Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly

The following is a recreation of the last night in the life of Mary Jane Kelly, the final victim of Jack-the-Ripper.  It gives an hour-by-hour account of her movements and actions on the final evening of November 8th, 1888, into the morning of November 9th when she is killed.  The account, although conjectural in nature, is based on 1st hand witness information, police documents including from the inquest and the coroner’s report, and some 2nd hand reporting based on newspaper accounts at the time.  Like almost all Jack-the-Ripper articles and books written on this subject, some of the findings presented are in the opinion of the writer and may differ from some other versions presented.  The following presentation is based on investigative and historical research experience and background of its author.

 

{Written in memoriam of Marie Jeanette Kelly 1863-1888}

 

WARNING:  The following contains graphic and violent content.

 

 

In his own words ….

 

Eyes of Blue

 

Someone once said that we are all but fragments of time.  Mary was just one of those fragments.  Lost, swirling, … falling through life like many of us at such a blooming, twenty-five years of age.  I wished you could have known her …. before this last night of her young life.

Carrying the scent of French perfume, her white, porcelain skin was so soft to touch.  Her thick, long blond hair with a touch of strawberry that fell all the way down her back, all the way to her waist.  Her breasts and curves all wrapped up in a dress.  At 5’7, she was tall and pretty.  To see her smile at you with those two eyes that were as blue as sapphires, could melt any man’s heart.

On this Thursday, November 8, 1888, in East London, in an area known as White Chapel, Mary Jane Kelly would begin the last day of her life.  Like most, she had no idea that by next sunrise, she would be no more.  Unlike most, she had no idea that she would live on into infamy for centuries to come.

She was born Marie Jeanette Kelly in Limerick, Ireland in 1863.  A few years later, her family moved to Wales where she grew up.  It had been a long journey to get where she was at this Thursday in East London …. this last day of her life.

She now lived in a slum neighborhood called Spitalfields.  It was located in an area of East London known as White Chapel.  She lived in a small one-room apartment there.  She paid a little over 4 shillings per week for her apartment and on this particular day, Mary was behind in her rent by nearly 14 shillings.

Usually always seen promenading around Spitalfields in the company of two or three girlfriends, this Thursday morning instead found Mary having breakfast with one of them inside her room.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Born during a time when Abraham Lincoln was President of an America caught up in a brutal Civil War in 1863, her family moved to Wales just a few years after she was born.  There she grew up with her sister, and six-to-seven brothers.  Her father, John Kelly held a good job there with the iron works in Carmarthenshire.  Growing up into her teenage years, Mary was now speaking fluent Welsh.  She  was found to be a very intelligent girl indeed.  She also had a bit of an artistic side as well.

Like many teenagers even today, Mary could hardly wait to be all grown up. To leave home.  To be a woman.  By just 16 years of age, she fell in love and married an older boy in town.  He carried the name of Davies and worked in the nearby coal mine.  However, as it would be for Mary with many things in her life, her hopes of happiness were quickly dashed.  By just the age of either eighteen or nineteen, she was already a widow.  Her new husband had been killed in a tragic explosion at the mine where he worked.  It was 1882.

It was hinted that Mary may have given birth to a child but if so, nothing was ever to be known of such.  Rather than move back home, she instead moved in with a cousin in Cardiff.

Now a widow, there was no longer a husband to support her.  In 1883, any single woman trying to live away from home could indeed become a very dangerous situation.  Starvation and homelessness were always a very real threat then to single women trying to make it on their own.

It was at this time in her life, living in Cardiff at the age of nineteen or twenty, that for reasons only Mary would ever know, she surrendered to the coaxing of her cousin.  Her cousin had persuaded her to fall into prostitution as a means to make money and support herself.  Mary discovered very quickly that she, as a young and attractive woman, was worth money to men.  Those men, who were hidden in the dark world of brothels and pubs.

An embarrassment to her family who lived in the same town, they would eventually distance from her.  Perhaps out of respect to her family, at the age of twenty-one, Mary left Cardiff for good.  She decided to leave the country.  She took out on her own for England  To the big city of London.  She arrived there in 1884.

She had landed in London broke, with no job, and with no immediate relatives, connections or contacts.  She immediately found herself, as did thousands of other Irish immigrants, in the East London slums located in Whitechapel.  She lived in what had become a dumping ground for the Irish.  London was experiencing a huge influx of Irish immigrants during this time.

With no place to live and no food to eat, she first started out at the Providence Row Night Refuge located at 50 Crispin Street, directly across from Dorset Street.  Dorset Street would eventually become several years later, where Mary would reside.  However, for now, she had no way to know that.

Ran by nuns, Mary scrubbed floors and charred (burned to charcoal) there.  They were quickly able to place Mary into a domestic service job at a shop on Cleveland Street, not too far away.

It was somewhere at this time that Mary fell into the company of a French woman.  Like her cousin, this French woman saw the potential in Mary as a young, beautiful woman.  She immediately talked her into working at a high-class brothel in West London.

From there, it was like a whirlwind of adventure for Mary.  She found herself making several trips to Paris in the accompaniment of men.  When not in Paris, she remained working at the brothel.  She was often seen riding in carriages with various well-to-do men throughout West London.  It was said that Mary was living the life of a “lady.”

Around the age of twenty-three, while living a very nice ‘lady’s’ life in West London, something happened.  Whatever it was, was sudden and catastrophic for Mary.  She was thrust out of the brothel and instantly found herself in the lower-class, East London area.

In just the next two years, she moved three times.  The last two of which were on St. George’s Street and at place called Breezer Hill off of Ratcliff Highway.  One of which involved her moving in with a man named Mr. Morganstone (or Morgan Stone).

By the end of 1886, at the age of 23, Mary moved yet again.  This time into a place called Bethnal Green with a young mason or hawker named Joseph (Joe) Fleming.  Mary had become quite fond of him.  However, for reasons we do not know, this did not work out for Mary either and ended as quickly as it had started.

The fourth move recorded of young Mary in just two years by the end of 1886, found her in one of the worse areas imaginable in East London.  She moved into Cooley’s Lodging House located on Thrawl Street in Spitalfields.  This new move would place Mary in a world consisting of about 12 square blocks of the lowest class slum areas in all of London and, the highest crime area there could ever be.  These 12 blocks or so would become Mary’s world now till her end.

A year later, on ‘Good Friday,’ April 8, of 1887, at the age of 24, Mary met a nice London born, Irish man, named Joseph Barnett.  Joe was 29 years old, sported a pale complexion and was the same height as her.  She met him while he worked at nearby Billingsgate Fish Market as a laborer and licensed market porter.  The market was located on Commercial Street which was located at the corner of Thrawl.

At their meeting that Good Friday, they went out for a drink whereupon they decided to go out on a second date.  After their second meeting, they agreed to move in together.  Thus, was life with many in White Chapel in 1887.

Mary and Joe both took a real liking to each other.  For Mary, Joe afforded her the opportunity to leave behind working in prostitution.  She was so glad to be his woman and not have to succumb to having to work the streets.  Joe loved her and knowing her background, never wanted her to return to that life either.  They were great for one another.

Their only downside was that they both liked to drink in excess.  When sober, they were described as “friendly and pleasant” couple.  But, Mary in particular, was known throughout the neighborhood for her duel personality.

On one hand, Mary was described by so many as such a wonderful and kind woman in the neighborhood.  She was described as being “much superior to that of most persons in her position in life.”  Another said of her, “She was a good, quiet, pleasant girl, and was well liked by all of us.”  When not drunk, Mary was “… one of the most descent and nice girls you could ever meet when sober.”  She was described by another as “… pleasant little woman.”  Her landlord said, “When in liquor she was very noisy; otherwise she was a very quiet woman.”

However, when Mary got intoxicated, she was also known across White Chapel for her ferocious temper and demeanor.  She was described as “abusive” and “quarrelsome.”  One Inspector said Mary “had a reputation for violence and a quick temper.”

Indeed, this same 12-block area had an incredible amount of pubs.  One at almost every street corner.  Beer and spirits flowed in Spitalfields.  Where those in the misery and depression of the slums could go to drown out all their sorrows.

