Monday, November 12, 1888
(The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, November 13, 1888)
Yesterday [12 Nov], at the Shoreditch Town Hall, Dr. Macdonald, M.P., the coroner for the North- Eastern District of Middlesex, opened his inquiry relative to the death of Marie Jeanette Kelly, the woman whose body was discovered on Friday morning, terribly mutilated, in a room on the ground floor of 26, Dorset-street, entrance to which was by a side door in Miller's-court.
Superintendent T. Arnold, H Division; Inspector Abberline, of the Criminal Investigation Department, and Inspector Nairn represented the police. The deputy coroner, Mr. Hodgkinson, was present during the proceedings.
The jury having answered to their names, one of
them said: I do not see why we should have the inquest thrown
upon our shoulders, when the murder did not happen in our
district, but in Whitechapel.
The Coroner's Officer (Mr. Hammond): It did not happen in Whitechapel.
The Coroner (to the juror, severely): Do you think that we do not know what we are doing here, and that we do not know our own district? The jury are summoned in the ordinary way, and they have no business to object. If they persist in their objection I shall know how to deal with them. Does any juror persist in objecting ?
The Juror: We are summoned for the Shoreditch district. This affair happened in Spitalfields. The Coroner: It happened within my district.
Another Juryman: This is not my district. I come from Whitechapel, and Mr. Baxter is my coroner.
The Coroner: I am not going to discuss the subject with jurymen at all. If any juryman says he distinctly objects, let him say so. (After a pause): I may tell the jurymen that jurisdiction lies where the body lies, not where it was found, if there was doubt as to the district where the body was found.
The jury having made no further objection, they were duly sworn, and were conducted by Inspector Abberline to view the body, which, decently coffined, was at the mortuary adjoining Shoreditch Church, and subsequently the jury inspected the room, in Miller's-court, Dorset- street, where the murder was committed. The apartment, a plan of which was given in yesterday's Daily Telegraph, is poorly furnished, and uncarpeted. The position of the two tables was not altered. One of them was placed near the bed, behind the door, and the other next to the largest of the two windows which look upon the yard in which the dustbin and water-tap are situated.
The Coroner (addressing the reporters) said a great fuss had been made in some papers about the jurisdiction of the coroner, and who should hold the inquest. He had not had any communication with Dr. Baxter upon the subject. The body was in his jurisdiction; it had been taken to his mortuary; and there was an end of it. There was no foundation for the reports that had appeared. In a previous case of murder which occurred in his district the body was carried to the nearest mortuary, which was in another district. The inquest was held by Mr. Baxter, and he made no objection. The jurisdiction was where the body lay.
deposed : I was a fish-porter, and I work as a labourer and
fruit- porter. Until Saturday last I lived at 24, New-street,
Bishopsgate, and have since stayed at my sister's, 21,
Portpool-lane, Gray's Inn-road. I have lived with the deceased
one year and eight months. Her name was Marie Jeanette Kelly with
the French spelling as described to me. Kelly was her maiden
name. I have seen the body, and I identify it by the ear and
eyes, which are all that I can recognise; but I am positive it is
the same woman I knew. I lived with her in No. 13 room, at
Miller's-court for eight months. I separated from her on Oct. 30.
[Coroner] Why did you leave her ? - Because she had a woman of bad character there, whom she took in out of compassion, and I objected to it. That was the only reason. I left her on the Tuesday between five and six p.m. I last saw her alive between half-past seven and a quarter to eight on Thursday night last, when I called upon her. I stayed there for a quarter of an hour.
[Coroner] Were you on good terms ? - Yes, on friendly terms; but when we parted I told her I had no work, and had nothing to give her, for which I was very sorry.
[Coroner] Did you drink together ? - No, sir. She was quite sober.
[Coroner] Was she, generally speaking, of sober habits ? - When she was with me I found her of sober habits, but she has been drunk several times in my presence.
[Coroner] Was there any one else there on the Thursday evening ? - Yes, a woman who lives in the court. She left first, and I followed shortly afterwards.
