The Four Tragedies

On Tuesday, 11th September, 1888, The Aberdeen Press and Journal  decided to provide its readers with a summary of what the newspapers were saying about the latest murder, that of Annie Chapman, which had taken place in Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, on the previous Saturday.


The article began with a brief summary of the murders up to that point in time.

It did contain several errors, for example, stating that the first murer was of a woman unidentified, whereas the victim in question had, in fact, been identified as Emma Smith.

But, errors aside, the article did make several very astute points and, as it has transpired, spot on predictions concerning the Jack the Ripper atrocities.


“The first of the four recent murders in Whitechapel was that of a woman, unidentified, who was found killed by having a stick or iron instrument thrust into her body.

This crime passed off quietly. It was put down as a drunken freak of some of the nameless ruffians who swarm about Whitechapel.

The second was in Osborne Street.

The scene was near that of the first murder. A woman was found stabbed in 36 places, lying outside George’s Buildings.

The impression made by this affair soon died away. The crime was a horrible one, but not a witness was called at the inquest who could throw light on the matter.

The excitement died from sheer lack of fact to support any theory.

The third was the Buck’s Row murder, which, in a week, has been followed by the latest barbarity in Hanbury Street.


The Standard remarks: –

“The feeling of insecurity which prevails will not be removed till the author of these crimes is safely lodged in jail. It is for Scotland Yard to put him there without loss of time.

A cordon should be steadily and scientifically drawn round the comparatively circumscribed district which the murderer is known to haunt, and it must be tightened till he is fairly caught in the meshes.

The affair is one which should put the police authorities on their mettle, for if they bungle it their credit will be disastrously impaired, and a serious a blow given to the public confidence in their abilities.

This, of course, is well understood at headquarters, and every nerve will be strained in the chase of this bloodthirsty scoundrel, and we trust that the pursuit will be short, sharp, and speedily successful.”


The Daily News says:-

“Much depends on the police.

It is hardly too much to say that the peace of a whole quarter of London is now in an especial a manner in their hands.

We have already commented on the inadequacy of the force in the district affected by these crimes.

Hanbury Street must have been poorly patrolled if so much could have a passed there in half an hour and left no trace behind.

The police have a good deal of lost ground to recover.

In the past year or two they have failed to bring many terrible offenders to justice.

The police must somehow contrive to win this time.

Whatever the event, the crimes must remain a kind of public disgrace.”


The Daily Telegraph remarks that no single effort must be spared to arrest and punish the wretch who has alarmed and horrified a whole capital.


The Daily Chronicle observes:-

“The occurrences of four Whitechapel murders within the year, and the feebleness and sluggishness with which all the clues to the earlier ones were followed up, afford a ghastly comment on the bickerings between Sir Charles Warren and the Chief of the Secret Police.

In fact, the Metropolitan Police are simply letting the first city of the world lapse into primaeval savagery.”


The Glasgow Herald says:-

“They may not be all the work of one man, but the result of a murderous epidemic.

Imitativeness in crime is no new thing. Murders frequently occur in groups, and suicides, it is well-known, run upon certain patterns suggested by one striking example.

It is quite possible that the ghastly incidents of the first of the Whitechapel s crimes may have excited the diseased brains of other murderously inclined creatures. This is even a more terrible theory than the other, for it a suggests an indefinite number of homicidal maniacs at large instead of one.

But it may be reasonably predicted that the excitement which is now stirring all London will suffice to stay the hand of the slayer or slayers.

Whether the mystery will ever be solved it would not be safe to say, for it is unhappily the case that the old theory “murder will out” is not supported by the number of undiscovered murderers at large.”