The Daughter of a Locksmith and Blacksmith, she married Printer William Nichols in 1864 and bore him five children. The marriage was not however a success and the couple separated in 1880. By August, 1888, Mary Ann – known to her friends as Polly -- was reduced to living in East End lodging houses and seeking solace in drink which she paid for by selling herself.
At 3.30 a.m. on August 31st, 1888, her dead body was found in BUCKS ROW, now DURWARD STREET, a mean little thoroughfare behind what is now WHITECHAPEL TUBE STATION. Her throat had been cut twice very deeply and she had been disemboweled via a series of oblique incisions running across her lower abdomen. A lacerated tongue suggested that she had also been strangled and there was bruising to her jaw. It was with this murder that the populace of East London became aware that a nightmare killer was lurking in their midst`