1am September 30, 1888: Catherine Eddowes released from police cell—minutes before murder

PUBLISHED: 00:58 07 October 2013 | UPDATED: 00:58 07 October 2013

Entrance to Church-passage leading to Mitre-sq, last place Eddowes is seen alive [Andre Deutsch books]

Entrance to Church-passage leading to Mitre-sq, last place Eddowes is seen alive [Andre Deutsch books]

Andre Deutsch

Cartherine Eddowes is one of the prostitutes who regularly walked Aldgate High Street waiting for City clients, but is kept on the move by police.

The women are threatened with arrest and being locked up in a police cell if they loiter in the street.

They get round this by hurrying round the back of St Botolph’s church to avoid having their collar felt, then returning to the front and walking very slowly to try and pick up customers without being caught.

St Botolph’s acquires the unenviable reputation as “the prostitutes’ church” as a result of this clandestine practice.

The night Eddowes dies, September 30, 1888, she gets so drunk she runs up and down the street in between the horse-carriages, then finally collapses on the pavement outside St Botolph’s where she is arrested, according to historian Don Rumbelow.

Catherine Eddowes was born on April 14, 1842, in Wolverhampton, one of 11 children of tinplate worker George Eddowes and his wife Catherine. The family moved to London a year later.

The young Cathy returns to Wolverhampton when she grows up and gets work as a tin plate stamper, but soon loses the job.

She takes up with an ex-soldier in Birmingham, Thomas Conway, then moves with him back to London. They have three children, a girl and two boys.

At 5ft, with dark auburn hair and hazel eyes, Catharine is described by those who know her as intelligent, scholarly, very jolly and always singing—but “possessing a fierce temper.”

She takes to drink and walks out on the family in 1880.

Cathy ends up living with John Kelly at Cooney’s lodging-house at 55 Flower & Dean Street, a notorious criminal rookery off Brick Lane, where she turns to casual prostitution to pay the rent.

The two had just returned from hop-picking in Kent in the summer of 1888, but were broke after spending all the cash they had earned.

They split their last sixpence between them and go off to find different lodgings.

Eddowes walks to Aldgate High Street to get money prostituting the night she dies, according to historian Rumbelow, where she gets drunk before passing out on the pavement and is found by Constable Louis Robinson.

She is put in a cell at Bishopsgate police station until finally sober enough to leave at 1am.

Eddowes gives her name as ‘Mary Ann Kelly’ living at 6, Fashion-street, off Brick-lane, ironically the name of Jack the Ripper’s next victim. Do the two women know one another?

But instead of turning right when leaving the police station to walk the shortest route home to her lodgings in Flower & Dean-street, Eddowes turns left and heads along Houndsditch back to Aldgate—a fateful turn that is to cost her life within three-quarters-of-an-hour.

Three witnesses, Joseph Lawende, Hyam Levy and Harry Harris, have just left a club in Duke-street and see her talking to a man with fair moustache and wearing a navy jacket, peaked cloth cap and red scarf, standing at the entrance to Church-passage leading into Mitre-square at 1.35am.

Just nine minutes after the sighting, a constable finds a body in Mitre-square—the second murder that night within a mile.

Latest East London News Stories

Two suspected phone snatchers have been arrested following a police chase through east and south London which ended when their moped crashed with a van.

A large drug dealing gang who peddled their wares on the streets of Tower Hamlets are due to be sentenced today.


A drug-smuggling gun runner who stored cannabis and equipment used to prep cocaine in a house in Poplar has been jailed for 17-and-a-half years.

Yesterday, 18:24

All the students taking A-levels at Whitechapel’s Swanlea Secondary have passed.

Yesterday, 16:00

Two directors of a convenience store in Bethnal Green where one of the largest haul of illegal alcohol was seized in the borough have been banned from running their own companies.

Yesterday, 14:25

A man has been rushed to hospital after he was hit by a car in Mile End today.

Yesterday, 14:19

A student from Canary Wharf has secured a place at university for September - accompanied by her guide dog.

Yesterday, 14:03

Students poured into Tower Hamlets College in Poplar when the doors opened to get their A-Level results—for the last time.


Are you a landlord looking for a fixed rental income, paid whether the property is empty or not? Steve Westley, general manager at estate agents Elliot Leigh, explains their Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it takes the stress out of letting your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now