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East London Advertiser
Saturday, 8 September 1888.


ALMOST the worst feature about the two really frightful murders which have followed each other in quick succession in Whitechapel is that there are no means of accounting for them. The question of motive is in both cases a baffling one. It is particularly so, perhaps, in the second of the two crimes, the discovery of which was made by a policeman in the small hours of Thursday morning. Was it a maniac, some creature mad with thirst of blood, escaped from a lunatic asylum, who did to death the "unfortunate" - unfortunate in a double sense - Mary Ann Nicholls, with such extravagantly superfluous brutality? It certainly looks like the deed of a madman, for who, with a remnant of sense, would murder so miserable a creature for the sake of her empty purse? and no only murder but mutilate her in a manner so fiendish? The woman was found with her throat cut from ear to ear, and her body ripped open from the groin almost to the breast-bone. The whole affair is mysterious. The place where the body was found was evidently not that where the murder was committed. There were stains and pools of blood at intervals for a considerable distance from the spot where the corpse lay, and at this spot no screams or sounds of any kind were heard by the inhabitants of the street, though a night watchman in a warehouse was at his post close by, and there were people awake in several of the surrounding houses. The woman must have been dragged or carried, or she must have crawled for a distance of more than a hundred yards from the spot where she was first attacked. Probably the murderer did not finish his work where he began it; he must have pursued or dragged her to the place where she lay when the policeman discovered her corpse. The "how" of the hideous deed is plain enough, the "why" is for the present at all events an utter mystery. Nicholls was absolutely penniless, and she is described by those who knew her in the neighbourhood as "quiet for one of her calling." Could any but a madman have done this crime? And there cannot be any doubt that this murder and the previous one - indeed, the two previous ones, for this is the third Whitechapel murder since a very recent date - were done by the same hand. If, as we imagine, there be a murderous lunatic concealed in the slums of Whitechapel, who issues forth at night like another Hyde, to prey upon the defenceless women of the "unfortunate" class, we have little doubt that he will be captured. The cunning of the lunatic, especially of the criminal lunatic, is well-known; but a lunatic of this sort can scarcely remain at large for any length of time in the teeming neighbourhood of Whitechapel. The terror which, since Thursday last, has inspired every man and woman in the district, will keep every eye on the watch. A watch should be kept indeed behind the windows in every street in Whitechapel. The murderer must creep out from somewhere; he must patrol the streets in search of his victims. Doubtless he is out night by night. Three successful murders will have the effect of whetting his appetite still further, and unless a watch of the strictest be kept, the murder of Thursday will certainly be followed by a fourth. The whole of East London is directly interested in bringing the assassin to justice. Every woman in those parts goes in nightly danger of her life as long as he remains at large. In one respect, no doubt, the crowded character of that quarter of the metropolis provides a certain safety for criminals of all kinds; but in a case like this where every inhabitant is bound, from motives of mere personal safety, to become a sort of unauthorised detective, continuously on the alert, the chances of a murderer's escape are fewer than they would be in a more thinly populated region.


The inquest was opened on Saturday. After the evidence of identification had been given, Mr. Llewellyn, surgeon, stated that the cuts on the body must have been caused with a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence. No blood at all was found on the breast, either of the body or clothes. There were no injuries on the body except about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. It was a very deep wound, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. On the right side there were also three or four similar cuts running downwards. All these had been caused by a knife which had been used violently, and in a downward direction. The injuries were from left to right, and might have been done by a left-handed person. All the injuries had been done by the same instrument. The inquest was adjourned.

