Mary Ann Nichols
It was a few minutes before 3:40 A.M. on 31 August when Charles Cross, a carman, turned from Brady Street into Buck’s Row, a dark road with terraced houses on the southern side and warehouses on the north. It ended with the looming presence of the Board School where Buck’s Row joined Winthrop Street and widened considerably.
Cross walked on the northern side of the street, and as he reached the end of Buck’s Row he noticed what he thought was a tarpaulin lying in the gateway to Brown’s Stable Yard. He walked over to take a closer look and found that what he had actually seen was a woman lying on the ground. Before he could investigate further, Cross heard footsteps approaching from the direction of Brady Street.
Robert Paul was also a carman and, like Cross, was on his way to work. As he strolled down Buck’s Row, Paul saw movement close to the Board School. As he drew nearer a man came toward him, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, "Come and look over here; there’s a woman lying on the pavement."
The spot where Mary Ann Nichols was murdered, as it is today. The small bushes stand on a spot that was once a stable yard with two large gates separating it from the street. Mary Ann’s body lay on what is now the colored pavement, with her head pointing to the left and her feet pointing to the right, toward the large building, which was then a school and is now apartments. She was murdered during the early hours of 31 August 1888.
Drunks lying in the streets were not an uncommon sight in this part of London, and Paul didn’t really want to get involved, but nevertheless, he and Cross, the man who had spoken to him, drew closer to the still form.
The woman lay on her back with her head toward Brady Street, the direction from which both Cross and Paul had come. Her hands were down by her sides, her legs straight out and slightly apart, and her skirts raised. They probably thought that perhaps she wasn’t drunk after all but had been the victim of some kind of attack, possibly a rape.
Buck’s Row, where Mary Ann Nichols, believed by some to be the first Ripper victim, met her death on 31 August 1888
Cross touched the woman’s hands, noticed that they were cold, and announced to Paul, "I believe she’s dead." Paul too touched her face and hands. He confirmed that the woman’s flesh was cold but, to be sure, crouched down and listened for any sounds of breathing. There were none, but as he brushed her breast Paul thought he might have noticed a slight movement. If she was breathing, then it was very shallowly.
Straightening up, Paul said, "I think she’s breathing but very little if she is." He suggested they prop her up, but Cross would have none of this idea. After a brief discussion, the two men decided that, as they were already going to be late for work, the best idea would be to carry on to their respective places of employment but to tell the first policeman they saw what they had found. The only effort they made on behalf of the woman was to pull her skirts down a little in order to preserve her modesty.
A view down what was then Buck’s Row toward the school building. To the left of the school was Buck’s Row and the location of Mary Ann Nichols’s murder. To the right was Winthrop Street. Past the "No Entry" sign, on the same side, is the narrow alleyway known as Wood’s Buildings through which Jack may well have made his escape.
Paul and Cross walked on toward Baker’s Row. There, at the junction of Hanbury Street and Old Montague Street, they saw a policeman, Constable Jonas Mizen. Later there would be some dispute as to precisely what Paul and Cross said to the officer, but what is certain is that they went on to their work while Constable Mizen walked purposefully off toward Buck’s Row.
Mizen was not the first policeman to find the stricken woman. Buck’s Row was part of the beat of Constable John Neil, who had last walked down the street at around 3:15 A.M., when he had noticed nothing suspicious. Now, at 3:45 A.M., he walked eastward along Buck’s Row toward the Board School. He was on the south side of the street when he saw the shape in front of the Brown’s Stable Yard doors. Unlike Cross and Paul, Constable Neil had a lantern, and he now shone its light onto the still figure. Neil could see that the woman had been attacked because her throat had been cut, and blood still flowed slowly from the wound.
Constable Neil knew that a brother officer, Constable John Thain, had a beat that took him along Brady Street and the top of Buck’s Row. Noticing that Thain was just passing, Neil flashed his lantern in order to obtain assistance. Thain rushed down Buck’s Row and heard Neil call out, "Here’s a woman has cut her throat; run at once for Dr. Llewellyn."
