London, United Kingdom
Sunday, 26 August 1888
TO THE EDITOR OF "THE PEOPLE."
Sir, - My attention has been drawn to a report in your issue of the 12th inst. Under the above heading. In it the following statements occur:- (1) That a number of the tenants of George Yard Buildings "let beds by the night to travellers." (2) That consequently, "men go there with women, whom they represent to be their wives." On behalf of the tenants, I beg to give these statements an unqualified denial. Beds are let by the night in this locality, but never in these buildings.
- Yours, &c.,
FRANCIS FISHER HEWITT
George Yard Buildings, Whitechapel, August 17th, 1888
Inquest and Verdict.
Mr. George Collier, deputy coroner for South-east Middlesex, on Thursday resumed the inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of a woman supposed to be Martha Turner, aged 35, a hawker, lately living at 4, Star-place, Star-street, Commercial-road East, who was discovered early on the morning of Tuesday, the 7th instant, lying dead on the first floor landing of some model dwellings known as George Yard Buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields, under circumstances fully reported in the People at the time. The woman when found presented a shocking appearance, her body being covered with thirty-nine stab wounds, some of which had been done with a bayonet. How the woman came to be in those dwellings is a mystery which the police as yet have not solved. - Mr. Henry Samuel Tabrar, of 6, River-terrace, East Greenwich, stated that he was a foreman packer in a furniture warehouse. He identified the body of the woman now dead as his wife. Her name was Martha Tabrar, and she was 39 years of age. He last saw her alive eighteen months ago in the Whitechapel-road. Witness has been separated from her thirteen years. He went before Mr. Benson, the magistrate, and said he would not live with her on account of her intemperate habits. She took out a warrant for his arrest for desertion, but he agreed to allow her 12s. a week. This was carried on for three years, but afterwards finding out how she was living he only gave her 2s. 6d. a week. She was at that time living with another man. Witness identified the body through seeing an account of the murder in the People, where her name was stated to be Tabrar.
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 in the streets like himself. He last saw her alive on the Saturday before her death, when they met accidentally in Leadenhall-street. Witness first heard of her death on the day of the inquest. On the Saturday when he saw her she said she had got no money, so witness gave her some to but stock with. Deceased was a woman who, when she had money, would get drunk with it. She was in the habit of staying out late at night, but witness did not know what for. He was not aware that she was acquainted with "Pearly Poll." They lived comfortably till she took to drink, when he left her for a time. He never quarrelled with her, but simply left her. - By Mr. Reid: Deceased had stayed out all night, and told him on her return that she had been seized with a fit and taken to the police station. Witness could not say that that was true, but when she had been drinking she was subject to hysterical fits. - Mary Bousfield, 4, Star-place, Commercial-road, deposed that Turner and the deceased lived at her house till three weeks before her death. She was a woman who would rather have a glass of ale than a cup of tea; but she did not get drunk. Witness said that Turner was very good to her, and helped to support two children she had by her husband. Deceased was greatly in witness's debt, and left without giving notice. Since then she had returned and forced the window, and occupied the room one night without witness knowing she was there.
Mary Ann Connolly ("Pearly Poll") was next examined, but, before giving evidence, Inspector Reid asked that she might be cautioned previous to being sworn. This the coroner did, and witness then said that she had been lodging at a lodging-house in Dorset-street. She was a single woman, and gained her livelihood on the streets. 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 or 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. - By the Coroner: Deceased was a woman who did not drink much. Witness had tried to identify the two men, and at one of the barracks where the men were paraded before her, she picked out two men who she thought were the same that were with her and the deceased on the night of the murder. That was at Wellington Barracks. She had never seen the men before. - By Mr. Reid: Witness left the corporal at the corner of George Yard about five or ten minutes past twelve, and afterwards went along Commercial-street towards Whitechapel.
and was informed of the murder on the Tuesday. - Inspector Reid: Did you threaten to drown yourself since this occurrence. - Witness: Yes; but only in a "lark." I went to my cousin's and stayed there two days. My cousin lives in Fuller's Court, Drury-lane. - Inspector Reid said that the witness kept out of the way purposely, and it was only by searching that they found her. - By the Jury: Neither witness nor deceased were sober when they parted on bank holiday night, but they were not drunk. Altogether they were drinking one hour and three quarters. - Detective-inspector Reid informed the court that many persons had come forward and made statements which, when threshed out, ended unsatisfactorily, and up to the present the police had been unable to secure the guilty party or parties. - 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 in 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 police would endeavour to bring home the crime to the guilty party, and his, the coroner's sincerest hope was that he would be captured and brought to justice. - The jury, after slight deliberation, returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown