Arguably the first victim of Jack the Ripper Martha Tabram was killed on the 7th August 1888, her body was discovered in George Yard Buildings at 4.50 am by John Reeves from No 37, on the first floor landing laying in blood. He found P Barrett who immediately told another constable, to run for a doctor in nearby Brick Lane. Dr Keleene examined Martha’s body and thought that she had died around 2.30am. She had been stabbed 39 times in the torso, all but one of these wounds had been made by a relatively small knife, a penknife or a short dagger for example. One wound was made by a different knife penetrating the breast bone this knife had a strong, longer, approx seven inch blade a large dagger, a bayonet, bone-ing knife or surgical knife.
At 10pm the previous evening Martha Tabram and Mary Anne Connelly “Pearly Poll” were drinking in the Two Brewers pub in Brick Lane, then they were then seen in various pubs around the area, on their travels they picked up two soldiers and it is said that the last pub they visited was the Angel & Crown on the Corner of Whitechapel High Rd and Osborn St when they came out they separated into two couples. Pearly Poll took her solider into Angel Alley for sexual services, as both were homeless prostitutes. Martha apparently turned down the main road with her companion probably to go for another drink.
At 1.40am Joseph Mahoney and his wife Elizabeth returned home to their flat at 47 George Yard Buildings in George Yard, just off Whitechapel High St which had many small courts and alleys branching off it, lived in by the poorest of the poor in doss houses. Mrs Mahoney went to fetch some supper from a shop in Thrawl St, on the unlit stairway she saw nothing unusual.
At 2.00am PC Barrett saw a Grenadier Guardsman standing in George Yard about halfway up on the right-hand side he asked him what he was doing loitering and the soldier told him he was waiting for his friend who had gone off with a girl.
At 3.30am Alfred Crow, a cab driver living at No 35 entered George Yard Buildings, as mounted the stairs, he saw a body on the first floor landing however he took no notice as homeless people often slept on the landing . This was quite possibly Martha’s body discovered just a couple of hours later
Mary Ann Nichols (Polly)
On 31st August 1888 Charles Cross was passing through Buck’s Row on his way to work on the right, outside a stableyard gateway on the left side of the street he saw what he thought was a piece of tarpaulin, thinking it may prove useful he crossed the road to examine it and saw what he thought was the body of a woman. Immediately he heard someone approaching and called to him “Come and look, I think it’s a woman.” Robert Paul crossed the road and joined him, neither man could see the injuries to the body at this stage as the lack of lighting made this impossible just a gas-light on either end of the street.
Cross felt her hand it was cold “I think she’s dead” he said. Robert Paul though he detected a faint pulse and heartbeat when he pulled down her skirt which had been raised above the knees, he wanted to move the body but Cross wouldn’t touch her. They were now running late and decided to look for a policeman to deal with it. They left Buck’s Row, only moments before PC Neil entered it, he saw the bundle by the gate shone his lamp on it and in its light saw that she was dead.
In the meantime, Cross and Paul had met PC Jonas Mizen on their way and sent him to investigate this body. They parted company and went to work, they had nevre met before.
At 3.47am PC Thain was passing the end of Buck’s Row and was heard by PC Neil who flashed his lamp. As soon as he arrived w PC Neil Told him to fetch a doctor Pc Mizen arrived in Buck’s Row to find Pc Neil with the body and was sent to fetch a hand ambulance. Pc Neil asked at Essex Wharf if they had heard anything and Sergeant Kirby arrived and asked Mrs Green living at New Cottage next to the gateway if she heard any noise, ” I haven’t heard anything unusual.” she said.
PC Neil looked for blood trails on the floor in case the body had been dragged there from elsewhere, there were none, the body was moved to the Whitechapel mortuary. On examination it was found her throat had been cut twice, one four inch and one eight inch cuts, they had reached through the vertebrae, there were also several slashes across the stomach . Dr Llewellyn who examined the body said it showed, that it was someone with rough anatomical knowledge, he thought she had been seized from behind his hand across her mouth and the other using the knife. Labels on her clothing pointed to her being a resident of Lambeth Workhouse but although she had been in and out of there many times when the matron viewed the body she was unable to recognise her.