Thain ran off to fetch the doctor, leaving Neil alone with the woman. Soon afterward, however, Constable Mizen arrived, and Neil told him to fetch the ambulance and further assistance from Bethnal Green Police Station. Once again Neil was alone with the woman, and while waiting for assistance to arrive, he took a look around to see if he could find any clues to what might have happened.
Wood’s Buildings, looking from Whitechapel Road toward what was Winthrop Street and the school. If Jack was disturbed by the approach of Charles Cross, he may well have escaped by dashing around the school and running down this alleyway toward the point from which the photograph was taken.
Brown’s Stable Yard was firmly closed and locked. Almost directly opposite where the woman lay was Essex Wharf, and Neil now rang the bell to determine whether the occupants might have seen or heard anything. The call was answered by Walter Purkiss, who appeared at a second-floor window. Neil asked him if he had heard anything, but Purkiss said he hadn’t. Soon afterward Sergeant Kerby arrived on the scene, alerted by the other officers, and proceeded to knock on the door of the first terraced house, New Cottage, at 2 Buck’s Row, next to where the woman’s body lay. The house was occupied by Emma Green and her family of two daughters and a son. Like Walter Purkiss, Emma Green had heard nothing during the night. Meanwhile, Constable Neil was examining the roadway to see if he could find any marks of wheels where a cart might have dropped the woman. He found nothing.
At about 4 A.M., Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn, having been aroused by Constable Thain, arrived at Buck’s Row. He made a quick examination of the woman and pronounced her dead. He too found that the woman’s hands were cold but her legs were still warm, and he determined that she had not been dead more than half an hour, thus putting the earliest time of death at around 3:30 A.M. By now a small crowd of onlookers, including three men from Barber’s Slaughter Yard in Winthrop Street, was starting to gather, so Dr. Llewellyn ordered that the body be moved to the mortuary, where he would make a more detailed examination later in the day.
The body was lifted onto the ambulance, and Constables Neil and Mizen, accompanied by Sergeant Kerby, took the woman to the mortuary in Old Montague Street while Constable Thain waited for more senior officers to arrive in Buck’s Row. In due course Inspector John Spratling arrived, and Thain pointed out to him where the body had lain. Emma Green’s son was just washing away the last of the blood from the pavement, but small signs of it could still be seen between the paving stones. Having satisfied himself that he could do no more in Buck’s Row, Inspector Spratling went to the mortuary to view the body for himself and take down a description of the dead woman.
The mortuary was locked at that hour, and the woman’s body still lay on the ambulance, which had been left in the yard. Inspector Spratling began to write down his description of the dead woman, and while he was doing so, Robert Mann, the mortuary keeper, arrived with the keys. The body was moved into the mortuary itself, and Spratling continued with his notes. Looking for marks on the woman’s clothing, he lifted her skirts and discovered that she had been mutilated: her abdomen had been ripped open and her intestines exposed. Spratling immediately sent for Dr. Llewellyn, who returned to make a second examination. He would later tell the press, "I have seen many terrible cases but never such a brutal affair as this."
One of the first priorities was to identify the body. This process did not prove to be as difficult as one might imagine, though the woman carried no formal identification, and her few belongings—a comb, a white pocket handkerchief, and a piece of looking glass—gave no clue. Her clothing at first appeared to be undistinguished: a reddish-brown ulster with seven large brass buttons, a brown linsey (woollen) frock, a white chest flannel (a light cotton undergarment), two petticoats, a pair of stays, black ribbed woollen stockings, a pair of men’s side-sprung boots (boots that fastened at the side), and a black straw bonnet trimmed with black velvet. However, a petticoat bore the mark "Lambeth Workhouse, P.R.," which indicated that at some time the woman had been a resident in that establishment.