[Coroner] Have you had conversation with deceased about her parents ? - Yes, frequently. She said she was born in Limerick, and went when very young to Wales. She did not say how long she lived there, but that she came to London about four years ago. Her father's name was John Kelly, a "gaffer" or foreman in an iron works in Carnarvonshire, or Carmarthen. She said she had one sister, who was respectable, who travelled from market place to market place. This sister was very fond of her. There were six brothers living in London, and one was in the army. One of them was named Henry. I never saw the brothers to my knowledge. She said she was married when very young in Wales to a collier. I think the name was Davis or Davies. She said she had lived with him until he was killed in an explosion, but I cannot say how many years since that was. Her age was, I believe, 16 when she married. After her husband's death deceased went to Cardiff to a cousin.
[Coroner] Did she live there long ? - Yes, she was in an infirmary there for eight or nine months. She was following a bad life with her cousin, who, as I reckon, and as I often told her, was the cause of her downfall.
[Coroner] After she left Cardiff did she come direct to London ? - Yes. She was in a gay house in the West-end, but in what part she did not say. A gentleman came there to her and asked her if she would like to go to France.
[Coroner] Did she go to France ? - Yes; but she did not remain long. She said she did not like the part, but whether it was the part or purpose I cannot say. She was not there more than a fortnight, and she returned to England, and went to Ratcliffe-highway. She must have lived there for some time. Afterwards she lived with a man opposite the Commercial Gas Works, Stepney. The man's name was Morganstone.
[Coroner] Have you seen that man ? - Never. I don't know how long she lived with him.
[Coroner] Was Morganstone the last man she lived with ? - I cannot answer that question, but she described a man named Joseph Fleming, who came to Pennington-street, a bad house, where she stayed. I don't know when this was. She was very fond of him. He was a mason's plasterer, and lodged in the Bethnal-green-road.
[Coroner] Was that all you knew of her history when you lived with her? - Yes. After she lived with Morganstone or Fleming - I don't know which one was the last - she lived with me.
[Coroner] Where did you pick up with her first ? - In Commercial-street. We then had a drink together, and I made arrangements to see her on the following day - a Saturday. On that day we both of us agreed that we should remain together. I took lodgings in George-street, Commercial-street, where I was known. I lived with her, until I left her, on very friendly terms.
[Coroner] Have you heard her speak of being afraid of any one ? - Yes; several times. I bought newspapers, and I read to her everything about the murders, which she asked me about.
[Coroner] Did she express fear of any particular individual ? - No, sir. Our own quarrels were very soon over.
The Coroner: You have given your evidence very well indeed. (To the Jury): The doctor has sent a note asking whether we shall want his attendance here to-day. I take it that it would be convenient that he should tell us roughly what the cause of death was, so as to enable the body to be buried. It will not be necessary to go into the details of the doctor's evidence; but he suggested that he might come to state roughly the cause of death.
The jury acquiesced in the proposed course.
stated: I live at 37, Dorset-street, and am employed by Mr.
McCarthy. I serve in his chandler's shop, 27, Dorset-street. At a
quarter to eleven a.m., on Friday morning, I was ordered by
McCarthy to go to Mary Jane's room, No. 13. I did not know the
deceased by the name of Kelly. I went for rent, which was in
arrears. Knocking at the door, I got no answer, and I knocked
again and again. Receiving no reply, I passed round the corner by
the gutter spout where there is a broken window - it is the
Charles Ledger, an inspector of police, G Division, produced a plan of the premises. Bowyer pointed out the window, which was the one nearest the entrance.
He [Bowyer] continued: There was a curtain. I put my hand through the broken pane and lifted the curtain. I saw two pieces of flesh lying on the table.
[Coroner] Where was this table ? - In front of the bed, close to it. The second time I looked I saw a body on this bed, and blood on the floor. I at once went very quietly to Mr. McCarthy. We then stood in the shop, and I told him what I had seen. We both went to the police-station, but first of all we went to the window, and McCarthy looked in to satisfy himself. We told the inspector at the police-station of what we had seen. Nobody else knew of the matter. The inspector returned with us.
[Coroner] Did you see the deceased constantly ? - I have often seen her. I knew the last witness, Barnett. I have seen the deceased drunk once.
