All the victims of Jack the Ripper had a few things in common. They were all poverty stricken, all lived in Whitechapel at the time of their death, and they were all alcoholics.
Most were around or over the age of 40, so these were prostitutes at the end of the line. This includes Martha Tabram, Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. All of these were over 40, except Martha Tabram who was 39, (strangely enough this was the amount of stab wounds inflicted on her by Jack).
All were also homeless, drifting from one common lodging house to another. All had been married and heir relationships broken down probably because of their alcoholism. All, apart from Elizabeth Stride had children. Stride was fond of telling people that she lost her husband and children in the Princess Alice river boat disaster in 1878, an accident in which the paddle steamer was sheered in half by the Bywell Castle, a coal barge. This however was untrue as John Thomas Stride her husband was alive at the time.
The exception to the rule is Mary Kelly who was only 25/26 when killed and had her own room, the only one who was not homeless, showing that she was doing a bit better than the rest who were homeless and reliant on earning 4d for their bed in a common lodging house each night. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure of her correct age as no birth certificate has ever been found despite much research over the years of interest in this case. It is quite a mystery how she ever ended up in this area. When she first arrived in London from Wales she worked for a French Madam in Knightsbridge. The first landlady she had in the East End Mrs. Buki, of Breezers Hill near the Highway went to collect several expensive dresses with Mary at an address in Knightsbridge.
In these circumstances it is a mystery why Mary moved to the East End, a definite downgrade from Knightsbridge, but one theory is that as it is rumoured that she went to France on a couple of occasions that she may have been taken and sold to a brothel there by a pimp. This quite often happened, and the brothel would pay the pimp and keep the girl until she had earned that money and much more besides. If she happened to escape back to London, the pimp would certainly be looking for her as he would now owe the brothel that money, or he might get another to replace her, who would then have to earn double to make up for her.
In these circumstances it is impossible not to have sympathy with these poor women as legal employment was difficult to come by for women at the time. If you managed to get a job the pay was not even enough to pay your rent and you could only get employment if you had somewhere to live or went into service.
In : Jack the Ripper
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