Two women soon came forward to identify the body. Reports on the crime had spread throughout the district, which led to the news that a woman fitting the victim’s description had been living at a lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street. Ellen Holland, another resident of that establishment, told the police that she knew the dead woman as Polly. The second witness, Mary Ann Monk, who was an inmate of the Lambeth Workhouse, viewed the body at 7:30 P.M. on 31 August and stated that the victim was Mary Ann Nichols. This identification enabled the police to trace Mary Ann’s relatives, and on 1 September Edward Walker, Mary Ann’s father, and William Nichols, her estranged husband, both confirmed the identification.
Mary Ann had been born in Dean Street, off Fetter Lane, on 26 August 1845, the daughter of Edward and Caroline Walker. On 16 January 1864 she had married William Nichols, a printer’s machinist, the ceremony taking place at St. Bride’s in Fleet Street. William and Mary Ann lodged briefly in Bouverie Street but soon went to live with her father at 131 Trafalgar Street, Walworth. They stayed there for some time, finally moving to new lodgings at 6D Peabody Buildings, Stamford Street, in 1874. They had five children: Edward John, born in 1866; Percy George in 1868; Alice Esther in 1870; Eliza Sarah in 1877; and Henry Alfred in 1879. In 1880 the marriage broke up with some bitterness, and William moved to 37 Coburg Road, Old Kent Road.
From this time, Mary Ann’s movements are, for the most part, well known. Briefly, the timeline is as follows:
6 September 1880-31 May 1881— Lambeth Workhouse
31 May 1881-24 April 1882—Not known
24 April 1882-18 January 1883— Lambeth Workhouse
18-20 January 1883—Lambeth Workhouse Infirmary
20 January-24 March 1883— Lambeth Workhouse
24 March-21 May 1883—Living with her father
21 May-2 June 1883—Lambeth Workhouse
2 June 1883-25 October 1887— Living with Thomas Stuart Drew in York Mews, 15 York Street, Walworth
25 October 1887—St. Giles’s Workhouse, Endell Street.
26 October-2 December 1887— Strand Workhouse, Edmonton
2-19 December 1887—Not known with certainty but possibly sleeping rough in Trafalgar Square. Mary Ann was found there when the area was cleared of homeless people.
19-29 December 1887—Lambeth Workhouse
29 December 1887-4 January 1888— Not known
4 January-16 April 1888—Mitcham Workhouse and Holborn Infirmary
16 April-12 May 1888—Lambeth Workhouse
12 May-12 July 1888—Working for Samuel and Sarah Cowdry
12 July-1 August 1888—Not known
1-2 August 1888—Gray’s Inn Temporary Workhouse
2-24 August 1888—Lodging at 18 Thrawl Street
24-30 August 1888—Lodging at 56 Flower and Dean Street, a house known locally as the White House.
On the morning of 1 September, Dr. Llewellyn carried out a full postmortem on the body. Later that same day, the inquest opened at the Working Lad’s Institute in Whitechapel Road before Wynne Edwin Baxter, the coroner for the South Eastern District of Middlesex. The jury, having been duly sworn in, was taken to view the body, which still lay in a shell in the mortuary. Upon the jurors’ return to the Institute, the first witnesses were called.
Edward Walker, the dead woman’s father, stated that his present residence was 16 Maidswood Road, Camberwell. He confirmed his identification of Mary Ann and added that he had not seen her for two years, the last occasion being on Saturday, 5 June 1886, at the funeral of his son, also named Edward, who had been burned to death in an accident with a paraffin lamp. Walker then went on to speak of the breakup of his daughter’s marriage.
Mary Ann Nichols lying in a coffin shell at the mortuary. The photograph is of poor quality, but her general features can be plainly discerned.
According to Walker, William Nichols had had an affair with the nurse who had attended Mary Ann during her last confinement. As a result of that affair, the couple had separated, with the eldest son, Edward John, going to live with his grandfather while the other four children remained with their father. Since that time William Nichols had had another child with the nurse.
