Mary Pearcey Information and The Murders We Know She Did
Mary Pearcey was born Mary Eleanor Wheeler, apparently in 1866. Her father, Thomas Wheeler, was convicted of the murder of Edward Anstee and executed on 29 November 1880. She grew up with her mother and an older sister.
Mary was said to have grown into a relatively attractive woman with "shapely hands". Reports of the time estimated her height at 5 feet and 6 inches. She reportedly had "lovely russet hair and fine blue eyes". However she was also said to suffer from recurring periods of depression and to be a heavy drinker, though not an alcoholic.
Mary took the name "Pearcey" from John Charles Pearcey, a carpenter with whom she had lived; he left her because of her infidelity. She later took up residence with a furniture remover, Frank Hogg, who had at least one other paramour, Phoebe Styles. Phoebe became pregnant, and Hogg married her at Mary's urging. They lived in Kentish Town in London. Phoebe gave birth to a daughter also named Phoebe Hogg. The two women seem to have been friends: Mary doted on the younger Phoebe and cared for the elder Phoebe while she recuperated from a miscarriage
Over the years many White Chapel residents of reported seeing the ghost of Mary walking along the street at night dressed in bloody clothes. Many people have gone to get the lady some help only for her to vanish. She has even been spotted pushing the black perambulator ( baby carriage ) that was involved in the murder she was hung for. Over the years she has many times pushed the baby carriage out into traffic on White Chapel streets but when the car drivers get out to look there is of course no baby carriage and no Mary.
Murder of Phoebe Hogg For Which She Was Hung
On October 24, 1890 Mrs. Hogg, with her baby, called on Mary at Mary's invitation. The neighbours heard screaming and sounds of violence about 4:00 that afternoon. That evening a woman's corpse was found on a heap of rubbish in Hampstead. Her skull had been crushed, and her head was nearly severed from her body. A black perambulator was found about a mile away, its cushions soaked with blood. An eighteen-month-old baby was found dead in Finchley, apparently smothered. The deceased were identified as Phoebe Hogg and her child. Mary Pearcey had been seen pushing the perambulator (Phoebe's) around the streets of north London after dark. The police searched her house, and found blood spatters on walls, ceiling, a skirt, an apron, and other articles, blood stains on a poker and a carving knife. Mary Pearcey was charged with murder and convicted. She continually protested her innocence throughout the trial, yet was hanged on December 23, 1890.
As with many other crimes by women, Pearcy's murder case generated extraordinary press attention at the time. Madame Tussauds wax museum of London made a wax figure of Pearcey for their Chamber of Horrors exhibit, and also purchased the pram used in the murder and the contents of Pearcey's kitchen. When the Tussaud exhibit of these items opened, it attracted a crowd of 30,000 people. The noose used to hang Pearcy is on display at the Black Museum of Scotland Yard.
Was Jack The Ripper Really Jill The Ripper
Jill the Ripper
The ideal that Jack the Ripper might not in fact be a man at all, but rather a woman, was one first suggested by Inspector Abberline himself at the time of the killings. According to Donald McCormick, author of The Identity of Jack the Ripper published in 1959, Abberline raised the theory in a conversation with his mentor, Dr. Thomas Dutton after the murder of Mary Kelly. Testimony given by Caroline Maxwell, who lived in the area, was central to the argument.
The time of death for Mary Kelly was estimated to be between 3:30 and 4:00 A.M. on the morning of Friday, November 9th 1888. This time seems fit not only due to medical evidence such as temperature of the body and stiffness of the joints, but correlates as well with the majority of the testimony given by those who claim to have either seen or heard her the night of her death. That does not include the testimony of Mrs. Caroline Maxwell.
Mrs. Maxwell testified to have seen Mary Kelly not once but twice several hours after doctors believe she had died. The first time was between 8:00 and 8:30 A.M. in front of Miller's Court, looking, in Mrs. Maxwell's opinion, to be quite ill. Mrs. Maxwell stated that she was sure of the time because her husband returned from work around 8:00 each morning. The second time was an hour later when Mrs. Maxwell claims she saw Kelly speaking with a man outside the Britannia public house.
Mrs. Maxwell vividly described the clothes she saw on the woman she believed to be Kelly that morning as "a dark shirt, velvet bodice and a maroon-coloured shawl." When asked if she had ever seen Kelly in this outfit, she replied that she definitely remembered her wearing the shawl.
Abberline had no reason to distrust this witness, and she continued to vigoursly adhere to the times and descriptions she had given. The problem perplexed him, and he later approached Dutton about it, asking, "Do you think it coukld be a case not of Jack the Ripper but Jill the Ripper?" Abberline based the brunt of the argument on the fact that it was possible that the killer dressed up in Kelly's clothes in order to disguise herself, therefore accounting for Mrs. Maxwell's sighting of her the next day.
