At twenty five years old Mary Kelly was much younger than the other victims of Jack the Ripper. The Daily Telegraph described her as being of "fair complexion, with light hair, and possessing rather attractive features…"
Remembering her in his memoirs fifty years later, Walter Dew claimed that he knew her quite well by sight and told of how he had often seen her "parading along Commercial Street, between Flower and Dean Street and Aldgate, or along Whitechapel Road."
She was, he continued, "usually in the company of two or three of her kind, fairly neatly dressed and invariably wearing a clean white apron, but no hat."
She appears to have been well liked in the area, and the only bad thing those who knew her could find to say about her was that she was occasionally tipsy.
For the eight months prior to her death she had been renting a room in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street in Spitalfields.
Until two weeks before her murder, she had been living there with an unemployed Billingsgate fish porter named Joseph Barnet. His lack of earnings meant that the rent on the room was in arrears, and Mary had resorted to prostitution.
This led to arguments between them, and during one particularly heated exchange - apparently when Mary was tipsy - a pane of glass in the window by the door had been broken. The window was stuffed with newspaper and rags, and was covered by an old coat.
Then, in late October, Mary invited a homeless, prostitute named Julia to stay with them. This proved too much for Joe Barnet who decided enough was enough and moved out.
Maria Harvey, who gave her occupation as "laundress" told police that she had stayed with Kelly in her room on the Monday and Tuesday nights prior to the murder.
She had then taken a room in New Court, Dorset Street but had spent the Thursday afternoon with Mary Kelly in her room at Miller’s Court.
At around 7pm Joe Barnet had arrived and Maria Harvey left, leaving behind her black crepe bonnet, an overcoat, two dirty cotton shirts, a boys shirt, and a girls white petticoat.
Joe Barnet had remained on friendly terms with Mary Kelly, and had last seen her alive when he called on her between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday 8th November.
He later said that there was another woman with them in the room but that she left first. It is unlikely that he was referring to Maria Harvey, since he knew her and would surely have mentioned her by name.
He also said that the woman lived in Miller’s Court, which Maria Harvey did not.
It is, therefore, possible that he was referring to Lizzie Albrook.
In his inquest testimony Barnet stated that he "last saw her [Mary Kelly] alive between 7.30 & 7.45 the night of Thursday before she was found. I was with her about one hour."
This could be interpreted either as he arrived at between 7.30 and 7.45 or that he left between 7.30 and 7.45. Given that he said it was the last time that he saw her alive, and that he was with her for about an hour, he probably meant the latter.
A possible scenario is that he arrived at around 7pm at which point Maria Harvey left.
Whilst he was with Mary Kelly they were visited by Lizzie Albrook.
Perhaps Lizzie and Mary chatted a little before Lizzie left? Of course this is mere supposition and to ascertain the exact sequence of events is, of course, now impossible.
According to Barnet, as he left he told Mary Kelly that he had had no work and was very sorry that he was unable to give her any money.
Barnet returned to his lodging house on Bishopsgate and played whist until 12.30am at which time he retired to bed.