Eventually she was identified by a fellow lodger Emily Holland of 18 Thrawl St, a common lodging house where they stayed. Emily had seen her earlier that night about 2:00 am when Polly had been thrown out of the lodging house for not having fourpence to pay for her bed. She was also later identified by Mrs Monk a Lambeth Workhose resident
Annie -Eliza Smith was born around September 1840 or 1841 followed by another sister in 1844 and two further sisters in 1856 and 1858, a brother Fountain followed in 1861. the family moved around Annie’s father was a soldier in the Life Guards. When Annie was 21 her father left the army, took a job as a valet and the family moved to Clewer. However Annie did not go with them, it is possible that she was employed as a domestic servant. George Chapman died and the rest of the family returned to London living in Montpelier Place.
On 1st May 1869 Annie married John Chapman, a coach driver, a relative of her mother, they lived at 1 Brookes Mews North, Bayswater until Annie went to live with her mother to give birth to her 1st child a daughter, Emily Ruth then the following year, Annie Georgina on 5th june 1873. by now the couple had moved to South Bruton Mews off Berkeley Sq, one of the places that provided coach and horses for houses in that area. Sometime before 1880 John got a job as a coachman/domestic servant for a farm bailiff at Clewer. Here Annie had her last child, John Alfred but by this time was drinking heavily, wandering about drunk like a tramp, causing trouble and this caused the marriage to break up.
Annie returned to London on her own John provided her with an allowance of 10shillings a week enabling her to rent a room she sold things on the street to make a living. John remained with the children at Clewer who were well educated attending school but Emily Ruth suffered from epileptic fits and then died at aged 12 from meningitis. Alfred was a cripple and had to be treated at a London Hospital. In 1886 John resigned from his post and later died of cirrhosis of the liver. The daughter Annie Georgina, who was still living with him, is said to have been placed in a French institution or become a performer in a French circus, both these are unlikely. John Alfred was put in a chartiable school near Windsor but eventually lived with his grandmother and sister at Monpelier Place.
When Annie moved to London she had a relationship with a man called Jack Sivvey and was known as Annie Sievey living at 30 Dorset St Spitalfields but he left her. She then went out with Edward Stanley known as ‘The Pensioner’ he spent weekends with her at 35 Dorset St where she was living by then. Annie had no regular means of income but used to sell crocheted anitmacassars which she made, matches and flowers. Every Friday she went to Stratford to sell on the streets. Addicted to drink every Saturday she would get drunk on her profits. It is claimed by Amelia Farmer a friend that Annie was not a prostitute. Shortly before her death Annie had a fight with Eliza Cooper who punched Annie in the face giving her a black eye and bruising her ribs. Annie complained of feeling ill and went to the infirmary on 4th Sep, she was in the casual ward for a day or two, after she returned to the lodging house and asked if she could go down to the kitchen, the lodging house keeper Donovan asked where she had been all week, she said she had been to her sister’s at Vauxhall. Amelia Farmer saw her at 5:00pm and asked if she was going to Stratford to sell her wares Annie replied”I feel too ill to do anything.” But later decided she had to pull herself together to at least get money for her bed for the night. Wlliam Stevens who lived in the same lodging house drank a pint of beer with her at 12.30am, she then went to the Brittania Pub on the corner returning at 1.45 she was seen by Donovan who, sent someone to collect money from her but she did not have the full amount and left to look for more. She may have drank Ten Bells later that morning with a man at 5:00am. Annie was seen again in Dorset Street outside no 27 by Mrs Elizabeth Long at 5.30am ( based on the Brewery Clock striking) Annie was with a man of foreign appearence, dark (Jewish?) wearing a brown deerstalker and a long dark coat, meduim height 5ft 2-5ft 5. However Albert Cadosch who lived in no 27 told the police he went out into the back yard at 5.15 approx. He heard a womans voice from 29’s yard say “No.” he went back out 3 or 4 minues later, ( recovering from a recent operation so may have needed to visit the toilet more than once) he heard something fall against the fence. He went in and left the house he said when he passed Christchurch clock it was 5.32am. obviously these two accounts conflict with their timing it is possible that Albert Cadosch was correct and Mrs Long heard the clock strike the quarter hour not the half?
