Mary Ann Nichols
Born Mary Ann Walker on the 26th August 1845, the second child of Edward and Caroline Walker. They lived at Dawes Court in the City of London but by 1851 lived at nearby 14 Dean Street, a lodging house off Fetter Lane.
Tragedy struck the young family when the mother Caroline Walker died in 1852 and was buried on 5th December at St Andrew Holborn, and later a young son called Frederick died too. Edward Walker took his remaining two children to live in the area of Fleet Street near St Bride’s Church at 19 Harp Alley.
On 16th January 1864 Mary married a printer living in Bouverie Street named William Nichols. Together, they then moved across the River Thames to Camberwell where she gave birth to a son on 4th July 1866 and called him Edward John Nichols. Another son, Percy George followed in 1868, and both boys were christened on the 9th August of that year at St Peter, Walworth. Two years later a girl named Alice Esther was born. By then, the couple and their three children lived at 131 Trafalgar Street, St Saviour’s, along with Mary’s father.
In 1876, Mary and her family began living in the newly built Peabody estate in Duchy Street, Lambeth. First of all, on 31st July, they took residence at Tenement No.3, Block D, that had four rooms at a rent of 6s 8d per week, rates 1s 7d. William was working for 30s per week as a printer for William Clowes and Sons of Duke Street. At No.5, Block D, lived a young woman named Rosetta Walls, and whilst Mary was in confinement with her fourth child, William and Rosetta began an affair.
Mary gave birth to a girl in December at No.3, Block I, and called her Eliza Sarah Nichols. She returned home to William by February the next year, and on the 4th June 1877, they moved to the cheaper No.6, Block D, where there was only three rooms and a rent of 5s per week, rates 1s 2d. Their last son Henry Alfred was born there on the 4th December 1878.
In 1880, Mary appears to have had enough of William’s affair with Rosetta, because the couple separated for the last time during Easter of that year. Mary left home, leaving the children behind with their father, citing his infidelity as the cause, although later he blamed her alcoholism and denied the affair at a maintenance hearing. He went on to have five children with Rosetta, at least two of which were born while Mary was still alive. Meanwhile, the eldest son, Edward John, went to live with his grandfather.
During 1882 and 1883, Mary was admitted to the Lambeth Workhouse at Renfrew Road, she then resumed some level of respectability by living with her father and afterwards a widower named Thomas Stuart Drew of Walworth. He was a blacksmith and father of three children; his wife had died in 1884.
Edward Walker last saw his daughter at the funeral of his eldest son and namesake on the 5th June 1886 at Camberwell Old Cemetery. He died when a paraffin lamp exploded at his home giving him severe burns to his face and chest, all of which was reported in the local newspaper. Unfortunately, the bereaved father and Mary were not on speaking terms at the cemetery due to bad feeling from the previous years.
On the 25th October 1887, she entered St Giles Workhouse in Endell Street in West London. Next day she left for Edmonton Workhouse, and at a later date she returned to Lambeth Workhouse where she spent her last Christmas. She then went on to Mitcham Workhouse where an order of removal sent her back to Renfrew Road on 16th April 1888.
In response to her good conduct at the workhouse, the matron Mrs Fielder, procured employment for her at a house in Wandsworth. She wrote to her father on the 12th May to reassure him that she was doing well, but on the 14th July the workhouse received news that she had absconded taking with her goods to the value of £3 10s. From then on, she wandered around the streets and public houses, until, unbeknown to her family and friends, she crossed the river and settled herself in amongst the East End community at either 18 Thrawl Street or 56 Flower and Dean Street. She would earn her pennies as a prostitute to pay for her lust for the bottle, something that she may have done in previous years according to her father and husband.
When she died she was aged 43, and described as 5ft 2ins tall, with dark brown hair turning grey, brown eyes, a dark complexion, two teeth missing, a good figure, and a small childhood scar on her head that her husband said was made larger years before when she was knocked down by a cab in Lambeth. She always kept herself clean and tidy, and her character was described as good-tempered. Her nickname was Polly.
