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William Henry BURY





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Mutilation
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: December 20, 1888 / February 5, 1889
Date of arrest: February 6, 1889
Date of birth: May 25, 1859
Victims profile: Rose Mylett / His wife, Ellen Elliot
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: England/Scotland, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging in Dundee on April 24, 1889

William Henry Bury was good with a knife, in more ways than one. Several women of the East End section of London were given a first hand demonstration of his preferred uses of a knife. Unfortunately, his wife was the one person to find out just how refined his skills were.

Born 25 may 1859 in Stourbridge, Workestershire (England), William Henry Bury's childhood remains mostly shrouded in mystery. Not much is known about his family life except that his father was a hard-working fishmonger who had little time for his son. Not much is known about Mrs. Bury either.

What is known is that William Henry Bury arrived in the East End of London in November of 1887. There are records available at Scotland Yard revealing that prior to Bury's move to London he had worked as a horse butcher. For reasons unknown, Bury did not decide to continue his work as a butcher in the numerous slaughterhouses in the East End, but instead worked as a sawdust collector for a James Martin. He took lodgings with Martin and his wife, who ran a brothel on Quickett Street.

Eventually he met his future wife (and victim) 32 year old Ellen Elliot. Ellen was an employee at the brothel and fell head over heels in love with the underachieving Bury. They married shortly after meeting and set up their own lodgings with money that had been inherited by Ellen through an aunt's death. Bury, a drunkard, thief, and renowned pervert, took great interest in his wife's money, spending most of it on alcohol and whores.

Eventually, Bury's drinking and hatred for women became uncontrollable. Prostitutes were the only women he could relate to due to the fact that their self-esteem was as low as his own.

In February of 1888, Bury's violence erupted when he attacked a 38 year old woman named Annie Millwood in Spitalfields. He used his trusty knife to slash the woman's legs and genitals. She survived. So did Ada Wilson, an elderly seamstress attacked in her home on the night of March 28th. Bury demanded money from her (intending to spend it on the usual combo of drink and whores) and stabbed her twice in the throat for no apparent reason.

On the night of April 7th, Bury was attempted to cut the throat of his wife, but she fought him off. Ellen had found out that Bury slept with his knife under his pillow.

At some point Bury became aware that he had contracted syphillis from one his many sexual encounters with the whores of the East End and had preceded to infect his wife. The fact that he had syphillis contributes to what would happen in the months to follow.

On 20 december 1888, Bury graduated to murder. In the early morning hours he cornered a young woman named Rose Mylett and attacked her in a violent rage. He strangled her slowly and dumped her body in Clarke's Yard, a short walk from his home. He had not brought his knife for the job. He had however, achieved a bizarre sexual satisfaction from strangling Rose, as do most, if not all serial killers.

On january 1889, the Burys relocated to the town of Dundee. Bury had lied to hi wife about a work that he supposedly had in Dundee. The real reason for leaving London was perhaps tp escape of the heat that was being for brought on him for the murder and two previous attempted murders.

On 5 february 1889, Bury attacked Ellen in the basement of their flat in Dundee and strangled her with a piece of rope. Lying on her back, he used his knife to slice open her abdomen and proceded to rip out her intestines. He then stuffed her body in a trunk and kept it hidden in the basement. From this point he plotted the best way to dispose of Ellen's mutilated corpse.

Bury could not come with a brilliant plan and decided to go the police and report that his wife had been murdered by an assailant while in their home. The police searched the flat and found the remains of Ellen Bury. They also didn't buy Bury's story. He was arrested by the police and charged with the murder of his wife.

On 24 april 1889, Bury was sentenced to hang. The sentence was carried out a few days afterwords, Bury showing no remorse for his crimes and remarking to the hangman just before the rope was put around his neck: "I suppose you think you are clever to hang me."

In more recent years, noted Ripperologist William Beadle has made a strong case suggesting that Bury may have been Jack the Ripper, the world's most famous serial slasher. His reasons are actually justifiable and can be proven on some level. Still, nothing is concrete and for now Bury's body count rests at a mere two confirmed victims, while another possible six have yet to be proved or disproved.



William Henry Bury (25 May 1859 – 24 April 1889) was born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire and was executed in Dundee for the murder of his wife Ellen.