Mary, like any other college-aged girl at twenty-five, loved to party.  She loved to hit the pubs, enjoy the music, and be in the middle of what was happening in the neighborhood.  No more need to find male customers.  She could just enjoy Joe and her friends now.

After April of 1887, Mary moved from Thrawl Street into a lodging with Joe on St. George’s Street, just off of Commercial Street. For the next year, until March of 1888, Mary moves yet again with Joe to Little Paternoster Row, off of Dorset Street.  Then, after being evicted from there for not paying rent and being drunk, they moved to a lodging off of Brick Lane.  All these locations were within this 12-block world of Mary’s.  All of these locations were within minutes of walking distance with each other.  All were in areas consisting of the lowest poverty levels.

 

These streets composed most of Mary Jane Kelly’s world for the last 3 years of her life.  Fournier Street was originally named Church Street.  A number of these streets no longer exist today due to redevelopment.

 

By March of 1888, at the age of 25, Mary moved yet again with her new boyfriend, Joseph Barnett.  This time, they move to nearby 26 Dorset Street.  It was a small complex of apartments called McCarthy’s Rentals or more commonly referred to as Miller’s Court.  They move into number 13, Miller’s Court.  It was a tiny room that measured only 10’x12’, had two small tables, a cupboard, and a bed.  A fireplace was located inside for heat.

 

Layout of Miller’s Court (not to scale)

 

Despite their drinking habits, Mary and Joe tried to make a go of things.  Mary no longer had to work the streets as Joe supported them both with his job at the fish market.  However, Mary’s luck just never seemed to last.

By late Summer, Joe suddenly lost his job.  This forced an incredibly difficult time upon both Joe and Mary.  With no income coming in from either, they would be evicted, homeless, and starve.  And worse, Winter would be coming.  Mary saw no alternative except to return back to the streets as a young prostitute.

This was even of greater conflict to Joe.  He had hoped to save Mary from the streets and create a meaningful relationship between them where he could provide and thus, prevent her from ever having to work the streets again.  As it would with any relationship, Joe losing his job caused tremendous hardship on them both.

The two dealt with the overwhelming crisis in the only way they knew how – they drank.  And the more they drank, the more hurt, frustration, desperation, and hostility they felt.  So, no wonder that just a few weeks later, on September 19th, Mary was picked up by the police for “Drunk and Disorderly.”  She was fined a little over two shillings by the Thames Magistrate’s Court.

For the next 60 days in Mary’s life, two important events were taking place.  The first was that she was having bitter fights with Joe as she saw no alternative except to go back to prostitution as a means to survive.  Joe, on the other hand, never wanted Mary to return to that way of life.  Indeed, what could Joe do when he had no means to support either of them anymore?  What could either of them do?

The second very important thing taking place in these last 60 days was that five women had all been murdered, all within walking distance of Mary’s studio apartment.  Four of them would later be known as the work of a serial killer known only as Jack-the-Ripper.

Truth be told, this perhaps would not have really been that big of news as Spitalfields and White Chapel were already known as very dangerous and violent areas to be in, to begin with.  Indeed, it was not usual for the street that Mary lived on, Dorset, to record 3 stabbings and a murder in just 90 days.

The stress and fighting between both Joe and Mary came to a head on October 30th.  On that dismal Tuesday afternoon at around five o’clock, the two, after heavy drinking and verbal sparring, got into a physical confrontation with each other.

Like most people even today, our friends are sometimes those whom we work with.  Those that practice the same trade as us.  Mary was no different.  Her only friends were primarily other prostitutes in the area.

In actuality, Mary hated being a prostitute.  She did not want the profession at all.  Worse, she was forced into circumstances now that would allow her no other option.  Anything is horrible when it is forced against your will.  Fully aware of her own situation, she totally understood and felt for other women in the area whom were also forced into no other way to make a living or; fear being thrown out on the street to starve to death.

It was this ‘good heart’ that Mary had that led to this fight on this day.  She had two other prostitutes temporarily living in their one-room studio apartment as they had no other place to stay.  This infuriated Joe because he had been trying so hard to steer Mary away from a life of prostitution.  He felt having these types of women in their apartment only slanted Mary back into that lifestyle.

Mary was already allowing one woman to stay with them in the tiny one-room apartment, named Marie Harvey.  However, Joe lost it when Ms. Harvey then brought in another prostitute named “Julia” to stay with them.

Drunk and having had enough, Joe packed his belongings and left Mary that day.  He later said about that day with Mary, “She would have never gone wrong again and I shouldn’t have left her if it had not been for the prostitutes stopping at the house. She only let them because she was good hearted and did not like to refuse them shelter on cold bitter nights.  We lived comfortably until Marie allowed a prostitute named Julia to sleep in the same room; I objected; and as Mrs. Harvey afterwards came and stayed there, I left and took lodgings elsewhere.”

He moved into another lodging just a few blocks away on New Street at Bishopsgate.

Making matters worse that day, somehow during the fight, they had both manage to lose their one key to the room that they shared.  With no money to get a new one from the landlord, Mary broke out two window panes from the smaller of two windows in the room.  This, so she could reach through the window and unlock the door from the inside in order to get into the apartment.

By November 6th, Marie Harvey had moved out of Mary’s room along with Julia.  She moved just down the street to another residence at 3 New Court, which was just another alley off of Dorset Street.

Despite Joe moved out of Mary’s room, he visited her almost every day.  He was working odd-jobs and any income that he made, he often dropped off and shared with Mary to help her along.

 

* * * 

 

 

Darkness had already descended upon London this Thursday night by 5:00 p.m..  Windows slowly came aglow with flickering lights from candles and fireplaces.

Mary had found herself in yet another crisis in her life.  Her landlord, John McCarthy, had given her an ultimatum.  She was to come up with rent by tomorrow morning or she would be thrown out.

She was now frantic.  Her friends were trying to give her comfort and help with any possible ideas that they could come up with.  They too were working girls. They knew the struggle.  Maria Harvey had just left Mary’s room after visiting for almost an hour.  Lizzie Albrook now came by to visit with her.

Mary’s last hope was that Joe would be able to find some funds this day and come by to give them to her.  It would save her from being thrown out on the street homeless the next day.

Mary broke down crying in front of Lizzie.  Twenty-five years of her life had now come to this.  To make matters even worse, the baby that she was rumored to maybe have had with her first marriage, to the coal miner named Davis, was now a beautiful, young boy barely seven years old.  He was living with her inside this cold, damp room.  She was so desperately trying to turn her life around …. to be a mother to her son …. to be a wife to Joe …. but in the end, it seemed to always boil down to ‘money.’  And it seemed that without it, nothing else could be.

Through the tears that now fell down her beautiful, soft face, her choking sobs of anguish writ in frustration and desperation in having no more options available to her this lone night, no options left at all, … she had reached her end.  She confessed to Lizzie now in this room how she wanted to end her life.  That she would rather die than watch her little boy starve to death.  She just could not go on anymore.

She had lost her family many years ago.  How could she have anything to do with them when she was working as a prostitute?  She was humiliated by what she did for a living.  She had nothing she felt, to be proud  of, to present of herself to her family.  Despite this, her mother and brother (who was supposed to be stationed in the Scots Guard in Dublin, Ireland) still wrote her once-in-a-while although she never wrote them back.

She could not hold on to any man, she thought.  She had lost Joe when she chose the only option available to them, to make money.  There was no other way.  Selling her body to men was the only option left to her.  If she did not, she and her son would surely be thrown out on the street tomorrow.  Joe, upon losing his job, simply did not make enough money to even make the rent, plus food, and other necessities.  And her girlfriends, though perhaps prostitutes, were the only friends that she had.  Of course, she would let them stay with her until they could find places to live.  She did not want them left out on the street homeless, freezing and starving in the cold of a London November.  How could Joe have expected her to be any different with them?

Lizzie said herself about this conversation, “About the last thing she said to me was “Whatever you do, don’t you do wrong and turn out as I did.”  She had often spoken to me in this way and warned me against going on the street as she had done.  She told me too, that she was heartily sick of the life she was leading and wished she had money enough to go back to Ireland where her people lived.  I do not believe she would have gone out as she did if she had not been obliged to do so to keep herself from starvation.”

