Whitechapel, September 1, 1888: Inquest opens into Polly Nichols’ murder

Working Lads' Institute where Polly Nichols inquest is held, Sept 1888

Working Lads' Institute where Polly Nichols inquest is held, Sept 1888 - Credit: Archant

The inquest into Polly Nichols’ brutal murder opens at 9am today, September 1, 1888, a day after her death, the hearing being heard at a packed Working Lads’ Institute in the Whitechapel-road, opposite the London Hospital.

Middlesex Coroner Wynne Baxter

Middlesex Coroner Wynne Baxter - Credit: Bishopsgate Inst

Nichols is identified by a Lambeth Workhouse laundry mark on her petticoats. Her room-mate Nelly Holland and ex-husband William Nichols confirm identification.

The Middlesex coroner, Wynne Baxter, states: “There were five teeth missing, a slight laceration of the tongue, a bruise along the lower jaw that might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. Another bruise also might have been inflicted by the pressure of fingers. There is also a 4ins incision on the neck, an inch below the jaw.”

The wound that killed Nichols appeared to have been an 8ins circular incision 3ins below the jaw, which completely severed the tissues down to the vertebrae.

The large vessels of the neck were severed, the tissues cut through, the hearing is told. Several incisions ran across the stomach.


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Polly Nichols had been slashed several times across the body, after death, an examining pathology surgeon reports. The inquest is adjourned for further inquiries.

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