Alice Mackenzie Identified

Following the murder of Alice Mackenzie, which took place on the 17th of July 1888, the police and press began looking into her antecedents in the hope of discovering her true identity.

All that was known about her past was what she had told her lover, John McCormack, about herself, and that wasn’t particularly much.

He told police that she had informed him that she hailed from Peterborough, where her father had been a postman.

The Peterborough Express, therefore, began looking into her association with the city, and, on Tuesday the 13th of August 1889, the paper published its findings:-


It will be remembered that at the time of the latest Whiteclupel murder, some weeks since, the minds of Peterborough people were much exercised as to the identity of the victim, Alice Mackenzie, it having been elicited at the inquest that she described herself as coming from Peterborough and being the daughter of a postman.

The Peterborough postmaster was appealed to, but he could find no record of any postman of that name; neither could the police throw any light on the matter.

The local papers had their own theories as to the woman’s identity, one being of the opinion that she was a tramp who had passed through the city early in the year. and who was brought before the Borough Bench on a charge of begging.

Illustrations showing the murder of Alice McKenzie.
From The illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.


It now appears that Mackenzie was not the woman’s maiden name, and it was not the name by which she was known in the city.

It is confidently stated, on good authority, that Alice Mackenzie was none other than Alice Pittts, whose father was a rural postman journeying between Peterborough, Castor, and Ailesworth, and who also held the post of night watchman in the Minster Yard.

This was 35 years or so ago, and when the watchmen were superseded by the constabulary, Mr. Pitts, who was widely respected, was employed in sweeping the Minster Yard ard, being also in receipt of a pension from the Post Office.


For many years the family lived in a little house close to the Minster Yard, and even after Pitt’s death his wife, who died two years ago, continued to live there until the house was required for other purposes.

Mrs. Pitts, it is stated, used to earn her living mainly by fur trimming, at which she was an adept.

The family were well-known in the city.

A brother was apprenticed to a watchmaker, and Alice herself, the youngest of three daughters, went into domestic service, at one time being with Mrs. Strickland, who kept a little refreshment house near the parish church.


It was not as very long since that Alice left Peterborough to marry Mackenzie, who was supposed to be a grocer.

After that until her sad end by the knife of the mysterious and fiendish murderer, known as “Jack the Ripper,” she was lost sight of.


It may be remembered that Alice appeared as a witness in an important case at the Sessions, her evidence breaking down the prosecution, and establishing the innocence of a young fellow accused of a serious offence.


She is described as having had in her early days auburn hair, a good complexion, and a rather pretty face.

Pitts, the father. was a well-known figure in his postman days.

He used to drive a black donkey, which brayed with no uncertain sound, and “Old Pitts’ donkey blowing its horn” was a standing joke among the Post Office Officials when the equipage was driven up to the office doors.