Walker went on to confirm that Mary Ann had lived with him from March to May 1883 and that she was not a particularly sober woman. One night they had argued over her drinking habits, and the next morning she had left. He had certainly not turned her out into the streets. Although he had not seen Mary Ann for two years, he had received a letter from her around the previous Easter. It had been written from the home of Samuel and Sarah Cowdry of Ingleside, Rose Hill Road, Wandsworth, where Mary Ann had been employed as a domestic servant. The letter, which he still had, read:
I just write to say you will be glad to know that I am settled in my new place, and going on all right up to now. My people went out yesterday, and have not returned, so I am left in charge. It is a grand place inside, with trees and gardens back and front.
All this has been newly done up. They are teetotallers and religious, so I ought to get on. They are very nice people, and I have not too much to do. I hope you are all right and the boy has work. So goodbye for the present.
The letter was signed, "From yours truly, Polly," and carried a postscript: "Answer soon, please, and let me know how you are." Edward had replied to that letter, but Mary Ann had never contacted him again. He had not known that not long afterward, Sarah Cowdry had sent a postcard to the Lambeth Workhouse stating that Mary Ann had absconded from Ingleside, taking with her clothing to the value of 3 pounds, 10 shillings.
Edward Walker told the court that he was unable to say whether his daughter had been living with anyone recently, but he had heard that three or four years earlier she had been living with a man named Drew who lived in York Mews and had a shop in York Street. Finally, he knew that William Nichols had once been summoned to show why he should not contribute to his wife’s upkeep, but the charge had been dismissed owing to the fact that Mary Ann had been living with another man. Later, when William himself gave evidence, it would be shown that this was not the entire truth.
The next witness was Constable John Neil, who spoke of his discovery of Mary Ann’s body. He had been walking on the right-hand side of the street when he saw a figure lying in the street, by a gateway. Having shone his lantern upon it, he saw a woman lying with her left hand touching the gates of the stable yard. Blood was still oozing from a wound in her throat. Her eyes were wide open, and her arm was quite warm from the joints upward. Her bonnet was off her head and lying by her side, close to her left hand. At that point, Neil heard a fellow constable patrolling up Brady Street and signaled to him. When the other officer approached, Neil told him to "run at once for Dr. Llewellyn." Soon afterward Constable Mizen arrived and was sent to fetch the police ambulance, which was in reality little more than a handcart.
Constable Neil then described his rousing of Walter Purkiss at Essex Wharf and the arrival of Sergeant Kerby. After Dr. Llewellyn had said that the woman was dead, Neil had helped to lift the body onto the ambulance and afterward noticed a small patch of congealed blood where the body had lain. It was no more than 6 inches in diameter.
Neil had stayed at the mortuary with the body and was there when Inspector Spratling arrived. He saw the inspector writing a description of the woman and noticed the mutilations once her clothing had been lifted. Neil then spoke of the route his beat had taken, confirming that he had never been farther from the body’s location than Baker’s Row and the Whitechapel Road.
Dr. Llewellyn (whose name was given erroneously in some press reports as Henry) said that he was a surgeon practicing from 152 Whitechapel Road. At about 4 A.M. on Friday, 31 August, he had been called to Buck’s Row, where he had found the dead woman lying on her back. She had severe injuries to her throat, and though her hands and wrists were cold, her lower extremities were quite warm. During his initial examination he noted that there was very little blood about the neck and no signs of a struggle having taken place. He estimated that she had been dead for no more than half an hour.
Before continuing with Dr. Llewellyn’s evidence, an important point needs to be cleared up. In a report to the press, issued later on 1 September, the doctor stated that there was only a small pool of blood on the footway; he described it as "not more than would fill two wine glasses, or half a pint at the outside." This comment led to speculation that Mary Ann had been killed elsewhere and dumped in Buck’s Row. Indeed, this notion is an important part of the Masonic Conspiracy theory. In fact, other witnesses, including Constables Neil, Mizen, and Thain, would state that a good deal of blood had been absorbed by Mary Ann’s clothing and that her back appeared to be soaked in it, as Constable Neil’s hands had been smeared when he helped lift the body onto the ambulance. Dr. Llewellyn and the police officers investigating the crime had little doubt that Mary Ann had met her death at the spot where her body was found.
