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Times (London)
15 January 1903

THE SOUTHWARK POISONING CASE

At Southwark police court, yesterday, Mr. Cecil Chapman continued the hearing of the charges against Severino Klosowski, 37, otherwise known as George Chapman, ex publican, of the Crown public house, Borough High street, of murdering Mary Isabella Spink on December 25, 1897; Elizabeth (Bessie) Taylor on February 3, 1901; and Maud Eliza Marsh on October 22, 1902. Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Sims prosecuted for the Treasury; Mr. Sydney defended; and Mr. Sylvester Williams watched the case on behalf of the relatives of Maud Marsh.

Mrs. Ethel Raydin, of Hackney road, said that some years ago her husband had a hairdresser's business in West India Dock road, and had an assistant named Klosowski from Warsaw. She recognized the prisoner as that assistant. On one occasion, she said, the prisoner showed her some papers in the Russian and Polish languages. He read something from one of them, and said he had studied in Warsaw as a "doctor's assistant." Her son was ill, and he assisted in nursing him. Cross examined. This happened 15 years ago, and the prisoner stayed in her husband's employ five months. She met him casually in Cheapside three years later. She did not see him again until yesterday. When his name was in the papers as George Chapman she did not known who he was, but last week she saw his name published as Klosowski. The police afterwards showed her some photographs which she recognized.

William Bray, managing clerk to Mr. Braund, solicitor, Gray's inn square, said that in December 1894, the prisoner consulted him with reference to a shop at High street, Tottenham. He had identified him from among other men in Court that day. He was slightly altered. The prisoner gave some references, and he eventually took the shop. The agreement (produced) was drawn up and dated January 7, 1893 (sic). His address was given as High street, Tottenham. He was in the shop about two months, and during that period the witness saw him several times. Cross examined. He recollected that the prisoner got a girl into trouble.

George Sterman, Nile street, Hoxton, said he knew the barber's shop under a public house in High street, Whitechapel, and about 13 years ago it was kept by a man with a name like Klosowski. He had since recognized the man by his appearance and voice. He lost sight of him for several years, next seeing him at Hastings five years ago. The man then kept a hairdresser's shop, and a short woman used to assist him. Cross examined, the witness said he was a barber and called upon hundreds of barbers. He remembered them all for 20 years past.

Mrs. Helsdown, of All saints street, Hastings, said that for about five years before January, 1897, she and her husband lived at Hill street, Hastings. A family came to live in the same house about nine months before. There was a husband, wife, and a boy named Willie. She had that morning identified the prisoner as the husband, George Chapman. The boy was about four years of age. The prisoner opened a barber's shop in George street, and the woman, who was known as Mrs. Chapman, used to go to the shop each day. They had their meals at the shop. The witness had heard them quarrelling occasionally. Once or twice she saw Mrs. Chapman's face was very red, and she said her husband had smacked her. She was also shown marks on her throat. Mrs. Chapman, towards the end of the time they were at the witness's house, suffered very much from "dreadful pains and sickness." A doctor never attended her. The vomit was very green.

Mrs. Harriett Greenaway, of Braybrook road, Hastings, said she used to live at Coburg place, Hastings. She left the house in March, 1897. About a month before this date a family named Chapman came to live at the house. The family consisted of a husband, wife, and child. The prisoner was the husband. He told the witness that he was a Russian Pole and had been to America. He did not say much to her, but his wife did. Once he write his name down, and said "That is my name in Russian." The witness was not quite sure whether she ever heard it pronounced. On one occasion Mrs. Chapman showed her a little black bag which was kept by the prisoner. She brought it up secretly. The prisoner had a revolver in the house. Mrs. Chapman seemed in good health, but she seemed dazed always. After the witness had shown four volumes of Cassell's "Family Physician" to Mrs. Chapman, she said her husband wanted to borrow them. She had since often tried to get them from the prisoner. The woman whom she knew as Mrs. Chapman was short, dark, and about 32 years of age. She wore her hair cut short.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Martin, of Queen's road, Hastings, said she was housekeeper at Albion mansions, George street, where the prisoner had his barber's shop. She recognized him. The shop was given up by him about September, 1897. She saw Mrs. Chapman vomiting a good deal in May. The woman afterwards appeared very poorly, and complained to the witness just before they went away.

Alfred Constable, of Murillo road, Lee, said he used to live at Hastings at the time the prisoner and Mrs. Chapman had the hairdresser's business. The witness occasionally visited Mrs. Martin, and on one occasion he saw Mrs. Chapman very sick. The vomit was greenish in colour. He first associated the prisoner with the Chapman he had known by reading the account of the inquest in Maud Marsh's case.

