Jack the Ripper December 1889

As 1889 drew to a close, the news juggernaut, that the Jack the Ripper murders had set in motion, showed little sign of slowing down, and, throughout December, 1889, the name by which the unknown miscreant was now universally known had so infiltrated the public consciousness that, according to one newspaper, “Jack the Ripper” had entered the English language as a verb!

Indeed, throughout December, 1889, news reports continued to come in from all over the world, making reference to the Whitechapel murderer, and reporting on any fresh crimes that might have signalled his return.


Writing in his “Mustard and Cress” column, in The Referee, on Sunday, December 1st, 1889, the journalist George Sims wryly commented on just how ubiquitous the perpetrator of the Whitechapel crimes has, apparently, become:-

“With the advance of winter, the “Jack the Ripper ” epidemic is breaking out again with renewed virulence.

They have a “Jack the Ripper” scare in France, and another in Spain. The hero of Whitechapel has also turned up in Germany, in Algeria, and in Russia.

To his many valuable qualifications for the career he has mapped out for himself Mr. Ripper has now evidently added that of being ubiquitous.

Considering the way he now travels from land to land and turns up unexpectedly in the cities of the world, he might very well be allowed another consonant to his cognomen and style himself “Jack the Tripper.”

A photograph of George Sims.
George Sims.


According to an article which appeared in The Maidstone Journal and Kent Advertiser, on Tuesday, 3rd December, 1889,  the threat of  “Jack the Ripper” had entered the lexicon of domestic abusers, as is evidenced from a case that was reported from the Dartpool Petty Sessions:-

“Samuel Dunn was summoned for assaulting his wife, Mary Ann Dunn, at Swanscombe, on the 23rd November.

The complainant stated that the defendant came home on Saturday evening, and struck her in the face. He also got a knife from the table drawer and said would serve her like “Jack the Ripper.” and she ran out of the house from him.

He had assaulted her four times before, and on the previous Wednesday, he tried to strangle her.

The evidence of the complainant was corroborated by Ann Fairbrass and Ann Crack-ell, the latter of whom stated that she saw the complainant running away from her husband, who overtook her and struck her in the chest.

The defendant called his sister, Ann Smith, who said that the disturbance arose through the intemperance of the defendant’s wife’s mother.

He was bound over in to keep the peace for six months.”


The Dundee Advertiser, on Friday, 6th December, 1889, reported on a similar case:-

“Peter Milne, labourer, Queen Street, was charged – before Provost Scott, yesterday – with having, on Wednesday night, committed a breach of the peace in his dwelling-house, and having conducted himself in an outrageous and disorderly manner, to the annoyance of the neighbours, and also with using abusive language towards his wife, Mary Hunter or Milne.

Accused denied the charge, and was convicted on evidence.

Mrs Milne, in the course of her statement, said that the accused was drunk, and threw boots and shoes at her, and also a shovel.

He threatened to use her as “Jack the Ripper.”

Milne was convicted, on Saturday of a similar offence, and the Provost passed sentence of thirty days’ imprisonment in Dundee Jail, where he would have time for reflection.”


Meanwhile, according to the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, on Saturday, 7th December, 1889, the Ripper had, the previous day, carried out a crime in New Jersey:-

“At Millville, in New Jersey, yesterday, a coloured woman was found murdered and mutilated, her injuries being almost identical with those of the Whitechapel victims.

A glass blower named Knox has been arrested on suspicion being the perpetrator, but he strenuously denies the charge.

The chief point against him is the blood stain upon him.”


According to the following letter, which appeared in The Aberdeen Evening Express, on Thursday, 12th December, 1889, the Whitechapel murderer had enrolled an agent to act on his behalf in Aberdeen:-

“(To The Editor of the Evening Express)

Sir, – Last night while going home by Claremont Street at a late hour I got into conversation with a man whose talk was, at first, quite sensible, but who eventually told me he was an agent for “Jack the Ripper,” and had been commissioned by him to look after a certain class of women.

I at first treated it as drunken raving, but the man seemed to be quite sober, and reflecting the matter over I decided to ask you to give publicity to the incident, that he may be looked after by his friends if really labouring under such hallucination.

Yours, &c.”


On Saturday, 14th December, 1889, the following stomach-churning story appeared in The Western Daily Press:-

A correspondent telegraphing last evening says some dock labourers at Middlesboro’ made a discovery, believed to indicate another of the series of fiendish crimes in East London attributed to “Jack the Ripper.”

The Swansea barque Picton Castle, which arrived in the Tees from London on November 21st, was being discharged of ballast when labourers found a woman’s hand, perfect except for two joints of the fourth finger.

Another labourer then stated that some time previously he came across a bag, the contents of which emitted a putrid odour.

It was now buried under a heap of ballast.

The police are searching the ballast.”


On Saturday, 21st December, 1889, The Cambridge Independent Press, published a reasonably balanced article, that was critical of the failure of the detectives to have affected any definitive arrests with regards the Whitechapel murders, and which commented on the irresponsibility of the sensation-seekers who had, so the article suggested, blown the panic up out of all proportion:-

“The most permanent, if not the greatest, sensation of the year was. caused by the repeated shocks to the public mind by the crimes of an unknown miscreant who goes by the name of Jack the Ripper.

It is not necessary to dwell on the shocking and revolting character of the outrages committed by this fiend – if, indeed, they are all the work of one hand – upon the lowest class of women in the East End of London.

The eighth of a series of these outrages, which were begun last year, was committed in London on July 16th, in a populous part of the city, and, as before, the murderer escaped redhanded with complete impunity.

The complete failure of our detective force to deal with this awful orgy of crime is no doubt the most alarming feature of the whole affair.

No man can tell the amount of alarm and distress which have been caused by this miscreant.

The evil has, without doubt, been aggravated by thoughtless and foolish people who have published announcements that on such and such a night “Jack the Ripper” would punctually perform a murder in such and such a place.

Not long ago, it was announced that he would murder someone in the West End by way of a change, “Jack” being tired working the East, but, of course, it never came off.

A similar rumour was started in many provincial towns, no doubt for the sake of a striking line in the newspaper bills.

There is an old saying that “Murder will out,” and, in this case, we are fain to trust to an overruling and avenging Providence, for it is plain the detectives can do nothing for us.”


On Monday, 30th December, 1888, The Sheffield Independent, published an article about a street altercation in which the name of Jack the Ripper had been used:-

“Harry Denker, 34, was charged at the Thames Police Court on Saturday with assaulting Thomas Taylor and a constable.

At one o’clock that morning the prisoner had a crowd round him, and Taylor wished to charge him with assault.

The constable asked him for his name and address, when he replied “Jack the Ripper.”

He would not give his name, and became violent and assaulted the officer.

The prisoner was sentenced to seven days’ hard labour.”


Finally, on Tuesday, 31st December, 1889, The Evening Star informed its readers that the perpetrator, the and the district in which they had occurred had so permeated the national consciousness that they had now entered the English language as verbs:-

“Notorious events have time and again caused new phrases.

“Jack the Ripper”  has been made a verb, and Whitechapel also, and many an urchin, and elder too, have in fun, or seriously, threatened to re-enact the Crimes to which the words refer.

Now we find a threatening letter being sent by one who signs himself  “Englishman” (we are sorry for this), and expresses a yearning to “play Dr. Cronin” with the object of his wrathful indignation.”