By the Jury: When did you see her last alive ? - On Wednesday afternoon, in the court, when I spoke to her. McCarthy's shop is at the corner of Miller's-court.
grocer and lodging-house keeper, testified: I live at 27, Dorset-
street. On Friday morning, about a quarter to eleven, I sent my
man Bowyer to Room 13 to call for rent. He came back in five
minutes, saying, "Guv'nor, I knocked at the door, and could
not make any one answer; I looked through the window and saw a
lot of blood." I accompanied him, and looked through the
window myself, saw the blood and the woman. For a moment I could
not say anything, and I then said: "You had better fetch the
police." I knew the deceased as Mary Jane Kelly, and had no
doubt at all about her identity. I followed Bowyer to
Commercial-street Police-station, where I saw Inspector Beck. I
inquired at first for Inspector Reid. Inspector Beck returned
with me at once.
[Coroner] How long had the deceased lived in the room ? - Ten months. She lived with Barnett. I did not know whether they were married or not; they lived comfortably together, but they had a row when the window was broken. The bedstead, bed-clothes, table, and every article of furniture belonged to me.
[Coroner] What rent was paid for this room ? - It was supposed to be 4s 6d a week. Deceased was in arrears 29s. I was to be paid the rent weekly. Arrears are got as best you can. I frequently saw the deceased the worse for drink. When sober she was an exceptionally quiet woman, but when in drink she had more to say. She was able to walk about, and was not helpless.
Mary Ann Cox
stated: I live at No. 5 Room, Miller's-court. It is the last
house on the left-hand side of the court. I am a widow, and get
my living on the streets. I have known the deceased for eight or
nine months as the occupant of No. 13 Room. She was called Mary
Jane. I last saw her alive on Thursday night, at a quarter to
twelve, very much intoxicated.
[Coroner] Where was this ? - In Dorset-street. She went up the court, a few steps in front of me.
[Coroner] Was anybody with her ? - A short, stout man, shabbily dressed. He had on a longish coat, very shabby, and carried a pot of ale in his hand.
[Coroner] What was the colour of the coat ? - A dark coat.
[Coroner] What hat had he ? - A round hard billycock.
[Coroner] Long or short hair ? - I did not notice. He had a blotchy face, and full carrotty moustache.
[Coroner] The chin was shaven ? - Yes. A lamp faced the door.
[Coroner] Did you see them go into her room ? - Yes; I said "Good night, Mary," and she turned round and banged the door.
[Coroner] Had he anything in his hands but the can ? - No.
[Coroner] Did she say anything ? - She said "Good night, I am going to have a song." As I went in she sang "A violet I plucked from my mother's grave when a boy." I remained a quarter of an hour in my room and went out. Deceased was still singing at one o'clock when I returned. I remained in the room for a minute to warm my hands as it was raining, and went out again. She was singing still, and I returned to my room at three o'clock. The light was then out and there was no noise.
[Coroner] Did you go to sleep ? - No; I was upset. I did not undress at all. I did not sleep at all. I must have heard what went on in the court. I heard no noise or cry of "Murder," but men went out to work in the market.
[Coroner] How many men live in the court who work in Spitalfields Market ? - One. At a quarter- past six I heard a man go down the court. That was too late for the market.
[Coroner] From what house did he go ? - I don't know.
[Coroner] Did you hear the door bang after him ? - No.
[Coroner] Then he must have walked up the court and back again? - Yes.
[Coroner] It might have been a policeman ? - It might have been.
[Coroner] What would you take the stout man's age to be ? - Six-and-thirty.
[Coroner] Did you notice the colour of his trousers ? - All his clothes were dark.
[Coroner] Did his boots sound as if the heels were heavy ? - There was no sound as he went up the court.
[Coroner] Then you think that his boots were down at heels ? - He made no noise.
[Coroner] What clothes had Mary Jane on ? - She had no hat; a red pelerine and a shabby skirt.
[Coroner] You say she was drunk ? - I did not notice she was drunk until she said good night. The man closed the door. By the Jury: There was a light in the window, but I saw nothing, as the blinds were down. I should know the man again, if I saw him.