Dutton answered that he believed it was doubtful, but that if it were a woman committing the crimes, the only kind capable of doing so would be a midwife.And a midwife would have the medical knowledge to do what the ripper was doing to the womens bodies.
Thus begins the theory of Jill the Ripper -- sometimes labeled the mad midwife. As ludicrous as it may sound initially, there are several points which add credibility to the theory. First, the fact that all of London was looking for Jack the Ripper (i.e. a man) would allow a female murderer to walk the streets of Whitechapel with considerably less fear of capture or discovery. Second, a midwife would be perfectly common to be seen at all hours of the night. Third, any presence of blood on her clothing would be immediately discarded as a result of her work. Finally, based on the evidence pointing to an anatomically educated murderer, a midwife would have the anatomical knowledge some believed the murderer possessed.
William Stewart was one of the first to write about the possibility of Jill the Ripper in his book Jack the Ripper: A New Theory, published in 1939. In it, he attempted to narrow down not the identity of the killer but the class of person he might have been by asking four pertinant questions:
1. What sort of person was it that could move about at night without arousing the suspicions of his own household or of other people that he might have met.
2. Who could walk through the streets in blood stained clothing without arousing too much comment.
3. Who would have had the medical knowledge and skill to have committed the mutilations.
4. Who could have been found by the body and yet given a satisfactory alibi for being there.
Stewart's prime candidate, in following with the conversation between Abberline and Dutton over fifty years before, was that the killer had been a midwife -- possibly an abortionist. He speculates that "she might have been betrayed by a married woman whom she had tried to help, and sent to prison -- as a result, this was her way of recenging herself on her own sex."
Stewart mentioned the above ideals of the theory (anatomical knowledge, reason to be bloodstained, et alia) in order to back up the assertion.
Specifically, Stewart seems to have been focused on the fact that a midwife would have been able to "almost instantly produce unconsciousness, particularly in persons given to drink, by a method frequently used on patients in those days by midwives who practised among the extremely poor." In other words it is suggested that midwives found it common practise to knock out their patients by exerting pressure on the pressure points.
Mainly, however, Stewart banks on the fact that Mary Kelly was three months pregnant at the time of her death. She could barely afford her lodgings, let alone a baby, so, according to Stewart, she decided to terminate her pregnancy. He claims that the murderer was called in to abort the baby and killed Kelly once she was admitted into the room, later burning her bloodsoaked clothing in the grate and escaping wearing Kelly's clothing.
This is important, because it explains the sighting by Mrs. Maxwell at 8:00 the next morning -- she could possibly have seen the midwife/abortionist in Kelly's garb: the shawl of which she remembered to have been worn by Kelly.
Stewart provides other points which suggest that the murderer was a woman. First he claims that Nichols' bonnet, which she had mentioned in her now famous line to her landlord: "I'll soon get my doss money, see what a jolly bonnet I've got now," was given to her by the mad midwife as a gift. He claims that if a man had given it to her, she would have boasted of the fact.
Also, Stewart asserts that Chapman's pockets were turned inside out because inside was held incriminating evidence which could have identified her as the murderer. After the contents were disarranged at the victim's feet, the midwife decided to arrange them cryptically in order to throw off the police.
In answer to the question of why the midwife would remove organs from her victims, Stewart claimed that she would have the sufficient anatomical knowledge to do so and that it was an obvious ploy to direct attention away from her. He noted, "the particular mutilations practised by the killer held a psychological fascination and horror for all women, and as a result physiological reactions took place among women and in places remote from the scenes of the murders."
Stewart also believes his theory explains the reason why Mary Kelly was unclothed and her clothes were neatly folded on a nearby chair -- the prostitute had stripped for a routine medical abortion from the midwife she had contracted. Hence, the midwife struck upon her unsuspecting victim.
Mrs. Mary Pearcey
Having thus set the stage for the character of his killer, Stewart continued his assertions by suggesting that the modus operandi between his mad midwife and a Mrs. Mary Pearcey were similar. She had stabbed her lover's wife and child to death and cut their throats, later wheeling the bodies into a secluded street. These crimes were committed in October of 1890.
Stewart claimed there were two striking similarities -- first, the "savage throat-cutting," and second the m.o. of killing in private and then dumping the body in a public place (which would explain why there were no witnesses who heard any Ripper victims scream.)
Mary Pearcey was described by Sir Melville Macnaghten. He wrote, "I have never seen a woman of stronger physique.... her nerves were as ironcast as her body." She was executed at the scaffold on December 23rd, 1890 -- but before the execution, she arranged to place an advertisement in the Madrid newspapers which read, "M.E.C.P. last wish of M.E.W. Have not betrayed."