It was now a quarter-to-eight when Joe came by.  Whatever glimmer of hope there was for Mary that Joe might be able to save her were quickly dashed.  Joe announced with sadness that he had no money to give her.  Given the difficult and private moment now at hand between Mary and Joe, Lizzie excused herself and left.  However, Joe left minutes later as well.

Left alone in the tiny room, all Mary could think about was her son, and the landlord that was coming in the morning to collect the rent.  That was now the priority.  That was now the crisis at hand.  And so, Mary began to prepare for the night.  To go out to find money for rent in the only way that she could.  Her and her son’s life immediately depended on it.  She was a microcosm of Dorset Street in 1888.  And indeed, Dorset Street was a microcosm of East London then.  The epitome of the East London slums and the White Chapel area where she lived and struggled to survive.

In the dim light of the room, as a candle flickered, and a fireplace struggled to come to life with hardly much to burn, Mary did the final touches to herself for the evening with her hair, dress, and slight makeup that she could afford.  She tucked her son into bed as to keep him warm after the fire went out.  The young boy had been through this routine before.  She told him good night as she stood to go out.  It was a night that would decide her fate, she thought.  She had to find enough money this very night to pay the rent in the morning or her life as she knew it had come to an end.  There was no one else to save her and her son now.  It was her and her only.  There was to be no margin for error on this night.

Mary was so broke financially.  She was struggling to keep the roof over her head and enough food in their bellies.  She was fighting for her and her son to stay alive.  To even have some coal for heat in the fireplace was a struggle.  Her clothing reflected this dire situation.  She wore an old black wool dress which as wool will do over time, had become quite frayed.  She then put on a red pelerine which was a long sleeve body tight coat only waist high.  The clothing, though shabby in appearance, was all that she had to wear.  It would not stop her.

Despite it all, Mary still shined.  She looked incredibly beautiful.  Her long blond hair fell all the way down her back, contrasting against the red and black of her clothing.  And even under the flickering of the small fire from the fireplace, her eyes of blue pierced the darkness of the night.  Her full lips were seductive to any man who saw them.  She was alive and now, passionate to save herself and her son in any way that she could.  Out of her room and onto Dorset Street she now stepped.

To understand the approximate 12 blocks of misery, depression, and poverty that had become Mary’s world in Spitalfields for the last couple of years, one could merely study the street that she lived on – Dorset Street.

It was said that in 1888, the 130-yard-long street housed over 1,500 men alone.  This did not include all the single women, those single women with children, and the few married couples that lived there as well.  Official records show that this small street showed 750 beds available for rent there although unofficially, the actual number of people being bedded on this street was double that.

Although numerous streets in this 12-block area were each notorious on their own, Dorset Street was no different.  It was called the “Wicked Quarter Mile” and was deemed as “vicious and criminal.”  While it was supposed to be “doubled patrolled” by London’s H-Division of its Metropolitan Police, it was not unusual for residents to say they never saw a policeman at night there.  The worse street in all of Spitalfields was considered to be nearby “Flower and Dean.”

Most of the buildings on Dorset Street were comprised of three-story brick buildings.  Many had been built in the 1700’s while others were built in the early 1800’s.  As the City of London continued to expand its downtown business district, it displaced and pushed its poor outward toward East London and Mary’s 12-block world of White Chapel.  This area was greatly over-populated and densely packed with thousands of people too many.  It held a deadly combination of having the most lodging houses in all of London while also sporting the largest single location of poverty in all of the city.

This area was the poorest district in all of London.

 

Dorset Street looking towards St. Crispin St. in late 19th Century (notice street lamps on left street side) – Archive Photo

 

Many of those displaced and pushed into White Chapel, and onto Dorset Street, were Irish.  A huge migration out of Ireland had already started in the 1840’s and was still ongoing by the Irish into London in 1888.

A second migration of poor arriving into London and getting pushed towards Spitalfields as well, were the Jews.  These two races and cultures were learning to coexist with each other despite their differences.  On Dorset Street however, the race was predominantly Irish with many of the men filling nearby factory jobs and working the nearby docks on the Thames.

To understand Mary’s world on this night, it helps to read descriptions of it from those that saw it then with their own eyes.

“None of these courts had roads.  In some of the houses were three storeys high and hardly six feet apart, the sanitary accommodation being pits in the cellars; in other courts the houses were lower, wooden and dilapidated, a stand pipe at the end providing the only water.  Each chamber was the home of a family who sometimes owned their indescribable furniture …. in many instances broken windows had been repaired with paper and rages, the banisters had been used for firewood, and the paper hung from the walls which were the residences of countless vermin.” wrote 19th century social reformist, Henrietta Barnett.

Charles Booth wrote in the late 1800’s in describing Dorset Street, “The worse street I have seen so far.  Thieves, prostitutes, bullies.  All common lodging houses.  Some called ‘doubles’ with double beds for married couples, but merely another name for brothels: women, draggled, torn skirts, dirty, unkempt, … “  “Common lodging  houses for both sexes.  Where they do not ask for your marriage certificate!  One very fat lady at a window.  She has sat there for years.  She is now too fat to get out the door.” 

While one end of Dorset Street connected with the Refuge Center on Crispin Street, the opposite end of Dorset connected with the big main thoroughfare of Commercial Street which was put through in the 1840’s, leading from the docks and going north towards Bishopsgate.  This main thoroughfare was a happening street as many people of all classes, races, and cultures were busy passing along it on their way to various other places in the city.  It was also full of Public Houses or now simply referred to as “Pubs.”

Mary’s 12-block world was completely saturated with a massive number of pubs where the alcohol flowed to soothe the depression of the most depressed group of people in all of London.

It would be easy to say that there was nearly a pub on every street corner throughout White Chapel.  However, it was even worse than that on Dorset Street which had at least six pubs just a coin-toss away from Mary’s apartment.  One on each corner and a few in between.  The Horn-of-Plenty sat at the corner of Dorset and Crispin (5 Crispin St.) while the Britannia stood at the corner of Dorset and Commercial on her side of the street.  The Blue Coat Boy was at 32 Dorset.  And around the corner and up the block was the pub, Ten Bells.

 

While there were countless more pubs in this area, with the exception of the Blue Coat Boy & Oxford Arms, all the rest shown above are mentioned with the last night of Mary Jane Kelly’s life.  The red square shown on Dorset Street denotes her studio apartment.

 

From 9:00 p.m. on, Mary began her hunt for pliable men that could afford to give her the rent money that she so desperately needed.  Due to the law, prostitutes could not remain in any one pub for any length of time or be subject to arrest.  Indeed, pub owners needed every available table, chair, and bar space for paying customers.  Not prostitutes who lounged around, waiting for potential customers and taking up valuable space that was not making them any money.  Thus, Mary was on the move.

In the dark, cold night November air, Mary managed to move quickly between several pubs, all located right around her residence.  She is said to be seen in just a few hours, in the Horn of Plenty, Ten Bells, and the Britannia.  At one, she shared with one of her friends (also a working girl) her extreme desperation as for rent by in the morning.  She becomes the second woman besides Lizzie this night, who hears Mary threaten to take her life if she cannot make the rent by in the morning.  Mary also explains that she cannot stand to watch her boy starve.

Indeed, most women could not enter a pub without men offering to buy them a drink.  This was an excellent opportunity for any working girl to be able to chalk up conversation and work on getting a potential customer for the night.  For Mary, as attractive as she was, this presented not only many potential customers, but also an unlimited amount of alcohol to be consumed.  She was being offered a drink everywhere she went.  Someone had even bought her a dinner of fish and chips to eat.  Given her light weight and with just a little food in her stomach, Mary, by 11:30 p.m., was already noticeably inebriated.

As Mary moved from pub to pub, she was begging for handouts from people as they passed by.  If they were women she might know, she would share her plight in more detail with them.  One man, overhearing Mary’s plight, offered to help her situation.

Already in the early part of the evening, in front of the Britannia at Dorset and Commercial, though drunk, she was happy as could be.  She had found a customer.  In his thirties with a moustache, he was a shabbily dressed working man with a billycock hat and long scruffy, dark coat.  He carried a pail of ale beer as Mary led him in tow back to her room at Miller’s Court.

