Smith’s Statement to Abberline

[The following statement was taken by Inspector Frederick Abberline in London on February 14, 1889, the same day that he also took statements from James Martin, William Bury’s former employer, and Elizabeth Haynes, Bury’s former landlord.  As was the case with the statements from Martin and Haynes, there is nothing in Smith’s statement which indicates that Abberline was investigating Bury for the Ripper murders—Smith was Bury’s landlord during the period of the C5 murders, but there’s nothing in his statement which indicates that Abberline asked him if Bury was at home on the days of the murders, or even if Bury was often away from his residence.  Some have theorized that Bury premeditated his wife’s murder and that the larger, empty trunk referred to by Smith was built to transport her body after she had been murdered, but the stewardess aboard the Cambria, the ship that the Burys took to Dundee, said that the Burys took two boxes with them “which were very heavy” (“Shocking Tragedy in Dundee,” The Scotsman, 12 Feb. 1889, p.5), which shows that the larger trunk was simply needed to help them transport all of the things that they were taking with them.  Where did the items to fill this second, larger trunk come from, if not from the Spanby Road residence?  Perhaps they came from one or more of the other residences (possibly the residences of friends) that the journalist, Norman Hastings, reported that Bury used during the period of the Ripper murders.  Also worth noting here is Smith’s assertion that Bury didn’t drink on Sundays, and William Beadle’s related observation in his book, Jack the Ripper Unmasked, that none of the Ripper victims were murdered on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, when Bury was presumably sober.  Smith’s statement includes marginalia, which I have reproduced with italicized text.]

14th February 1889

Statement of William Smith of 3 Spanby Road, Bromley by-Bow. “Builder”

“On 11th August last William Henry Bury, and his wife came to reside at my house.  They occupied three rooms for which they paid 5/-3 per week.  [Accused and his wife lived in my house from 11th August to 18th January]  he described himself as a sawdust + silver sand merchant.  I knew nothing about him until he came to reside with us.  During the whole of the time he resided here with the exception of Sundays he was constantly drinking, and very frequently drunk.  He frequently assaulted his wife, [He was constantly drunk and frequently assaulted her] and on one occasion about three months ago I heard her screaming, and had to interfere to prevent him further assaulting her.  On two occasions I saw that her face was disfigured from his violence.  She seemed a quiet respectable woman and I only saw her on one occasion the worse for drink.  They gave up possession of their apartments on Friday the 18th Ultimo and left stating they were going to Brisbane.  [He sd they were going to Brisbane]  They took with them two packing cases which I nailed together for them, the largest case was nearly empty and contained only a few sheets, and some waste paper.  [They took 2 packing cases, wh. I nailed together for them of wh. Label 2 was one.  It was nearly empty]  I asked him why he wanted such a large box and he replied “I shall have some more things to put into it when I get to the Docks.”  [I asked what he wanted with such a big case.  He sd he wd have more to put in at Docks.]  I said what dock are you going to He replied “Ah that’s what you want to know like a lot more.”  [Refused to say what dock.]  About a week after they left here the carman who conveyed the boxes away told me he had taken them to the Dundee Wharf.”  [Carman told him he had driven them to Dundee Dock.]

W Smith

The above Statement was taken by me.

F. Abberline Inspr. 14.2.89.