Mary Kelly Latest Particulars

On Monday the 12th of November, the people of London were coming to terms with the fact that yet another murder in the Whitechapel series had been carried out by the killer who was now becoming, almost universally, known as “Jack the Ripper.”

As details of the murder of the latest victim, Mary Kelly – whose body had been discovered in her room in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street, Spitalfields, on the 9th of November, 1888 – began to emerge, it was becoming more than apparent that, with regards the horrific mutilations carried out on the body of the victim at least, this latest atrocity was far worse than the previous crimes.

A sketch of Mary Kelly.
Mary Kelly. From The Illustrated Police News, 17th November 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


However, if newspaper reports of this day are to be believed, the crime had led to an almost carnival like atmosphere breaking out on the streets of Spitalfields – and numerous street vendors were mingling with the excited and agitated crowds who were gathering around the scene of the Whitechapel murderers latest act of savagery.

It also appears that there was some confusion over exactly what time the murder had actually occurred.


The medical men, who had examined the body shortly after it was discovered, and as it lay on the bed in the room at Miller’s Court, were of the opinion that the crime had taken place in the very early hours of the morning, probably around 4am.

However, several local residents had come forward to say that they had actually seen May Kelly alive much later in the day than this, and some of these witnesses were even claiming to have held conversations with her.


On Monday, November 12th, 1888, The Western Daily Press, published the following article, which had been provided by the Press Association, which informed readers of the prevailing mood in the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields over the course of the weekend, and that also mentioned the confusion over when exactly the murder had taken place.

The article also told of a number of local residents who, despairing of the lack of progress evidently being made by the police investigation in tracking down the killer, had taken it upon themselves to try to bring “Jack the Ripper” to justice.


In addition, the article also featured brief snippets of the known information about the identity and the antecedents of the girl who had been murdered; and, as was rapidly becoming apparent, Mary Kelly was – and, in all honesty, still is – the most enigmatic of the victims of the Whitechapel murderer.


“The Press Association states that the public excitement created by the latest tragedy has not abated to any appreciable extent, and Dorset Street was this afternoon and evening in a crowded condition, and throngs, which extended even into Commercial Street, rendered locomotion all but impossible.

Jostling the assembled people were vendors of pamphlets fresh from the press describing the Whitechapel crimes, and other itinerant vendors were doing a thriving trade.

Two police constables guarded the entrance to Miller’s Court, and the adjacent shop of the landlord of the room where the body of the murdered woman was found was besieged.

The onlookers within and about Dorset Street comprised men and women of nearly every class, and, now and again, a vehicle would be driven up containing loads of persons impelled by curiosity to visit the locality.

A policeman keeps crowds out of Miller's Court on the day of the murder of Mary Kelly.
Crowds Outside Miller’s Court On The Day of Mary Kelly’s Murder.


Public excitement was further intensified by a report, which spread like wildfire, that another woman had been found murdered in Jubilee Street.

The rumour was at once accepted as true, thus denoting that the public entertains little doubt that, if so disposed, the murderer might, almost with impunity, add to his catalogue of atrocities.

Jubilee Street is off Commercial Road, and thither people at once proceeded from various directions, but inquiries elicited that the rumour had arisen from an accident to a woman necessitating her removal to the hospital.


The further postmortem examination on the body of the deceased woman, Kelly, has led the medical gentlemen to the conclusion that she had been murdered some hours before the discovery of the crime.

This conclusion, however, conflicts with the statements made to-day to the Press Association reporter by people in the neighbourhood.

It is asserted that Kelly was seen alive as late as eight o’clock on Friday morning.

She was observed about that time standing at the entrance to Miller’s Court, and one informant stated that the woman was seen to purchase milk for breakfast.

A young woman who goes by the name of “Margaret” says:- “I saw Kelly on Thursday night in Dorset Street She told me she had no money, and intended to make away with herself. Shortly after that a man of shabby appearance came up, and Kelly walked away.”

This was the first occasion, it is said, that the deceased was known to take a strange man to her room.

A view of the arched entrance into Miller's Court.
The Arched Entrance To Miller’s Court


Some statements have appeared respecting the deceased’s antecedents, and as to her having formerly been for some time in a fashionable house of resort in the West End.

There is reason to believe that not only are these statements well founded, but that she maintained some sort of connection with the companions of her more prosperous days.

Seeing that it was contrary to Kelly’s custom to take strangers to her room. it is believed that her destroyer offered some exceptional inducement.


While the police have been watching zealously in the hope of making some discovery of value, the public themselves appeared to feel that the responsibility was shared by them.

This was seen by an incident which occurred to-day, and which resulted in the arrest and detention of a strange man at Bishopsgate Street police station.

Some men were drinking at a beerhouse in Fish Street Hill.

One of them began conversing about the Whitechapel murder, and a man named Brown, living at 9, Dorset Street, thought he detected bloodmarks on the coat of the stranger. On the latter’s attention being called to it he said it was merely paint, but Brown said it was blood. The coat being loose, similar stains were seen on the man’s shirt, and he then admitted that they were blood stains.