Walking behind her and, also headed back to Miller’s Court was her neighbor, 31-year-old Mary Ann Cox from apartment number five (downstairs).  Single, and living in Miller’s Court also, she too was a widower and prostitute.  She had already been arrested and tried on assault charges twice since last year.  In August of 1887, she was charged for assaulting a police officer and locked up for one month.  The second assault occurred this year in January when she assaulted another woman and, was fined 5 shillings after 2 remands.

At this moment, she is headed back to her apartment at Miller’s Court to warm herself up a little from the night cold before going back out again.

Ms. Cox watched in front of her, as Mary and the man opened the iron gate to the covered passage leading into Miller’s Court.  She noted that the man’s shoes or boots made no noise.  With Mary’s room at the end of the passage, she stops at her door with the man while Ms. Cox passed by.  Mary banged on the door waiting for her son to come open it up.  Ms. Cox observes that the man standing next to Mary has a “blotchy” complexion and is silent.

Ms. Cox passed by looking right at her and saying, “Good night, Mary.”

However, very drunk, Mary turned away from her and banged on the door again.  She was waiting for her son to come open it.  She responded to Ms. Cox with, “Good night, I am going to have a song.”  As Ms. Cox walked away from the passage, she walked towards the left and into the courtyard.  She strolled down to the 3rd apartment on the left, No. 5, where she lived on the ground floor.  She looked back as Mary and the man entered her room and, closed the door.

As you entered the courtyard, it was approximately 15 square feet with a water tap for residents located at the far right.  There was also a public dumpster for trash and most probably a communal toilet.  The open-air courtyard continued to the left with an alley that was forty-feet long and ten feet wide, ending with a wall.  On both sides were upper and lower apartments.  The only way end or out was through the covered passage leading from Dorset Street.

A gas lamp lit the courtyard at night.  It was located to your immediate left as you entered the courtyard, mounted on the wall outside apartment No. 1.  It was usually out by 3:00 a.m.  The lower apartments were all whitewashed.

Mary immediately came back out with her son and dropped him off with a friend.  She then returned back to her room with the man waiting patiently.

Between now and midnight, Mary became very animated, singing out loud the popular song of the day, “A Violet from Mother’s Grave.”

Ms. Cox, now warmed up, went back out to hunt for potential customers and heard Mary still singing.

By 12:30 a.m., Mary was still singing away, “A Violet from Mother’s Grave” and it was beginning to annoy some of her neighbors.

By 1:00 a.m., it was now very cold and raining.  Ms. Cox could hear Mary still singing as she once again returned to her apartment to quickly warm herself before going back out just minutes later.  As she headed back out, she could see light coming from Mary’s room around drawn curtains.  She heard her still singing the same song.  Mary had now been singing for over an hour and fifteen minutes.

Shortly thereafter, with Mary’s gentleman friend having already left much earlier, she was now feeling chipper and motivated.  She now had some money in her pocket, but she needed more.  She decided to go back out again and attempt to secure another customer for the night.  She needed to have the rent money for the landlord that morning.  The sand in the hourglass was falling.

It was now 1:30 a.m. in the morning.  Mary’s room lay dark and silent.  She was back out on the streets in the cold and the rain, begging for money.  Making the pub circuit, she was wandering her 12-block world, sticking her head into pubs to gaze across the lot, looking for another new potential customer.  And as she walked around Spitalfields doing so, she was begging from people passing by on the streets.

Around 2:00 a.m., 22-year-old, George Hutchinson, was walking northbound on Commercial Street, along the east side of the street.  He was walking from the docks, having just returned from Romford.  Very sober, he entered Spitalfields.  He passed Thrawl Street where he saw a well dress gentleman just standing there.  Hutchinson paid little attention to him however and proceeded northbound.  Just before he reached Flower & Dean Street, he got confronted by Mary, who was walking the opposite direction.  They had both known each other for three years now.  Once-in-a-while, she would borrow money from him.

“Hutchinson will you lend me sixpence,” Mary asks.  Hutchinson replies, “I can’t, I have spent all my money going down to Romford.”  Mary then says, “Good morning, I must go and find some money.”  With that, she kept walking southbound towards Thrawl.

Realizing Mary was a bit drunk, Hutchinson remained where he was at while he watched her walk southbound to the next street, Thrawl.  There, the same man that Hutchinson had just passed suddenly, began walking towards Mary.  As they passed each other, he tapped her on her shoulder and said something.  They then both began laughing.  Mary exclaims, “Alright,” to which the man replies, “You will be alright for what I have told you.”

The man, wearing a soft black felt hat, was holding some gloves in his right hand and a small, black bag, about six to nine inches long, in his left hand.  The gentleman then put his right arm around Mary’s shoulder and began walking her back towards where Hutchinson was standing.

Hutchinson, acting like he had seen nothing, turned and continued also walking northbound on Commercial maintaining a slight distance ahead of them.  When he got to the north side of Fashion Street, he purposely stopped under the gas street lamp to wait and see Mary again.  Out of plain curiosity, he wanted to get a better look at the gentleman she was with.

When the two crossed Fashion Street, Hutchinson stared right at the man who in turn, looked downward, tipping his hat and concealing his eyes.  Knowing what he was doing, Hutchinson purposely bent downward and looked right into the eyes of the man.  Beyond the man’s bushy eyebrows and pale skin, it was his dark eyes and hard stern look back that Hutchinson would remember.  And as they passed, Mary took the finely dressed man across Commercial and onto Dorset Street.

The two walked pass the Britannia which at past two in the morning, was still full of customers and people standing outside.  Indeed, the streets were full of wandering people of a sorts in Spitalfields.   Mary was very proud of her catch.  His arm around her, he was a most assuredly a gentleman and a man-of-means.  Walking down Dorset Street, they passed the closed boot factory to their right, and approached Miller’s Court.

 

Flower & Dean was removed in the 1920’s with redevelopment and Thrawl was rerouted.  Above shows where today the streets would be located.  1.  Where Jack-the-Ripper is seen just standing and where Mary Jane Kelly will make contact with him.  2.  Hutchinson (walking towards Flower & Dean) is stopped by Mary Jane Kelly (walking towards Thrawl) and asked for money before she arrives at Thrawl.  3.  Where Hutchinson is standing underneath a streetlight and observes well, Jack-the-Ripper as he walks by with Mary Jane Kelly towards Dorset St.

 

 

They arrived at the passage to Miller’s Court and stopped.  To their right was the dark and closed storage-room of which Mary’s room was on the backside of.  To their left was her landlord’s grocery store which was usually open till late.

In front of them was the iron gate that opened to the small, dark, covered passage. It was only one yard wide.  They could see the end of the passage just twenty-feet away where light from a gas lamp inside the main court yard was lit.  The Miller’s Court sign hung above the passage entrance.

It was here that Mary and the gentleman stood for almost three minutes.  They talked.  Even as intoxicated as Mary was, she knew she had done well.  She would have money for rent in the morning for sure.  Her prize catch was definitely not from the area.  She seemed hypnotized by his long, dark eyelashes.  He was definitely upper-class.  In his mid-thirties, he looked clean and well-to-do.  His nice black felt hat looked good on him.  His very nice long, dark coat with cuffs and collar trimmed in astrakhan (fur from a young lamb), complimented by his white-collared shirt and black necktie with a horseshoe pin.  His black spats (boot covers) had light colored buttons over his buttoned boots.  She definitely noticed the massive gold chain hung across his dark jacket he wore underneath.  It was attached with its large seal and a red stone hanging from it.

However, Hutchinson had a bad feeling about this man indeed.  Hutchinson followed Mary and the gentleman to the entrance of Miller’s Court.  The Irish all looked out for one another in Spitalfields and, he and Mary had been acquaintances across several years.  Knowing she was in dire need of money and vulnerable, something just did not sit right with him this night, with this particular man.  He was obviously not from around the neighborhood.  He looked Jewish in appearance.  Was more well dressed than anyone from around Spitalfields.  Hutchinson began to wonder why the man had first, just been standing on Commercial Street at Thrawl at 2:00 a.m. in the morning?  Everyone was already aware of other terrifying murders of working girls recently in White Chapel.  Why was he just standing there?  Watching?  If so, watching out for who or what?  Waiting for someone?  If so, why leave with Mary then?  Something was odd about the man and Hutchinson felt compelled to watch out for Mary with this guy.