On its resumption on Monday, Inspector Spratling deposed that at about 4 o'clock on Friday morning he received information as to the finding of the body of the deceased. Before he reached the spot the body had been removed to the mortuary. The witness examined the under garments and discovered severe injuries to the abdomen. He at once sent for Dr. Llewellyn. He did not notice any blood marks between the groin and the knees, and there was no evidence of the skirt having been washed. He had examined Buck's-row and the neighbourhood, but he had not found any bloodstains nor a knife or weapon of any description. He had inquired of a night-gateman at the yard of the Great Eastern Railway; but he had not heard any unusual noises on the night in question. - H. T. Tompkins said he was at work in the slaughter-house in Winthorp-street [sic] about 9 o'clock on he previous night, and left off work at about 4 o'clock on Friday morning. He did not go straight home as was his usual custom, but went to Buck's-row as a police-constable passed the slaughter-house, and stated that there had been a murder there. They went out of the slaughter-house at 20 minutes past 12, and returned to work about 1 o'clock. No one left the yard between 1 and 4 o'clock. He believed that the murder was perpetrated at about 4 o'clock in the morning. They were very quiet in the slaughter-house from about 2 o'clock. The gates of the yard were open all night, and anyone could obtain admittance to the slaughter-house; but he saw no one pass except the policeman about 4:15 a.m. - Inspector Helson, of the J Division, said the deceased had a long ulster, with large buttons, five of which were fastened. The bodice of the dress was buttoned, with the exception of two or three buttons at the neck. The stays were fastened up, and were fairly tight. The only part of the garments saturated with blood was the dress at the back of the neck, the hair at the back of the head was clotted with blood. There was no evidence of a recent washing of the parts of the body where wounds had been inflicted in order to remove the blood. There were no cuts in the clothing; but he believed the murder was committed while the deceased was wearing her clothes. With the exception of one spot in Brady-street, there were no bloodstains in the vicinity. - Police-constable Mizen gave corroborative evidence, and the inquest was adjourned for a fortnight.


The funeral of the unfortunate woman, Mary Ann Nichols, took place on Thursday. The arrangements were of a very simple character. The time at which the cortege was to start was kept a profound secret, and a rouse was perpetrated in order to get the body out of the mortuary where it has lain since the day of the murder. A pair-horsed closed hearse was observed making its way down Hanbury-street and the crowds, which numbered some thousands, made way for it to go along Old Montague-street, but instead of doing so it passed on into the Whitechapel-road, and, doubling back, entered the mortuary by the back gate, which is situated in Chapman's-court. Not a soul was near other than the undertaker and his men, when the remains, placed in a polished elm coffin, bearing a plate with the inscription, "Mary Ann Nichols, aged 42; died August 31, 1888" were removed to the hearse, and driven to Hanbury-street, there to await the mourners. These were late in arriving, and the two coaches were kept waiting some time in a side street. By this time the news had spread that the body was in the hearse, and people flocked round to see the coffin, and examine the plate. In this they were, however, frustrated, for a body of police, under Inspector Allisdon, of the H Division, surrounded the hearse and prevented their approaching too near. At last the cortege started towards Ilford, where the last scene in this unfortunate drama took place. The mourners were Mr. Edward Walker, the father of the deceased, and his grandson, together with two of the deceased's children. The procession proceeded along Baker's-row and passed the corner of Buck's-row into the main-road, where police were stationed every few yards. The houses in the neighbourhood had the blinds drawn, and much sympathy was expressed for the relatives. The statement that the body of the deceased was removed on Monday is incorrect.


