The Death Of John Spurgeon

Although there can be no doubt that he Jack the Ripper murders were horrific, there was another killer in Whitechapel at the time that claimed more lives than the Whitechapel murderer, whoever he may have been.

The number of people who died from starvation in the last 19th century in the district of Whitechapel is truly shocking, and yet, today we never really hear about the plights of those who died from want and hunger.

I did actually make a YouTube video on this issue in which I covered the stories of ten victims of this prolific Victorian killer.

The London Daily News, in its edition of Saturday the 9th of April 1870, carried the story of yet another victim:


Yesterday, Mr. Humphreys held an inquest at the Leigh Hoy Tavern, Church-street. Mile End, respecting the death of John Spurgeon, aged 61.


Elizabeth Steedman, 3, Angel Alley, Whitechapel, deputy-housekeeper at a fourpenny lodging-house, stated that the deceased was a gardener, but for the last two months he had been unable to get work, and he fell into a state of complete destitution.

He became ill, and he applied to the Whitechapel Workhouse authorities for relief, and they passed him to his own parish, at Islington.

He then came back to Whitechapel, and he lived at the lodging-house for the last two weeks without paying any rent.

On Tuesday two of his fellow lodgers, noticing that he wanted food, brought him two pennyworth of tripe and a mutton chop, but he was then too weak to eat it.

The workhouse people then came for him and they carried him along the streets in a cot to the Whitechapel Workhouse.

He had always been a man of very sober habits. He was a widower.


Eleanor Prevost, a workhouse nurse, deposed that when the deceased was admitted into the workhouse he was very emaciated. and he died on Wednesday.


Dr. A. M. Champneys said that when he saw the deceased he noticed that he was suffering from starvation, and that he was very much exhausted, and he died the next day.

The post-mortem examination showed that there was no trace of fat on the body, and the blood, of which there was very little, was thin and watery; the stomach and intestines were contracted, and showed evidence of starvation.

The man’s body was so light from having been starved that witness was able to lift it off the table with his left hand, and hold it up in the air.


The man died from want of food.

The jury returned a verdict of “Death from starvation.”