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Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper: The Forgotten Victims

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Jack the Ripper
    Book Description:

    The number of women murdered and mutilated by Jack the Ripper is impossible to know, although most researchers now agree on five individuals. These five canonical cases have been examined at length in Ripper literature, but other contemporary murders and attacks bearing strong resemblance to the gruesome Ripper slayings have received scant attention. These unsolved cases are the focus of this intriguing book.The volume devotes separate chapters to a dozen female victims who were attacked during the years of Jack the Ripper's murder spree. Their terrible stories-a few survived to bear witness, but most died of their wounds-illuminate key aspects of the Ripper case and the period: the gangs of London's Whitechapel district, Victorian prostitutes, the public panic inspired by the crimes and fueled by journalists, medical practices of the day, police procedures and competency, and the probable existence of other serial killers. The book also considers crimes initially attributed to Jack the Ripper in other parts of Britain and the world, notably New York, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. In a final chapter, the drive to find the identity of the Ripper is examined, looking at contemporary and later suspects as well as several important theories, revealing the lengths to which some have gone to claim success in identifying Jack the Ripper.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-20707-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[vii])
  3. [Map]
    (pp. None)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The series of grisly murders that convulsed London’s East End in 1888 and 1889 was in many ways a product of the extraordinary times. By the 1880s, writers, such as Charles Dickens and Guy de Maupassant, journalists and social commentators had all revealed conditions in Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Bethnal Green to be as far removed from London’s perceived wealth and splendour as it was possible to imagine. The East End was a byword for poverty, squalor, hardship, dirt, decay, danger and vice. Its filthy denizens seemed to lack both morals and decency.

    The advent of the popular pastime of ‘slumming’,...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The Whitechapel Murders
    (pp. 5-23)

    The 1880s were a crucial decade of the late nineteenth century – a time of change, and perhaps an early indicator of what the following century would offer. In 1906 Winston Churchill wrote that the 1880s were ‘the end of an epoch’.¹ The socialist poet, philosopher and early gay activist Edward Carpenter observed:

    It was a fascinating and enthusiastic period – preparatory, as we see now, to even greater developments in the twentieth century. The Socialist and Anarchist propaganda, the Feminist and Suffragist upheaval, the huge Trade-union growth, the Theosophic movement, the new currents in the theatrical, musical, and artistic worlds, the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The East End was a Dangerous Place
    (pp. 24-35)

    The winter of 1887–88 was harsh and unrelenting right across Europe. In some parts of Britain snow had reached a record depth of 20–24 inches. Meanwhile in the United States snowstorms had paralysed the East Coast and claimed 400 lives in what became known as the ‘Great Blizzard’.

    Saturday, 25 February 1888 was another cold day. Dark skies and dirty rain made the streets even greyer and gloomier, dulling the mind and depressing the spirit. Just before 5 p.m., Annie Millwood turned up at the imposing and forbidding Whitechapel Infirmary in Baker’s Row. It is not clear whether...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Gangs of Whitechapel
    (pp. 36-45)

    The day before Wynne Baxter sat down to conduct the inquest into the death of Annie Millwood, the authorities at the London Hospital informed him, as a matter of routine, that a woman had died at the hospital from injuries sustained in a street assault. Her name was Emma Elizabeth Smith and, according to the story she told a doctor who attended her, she had been set upon by three men, all unknown to her, one of whom had thrust a hard and blunt object into her vagina. Emma’s injuries were so severe that she died from them, and the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Soldiers
    (pp. 46-64)

    August Bank Holiday Monday 1888 was unseasonably cold. The organizers of entertainments across London eyed the leaden skies with concern. But fortunately the rain held off and a brief appearance by the sun encouraged the crowds to descend on the various venues offering holiday attractions: 21,000 people went to the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park, 14,000 to the Tower of London, over 12,000 to the South Kensington Museums, nearly 8,000 to the Natural History Museum, and 7,000 people visited the State Apartments in Windsor Castle. In the East End, 26,000 people gathered to see the Duchess of Albany open an...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Jack Strikes
    (pp. 65-73)

    The Metropolitan Police file on the murders is known as the Whitechapel Murders file and it covers those murders committed in the East End between that of Emma Smith in April 1888 and Frances Coles in February 1891. Writing in 1894, however, the then chief constable (CID), Sir Melville Macnaghten, stated that Jack the Ripper had committed five murders and five murders only.¹ These five are popularly known as the ‘canonical five’. That all five were indeed committed by the same person was disputed by some contemporary policemen, and it is fiercely debated today; also, as we have seen, other...

  11. CHAPTER 6 ‘He’s Gone to Gateshead’
    (pp. 74-92)

    Towards the end of September 1888, a journalist for theDaily Newstook an autumn stroll through the backstreets of Whitechapel and was surprised to see that life appeared to be continuing as normal. Nobody seemed concerned about the possibility that the Whitechapel Murderer would kill again, and the journalist commented on this to a respectable-looking man standing outside a house in Hanbury Street. The man looked at the journalist: ‘People, most of ’em, think he’s gone to Gateshead.’¹

    Gateshead, in the north-east of England, on the southern bank of the Tyne and opposite Newcastle upon Tyne, is a long...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Bits of Body Turning Up Here and There
    (pp. 93-114)

    The Thames-side town of Rainham is about 12½ miles from Whitechapel. For much of its long history it was a rural community, widely known for the wheat and fruit grown there. In the 1880s it was best known for the two ancient ferries across the Thames and for a pub, the former ferry house, which by then was called the Three Crowns.

