London Ballet Girl Stabbed

In 1892, a ballet dancer by the name of Ada James was stabbed as she made her way through Buck’s Row, in Waterloo, South London.

It should be stressed that this Buck’s Row was not the same one as that in which Mary Nichols was murdered on August 31st, 1888.

However, the fact that she had been stabbed in a dark and out of the way thoroughfare led the press to connect this murder with the Whitechapel murders of 1888, and they began commenting that this new attack might well mark the return of Jack the Ripper.

The Yorkshire Evening Post took up the story in its edition of Tuesday, 8th November, 1892:-


“A startling affair, which recalls the crimes of “Jack the Ripper,” is reported.

The other night, a young girl named Ada James, a ballet girl, employed at the Empire Theatre, was attacked in Buck’s Row, Waterloo Bridge Road, London, by a mysterious stranger, and stabbed in the abdomen by some sharp instrument.

The wound became so serious in nature that the girl had to be taken to Charing Cross Hospital and her depositions had to be taken, as the doctors gave little hope of her recovery.


Miss James has been at the Empire for over two years, and is described by the officials of the house as one of the quietest of the numerous ballet girls they engage.

She was in the habit of leaving her home every evening at about 5.30, and proceeding by some of the lonely passages that surround the Waterloo Bridge Road to the railway station, where she had a standing engagement to meet her lover, a young man named Kleine, who is employed in the band of the Empire, at six o’clock.

The other night, although somewhat late, she kept her appointment at the station, but, to use the words of her lover, “she looked so ill that I thought every moment she would fall on the pavement.”

Kleine asked her what was the matter, and she said, “Oh, nothing. As I was coming through Buck’s Row a man came out of one of the passages and punched me in the side. I shall be all right presently.”

The couple walked from the railway station to the theatre, and at the stage door separated.


Miss James proceeded to her dressing room.

When she undressed, she discovered that her underclothing was saturated with blood, and, on closer examination, a deep wound, which was bleeding profusely, was discovered in her abdomen.

The stage manager at once ordered her removal to the Charing Cross Hospital, where she was at once admitted.

The wound was found to be a most dangerous one.


According to the girl’s story, she was coming up Buck’s Row just before six o’clock, with her hands in the pocket of her small astrachan-trimmed Princess jacket, when she saw a dark man, who was clean shaven, and with pointed features, turn out of a court about a dozen yards in front of her.

He turned towards her, and, before she realised what he was about, he ran towards her, and she felt a sharp pricking pain in her stomach.

She threw up her arms, and shouted, “Oh, God! I am  killed.”

For a moment she did not know what to do, but when she looked round to see what had become of the man he had gone, and was nowhere to be seen.

She felt the blood oozing from her wound, but, as the pain was not very great, she proceeded on her way towards Waterloo Station.


The police authorities took possession of Miss James’ clothing, through the front of which is a cut of quite an inch square.

It is thought that a long, thin shoemaker’s knife was used by the man.

A high Scotland Yard official has expressed the opinion that the attack on Miss James and the nature of the surroundings are significant of the methods of Jack the Ripper. He argues that, if the woman when she received the first blow had fallen, then her throat would have been cut and the body mutilated after the manner of those found in the East End, and known as the Ripper murders.”


The next day, The Portsmouth Evening News, reported that information had come to the police that led them to believe that a well-known local character may have been behind the attack:-

“The police authorities in the South of London were yesterday busily engaged under the direction of Inspector Ward in making inquiries into the mystery surrounding the stabbing of Ada James in Bucks-row on Friday last.

Early yesterday morning, the injured girl’s brother communicated to the police a piece of information which has given them a clue.


It appears that, on Sunday evening, a man, accompanied by a friend, called at Miss James’s home in Tarn-street, and asked to see her mother.

The man was known to the family, but he had not been near the house for some six months past.

Mr. James, the injured girl’s brother, saw the caller and asked him his business. He said that he had come to inquire how Ada was. “How did you know she was ill?” asked Mr. James. “Oh,” replied the caller, “I heard so up in the West-end.”

Before Mr. James could express his surprise at the answer given, as very few people knew at the time of his sister’s illness, the man’s friend said, “Well, you know, it wouldn’t have been Jim, he never carries a knife of any class whatever.”

The conversation did not get any further than this as Mr. James told his two visitors to go, and if they had any further inquiries to make regarding his sister, they had better make them at the police-station, and not at Tarn-street.


This information was yesterday imparted by Mr. James to the police, who are now endeavouring to find this man’s address and whereabouts.

They do not, however, think that he is the actual perpetrator of the attack.

It is believed by the authorities that “the man” who called at Mrs. James’s house on Sunday is a well-known character in the South of London, and, if it is the person they suspect, he is known to have had a grudge against Miss James, and been often heard to utter threats against her.


The information that came to the police yesterday was to the effect that this man engaged one of the Borough boys to carry out the plan of seriously wounding, if not killing, Miss James.

On Friday, so it was stated by the police informant, this man, accompanied by the Borough boy, went early in the evening to Buck’s-row, and hid in one of the passages, and, when the man saw Miss James coming down the row, he pointed her out and his companion rushed out and stabbed her in the way previously described.

Miss James was slightly better yesterday, and was during the day visited by her mother, brother, and lover – the Empire bandsman, Kleine.”


And, with that, the newspaper interest in the case appears to have fizzled out.

Nobody appears to have been arrested and charged with the attack on Ada James, and, as far as I can tell, it remains just another of a long list of crimes that the Metropolitan Police failed to solve.