Dr. Llewellyn, continuing his narrative, told of his being called out a second time by Inspector Spratling. He had gone immediately to the mortuary and there noted extensive abdominal mutilations. He then gave the details of his postmortem findings.
The body was that of a female 40 to 45 years of age. Her face was bruised, with one mark running along the lower part of the jaw on the right-hand side. This mark might have been caused either by a fist or by the pressure of a thumb. Another circular bruise was noted on the left-hand side, which might have been caused by the pressure of fingers.
On the left side of the neck, about 1 inch below the jaw, an incision commenced that was about 4 inches long and ran from a point immediately below the ear. A second cut, commencing on the same side, but an inch in front of the first cut and an inch below it, was a circular incision that terminated some 3 inches below the right jaw. This cut had completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae, and the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck had been severed. Dr. Llewellyn thought that both incisions had been made from left to right and that the knife used was "a strong-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence." No blood was found on the breast or the front of the clothes.
Turning to the abdominal cuts, the doctor stated that there were no other injuries until the lower part of the abdomen. Some 2 or 3 inches from the left side was a very deep wound that ran in a jagged manner and cut through the tissues. There were also three or four other cuts, running downward on the right side, the knife again having been used violently. Dr. Llewellyn stated that the injuries might have been inflicted by a left-handed person and that they had all been inflicted with the same weapon. In response to questioning about the degree of medical knowledge exhibited by the killer, the doctor replied that he "must have had some rough anatomical knowledge, for he seemed to have attacked all the vital parts." He also stated that the crime could have been executed in four or five minutes, at which point the inquest was adjourned until Monday, 3 September.
Further examination of Dr. Llewellyn’s testimony is necessary, as it has often been misquoted by other writers. The doctor initially believed that the assailant had attacked Mary Ann from in front. Probably using his right hand to stifle her cries, he wielded the knife in his left hand and used it to cut her throat. Later Llewellyn came to doubt this conjecture. There can be little doubt that Mary Ann’s throat was not cut while she was standing, or there would almost certainly have been bloodstains on the front of her clothing. A more likely scenario is that she was either throttled or struck and placed on the ground by her killer, who then knelt or crouched at her right side, possibly facing toward Brady Street, and cut her throat from left to right so that any blood flow would be away from him. He then probably inflicted the mutilations by drawing the knife downward and toward himself, indicating that he was right-handed. There was evidence of throttling because Mary Ann’s face was bruised and her tongue lacerated slightly.
The inquest reopened on 3 September, with Inspector Spratling as the first witness. Spratling stated that he had arrived at Buck’s Row at 4:30 A.M. on 31 August. By then the body had been moved and two constables guarded the spot that was pointed out to him. At the time, the last of the blood was being washed away by one of Emma Green’s sons. He then described his visit to the mortuary, his attempt to write down a description, his discovery of the abdominal mutilations, and his call to Dr. Llewellyn.
There was some dispute over precisely what happened next. The police held that instructions had been given that the body was to be left alone but that two mortuary attendants, Robert Mann and James Hatfield, had stripped and cleaned the body before the postmortem could take place. This point was now confirmed by Detective Sergeant Patrick En-right, who said in response to a question that he had given express instructions that the body was not to be touched. Continuing his evidence, Inspector Spratling then gave details of the clothing the dead woman had worn and pointed out that the stays she had worn were still fastened.
