The Mood In Spitalfields

On Saturday the 10th of November, 1888, a reporter from The Evening News, who had visited Dorset Street, where the murder of Mary Kelly had taken place the previous day, published the following report:-


A representative of The Evening News, who spent the night on the scene of the murders attributed to the revengeful knife of Jack the Ripper, states that down to a late hour, last night, the utmost excitement – if not terror – pervaded all classes of the population in the East End.

The Dorset street murder, with all its revolting details, was the one topic of conversation, and, as the closing hour of half past twelve approached, there was an obvious renewal of the panic that ensued on the occasion of the recent double murder in Whitechapel.

As then, so now, the thoroughfares which constitute the main arteries of traffic in the East End were deserted shortly after one o’clock – a strange scene to those accustomed to the bustle and turmoil of the Whitechapel streets far into the early morn.

Ere an hour had passed after the midnight stroke, festive revellers had disappeared from the scene, while females of the unfortunate class were conspicuous chiefly by their absence.


But peaceful though the appearance of the streets may have been, the sturdy burghers of the East end were not unmindful of the duties voluntarily undertaken by them a few weeks back.

The members of the Vigilance Committee were everywhere to be seen peering into dark and shady nooks that would afford even a suggestion for a crime, while detectives in plain clothes – and in overwhelming numbers – were ever on the alert.

But in the small hours of the morning it must be confessed that Whitechapel looked dreariness itself.

As the hours stole by plain clothes detectives, both amateur and professional, left the scene of their monotonous perambulations and once again the streets resounded only to the heavy mechanical tread of the blue coated guardians of the night.


Even the coffee stalls were deserted, and their owners, enraged at the long continued paucity of nocturnal customers, did not hesitate to give free vent to their vocabulary of indignation.

Jack the Ripper may, from his peculiar and monomaniacal point of view, be having a merry time of it, but coffee stall keepers think otherwise.

This latest tragedy makes their prospects look even more gloomy than before, and the sullenness that comes of despair is rapidly stealing into the face of many an East end distributor of the cup that is said to cheer but not inebriate.

An East End Coffee Stall.
An East End Coffee Stall.


Throughout yesterday Dorset street was the scene of intense excitement, and the strong cordon of police drawn around the approaches to the street only with the utmost difficulty prevented the ever increasing throng from breaking through.


The search for the perpetrator of this the most revolting of all the East end tragedies has been kept up with the most persistent zeal, though so far without success.

Yesterday, a man was arrested and taken to Commercial street, on the suspicion of being Jack the ripper, but subsequent information that came to hand led to his release.

Late at night a further arrest was made at the same station. Here again it is anticipated by the authorities that the inquiries will fail to establish the identity of the prisoner with Jack the Ripper, and his speedy release is anticipated.

The authorities themselves readily admit that up to the present they have not the slightest clue as to the perpetrator of this atrocious murder.

The audacity of the deed has startled every one, and none more so than the police.


The actual scene of the murder is Miller’s court, Dorset street – though in the locality it is known to residents in the neighbourhood as “McCarthy’s court.” This is owing to the fact that a man named McCarthy is the chief owner or occupier of the houses there.