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Inquest: Martha Tabram

Day 1, Thursday, August 9, 1888
(The Times, August 10, 1888)

Yesterday afternoon [9 Aug] Mr. G. Collier, Deputy Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, opened an inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, respecting the death of the woman who was found on Tuesday last, with 39 stabs on her body, at George-yard-buildings, Whitechapel.

Detective-Inspector Reid, H Division, watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Alfred George Crow, cabdriver, 35, George-yard-buildings, deposed that he got home at half-past 3 on Tuesday morning. As he was passing the first-floor landing he saw a body lying on the ground. He took no notice, as he was accustomed to seeing people lying about there. He did not then know whether the person was alive or dead. He got up at half-past 9, and when he went down the staircase the body was not there. Witness heard no noise while he was in bed.

John S. Reeves, of 37, George-yard-buildings, a waterside labourer, said that on Tuesday morning he left home at a quarter to 5 to seek for work. When he reached the first-floor landing he found the deceased lying on her back in a pool of blood. He was frightened, and did not examine her, but at once gave information to the police. He did not know the deceased. The deceased's clothes were disarranged, as though she had had a struggle with some one. Witness saw no footmarks on the staircase, nor did he find a knife or other weapon.

Police-constable Thomas Barrett, 226 H, said that the last witness called his attention to the body of the deceased. He sent for a doctor, who pronounced life extinct.

Dr. T. R. Killeen, of 68, Brick-lane, said that he was called to the deceased, and found her dead. She had 39 stabs on the body. She had been dead some three hours. Her age was about 36, and the body was very well nourished. Witness had since made a post-mortem examination of the body. The left lung was penetrated in five places, and the right lung was penetrated in two places. The heart, which was rather fatty, was penetrated in one place, and that would be sufficient to cause death. The liver was healthy, but was penetrated in five places, the spleen was penetrated in two places, and the stomach, which was perfectly healthy, was penetrated in six places. The witness did not think all the wounds were inflicted with the same instrument. The wounds generally might have been inflicted by a knife, but such an instrument could not have inflicted one of the wounds, which went through the chest-bone. His opinion was that one of the wounds was inflicted by some kind of dagger, and that all of them were caused during life.

The Coroner said he was in hopes that the body would be identified, but three women had identified it under three different names. He therefore proposed to leave that question open until the next occasion. The case would be left in the hands of Detective-Inspector Reid, who would endeavour to discover the perpetrator of this dreadful murder. It was one of the most dreadful murders any one could imagine. The man must have been a perfect savage to inflict such a number of wounds on a defenceless woman in such a way. The inquiry would be adjourned for a fortnight.

The case was then adjourned.


Day 2, Thursday, August 23, 1888
(The Times, August 24, 1888)

Yesterday afternoon [23 Aug] Mr. George Collier, the Deputy Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, respecting the death of the woman who was found dead at George-yard-buildings, on the early morning of Tuesday, the 7th inst., with no less than 39 wounds on various parts of her body. The body has been identified as that of Martha Tabram, aged 39 or 40 years, the wife of a foreman packer at a furniture warehouse.

Henry Samuel Tabram, 6, River-terrace, East Greenwich, husband of the deceased woman, said he last saw her alive about 18 months ago, in the Whitechapel-road. They had been separated for 13 years, owing to her drinking habits. She obtained a warrant against him. For some part of the time witness allowed her 12s. a week, but in consequence of her annoyance he stopped this allowance ten years ago, since which time he had made it half-a-crown a week, as he found she was living with a man.

Henry Turner, a carpenter, staying at the Working Men's Home, Commercial-street, Spitalfields, stated that he had been living with the woman Tabram as his wife for about nine years. Two or three weeks previously to this occurrence he ceased to do so. He had left her on two or three occasions in consequence of her drinking habits, but they had come together again. He last saw her alive on Saturday, the 4th inst., in Leadenhall-street. He then gave her 1s. 6d. to get some stock. When she had money she spent it in drink. While living with witness deceased's usual time for coming home was about 11 o'clock. As far as he knew she had no regular companion and he did not know that she walked the streets. As a rule he was, he said, a man of sober habits, and when the deceased was sober they usually got on well together.
By Inspector Reid. - At times the deceased had stopped out all night. After those occasions she told him she had been taken in a fit and was removed to the police-station or somewhere else.
By the Coroner. - He knew she suffered from fits, but they were brought on by drink.

Mrs. Mary Bousfield, wife of a wood cutter, residing at 4, Star-place, Commercial-road, knew the deceased by the name of Turner. She was formerly a lodger in her house with the man Turner. Deceased would rather have a glass of ale than a cup of tea, but she was not a woman who got continually drunk, and she never brought home any companions with her. She left without giving notice, and owed two weeks' rent.

Mrs. Ann Morris, a widow, of 23, Lisbon-street, E., said she last saw the deceased, who was her sister-in-law, at about 11 o'clock on Bank Holiday night in the Whitechapel-road. She was then about to enter a publichouse.

