Exciting Scene

On July 17th, 1889, Alice McKenzie was murdered in Castle Alley, off Whitechapel High Street, and the panic and unrest that had taken place in the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders the previous autumn resurfaced in the East End of London, and woe betide any unfortunate misfit who found his way into the sights of the Whitechapel mobs around this time.

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


But, one or two men were actually foolish enough to draw attention to themselves in the days proceeding the murder of Alice Mackenzie, as is evidenced by the following article that appeared in  The Guernsey Star, on Tuesday, 23rd July, 1889:-

“On Friday night [19th July, 1889] the cries of a woman in East Aldgate created some excitement.

The woman had been seen approaching a dark portion of the thoroughfare near the Aldgate East Station, Whitechapel, with a sailor, and they had not been long at the corner before the woman was heard to cry “No, I won’t.”

The man, therefore, seized her and dragged her a short distance along the ground. He held her by the hair with one hand, and with the other produced a knife or dagger with which he commenced to cut the woman.


Her screams soon attracted attention, and crowds of men and women ran from all directions to the spot.

The woman was struggling with her assailant, and was covered with blood.

Several members of the Local Vigilance Association were among the first to arrive, and they pursued the man, who had attempted to escape. He was seized, and a dreadful struggle ensued. It was seen that the man had a long knife in his hand, and it was some time before he could be deprived of it.

It was eventually taken from him, but even then his fight for liberty was determined, and, in the fray, the woman crawled away.

The assailant, holding the woman by the hair is disarmed.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 27th July, 1889. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Police whistles were heard in all directions, and soon a great number of officers, both of the City and Metropolitan force, were on the scene, where a crowd of about 600 persons had assembled.

When the police came up, the man was cut and bleeding profusely from wounds inflicted by the mob, who had raised the cry of “Lynch him,” and were throwing all kinds of missiles at the Prisoner.

Under a strong escort of police, he was got to the Commercial-street Police-station.


When asked if he had anything to say, he replied – “The woman robbed me.”

He was asked why he drew the dagger, and he replied, “In self-defence.”

He said he was a sailor, gave a Scotch name, and said he arrived from South Shields a week ago.


He could not say where he was on the morning of the 17th of July, the date of the murder of Alice McKenzie.

He did not know where he had stayed whilst in London.

On his being searched, a smaller knife was found in his possession, together with a seaman’s discharge.


Mr.  Albert Bachert, of 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, one of the Vigilance Committee, who seized the knife, and whose clothes were bloodstained has made the following statement:-

“At twenty minutes to ten on Friday evening, I was standing at the corner of Goulston-street, near Castle-alley, when I saw a woman standing under the lamp-post at the corner of Goulston-street and Wentworth-street.

She was fair, and wore a red bodice, with a white apron. She had no hat or jacket on.

A dark man with a slouch hat came up and spoke to her. He was about 5 ft 8 in. tall, and about forty years of age.

They walked towards Aldgate together.

I followed them.


When they got near Aldgate East Station. I heard her say, “No, I won’t.”

With that, he caught hold of her and struggled with her. She screamed, and he dragged her to the kerb opposite Wood’s the butcher’s, where he threw her down.

She screamed, “Jack the Ripper,” and I rushed at him. I saw then that he had drawn a long knife or dagger from his sleeve, or pocket, and was holding it in his hand. He held her hair in the right hand and the knife in the left.

He made an attempt to, or did, stab her when I closed with him.

He struggled violently, but I got the knife from him.

Others came up in response to my cries for help, and he was held till the police arrived. He struggled hard to get away.

There was a crowd of about six or seven hundred there.


A large number of City and Metropolitan police came up and surrounded the Prisoner, who was cut and bleeding. The crowd became very violent, and tried to lynch him, and threw all kinds of missiles at him.

The police got him to the station, where he presented a sorry appearance, cut and exhausted. I detailed what I had seen, and I handed the knife to the inspector.

I noticed that the Prisoner wore a belt round his waist, with a leather sheath attached.

I have blood on my cuffs, shirt, and tie; but I am not cut.


The knife is a formidable weapon with a black handle. It has a broad blade, about seven or eight inches long, which comes up to a point.

I did not see the woman while I was in the struggle, but the police were looking for her.”


The Press Association says that:- At two o’clock on Friday morning the police had made no fresh arrests.

The man concerned in the attack on a woman at Aldgate, our representatives was informed, had, after careful inquiry into all the circumstances, been liberated, the woman having failed to come forward to prefer the charge against him.”