After her meeting with Jack the Ripper on the morning of the 31st August 1888, she was laid to rest at the City of London Cemetery on the 6th September.
Annie’s mother Ruth Chapman was from Sussex and at some point she met, probably in London, with a soldier named George Smith originating from Lincolnshire. George enlisted in London as a private in the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards in 1834, and his military service required annual manoeuvres from one barracks to another including Hyde Park-Kensington, Upper Albany Street-Regents Park, and Windsor.
A family bible reveals that Annie was born on the 25th September 1840. On the 22nd February 1842, George and Ruth married at St James Church, Paddington. Two months later, the couple christened their child Annie Eliza Smith on the 23rd April at Christchurch, St Pancras. The church was local to where George was stationed at Upper Albany Street by Regents Park, but their address was recorded on the register as Knightsbridge.
At the same church on the 2nd June 1844, a brother for Annie was christened and named George William Thomas Smith. The barracks was recorded as the address on that entry. A second daughter Emily Latitia was born in November that year while the family lived at 4 Rutland Terrace, Knightsbridge. She was christened in the Brompton parish on the 8th December at Holy Trinity Church. The family had moved by then to 3 Montpelier Place.
In 1854, another son William Smith was christened on 1st February at Christchurch, St Pancras, but after only five months of life the child died. He was buried on the 3rd June at Holy Trinity, Brompton. The family lived at Raphael Street at that time and their sadness did not end there. Their eldest son died aged 12 and was buried only thirteen days after his younger brother.
We can imagine that from these tragic events an explanation can be given as to why it was said in later years that Annie started drinking when she was quite young, and that she and her siblings were the children of intemperate parents. However, we can also assume that all of the children received a good standard of education, or at least that Annie’s education was likely to have been superior to the other Ripper victims.
Two more children were born at the parish of Clewer in Windsor. Georgina in 1856 at 12 Keppel Terrace, and Mirium Ruth in 1858.
The last child, Fountain Hamilton Smith, was born on the 25th February 1861 back in London at 6 Middle Row North, Knightsbridge. But when the census was taken that year, the family had returned to live at 7 Keppel Terrace, Clewer. Annie had left home by then to gain work, and was probably recorded on the census as ‘Annie Smith,’ aged 21, a servant living at 2 Duke Street, off Oxford Street in Westminster.
By 1864, Annie’s father, George Smith, was alleged to have taken his own life by cutting his throat. Alcohol was blamed for his suicide. His widow’s name first appears as a resident on the poor rate books for that year at a new address of 29 Montpelier Place, Knightsbridge.
From this address, Annie was married on 1st May 1869, to a coachman named John Chapman at All Saints Church, Knightsbridge. There is no evidence that he was related in anyway to Annie’s mother despite having the same surname. One of the witnesses was George White a fellow coachman who lived at 1 Brooks Mews North in Bayswater. John and Annie went to live there after the wedding, but when Annie gave birth to her first child on 25th June 1870 she was back for a time at her mother’s house. The child, a girl, was christened Emily Ruth Chapman at All Saints Church.
A second daughter followed on 5th June 1873, and called Annie Georgina with another middle name of ‘June’ added on the christening register. John and Annie gave their address as 17 South Bruton Mews in Mayfair, and it is likely that John was working for a nobleman at nearby Bond Street. However, John probably lost the job due to his wife’s dishonesty.
It’s likely that in order to escape the shame that Annie had brought on her family, the couple decided to move out of the city and found a home at Water Oakley in Bray, just west of Windsor in Berkshire. Sadly, their eldest daughter, Emily Ruth, began to suffer with epileptic fits from 1878 onward, and it is likely that up to that time Annie had other children that may not have survived infancy.
Tragedy did not abate, Annie gave birth to another daughter on 16th July 1879 and named her Mirium Lily, but only ten weeks later the child died of convulsions on the 3rd October. She gave birth again in November the next year to a boy named John Alfred, he was paralysed but it is unclear as to how he became paralysed or whether he was like it from birth.
