allow me to serve on the jury."
The CORONER:-"If you do not keep quiet I will have you ejected from the room."
Source: The Times Monday, 16th February, 1891.
His next appearance in the newspapers was over another court appearance, this time when he appeared as the defendant in a case that must have severely dented the reputation of the self-ordained chairman of the Vigilance Committee.
The Globe reported on his antics on Tuesday, 30th June, 1891:-
At the Thames Police-court, Alfred Backert, the chairman the Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, who described himself as an engraver and "reporter" of 13, Newnham Street Whitechapel, was charged with disorderly conduct in High Street, Whitechapel.
Constable 325 H said that he saw the defendant fighting. He had been ejected four times from a butcher's shop, and as he refused to go away he was taken into custody.
The defendant said that he knew the law better than the witness did, and would stay there as long as he liked.
Thomas Oates, a butcher, said the defendant often came to his shop after he had been drinking. He would not go away, and he shoved the witness, who then struck him.
Mr Montagu Williams:- "Does he often get drunk?"
Mr Montagu Williams:- "Very often. Mostly Mondays and Tuesdays as a rule."
Mr. Montagu Williams fined the defendant five shillings, or in default, five days' imprisonment."
Source: The Globe Tuesday, 30th June, 1891.
The press coverage of his arrest for drunkenness was not the sort of publicity that Mr. Albert Backert craved, and, in early July, 1891, he was back in the newspapers for the sort of thing he seems to have been more than happy with - receiving a letter from the Whitechapel murderer.
The Shepton Mallet Journal was one of several newspapers that published details of the Chairman's most recent missive in its edition of Friday, 3rd July, 1891:-
Mr. Backert. chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, writes:-
"I have received another letter written in the same style and signed in the same way as the letters received before several of the late murders.
The letter is as follows:-
"George Yard, Whitechapel.
I am going to commence operations again shortly in this neighbourhood, and if you or your infernal gang in the least attempt to trace my whereabouts, so help my God, I'll put a knife in your heart.
So beware and take warning, and let me alone.
Let the police catch me if they can; it's their duty.
But pity them, as I never intend to be taken alive.
I have nearly been caught twice.
Jack the Ripper.
G. W. B. my initials.""
Mr. Backert has handed the letter to the police."
Source: The Shepton Mallet Journal Friday, 3rd July, 1891.
However, court appearance for drunkenness was evidently playing on Albert's mind over the summer of 1891, and he, therefore, decided to seek redress from the court.
On Tuesday, 25th August, 1891, he appeared at the Thames Police Court and attempted to lodge a complaint against the police.
The Globe reported on his attempt in its next day's edition:-
At the Thames Police-court yesterday, Albert Backert, the chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, who a short time since was convicted at this court for drunkenness and disorderly conduct, applied to Mr. Dickinson for process against two constables for committing wilful and corrupt perjury, and also for conspiracy.
Since his case was heard at that court he had seen an "ex-Cabinet Minister," but he had not the time to bring the matter before Parliament prior to the recess.
Mr. Dickinson said that, as the case was decided by Mr. Montagu Williams, so the applicant had better make his application to that gentleman, who would be sitting here on Thursday and Friday.
Backert said that he had been sent from court to court to find Mr. Williams, and he thought that the information which he had prepared would be sufficient.
Mr. Dickinson again repeated that he knew nothing about the matter, and the applicant would have to bring the case before Mr. Williams."
Source: The Globe Wednesday, 26th August, 1891.
However, Backert had, evidently not learnt a lesson from his previous court appearance and, on Monday, 16th November, 1888, he was in court again, although, as the following article from that day's The South Wales Echo demonstrates, he appeared before a sympathetic Magistrate on this occasion:-
THE CHAIRMAN AND THE POLICE
At the Thames police-court, to-day, Albert Backert, chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, was charged with being drunk and disorderly in East India Dock-road.
Defendant, in answer to the charge, said it was a conspiracy got up by the police and manufactured by them.
He called many witnesses, who stated that they saw a policeman push Backert.
The Magistrate said he would give the defendant the benefit of the doubt, and discharged him."
Source: The South Wales Echo Monday, 16th November, 1891.
In January, 1892, Albert Backert once more sought the advice of a Magistrate at the Thames Police Court.
LOOKING FOR JACK THE RIPPER
Albert Backert, the chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, was amongst the applicants for advice.
He stated that he was the chairman of the committee that was formed several years go for the purpose of discovering the author of the Whitechapel murders.
