Sunderland Competing With Whitechapel

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle, on Monday, 10th September 1888 published the following article:-


“Sunderland is competing with Whitechapel in tales of mystery. A few weeks ago a cabinetmaker named Lee was found dead under suspicious circumstances, in a back street off High Street East in the Wearside borough, and, yesterday morning, a ship’s captain named Harris, belonging to Harwich, was discovered dead under analogous conditions in West Avenue, or Maud’s Open, in the same neighbourhood.

Both of these deaths are apparently due to the drunkenness, violence, and immorality that openly flaunt themselves nightly in High Street East, especially from dusk on Saturdays to the early hours of Sunday mornings.


This is a foul spot, and the authorities, police and municipal, would do well to combine with the view of eradicating a long-standing disgrace to the borough.

When darkness has set in, it is notorious that respectable persons dare scarcely venture below Sans Street, even if this may be taken as the limit. In addition to the evil-intentioned groups of persons and the open vice that blocks the way to the south pier and the docks, the stench that arises in the locality is sickening.


It was not far from here that Thomas Fury murdered the woman whose death after a great lapse of time was revenged a few years ago on the scaffold at Durham.

The plague spot where this crime was committed has since been cleared of its dens of infamy, and handsome Board Schools mark the inauguration of a better era.

It will not be creditable to those charged with the well-being of Sunderland. if they do not soon extend such improvements, and destroy the existing rookeries of crime and sin.


The Whitechapel murder continues to engross public attention, if the sensation do not go further than this, for something of a panic has seized London, and there are signs that it is spreading to the country.

Brutal outrages in Whitechapel are common – before and since the recent murders, the knife, the fist, and the boot have been used upon poor creatures with terrible effect.

But the deaths of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, and the two other unfortunate women do not appear to come within the ordinary category of crime.

An images of Annie Chapman from the Illustrated Police News which purports to show her before and after her murder.
Annie Chapman’s Murder Featured In The Illustrated Police News.


These atrocious murders rather bear a resemblance to the desperate deeds committed many years ago in Ratcliffe Highway.

Two families were done to death within a few days, and a lunatic who was arrested on suspicion committed suicide.


Regarding the latest Whitechapel victim, Annie Chapman, a person known as “Leather Apron” was named by the voice of suspicion yesterday, and an exciting search for him took place.

This morning, a man was arrested in Whitechapel, but at the time of writing, it does not seem very certain either that “Leather Apron” has been captured, or that after all he has anything to do with the  affair.

Notwithstanding the excitement that prevails in Whitechapel, it is as well to remember that in England a man may not be condemned by clamour, but only after a calm judicious investigation.


A much more important arrest seems to have been made at Gravesend – that of William Henry Pigott.

Police Constable Vellensworth, of the down-river borough force, apprehended him late last night.

He is said to admit that he was in the locality where the tragedy was enacted at an early hour on Saturday morning, and there are certain blood marks upon his clothes which he will be asked to explain.

At present, he says that he had an altercation with a woman, but denies all knowledge of Chapman.


The police are upon the trial, and should they not succeed to run down their man, public confidence in the force will be greatly shaken.”