The Canonical Victims

Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols –  Mary Ann Nichols  could have been any one of thousands of women living in the East End for the majority of her life. She was married to William Nichols and had 5 children with him during the first 15 years of their marriage. However it was not the happiest of marriages and their final separation occurred in 1881. William then stopped to give her support payments in 1882 because of her lifestyle and dealings with other men. Polly’s life seems to spiral downward from here and she spends the next 6 years or so going from workhouse to workhouse and turning to prostitution when she needed to. Polly’s body was discovered on August 31, 1888 and her relatively insignificant life became a source of scrutiny for many generations to come.  Her throat had been cut with signs of strangulation and her abdomen was mutilated, a signature that would soon become very recognizable. She was in her mid-40s  when she died.

“Dark” Annie Chapman –  Annie Chapman also appeared to live a relatively normal life until her separation from her husband, John Chapman, in either 1884 or 1885.  She then lived with a sieve maker for a while, but when her husband died in 1886 and she stopped receiving his support payments the sieve maker leaves her. She did crochet work and sold flowers and did not turn to prostitution until after her husband’s death. After this she lives relatively consistently in a lodging house in Spitalfields and has a relationship with Edward Stanley, known as the Pensioner. Her body was discovered on September 8, 1888, in the backyard of 29 Hanbury St. She was last seen around 5:30 on the street with a man and the neighbor of the house where she was found heard voices in the neighboring yard around the same time. She was 48 years old when she died.

Elizabeth Stride – Elizabeth was originally born in Sweden and later came to England. She was registered by the Swedish police as a prostitute in 1865. She registered as an unmarried woman in England in July 1866. She married John Thomas Stride in March 1869.  From 1882 on she lives in a common lodging house and works in the Whitechapel workhouse and claims that her husband is dead. He really died in 1884 at a workhouse. From 1885 to the end of her life she lived with Michael Kidney on and off with her leaving him during periods of drunkenness.  In the days before her death she was living in a lodging house away from Michael. On September 30, 1888, Louis Diemschutz comes upon her body at 1:00 am possibly scaring off the murderer because of her very warm body and lack of mutilation. Elizabeth was 45 years old when she died.

Catherine Eddowes – Catherine was in a long term relationship with a man named Thomas Conway for much of her life resulting in several children. The relationship ended in 1880 with her keeping her daughter Annie, but she eventually drove all of her family away by her drinking habits.  In 1881 she met John Kelly at a lodging houe and began a relationship with him. They went hop picking every season together, but did not do very well in the season of 1888. After splitting up for a night on their return Catherine returned to Kelly on September 29, 1888, saying that she would find her daughter and ask her for money. She is found very drunk later that evening and is arrested as a result. She leaves the police station around 1:00 am.  Her body is discovered at 1:45 pm in Mitre Square by PC Watkins the afternoon after the body of Elizabeth Stride had been found. However, unlike Stride, Eddowes body was highly mutilated. Catherine Eddowes was 46 years old when she died.

Mary Jane Kelly –  She was born in Limerick, Ireland and moved to England as a child. She moved to London in 1884 and worked in a high class brothel on the West End. She appears to have suddenly relocated to the East End where she began to succumb to alcohol. By 1886 she is living in a lodging house where she meets Joseph Barnett. They have a relatively good relationship with occasional bouts of drunkenness and eventual end up living together in Miller’s Court around March of 1888. Around August of 1888 Barnett lost his job and so Mary returned to prostitution to earn money. Barnett soon left her claiming that it was because she let other prostitutes stay in the room with them and continued to visit Mary regularly. Her body was discovered on November 9, 1888, and was the only one of the victims to be murdered indoors and was the most heavily mutilated. Mary Jane Kelly was around 25 years old when she died.


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