1. Mary Nichols was murdered on August 31st, 1888, in Buck's Row Whitechapel.
  2. She is generally acknowledged as being the first actual victim of the killer who would become known as "Jack the Ripper."
  3. Her body was found by Charles Cross as he made his way to work at 3.40am.



At 3.30 a.m. on August 31st, 1888, Charles Cross left his home in Doveton Street, Bethnal Green, and set off to walk to his place of work at Pickford's, near Liverpool Street, where he was employed as a carman or delivery driver.

Heading along Brady Street, he turned into Buck's Row and commenced walking along its right side.

As he approached the looming bulk of the 1876 Board School which dominated (and still dominates) the western end of the first section of Buck's Row, he noticed a dark bundle lying in a gateway on the opposite side of the street.

As with many of the district's thoroughfares, street lighting in Buck's Row was minimal, so at first Cross could not be sure exactly what the bundle was.

It looked something like a discarded tarpaulin and so, thinking that it might prove useful for his job, Cross went to inspect it.


But as he drew closer he realised that it was in fact the prone form of a woman, who was either dead or drunk, and he stopped in his tracks.

As Cross stood, rooted to the spot, unsure of what to do next, he heard footsteps approaching from the direction that he had just come from.

Turning, he saw another carter, Robert Paul, walking towards him. "Come and look over here" Cross called, "there is a woman lying on the pavement."

The two men stepped over the road and stooped down over the prostrate figure.

She was lying on her back, her legs were straight out, and her skirts were raised almost over her waist.

Charles Cross reached out and touched her face, which was warm, and her hands, which were cold and limp. "I believe she is dead," he observed. Robert Paul, meanwhile, placed his hand on the woman's chest, and thought he felt a slight movement. "I think she’s breathing," he said, "but very little if she is."

Paul suggested that they sit the woman up, but Cross refused to touch her again.

So, deciding - perhaps somewhat callously - that they were late for work and had done as much as they could, they pulled her skirts back down to her knees to cover her decency, and set off for their respective places of employment, agreeing to tell the first police man they encountered of their find.

But what neither man had noticed in the pitch darkness of Buck's Row was that the woman's throat had been slashed so savagely that, according to some newspaper reports, her head had almost been severed from her body.


That discovery was made by beat officer Police Constable John Neil, who turned into Buck's Row and proceeded to walk past the Board School shortly after Cross and Paul had left the scene.

"There was not a soul about,"; he later told the inquest into the woman’s death. “I had been round there half an hour previously, and saw no one then. I was on the right side…when I noticed a figure lying in the street. It was dark at the time…I examined the body by the aid of my lamp, and noticed blood oozing from a wound in the throat. She was lying on her back, with her clothes disarranged. I felt her arm, which was quite warm from the joints upwards. Her eyes were wide open. Her bonnet was off and lying at her side.”

As Neil stooped down over the body, he noticed PC John Thain passing the end of the street and flashed his lantern to attract his attention. "Here's a woman with her throat cut', he called to his approaching colleague, "run at once for Dr Llewellyn."


As Thain hurried off to fetch the medic, PC Mizen, who had been alerted by Cross and Paul, arrived at the scene. Neil sent him to bring reinforcements and asked him to also fetch the police ambulance.


Dr Llewellyn arrived at around 4am, and carried out a cursory examination of the body. Noting the severity of the wounds to the throat, he pronounced life extinct.

On closer examination he also observed that the deceased's body and legs were still warm, although her hands and wrists were quite cold.

This led him to surmise that she could not have been dead for more than half an hour.

In fact, this observation by the doctor suggests that the murderer may well have still been at the scene when Charles Cross came strolling along Buck's Row on his way to work.

As Llewellyn went about his grim business, news of the murder was beginning to filter through the immediate neighbourhood.


In adjacent Winthrop Street there stood a horse slaughterers yard where three slaughter-men, Harry Tomkins, James Mumford and Charles Britten had been working throughout the night.

They had heard nothing, and knew nothing of the murder until informed of it by PC Thain as he passed their premises en route to fetch Dr Llewellyn. They had gone round to view the body and remained at the scene until the woman was removed to the mortuary. The three men would later find themselves under suspicion and were interrogated separately by the police before being eliminated as suspects.


They were joined at the murder site by Patrick Mulshaw, a night watchman, who was working at the nearby sewer works.

Although he did confess that he sometimes dozed on duty, he was emphatic that he had been awake between 3am and 4am, and that he had not seen or heard anything suspicious.

But, at around twenty minutes to five O’clock a passing stranger had told him, “Watchman, old man, I believe somebody is murdered down the street,” and he immediately went round to Buck’s Row.

The police appear to have made attempts to trace Mulshaw’s mystery informant but their enquiries proved unsuccessful.

The Life and Death Of Mary Nichols

The Body Removed To The Mortuary

Other Victims