It was said at the time of Annie’s death that she had taken him to London for time to place him in a hospital. Annie’s sister blamed her alcoholism for his condition, and Annie and her children’s appearance at her mother’s house in Knightsbridge on the 1881 census, suggests that could have been the time of the visit to the hospital.
Not long before that, the family moved into the apartments over the stables in a farm cottage on the land of the St Leonard’s Hill Mansion in Clewer. John was living there when the census was taken and he worked as a coachman and domestic servant. Both of the daughters attended school. It was alleged that one in particular was educated at a highly respectable ladies school in Windsor with the cost of her tuition being defrayed by one of Annie’s sisters.
On 26th November 1882, Annie’s eldest daughter, Emily Ruth Chapman, died of meningitis after suffering for five days. She was aged only 12. We cannot be sure whether Annie was at home when her daughter died, later newspaper reports suggest that her drinking habits made it imperatively necessary that she should reside elsewhere than on the gentleman’s grounds. John reluctantly obliged to separate from his wife, who was well known in the neighbourhood of Clewer and Windsor and was then seen wandering about the area like a common tramp.
Annie’s sisters, who were religious converts, had tried some years before to persuade Annie to sign an abstinence pledge. She did so, but kept resorting back to the bottle. At one time, she went into what was called a home for the cure of the intemperate, and John paid 12p per week for her to stay there. She sobered up, but only temporarily.
When Annie finally left Windsor in about 1884, she left for London and the hovels of Spitalfields, where she resorted to prostitution. In October the next year, she could be the same woman charged with stealing a hammer at the Thames Magistrates Court.
Also, John sent a family bible to his daughter Annie Georgina for a birthday present, suggesting the children had gone to live with relatives probably in Knightsbridge.
John Chapman died on Christmas Day 1886 in New Windsor, after suffering for six months with cirrhosis of the liver-ascites, and dropsy. He had resigned his job in the summer, and the 10s per week he sent to Annie payable to her at Commercial Road suddenly stopped, a tramp-like woman called at “The Merry Wives of Windsor” public house in Spital Road, Clewer. Annie had walked all the way from London and slept overnight at a lodging house in Colnbrook. She had been told of her husband’s illness by her brother-in-law in the East End of London, and walked across town to find out whether it was true. The landlord saw her leave the public house shortly afterwards and she was never seen in the area again.
Back in Spitalfields, she began a relationship with a man named Edward Stanley, and prior to that gained the nickname of Dark Annie Sievey because she once lived there with a sieve maker. Her usual doss was at Crossingham’s lodging house, 35 Dorset Street, and from there she walked away for the last time on the morning of the 8th September 1888 to meet with her killer Jack the Ripper.
Annie was described as 5ft tall, with blue eyes, a large prominent nose, a fair complexion, and dark brown wavy hair. She was stout and well proportioned, with two teeth deficient. She was clever and industrious, and would go to Stratford East to sell crochet work and baskets she made, or to sell flowers in the street.
A very respectable, quiet, but sociable woman, who never used bad language, well educated and often read in her leisure time. When she died aged 47 and close in time to her next birthday, she was already dying from disease of the lungs and brain.
She was buried at the Manor Park Cemetery on the 12th September 1888.
She was born Elizabeth Gustafsdotter on the 27th November 1843 in the parish of Torslanda in Sweden. She was one of four children, with two brothers Carl and Svante and an older sister Anna Christina belonging to Gustaf Ericsson, a small farm owner, and his wife Beata Carlsdotter. She attended a local parish school.
Her mother died in 1864, and her sister married in Gothenburg.
Elizabeth worked as a domestic servant in Gothenburg from 1860, but in 1865 she was registered as a prostitute in the Gothenburg police files. She also gave birth to a stillborn girl one month later.*
In 1866, Elizabeth arrived in England and made her way to London’s East End where on the 10th July she was registered at the Swedish Church, St George’s-in-the-East. She shortened her name to Gustifson, and found work as a domestic servant to a gentleman’s family living in the West End.