Mary Ann Connolly ("Pearly Poll"), who at the suggestion of Inspector Reid was cautioned in the usual manner before being sworn, stated she had been for the last two nights living at a lodging house in Dorset-street, Spitalfields. Witness was a single woman. She had known the woman Tabram for about four or five months. She knew her by the name of Emma. She last saw her alive on Bank Holiday night, when witness was with her about three-quarters of an hour, and they separated at a quarter to 12. Witness was with Tabram and two soldiers - one private and one corporal. She did not know what regiment they belonged to, but they had white bands round their caps. After they separated, Tabram went away with the private, and witness accompanied the corporal up Angel-alley. There was no quarrelling between any of them. Witness had been to the barracks to identify the soldiers, and the two men she picked out were, to the best of her belief, the men she and Tabram were with. The men at the Wellington Barracks were paraded before witness. One of the men picked out by witness turned out not to be a corporal, but he had stripes on his arm.
By Inspector Reid. - Witness heard of the murder on the Tuesday. Since the occurrence witness had threatened to drown herself, but she only said it for a lark. She stayed away two days and two nights, and she only said that when asked where she was going. She knew the police were looking after her, but she did not let them know her whereabouts. By a juryman. - The woman Tabram was not drunk. They were, however, drinking at different houses for about an hour and three-quarters. They had ale and rum.

Detective-Inspector Reid made a statement of the efforts made by the police to discover the perpetrator of the murder. Several persons had stated that they saw the deceased woman on the previous Sunday with a corporal, but when all the corporals and privates at the Tower and Wellington Barracks were paraded before them they failed to identify the man. The military authorities afforded every facility to the police. "Pearly Poll" picked out two men belonging to the Coldstream Guards at the Wellington Barracks. One of those men had three good conduct stripes, and he was proved beyond doubt to have been with his wife from 8 o'clock on the Monday night until 6 o'clock the following morning. The other man was also proved to have been in barracks at five minutes past 10 on Bank Holiday night. The police would be pleased if anyone would give them information of having seen anyone with the deceased on the night of Bank Holiday.

The Coroner having summed up, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had been murdered by some person or persons unknown.


Because the inquest was only two days and The Daily Telegraph covered only the last day,
both are offered here for comparison.


The Daily Telegraph
Last Day of inquest, Thursday, August 23, 1888
(published Friday, August 24, 1888, Page 6)

Yesterday afternoon [23 Aug] Mr. George Collier, the Deputy Coroner for South-East Middlesex, resumed the inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of Martha Turner, or Tabram, a hawker, lately living at 4, Star-place, Star-street, Commercial-road E., who was discovered early on the morning of Tuesday, the 7th inst., lying dead on the first-floor landing of some model dwellings known as George-yard-buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields. When found the woman presented a shocking appearance, there being thirty-nine stab wounds on the body, some of them apparently having been inflicted with a bayonet.

Henry Samuel Tabram, of 6, River-terrace, East Greenwich, stated that he was a foreman packer in a furniture warehouse. He identified the body as that of his wife. Her name was Martha Tabram, and she was thirty-nine years of age. He last saw her alive eighteen months ago in the Whitechapel-road. Witness had been separated from her thirteen years.

Henry Turner, who stated that he lived at the Working Men's Home, Commercial-street, deposed that he was a carpenter by trade, but latterly he had got his living as a hawker. Up till three weeks previous to this affair he was living with the deceased. They had lived together on and off for nine years. She used to get her living, like himself, as a street hawker. He last saw her alive on the Saturday before her death, when they met accidentally in Leadenhall-street. She said she had got no money, so witness gave her some to buy stock with. Deceased was a woman who, when she had the money, would get drunk with it.

Mary Bousfiled, 4, Star-place, Commercial-road, deposed that Turner and the deceased lived at her house till three weeks before her death. Turner was very good to her, and helped to support two children she had by her husband.

Ann Morris, 23, Lisburn-street, E., a widow, deposed that she was the sister-in-law of the deceased. Witness last saw her alive on Bank Holiday, as she was entering the White Swan public-house in Whitechapel-road. Deceased then appeared to be sober. She was alone when she entered the bar.

Mary Ann Connelly said she had known the deceased for four or five months under the name of Emma. The last time she saw her alive was on Bank Holiday, at the corner of George-yard, Whitechapel. They went to a public-house together, and parted about 11.45. They were accompanied by two soldiers, one a private and the other a corporal. She did not know to what regiment they belonged, but they had white bands round their caps. Witness did not know if the corporal had any side arms. They picked up with the soldiers together, and entered several public-houses, where they drank. When they separated, the deceased went away with the private. They went up George-yard, while witness and the corporal went up Angel-alley. Before they parted witness and the corporal had a quarrel and he hit her with a stick. She did not hear deceased have any quarrel. Witness never saw the deceased again alive. -

The Coroner, in summing up, said that the crime was one of the most brutal that had occurred for some years. For a poor defenceless woman to be outraged and stabbed in the manner which this woman had been was almost beyond belief. They could only come to one conclusion, and that was that the deceased was brutally and cruelly murdered.

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

We thank Alex Chisholm and Casebook Productions for allowing us to use their transcriptions of the inquests.


Related pages:
  Martha Tabram
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       Press Reports: Bradford Observer - 14 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Bradford Observer - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Bradford Observer - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 15 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 18 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 25 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 18 August 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 25 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Argus - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Argus - 25 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 18 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 25 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 13 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 15 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 17 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 23 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 7 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 9 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 14 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 15 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 7 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 11 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 15 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 16 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 12 August 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 19 August 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 26 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 7 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 8 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 10 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Weekly Herald - 17 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 10 August 1888 
       Victims: Martha Tabram 
       Victorian London: George Yard 
       Witnesses: Mary and William Bousfield 
       Witnesses: P.C. Thomas Barrett