As Hutchinson walked up to the two, he observed the man say something to Mary.  She replied back, “Alright my dear, come along, you will be comfortable.”  The man then placed his hand on her shoulder and gave her a kiss.  Mary then suddenly had need for a handkerchief and told him that she had lost hers.  The gentleman immediately responded by pulling out a red handkerchief and giving it to her to use.  They then opened the gate and started down the passage way.

Shortly afterwards, Hutchinson too entered into the passage and searched in the courtyard for what apartment they might have gone into.  He saw or heard nothing and returned back out the gate onto Dorset Street.  He decided to wait until one of them left.  He wanted to know that Mary would be alright.

As the nearby church clock chimed 2:30 a.m., a laundress named Sarah Lewis walked down the north side of Dorset Street.  She saw Hutchinson standing across the street from Miller’s Court.  She watched him as he kept looking towards the entrance of Miller’s Court.  She noticed a couple standing just beyond.  The woman appeared intoxicated.  Lewis then entered the passage into Miller’s Court and went to apartment number two, to spend the night there with a Mrs. Kyler.  She observed no one at all inside the courtyard.

Now inside her small, cold, and dark room, Mary saw but few embers still alive in her fireplace.  Stoking the fireplace brought but very little light into the darkness that was now her room.  Preferring this as to not show the filth and desolation, as well as to hide any physical imperfections that either might have, she left the embers as they were.  She had the routine down.

Getting right down to business with this very nice, funny, and well-dressed man, Mary began undressing.  What words spoken between both were spoken low.  Both were aware of the two broken window panes, one of which Mary had just reached through to open her door with.

Having practiced this well, she sat down on the lone chair in the room and first took off her boots.  She placed them between the chair and the fireplace so they could begin drying while she was working her customer.  Mary then took off her clothes and folded them all nice and neat as she took them off, placing them on the one single chair in the room.  She was now completely nude underneath a loose-fitting, long sleeved, white chemise that she wore.

While she was undressing, he put his gloves and the small leather bag down.  He removed his hat and took off his long coat.

Now, between the small space between her bed and the wall, Mary pressed up against the man.

The wall was actually no more than a partition that divided her room from the large storage room that faced out onto Dorset Street.  It was used by her landlord to supply the grocery store next to it.

They began to kiss.  Indeed, Mary would in fact have money to give her landlord later in the morning.  The evening had turned out quite good, after all.  Drinks, a dinner, and two customers for the night.  The second of which was a prized catch and worth the shillings she was about to earn.

It is here that the sisters of Irony and Tragedy came together to visit Mary this night.  For all of the times that she had Joe read her the newspaper accounts of the brutal murders being committed in White Chapel by a man now known as Jack-the-Ripper; and as scared as she and so many working girls were of this monster roaming their streets at night, it was in his very arms that she was now being held.  His kiss upon his lips was the kiss-of-death itself.  She did not have the slightest clue.

Like his other victims, he gently laid her down.  Down upon the right side of her bed at the wall did she now lay looking up at him in the darkness.  Mary prepared to service her last customer for the night.  She reached up with her right hand to grab his arm and gently pull him down to her.  However, as she attempted to grab his hand, her hand instead began to clamp down on the sharp edge of a knife instead.  She felt an immediate sharp pain on her right thumb and instinctively yanked her hand away from the source of the pain.  In the next three seconds, Things happened very fast.

Despite all her intoxication, in the sudden surge of Adrenalin, soberness-in-the-moment occurred almost immediately.  She realized the man was holding something metal and it had just cut her.  It was in this very instant that Mary realized that Jack-the-Ripper was now in her room.  At that same exact instant, the man took his left hand and now clamped it over Mary’s face.  He pushed her head  down and away from him.  She let out a loud gasp.  One resident in Miller’s Court heard it and thought it sounded like someone that had just awoken out of a nightmare.

Mary began to fight.  With her left hand, she immediately grabbed his hand on her face and attempted to pull it off while taking her right hand and forming a fist, began violently striking the inside of his left arm.  Mary was doing everything that she could to instantly break his grasp on her face.  She bit him …. she bit him hard.

With one swift motion and, without any reservation or remorse at all, with his right hand, he brought the knife down in one sweeping motion across the front of her throat, just below the lower part of her larynx through the cricoid cartilage.  He cut so deeply that it was gnashing into the very bones of her vertebra.  She could not now breathe or scream.

She had dared to fight him.  She bit him.  It now enraged him.

He immediately began slicing the side of her throat, cutting down so deep, all the way to the bone.  Severing her carotid artery.  There was now no way to save Mary.  Blood began shooting out through the air as he stepped back.  You could hear her blood as it was hitting the wall.  In long strings and with such velocity.  Across the faded and stained wallpaper it shot.

Still alive, she slowly turned her head back upward, looking towards the ceiling.  In the darkness of the room, Mary’s life now spilled out onto the right upper-corner of her bed.  It saturated the mattress before leaking down onto the floor.  Her life slowly began forming its end in the way of a two-square-foot pool of her own blood.  All nine pints that were in her body were now gone.

He took in the moment as he relished listening to Mary’s life bleed out into the darkness.  To hear her finally give up her last breath.

And then, his rage returned.

With brutal savagery and rage, the monster stood in the dark and began stabbing her beautiful face.  Plunging the knife deep into her face, he did it over and over again.  Sometimes, he embedded it so deep into her, and then twisted and turned it, creating big jagged cuts.  He dug out holes in her cheek and removed chunks of her face.  His hatred flowed as he just kept hacking at her face, over and over again.  Long slashes across her face from eye-brows to chin, and across her beautiful and full lips.  Lips that now were turning so white and pale.

He just kept cutting at her face over and over again, in every direction and in every way.  So wild were his cuts, both into and across her face, that pieces of her nose, eye-brows, cheeks, and ears were partly removed in the bloody frenzy.

How dare she try and fight him.

He could not stop the enraged hatred and anger that now flowed freely though his veins.  He couldn’t stop himself.

He just kept stabbing and slashing … now at her arms that she had dared to try and stop him with.  He slashed and cut into them extensively and jaggedly.  He stabbed her right arm at her shoulder so savagely, it was only left attached to her body by some tissue.  Her right hand was still held in a fist.

The blade of his knife kept going back and forth and, up and down through the stale air of the damp room as he just kept cutting at her arms and face.  And then he suddenly stopped.

His chest was heaving up and down so hard.  His heart was beating so hard, like a baseball bat about to burst through the drum.  He was now trying to regain control of himself in the dark room.  He was trying to calm down.  He was realizing that Mary was dead.  It was done.

The man, George Hutchinson, who had been standing outside of Miller’s Court waiting for Mary or, the man to reemerge back onto Dorset Street, had already left the area a little earlier.

The church clock at the end of the street now struck 3:00 a.m.  It began to rain hard.  The courtyard began to emit the sounds that rain makes as it hits stone walls, cobblestone streets, and alleyways.

Ms. Cox, Mary’s neighbor and a fellow ‘working woman’ now arrived in the courtyard in the downpour.  She looked at the windows of Mary’s room, but they were dark and silent.  She walked to her apartment and went to sleep for the night.

The man now standing inside of Mary’s room, next to her body, was now quietly, beginning to regain his composure.  He was by no means finished with Mary.  In fact, he had only just begun.

He had a message to send to the authorities and, to White Chapel.  After all, he had already written them with taunts.  And now he had the opportunity that he did not have with his other four victims.  Unlike them, where he had killed them outside, he had Mary inside the privacy of her room.  Here, he could work without interruption.  

He walked over to the fireplace which had but a few burning embers in it.  He found some clothes to throw in it.  As flames began to flicker and crackle, he pulled a small table up next to the left side of the bed.  He needed light so he could see what he was doing.

