Mary Ann Nichols — Remembering the Victims of the Whitechapel Killer

Mary Ann Nichols was the first canonical victim of Jack the Ripper.

Alexa Baczak

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So often, we like to speculate on unsolved cases and Jack the Ripper’s case is one that keeps us scratching our heads over a hundred years later.

But in this, his victims are often remembered only as bodies. As numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5.

So I’m writing a series not on speculation, but on what we do know about the victims. With all the speculation, I’m willing to bet someone somewhere has guessed right.

Even if we do magically solve this case in 2022, all that will happen is the case will fade into obscurity and the victims will be forgotten.

I was going to make this one article, but instead, I decided to make an individual profile of each woman. I’m not going to use any of the post-mortem photos because I’m sure you’ve all seen them. If not, even if you search any of their names plus “alive,” the first picture Google will show is of them dead. So, I’m using the photos I found of them alive.

Early Life

Mary “Polly” Walker was born on August 26th, 1845 in a house called Dawes Court near Fleet Street in London.

Even though the house was named, she wasn’t born into a wealthy family. Quite the opposite. Her father, Edward, did have a respectable trade as a blacksmith, but on average, he was paid about four shillings a day. For comparison, having a room in London at the time was, at a minimum, four shillings a week.

He and his wife Caroline had three children, including Mary, so they didn’t have a lot of money to spare. However, they encouraged their children to stay in school until they were fifteen in a time when even basic education wasn’t compulsory. Mary would learn how to read and write, which was a valuable skill.

After her mother died of tuberculosis, Mary was thrown into responsibility and expected to take her mother’s role at around the age of nine.

Marriage

When Mary was about seventeen, she met William Nichols, a printer who was immediately embraced by Mary’s family of both her father and older brother…

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