At the conclusion of his testimony, the inspector told the court he and Sergeant Godley had searched along the tracks of the East London and District Railway, and had also searched the Great Eastern Railway yard, but had found nothing. There had been a man on night duty at the gates of the Great Eastern yard, some 50 yards from the spot where the body had lain, but he had heard nothing. Neither had Emma Green and her family, or Walter Purkiss and his family. Finally, Barber’s Horse Slaughterer’s yard was 150 yards away from the body, the distance having been measured by walking around the Board School and into Winthrop Street. Three men had been working there throughout the night, and none of them had known anything of the crime until the discovery of the body.
Henry Tomkins was one of those three men, and he testified that he and his fellow workmen, James Mumford and Charles Brittain, had started work between 8 P.M. and 9 P.M. on Thursday, 30 August. At midnight he and Brittain had left the yard, not returning until around 1 A.M. Throughout the night the gates of the slaughter yard had been left open, and none of the men had heard anything until Constable Thain had come by to tell them about the body. This statement itself was open to question. When he came to give his own evidence, Thain would deny calling at the yard on his way to fetch Dr. Llewellyn, but Tomkins was adamant that the officer had left his cape there earlier that morning and had called to pick it up on the way to the surgery in Whitechapel Road.
Continuing his story, Tomkins stated that he and Mumford were the first to leave the slaughter yard and go to look at the body at around 4:15 A.M. They were followed a few minutes later by Brittain. At that time the doctor was there, along with three or four policemen. Tomkins stayed at the spot until the body was lifted onto the ambulance and taken away.
The next witness was Inspector Joseph Henry Helson, the officer in charge of the investigation, who said he had first heard of the murder at 6:45 A.M. on Friday, 31 August. He went to the mortuary, where he saw the body, which was still fully clothed. The inspector was present while the clothing was removed and noted that the bodice of the dress was buttoned down to the middle and the stays were still fastened. The abdominal mutilations were visible while the stays were still on, implying that the stays had been in position while these injuries were inflicted.
Constable Mizen was the next officer to give his testimony, and he told of the encounter with two men, Cross and Paul, putting the meeting at the junction of Baker’s Row and Hanbury Street. According to Mizen, Cross had told him that he was wanted by a policeman in Buck’s Row. Cross had said nothing about having found a woman or about a murder having been committed, and as Mizen walked off toward Buck’s Row he saw the two men go off down Hanbury Street.
This story too was open to debate, for then Cross stepped into the witness box to give his version of events. He told the court of his discovery of Mary Ann’s body and his encounter with the other man, Robert Paul, though at this stage Paul had not been traced and Cross did not know his name. Going off to find a policeman, they had encountered Constable Mizen, and Cross swore he had told the officer that they had found a woman lying on the pavement and had touched her hands and found them cold. He said he had told the constable that he thought she was either dead or drunk, while the other man had expressed his belief that she was dead. The constable had said, "All right," and walked off toward Buck’s Row. He and the other man had continued into Hanbury Street, and he had seen his companion turn into Corbetts Court.
The time came for William Nichols, the dead woman’s husband, to take the stand. He confirmed that he and Mary Ann had been separated for eight years but denied that the separation had anything to do with an affair between him and Mary Ann’s nurse. He claimed they had parted because of his wife’s drinking habits. However, William never actually denied that an affair had taken place between him and the nurse; he stated, "I have a certificate of my boy’s birth two years after that." This comment refers to the birth of Henry Alfred in 1879, but it also implies that an affair did take place during Mary Ann’s previous confinement, that of Eliza Sarah in 1877. William also confirmed that when he and Mary Ann had first parted, he had paid her an allowance of 5 shillings per week. Sometime in 1881 or 1882 he had discovered that she was living with another man and hence had stopped the payments. The Guardians of the Parish of Lambeth had then summoned him to show why he should not contribute to his wife’s support, but when he explained that she was living with another man, the summons had been withdrawn. William ended his evidence by saying that he had not seen his wife for three years.