A few weeks since, he received a letter signed "Jack the Ripper", stating that the writer would shortly commence operations again.
In consequence, he and some friends went out on the watch during the recent foggy weather.
During "their adventures" they found a number of men and women sleeping in the streets.
He wanted to know if he could call the attention of the police to these people, and so have them removed to workhouses or shelters?
Mr. Dickinson told the applicant that he knew very well the matter was nothing to do with him, and that he could not advise in cases of that sort.
He would have to go to the inspector of police, or the proper authority."
Source: The People Sunday, 10th January, 1892.
Then, in March, 1892, he was targeted by yet another letter writer and, once more, turned up at the Thames Police Court to seek the Magistrate's advice, and make known the fact that he believed he knew the identity of the writer of the Jack the Ripper letters.
The Aberdeen Press and Journal, reported on his appearance on Wednesday, 2nd March, 1892:-
THE JACK THE RIPPER LETTERS
At the Thames Police Court, Albert Backert, chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, has been among the applicants for advice from the Magistrate.
He said he had received paper signed "A. F. P.," the meaning of which he did not know, and on the upper sheet a coffin and cross-bones had been drawn.
Applicant "believed he had an idea" who was the writer "Jack the Ripper" letters, and he wanted to know if he met the man whether he would be justified in giving him into custody?
Mr Mead said he could not do that. If he found out who wrote the letter he could have a summons.
Backert:- "But he is the author of all the "Jack the Ripper" letters".
Mr Mead:- "What nonsense."
Backert:- "But what am I to do if I meet him ".
Mr Mead:- "Leave him alone. If you have any complaint go the police."
Source: The Aberdeen Press and Journal Wednesday, 2nd March, 1892.
In April, he was back in the Thames Police Court, this time attempting to bring an action for libel against a speaker who had, so he felt, insulted him at a meeting on Tower Hill.
MR BACHERT COMPLAINS OF BEING LIBELLED
Mr. Albert Bachert, Chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, made an application to Mr. Dickinson under the Libel Act.
He stated that yesterday a meeting of the unemployed was held on Tower Hill, during which a man got up and made a speech.
In the course of his remarks he mentioned having received a postcard, on which it was stated that the applicant was a drunkard and a person of bad character.
Applicant asked for the name of the writer, and the speaker replied that it had been sent anonymously.
He (Mr. Bachert) wanted to summon the speaker for libel.
Mr Dickinson:- "Haven't you got something better to do than take in interest in these meetings? Are you one of the unemployed?"
Mr Bachert:- "I am."
Mr Dickinson:- "Then go and look for employment, and take no notice of such stupid things."
Mr Bachert:- "I have never been fined for drunkenness, although I must admit Mr. Montagu Williams fined me for being excited." (Laughter.)
Mr Dickinson:- "Take my advice and leave such matters alone for the future."
Mr Bachert:- "Yes. They are only Socialists. I shall drop them for the future. "
Applicant then withdrew.
Source: Reynolds's Newspaper Sunday, 10th April, 1892.
By April, 1892, Backert had become involved in the struggle of the East End unemployed, albeit, he was strictly anti-Socialist, and, in consequence, he had formed his own Committee, as was reported by The Leeds Mercury, on Monday, 11th April, 1892:-
The unemployed of the metropolis intend to make this week memorable.
Meetings will be held every day on Tower Hill, and if sufficient members attend processions will be formed and pass through the City to the West End.
Mr. John Burns and Mr. Ben Tillett are to be asked to address the meetings, and another deputation to the Labour members of the Council is in contemplation. Members Parliament are asked for their support, and a deputation may even be sent to the House of Commons.
There is, however, by no means unanimity among the unemployed themselves.
The main body belong to the Social Democratic Federation, but Mr. Backert and a considerable minority do not believe in the doctrines of that body, and as Mr. Backert has not been allowed to speak at the meetings on Tower Hill because he refused to join the Federation, he has formed a committee of twenty who intend the work independently of the Social Democrats."
Source: Leeds Mercury Monday, 11th April, 1892.
However, the fact that he wasn't allowed to address the crowd was not a deterrent to the irrepressible Albert Bachert and, on the afternoon of 14th April, 1892, he turned up at Tower Hill and, despite receiving a hostile reception, he addressed the crowd and attempted to warn them away from the Socialist agenda.
A rumour was circulating that a mysterious Belgian had approached a dockworker, by the name of Waite, following a meeting in Hyde Park, and had tried to recruit him into a bizarre anarchist plot to kidnap leading politicians and hold them for ransom.