On 7th March 1869, she married John Thomas Stride at the parish church of St Giles-in-the-Fields. Almost twice her age, Stride had been brought up a Wesleyan Methodist in Kent, and was a carpenter by trade. Elizabeth had been lodging at 67 Gower Street, and chose to give a false name for her father on the register.
The couple then moved to East London, and John Thomas opened up a coffee hall at Upper North Street, Poplar. In 1871, they moved to another coffee hall at 178 Poplar High Street, but during 1874-1875, they lived three doors along at number 172 that was perhaps a lodging house for foreign seamen.
She was known at that time by the publican of “The Blakeney’s Head” as “Mother Gum” on account of a peculiarity of the top lip, which, when she laughed, showed the whole of the upper gum.
On 21st March 1877, she was taken from the Thames Police Court by a police constable to Poplar Workhouse. The next year, Elizabeth tried to get some money from the Mansion House Fund set up to give aid to the families of the victims of the Princess Alice paddle-steamer disaster. She pretended her husband had perished and continued to tell the story for the rest of her life.
Her father died in Sweden in 1879, but it is not known as to whether she was told, or whether she was in communication with any of her family after leaving her native country. On the 1881 census she lived with her husband at 69 Usher Road, Bow. Later that year, the couple separated, her alcoholism was considered to be one of the causes. John Thomas Stride died in 1884 at the Poplar Workhouse.
Elizabeth, suffering from bronchitis, was admitted to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary on the 28th December 1881. She gave her address as Brick Lane where she had lived for the past fortnight. She left the infirmary on the 4th January 1882, and entered the workhouse for three days before being discharged. She began lodging at 32 Flower and Dean Street, and often returned there up until the time of her death.
She appeared at the Thames Magistrates Court again in November 1884, charged with being drunk and disorderly, and soliciting prostitution. Her usual haunts being Commercial Road East, Stratford and Bow. The next year, she became acquainted with an Irish dock labourer named Michael Kidney, and lived with him intermittently at Devonshire Street, Commercial Road. Kidney objected to her going on the streets and at times probably resorted to violence.
In January 1887, Elizabeth made a complaint of assault against him, and after a short stay on 24 March at St George’s-in-the-East Infirmary, she repeated the charge but again failed to turn up at the court to prosecute. She appeared before the court several times for charges of drunk and disorderly, and on the 15th July 1888, she was taken by a police constable to Poplar Workhouse from the Limehouse district and ordered to attend court the next day. Her last court entry shows that she failed to appear for a charge on the 3rd September.
Elizabeth was described as 5ft 5ins tall, with a slender figure, blue eyes, dark curly hair, a strait nose, oval face, a pale complexion, and with all her teeth absent on the left lower jaw. Her nickname used at the Spitalfields lodging house was Long Liz, and she was a very popular good-natured and hard working lodger. She was also considered to be a good cook, and expert in the use of a sewing machine, knitting and all kinds of needlework.
She died aged 44, and was the first victim of Jack the Ripper on the morning of the 30th September 1888. She was buried in a public grave No.15509 on the 6th October at the East London Cemetery in Plaistow.
Catherine was born in Staffordshire on the 14th April 1842, the daughter of George and Catherine Eddowes at Graisley Green, Wolverhampton. She had five elder siblings, Alfred, Harriet, Emma, Eliza and Elizabeth. George Eddowes worked as a tinplate worker at the Old Hall Works in common with many of his family.
A year after Catherine’s birth, George took his family down to London, and the family reached the city on a barge up the River Thames. He managed to obtain employment as a tinplate worker at Perkins and Sharpus of Bell Court in the City of London, but he probably lost the job at a later date when the workers went on strike.
A brother to Catherine named Thomas Eddowes was born on the 9th December 1844, whilst the family lived at 4 Baden Place in Bermondsey on the south side of the river. Two years later, another boy George was born, then John in January 1849 was born at another address 35 West Street. However, John unfortunately died aged only 2 months on 18th March.