According to the press reports of the day, the next witness was Jane Oram, but her evidence was identical to that known to have been given by Ellen Holland. It is likely then that Jane Oram and Ellen Holland are one and the same and that their names were confused by the newspapers. Ellen lived at 18 Thrawl Street and stated that she and the dead woman had occupied the same bed for about six weeks, up to eight or ten days before Mary Ann’s death. Indeed, it was Ellen who had identified the body.
Ellen had seen Mary Ann in the early hours of 31 August. She had gone to watch a large fire in the docks, and on her way home had met Mary Ann by accident at the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road. Based on their conversation, Ellen believed that Mary Ann had been staying at the White House, where men and women were allowed to share accommodations (some lodging houses were very strict about separating the sexes to discourage lewd behavior). . Mary Ann was very drunk, and Ellen tried to persuade her to come back with her to the lodging house in Thrawl Street. Mary Ann replied that she had no money for her bed, adding that she had earned it twice over that night but had drunk it away in the Frying Pan public house. Ellen was able to put the time of this meeting at 2:30 A.M. because the clock at St. Mary’s struck as they were speaking. Soon afterward Ellen saw Mary Ann stagger off eastward along Whitechapel Road.
The final witness on 3 September was Mary Ann Monk, who merely confirmed that she had known Mary Ann as an inmate of the Lambeth Workhouse, at which point Baxter adjourned the proceedings for two weeks. He could not know that five days later another terrible murder, the subject of the next entry, would take place in Hanbury Street.
On Thursday, 6 September, Mary Ann Nichols was buried at Ilford Cemetery. Meanwhile, the police investigation proceeded apace, and the first suspect’s name came into the frame. A weekly report, signed by Acting Superintendent Davies and dated 7 September, read in part, "A man named Pizer alias Leather Apron had been in the habit of illusing prostitutes in various parts of the Metropolis for some time past, and careful enquiries have been made to trace him, but without success." Perhaps more importantly, the report continued in the very next sentence, "There is no evidence against him at present. Enquiries are being continued."
A further report, also dated 7 September but signed this time by Inspector Hel-son, confirmed that the police were convinced that Mary Ann Nichols had met her death at the spot where her body was found. That report confirmed that Mary Ann had been seen in the Whitechapel Road at about 11 P.M. on 30 August and that she had been seen leaving the Frying Pan public house on Brick Lane at 12:30 A.M.. She had been seen again, at 1:20 A.M. inside the lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street, where the deputy keeper had asked her for the fourpence for her bed. Mary Ann had said that she had no money but was going back out to earn some. Her parting words were, "I’ll soon get my doss money; see what a jolly bonnet I’ve got now." The final sighting was of course by Ellen Holland, at 2:30 A.M. This report too referred to Pizer and repeated that there was at present no evidence against him.
Nonetheless, John Pizer was arrested by Sergeant William Thick on Monday, 10 September. Details about Pizer are given in "The Suspects" section of this topic, so suffice it to say here that he was released on 11 September and appeared at Annie Chapman’s inquest the following day, 12 September.
The inquest on Mary Ann Nichols reopened on Monday, 17 September, with Dr. Llewellyn being recalled. In the meantime, Annie Chapman had met her death, and some of her internal organs had been removed and taken away by her killer. Dr. Llewellyn had reexamined Mary Ann and confirmed that no part of her viscera was missing.
Emma Green, who lived at 2 Buck’s Row, next to where the body was found, was the next witness. She said that she had retired for the night at 11 P.M. on Thursday, 30 August. Both of her sons had already gone to bed, one at 9 P.M. and the other at 9:45. Her daughter had retired at the same time she had, and they both occupied the front room on the first floor. She had heard nothing until there was a knock at the door at about 4 A.M. on 31 August. She had thrown open the window and seen three or four constables and two or three other men. She could also see the body of the victim, but it was too dark to see exactly what had taken place. Questioned by one of the jurymen, Green confirmed that she was a light sleeper.
