On 28th April 1889, William Henry Bury (Berry) met his maker at the end of James Berry's rope for the murder of his wife Ellen Bury (Berry) in Dundee, Scotland.
William Henry Bury was born on 25th May 1859 in Stourbridge Worcestershire to Henry Bury, an employee of a local fishmonger, and his wife Mary Jane Henley. Tragically William was orphaned at an early age. His father Henry was killed in a horse and cart accident on 10th April 1860, when he fell under the wheels of his own cart as his horse bolted.
Mary Jane, already suffering with depression after the birth of her fourth child, William, and the death of her eldest child, seven year old Elizabeth Ann from a fit that same year, was committed to the Worcester Pauper and Lunatic Asylum on 7th May 1860. There she remained until her death at the age 33 on 30th March 1864.
|William Henry Bury|
On the 1861 Census, one year old William can be found being cared for by Mary Jane's younger brother, Edward Henley and his wife Ann. By 1871 William, then aged 12, is a boarding pupil at Stourbridge's Blue Coate Charitable School. At the age of 16 William found work as a Factor's Clerk in Wolverhampton, where he remained until the early part of the 1880s when he left after being unable to repay a loan. He found work with a lock manufacturer in Lord Street, Wolverhampton, until he was sacked for a theft in 1884. After that William lead an unsettled life as a street hawker.
Sometime in the October of 1887, William moved to London where he found work as a sawdust seller. It was in London that he met and later married Ellen Elliot on 2nd April 1888. William and Ellen left London and travelled to Dundee to escape William's debt, arriving in the Scottish city on 20th January 1889. On the 4th of February, William bought a length of rope from a provisions store.
The evening of 10th February 1889 William walked into the Dundee Central Police Station in Bell Street and reported the supposed suicide of his wife Ellen. William was reported to say that he had been drinking the night before and woke in the morning to discover his wife's body with a rope around her neck. He also made several rambling references to being mistaken for and arrested as Jack the Ripper. Officers were immediately dispatched to search William's home address, 113 Princess Street, where they made the gruesome discovery of a woman's mutilated body stuffed into a wooden packing crate.
Ellen had been strangled to death with the rope William has purchased earlier, her body stabbed several times with a penknife and her abdomen had been cut open from the pubis bone upwards, exposing 12 inches of intestines. To fit the body into the small packing crate her head had been bent to rest on her on shoulder, her left leg was broken in two places and twisted so that the foot rested on her left shoulder and her right leg had been smashed. It soon became apparent that William had lived with the box for several days, even using it as a table, before going to the police.
William was arrested and sent to trail for the murder of his wife, either by strangulation or stabbing. The hearing lasted only 13 hours before the jury convicted William of the wilful murder of Ellen and he was sentenced to hang for his crime. William Henry Bury was executed on the morning of 28th April 1889.
Due to the similarities between Ellen's death and that of Jack the Ripper's victims, detectives investigating the Ripper murders were sent to Dundee to interview William They however, were unconvinced that William was the Whitchapel murderer. James Berry the executioner remained convinced that he had hung the infamous Jack the Ripper and supposedly recounted an exchange he had with one of the detectives from London -
'I think it is him right enough.'
'And we agree with you. We know all about his movements in the past, and we are quite satisfied that you have hanged Jack the Ripper, there will be no more Whitechapel crimes.'
- London Detective.