Catherine attended the Dowgate Charity School in the City, and as she grew up became known to her siblings by the affectionate nickname of ‘chick’ because she was considered to be a lively little thing, warmhearted and entertaining. In 1850, another sister was born in Bermondsey and named Sarah Ann, then Mary followed in 1852, the Eddowes sisters became collectively known as the ‘seven sisters’.
The death of the youngest sibling William Eddowes in 1854 aged only 4 months, began a tragic chain of events that would see the break up of the family in a way typical for the lower classes of the Victorian era. Catherine’s mother and namesake, died of tuberculosis aged 42 on the 17th November 1855. The family was then living at 7 Winters Square, and two years later the father was dead aged 49.
On 9 December 1857, the younger Eddowes siblings were admitted as orphans to Bermondsey Workhouse, and Thomas the next day. Two weeks later, George, Thomas and Mary were admitted to the Industrial School in Sutton to learn a trade. Sarah Ann followed on in 1858.
Meanwhile, the four elder sisters, managed to get Catherine sent back to Wolverhampton to live with her uncle and aunt William and Elizabeth Eddowes at 50 Bilston Street. Catherine worked as a scourer and a tinplate stamper at the Old Hall Works where her uncle still worked.
Unfortunately, Catherine wasn’t able to keep her job for long when she was found to be stealing, so she ran away in about 1862 to live with another uncle Thomas Eddowes in Birmingham at ‘The Brick Hill’ in Bagot Street. She obtained work as a tray polisher in Legge Street, but later on, made her way back to Wolverhampton to live with her grandfather Thomas Eddowes.
Afterwards, when she returned to Birmingham she met with an Irish hawker called Thomas Conway who drew a pension from the 1st Battalion of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. She had his initials TC tattooed on her forearm in blue ink, and always told people that they had been legally married, despite the fact that it was not true. They generally spent their time as common-law husband and wife going from place to place selling chapbooks written by Conway.
Their first child together was named Catherine Ann Conway and born on the 18th April 1863 at Yarmouth Workhouse in Norfolk. Catherine registered the child on the 13th May giving her name as Catherine Conway. In 1865, her grandfather died, and only a year later Catherine and Thomas were in the crowds at the execution of her cousin Christopher Charles Robinson at Stafford goal. They mingled in amongst the four thousand strong crowd selling gallows ballads about her cousin’s crime, as the noose tightened round the young man’s neck.
By 1868, they were living in clean and comfortable lodgings at Westminster in London, and a son Thomas was born there. In 1871, they lived south of the Thames at Queen Street in Southwark. Catherine worked as a laundress. Two years later, she gave birth to another son on the 15th August at the St George’s Workhouse at Mint Street, and named him Alfred George Conway. She called herself ‘Kate Conway’ and gave her address as 119 Kent Street, and had the child christened at the workhouse before being discharged.
Emma Jones, Catherine’s elder sister, last met her in about 1877 when it was evident from her blackened eyes that she had suffered from Conway’s brutality. Jones also believed that her sister had given birth to other children not all of which were with Conway, and knew about her alcoholism.
In 1881, the family lived at 71 Lower George Street, Chelsea. Both sons attended school, but before the end of that year Thomas parted from his wife and took his sons with him. He blamed Catherine’s drinking habits. Catherine left the West End for the East End where her sister Eliza Gold already lived in the Spitalfields area, and at times she resorted to prostitution. She would also earn money working for the Jewish community in and around Brick Lane.
Catherine met a market porter named John Kelly and began living with him at 55 Flower and Dean Street, where she became a popular figure and known as ‘Mrs Kelly’ to the other lodgers. But on the 21st September 1881, she was charged with being drunk and disorderly and using obscene language at the Thames Magistrates Court. Magistrate Thomas William Saunders discharged her without a fine.
During the following years, Catherine became a grandmother when her daughter Catherine Ann, later known as Annie Conway, gave birth to many children by her husband Louis Phillips in the Bermondsey and Southwark areas. She last saw her mother around the time of the birth of her third child in August 1886, but chose to have nothing further to do with her because of her mother’s persistence in applying to her for money. Thomas Conway kept the whereabouts of the two boys from her for the same reason.