By the Coroner: I feel certain if there had been the cry of "Murder" in the place I should have heard it; there was not the least noise. I have often seen the woman the worse for drink.
a married woman, said: My husband, William Prater, was a boot
machinist, and he has deserted me. I live at 20 Room, in
Miller's-court, above the shed. Deceased occupied a room below. I
left the room on the Thursday at five p.m., and returned to it at
about one a.m. on Friday morning. I stood at the corner until
about twenty minutes past one. No one spoke to me. McCarthy's
shop was open, and I called in, and then went to my room. I
should have seen a glimmer of light in going up the stairs if
there had been a light in deceased's room, but I noticed none.
The partition was so thin I could have heard Kelly walk about in
the room. I went to bed at half-past one and barricaded the door
with two tables. I fell asleep directly and slept soundly. A
kitten disturbed me about half-past three o'clock or a quarter to
four. As I was turning round I heard a suppressed cry of "Oh
- murder!" in a faint voice. It seemed to proceed from the
[Coroner] Do you often hear cries of "Murder?" - It is nothing unusual in the street. I did not take particular notice.
[Coroner] Did you hear it a second time? - No.
[Coroner] Did you hear beds or tables being pulled about? - None whatever. I went asleep, and was awake again at five a.m. I passed down the stairs, and saw some men harnessing horses. At a quarter to six I was in the Ten Bells.
[Coroner] Could the witness, Mary Ann Cox, have come down the entry between one and half-past one o'clock without your knowledge ? - Yes, she could have done so.
[Coroner] Did you see any strangers at the Ten Bells ? - No. I went back to bed and slept until eleven.
[Coroner] You heard no singing downstairs ? - None whatever. I should have heard the singing distinctly. It was quite quiet at half-past one o'clock.
14, Dorset-street, said: My husband is a lodging-house deputy. I
knew the deceased for about four months. I believe she was an
unfortunate. On two occasions I spoke to her.
The Coroner: You must be very careful about your evidence, because it is different to other people's. You say you saw her standing at the corner of the entry to the court ? - Yes, on Friday morning, from eight to half-past eight. I fix the time by my husband's finishing work. When I came out of the lodging-house she was opposite.
[Coroner] Did you speak to her ? - Yes; it was an unusual thing to see her up. She was a young woman who never associated with any one. I spoke across the street, "What, Mary, brings you up so early ?" She said, "Oh, Carrie, I do feel so bad."
[Coroner] And yet you say you had only spoken to her twice previously; you knew her name and she knew yours ? - Oh, yes; by being about in the lodging-house.
[Coroner] What did she say ? - She said, "I've had a glass of beer, and I've brought it up again"; and it was in the road. I imagined she had been in the Britannia beer-shop at the corner of the street. I left her, saying that I could pity her feelings. I went to Bishopsgate-street to get my husband's breakfast. Returning I saw her outside the Britannia public-house, talking to a man.
[Coroner] This would be about what time ? - Between eight and nine o'clock. I was absent about half-an-hour. It was about a quarter to nine.
[Coroner] What description can you give of this man ? - I could not give you any, as they were at some distance.
Inspector Abberline: The distance is about sixteen yards.
Witness: I am sure it was the deceased. I am willing to swear it.
The Coroner: You are sworn now. Was he a tall man ? - No; he was a little taller than me and stout.
Inspector Abberline: On consideration I should say the distance was twenty-five yards.
The Coroner; What clothes had the man ? - Witness: Dark clothes; he seemed to have a plaid coat on. I could not say what sort of hat he had.
[Coroner] What sort of dress had the deceased ? - A dark skirt, a velvet body, a maroon shawl, and no hat.
[Coroner] Have you ever seen her the worse for drink ? - I have seen her in drink, but she was not a notorious character.
By the Jury: I should have noticed if the man had had a tall silk hat, but we are accustomed to see men of all sorts with women. I should not like to pledge myself to the kind of hat.
deposed: I live at 24, Great Pearl-street, and am a laundress. I
know Mrs. Keyler, in Miller's-court, and went to her house at 2,
Miller's-court, at 2.30a.m. on Friday. It is the first house. I
noticed the time by the Spitalfields' Church clock. When I went
into the court, opposite the lodging-house I saw a man with a
wideawake. There was no one talking to him. He was a
stout-looking man, and not very tall. The hat was black. I did
not take any notice of his clothes. The man was looking up the
court; he seemed to be waiting or looking for some one. Further
on there was a man and woman - the later being in drink. There
was nobody in the court. I dozed in a chair at Mrs. Keyler's, and
woke at about half- past three. I heard the clock strike.
