Monday, February 23, 2015

Kate Kelly the Fourth

Kate Kelly is the fourth in my series about Jack the Ripper.

I was surprised to realize that it has been over a month since my last posting on this series.  I put up my Long Liz piece all the way back on January 19th.

In some ways,  Long Liz and  Kate Kelly are eternally joined in the mind of the public and, especially, to the Ripperologist.

Catherine Eddowes aka Kate Kelly was killed only an hour after Jack the Ripper murdered Long Liz.  The murderous night became popularly known as the double header.

Reading up on Catherine Eddowes, I was fascinated by her character.  If ever a woman lived the life of the mayfly, it would be Catherine.  She was described by friends as always jolly and singing.  The difficulties and poverty of her life seemed almost to be of her own making.

The four other victims of Jack the Ripper all survived their difficult lives, at least in part, through prostitution.  Catherine Eddowes might well have been the exception.  Of course, walking home from jail at one in the morning through the dark streets of Whitechapel, whether she was actively soliciting or not, made her an ideal victim for Jack.

  Catherine Eddowes was born in Graisley Green, Wolverhampton on 14 April 1842. She one among ten children born to her parents, tinplate worker, George Eddowes and his wife Catherine (formerly Evans), The family moved to London a year after she was born.  Growing up, she was known affectionately as "Chick".  Later, she moved back to Wolverhampton to take up work as a tinplate stamper.

She spent twenty years as the common law wife of ex-soldier, Thomas Conway.  The two had a daughter and two sons together before her increasing drinking created too many problems in their relationship.  By 1881, she was living with her new common law husband, John Kelly.  The two lived a hand to mouth existence in the poverty stricken area of Spitalfields, London.  As soon as they earned money, it was spent.

Catherine, John Kelly, and their friend, Emily Birrell, made some money picking hops in the countryside.  Within a day or two of returning to London, the earned money was gone.  Catherine Eddowes and John Kelly were forced to pawn his new boots just to pay for their breakfast.

On Sept 29th, the pair split up, Catherine to see if she could get some money from her daughter while John Kelly  settled into a lodging house.

By 8:30 pm, though, never having made it to the home of her daughter, Catherine Eddowes was well into her cups, arrested for lying drunk in the street. She sobered up in jail and was released at 1 am.   By 1:45 am, she was dead.

Interrupted in his killing of Elizabethe Stride, Jack the Ripper inflicted a far more gruesome and mutilating death on Kate Kelly.

Catherine Eddowes was a woman who danced through her life, taking one moment at a time.  She may have enjoyed her drink a little more than she should, but certainly deserved a better end than the one she was given.

Rest in Peace, Kate Kelly  
(14 April 1842 – 30 September 1888)

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