(c. 1841 – 8 September 1888), born Ann
Eliza Smith, was a victim of the notorious unidentified
serial killer Jack the Ripper, who killed and mutilated
five women in the Whitechapel area of London from late
August to early November 1888.
Life and background
Mortuary photograph of Annie
Annie Chapman was born Eliza Ann Smith. She was the daughter of
George Smith of the 2nd Regiment Life Guards
and Ruth Chapman.
parents did not marry until nearly six months after her birth, on
22 February 1842, in Paddington.
Smith was a soldier
at the time of his marriage, later becoming a domestic servant
Marriage and children
On 1 May
1869, she married her maternal relative John Chapman, a coachman, at All Saints Church in Knightsbridge in London.
some years the couple lived at addresses in West London, and they
had three children:
the family moved to rural Clewer in Berkshire, where John Chapman took a job as
coachman to a farm bailiff.
- Emily Ruth Chapman, born on 25 June 1870.
- Annie Georgina Chapman, born on 5 June 1873.
- John Alfred Chapman, born on 21 November 1880.
But young John had been born
disabled, while their firstborn, Emily Ruth, died of meningitis
shortly after at the age of 12. Soon
afterward, both Chapman and her husband took to heavy drinking and
separated in 1884.
By the time of her death, young John was said to be in the care of
a charitable school and the surviving daughter Annie Georgina, then
, traveling with a circus
in the French
Life in Whitechapel
Annie Chapman eventually moved to Whitechapel, where in 1886 she
was living with a man who made wire sieves; because of this she was
often known as Annie "Sievey" or "Siffey". For three or four years
she had been receiving an allowance of 10 shillings
a week from her husband,
but at the end of 1886 the payments stopped abruptly. On inquiring
why they had stopped, she found her husband had died of
alcohol-related causes. The sieve-maker left her soon after,
possibly due to the cessation of her income. One of her friends
later testified that Chapman became very depressed after this and
By 1888 Chapman was living in common lodging houses
in Whitechapel, occasionally in
the company of Edward Stanley, a bricklayer's labourer
and earning some income from crochet
flowers, supplemented by casual prostitution. Acquaintances
described her as a more accomplished woman than some in the area,
and inoffensive, though she drank regularly and her health was
A week or more before her death she was feeling ill after being
bruised in a fight with Eliza Cooper, a fellow resident in the
lodging house. The two were reportedly rivals for the affections of
Death and last hours
Shortly after midnight on the morning of her death, Chapman, like
Mary Ann Nichols
, found herself
without money for her lodging and went out to earn some on the
street. Elizabeth Long testified that she saw a man and a woman she
believed to be Chapman conversing outside 29 Hanbury St at
approximately 5:30 am. If correct in her identification, it is
likely that Long was the last person to see Chapman alive besides
her murderer. Chapman's body was discovered about 5:50 on
the morning of 8 September 1888, lying on the ground near a doorway
in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields.
"There are two front doors, one leading into a shop
and the other, on the left, into a passageway which goes through
the building and opens into the back yard. The door to the
back yard swings to the outside from right to left and, when open,
covers a small recess of the yard. It is a self closing
door. Baxter refers to it as a swinging door. The
back yard is separated from the adjoining yards by a five foot high
wooden fence. There are three stone steps leading down to
yard level. Looking from the top of the steps there is a
small wood shed to the left, Annie's feet pointed directly at
it. To the right is the privy. The yard itself is
a patch work of stone, grass and dirt."
The body was conveyed later that day to Whitechapel mortuary in the
police ambulance by Sergeant Edward
. Badham was later to be the first to testify at the
Evidence indicated that Chapman may have been killed as late as
5:30am, in the enclosed back yard of a house occupied by seventeen
people, some of whom were already up and about, with windows
overlooking the yard, the only convenient escape route being the
narrow passage through the building by which the workman
discovering her body had entered the yard. Residents however had
seen and heard nothing at the time of the murder. However, Dr
George Bagster Phillips, the police surgeon, told the coroner that
he himself could not have performed the injuries he saw on the
deceased "even without struggle" in under 15 minutes and later, he
wrote that it would have taken much longer than that. There was,
therefore, not enough time between Mrs Long's alleged sighting and
the discovery of the body for Chapman to have been murdered and
mutilated in the backyard. Dr Phillips said, on first examining the
body at 6.20 a.m. "She's been dead for two hours - probably longer"
- an opinion that the police shared. Dr Phillips described the body
as he saw it at 6:20 a.m. in the back yard of the house at 29
"The left arm was placed across the left breast. The legs were drawn up, the feet
resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The
face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue
protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips.
The tongue was evidently much swollen. The front teeth
were perfect as far as the first molar, top and bottom and very fine teeth they
were. The body was terribly mutilated...the stiffness of
the limbs was not marked, but was evidently commencing. He
noticed that the throat was dissevered deeply; that the incision
through the skin were jagged and reached right round the neck...On
the wooden paling between the yard in question and the next, smears
of blood, corresponding to where the head of the deceased lay, were
to be seen. These were about 14 inches from the ground,
and immediately above the part where the blood from the neck
"The instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the
same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin
narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 to 8 inches in length,
probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not
have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They
could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used
for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not
contain such an instrument. Those used by the
slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He
thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be
long enough in the blade. There were indications of
anatomical knowledge...he should say that the deceased had been
dead at least two hours, and probably more, when he first saw her;
but it was right to mention that it was a fairly cool morning, and
that the body would be more apt to cool rapidly from its having
lost a great quantity of blood. There was no evidence...of
a struggle having taken place. He was positive the
deceased entered the yard alive..."
"A handkerchief was round the throat of the deceased when he
saw it early in the morning. He should say it was not tied
on after the throat was cut."
Dr. George Bagster Phillips, who examined the body, concluded that
her recent ill health was due to tuberculosis
. Phillips concluded that the
victim was sober at the time of death and had not consumed alcoholic beverages
for at least some
hours before it.
Annie Chapman was buried on Friday, 14 September 1888.
At 7:00 a.m. that day, a hearse supplied by Hanbury Street
undertaker H. Smith, went to the Whitechapel Mortuary in Montague
Street, the utmost secrecy having been observed, and none but the
, police, and relatives of the
deceased knowing anything about the arrangements. Annie's body was
placed in a black-draped elm coffin and was then driven to Harry
Hawes, a Spitalfields undertaker, who arranged the funeral. At 9:00
a.m., the hearse (without mourning coaches so as not to attract the
public's attention) took Annie's body to the Manor Park Cemetery,
Sebert Road, Forest Gate, London E7 0NP where she was buried in
(public) grave 78, square 148.
Her relatives, who paid for the funeral, met the hearse at the
cemetery, and, by request, kept the funeral a secret and were the
only mourners to attend. The coffin bore the words "Annie Chapman,
died Sept. 8, 1888, aged 48 years."
Chapman's grave no longer exists; it has since been buried
Chapman in film
Chapman was played by Barbara
in A Study in
. Katrin Cartlidge
portrayed Chapman in the film From
- 'Annie Chapman: Jack the Ripper Victim A Short Biography'.
Written and published by Neal Shelden (2001)
- The Daily Telegraph 15 September 1888, page 3
- The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip
Sugden, ISBN 0-7867-0276-1.