Another interesting point -- Stewart disregarded Elizabeth Stride as a victim, claiming the press jumped hastily to that conclusion due to the murder of Eddowes on the same night. He cites the fact that her throat was cut from left to right, whereas the other victims' throats were slashed from right to left. Following his lead, this leaves four victims and four strikingly interesting dates:
31 August, Friday. Polly Nichols.
8 September, Saturday. Annie Chapman.
30 September, Sunday. Catharine Eddowes.
9 Novemeber, Friday. Mary Kelly.
The pattern was noted even during the time of the murders, and many linked it with the arrival of cattle boats on the Thames on Thursdays and their departure on Mondays. Stewart, however, believes there must be another explanation.
All in all, the Jill the Ripper theory is an interesting one, but many consider it to be extremely weak. Many cite the fact that Stewart placed too much emphasis on the killer being blood-stained by the murders -- in fact, if the murderer strangled his victims as is commonly believed, the blood circulation would no longer be sufficient to cause large amounts of blood to be splatted during the mutilations. Also, many criticize his conclusion due to the fact that no victim other than Kelly was known to be pregnant and, in fact, due to many of them being alcoholics, the possibility of them being pregnant is quite slim.
Tom Cullen, author of Autumn of Terror, believed that Stewart had overlooked a much more plausible theory along similar lines. He believed that Joseph Barnett, the male companion of Mary Kelly, had dropped hints which revealed that Kelly had definite lesbian tendencies. Eventually, Barnett was thrown out of Kelly's housing and replaced with Maria Harvey, the suspected lesbian lover of Mary Kelly. Perhaps the possibility of a vengeful female would have been more worthy.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed that Jack the Ripper disguised himself as a woman in order to avoid capture and become more readily accesible to other women.
Everybody has heard the story of the notorious Jack the Ripper, a serial killer who murdered 5 prostitutes and The notorious serial killer who stalked London's East End, butchering prostitutes and terrorising the population, may not have been Jack the Ripper - but Jill The Ripper. Did she carry her dark secrets to her death when she was hung for other murders.
Update On Medical Evidence of Jill The Ripper
An Australian scientist has used swabs from letters supposedly sent to police by the Ripper to build a partial DNA profile of the killer. The results suggest that the person who murdered and mutilated at least five women from 1888 onwards may have been a woman.
Ian Findlay, a professor of molecular and forensic diagnostics, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he had developed a profiling technique that could extract DNA from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old. Conventional DNA sampling methods require at least 200 cells.
Dr Findlay, who is based in Brisbane, travelled to London, where the evidence from the still-unsolved murders is stored at the National Archive. The material, which was kept by Scotland Yard until 1961, includes letters sent to police at the time, some of them signed "Jack the Ripper".
Findlay said the partial profile had been created from saliva possibly from the Ripper on the back of stamps on the envelopes of letters sent to London police.
Most of the 600 or so letters claiming to have come from the Ripper have been dismissed as hoaxes but a few are thought to be genuine.
Dr Findlay took swabs from the back of stamps and from the gum used to seal envelopes, and possible bloodstains. He took his haul back to Brisbane, where - concentrating on swabs from the so-called "Openshaw letter", the one believed most likely to be genuine - he extracted the DNA and then amplified the information to create a profile. The results were "inconclusive" and not forensically reliable, but he did construct a partial profile and based on this analysis, he said, "it's possible the Ripper could be female".
The victims were all prostitutes, murdered and mutilated in the foggy alleyways of Whitechapel. By the surgical nature of the wounds, the killer was assumed to have some surgical knowledge.
The chief suspects, who included a barrister, a Polish boot-maker and a Russian confidence trickster, were all men. But Frederick Abberline, the detective who led the investigation, thought it possible the killer was a woman. This was because the fifth victim, Mary Kelly, was "seen" by witnesses hours after she was killed. Abberline thought this was the murderer running away, in Kelly's clothes.
The only female suspect was Mary Pearcey, who was convicted of murdering her lover's wife, Phoebe Hogg, in 1890 and hanged. She apparently employed a similar modus operandi to the Ripper, according to The Independent
Jack the Ripper was the name that the writer of a letter forwarded to the Metropolitan Police in September 1888 gave himself.
In it, he wrote: "I am down on whores and I shan't quite ripping them til I do get buckled."
The name Jack the Ripper caught the public imagination, and in October - after two more killings, both on the same day - police received a postcard, written in red ink by a person who called himself "saucy Jacky".
But Jack may have been Jill The Ripper after all. It does clear up a lot of things if that was the case. She would have had the medical knowledge many strongly suspected that Jack the Ripper had as she was a practicing mid wife and would have had extensive medical knowledge. It would also have explained how easily Jack the Ripper was able to vanish. She was hid in plain site. They were looking for a man and if she was observed with blood on her she had an excuse as she was a mid wife and delivered babies.