Throughout the week the interest in the Whitechapel murder has been kept at fever heat. Following so closely as it does upon the shocking murder of the unfortunate Martha Tabram; such excitement was only to be expected, ignoring altogether the horrible mutilation of the second victim. The scene of the fearful tragedy has been daily visited by hundreds of people who freely conversed amongst themselves upon the all absorbing topic - the prospects of bringing the murderer to justice, while the green gates of the mortuary in Montague-street were the objects of an awesome curiosity. Special writers and artists have visited the spot in large numbers, and many are the inquiries that have been promiscuously set on foot in the neighbourhood by amateur detectives. It is not surprising that these frequent and brutal crimes should have alarmed the residents in the locality - which it is well known is a rather low one - especially as there seems at present to be no likelihood of the perpetrators of these dreadful outrages being discovered. The residents are only too willing and glad to be of any service to the authorities, so there is no difficulty in this respect. Of course, there are many rumours as to the action of the police. It is stated, though not authoritatively, that the detectives are carefully watching a number of persons in the vicinity, but that no arrests will be made until there is further substantial evidence, unless the suspected persons attempt to leave the district. Inquiries have also been made, but apparently without result, amongst the employees of a slaughter-house close at hand. Nothing, however, seems to have come of it. A mysterious individual in the character of a seaman has also been dragged into the affair, but with what foundation in fact has not yet transpired. All that can safely be said is that the public may rest assured that everything is being done by the police that can possibly be done to clear up this alarming incident. For their own credit's sake it may be imagined they will leave no stone unturned. But the difficulties in their way are very great. One point of satisfaction is to notice the energetic way in which the coroner, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, has thrown himself into the inquiry, and until the adjourned inquest is held it will be impossible to say exactly what steps the police have taken to unravel the mystery. The officers engaged in the investigation are Inspector Abberline, Inspector Helson, Inspector Spratling, Detective Sergeant Enright, and numerous other minor officials. It has been asserted that a clue has been obtained, but in what direction the officers are not permitted to make the slightest allusion, as justice might be frustrated. There is a strong belief current that there is more than one person concerned in the outrage, and this opinion is strengthened by the report of another attempted outrage, which is alleged to have occurred on Saturday night last. A woman, it is stated, was leaving the Foresters' Music Hall, Cambridge-road, where she had been spending the evening with a sea-captain, when she was accosted by a well-dressed man, who requested her to walk a short distance with him, as he wanted to meet a friend. They had reached a point near the scene of the murder of the woman Nicholls [sic], when the man violently seized her by the throat and dragged her down a court. He was immediately joined by a gang of bullies, who stripped the unfortunate woman of necklace, ear-rings, and brooch. Her purse was also taken, and she was brutally assaulted. Upon her attempting to shout for aid one of the gang laid a large knife across her throat, remarking, "We will serve you as we did the others." She was, however, eventually released. The police have been informed, and are prosecuting inquiries into the matter, it being regarded as a probable clue to the previous tragedies. There is, however, a belief that this last sensational story has been exaggerated, though it is not altogether denied that something of the kind did take place. Some of the jurymen engaged on the case announce their intention of impressing upon the Scotland-yard authorities the necessity of further precautions being taken at the common lodging-houses in the metropolis, for the purpose of ascertaining the names and, if possible, addresses of every lodger (male and female) who enters, together with the time of entry. This plan, it is thought, will greatly help the police in their work of tracing and detecting crime. In the meantime, the authorities are extremely reticent and guarded in all the information they tender, and most of the particulars and information has to be obtained from other sources.

Upon inquiring at Bethnal Green Police Station, just before going to press, our representative was informed that up to the present no arrests have been made, and also that the investigation of the matter has been now transferred entirely to the detective force. The uniform constables have therefore now nothing to do with the solution of the mystery.

Related pages:
  Polly Nichols
       Home: Timeline - Mary Ann Nichols 
       Dissertations: Old Wounds: Re-examining the Bucks Row Murder 
       Dissertations: The Riddle of New Cottage 
       Message Boards: Mary Ann Nichols 
       Official Documents: Bucks Row - Census Listings 
       Official Documents: Polly Nichol's Inquest 
       Press Reports: Atchison Daily Globe - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Austin Statesman - 05 September 1888 
       Press Reports: British Daily Whig - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 5 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 7 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 10 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 19 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 29 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Argus - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Argus - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 17 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 5 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 6 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 7 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Gazette - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 1 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 3 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 4 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Grimsby Observer - no date 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Lloyds Weekly News - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Lloyds Weekly News - 9 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 5 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 29 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 23 September 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 9 September 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Budget - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 6 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 27 April 1866 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Weekly Herald - 7 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 21 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 28 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 7 September 1888 
       Victims: Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols 
       Victims: Testimonies of Charles Cross and PC John Neil 
       Victorian London: Buck's Row 
       Witnesses: Henry Tomkins, James Mumford and Charles Brittain