As he waited for the flames to light up the room, he looked around.  The intimate little world of Mary.  Where, as a single mother, trying to raise her son in the 1888 East London slums, it would later be described as a “wretched hole” of a room.

He looked at the fireplace mantle where above it hung an engraving that read “The Fisherman’s Widow.”  It hung crooked.  A few other engravings hung across the dirty, faded wallpapered walls.

In the far corner of the room was an open cupboard.  It held several small pieces of pottery.  A few bottles of ginger-beer now reflected the flickering flames coming about in the fireplace.  A plate was seen with a bit of bread still on it.

 

 

Sketch of Mary Jane Kelly’s room taken from doorway by Reynold’s News – November, 1888.  Note Mary’s boots still as she left them; towards the fireplace and in front of the chair where she had laid her clothes, folded, after she took them off.

 

The second of two tables was positioned just below the second and larger window of the room.  Both windows faced the courtyard.

He looked down at the bed where Mary now laid in death and mutilation.  ‘The bed was filthy,’ he thought.  It took up most of the room.  He grabbed her body and pulled it towards the center of the bed.  He made sure her shoulders were flat against the mattress.  Her body was slightly inclined towards the open room.  Her head, slightly tilted to her left.  Through her completely mutilated face, her eyes of blue were opened and staring outward.

He took out his watch and checked the time.  He needed to hurry on with what he was going to do.

He stood on the left side of the bed towards the open room and pulled her chemise up almost to her breasts.  He opened his small leather, black bag.  Glimmers of steel as he held the knife up in his hand in the now lit room.  The rain fell as he went to work.

No one can say with certainty what order of things now occurred over the next twenty-to-thirty minutes inside Mary’s room.

He removed both of her breasts by circular incisions with all muscle tissue attached to each and cut all the way to the ribs.  He placed one of her breasts underneath her head and the other, by her right foot.

Her right mutilated arm remained partially removed from her shoulder, resting on the bed and slightly bent at the elbow.  Her hand remained still clenched.

Her left mutilated arm was placed close to her body, bent 90° at the elbow and laid across her body.

He spread her legs wide open, positioning her left thigh at a 90° angle with her hips.  Her right thigh was more gracefully rounded at an angle with her groin area.  He then removed her skin from about her 7th to 10th rib, all the way down to her groin.  He did this in three large sections, depositing them on the table next to the bed.

 

Diagram showing the numbering system for the human rib cage.

 

With her opened up, he then removed all of her intestines.  He scooped them out and placed them on the right side of the bed.  He spilled some of the fish and potatoes that she had eaten earlier, out from her stomach, into her body cavity when doing so.  The rest of her last meal remained inside her partially cut stomach, that remained attached to her intestines.

He cut out Mary’s vagina, clitoris, vulva, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.  He placed her uterus and kidneys under her head.  He cut away part of her right buttocks, placing it in a heap of flesh and mean upon the table.

He placed her liver between her feet.  Her spleen was removed and laid to the left of her on the bed.

While the skin from her abdomen was placed in a large pile on the small table next to the bed, an additional large pile of skin was made on the table as he stripped her thighs of all skin too.  He then proceeded to cut out her right thigh, removing all meat and tissue right to the very bone.  Her left thigh, all the way to the knee, was completely “stripped of all skin, muscle, and connective tissue.”

He cut a deep gash into the left calf, cutting through skin, tissues, and muscle, from the backside of her knee all the way down to about five inches above her ankle.

And still, he was not done yet.  The now deathly silence of the room was filled with the unearthly sounds of the macabre.  

He now began carving out Mary’s upper body cavity.  Still very warm … he cut upward, all the way to her 4th, 5th, and 6th ribs. He completely cut away all the meat and muscle tissue between her ribs making her thorax completely visible.

Then, he went after the one thing that he wanted to leave with, … her heart.

Leaving her left lung intact, he broke and tore away at her right lung.  Reaching upward, he sliced open the mucus sac holding her heart.  Then, working inside of it, he cut out and removed her heart.

The man then quickly placed her heart inside his black bag.  He put away his knife.  He then put on his long, black coat and top hat.  Perhaps he smiled as he looked down one last time at his work and then, he quietly left her room and walked away into legend.

As it got close to four o’clock -in-the-morning, for reasons unknown, a woman tried to see Mary.  Perhaps after knocking on the door and getting no answer, she stuck her hand through the broken window pane and pushed aside the curtain.  The fire still going in the fireplace lit the scene before her.  One of extreme horror as she saw what was left of Mary next to a table with human mounds of skin and meat piled up.  The woman ran into the passage screaming out as loud as she could, “Murder.”  At least two separate women inside Miller’s Court, distinctly heard the word “murder” screamed out.

However, not one person stirred at 4:00 a.m. upon such a scream heard coming out of Miller’s Court on Dorset Street.

And so, the body of Mary laid alone in the room.  The rain finally stopped.  The fireplace went cold and the room grew damp.  No one did anything when the unknown woman screamed out “murder.”  No one.

In sad irony, the only person to care enough that morning to come check on her, was the landlord’s rent collector.  He was an Indian named Thomas Bowyer but known in the neighborhood as “Indian Harry.”  He arrived at Mary’s apartment at approximately 10:30 a.m. to collect the rent that Mary had so desperately tried to get for him.

He knocked on Mary’s door repeatedly.  The response was but silence.  Determined to get his money, he then went around the corner to the smaller window of the two.  He knew of the two broken window panes.  Sticking his arm through the broken pane, he picked up the curtain.  Daylight raced into the darkened room, filling it with light.

His eyes looked in.  He saw two large pieces of human flesh on the small table in the room.  He dropped the curtain and stood there trying to comprehend what he had just seen.  He then lifted the curtain a second time and began to rationalize what he was looking at.  The table top was covered with mounds of skin and meat; … all the blood coming down from it and all over the floor.  And then, he saw Mary’s mutilated body just beyond.

 

Body of Mary Jane Kelly at crime scene as seen on morning of November 9, 1888 – Archive Photo

 

Bowyer ran in terror and got the landlord, John McCarthy.  Nothing could have prepared McCarthy or any human being for that matter, for what he now laid his eyes upon, looking through Mary’s broken window pane.

 

Two windows to Mary Jane Kelly’s room and door around corner with passage to Dorset St. seen on right.  Upper and lower panes of smaller window on right were broken out to open door from inside.

 

They both then left to the police station located on Commercial Street.  Bowyer arrived at the police station first, having ran all the way.  His eyes were bugged-out and his face reflected the horror that he had just seen.  The police worked on calming him down.  It was apparent he was very frightened.  At first, he couldn’t talk …. was “panting.”  His first words to the police were finally, “’Another one. Jack the Ripper. Awful. Jack McCarthy sent me.”

The circus had already started now at Mary’s room.  While the landlord was busy getting the police, some of the women in Miller’s Court dared to look through the window beyond the curtain in Mary’s room.  The word traveled like wildfire through White Chapel that morning.

The police came and had to break her locked door open.  The room was so small that when they opened the door, it was partially blocked by the table that had been pulled up next to her bed by the killer.

 

Crime scene diagram showing Mary Jane Kelly’s room at time of murder – Archive Photo

 

Joe Barnett was identified and summoned to the scene and asked to identify Mary’s body.  It was said that he was only able to make an identity from a partially attached ear and her eyes only.  Her blue eyes, left looking outward, forcing anyone who now saw her to wonder her last thoughts as she was dying.

The rest of her was completely unrecognizable.  The police knew her by her street name – “Ginger,” reportedly given for the color of her long hair.

 

The body of Mary Jane Kelly, photographed from opposite side at crime scene, November 9th, 1888 – Archive Photo

 

By the end of the day, everyone had left.  Mary’s body was taken to a nearby mortuary where the coroner performed an autopsy.

Mary’s funeral was held ten days later, on November 19th.  Neither Joe Barnett nor any of Mary’s friends could afford her funeral arrangements.  The Sexton of St. Leonard’s Church (where the service was held) came forward to pay for Mary’s funeral and burial.