On 14th June, Catherine was admitted to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary with a burn on her foot. She gave her religion as Roman Catholic, and was discharged six days later. During the summer of 1888, she went hop picking with John Kelly to Hunton in Kent, returning to London on the 28th September.
She was the second victim of Jack the Ripper on the morning of the 30th, and died aged 46. She was buried at the City of London Cemetery in Ilford on the 8th October.
Catherine was 5ft tall, with hazel eyes, a dark complexion, and auburn hair. She was hard working and generous to her friends, very jolly-often singing. When she died she was carrying all of her meagre possessions on her person.
Mary Jane Kelly
There are very few facts that can be proved about the life of Mary Jane Kelly. Most of them were provided for us by Joseph Barnett her lover at Miller’s Court where she lived and died in 1888. Most of her story could be fiction, so as with all people that elude genealogical detection, we must proceed with caution.
He said she was born in Limerick in Ireland. Her father’s name was John Kelly, and there were six brothers and one sister. When she was a child, her parents took them across the Irish Sea to live in Carmarthenshire in Wales, where her father found employment as a gaffer at an ironworks. Her sister, who was very fond of her, lived with an aunt and would travel with materials from one market to another. A brother named Henry (aka John or Johnto) served in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.
When Mary was sixteen, she married a collier named Davis or Davies who was killed in an explosion up to three years after the marriage. She then went to stay with a cousin who was believed to be the cause of her resorting to prostitution. For eight to nine months she was an inmate of the Cardiff Infirmary for an unspecified reason.
Kelly first arrived in London about 1884 and went to a madam of a brothel in the West End where a gentleman asked her to go to France with him. She was in France barely a fortnight and decided she did not like the place and returned to London.
From then on, we can be much more sure of the story, because she first entered the East End to live with a Mrs Buki in St George’s Street in St George’s-in-the-East. It was alleged that she once went accompanied by Mrs Buki to a French lady’s house in the West End to recover some dresses.
One of her friends was Lizzie Williams, and according to associates Kelly received letters from her mother living in Ireland right up until the time she died. Just maybe Kelly’s story about leaving Ireland for Wales never really happened, and maybe the tale about her life in Wales was borrowed from a possibly Welsh ‘Lizzie Williams?’
From Buki’s house she took lodgings at Mrs Carthy’s in Breezer’s Hill in Pennington Street. On one occasion, it was said that Kelly’s father came looking for her, but when she heard from her companions, she kept out of his way.
Kelly became associated at one time with a man Joseph Barnett called “Morganstone”. This man has been identified as Adrianus Morgenstern, a Dutchman, and gas worker, who lived with a woman who also knew Mary Jane called Elizabeth Phoenix or Felix. Subsequently, Kelly had a relationship with a mason-plasterer named Joseph Fleming of Bethnal Green.
She then moved into Spitalfields and took lodgings in Thrawl Street, and in 1887 met with Joseph Barnett a porter at Billingsgate market. It was Barnett who gave her a Frenchified version of her name, Marie Jeanette. They lived together at George Street, Paternoster Row in Dorset Street, Brick Lane, and finally a small room at 13 Miller’s Court rented from her landlord of Dorset Street, named John McCarthy. As previously, Kelly resorted to prostitution, but was also said to have attended meetings at a City mission.
Jack the Ripper murdered her on the morning of the 9th November 1888, and her funeral took place on the 19th November at St Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone.
She was described as 5ft 7ins tall, good looking, with blue eyes, a fresh complexion, and very good head of hair that reached to her waist. She was stout, and allegedly had two protruding false teeth. She had a smart appearance, and wore a distinctive maroon shawl, and she would sell flowers to help earn a living. Her friends said she was educated and a popular character who offered sound advice to her younger friends. Out of kindness, she often invited them to stay at her room on a cold night if they were in need of shelter.
Information supplied by Neal Shelden – Author of “The Victims of Jack the Ripper”.