29 Hanbury Street was a multi occupied house with many occupants in at the time of the murder Harriet Hardiman who ran the shop on the ground floor asleep in the shop with her son, Amelia Richardson the principle tenant who sub-let many of the rooms, and had the back ground floor room, used as a packing -case factory , and the front first floor room where she was sleeping with her son In the rear room there was Alfred Walker and his son. Robert Thompson a carman lived in the front second floor room and the back was rented to two sisters named Cooksley both cigar makers. On the third floor was John Davies a carman, his wife Mary and three sons, they had been there only two weeks. In the rear attic was Mrs Cox who lived rent-free supported by Mrs Richardson. All these people were indoors when Annie was killed but heard nothing.
Between 4.40-4.45 John Richardson went out into the yard to check the place was secured properly, there had been a break in of the cellar where tools were stored some months earlier. After checking, he lingered for a few minutes fiddling with his boot which had a piece hanging from it. At 5.45 John Davies got up had a cup of tea and found the front door wide open which was not unusual as there was no lock and was often left open all night, allowing local prostitutes like Annie access to the backyard (great to take clients), the back yard door was closed he opened it and there was Annie lying to the left by the fence her skirts above her knees and her face covered with blood, he raced out into the street and called various passersby to come back with him.
Three Kent, Green and Holland went with him only Holland went into the yard the rest looked from the yard step. police were called the body covered with canvas, Davies went to the Commercial Street Police Station arriving at 6.10 but by then police were already on their way as Holland had already told police on duty outside Spitalfield Market. Dr Bagster Phillips the divisional police surgeon arrived and examined the body. he said that certainly Annie had been killed where found, there was no evidence of a struggle, she had been strangled according to the mark on her throat, tongue protruding through her lips. Although blood was on her face and splashed on the fence he thought she may have lost conciousness, then partialy revived when her throat was cut, in one long slice that would have drained most of the blood, such a deep cut it almost severed the head, making the mutilations later performed on her body, radically bloodles. He had opened the body taken out the intestines left them above the right shoulder with her stomach and the other part above her left. The pelvic organs had been removed “with one sweep of the knife” according to Dr Phillips, it was the work of an expert he said, “that would have taken 15 mins or more”. Three brass rings were missing from her finger the marks still showing on her finger. He gave the time of death approx 4.45-4.50 which is impossible, but if we are to believe the evidence of John Richardson, Dr Phillips could have been mistaken, as a body opened like this would cool far quicker than normal. In the possessions found strewn around her feet was a small piece of envelope with a Sussex Regiment Badgewith an undistinguishable date 3 Aug, 20 Aug, 23 Aug or 28 Aug was found bloodstained near her body, a redherring as it was later found, she had taken this from no 35 Dorset St to used to put some painkilers in that she had been given in the casual ward. These envelopes were on sale to the general public so could have been posted by anyone, anyway. By now the police realised that it was the same killer who had murdered Polly A boot-finisher called John Pizer, a Polish Jew, known in the area as ‘Leather Apron’ was arrested for Annie’s murder but was able to provide the police with alibis for both Annie’s murder and the murder of Polly so the police had to let him go. As many people in the area believed him to be guilty due to his previous behaviour, he often attacked prostitutes and had a deep hatred of them, a wave of anti-semitism swept the area and driven by lurid reports in the Press of the terrible killings the Whitechapel murderer’s fame began.
