A Singer Mistakes A Constable For Jack The Ripper

It really is remarkable how many times, and in how many different contexts, the name of Jack the Ripper turned up in court cases around the country from October 1888, onwards.

Numerous people, who were arrested for being drunk disorderly on the streets, would either claim to be Jack the Ripper or else they would claim that they were only trying to get away from him.

The following account of one such case appeared in The Dundee Evening Telegraph on Wednesday, 18th September 1889:-


“At the Marlborough Street Police Court, Mary Neville, who gave her age as 21, and who described herself as a “governess”, was charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting the police.

Constable 638A said that shortly before midnight on Saturday he was called to Hyde Park to remove the prisoner.

He found her near the “Corner,” leaning against the railings in a drunken state, and with a large crowd around her.

On his asking her what was the matter, she smiled, but on his pressing the question she swung her umbrella round, catching him on the helmet, and, stamping her feet, she demanded his number.


Mr. Hannay: “Have you any questions to ask the officer?”

Prisoner: “My dear sir, I assure you that this is most painful to me that I should be brought here to speak against a man like that. Were it not for the high respectability of my cousins, aunts and sisters, and the lot of them, I should at once have passed his offence over.

In the Park three fashionably-attired women “flew” at me – (laughter) – and one of them stole my new dust cloak, whilst another took possession my best silk umbrella.

The constable came up and said, “here, move along.”

I told him that I had been cruelly robbed, but he refused to listen to me, and he dragged me off to the police station, and here I have been confined ever since.”

Mr Hannay  (to the constable): “Did she say anything about being robbed.”

The Constable: “Not a word, sir.”


Prisoner: “Are our lives to be sworn away by policemen like this? I have never hurt a dog or a fly in my life. In fact, I have kept a pet fly for two years that I had recovered from a milk jug. The poor little devil would have been drowned if I had not rescued it (Laughter.)

(To the constable) I will bring an action against you, young man, that I will.” (More laughter.)


The constable said that they had had great difficulty in getting Miss Neville to the station, for every now and then she tried to escape, and once she twisted her legs round a post and would not let go again.

Prisoner: “Of course I did. I thought that you were going to steal my clothes, murder me, and then take my body over to the East End – (laughter) –  another “Jack the Ripper” job.”


Mr Hannay: “l will adjourn the hearing in order that your friends may come forward and explain the case.”

Prisoner: “The case? What case? There is no case to adjourn that I can see. I have travelled all over the world as a professional singer, and I have never been treated in such a manner before. I’m a governess, you know – (laughter) – and I can assure you that my character will bear the strictest investigation.”

Mr Hannay: “I shall remand you and have inquiries made about you.”

The prisoner (mournfully): “What? Send me back to the cold, cold cells? How cruel! (Laughter.)”