Little is known about Timothy Donovan. He was probably born sometime around 1858 or 1859. In 1888 he was working as the deputy of Crossingham's Lodging House, which was located at 35 Dorset Street, Spitalfields. He testified that on the 7th of September Annie Chapman asked him if she could use the kitchen and told him that she had spent some time in the infirmary. She left at about 1:45 the next morning, and asked him to hold her regular bed. He chided her for having drunk her doss money away and encouraged her to earn her money quickly. This was the last time he would see her alive. He later identified the body and testified at the inquest.
There has been some speculation as to what happened to Timothy Donovan after Annie's murder. There are two major claims. The first suggests that he died on November 1st, 1888 at London Hospital of a combination of cirrhosis of the liver, exhaustion and phthisis at the age of 29. The other suggests that he was the 30-year-old man repeatedly brought before the Thames Magistrates Court between 1887 and 1888 on charges of assault, and who ultimately murdered his wife in 1904. There is no evidence to support either of these claims.