Ever one for a juicy conspiracy, Albert Bachert attempted to lay the blame for this plot firmly at the door of his opponents.
The Morning Post published a summary of Backert's address to the crowd in its next day's edition:-
THE UNEMPLOYED AGITATION
Yesterday afternoon, under the auspices of the "Unemployed Committee," a well-attended meeting of unemployed workmen was held on Tower-hill.
At the close of the meeting some excitement was caused by a speech from Mr. Albert Backert, in which he made a statement in connection with the story of the stranger who had suggested last Saturday week to Waite, the unemployed docker, that he and three other determined men should kidnap members of the nobility, high Government officials, and others, with a view to their subsequent ransom.
Speaking amid continual interruptions, Mr. Backert said that he himself was in the park when the man appeared to Waite and made those overtures.
Somebody had said that not until the windows were broken and places pillaged would anything be done. (Hear, hear and cheers.)
He asked them not to follow that treacherous crowd. (Interruption and cries of "Police spy.") He warned them that if they followed the Red Rag they would only find employment in gaol.(Laughter and jeers.)
If the Socialists went again to Spring-gardens they would be given into custody.
He left this unemployed agitation and formed his own party when he found that the Socialists were subscribing towards the manufacture of bombs. (Great interruption.)
They then tried to white-wash themselves.
The speaker continued:-
"This man who drew Waite aside was one of them. (Sensation.) They knew him well. They spoke to him, and he showed a revolver. I asked them not to be led by men whose hands were steeped in crime."
Mr. Backert concluded amid a scene of great disorder, the Socialists indignantly repudiating the charge alleged against them."
Source: The Morning Post Friday, 15th April, 1892.
Then, on Saturday 27th August, 1892, he found himself in court again, this time prosecuted by his father, john, who accused him of stealing from him.
The Bradford Daily Telegraph, reported his case, and the charges against him, in its edition of the following Tuesday:-
A FATHER CHARGES HIS SON WITH STEALING SOVEREIGNS
Albert Backert, aged 36, was charged at the Thames Police Court on Saturday, with stealing two coats, two pairs of trousers, one pair of boots, and a bag containing £350, altogether of the value of £558 10s, the property of his father, a tailor, Newnham Street, Shadwell.
Prosecutor stated that he went to Liverpool Street Station on Thursday, August 18 to go to Harwich, prisoner accompanying him to see him off to Hamburg.
Witness came back on August 24, but he did not go to Newnham Street, as he had sold all the things before he went away.
When the things were sold, he had £350 in gold in a canvas bag, which he put at the bottom of a big heavy box.
Prisoner did not see him put it in the box, but a friend of the prisoner's helped him to pack up.
Witness saw the money before he went away.
He asked his son to get a ticket out of the pocket of one of his coats, and the box was locked by prisoner in the witness's presence.
Witness was told at the station that the box could not go with him, as it was addressed direct to Hamburg.
When he saw it at that place, the box was broken open and the money and other things gone.
Detective-sergeant Pearce said prisoner when brought Leman Street and charged said, "I did not steal the money or the clothes. I found the coats in the cupboard, and I took them to my lodgings. I don't know anything of the money. Kirby packed the box. I had nothing to do with it."
Prisoner was remanded."
Source: The Bradford Daily Telegraph Tuesday, 30th August, 1892.
However, by the following Saturday, so The Jersey Independent reported, the case against him had collapsed:-
A CHARGE OF ROBBERY DISMISSED
At the Thames Police Court to-day Albert Backert, who was Chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee during the "Jack the Ripper" scare, was charged with stealing upwards of £3OO belonging to his father, a tailor.
The Magistrate, however, said there was no evidence against the accused, who was discharged.
Source: The Jersey Independent Saturday, 3rd September, 1892.
By November, 1892, Backert was gaining a reputation for agitation at the unemployment protests that were taking place on Tower Hill, albeit his speeches rarely received approval from the crowd, as was detailed in the following article, which appeared in Lloyd's List, on Thursday, 3rd November, 1892:-
There was a very large attendance at the meeting of the unemployed on Tower-hill yesterday, and angry collision occurred between the great body of the crowd in sympathy with the organisers of the Social Democratic Federation and the man Backert, who was supported by a smaller section.
Ultimately the police had to interfere, and the meeting abruptly broke up."
Source: Lloyd's List Thursday, 3rd November, 1892.
