Local Account of Jack The Ripper | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week at The Archive we have reached yet a another milestone, as we now have a total of over 58 million pages all now available to search, just four weeks after we brought up our last million. Meanwhile, we have added 206,866 brand new pages over the past seven days, with one brand new title, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times, joining us, with updates to 35 of our existing titles from across EnglandWales and Scotland.

So read on to discover more about our brand new title of the week, which hails from London’s East End, as well as to find out more about our updated titles of the week. Meanwhile, we explore a unique local perspective on the Jack the Ripper murders, which terrorised Whitechapel and the surrounding area in the autumn of 1888, using our new newspaper, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times.

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Independent publication the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times was established in 1860. Circulating throughout London’s East End, through Hackney, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Dalston, Kingsland, Finsbury, Stoke Newington, Clapton, Homerton, Old Ford, Bow, and Lea Bridge, this publication appeared every Friday, at the cost of just one halfpenny.

Originally titled the Argus and Borough of Hackney Liberal, this publication filled four pages, and by the 1880s, it had a guaranteed circulation of 5,000 copies. Filled with local news, for example taking a look at updates from the ‘Local Boards,’ including the Hackney Board of Guardians, the Bethnal Green Board of Guardians, and the Bethnal Green Vestry, this newspaper also reported on notable local funerals.

Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times | 20 January 1877

By the twentieth century, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times had expanded to fill eight pages. It deservedly called itself an ‘old-established paper,’ and it continued to represent the interests of the area it served. Indeed, the newspaper contained ‘Borough Notes,’ and updates from such local organisations as the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Benevolent Society.

Admittedly, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times had something of a penchant for the macabre, its pages reporting on the details of ‘sudden deaths’ from across the local area, concentrating on the tragic and fatal accidents which had occurred during the preceding week.

As well as our fabulous new East End title this week, we’ve updated 35 of our existing titles from across England, Wales and Scotland. Leading the charge, we’ve added over 77,000 brand new pages to the Bristol Evening Post, which cover the years 1952 through to 1975. Following behind that remarkable addition, over 15,000 brand new pages from the year 1996 have joined the Leicester Daily Mercury, whilst we’ve added over 12,000 brand new pages from 1928 through to 1983 to the Sunday Sun (Newcastle)

Moving our focus to Wales, we’ve added new pages from the 1990s to both the Abergele & Pensarn Visitor and to the Neath Guardian. For our new Scottish pages of the week, we’ve added the years 1952 and 1996 to the Dumfries and Galloway Standard.

Reveille | 15 June 1951

Our final notable update of the week is to popular tabloid magazine Reveille, which was founded as the official newspaper of the Ex-Services’ Allied Association. Throughout the 1950s it provided commentary on light-entertainment, with a particular focus on the royal family, and we’ve added the year 1951 to this particular title.

A Local Perspective on the Crimes of Jack the Ripper

On 1 September 1888 our new newspaper the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times reported on the ‘Murder of a Woman in Bethnal Green.’ The news was breaking; the newspaper reporting how that just at the moment ‘of going to press the particulars of a most brutal and dastardly murder’ had just come to hand.

The article continued:

At about 3 30 on Friday morning the police-constable on beat in Buck’s Row, a turning off Baker’s Row, Bethnal Green, found the body of a woman lying in the roadway. Upon examination he was horrified to find that the poor creature (who had the appearance of being an unfortunate) was lying in a pool of blood, and quite dead. She had her throat cut in two places, and most shocking to relate the victim’s entrails were protruding to such an extent that they had to be adjusted before the body could be removed.

Illustrated Police News | 8 September 1888

The victim in this gruesome case was Mary Ann Nichols, the first of the canonical Jack the Ripper murders, and this report provides a tantalising local perspective on the infamous killing. And interestingly, on the very same day, a letter appeared in the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times relating to the violence that was being seen in Bethnal Green at the time, even before the Jack the Ripper murders had started:

The serious cases of stabbing in the public streets of Bethnal Green give rise to the question whether some of them, at least, may not be owing to the ideas created in the mind by the pictures of murders and assassinations with which the walls of the parish have been covered of late.

