Jem arrived back in Liverpool on 22 May 1897 on the White Star Line “Majestic”, 9,965 tons, 1490 passengers, launched 29 Jun 1889. A picture follows.

In Aug 1897 a bout was organised with Mike Donovan in Birmingham but it was scratched. On 3 Sep they fought a 6 round draw in Birmingham.

On 29 Sep he fought an exhibition bout with Bob Travers in London.

On 1 Oct he fought an exhibition bout with Bob Travers in South London.

On 4 Oct he fought an exhibition bout with Bob Travers in Birmingham.

On 15 Mar 1898 Jem was officially discharged from bankruptcy, enabling him to be in business again.

In Sep 1898 Jem became the landlord of the “Black Lion” public house, 82, Coleshill Street, Birmingham and moved in with his family. (The pub has been demolished but the street still exists and is now part of Aston University Campus). Following is a scan from the 1899 Birmingham Kelly’s Directory showing Jem at the “Black Lion” and his cousin (Pooley’s brother) Bowey Mace selling furniture.

The following two pictures were taken about this time.

In 1900 he was presented with a silver belt “by his gentleman pupils”. A picture of the belt is adjacent.

Following is a scan of the 1901 census showing Jem , Alice, Lilly, James and Queenie at the “Black Lion”. Alice’s brother, Thomas A Stokes is a barman. There is also a domestic, Rose Bevan.

    However, this doesn’t give the whole picture. At this time, the children were at school in Glasgow presumably staying with Alice’s sister, Polly and her husband Alexander Mcleish. Presumably the census represents the situation in school holidays.

In 1902 Jem and Billy Madden seconded Gus Ruhlin in a fight against Tom Sharkey.

Boxing had always thrived in “frontier” mining areas. Now that the Boer war was over. South Africa, with its recent gold and diamond discoveries seemed the ideal place to run a boxing school and Jem hankered after the life style he had enjoyed in Australia.

Jem gave up the tenancy of the “Black Lion”. Alice left her childless sister to look after the children in Scotland while she and Jem tried to build a new life in South Africa.

Jem was directed by the insolvency court to dispose of his trophies to raise money to repay his creditors. Jem could obviously see no advantage in this so he hung on to them. Now, needing funds to finance his South Africa Trip he had them auctioned. The adjacent cutting dated 30 Oct 1903 refers.

This cane presents similar problems. 1) The stick purports to have been given by Sir John Dugdale Astley but the engraving is not of the quality one would expect from an aristocrat 2) The misspelling of “Jem” seems inexplicable for an well educated aristocrat who knew Jem well 3) The silver hallmark is 1898 and Sir John Astley died in 1894.

It is my belief that, seeking to maximise the proceeds of the 1903 auction, Jem  took two of his silver trimmed walking sticks to a Birmingham silversmith and had them engraved. He could then present them to the auction house as his sticks, “forgetting” to mention that although the sticks were genuine, the engraving wasn’t. This has produced two interesting artefacts.

On 29 Sep 1899 his young son, Albert Edward, died from a throat infection.


1897 - 1903 ……Birmingham

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In Guernsey on 18 Mar 2010 a Malacca cane with an engraved knob was auctioned. The engraving reads “presented by Sir John Astley as a mark of esteem to Jim Mace champion of the world”. A picture of the cane follows.

Most of the items sold have already been referred to in this document. However, two engraved silver ended walking sticks were sold that have no apparent prior provenance. One is engraved “presented by Alf Greenfield retired champion of England to Jim Mace Champion of the world  19th March 1886”. This is suspicious on three counts 1) In Mar 1886 Alf Greenfield had just returned from fighting in France  with Jem acting as his second. It seems unlikely he would be giving a cane to his second. 2) The misspelling of his name seems unlikely if Alf was trying to honour him  and 3) crucially the silver hallmark is Birmingham  1898. A picture is adjacent.

In 1901 Justice Grantham made a ruling, finding that the death of a boxer, Billy Smith, due to injuries sustained in the ring did not constitute a criminal offence. This ruling effectively made boxing legal in England. It must have seemed ironic to Jem, having spent his adult life as an outlaw,  that at the age of 70 his chosen profession had become legally acceptable.

The pub was owned by “Showell’s Brewery Ltd”