Despite his political agitation, or perhaps because of it, he couldn't resist turning up at the Thames Police Court where, Thursday, 8th December, 1892, to complain about the way he had been treated by a "saucy" constable.
Reynolds's Newspaper, published the details of his complaint the following Sunday:-
BACKERT AND THE POLICE
Albert Backert, who has identified himself with the unemployed and many other matters in the district, attended before Mir Dickinson, at the Thames Police Court, on Thursday, with reference to a charge of stealing £300 that was preferred against him some time since.
Without being called on for any defence, Mr. Mead ordered him to be discharged, and the gentleman who lost the money had since admitted he was innocent.
Last Monday the same person lost two coats, and he (Backert) went and gave information of the robbery to the police.
Last night, said Backert, an inspector or detective went to the gentleman's house, 40, High- street, Whitechapel, and wanted him to say that it was the applicant who had committed the theft.
Mr. Dickinson advised Backert not to take any notice of such statements. He appeared to trouble himself about matters which did not concern him.
Backert said that he had also to complain about Constable 442 H, who had been saucy, and refused to give the name of the officer that called at the house.
Mr. Dickinson observed that the police were not obliged to do such a thing. Applicant had better leave the matter alone, as, in all probability, the gossip was unfounded.
Backert then withdrew."
Source: Reynolds's Newspaper Sunday, 11th December, 1892.
In late January, 1893, Backert headed to Bristol where, on Saturday, 4th February, 1893, he either organised, or became involved with, a demonstration by the unemployed at the Horsefair, Bristol.
Unfortunately, the turnout was not quite as large as anticipated, as was reported by the The Bristol Mercury, on Monday, 6th February, 1893:-
No one passing the Horsefair on Saturday morning would have suspected the few people lounging in the vicinity about 11 o'clock of being party to a demonstration of the unemployed. Nor were they.
But a meeting of the unemployed was to have been held.
It was abandoned, presumably because of the sparse attendance. Very few persons knew anything of the contemplated assembly. No announcement of it was to be seen in the neighbourhood, and, as far as the Horsefair was concerned, not the slightest preparation seemed to have been made..."
Source: The Bristol Mercury Monday, 6th February, 1893.
However, the newspaper did admit that an attempt had been made to publicise the proposed meeting by a well-known letter-writer from London, albeit the paper had not published it:-
TO THE EDITOR OF THE BRISTOL MERCURY
Permit me, on behalf of the Bristol Unemployed, to sate that a meeting of Bristol Unemployed will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m., at the Horsefair, for the purpose of calling upon the authorities to take the question of the unemployed in hand.
Late Sec. London Unemployed Relief Committee
3, Harford street
Feb. 3, 1893."
Source: The Bristol Mercury Monday, 6th February, 1893.
The newspaper then went on to publish and interview that its reporter had secured with Backert, which, as it transpired, was not the sort of publicity that Backert required, since, as he was busily agitating on behalf of the unemployed of Bristol, the police in London has issued a warrant for his arrest.
Since Backert had been only too willing to provide his address, the Bristol police had little difficulty in tracking him down, and, a little after 11pm on the night of Wednesday, 8th February, 1893, Detective-sergeant Robertson, of the Bristol Constabulary, paid him a visit:-
The Bristol Mercury, reported the outcome in its next day's edition:-
THE UNEMPLOYED, ARREST IN BRISTOL
Shortly after eleven o'clock last night, a man named Albert Backert was arrested in Maudlin street by Detective-sergeant Robertson, of the Bristol force, on a warrant issued by the Metropolitan police charging him with obtaining money by means of fraudulent pretences.
The warrant was received by the Bristol police yesterday from the H Division of the Metropolitan police force, and the attention of the detective force was at once directed to the report of an interview in the BRISTOL MERCURY of Monday - the report containing the text at a letter signed by Backert, in which he gave his address and stated he was late secretary of the Unemployed Relief Committee, London.
When arrested, the man admitted that he had been living at 3 Harford street.
The London police will be communicated with, and in all probability Backert will be detained without being brought before the magistrates here until the arrival of an officer from the Metropolis.
Source: The Bristol Mercury Thursday, 9th February, 1893.
When the news that Backert had been arrested broke, newspapers across the land, almost gleefully, reported on it, and the headlines provide us with an insight into how Backert was perceived by the media at large.