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Who do you think was Jack the Ripper? Post Your Comment Here.
alicia on November 17, 2013:
i think it was in fact mary pearcy (jill the ripper) because she was known to have a verystong physique and she would of pretended to be a man in dicuise.
Kitty Fields from Summerland on November 26, 2011:
I found it interesting and engaging. Who cares if it's not true...it was entertaining right? voted up and awesome!
Bill B. on October 10, 2011:
I'm interested in your comment that Arthur Conan Doyle believed the killer disguised himself as a woman. What is your source for that? Is there something in Doyle's own writings?
Slave2No1 from Oneida, NY on June 18, 2011:
Interesting theory, but like all the rest, has its share of 'holes', such as the 'Jewish' theory, the 'Queen's Doctor' theory & the 'American Killer' theory. All are convoluted speculation, based on over-blown bits of info that may not be accurate, but mixed in with information that is known to be reasonably correct. Like too many chefs & a stew, too many 'theories' cloud the truth.
matt on March 29, 2011:
if anything get ahold of the letters and try to find some similarty between then
kani on March 20, 2011:
i don't think it was 'jill the ripper' because in class we saw a video on youtube and apparently a woman saw a girl with a man and the next morning the girl was murdered and the woman reported it to the police......obviously this was all part of a theory from a source....
rene on February 17, 2011:
What if Jill was actually a prostitute herself?
Jaqui the Rip on January 24, 2011:
Midwife training would explain the medical nature of the crimes.
firefox289 on December 05, 2010:
I'm related to her
chelsea on September 19, 2010:
I see a lot of these theories plausible (i.e the medical knowledge of the midwife, and the perfect disguise of beingfemale when a male is suspected. Another thing to add on is, I saw that someone commented asking why a woman would kill other women because of their jobs. Well, quite possibly because she felt that those prostitutes were degrading all women. But one thing I have to questions is, if it really was Jack(or Jill) the Ripper that committed all of the murders in the USA (in 1891) there's no way it could have been Mary Pearcey, as she was hung the year before. So, either Jack or Jill was not Mary Pearcey at all, or the murders in the USA were not committed by Jack or Jill, but a copy-cat.
adidaspat on September 08, 2010:
While I wouldn't say for sure that the ripper wasn't a woman there is one problem with the theory. Four of the five cannonical victims were well beyond child bearing age. The fertilization technology of today certainly wasn't available back then. Doesn't that put sort of a damper on the midwife or abortionist concept?
Amanda on July 20, 2010:
It could be a girl, the fact the jack the ripper kill prostitutes culd be a reason because some women look at prostitutes as whores and sluts and stealing they're men.
Very interesting theroy
Sam on February 10, 2010:
Thanks for the info. I am related to someone who was involved with the case so was keen to find more info on the stories passed though the family.
Kittie Danger on November 24, 2009:
PMS is a great legal defense, it has been used before and being a sufferer of it, it may be used again, it worked the first time....lol!
David Wheeler on November 16, 2009:
It would be a Whheler!
cc_lovebug on November 13, 2009:
wh ywould a woman kill other women because of there jobs???
Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on November 04, 2009:
Thanks Chris Friend. Am working on several books now.
scared2009 on July 01, 2009:
San, if you got more write please do. I'd love to read it.
Chris Friend on May 20, 2009:
Not to push the point but sincerely have you thought I writing a book on this woman. Pocket Books publishes Schector's books. Great material here for one. Provocative stuff
Chris Friend on May 20, 2009:
Even though it is unusal for women to murder this way, I personally never say never. This was still pretty good hub. Ever consider foing a book about this lady? This case would make an excellent true crime book. Honest. I had never heard of this woman and bet it would make a senational true crime book.
san on May 20, 2009:
I think "jack the ripper" was a man called francis tumblety.He fits the bill of a serial killer! He came back to his lodgings at 2 am in the morning in a blood stained shirt, the night of the double murders.Also they found two rings on his person, after he died identical to the ones wrenched off annie chapmans finger ! He also hated woman. If you read up on him, everything about him says HE was the killer !
Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on May 11, 2009:
Thanks Mate I really appreciate your comment and kind words.
Chris Friend on May 11, 2009:
Another really fascinating hub. I had never heard of this woman and she sounds like a nasty customer. You write really great hubs.
JohnM from Miami Florida on December 15, 2008:
A woman would have not been looked at especially at that time in history. And a mid wife could have easily have explained the blood. Could have really been a woman.
Clive Fagan from South Africa on December 04, 2008:
Quite intriguing. The posibiliy certainl exists.good hub
Rodney Fagan from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on December 04, 2008:
Great hub, thought provoking and the twist isfeasable as well.
JohnM from Miami Florida on November 23, 2008:
You know I always wondered if it couldn't be a woman. That would answer a lot of questions about how Jack always got away so easy. They were looking for Jack and it was Jill.