On the morning of Friday, 9th November, 1888, the horrifically mutilated body of Mary Kelly was found in her room in Miller’s Court, of Dorset Street, in Spitalfields.
However, since the body was not discovered until 10.45am, the daily newspapers had already been printed, and thus it wasn’t until the evening editions that word of this latest atrocity was circulated throughout the country at large.
THE NEWSPAPERS THAT MORNING
The morning newspapers, by contrast, carried articles about the nuisance and allure that the name of Jack the Ripper was generating far and wide.
PETER DONALD IN COURT
The London Evening Standard, on Friday, 9th November, 1888, carried news of an engineer who, having taken a bit too much drink had made a very unwise claim to a passing police officer:-
“Peter Donald, a well-dressed, respectable-looking man, aged 35, an engineer on the steam ship Nepaul, lying in the Albert Docks, was charged with being drunk and disorderly and terrorising the public by terming himself Jack the Ripper.
At one o’clock that morning David Bostock, 298 H, was on duty in Commercial-road, Whitechapel, close to where some of the recent murders were committed, when a hansom cab drove up to him.
The Prisoner, who was seated inside, drunk, hailed him, and said, “I am Jack the Ripper,” the cabman immediately driving off.
After proceeding about 100 yards, the driver drew up.
TAKEN INTO CUSTODY
On the constable coining up the Prisoner again said, “Officer, I am Jack the Ripper.”
As he was drunk, and his conduct was likely to create alarm, and might lead to mischievous consequences at that time in the morning, Bostock took him into custody.
On the way to the station the Prisoner said, “What a fool I must have been to act like this.”
The Prisoner now expressed contrition for his conduct, urging, in extenuation, that he had met some friends and had a drop too much to drink.
Mr. Lushington said that he should advise the Prisoner, at another time, not to be so foolish as to identify himself with” Jack the Ripper.” He fined him 2s. 6d.”
NEWSPAPER VENDORS IN CHELMSFORD
The Chelmsford Chronicle of the same day carried an article concerning the newsworthiness and the potential for profit afford by the London murders:-
“Four more horrible murders! Dreadful mutilation by Jack the Ripper! ”
Such cheerful exclamations as these, bellowed out in hoarse tones by ragged news vendors, mingled pleasantly with the Salvation Army outdoor “service” in Chelmsford on Saturday evening.
On the strength of half-a-dozen lines in the Evening News to the effect that four people in America have been murdered in three weeks in a similar manner to the victims of “Jack the Ripper” in Whitechapel, a couple of men had rushed down to Chelmsford with an immense number of copies of the paper, which they sold rapidly at a penny each, the ordinary price of the paper being a halfpenny.
A VERY OLD DODGE
This is very old dodge, but it took well with the Chelmsford Saturday-nighters. The vendors were artful enough to protect themselves, when they sold a paper, by whispering that it was “a second Jack the Ripper, sir – an American!”
It was curious to note how disappointed and even disgusted people were when they found that no more outrages had been committed in London. This disappointment naturally enough resolved itself into resentment against the news vendors, who were threatened, by several with vengeance.”
THREATENING A WOMAN
Freeman’s Journal, on the other hand, opted for a story of an assault that, according to the perpetrator, was only done in jest:-
“William Kershaw, tailor, of 6 Sussex Terrace was charged on remand with assaulting Anne Ryan, 105 Grangegorman, a fish dealer, and threatening to do a “Jack the Ripper” on her.
Mr. Gerald Byrne, solicitor, appeared for the accused.
It appeared that on the 3rd instant, between 11 and 12 o’clock in the day, the prisoner and Mrs Ryan were together in a shop in Leeson-street. The prisoner produced a clasp knife, and catching the prosecutrix by the dress, said that he would do a “Jack the Ripper” on her.
She tried to get away from him, and in the struggle the prisoner gave her a kick on the breast.
The police were called, and Sergeant 26 E took the prisoner into custody.
THEY WERE ONLY TRICKING
It was stated for the defence that the pair were only “tricking,” and that the woman had first caught the prisoner round the waist.
Mr. O’Donel said that the conduct of the accused was most disgraceful. Nobody but a low black-guard would have acted in such a ruffianly manner. The prisoner should find bail of £20 to keep the peace.
For the assault on Mrs Ryan, when she resented his behaviour, he (Mr. O’Donel) would inflict a fine of 20s with the alternative of 14 days’ imprisonment.”
HERBERT THE RIPPER
The Mansfield Reporter, in the meantime, went with the story of a neighbourly altercation in which the infamy of the Whitechapel murderer had been raised:-
“Herbert Ball, of Ridding., was summoned for using threats to Alice Wheatcroft, a married woman, on October 29th.
A “row” had occurred amongst the neighbours, and the defendant came out of his house and threatened to dash the complainant’s brains out against the wall. Defendant also stated that he would turn “Jack the Ripper.”
The defendant was bound over to keep the peace for three months in the sum of £5.”
MURDER IN MILLER’S COURT
However, that night, the newspapers adopted a very sombre tone, as they broke the news that, after an absence of some five weeks, the actual Whitechapel murder had carried out what appeared to be a far more brutal and gruesome atrocity than his previous crimes.