Brown followed him from the house, and, when opposite Bishopsgate police station, gave him into custody.

On being brought before the inspector on duty he excitably protested against being arrested in the street, alleging that in the present state of public feeling he might have been lynched.

The same man had been arrested at Shadwell on Saturday by a police-constable who considered his behaviour suspicious, but he had been discharged.

It transpired that, before he left the Fish Street Hill beerhouse, he had, so Brown alleged, made contradictory statements respecting his place of residence and the locality in which he worked.

The man does not bear any personal resemblance to the published description of the person who is supposed to be the murderer.


Considerable importance is attached to an arrest which was effected at an early hour this morning through the exertions of two young men living in the neighbourhood of Dorset Street. Like many others in the neighbourhood„ they appear to have transformed themselves into amateur detectives, and have been perambulating the streets on the look-out for suspicious persons.

About three o’clock this morning their attention was drawn to two men in Dorset Street, who were loitering about.

The two men separated, and one of them was followed by the two youths into Houndsditch.

They carefully observed his appearance, which was that of a foreigner about five feet eight inches in height and having a long, pointed moustache. He was dressed in a long, black overcoat and deerstalker hat.

When near Bishopsgate Street, the young men spoke to a policeman, who at once stopped the stranger and took him to Bishopsgate Street police station.

There he was searched, and it was found that he was carrying a sort of pocket medical chest, containing several small bottles of chloroform.

In rather imperfect English he explained that he lived in Pimlico, where he was well known.

After this preliminary examination, he was taken to Commercial Street police station, in which district the murder was committed.

He was detained on suspicion, but subsequently was taken to Marlborough Street police station for the purpose of facilitating his identification.

A group of three man watch a Jack the Ripper suspect.
A Suspect Is Watched. From The Illustrated London News, 13th October 1888.


Another man is detained at Commercial Street station on account of his suspicious movements.

A man named Peter Maguire says that at about eleven o’clock on Saturday night, he was drinking at a public house, kept by Mrs Fiddymont, in Brushfield Street, when he noticed a man talking very earnestly to a young woman. The man asked her to accompany him up a neighbouring court, but she refused, and afterwards he left her.

Maguire followed the man who, noticing this, commenced running.

He ran into Spitalfields Market, Maguire following.

The man then stopped, and went up a court, took off a pair of gloves that he was wearing and put on another pair.

By a roundabout route he arrived at Shoreditch, and got into a bus, which Maguire also followed.

A policeman was asked by Maguire to stop this bus, but, it is said, he refused, and Maguire continued in pursuit until he met another constable, who at once stopped the vehicle.

The man was inside huddled up in a corner.

Maguire explained his suspicions, and the man was taken to Commercial Street police station, where he was detained pending inquiries.


A minute search has been made by the police and the medical men in the room where the crime was committal, but practically nothing in the nature of a clue has been obtained.

The man’s coat discovered there belonged to a Mrs. Harvey, who had lived with the woman Kelly, and the ashes in the fireplace, which have been carefully sifted have revealed no trace, it is stated, of human flesh or clothing.

As mentioned above, there is a discrepancy as to the time the murder was committed between the opinion of the medical men and the statements made by residents in the neighbourhood, and there is also some doubt as to whether any portion of the body was removed.

On the latter point, it is expected that some important evidence will be given at the inquest, which will be opened to-morrow forenoon by Dr. Macdonald at Shoreditch Town Hall.

A sketch of the interior of Mary Kelly's room.
The Interior of Mary Kelly’s Room. From Reynold’s Newspaper, 18th November 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The man Compton has since been discharged [This is referring to the man who was followed by the man named Brown, mentioned earlier in the article]. The police telegraphed to the authorities at King David Lane Station, Shadwell, and finding the man’s statements to be true he was detained no longer.

All the men who were in custody to-day have given satisfactory explanations of their movements, and have been released.


Mrs. Elizabeth Phoenix, residing at 157, Bowcommon Lane, Burdett Road, Bow, called at the Leman Street police station and made a statement as to the identity of the murdered woman.

She states that, about three years ago, a woman, apparently the deceased, judging from the published description, resided in Mrs. Phoenix’s brother-in-law’s house, at Breezer’s Hill, Pennington Street, London Docks.

She describes the deceased as a woman about five feet seven, rather stout, blue eyes, and hair reaching nearly to her waist.

At that time she gave her name as Mary Jane Kelly, and stated that she was about twenty-two, so that at her death she would be about twenty-five.


There was, however, some difficulty in establishing her nationality.

In the first place, she stated that she was Welsh, and that her parents, who had discarded her, still resided in Cardiff, from which place she came; but on other occasions she declared that she was Irish.


She is described as being very quarrelsome and abusive when intoxicated, but “one of the most decent and nice girls you could ever meet when sober.”

About two years ago she left Breezer’s Hill for Commercial Road, from which quarter she has been frequently reported to Mrs. Phoenix as leading an immoral life.

A Limerick telegram states that no inquiries have been received by the local police from the Metropolitan authorities concerning the antecedents of the woman Kelly.”