Miss Alice Penfold, of Devonshire road, Hastings, said that about six years ago she was in the employment of a Mrs. Field at Hastings. One Sunday evening while she was out the prisoner spoke to her, and said he was manager to Mr. Slade at the pianoforte shop.

Mr. Bodkin - In this way you became somewhat acquainted with him. Did you go out with him again? - The witness - Yes, through him calling; I went out with him three times. Did you complain to him about being ill? - One day he said I looked ill, and I told him I had a bad cold. He said he would give me something to do my cold good, and he added that he had been in a hospital. He sent a note and some powders. Did you take them? - No, I threw them on the fire. Proceeding, the witness said that on one occasion, at the prisoner's request, she accompanied him to St. Leonard's to see a public house which he thought of purchasing. A note she received from him at Hastings was signed "Smith," and in a letter which he sent to her later from London he signed himself as Chapman. The latter note was sent from the Prince of Wales public house, St. Luke's, and asked her to go there.

The Magistrate - Had you any previous conversation with him about going to this public house? - The witness - No. So that the letter was quite a surprise to you? - Yes.

Cross examined - She said she received three letters from the prisoner at Hastings, and had destroyed them.

Mr. Sydney - You were going out with him; why did you destroy them? - Because I did not want him, but he used to follow me about.

Mr. Bodkin - Did you ever answer any of his letters? - No. While you were out together did the prisoner say whether he was married or not? - I asked him, and he said "NO."

Mrs. Martha Doubleday, of 9 Richmond street, St. Luke's, said she recollected the prisoner and Mrs. Chapman (Isabella Spink)going to the Prince of Wales public house, St. Bartholomew's square. Mrs. Chapman was a short woman, and at that time she was rather stout and had a fresh complexion. The witness was a customer at the house, and they began to become very friendly. After a time Mrs. Chapman began to look very ill and thin, and at last the prisoner asked the witness to sit up with her all night. The prisoner wanted to know who was the nearest doctor, and she gave the name of Dr. Rogers. The prisoner then sent her with a note to this gentleman. While the witness stayed up with Mrs. Chapman, the prisoner used to sleep on the couch in the same room. Mrs. Chapman was very sick, and complained of pain in her head. The vomiting was very frequent during the night. The witness did not give her any food. The prisoner used to give her brandy, but not any nourishment, while the witness was there. After Mrs. Chapman took the brandy she was very sick. Proceeding, the witness said she attended Mrs. Chapman about a fortnight at night only. Dr. Rogers was called in three days after she began. The medicine was prepared and given by the prisoner. Mrs. Chapman had diarrhoea in addition to the sickness. When Dr. Rogers came he and the prisoner talked together in the bar about Mrs. Chapman. The witness did not know what was the matter with her - she was a mere skeleton - and she asked the prisoner. He replied that the doctor said she was wasting away. The witness could not stand the fatigue of sitting up night after night, and another nurse was called in. As Christmas, 1897, approached, Mrs. Chapman got worse. Whenever the prisoner was going to give her any medicine he used to order the witness out of the room. He used to give her neat brandy at night. The last few days of her life she could only retain Liebig's extract, which had been ordered by the doctor. On the morning of Christmas Day the witness asked the prisoner to go upstairs to look at his wife. She looked in a very serious condition. the prisoner looked at her, shook his head, and then went downstairs without making any remark. Later the witness saw that she was dying, and she called out, "Chapman, come up quick. Your wife is dying." He came up soon afterwards but he was too late, as she had just died. Then he went to the bedside and said, "Polly, Polly, speak." Afterwards he went into the next room and cried, and then went downstairs and opened the public house. The same day he went to the undertaker's, and on December 30 the funeral took place at St. Patrick's, Leytonstone. Before being placed in the coffin the body was wrapped in the sheet on which it had been lying. The witness did not enter the house after the funeral. About five months afterwards the witness knew another "Mrs. Chapman." She saw her once, when she ("Mrs. Chapman") was supposed to get married.\

The Magistrate - How did you know anything about it? - A neighbour told me.

Detective Inspector Godley, M Division, recalled, produced the certificate of the death of Mrs. Mary Isabella Chapman, which stated that she was 41 years of age, the wife of George Chapman, beer seller, and that she died at Bartholomew square. The cause of death was certified by Dr. J.F. Rogers, L.R.C.P., as phthisis.

The prisoner was again remanded.


Related pages:
  George Chapman
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       Message Boards: Severin Klosowski (a.k.a. George Chapman) 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 24 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 5 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Elyria Daily Chronicle - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne News - 23 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne News - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 23 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 24 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 31 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 8 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 21 October 1910 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 26 October 1913 
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