As we all know, Jack the Ripper was never convicted, furthermore, what we can understand about the morbid Victorian figure is vague. But we do know a lot about is his victims, and how they came to meet their maker, no thanks to the Ripper. Between 1888 and 1892, it is believed that a total of eleven women fell to Jack’s hand, but only five are directly linked back to Jack the Ripper. These victims are known as the ‘Canonical five’. What makes these murders so fascinating is that they happened outside, in one of the fastest growing, most populated metropolis cities in the world, during a time of great social change, and yet nobody heard or saw a thing. So before you take part in one of our Jack the Ripper walks, below is a quick synopsis of the victims and their grisly demise.
1)Mary Ann Nichols
Nichols was said to lead a lonely, miserable, directionless life and at one point was an inmate at Lambeth workhouse. At the time of death, the East London Observer guessed her age to be 35. Described as a very clean woman, the doctor who examined her commented on the cleanliness of her thighs. When she was found her body was still warm, which showed the crime had not long taken place. Murdered on Bucks Row, Whitechapel (which can be visited on our Jack the Ripper tour), Nichols was reported by the Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian to have had her throat cut from ear to ear.
2) Annie Chapman
AKA Dark Annie, Chapman was 5ft tall, strongly built, known for her excellent teeth and blue eyes, Annie was reported to be under nourished and technically dying from Tuberculosis and Syphilis. Separated from her husband due to her “drunken and immoral ways”, it’s believed they divorced due to them both being heavy drinkers. At 05.30am Albert Cadosch a young carpenter, walks into his back yard to use the toilet and hears two voices over the fence. Not paying attention, he hears a woman’s voice say ‘no!’ and then hears something slump against the fence. These are Chapman’s last words and moments. Murdered on Hanbury Street, Annie’s place of death can be visited through our Jack the Ripper walks, that follows the Rippers movements on those fateful nights.
3) Elizabeth Stride
AKA Long Lizzy, described as a quiet woman who would do anyone a favour, she regularly appeared in front of the courts for being drunk and disorderly, sometimes with obscene language. Emigrated from Sweden, Stride was described to make her money from sewing and prostitution. At the time of death Stride’s possessions were: a key (as part of a padlock), a small lead pencil, six large and one small button, a comb, a broken piece of comb, a metal spoon, a hook (as from a dress), a piece of muslin and one piece of blank paper.
4) Catherine Eddowes
At her time of death, Eddowes was said to be an intelligent woman, who was suffering from Bright’s disease. She had a small tattoo on her forearm and was known to have a fiery temper. When she was discovered, her body was severely mutilated. Dr Fredrick Brown a police surgeon noted how her body was on its back, the abdomen was exposed and her intestines had been drawn out and pulled over her body. About 2ft of intestines had been separated and laid next to her by design; her ear lobe had also been cut off. It was noticed that the lack of blood clotting and spurting, demonstrated that the murder had been acted out with a sense of professionalism. Her face was also severely disfigured with deep cuts to her eyelids, nose, ears and throat. Included in our Jack the Ripper tour, you will see the streets where the Ripper executed his victims and then used the narrow alleys to escape without a trace.
5) Mary Jane Kelly
Mary was said to be the most attractive of the Canonical Five, with personal attractions such as her slim figure, blonde hair and blue eyes. The constable that discovered her, said he recognised her on sight and that Kelly was known to be a happy, popular girl, who was regularly with friends and was noted to always have a spotless clean white apron. It is understood that Kelly, led the life of a lady and was always travelling to Paris, but fell into destitute when she moved to the East End. When Mary was discovered, her guts were found in multiple parts: her uterus, kidneys and one breast were placed under her head; her other breast under her right foot; the liver placed between her feet, her intestines to the right and her spleen to the left.
It doesn’t bare thinking about what these poor women went through on their last night alive, but the cases are also fascinating and utterly intriguing, which is why the legend of the Ripper still resonates so strongly, almost 126 years later. If you wish to get a better understanding and actually walk the same streets where these crimes took place, then why not book yourself on one of our Jack the Ripper walks, and feel the chill run down your spine as you tour the chilling streets of Whitechapel.