Elizabeth Stride or ‘Long Liz’ as she was known was born on 27th November 1843 in Stora Tumlehead a villiage in Torslanda Sweden the second of four children to a farmer Gustaf Ericson and his wife Beta There is no infomation about her formative years but in 1860 at the age of 16 she was given permission to move to Gothenburg. From the following February she was working as a maid and stayed there for three years when her life began to fall apart in 1864, in the August her Mother died, the following month she discovered she was pregnant and in April 1865 she was disgnosed withh genital warts and three weeks later had a stillborn daughter,. She was released from the hospital but was sent back in May and in August was diagnosed with chancre an ulcer, the 1st stage of syphilis after treatment she was released three weeks later. She appears in the police records for the first time in October 1865 and is sent again to Kuhuset for treatment . She is given a clean bill of health and released after having found employment as a maid for Maria Wejsner who employed a number of girls who she probably employed as prostitutes, on the other hand she may have been charitably helping women escape from this fate it is unsure. In Dec 1866 approx Elizabeth inherited 65 krona from her mother’s estate this allowed her to emigrate to London she left Sweden in February 1866. She may have had relatives in London. During the next couple of years there is no record of where she was in London but in March 1869 she marries John Stride at St-Giles-In-the-Fields church. The couple open a coffe shop in Upper North St Poplar, they live nearby but then move their coffe shop to 178 Poplar High St and then live at 172 a few doors away. Later in 1877 appears in court at Thames Magistrates Ct on 21 Mar and was moved to the Poplar Workhouse no reason can be found but in the records in the Swedish Church it is stated that she asked for financial assistance in January 1879 due to her husband illness so it seems that life was not going well for them. By now the couple were living at Usher Rd off Old Ford Road Bow. In August 1884 John was admitted to Poplar Workhouse, then transferred to Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum where he died at 63 in Oct.
Elizabeth was fond of telling a story that her husband and two of her nine children died in a riverboat accident of the Princess Alice which sank on the Thames in 1878, with over 700 people, it collided with a coal steamer the Byward Castle and was cut in half! Only 60 were saved and the exact number killed never established. She claimed that the injury to her mouth (clearly visible on the mortuary photo) was caused by someone kicking her in the mouth whilst trying to escape the disaster. She had no children and this story has never been found in any Woolwich paper and John Stride was alive at this time? So it seems to be a lie! By 1881 their marriage had collapsed they separated and in the December Elizabeth was admitted to Whitechapel workhouse Infirmary suffering from bronchitis. Discharged in January 1882 she moved to 32 Flower & Dean St and returned to prostitution, in November she was arrested and sentanced to seven days hard labour for being drunk and disorderly. In 1883 she met Michael Kidney who she would have an off-on relationship for the rest of her life.
Arrested many times for being drunk and disorderly with regular court appearences, she may also have used the name Elizabeth Watts. In July & August 1888 Elizabeth had been asking the Swedish church for money again. On 25 September Michael Kidney and Elizabeth parted company for the last time. It is rumoured they parted after a row, two days later Elizabeth returned to 32 Flower & Dean St, Dr Thomas Barnado working charitably in the area, called at 32 and claimed to have seen her there. He said ‘One poor creature who had been drinking’ exclaimed “We’re all up to no good and no-one cares what becomes of us! Perhaps one of us will be killed next! If anyone had helped us long ago it wouldn’t have come to this.” he said ‘he had visited the mortuary and it was Stride who had been the woman he spoke to’.
On Sat 29th Sept the lodging house keeper paid Elizabeth to clean the rooms, she saw her in the Queen’s head pub at 6.30pm that evening. Elizabeth returned to 32 and was there between 7-8pm cleaned herself up and went out again. At 11pm a couple claimed to have seen her in the Bricklayer’s Arms in Settle St she apparently left with a man about 11pm. A fruit seller Matthew Packer claimed he had sold grapes to a man & woman between 11pm-12am but this might not be Stride and her companion. He managed to identify her body, after being shown another corpse first, which he said was definately not the victim he’d seen!