[Coroner] What woke you up ? - I could not sleep. I sat awake until nearly four, when I heard a female's voice shouting "Murder" loudly. It seemed like the voice of a young woman. It sounded at our door. There was only one scream.
[Coroner] Were you afraid ? Did you wake anybody up ? - No, I took no notice, as I only heard the one scream.
[Coroner] You stayed at Keyler's house until what time ? - Half-past five p.m. on Friday. The police would not let us out of the court.
[Coroner] Have you seen any suspicious persons in the district ? - On Wednesday night I was going along the Bethnal-green-road, with a woman, about eight o'clock, when a gentleman passed us. He followed us and spoke to us, and wanted us to follow him into an entry. He had a shiny leather bag with him.
[Coroner] Did he want both of you ? - No; only one. I refused. He went away and came back again, saying he would treat us. He put down his bag and picked it up again, saying, "What are you frightened about ? Do you think I've got anything in the bag ?" We then ran away, as we were frightened.
[Coroner] Was he a tall man ? - He was short, pale-faced, with a black moustache, rather small. His age was about forty.
[Coroner] Was it a large bag ? - No, about 6in to 9in long. His hat was a high round hat. He had a brownish overcoat, with a black short coat underneath. His trousers were a dark pepper-and- salt.
[Coroner] After he left you what did you do ? - We ran away.
[Coroner] Have you seen him since ? - On Friday morning, about half-past two a.m., when I was going to Miller's-court, I met the same man with a woman in Commercial-street, near Mr. Ringer's public-house (the Britannia). He had no overcoat on.
[Coroner] Had he the black bag ? - Yes.
[Coroner] Were the man and woman quarrelling ? - No; they were talking. As I passed he looked at me. I don't know whether he recognised me. There was no policeman about.
Mr. George Bagster Phillips, divisional surgeon of police, said: I was called by the police on Friday morning at eleven o'clock, and on proceeding to Miller's-court, which I entered at 11.15, I found a room, the door of which led out of the passage at the side of 26, Dorset-street, photographs of which I produce. It had two windows in the court. Two panes in the lesser window were broken, and as the door was locked I looked through the lower of the broken panes and satisfied myself that the mutilated corpse lying on the bed was not in need of any immediate attention from me, and I also came to the conclusion that there was nobody else upon the bed, or within view, to whom I could render any professional assistance. Having ascertained that probably it was advisable that no entrance should be made into the room at that time, I remained until about 1.30p.m., when the door was broken open by McCarthy, under the direction of Superintendent Arnold. On the door being opened it knocked against a table which was close to the left-hand side of the bedstead, and the bedstead was close against the wooden partition. The mutilated remains of a woman were lying two- thirds over, towards the edge of the bedstead, nearest the door. Deceased had only an under- linen garment upon her, and by subsequent examination I am sure the body had been removed, after the injury which caused death, from that side of the bedstead which was nearest to the wooden partition previously mentioned. The large quantity of blood under the bedstead, the saturated condition of the palliasse, pillow, and sheet at the top corner of the bedstead nearest to the partition leads me to the conclusion that the severance of the right carotid artery, which was the immediate cause of death, was inflicted while the deceased was lying at the right side of the bedstead and her head and neck in the top right-hand corner.
The jury had no
questions to ask at this stage, and it was understood that more
detailed evidence of the medical examination would be given at a
An adjournment for a few minutes then took place, and on the return of the jury
the coroner said: It has come to my ears that somebody has been making a statement to some of the jury as to their right and duty of being here. Has any one during the interval spoken to the jury, saying that they should not be here to-day ?
Some jurymen replied in the negative.
The Coroner: Then I must have been misinformed. I should have taken good care that he would have had a quiet life for the rest of the week if anybody had interfered with my jury.
Julia Vanturney [Van Turney], 1, Miller's-court, a
charwoman, living with Harry Owen, said: I knew the deceased for
some time as Kelly, and I knew Joe Barnett, who lived with her.