Childhood and youth

William lost both parents in infancy. His father, Henry, died in a horse and cart accident when William was only three months old in August 1859. His mother Mary Bury (nee Hendy), was committed to Worcester County & City lunatic asylum, suffering from melancholia, in May 1860. She remained there until her death aged 33 on 30th March 1864.

William was the youngest of three, having one brother and a sister who had both died by the time William moved to London. He was raised and provided with a solid education by a close family friend and attended the Blue Coat Orphanage in Stourbridge.

At the age of sixteen, he found work as a factors clerk in a warehouse at Horsley Fields, Wolverhampton. He then worked for Osbourne, a lock manufacturer in Lord Street, Wolverhampton until 1884/5. His whereabouts for the next few years are not known. However, during the summer of 1887 he was back in the Midlands making a living as a hawker, selling items such as lead pencils and toy rings on the streets in Snow Hill, Birmingham.


He was 28 years old when he arrived in Bow, London in October 1887 and found work as a sawdust hawker to James Martin who also ran what has been described as a brothel at 80 Quickett Street. Bury moved in with Martin and it was here he met Ellen Elliot (32), a barmaid, prostitute and the daughter of a publican. They married in April 1888.

Various acquaintances described Bury as a violent drunk, and on one occasion, his landlady at 3 Swaton Road, caught Bury kneeling on his bride of 5 days attempting to cut her neck with a knife. He was subsequently thrown out of this address for “violence and bad language”. In December 1888, he told his landlord at 3 Spanby Road that he was thinking of emigrating to Brisbane, Australia and asked him to make 2 wooden crates for the journey. William and Ellen Bury moved to Dundee in Scotland instead.


The Burys travelled as 2nd class passengers on the steamer Cambria on their trip north. On the morning of 21st January 1889, they arrived at 43 Union Street, Dundee. The Burys stayed for only eight days; then on the 29th January 1889, they moved to 113 Princes Street, a basement flat under a shop.

On 8th February 1889, Bury spent the whole day in court, taking notes and listening attentively. On 10th February, he walked into the Dundee Central Police Station and reported his wife’s suicide to Lieutenant James Parr. He said they had been drinking heavily the night before her death, and he had woken in the morning to find his wife’s body on the floor, with the rope around her neck. Bury did not attempt to summon a doctor, but, after looking at the body, was seized with rage and thrust a knife several times into Ellen’s abdomen. Sometime after this, Bury was afraid that he would be arrested as Jack the Ripper. In hispanic, he concealed the body in a large box.

Bury was taken upstairs to see Lt. David Lamb. Parr told Lamb, “Bury had a wonderful story to tell”. Parr remained to hear the re-telling of Bury’s story, but the ‘Jack the Ripper’ reference was omitted. He also said that he stabbed his wife’s body only once. At Bury’s dingy flat was discovered the mutilated remains of Ellen stuffed into the wooden box Bury had commissioned in London, and chalk graffiti saying "jack ripper is at the back of this door" and "jack ripper is in this seller"(sic) on a door.

Detectives from London travelled north to quiz Bury about his movements in London, but after an interview didn’t consider him a realistic suspect. Bury was tried for the murder of his wife in a hearing lasting 13 hours and found guilty. He was hanged on 24th April 1889.

Why Bury is a Jack the Ripper suspect

Marjorie Smith who ran the shop above Bury’s Princes Street flat in Dundee asked “What sort of work you Whitechapel folk have been about, letting Jack the Ripper kill so many people”? Bury went silent, but Ellen said “Jack the Ripper is quiet now”. She later told another neighbour, “Jack the Ripper is taking a rest”. Did Ellen know something is the question people have asked since?

Mrs Smith also lent Bury a chopper and asked him, “Surely you are not Jack the Ripper?” Bury replied, “I do not know so much about that.”

Bury’s alleged comments to Lt. Parr in the Dundee police station where he said he was “Jack the Ripper” or “a Jack the Ripper”.

David Walker, a brief acquaintance in Dundee, said that Bury threw down a newspaper he was reading when asked if there was “anything about Jack the Ripper” in it.

The Jack the Ripper graffiti at his Dundee flat.

Bury’s time in Bow, near Whitechapel, during the period October 1887 to January 1889, places him fairly near the Whitechapel murders at the appropriate time.

He murdered his wife in a manner not dissimilar to the murders of Mary Ann Nichols and Martha Tabram according to some observers.




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