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Who Was Annie Chapman?

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Who Was She?

Born Eliza Ann Smith in 1840, Annie came from a relatively respectable family. Her father was George Smith, of the 2nd regiment Life Guard, who later became a domestic servant.

At age 27, Annie married John Chapman, a coachman, and together they had three children, although her eldest son had been born disabled and had been surrendered into charity.

While living in Windsor, their first daughter, Emily, died, and to cope with this, both Annie and John turned to drink.


How Did She End Up in Whitechapel?

By 1884, the couple had separated and Anne had been arrested multiple times for public drunkenness. She eventually moved to Whitechapel and took up residence with a sieve maker named John Sivvey (or siffey).

At that time, she was living modestly on an allowance of 10 shillings a week paid for by her estranged husband, who died in 1886 of cirrhosis of the liver.

Once he died, and Annie no longer had his 10 shillings, John Sivvey abandoned her and left to live on the other side of town. Annie’s other daughter, Anne, had moved to Europe, leaving Anne without family.

Now alone, and with no steady income, Annie took up crochet work, flower selling, and occasional prostitution to make ends meet.

A friend described her at this time as very depressed saying “she seemed to have given away all together.” Annie lived in a series of lodging houses in the Whitechapel district, spending significant time at Crossinghams’ Lodging House on Dorset Street.

Her stay here was subsidised by a man called Ted Stanley (known as “The Pensioner” as witnesses from the lodging house could not identify him) with whom she was having a relationship.

In September 1888, Annie had gotten into a fight with a woman named Eliza Cooper - a fellow lodger at Crossinghams.

There have been multiple reasons given for the fight, but it seems to revolve around Ted Stanley, who was also paying Eliza’s fee to stay at the lodging house.

Regardless of the cause, Annie and Eliza really did a number on one another and Annie sustained injuries including a black eye and bruised ribs - injuries that would still be noticeable during the post-mortem of her body.

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How Did She Die?

On the evening of the 7th of September, Annie was in the kitchen at the lodging house “not worse for drink” according to a fellow lodger.

Around 1:30 am Annie was eating a potato when the night watchman came in to collect her bed money. She did not have it, and the deputy housekeeper told her she could not stay the night without it.

So Annie walked off into the night, stating should would make the money then be back to pay for her bed, which she asked them to hold for her.

At 5:30 am, a woman named Elizabeth Long passed Annie in the street and saw her speaking to a man. Elizabeth described him as: “as over forty, and a little taller than Chapman, with dark hair, and of foreign, "shabby-genteel" appearance.

He was wearing a deer-stalker hat and dark overcoat.” Elizabeth stated she heard the man ask, “Will you?” and Annie reply, “Yes.” It would seem that aside from Jack the Ripper, Elizabeth was the last person to see Annie Chapman alive.

A few moments later, a young carpenter named Albert Cadosch, who was living at 27 Hanbury Street, went into his backyard to use the outhouse and heard, on the other side of the back fence, a woman say “No!” and a thud against the fence. 

Not long after that, at around 6:00 am, Annie’s body was found in the back garden of No. 29 Hanbury Street.

Annie had been murdered, and her body horribly mutilated. She had a cut across her neck from left to right, and a gash in her abdomen made by the same blade.

Her intestines had been pulled out and draped over her shoulders, and her uterus had been removed. The doctor conducting the post-mortem so so appalled by the damage done to her corpse that he refused to use explicit detail during the inquest.


Jack the Ripper’s Second Victim

The severing of the throat and the mutilation of the corpse was similar to that of the injuries sustained by Mary Ann Nichols a week previously, leading investigators to believe they had been murdered by the same assailant.

At this point, the killings were known as ‘The Whitechapel Murders” as the monniker “Jack the Ripper” had not yet come into existence. Whatever the name, the police now believed there was a murderer on the loose in the East End of London.

 


Where Did Annie Die?

Annie’s body was discovered in the backyard of No. 27 Hanbury St. Crime scene officers stated that she was not moved after death and had died in the location where she was found.

At the time, Hanbury Street was filled with many row buildings, most of which had direct passages on the ground floor from the street to the back gardens, making them an ideal location to commit such a crime.

Today, the site of Annie’s murder is covered by a modern car park and there is no trace of the original building. However, many of the structures on the opposite side of the street are still original and can be used to imagine what No. 27 previously looked like.

To learn more about Annie’s tragic death and the street where it happened, consider joining our Jack the Ripper walking tour, or download our GPS-enabed Audio Guide.


Suspects

The fledgling police force now believed they had a repeat murderer on their hands. The slaying of these two women became known as “The Whitechapel Murders” and there were multiple suspects under investigation.

  • John Pizer / “Leather Apron”: A Polish Jew living in the area, John Pizer made footwear from leather and was known in the area as “Leather Apron.” He was arrested shortly after Annie Chapman’s murder as a piece of a man’s leather apron was found in the backyard. The apron piece was later determined to belong to a man called John Richardson whose mother lived on Hanbury Street. Pizer was released but was called to testify at the inquest into Annie’s murder to clear his name and abolish the rumours swirling around Whitechapel that a man “Leather Apron” was the killer.
  • William Henry Piggot: A ship’s cook, William was detained by police after being found in the possession of a blood-stained shirt while making misogynist remarks. He was investigated and released.
  • Charles Ludwig: Arrested after he had assaulted a prostitute and attempted to stab a man at a coffee stall. While he was in custody, another murder was committed and he was released.
  • Ted Stanley: Annie’s lover and partial benefactor was eliminated as a suspect because of his alibis for the nights of the two killings.

Who Was Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper is the name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in the Whitechapel area of East London in 1888.

At first, the killer was known as the “Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron” until a taunting letter arrived at a police station, in which the writer claimed to be the killer who signed his note with the name “Jack the Ripper.”

The victims of Jack the Ripper are all linked together by the following:

  • All were prostitutes
  • All had their throats slashed
  • All suffered mutilation to their bodies
  • At least three had the removal of organs after they died

No witness has ever come forward with a clear, verifiable description of the killer.

With the killings taking place during the fledgling years of police crime scene investigation, much evidence has been contaminated or lost, meaning the exact identity of the killer is unlikely to ever be known.

Read our full post "Who Was Jack The Ripper".


The Canonical Five

Before Mary Ann Nichols was killed at the end of August 1888 there had already been a large number of attacks against women in the East End area.

There are 11 separate murders that had been documented as part of the “Whitechapel Murders.”

Historians often disagree as to if some of the other murders were the work of Jack the Ripper but most experts point to five victims as the only confirmed victims of Jack the Ripper.

They are identified as such by the deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital mutilation, and the progressive facial mutilations of the victims as the modus operandi of Jack the Ripper. The victims in order of their murder are:

  • Mary Ann Nichols
  • Annie Chapman
  • Elizabeth Stride
  • Catherine Eddowes
  • Mary Jane Kelly

Jack the Ripper Tours

If you would like to learn more about Jack the Ripper, consider taking one of our regularly scheduled walking tours of the Whitechapel area.

On our Jack the Ripper Tour you will visit crime scenes, learn about the women who were brutally and tragically killed, hear descriptions of the acts committed by the culprit, and walk in the footsteps of the world’s most famous serial killer.

If you can’t attend our walking tour, consider downloading our GPS-enabled Self-Guided Audio Tour.

About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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