He would not allow her to go on the streets. Deceased often got
drunk. She said she was fond of another man, also named Joe. I
never saw this man. I believe he was a costermonger.
[Coroner] When did you last see the deceased alive ? - On Thursday morning, at about ten o'clock. I slept in the court on Thursday night, and went to bed about eight. I could not rest at all during the night.
[Coroner] Did you hear any noises in the court ? - I did not. I heard no screams of "Murder," nor any one singing.
[Coroner] You must have heard deceased singing ? - Yes; I knew her songs. They were generally Irish
Maria Harvey, 3,
New-court, Dorset-street, stated: I knew the deceased as Mary
Jane Kelly. I slept at her house on Monday night and on Tuesday
night. All the afternoon of Thursday we were together.
[Coroner] Were you in the house when Joe Barnett called ? - Yes. I said, "Well, Mary Jane, I shall not see you this evening again," and I left with her two men's dirty shirts, a little boy's shirt, a black overcoat, a black crepe bonnet with black satin strings, a pawn-ticket for a grey shawl, upon which 2s had been lent, and a little girls white petticoat.
[Coroner] Have you seen any of these articles since? - Yes; I saw the black overcoat in a room in the court on Friday afternoon.
[Coroner] Did the deceased ever speak to you about being afraid of any man ? - She did not.
Inspector Beck, H Division, deposed that, having sent for the doctor, he gave orders to prevent any persons leaving the court, and he directed officers to make a search. He had not been aware that the deceased was known to the police.
Inspector Frederick G. Abberline,
inspector of police, Criminal Investigation Department,
Scotland-yard, stated: I am in charge of this case. I arrived at
Miller's-court about 11.30 on Friday morning.
[Coroner] Was it by your orders that the door was forced ? - No; I had an intimation from Inspector Beck that the bloodhounds had been sent for, and the reply had been received that they were on the way. Dr. Phillips was unwilling to force the door, as it would be very much better to test the dogs, if they were coming. We remained until about 1.30 p.m., when Superintendent Arnold arrived, and he informed me that the order in regard to the dogs had been countermanded, and he gave orders for the door to be forced. I agree with the medical evidence as to the condition of the room. I subsequently took an inventory of the contents of the room. There were traces of a large fire having been kept up in the grate, so much so that it had melted the spout of a kettle off. We have since gone through the ashes in the fireplace; there were remnants of clothing, a portion of a brim of a hat, and a skirt, and it appeared as if a large quantity of women's clothing had been burnt.
[Coroner] Can you give any reason why they were burnt ? - I can only imagine that it was to make a light for the man to see what he was doing. There was only one small candle in the room, on the top of a broken wine-glass. An impression has gone abroad that the murderer took away the key of the room. Barnett informs me that it has been missing some time, and since it has been lost they have put their hand through the broken window, and moved back the catch. It is quite easy. There was a man's clay pipe in the room, and Barnett informed me that he smoked it.
[Coroner] Is there anything further the jury ought to know ? - No; if there should be I can communicate with you, sir.
The Coroner (to
the jury): The question is whether you will adjourn for further
evidence. My own opinion is that it is very unnecessary for two
courts to deal with these cases, and go through the same evidence
time after time, which only causes expense and trouble. If the
coroner's jury can come to a decision as to the cause of death,
then that is all that they have to do. They have nothing to do
with prosecuting a man and saying what amount of penalty he is to
get. It is quite sufficient if they find out what the cause of
death was. It is for the police authorities to deal with the case
and satisfy themselves as to any person who may be suspected
later on. I do not want to take it out of your hands. It is for
you to say whether at an adjournment you will hear minutiae of
the evidence, or whether you will think it is a matter to be
dealt with in the police-courts later on, and that, this woman
having met with her death by the carotid artery having been cut,
you will be satisfied to return a verdict to that effect. From
what I learn the police are content to take the future conduct of
the case. It is for you to say whether you will close the inquiry
to-day; if not, we shall adjourn for a week or fortnight, to hear
the evidence that you may desire.
The Foreman, having consulted with his colleagues, considered that the jury had had quite sufficient evidence before them upon which to give a verdict.
The Coroner: What is the verdict:
The Foreman: Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.