Sudden Death Through Drink

Although Jack the Ripper was only a threat to a very small number of people in a relatively small area of a small part of London, the murders had an impact on society far beyond the confines of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and the East End of London.

In a previous article, I covered the stories of people who had been, quite literally, driven mad by Jack the Ripper, and I also recently made a YouTube video on ten of these people.

However, it is also intriguing how many times the name of Jack the Ripper turned up in newspaper articles on the crimes throughout the latter months of 188.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, on Tuesday, 27th November 1888, carried the story of one such case:-


This morning, Mr. J. E. Hill, deputy coroner, presided at an inquest at the Fountain Inn, Manchester Road, on the body of Sarah Holroyd, aged about twenty-seven years, a single woman, of 39, Outcote Bank, who died there somewhat suddenly on Friday last.

The evidence showed that at about noon on Thursday she left home, telling her mother, Hannah Holroyd, a widow, with whom she lived, that she was going to Leeds. She then appeared to be all right in health.


About half-past nine at night she called at the Brewers’ Arms beerhouse, with a well-dressed man, who paid for two bottles of soda water and a bottle of beer, and they left the house together before ten. She then appeared to be all right.

After that, she went to the house of a Mrs. Power, near the Wheat Sheaf Inn, Upperhead Row, and partly cleaned her dress, which was very dirty.

She and Mrs. Power went to the Wheat Sheaf, where, up till sixteen months ago, the deceased had been a servant for eighteen months, and the deceased, who did not seem the worse for drink, had one glass of beer.

She said she had had a rare day of it. She had been with a man all day, a Huddersfield man, whose name she would not tell, and had had champagne and brandy, and she did not know what.


She further said that she was walking to Dewsbury when a gentleman in a trap overtook her, and said “Hullo, Sarah, where are you going?” She told him she was going to Dewsbury, and he said, “Jump up; I’ll drive you there,” and he did so.

She did not say whether that gentleman was the one she had been with all day.


She walked back to Mirfield, and she came home by train to Huddersfield.

When she got off the train at Huddersfield she thought that “Jack the Ripper” was following her, and she ran and fell in St. George’s Square.


The deceased got home at about half-past eleven on Thursday night, the worse for drink, and appeared to have fallen down, as her dress was dirty.

She told her mother she had been assaulted by a man near Mirfield, and had fallen down.


She had supper, went to bed with her mother, and awoke at about half-past seven on Friday morning, got up, and vomited, and went back to bed, but the vomiting continued till about a quarter to two o’clock, when she appeared to have a fit, and died.

During the morning, she said that she had been to Leeds. She had had a similar attack a week before.


Mr. Edward Walker, surgeon, was sent for, and he arrived immediately after she died. He subsequently made a post-mortem examination of the body, and found fatty degeneration of the heart and liver, congestion of parts of both lungs, and, to some extent, of the kidneys, with two small particles of undigested food in the stomach. The brain was healthy to the naked eye, but would no doubt, under the microscope, have proved to be unhealthy.

There was no alcohol in the bowels or stomach, owing to it having been thrown up in the vomit, and to rapid absorption into the body. Death was due to failure of the heart’s action, produced by indulgence in alcoholic drink.

The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.