Jack the ripper is one of the most famous ( more like infamous) serial killers in world history. Jack commits five murders in 1888, terrorizing the city of London, and then goes on forever. Who is he Why did he commit this murder? Why did he suddenly stop killing? The question is still a mystery. You may remember we brought you an article by Jack the ripper that covers all of that.

But this story is not all about Jack. Today we thought we should bring you all the details we found about Jack’s first killing. Reading about Jack and his murders gives us a better understanding of the lives of the extremely poor people of England at that time. It is correct to say that these people were human dust isolated from society.

The best place to start is with the five women who died at the hands of Jack. All five are prostitutes. And extremely poor.

Jack’s first victim is Mary Ann Nichols.

Mary Ann Nichols (Polly)

Mary Ann Nichols was born on August 26, 1845, in London. Her father was a locksmith. Her nickname was “Polly”.

Mary Ann Nichols (Polly)
Picture: Mary Ann Nichols (Polly)

In 1864 Polly married William Nicole, a printer. The couple lived in rented accommodation in several parts of London. They had five children. But William’s casual relationships and Polly’s drinking break up the marriage. Around 1881, Pauly and William separated.

After marriage, Polly lived by doing menial jobs and working as a prostitute. The eldest of her children lived with Polly’s father, and the other four live with William.

At this time there were institutions in England known as “workhouses”. The poor people in these institutions were given food, a bed, and medicine when they were sick, and labour was obtained from them for that.

Poly lived in some of these workshops after his separation from William. In the meantime, she lived with her father for two months. At the time, the father observed that Pauly was heavily addicted to alcohol

For six years from 1882 to 1888, she lived in the workshops of Pauly Lambeth, St. Giles, Strand, Mitchell. She also had an affair with a man named Thomas Dew.

Lambeth workhouse
Picture: Lambeth workhouse

On May 12, 1888, Paul went to work as a maid in a wealthy house. Here is what she wrote to her father about the new job.

” I just right to say you will be glad to know that I am settled in my new place, and going 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 has been newly done up. They are teetotalers 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 good bye for the present.
from yours truly,
Answer soon, please, and let me know how you are.”

Two months later, Polly stole three pounds worth of clothes and ten shillings and ran away from home.

Then she lived in a shared room with a woman named Emily Holland and two other women. This room was located in the “Whitechapel” district in the east corner of London.

Polly was 43 years old then. She was five feet two inches tall. She has lost two front teeth in her upper jaw and one front tooth in her lower jaw. Her teeth are a bit dull. The eyes were light brown. By this time her brown hair was starting to turn white. But Polly lived a generally clean life. And she was a person who doesn’t talk much.

Four days after her 43rd birthday, on the night of August 30, 1888, London was hit by a thunderstorm. Also, the sky in London was red due to a fire at the harbour.

Around 11 p.m .;
Poly walked along Whitechapel Avenue. Maybe to find a “customer”.

* 12:30 pm –
From the “Frying Pan” bar at the intersection of Brick Street and Trolley Street, Poly came to her room on Trolley Street.

* 1:30 p.m .;
While Polly is in the kitchen of her house, her landlord told her to leave the room. The reason is that she does not pay rent. She left the house telling him not to give her bed to anyone. “I’ll get my doss money soon. See what I’ve got now” (showing her Bolly bonnet hat)

* 2:30 p.m .;
On her way back to her room, she went to see the harbour fire, Emily Holland meets Polly at the intersection of Whitechapel Avenue and Osborne Street. Polly was very drunk. She walked over and grabbed the wall. Paul told Emily that she was kicked out of the room and that she made her rent money three times that but wasted all of it on alcohol. Polly said she will try one more time to find a customer, and if the attempt goes right, she will come into the room with the rent, and if she’s not, then she will spend the night with someone who has a room.

(Polly’s room rent was 4 pence a night. At that time the service of a street prostitute in East London was available for 2-3 pence or a large piece of bread. For 3 pence you could buy a large glass of gin)

That was the last time anyone saw Mary Ann Nichols AKA Polly alive.

* 3:15 am –
Police Constables John Thane and Sergeant Kirby patrol the street known as “Buck Row”, a ten-minute walk from Osborne Street. They saw nothing suspicious.

* 3:45 am –
Early in the morning, Charles Cross, a horse-drawn carriage driver, and his friend Robert Paul Barrow crossed the street. They saw a woman lying on the road. “Come here and see, there’s a woman here,” Cross told Paul. Her arms and legs were still warm as they examined her body. Polly could barely breathe. “I think she’s still breathing, but barely,” Paul said.

The place where Mary fell to the ground near Buck Row Road
Picture: The place where Mary fell to the ground near Buck Row Road

Cross and Paul went looking for a police officer. They met Constable Jonas Misen. Constable John Neal was there when Misen arrived at the scene. They called a doctor. The doctor who examined the body said that she had died a few minutes earlier.

The police report states that Polly’s dressings were as follows at the time of her death:

  1. A black bonnet hat
  2. A reddish-brown coat (ulster)
  3. Linsey frock
  4. A white flannel cloth
  5. Black Wool Length Socks (stockings)
  6. A fur coat and a flannel underlay (petticoat)
  7. Brown chest stays
  8. Flannel underwear
  9. Men’s boots with the upper part cut off

* She had the following with her body:

  1. Comb
  2. A white handkerchief
  3. A broken piece of glass
Mary's remains
Picture: Mary’s remains

There was a mark of a blow on the right side of her face. On the left side of the face, there was a mark that she was held tightly with one hand. The left side of the neck had two incisions, which were 3 and 4 inches apart, and the right side had an 8 inches deep incision that extended to the spine. The blood vessels that carry blood to the brain were completely severed. There was a deep bruise on her lower abdomen as well as several cuts.

Polly’s funeral took place on September 6, 1888, at Manor Park Cemetery. In 1966 a memorial plaque was erected on her grave.

Jack the ripper

This is said to be the first victim of Jack the ripper, the death of Polly as mentioned above. Stay with us for further articles on Jack’s other victims.


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