The Derby Daily Telegraph headed its report:- "A NOTORIOUS BUSYBODY IN TROUBLE"; The Daily Gazette For Middlesborough, headlined its article;- "A SEEKER OF NOTORIETY IN TOUBLE"; The Southern Echo opined that his arrest came about as a direct result of his need for attention:- "TOO FOND OF LETTER WRITING", was its succinct headline.
On Friday, 10th February, 1893, The Bristol Mercury, provided an update on the case, and published his last letter to the newspaper which he had written prior to his arrest:-
The young man Albert Backert, who more than a week ago came to Bristol with the avowed object of organising the unemployed by means of daily parades and meetings, and who was arrested on Wednesday night as reported in yesterday's MERCURY, has been handed over to the London police who came down here for him.
He was arrested on a warrant charging him with having in the district of Commercial road, London, E., on January 14th, 1893, "unlawfully and by false pretences and subtle devices obtained from Elizabeth Pascoe a quantity of bread and flour, her property, with intent to cheat and defraud."
It will be remembered that the man giving the name Albert Backert had left at the MERCURY office information of meetings he proposed to hold.
On Tuesday, the day before his arrest, he left his last letter at the office of this paper. It was as follows:-
"To the Editor of the BRISTOL MERCURY.
In the issue of your paper yesterday you stated that I am or was a new organiser for the Bristol unemployed; you are quite right in so stating.
As a matter of fact, it is my intention to get together the unemployed of Bristol.
At the present time I find hundreds of men who are out of employment through no fault of their own, independent of the deal runners or Saunders's look-out, and this morning a large crowd of the unemployed assembled at the Horsefair for the purpose of taking part in the Bristol unemployed movement.
Allow me, therefore, to state that tomorrow morning (Wednesday) a meeting will take place of the unemployed.
Trusting you will kindly make known this question, I am, Sir,
3, Harford street
Feb. 7, 1893
Source: The Bristol Mercury Friday, 10th February, 1893.
On Friday, 10th February, 1893, Backert made an appearance in a place he had showed a great fondness for at the height of his east End fame, the Thames Police Court, where he was charged with "obtaining bread and flour with intent to defraud."
The charges having been read, he was remanded.
The following Wednesday, 15th February, 1893, he was brought up again, where full details of the case were given and were reported by the Bristol Mercury the next day:-
At the Thames police court, yesterday, Albert Bachert, 26, well known in connection with the Tower hill meetings, described as an engraver, of 3, Harford-street, Lower Maudlin-street, Bristol, was brought up, on remand, charged with obtaining a quantity of bread and flour from Mrs Elizabeth Pascoe, baker, of Commercial-road, by means of fraud.
Mr Bryan (Messers Waters and Bryan) prosecuted, and Mr F. Deakin defended.
On the last occasion only the sworn information was read over.
Mr Bryan said the charge against the prisoner was that, on the 14th January, he obtained certain goods from Mrs Pascoe.
The prisoner was not altogether unknown in London, and at the time of the fraud was the secretary and servant of the Rev Harry Wilson, vicar of St. Augustine's, Stepney, who was the chairman of a committee for the relief of the unemployed. That committee had since ceased exist, owing to a lack of funds.
Other persons hereafter would probably be brought into the case.
Miss Pascoe said that, on the 14th of January, Bachert, whom she knew as the secretary to the Tower Hamlets Unemployed Relief Committee, came to her shop.
He produced an order for bread and flour, which he said had been ordered to go to Limehouse for an urgent case.
Witness said she could not deliver it that night, when Bachert got a man, to whom was handed six quarterns of bread and six quarterns of flour.
On the following Tuesday, her attention was called to the order, which she then found had not been signed by Mr Wilson.
Witness believed the prisoner came from Mr Wilson with a genuine order, or she would not have let him have them.
Bachert was in the habit of coming for the orders. She gave him 6d towards the cost of taking the bread and flour to Limehouse. The value of the goods supplied to prisoner was 4s 6d.
Witness had entered into an arrangement with the committee to supply goods, and all orders were to be signed by Mr Wilson.
By the magistrate - Twelve half quartern loaves was an unusual order.
By Mr Deakin - She was defrauded because the ticket had not been signed. At the time she had several unexecuted orders. She told Bachert that she was too busy to send the goods. Prisoner did not say anything to her to induce her to think the order had come from Mr. Wilson. She parted with the bread and flour because it was an urgent case, and she thought he was authorised by Mr. Wilson. It was nothing but the production of the order that induced her to part with the goods. Witness had not been paid for them.