Her body was laid in a polished oak and elm coffin, complete with metal fittings.  The following words were engraved on a brass plate atop the casket – “Marie Jeanette Kelly, Died 9th November 1888, aged 25 years.”  Atop her coffin was laid two artificial wreaths and, cards from many who knew her from the Spitalfields pubs she had frequented.  There was also a cross made up of heart seed.

Somehow now in death, Mary managed to attract scores of friends and admirers that she never could in life.  As the single bell at St. Leonard’s Church began to toll announcing the start of the funeral service, hundreds of people arrived outside.  Mostly women but men too, who although never knew her in life, had come in sadness and grief in this poor woman’s life and ultimate demise.  Others were no doubt there out of curiosity of this poor woman and her tragic ending.  Not one member of Mary’s family was in attendance.  Numerous constables were on hand to handle the crowds.

After the service, Mary’s coffin was brought outside upon the shoulders of four men.  The crowds were moved as there were those trying to touch her casket as it was being carried to the open, horse-drawn hearse.  Many women were crying uncontrollably, some crying out, “God forgive her.”

As the funeral procession was readied, the moment was solemn.  All the men removed their hats out of respect.  There were two carriages that followed the hearse.  The first contained Joe Barnett, John McCarthy (the landlord) and two women.  The second carriage carried five women … mostly fellow prostitutes who knew and worked with Mary and whom it was said had already been drinking prior to the funeral.

With Mary’s coffin fully exposed, the funeral procession started its way towards St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery, nearly six miles away.  Crowds stood along both sides of White Chapel Road as the procession made its way through.  The constables had great difficulty navigating the procession through crowds, as well as through traffic including carriages, wagons, carts, and streetcars that day.

As the procession got to the suburbs and closer to the cemetery, the horses for the hearse and carriages were brought to a full trot.  This quickly thinned out the procession that had been following on foot.

By 2:00 p.m. that day, Mary’s body had arrived at the cemetery.  She was lowered into an open grave in the northeastern section.  The cemetery had locked its gates to the crowds and just the passengers of the two accompanying carriages attended the burial service.  Joe and the five women from the second carriage knelt down by Mary’s open grave and said their farewells.  A Franciscan priest said the final prayers as two alter-boys and a cross-bearer looked on.  Mary was lowered into the ground.  Joe and the five women, and other mourners then went outside the cemetery to a pub called The Burbeck” which still exists today.  There, they drowned out their sorrows and said good-bye to Mary as only the Irish can.

The young boy that Mary had living in her room at the time of her death and who is believed to have been her son from when she was married at sixteen (to Davies), disappeared after November 9th of 1888.  Whatever happened to this little boy, her son, remains unknown to this day.

Shortly after her death, the landlord, McCarthy, immediately re-rented Mary’s room out to others.

Ironically, Mary’s death capped the total brutality of the killer, Jack-the-Ripper and brought worldwide attention to the slums of White Chapel and Spitalfields.  Now an international embarrassment to London, legislative change was in the works by activists to clean up the slums of East London.

Soon after Mary’s death, “The House of the Working Class Act 1890” was passed.  It now allowed local authorities to be able to purchase land for improvement designs.  The “Public Health Amendment Act 1890” was also now passed which allowed every urban authority to enact bylaws directing the paving of roads and yards, sanitation, and water supply.  Under these acts, unhealthy areas could now be reported.

As John White so eloquently wrote in 2003 in his book entitled “Rothschild Buildings: Life in an East End tenement block 1887-1920”:

“Within six years Jack the Ripper had done more to destroy the Flower and Dean Street rookery than fifty years of road building, slum clearance and unabated pressure from the police, Poor Law Guardians, Vestries and Sanitation Officers.”

In 1904, they changed the name of Dorset Street to “Duval Street.”  Perhaps they thought that by changing the name, it would help remove the stigma of the street and help clean it up.  They were grossly wrong.

At the turn of the century, at Crossingham’s Lodging House, located at 35 Dorset, where another one of Jack-the-Ripper’s victims, Annie Chapman, had once lived in 1888, a woman named Mary Ann Austin, was butchered to death there.

Even more hauntingly, in 1909, John McCarthy was still the landlord at Miller’s Court.  In the apartment (no. 20) directly over Mary’s and where in November of 1888, was occupied by one of the witnesses into her inquest – Elizabeth Prater; was now where a young prostitute named Kitty Ronan, was found murdered.  She had had her throat slit.  Her murderer was never found either.

As I had written many years ago, “Nothing last forever and yet nothing ever changes.”

By 1920, new redevelopment began that would eventually raze the entire Spitalfields area to the ground and replaced it with all new urbanization.  Mary’s world was finally removed from the face of the earth.  Forever.

Numerous streets were renamed, others realigned and still yet, others completely removed.  It was as if some of these most famous streets had never existed at all.  And to wipe them off of the face of the earth, was to some degree, write off all the lives of those who had lived and died there …. and their histories and stories as well.

One of the last people who ever saw Miller’s Court right before it was demolished was an Australian named Leonard Matters.  He had lived from 1881-1950 and had authored the book, “The Mystery of Jack the Ripper.”  His eye-witness description of Miller’s Court in its final days describes it best:

“Miller’s Court, when I saw it, was nothing but a stone flagged passage between two houses, the upper stories of which united and so formed an arch over the entrance. Over this arch there was an iron plate bearing the legend, “Miller’s Court.” The passage was three feet wide and about twenty feet long, and at the end of it there was a small paved yard, about fifteen feet square. Abutting on this yard, or “court”, was the small back room in which the woman Kelly was killed – a dirty, damp and dismal hovel, with boarded-up windows and a padlocked door as though the place had not been occupied since the crime was committed.”

“But the strange thing was that nobody in the neighborhood seemed to know the history of Miller’s Court…”

 

Last known photograph taken of Miller’s Court by Leonard Matters in 1920’s.  Note passage entrance to right of chair.  McCarthy’s store was to left of chair & storage room to right of passage which bordered Mary’s room.

 

By the 1940’s, Mary’s gravestone and grave had become lost at the cemetery.  This was further complicated when a new numbering system and orientation was employed there.

Her grave was relocated in 1997 and a new gravestone was placed above her grave in the form of a Celtic Cross with an identifying inscription.  However, the gravestone was quickly vandalized and destroyed thus her grave once again was left unmarked.

<

Several grave markers have been created and placed at locations marking Mary’s grave since.  As of 2015, it was established that indeed, the exact location of Mary’s grave was unknown and further, that her remains might have already been disturbed since the reburying and reuse of the cemetery since the 1940’s.

 

Thus, is the legacy of Mary Jane Kelly.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Like millions of people all over the world, I grew up hear the stories of Jack-the-Ripper.

Like others, I had become intrigued by the atrocities he had committed in London in the late 1800’s and gotten away with.  However, it was not until the turn of the millennium that I had gotten my curiosity truly aroused.

It was the renewed interest into it, generated across the world in 2002, when author, Patricia Cornwell, released a new book proclaiming a man named Walter Sickert, as the probable suspect, – Jack-the-Ripper.  The whole subject aroused my interest at the time and so I delved into it.  I ended up diving into it much deeper than I had ever anticipated.

After a year of intense research, and for reasons I did not know or understand, I was actually not that interested in Jack-the-Ripper or in who he was.  Instead, I became mesmerized and captivated only by one of his victims,  – Mary Jane Kelly.  More correctly, Marie Jeanette Kelly.

Maybe in some ways I related with her.  Both of us coming from large Catholic families.  Both of us leaving home permanently as teenagers.  Never going back.  Leaving our countries and moving to another.  ‘Falling down’ in life and not able to get back up again.

And, there was a sadness in following Mary’s life.  It seemed that just as fast as she got herself doing well in her life, she just as quickly seemed to lose it all.  Yet, despite this, she never seemed to give up and always kept plunging forward.  Indeed, I had to imagine the courage it took, especially then, of a young girl to strike out on her own.  Especially to a new land and large city like London.  She was a very incredibly brave and determined young woman.

Although it is rarely mentioned or focused on, she was a single-mom trying to raise a son under horrible conditions.  The very night of her death found her depressed to almost the point of suicide over this very issue.  It may have even helped contribute to her death as that very night, she was under incredible pressure to come up with rent by the next morning.