    It was here that there began a series of murders as baffling as those committed by Jack the Ripper. These are sometimes known as the ‘torso murders’, and the first two are dealt with in this chapter. Assuming...

  13. CHAPTER 8 ‘What a Cow!’
    (pp. 115-123)

    At 12.30 p.m. on 19 November 1888, the bell of St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, tolled sombrely as a funeral cortège left for St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone. The coffin, lying on an open hearse, was decorated with two crowns and a cross made of heartsease. Although the procession was followed by few mourners, the public showed great interest. People had begun to assemble an hour previously and now lined the funeral route:

    the people outside, who now numbered several thousands, manifested the utmost sympathy, the crowd, for an East-end one, being extremely orderly. Vehicles of various descriptions took oppositions...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Murder by Natural Causes
    (pp. 124-139)

    Saturday, 7 September 1940 would change the East End of London for ever. At 4.43 p.m., just as people were getting tea ready on that unseasonably hot day, the Blitz began. Some 364 bombers and 500 escort fighters darkened the bright sky – enemy planes as far as the eye could see. The death and destruction wrought that day, in two separate waves of bombing, marked the start of the transformation of the East End. It was not just the landscape that was changed, though; so was the public perception of the inhabitants – from poor, destitute and criminal people into plucky...

  15. CHAPTER 10 The Ripper That Never Was
    (pp. 140-151)

    The Caribbean island of Jamaica, 4,568 miles from Britain and with a continuously tropical climate, could hardly have been more different from the grey slums of Whitechapel. And yet in 1888–89 it, too, was touched by Ripper hysteria.

    Ten miles west of the old capital of Spanish Town is Old Harbour, a ship-building town originally known as Puerto de Esquivella. In 1888 it was linked to the former capital by Old Harbour Road. This ambling road, which ran parallel to a railway line, went through fields for much of its length, and passed small, somewhat isolated communities known as...

  16. CHAPTER 11 A Gruesome Jigsaw
    (pp. 152-168)

    On the morning of 4 June 1889, John Regan, a waterside labourer living at Napoleon Street, Bermondsey, was, like many of his trade, hanging around George’s Stairs, Horsleydown, in the hope of getting a day’s work on the river. The neighbourhood of Horsleydown, situated on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Wapping and close to St Saviour’s Dock, contained London’s largest warehouse complex, which centred on a narrow and unusually named street, Shad Thames.¹ This commercial area had been completed in 1873, and its warehouses held huge consignments of tea, coffee, spices and other commodities that had been unloaded...

  17. CHAPTER 12 Jack the Ripper or Not?
    (pp. 169-182)

    Castle Alley in Whitechapel was rarely out of the newspapers, mainly because of the outbreaks of disease, not to mention the crime and sheer human brutality that had existed there since the turn of the century.

    In July 1823, an Irishman named Cornelius Cain had returned home to find that a six-week-old baby had apparently been abandoned by its parents and left in the care of his wife. The hungry child was crying loudly; Cain flew into a rage, grabbed it, took it outside and threw it onto a dunghill, where it was found by the parish watchman, who took...

  18. CHAPTER 13 The Body from Elsewhere
    (pp. 183-198)

    In 1852, parliament passed an Act on the construction of a railway line from Fenchurch Street station in the City of London to Southend-on-Sea in Essex, some forty miles to the east. The line was built by a company called Grissell and Peto, which was also responsible for a number of London’s best-known buildings, among them the Lyceum, St James’s Theatre, the Reform Club, the Oxford & Cambridge Club and, perhaps most notably, Nelson’s Column. The railway line ran over a row of arches on the southern side of Pinchin Street, St George-in-the-East, between Back Church Lane and Christian Street....

  19. CHAPTER 14 The Fit-Up
    (pp. 199-245)

    Frances Coles has been described as ‘perhaps the one true shining diamond in the rough of Victorian Whitechapel’.¹ She was born on 17 September 1859 at 18 Crucifix Lane, Bermondsey,² a street of poorly built and dilapidated slum houses, the third of four children born to James William Coles³ and Mary Ann Carney. Her father hailed from Somerset, probably from the hamlet of Woollard or the slightly larger nearby agricultural village of Pensford on the River Chew, about seven miles south of Bristol.⁴ He was a hard-working master boot-and-shoe maker, a craftsman, but his trade came under threat from cheap...

  20. CHAPTER 15 American swansong?
    (pp. 246-257)

    Such was the opinion of Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes of the New York Municipal Police Detective Bureau, in an interview published in October 1888.¹ A former gas fitter, fireman and Union Army soldier who had fought at the Battle of Bull Run,² Byrnes had been mustered out of the army in 1863, after which he joined the New York Metropolitan Police. Steady promotion followed, and from 1870 to 1878 he commanded various precincts and the Broadway squad. He solved the great Metropolitan Bank robbery case and secured the conviction of several major gang members. Byrnes stood out at a time...

  21. Afterword
    (pp. 258-264)

    On 28 August 2013, theEast London Advertiser, the sole survivor of the East End’s local press from 1888, produced a twelve-page supplement on Jack the Ripper to mark the 125th anniversary of the Whitechapel killings. Subtitled ‘Murders that shocked the world’, it mined the newspaper’s archives to provide an overview of the crimes. Meanwhile the paper’s website offered a day-by-day update on the events in 1888 Whitechapel. Since the infamous series of murders had been the newspaper’s biggest ever ‘story’, it was probably inevitable that there would be some form of ‘review’ of the East End’s darkest days.


  22. Notes
    (pp. 265-288)
  23. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 289-289)
  24. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 290-290)
  25. Index
    (pp. 291-302)