The East End In Turmoil

On 18th November 1888, the people of the East End were struggling to come to terms with the horror of the murder that had taken place on the 9th November 1888. People were terrified and, just as in the aftermath of the previous Jack the Ripper murders, women were afraid to go out after dark.

The police, desperate to track down the perpetrator of the awful crimes, had increased the number of plain clothes detectives in the area from 89 to 143 and these men patrolled the streets night after night.

Sir Charles Warren who, despite his resignation, was still in his post until a replacement could be appointed, had issued a notice promising a pardon to”any accomplice” who would come forward with information that would lead to the apprehension and conviction of the killer.

Meanwhile, there had been a resurgence in “slumming,” that had brought huge numbers of wealthy west end young men into the area by night to chat with the locals and absorb some of the atmosphere.

Descriptions of the killer were circulating in the pubs and were being passed on in whispered tones by terrified locals.

Others were spotting the commercial potential offered by the notoriety the murders had brought to the area and pamphlets going into lurid detail about the killer and the killings were on sale in the streets. 

Mary Kelly’s landlord, John McCarthy, had even been approached by a showman who was willing to rent Mary Kelly’s room for £25 a month and open it to the public. Another entrepreneur had even offered to either buy or hire Mary’s bed, presumably to make it the morbid centrepiece of an exhibition he was planning to open.

Preparations were being made for Mary Kelly’s funeral, which was due to take place on Monday 19th November 1888. It had been announced that the funeral was to be paid for by Mr H. Wilton, the parish clerk of St Lawrence Church, and keeper of the Shoreditch mortuary to which Mary’s body had been taken after her murder.

As the day ended, people wondered how long it would be before the killer would strike again, and the women hurried in doors, fearful of the monster in their midst who, it seemed, was able to go about his bloody business, seemingly with total immunity and no fear of capture.