As faith would have it, by 2010, I was working in Afghanistan and now living in Paris.  Finding a week to take off and visit London, I of course became once again enthralled with the Ripper Case.  Again, I was not overly interested in Jack-the-Ripper himself or, of any of the other murders he was alleged to have committed.  However, I was still consumed by Mary and her story.  I was interested in only one thing really.  It was to see where she had died.  Perhaps I simply wanted to pay my respects.  I cannot say.

My sudden urge to go to England at that time was because of some friends of mine who had moved there just years earlier.  They had invited me and so I accepted their invitation.

While in England, I began booking tours everywhere as most initial tourists do.  Of course, I had to book a Jack-the-Ripper Tour while there and hopefully, get a chance to see Miller’s Court where Mary had been killed at.  With the entire week planned and numerous tours booked, off to England I went.

I had purposely booked a Jack-the-Ripper Tour with a bonified historian.  That said, he happened to only have one night still available for the week I was in London.  I of course took it and was quite pleased.

It wasn’t until just a few days before the tour, when I brushed up again on Mary Jane Kelly, that I realized the tour I happened to be on …. was going to be late on the night of November 8th.  The 122nd anniversary of the last night in the life of Mary Jane Kelly.  She would be killed in the early morning hours of November 9th, 1888.  It was an extraordinary coincidence that had occurred strictly by happenchance.

The night started off by me taking a taxi and arriving near White Chapel a few hours before the tour.  I realized as the taxi left, I had no idea where I was to meet the tour.  I had walked around slightly and reexamined a map I had of the neighborhood but was still not sure.  I then called the tour number a couple of times, but no one answered.  I finally left a recorded message on their phone, leaving my phone number and hoping someone would call back.

Not knowing what to do, I wandered down the street and saw a local pub.  It turned out to be The White Hart.  Of course, I just wanted a beer and something to eat while waiting and hoping that someone would call me back.

By another sheer coincidence, it turned out that this very pub existed in November of 1888.  Further, it turned out that this exact pub had one of the first of many suspects thought at that time to be Jack-the-Ripper (Severin Klosowski and also known as George Chapman).  He had been employed at that time as a barber down below in its cellar.  In addition, one of the women first thought to be one of Jack-the-Ripper’s victims (but was not), Martha Tabram, was found murdered not far away from this pub.  A plaque marks the site.

Somehow that night, I had already ended up in Jack-the-Ripper history before the tour had even started.

However, once again, I had taken this tour with only one interest in mind – to pay my respects to Mary Jane Kelly and the place where she had died, Miller’s Court.

Having never been to London, the tour took off in the late of the night.  The guide made several stops at sites where women had been killed in 1888.  A few had been of the actual five known victims and others that were not.

Without realizing it much then, I was deep in White Chapel territory.  Deep inside Spitalfields.  Inside what had been Mary’s world for about five years till her death.

The guide then took us to the front of Christ Church at the corner of Commercial and Fournier Street.  And across from the church on Fournier Street, was this pub I had never heard of before, “Ten Bells.”  I had no idea at the time, of its intimate connection to Mary.  The guide explained that two of Jack-the-Ripper’s victims were last seen leaving this pub.  Then, without further ado, he took off with our small tour group, walking off to the next site he was going to show us.

It was at this moment that something stopped me. Grabbed me.  And, instead of the pub, the church, or even the direction of the tour that was now walking away from me, what seem to pull my attention so strongly was simply looking down Fournier Street.  In 1888, it was then called Church Street.  I felt that indeed, this very street, Jack-the-Ripper had walked down, stalking and hunting for potential victims.  I was completely captivated by this street as it laid before me.  I had no idea that Mary would often leave Ten Bells in this very direction as she cut through to Thrall Street or took it to Brick Lane, on her way to the Frying Pan Pub at Brick Lane and Thrawl.  I just stood there staring down this street.

It was at this moment that I snapped this picture of what would have been Church Street looking down towards Brick Lane.

 

Fournier St. (originally Church St.) looking east toward Brick Lane.  Edge of Ten Bells Pub to left of scaffolding, out of picture.  Two of Jack the Ripper’s victims were last seen alive leaving Ten Bells Pub.  This street was one of his hunting grounds.  Cobblestones still visible in lower left of photograph.

 

I then was forced to run to catch up with the tour.  I had no idea that Ten Bells was just two blocks away from where Mary had lived at Miller’s Court.  This was the very next stop for the tour.  As the tour guide spoke, I had absolutely no idea that Miller’s Court no longer existed.  Dorset Street was not even a street anymore.  It had become an alley.  And the entrance to Miller’s Court had become a loading dock, one of several, for a commercial business of some sort.  Her past had been completely erased off of the face of the earth.

There was nothing to see from where Mary had been killed that faithful night.  Nothing now except memories of what once was.  Lost to infamy and legend.

It was now past midnight, on the morning of November 9th, the anniversary of Mary’s death.  I raised my hand and the guide asked “yes.”  I announced to him and the tour group that it was the morning of November 9th ….. that it was exactly on this very night, this very morning, that Mary Jane Kelly had been murdered.  Not even the guide had been aware of this fact on this night.  There was a gasp from the people in the tour.  What a coincidence indeed.

As the tour then continued, I walked slowly on through what had once been, the streets of Spitalfields in 1888.  Just as it had 122 years earlier on this very morning, the rain fell on and off in the early morning hours.  I could not help but be reminded that though nothing lasts forever, that some things never change.  That somehow, even with Spitalfields demolished and erased from the earth, that certain pieces of its history continued to keep replaying.

As I stood there that morning in Mary’s world on November 9th, in the rain, I was reminded of another coincidence.  It was on the early morning hours of November 9th, when I was just 11 years old, that my mother had died.  It had rained on and off that morning too.

Ironically, I only found out recently that my mother was born from an Irish mom named Gallagher.  How the Irish seem to be everywhere, I thought.

Years since, I can only wonder whatever happened to Mary’s son.  Did he live on?  Did Mary’s lineage carry on?  Does she have descendants today?

Had it not been for her depression and anguish that night, to have to come up with the rent by the next day, maybe she would have never been out on the streets at 2:00 a.m. that morning.

Ironically, Spitalfields in the 19th century, which had been home to thousands of Irish and Jewish immigrants, today is home to thousands of Bangladeshi immigrants.

And, sadly and tragically, the murders committed by the killer known as Jack-the-Ripper, are pale in comparison to many of today’s modern serial killers.  Serial killings today that are observed may sometimes exceed thirty, fifty, or even eighty victims.  Serial killers still abound across the world.

How so true, “Nothing lasts forever and yet nothing ever changes.”

 

George Hruby

 

 

{ In addition to being an international research-historian, George Hruby was a military policeman in the United States Marine Corps.  During his time there, he also served as an investigator for the Special Enforcement Section in Okinawa, Japan, as well as assignments with CID and NCIS in Japan, South Korea, and Camp Pendleton, California.  He is a graduate of the San Diego Police Academy and assisted several North San Diego County law enforcement agencies in homicide investigations while serving a tenure with RIPCO in the 1980’s, including his capture and arrest of a suspected Mexican serial killer in Escondido, California in the 1980’s.}

 

Special Thanks

 

A special thanks is given to an extraordinary website dedicated to Jack-the-Ripper and was a tremendous help in source documents used in this write-up.  It is called “Casebook: Jack the Ripper” and can be found at:  www.https://www.casebook.org/index.html   It is produced by Stephen P. Ryder and Johnno who have amassed a wealth of information and sources including many historians and researchers on the subject matter.  It is highly recommended by this author to anyone who might be interested in exploring this case further.

 

Another wonderful source document used in this recreation of Mary Jane Kelly’s death is from Dr. Laura Vaughan, from the University College London and her paper entitled, “Mapping the East End Labyrinth” and to be published in her new book, “Jack the Ripper and the East End Labyrinth, Museum of London and Random House (2008).

 

Wikipedia was also helpful in directing to some source documents concerning certain buildings and their locations and histories from the 1880’s.

 

Special thanks to goes to Google Earth whose technology allows for an unprecedented ability to visually bring back and show locations from our past, in today’s modern world.

 

Menu