1. Catherine Eddowes was seen talking to a man outside a passage that led to Mitre Square at around 1.30am.
  2. The witness, Joseph Lawende, was able to describe the man, but also said he would not be able to identify him if he saw him again.
  3. Since her body was found less than fifteen minutes later in Mitre Square, there is a good chance Lawende saw the face of her murderer.



Mitre Square, situated about half a mile to the west of Berner Street, lay just inside the City of London boundary.

It was then an enclosed square over which towered three imposing warehouse buildings. Three uninhabited houses and a shop backed onto its south west corner, whilst two further houses, one of which was occupied by a City Police man, Richard Pearse, nestled between the warehouses.

The square was bordered by Mitre Street to the west, Aldgate High Street to the south and Dukes Place to the east. Nearby stood the Great Synagogue on Bevis Marks, whilst a stones throw away was the church of St Botolph, beyond which the south side of Aldgate High Street was lined with butchers shops and slaughterhouses and was consequently known as Butchers Row.

There were three entrances into the square - a fairly wide one that came in from Mitre Street; the narrower St James Place (known locally as the Orange Market) in the square’s north east corner; and the long, narrow Church Passage in the south east corner that came in from Duke’s Place.


At 1.30am PC Watkins of the City Police passed this south-east corner on a beat that brought him through Mitre Square every twelve to fourteen minutes.

He had his lantern on and fixed to his belt. He was later emphatic that the square had been quite deserted and that no-one could have been hiding in the square without him seeing them.

He left the square and turned right towards Aldgate.


Five minutes later three Jewish gentlemen, Harry Harris, Joseph Hyam Levy and Joseph Lawende left the Imperial Club on Duke Street and, as they passed its junction with Church Passage, noticed a man and woman talking quietly together.

The woman had her back to them, but they could see that her hand was resting on the man’s chest. Levy was immediately convinced that the couple were up to no good, and announced brusquely "I don’t like going home by myself when I see these sorts of character’s about."

In his hurry to get away he paid the couple scant attention and was unable to furnish a description of either of them, although he did say that the man may have been three or so inches taller than the woman.


Joseph Lawende, however, was a little less disgusted and a little more observant.

Although he hadn’t seen the woman’s face, he was almost certain that her clothing was that worn by Catharine Eddowes, when he was later shown it at the police station.

Although the street lighting wasn’t particularly good, he caught a brief glimpse of the man’s face and was able to provide police with a description. He had the appearance of a sailor and was aged about 30. He was around 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build. He had a fair complexion, and a small fair moustache. He sported a reddish neckerchief, tied in a knot; wore a pepper-and-salt coloured, loose fitting jacket, and had on a grey, peaked, cloth cap. However, it should be noted that Lawende obtained only a quick glimpse of the man as he passed by, and since the couple were doing nothing particularly suspicious, he later maintained that he would not be able to recognize or identify the man were he to see him again.

Since Catherine's body was discovered just fifteen minutes later in Mitre Square, a few steps away from where Lawende saw the couple, then there is a high probability that the man he saw was the murderer of Catherine Eddowes.

This makes it highly likely that Lawende saw the face of Jack the Ripper.

Catherine Eddowes's Last Night

Catherine Eddowes Body Found

Other Victims