The Rev Harry Wilson said he was chairman of the committee. The prisoner was a member of the committee, and also secretary. He was in witness's employ at a salary of 26 shillings a week.
The object of the committee was to relieve deserving cases of the unemployed from funds in his hands.
Bachert's duty was to bring all forms to him for approval, and if he a approved he put his initials at the bottom of the form. Bachert then filled up order forms, which witness afterwards signed.
It was then his duty to deliver them to the tradesmen, after which his duty ceased.
Bachert had no authority to take the form produced to Mrs Pascoe, and had not brought the case "Avenall" before him.
By Mr Deakin - cases had been investigated by individual members of the committee. Witness had given Bachert permission to investigate cases.
The prisoner's connection with the committee lasted five weeks, and he worked very well. Bachert had the handling of the petty cash, which was correctly accounted for.
The Rev R. Wilson, curate, and brother of the last witness, said that on the 14th January he was acting for his brother. Bachert told him he had an urgent case, and witness signed a pink paper (not the order given to Mrs Pascoe).
A woman keeping a beer-house would not have been relieved by the committee,
By Mr Deakin - He had seen Bachert's name as having investigated a case. Prisoner's services had been valuable to the committee. Witness had trusted him with money.
At this stage Mr Mead again remanded the prisoner. "
Source: The Bristol Mercury Thursday, 16th February, 1893.
Backert's next court appearance was on Wednesday, 22nd February, 1893, and this time he was committed to stand trial for fraud.
His trial took place at the London Sessions on Tuesday, 7th March, 1893, at which he was sentenced to three months hard labour.
The Southern Echo, published the following opinion concerning his conviction in its edition of the next day:-
ROBBING THE UNEMPLOYED
When the unemployed movement was to the front, everyone read of the speeches of a man named Albert Backert.
Apparently, he lived only to better the condition of his fellow man, and no one painted a more vivid picture than he did of the state of affairs amongst the poor.
He was appointed as Secretary to the Tower Hamlets Unemployed Investigation and Relief Society, at a salary of 25 shillings a week, which, considering his great "love of the cause", ought to have been amply sufficient.
But, alas, he was not so whole hearted in the cause as he made out.
In fact, he soon resorted to deception, and by fraud obtained a quantity of bread to which he was not entitled.
He absconded, but was detected and brought back.
Yesterday, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
The case is useful, because it shows the working men the character of some of those who aspire to lead them.
As a rule, we are glad to say that such persons are honest, but men like Backert deserve to be punished when discovered in robbing funds raised for honest unemployed working men."
Source: The Southern Echo Wednesday, 8th March, 1893.
Having served his prison sentence, Albert Backert was released from prison, and, shortly thereafter, he made a final appearance at the Thames Police Court, and in the newspapers, lamenting the fact that his conviction had ruined his chances of pursuing a career in politics.
Reynolds's Newspaper reported this final appearance on Sunday, 11th June, 1893:-
ALBERT BACKERT SPOILED FOR PARLIAMENT
Albert Backert, at one time chairman of the Whitechapel Murder Vigilance Committee, and who has just come out of prison after serving a sentence of three months, claimed Mr. Dickinson's indulgence at the Thames Police Court, on Friday, to say a few words.
Some time back a charge was preferred against him by some of his colleagues on a Relief Committee, and he was convicted.
At his trial, five of the jury recommended him to mercy, but the Press, to make the case appear more black against him, omitted that fact from the published reports.
He had written to the Home Secretary on the subject, and that Minister had replied how sorry he was for him.
That conviction had thoroughly ruined him, as, before it happened, he had been asked to stand for Parliamentary honours and for a seat on the County Council.
Now he was unable to go in for either.
Had there been a Court of Appeal, he should have appealed against the sentence.
A fund had been opened on his behalf for the purpose of sending him abroad, and he intended to go.
Mr. Dickinson told Backert he could not do anything for him. He (the Magistrate) hoped in the new land he would make his life successful."
Source: Reynolds's Newspaper Sunday, 11th June, 1893.
And so, one of the most reported on locals in the Jack the Ripper investigation withdrew from the spotlight, and, thereafter, his name disappears from the British newspapers.
What became of him remains unknown, and his date of death is not known either.
The only presumption that can be drawn from that last appearance at the Thames Police Court is that he did indeed go abroad and establish himself in a new life elsewhere.
However, one cannot help but thinking that, wherever he did go, Albert Bachert, or Backert, would not have been able to resist involving himself in the local community in some way or other.