Jack The Ripper In Arkesden

It is incredible how many letters purporting to have been written by “Jack the Ripper” were being written and circulated in the aftermath of the receipt of the original “Dear Boss” letter in September, 1888.

Indeed, the letter-writers, many of whom would remain anonymous and would never be traced, continued composing and sending missives long after the Whitechapel murders had drawn to their conclusion – the last victim on the police file being Frances Coles, who was murdered on Friday,13th February, 1891.

The scene at he murder of Frances Coles.
The Frances Coles Murder Site, 1892. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Inevitably, the murder of Frances Coles led to a resurgence of interest in the case, and the epistle writers began reaching for their pens once more, unable to resist the temptation of injecting themselves into a case that had, by that time, become famous throughout the world.

The surprising thing about these letters is that, when any of the writers were actually traced, they tended to be just ordinary people who had come to see the murders as almost a melodrama in which they just had to have a part.

In April, 1891, the landlady of the village pub in Arkesden, in Essex, found herself the recipient of several letters that, so the writer claimed, had been written by Jack the Ripper, and which subjected her to several horrendous threats about what he was planning to do to her.

In this case, the culprit was found, and, as it transpired, their identity was, to say the least, something of a surprise.

The Dundee Evening Telegraph  took up the story in its edition of Thursday, 23rd April 1891:-


“Considerable excitement has been caused in the village of Arkesden, which is close to the borough of Saffron Walden, in consequence of Mrs. Taylor, the landlady of the Green Man Inn, having received a number of threatening letters purporting to have been written by “Jack the Ripper” and couched in the most disgusting terms.

The excitement was brought to a head a few days ago, when Mrs Taylor’s daughter reported that she had been stopped as she was crossing the fields, and had been handed a letter by a man, who told her to give it her mother.

When opened, the missive was found to contain the announcement that “Jack the Ripper” was in the village, and would visit the woman the same night with the intention “doing for her.”


Mrs Taylor, being frightened, at once went to see the local policeman, and a large number of the villagers determined to form themselves into a search party, and in the evening some 30 or 40, armed with pitchforks and heavy sticks, set out to explore the locality, many of their wives locking and barricading the doors in their absence.

The search proved fruitless, although the daughter of the threatened woman had given the policeman a clear description of the man who stopped her and gave her the last letter.


The divisional Superintendent of Police has since visited the place, and, after a long interview with the girl, she confessed that she had written the letters herself; but, as she has only just turned twelve years of age,  it is thought highly improbable that she concocted such vile epistles without being prompted by some one.”