Walter Purkiss, who lived in Essex Wharf, almost opposite to where the body had lain, said that he lived in that house with his wife, family, and servant. Purkiss and his wife slept in the front room on the second floor, and they had both gone to bed at 11 P.M., or possibly 11:15. Purkiss had slept fitfully during the night and was awake between 1 A.M. and 2 A.M. His wife had been awake most of the night, but neither of them had heard a sound; they described the street as unusually quiet that night. When the police officer had awakened him, Purkiss had opened the window and looked out. He could see the body, the police, and some other men.
Patrick Mulshaw was a night watchman, and on the night of Mary Ann’s death he had been guarding some sewage works in Winthrop Street at the back of the Working Lad’s Institute. He had gone on duty at 4:45 P.M. on Thursday and had remained at his post until about 5:55 A.M. the next day. Mulshaw admitted that he had dozed during his watch but swore that he was not asleep between 3 and 4 A.M. During that time he had seen or heard nothing. Soon after that time a man had passed his position and said, "Watchman, old man, I believe somebody is murdered down the street."
Patrick had then walked down to Buck’s Row and seen the body. The man who had spoken to him had not been traced. Finally, Patrick was able to say that he had seen no one about after midnight, but he had seen two constables, one of whom was Constable Neil.
Constable Thain then gave his testimony. His beat took him along Brady Street past the end of Buck’s Row every 30 minutes. At 3:45 A.M. he had seen a signal from Constable Neil and had gone to offer his assistance. After speaking to Neil, Thain had gone for Dr. Llewellyn and accompanied the doctor back to Buck’s Row. By the time they got there, there were a couple of workmen with Constable Neil. After the body had been removed, Thain had stayed to await Inspector Spratling. Thain ended by denying that he had taken his cape to the slaughter yard, though he admitted sending it there with a fellow officer. He stated that when he was sent for the doctor he did not call in at the yard to collect his cape and did not tell the workmen there about the body.
By now Robert Paul had been found, and he was the next to give evidence. He told of his walk down Buck’s Row and of seeing a man standing in the middle of the road. As Paul drew nearer the other man tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Come and look at this woman here." After their cursory examination of the body the two men had gone off to find a policeman and had found one at the junction of Old Montague Street and Hanbury Street. By then it was not more than four minutes since they had left the body.
Robert Mann, an inmate of the Whitechapel Workhouse, was next. He was the man in charge of the mortuary and the keyholder of that building. There was much confusion over his evidence because Mann said he had received no instructions not to touch the body, which was in direct opposition to what the police had said. However, he was not a good witness, and Baxter informed the jury that Mann was subject to fits and hence "neither his memory nor statements are reliable."
James Hatfield, Mann’s assistant at the mortuary, fared little better. He reported that Mary Ann had not been wearing stays, but when questioned further on the point he admitted that his memory was bad. It must be remembered that he and Mann were giving their evidence almost three weeks after the event.
After further evidence of police searches had been given by Inspector Spratling, a juryman commented that if a substantial reward had been offered by the Home Secretary after the murder of Martha Tabram in George Yard, then the two later murders might not have taken place. The inquiry was then adjourned until Saturday, 22 September.
On that final date, Baxter summed up the evidence that had been given. He began, though, by complaining that there was no proper Coroner’s Court in Whitechapel and no public mortuary. He went on to describe Mary Ann’s life and history. In the end he linked Mary Ann’s death with that of Annie Chapman, suggesting that it was possible that in Mary Ann’s case the killer might have sought to possess certain of the dead woman’s organs but had been disturbed in his quest by Cross’s arrival on the scene. The jury returned the only verdict it could: "murder by some person or persons unknown."
A couple of points should be mentioned in order to pin down the time of Mary Ann Nichols’s death as accurately as possible. Certain factors such as the warmth of the upper arms and the blood still flowing from the throat wounds indicate that the murder took place just a few minutes before Charles Cross found the body. It is possible, therefore, that the killer saw Cross turn into Buck’s Row from Brady Street and made good his escape in the shadows, putting the time of the attack upon Mary Ann at around 3:35 A.M.