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Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(The Times, Monday, April 9, 1888)
    Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the East Middlesex Coroner, held an inquiry on Saturday [7 Apr] at the London Hospital respecting the death of EMMA ELIZABETH SMITH, aged 45, a widow, lately living at 18, George-street, Spitalfields, who, it was alleged, had been murdered.

    Chief Inspector West, of the H Division of Police, attended for the Commissioners of Police.
Mrs. Mary Russell, deputy keeper of a common lodging-house, stated that she had known the deceased for about two years. On the evening of Bank Holiday [2 Apr] she left home at 7 o'clock, and returned about 4 or 5 the next morning in a dreadful state. Her face and head were much injured, one of her ears being nearly torn off. She told the witness that she had been set upon and robbed of all her money. She also complained of pains in the lower part of the body. Witness took her to the hospital, and when passing along Osborne-street the deceased pointed out the spot where she was assaulted. She said there were three men, but she could not describe them.

Mr. George Haslip, house surgeon, stated that when the deceased was admitted to the hospital she had been drinking but was not intoxicated. She was bleeding from the head and ear, and had other injuries of a revolting nature. Witness found that she was suffering from rupture of the peritoneum, which had been perforated by some blunt instrument used with great force. The deceased told him that at half past 1 that morning she was passing near Whitechapel Church when she noticed some men coming towards her. She crossed the road to avoid them, but they followed, assaulted her, took all the money she had, and then committed the outrage. She was unable to say what kind of instrument was used, nor could she describe her assailants, except that she said that one was a youth of 19. Death ensued on Wednesday morning [4 Apr] through peritonitis set up by the injuries.

Margaret Hayes, living at the same address as the deceased, deposed to seeing Mrs. Smith in company with a man at the corner of Farrant-street and Burdett-road. The man was dressed in a dark suit and wore a white silk handkerchief round his neck. He was of medium height, but witness did not think she could identify him.

Chief Inspector West, H Division, stated that he had no official information on the subject, and was only aware of the case through the daily papers. He had questioned the constables on the beat, but none of them appeared to know anything about the matter.

The Coroner said The Coroner said that from the medical evidence, which must be true, it was clear that the woman had been barbarously murdered. It was impossible to imagine a more brutal and dastardly assault, and he thought the ends of justice would be better met by the jury recording their verdict at once than by adjourning to some future date in the hope of having more evidence brought before them.

The jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."

The police are making every possible inquiry into the case, but up to yesterday [8 Apr] had not any clue to the persons who committed the outrage.


Only Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, April 8, 1888, Front Page)

    Mr. Wynne Baxter held an inquiry yesterday morning [7 Apr] at the London hospital into the terrible circumstances attending the death of an unfortunate, named Emma E. Smith, who was assaulted in the most brutal manner early on Tuesday morning last [3 Apr] in the neighbourhood of Osborn-street, Whitechapel, by several men.
Mary Russell, (The first witness), the deputy-keeper of a lodging-house in George-street, Spitalfields, deposed to the statement made by the deceased on the way to the London hospital, to which she was taken between four and five o’clock on Tuesday morning [3 Apr]. The deceased told her she had been shockingly maltreated by a number of men and robbed of all the money she had. Her face was bleeding, and her ear was cut. She did not describe the men, but said one was a young man of about 19. She also pointed out where the outrage occurred, as they passed the spot, which was near the cocoa factory (Taylor’s).

Dr. Hellier [Haslip], (The house-surgeon on duty), described the internal injuries which had been caused, and which must have been inflicted by a blunt instrument. It had even penetrated the peritoneum, producing peritonitis, which was undoubtedly the cause of death, in his opinion. The woman appeared to know what she was about, but she had probably had some drink. Her statement to the surgeon as to the circumstances was similar to that already given in evidence. He had made a post-mortem examination, and described the organs as generally normal. He had no doubt that death was caused by the injuries to the perinaeum, the abdomen, and the peritoneum. Great force must have been used. The injuries had set up peritonitis, which resulted in death on the following day after admission [4 Apr].

Another woman [Hayes] gave evidence that she had last seen Emma Smith between 12 and one on Tuesday morning [3 Apr], talking to a man in a black dress, wearing a white neckerchief. It was near Farrant-street, Burdett-road. She was hurrying away from the neighbourhood, as she had herself been struck in the mouth a few minutes before by some young men.She did not believe that the man talking to Smith was one of them. The quarter was a fearfully rough one. Just before Christmas last she had been injured by men under circumstances of a similar nature, and was a fortnight in the infirmary.

Mr. Chief-inspector West, H division, said he had made inquiries of all the constables on duty on the night of the 2nd and 3rd April in the Whitechapel-road, the place indicated.

The jury returned a verdict of “Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.”


Only Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(East London Advertiser Saturday, April 14, 1888, Page 3)

    On Saturday [7 Apr] the East Middlesex coroner [Baxter] held an inquiry at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, on the body of Emma Elizabeth Smith, aged 45, a widow, who was brutally assaulted when returning home along the Whitechapel-road on Bank Holiday night.
Mary Russell, the deputy of a common lodging-house at which the deceased had been a lodger for some months, said that on Bank Holiday [2 Apr] the deceased left the house in the evening, apparently in good health. She returned between 4 and 5 o’clock the next morning [3 Apr], and she had been shockingly treated by some men. Her face was bleeding, and she said that she was also injured about the lower part of the body. The deceased had often come home with black eyes that men had given her.

Mr. George Haslip, house surgeon, deposed that the deceased was admitted suffering from severe injuries, which he thought had been caused by some blunt instrument. She had been drinking, but was not intoxicated. She had a ruptured pirinium of very recent date, and also some bruises on her head. Her right ear was torn and bleeding. She told witness that at 1.30 that morning she was going by Whitechapel Church when she saw some men coming, and she crossed the road to get out of their way, but they followed her. They assaulted her and robbed her of all the money she had. She could not describe the men, except that one looked a youth of 19. After her admission she gradually sank, and died two days later [5 Apr]. The deceased stated that she had not seen any of her friends for 10 years.

The Coroner said from the medical evidence it was clear that the woman had been barbarously murdered. Such a dastardly assault he had never heard of, and it was impossible to imagine a more brutal case.

The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person unknown.


Related pages:
  Emma Smith
       Dissertations: The Importance of Fairy Fay, and Her Link to Emma Smith 
       Message Boards: Emma Smith 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 14 April 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 7 April 1888 
       Press Reports: Lloyds Weekly News - 08 April 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 09 April 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 15 April 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 8 April 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 9 April 1888 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 14 April 1888 
       Victims: Emma Smith