Had the graphic illustrations of crimes in the area led to more crime? The writer of the letter seemed to think so, as he implored the authorities to intervene:

Have the Vestry no control over this frightful method of inflaming the minds of weak and passionate men? The subject calls for immediate interference by the Streets Regulation Committee, and is to be hoped that the Chairman, Mr. James Bedford, will lose no time in having such pictures blackened over by the Street Inspector.

But it was too late for Mary Ann Nichols. And even before the second Jack the Ripper murder, the killing of Annie Chapman, Ripper fever had already been whipped up in the area. On 8 September 1888, the same day that the body of Annie Chapman was found, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times reported on ‘Another Cowardly Assault’ in the Bethnal Green area.

Illustrated Police News | 22 September 1888

The article ran as follows:

Several evening contemporaries published on Tuesday a sensational account of a woman, who on leaving the Foresters Music Hall on the previous Saturday night, was accosted by ‘a well-dressed man’ who eventually took her within a few yards of the spot in Buck’s Row, where the brutal murder took place last Friday, and there robbed and assaulted her with the aid of a gang who came out of a court.

The attack on the woman was apparently linked by the aggressors themselves to the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, the report detailing how:

This veracious account also stated that this gang threatened to ‘serve her the same as they did the other’ if she was not quiet, and wound up by saying this would be a clue for the police to work up the murder with. There appears now to be no foundation for this ‘news.’

But this allegation was soon disputed, the only thing in common with the murder of Mary Ann Nichols being the location of the attack, at Buck’s Row. The Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times divulged that the report had originated from a ‘savage assault’ enacted by labourer John Hummerstone, upon a ‘woman named Smith with whom he had been living.’

Tragically, after the murder of Annie Chapman, three more women (Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary J. Kelly) would all lose their lives throughout the following weeks, victims of the world’s most infamous serial killer.

Illustrated Police News | 22 September 1888

One can only imagine the impact upon the local area, as the press helped to fan the flames of alarm surrounding the Whitechapel murders. This is reflected in the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times, for example on 6 October 1888, when the newspaper reported on the ‘Rumoured Arrest of the East End Murderer.’

The publication detailed how:

On Thursday evening, between 7 and 8 o’clock, a policeman’s whistle was heard in Church Street, Bethnal Green, and very quickly some hundreds of people and several constables were on the spot. It appears that a woman pointed out a man walking along Church Street, and said he was the Whitechapel murderer.

Illustrated Police News | 22 September 1888

The police constable set off in pursuit of the man, the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times reporting how:

The constable immediately blew his whistle and closed with the man, who struggled very violently, and would have got away if some more help had not arrived. The prisoner was ultimately secured, and marched off, the affair causing the utmost sensation in the parish.

The arrested man, however, was soon let go, although the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times remarked on the strangeness of his ‘efforts to escape,’ if indeed he was innocent of any crime.

What reports of the Whitechapel murders can you find in the Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times, and indeed within our other newspapers? Let us know about your newspaper discoveries by tweeting us @BNArchive.

New Titles
Years Added
Eastern Argus and Borough of Hackney Times 1877-1912
Updated Titles

This week we have updated 35 of our existing titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Added
Abergele & Pensarn Visitor 1994
Bebington News 1994
Belper Express 1994, 1996
Bootle Times 1994-1995
Bristol Evening Post 1952-1957, 1960-1961, 1966-1967, 1975
Burntwood Mercury 1995
Cheltenham News 1991
Dumfries and Galloway Standard 1952, 1996
Ealing & Southall Informer 1994
East Kent Gazette 1995
Haltemprice & East Yorkshire Advertiser 1994
Harlow Star 1995
Harrow Informer 1995
Hinckley Times 1916, 1933, 1962, 1981, 1983
Holderness Advertiser 1993
Horley & Gatwick Mirror 1995
Leicester Chronicle 1864
Leicester Daily Mercury 1996
Nantwich Chronicle 1984
Neath Guardian 1994
Northampton Herald & Post 1994
Oldham Advertiser 1995
Reveille 1951
Salford Advertiser 1995
Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph 1942
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 1995
Southport Visiter 1994
St Neots Town Crier 1987
Stanmore Observer 1994
Sunbury & Shepperton Herald 1995
Sunday Sun (Newcastle) 1928, 1960-1961, 1963, 1965, 1968-1969, 1971, 1977, 1983
Surrey Herald 1995
Surrey Mirror 1994
Surrey-Hants Star 1994-1995
Uxbridge Leader 1991

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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