Topic: Mary Ann Nichols

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Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols (née Walker; 26 August 1845 – 31 August 1888) was one of the Whitechapel murder victims. Her death has been attributed to the notorious unidentified serial killer Jack the Ripper, who is believed to have killed and mutilated five women in the Whitechapel area of London from late August to early November 1888.

She was the daughter of locksmith Edward Walker and his wife Caroline, and was born in Dean Street, off Fetter Lane in London, on 26 August 1845. On 16 January 1864 she married printer's machinist William Nichols. Between 1866 and 1879, the couple had five children: Edward John, Percy George, Alice Esther, Eliza Sarah, and Henry Alfred. Their marriage broke up in 1880 or 1881 from disputed causes. Her father accused William Nichols of leaving her after he had affair with the nurse who had attended the birth of their final child, though Nichols claimed to have proof that their marriage had continued for at least three years after the date alleged for the affair. He maintained that his wife had deserted him and was practising prostitution. Police reports say they separated because of her drunken habits. She was a heavy drinker.

Legally required to support his estranged wife, William Nichols paid her an allowance of five shillings a week, but stopped making the payment in 1882 after hearing that she was working as a prostitute. He was not required to support her if she was earning money through illicit means or living with another man. Nichols spent most of her remaining years in workhouses and boarding houses, living off charitable handouts and her meagre earnings as a prostitute. She lived with her father for a year or more but left after a quarrel; her father stated he had heard she had subsequently lived with a blacksmith named Drew in Walworth. In early 1888, the year of her death, she was placed in the Lambeth workhouse after being discovered sleeping rough in Trafalgar Square, and in May left the workhouse to take a job as a domestic servant in Wandsworth. Unhappy in that position—she was an alcoholic and her employer, Mr Cowdry, and his wife were tee-totallers—she left two months later, stealing clothing worth three pounds ten shillings. At the time of her death she was living in a Whitechapel common lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street, Spitalfields, where she shared a room with Emily "Nelly" Holland.

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mary Ann Nichols."