Jack The Ripper In The Workhouse

On Friday the 26th of October, 1888, there were several reports in the newspapers that demonstrate how the name of “Jack the Ripper” had caught on, not just in the East End of London but also in places far removed from London.

The South Wales Daily News, carried the following story:-



“A remarkable panic in the workhouse of Thurles, county Tipperary, was reported on Thursday.

At about three o’clock in the morning the inmates of the female wards were heard shrieking and shouting in a most extraordinary way, and they appeared to be in the greatest state of panic.

When the officials went to inquire the cause of the uproar, the women stated that a young man, respectably dressed, and who was a stranger to them, had entered the ward and approached the bed in which a young girl was sleeping.


Awakening, and seeing the man, she screamed aloud, and cried out that he was “Jack the Ripper.”

All the inmates then commenced an uproar, and the intruder becoming alarmed, as alleged, made his escape through the window.

A search was made through the workhouse, but no person was found.


The Kentish Mercury, meanwhile, brought its readers the following tale:-

“George Williams, 64, no home, was charged with begging from house to house at Church Street. Greenwich.

Police Constable Patterson, 445 RR, said that he saw the prisoner begging from shop to shop the previous afternoon, and upon taking him back to one of the shops, the occupant told him that the prisoner came in begging, and upon not receiving anything, he made use of very abusive language.

The prisoner denied the charge of abusive language, but he said that a boy at the shop door called him “Jack the Ripper.”

He was remanded for week.”


The Ballymena Observer carried the following story:-

“The inquest held on Monday in Westminster on the remains of the woman found in a building near Whitehall failed to elicit any information which might tend to clear up the mystery.

The medical evidence was explicit on one point – viz., that the leg had been skilfully severed from the trunk, and further, that it was believed to belong to the bod that was found in the same place previously.

It is estimated that death must have occurred about two months ago.


What relation the Whitehall mystery bears to the Whitechapel atrocities remains yet to be seen.

Apart from the terrible criminal nature of such murders, it is to be hoped for the sake of public morality that we have heard the last of these shocking events in the East End of London.

Nothing can be more demoralising to any community than a continual reference to the crimes themselves, or showing the depraved condition of certain sections of society – the allusions persistently made to the person who, with an acumen worthy of the penny novel writer, has selected the cognomen of “Jack the Ripper.”

Of all this, we say, respectable society has had enough, and more than enough.

An image from Punch showing a knife-wielding ghoulish figure.
The Punch Cartoon The Nemesis of Neglect


An interesting feature of Monday’s inquest was the evidence of two gentlemen, journalists, who appear to have been first on the scene when the limb of the unfortunate woman was found.

Indeed, it may said to have been through the instrumentality of a small dog belonging to one of these gentlemen that the discovery was made, as the animal attracted attention to the mound of earth from which the portion of the leg was exhumed.

The circumstance, however, notwithstanding all the light which has been brought to bear upon it, remains very much in its original obscurity.

It is another London mystery, and, unless it can be shown to be connected with the East End murders, it will soon be forgotten, like  numerous other crimes which have been committed in the great English metropolis.”