A Letter And A Description

By the 13th of November, 1888, the full horror of what had occurred in Miller’s Court on the 9th of November had spread throughout the country, and newspapers, as well as trying to convey the sheer brutality of this latest crime, were reporting on the mood of the populace who were living through the terror of the Whitechapel atrocities.

The York Herald, on Tuesday, 13th November, 1888, published the following article, which began by revealing that the wife of Mary Kelly’s landlord had herself now received a letter purporting to have been sent by the perpetrator of the crimes.

The article then went on to mention, although not name, George Hutchinson, who had provided the police with an incredibly detailed description of a potential suspect :-


“It is reported that Mrs. McCarthy, wife of the landlord of No. 26, Dorset-street, has received by post a letter signed “Jack the Ripper,” saying that they were not to worry themselves, because he meant to do two more in the neighbourhood; a mother and daughter this time.

The letter was immediately taken to Commercial-street Police Station, and handed to the Inspector on duty.

Later inquiries confirm the fact that such a letter was received by Mrs. McCarthy.

The text was as follows:-

“Don’t alarm yourself. I am going to do another, but this time it will be a mother and daughter.” The letter, which was signed “Jack the Ripper,” was at once handed to the police authorities.


The police this evening have received information which not only establishes a clue as to the perpetrator of the Dorset-street murder, but places the authorities in possession of an accurate description of the person seen in the company of the murdered woman shortly before her death.

It appears that a man, apparently of the labouring class, with a military appearance, who knew the deceased woman, has this evening lodged with the police a detailed account of the appearance of an incident which attracted his attention on the morning of the murder, and although his story has been sifted and the narration cross- examined he adheres to it rigidly.


For this reason the police believe the clue to be a new and important one.

The informant stated that, on the morning of the 9th, he saw the deceased woman, Mary Jeanette Kelly, in Commercial Street, Spitalfields, in the vicinity of where the murder was committed in the company of a man of respectable appearance.

The man was about five feet six inches in height, and thirty-four or five years of age, with a dark complexion and a dark moustache, curled upwards at the ends. He wore a long dark coat, trimmed with astrachan; a white collar with a black necktie, in which was affixed a horse shoe pin. He wore a pair of dark gaiters with light buttons over button boots, and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain.

Various sketches of the crimes and the suspects.
A Round Up Of Suspects And Events. From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 24th November, 1888. Copyright, the British Library Board.


The highly respectable appearance of the man was in such contrast to the appearance of the woman that few could have failed to notice them at that hour of the morning.

This description, which agrees with that given of the person seen with the deceased by others, is much fuller in detail than has yet been in the possession of the police, and the importance which they attach to it may be estimated from the fact that, immediately it was taken, a special messenger was sent with it to the headquarters of the H Division, where Detectives Abberline, Nairn, and Moore set about an immediate investigation.”


The Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser, on 13th November, 1888, published the following article in which it was suggested that the murder of Mary Kelly may have been carried out by a different perpetrator than the previous atrocities.

The article also recorded the different ways in which people were reacting to this latest murder:-


“The recrudescence of crime in the East End of London has almost pushed aside all other topics of conversation.

Another woman has been slain, and has, it seems, been even more horribly mutilated than were the women who were killed at the end of September.

Eastward of St Paul’s, the excitement is at fever heat; but, although the region of Spitalfields is literally overrun with police and detectives, the authorities of Scotland Yard are without a clue.


The crime this time is so horrible that an impression has arisen that the murderer must be some maniac who has endeavoured to outstrip the ghastly achievements of the so-called “Jack the Ripper.”

In the former cases, the murderer killed his victims in the street, but it may be that he has found the watchfulness in the streets too close to be evaded, and has, therefore, adopted his new tactics.

If this be the case, the fact only shows how resolute he is in the pursuance of his murderous work. He is carrying on a war with one unfortunate class and that war is relentless.


It is almost impossible to conceive that such monsters in human form exist in this the nineteenth century, but unfortunately the conception is too true. Had such stories been told in ancient books they would almost have been received with incredulity.

The murderer is apparently thoroughly acquainted with the district in which he pursues his butchery. He keeps a watch on the police and knows exactly when and where he can strike with the least risk.

Many stories are afloat, but, as a rule, they are without foundation.

It is generally supposed that the work is that of one man and the idea fastens more readily on public opinion from the fact that it is difficult to imagine that there can be more than one fiend stalking about and dealing death with the utmost impunity.


Great excitement was caused on Sunday evening, when a man with a blackened face publicly declared himself to be “Jack the Ripper,” and it was with the greatest difficulty that the police, assisted by some civilians, managed to save him from being “lynched ” by the infuriated crowd.

It remains to be seen whether anything will come out of the arrest, but it appears that the police attach some importance to it as the man’s appearance answers to the police description of the party “wanted.”


It is rather a curious fact that “Jack the Ripper” has become a sort of fiendish hero in the Whitechapel district. If he wished to get himself talked about he has certainly succeeded.

“Jack the Ripper back from his holidays” is a cry which raised a laugh when uttered by newspaper boys among the crowd waiting for the Lord Mayor’s Show. Several girls of a degraded class might actually have been heard in Whitechapel on Sunday night singing a “flash” song in his praise.

His infamy is recorded in both prose and verse. “All About Jack The Ripper,” shouts one pedlar, while another hawks “The Truth About The Whitechapel Murders.”