No 40 Berners St housed the International Workingmens Educational Assoc and next to it stood the gateway to Dutfield’s Yard which was at the back of the building. A socialist newspaper Arbeter Fraint (Worker’s Friend) was printed at the rear in Printing and editorial offices. The ground floor front room used as a dining room and the first floor room used for entertainments, meetings, discussions etc. The third floor was occupied by the club steward Louis Diemschultz and his wife. A hundred people were in this first floor hall on the evening of 29th Sept 1888, a lively discussion by a young man Morris Eagle ‘Why Jews should be Socialists’ the subject, this ended at 11.30pm although some people left, there were still twenty- thirty five people in the club by midnight, upstairs dancing and singing and some downstairs talking this was still going on when Elizabeth was seen by PC William Smith talking to a man outside 63 Berner’s St at around 12.30-12.35am, the man was kissing and cuddling her, he was around 28, meduim height dark coat, deerstalker hat. Morris Eagle returned to the club at 12.40 but saw nothing.
12.45 Israel Schwartz was walking on the opposite side of Berners St and claimed to have seen a man attacking a woman in the gateway of Dutfields Yard fighting the man roughly pulled the woman into the street and threw her down she screamed thre times On crossing the road he saw another man on the other side . The assailant shouted “Lipski” to the man opposite and Schwartz was alarmed by this ( an insult to Jew’s based on the name of a recent Jewish murderer) he hurried off down the road. He gave descriptions of the two men and was taken to the mortuary after the discovery of Elizabeth’s body and identified her as the woman he had seen.
Also at 12.45 James Brown living in Fairclough St saw a man & woman outside the Fairclough St school but described the man as 5’7″ stout , long coat, hat he went home and hear screams 15 mins later of murder, police He looked out but screams stopped, saw a policeman running to Berners St. Mrs Mortimer who lived at 36 Berners St, claimed to have heard the ‘heavy stamp of police boots’ on the beat and went out saw a young man with a black bag who looked at the club as he passed, he turned into Fairclough St four minutes later she heard a horse and cart but she did not say anything about the couple seen by PC Smith or Morris Eagle returning or even the assault on a woman in the gateway of Dutfields Yard
At 1.00am Louis Diemshultz a jewellery salesman and the steward of Berners St Club arrived at the gate to Dutfields yard, he intended to park the cart in the yard and take his left over stock to give it to his wife, who was helping out in the club, then take the cart to a stable yard further up the road to collect it the next morning. His pony did not want to enter the gateway and shied to the left which was unusual, so he got down, went into the gateway walking on the right he though his foot struck a lump of dirt o rags he prodded it with his whip. Not able to move it he lit a match and in the dim light thought he saw a woman’s hand and the outline of a skirt, at first he though it might be his wife on one of her many trips to the back yard to fetch beer, he rushed into the club and after searching he found his wife in the room downstairs with other club members. he went out with Morris Eagel and another member Morris struck a match and they saw the body of Elizabeth her throat slashed with a terrible wound, six-inches long, the windpipe cut although the blood vessels on the right side still intact, her legs drawn up, feet pointing to the street, a packet of Violet Cachous in her hand, some spilt on the ground, Morris Eagle ran for the police and returned with PC Henry Lamb and PC Edward Collins. Lamb flashed his lantern in the gateway, sent Collins for a doctor and Eagle to the station to inform the inspector. Later that morning Schwartz taken to the mortuary to view her body identified it as the woman he had seen bieng attacke d and described the man as 30, 5’5″dark hair, full face dark jacket and trousers, black cap.
By now the panic in the area had reached a peak which would be only made worse by later events that night….
Please note all information on this page drawn from ‘Jack the Ripper The Facts’ by Paul Begg, a great author and a world authority on Jack the Ripper.
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