East London Observer
Saturday, 25 August 1888.
The resumed inquiry into the death of the woman Martha Turner, who was found on the morning after Bank Holiday, lying on the first floor landing at 37, George-yard, Whitechapel, wounded in thirty-nine places and dead, took place on Thursday afternoon at the Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel-road, before Mr. George Collier.
The Coroner took his old seat in the large reading room, in front of a large table, littered with bags and papers, and just beneath the portrait of the Princess of Wales. At two o'clock - the time fixed for the commencement of the inquiry - there were very few people present beyond they jury - the witnesses being compelled to sit in the lobby outside the room. Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, who was first called to see the poor disfigured body, on the morning of the murder was seated at a table by himself: Dr. Keeling, who, also, as a professional man, and [sic] was allowed inside the room, sat in his old place to the right of the Coroner, while Detective-Inspector Reid, dressed in his usual dark blue serge coat and waistcoat, and light striped trousers, sat, cross legged, next to him and stared blankly at the assembled jurymen. Banks, the Coroner's officer, having collected the summonses from the jurymen - who included, Messrs. Chidley, Owen, Stevens, Healey, Karet, Drew, George, Clarke, Geary, Shepherd, Brandon, Dodswell, Cole, Dickson, Levison, Hunt, Haliday, Edwards and Leno - proceeded to call the witnesses.
The first witness called was Henry Tabram - a sallow complexioned man with iron-grey hair, and wearing a moustache and imperial of the same colour, together with a dark blue serge coat - living at 5, River-terrace, East Greenwich, and described as a foreman packer at a furniture repository, who said: I identified the body as my wife last Tuesday week. Her Christian name was Martha - proceeded the witness, beginning to show signs of deep emotion - and her age between 39 and 40. I last saw her alive about eighteen months ago in the Whitechapel-road, when, as far as I could judge, she appeared to be in her usual state of health. I have been separated from her for 13 years since last March. The separation was not mutual, but I went before a magistrate in answer to a summons which she had taken out against me at the police court, and I then refused to live with her. I allowed her, when we separated, 12s. per week for some time, but I left that off ten years ago on account of her conduct, she being continually accosting me in the streets and asking for money. Since that time, however, I allowed her half-a-crown per week regularly, because I found out that she was living with a man, and I did not think it my place to support her then. She had been living with that man on and off for the last ten years; at all events, he is here to-day and will speak with more certainty than I can on that point. I don't know that she ever followed any occupation. I first heard of her death last Monday week, when I saw the name described in the paper as being "Tabram," I afterwards identified the body.
Next there was called a young man dressed in a light tweed suit, with a pale face and a light moustache and imperial, who said his name was William Turner, and that he was a carpenter by trade, but was out of any regular employment just now. At present he got his living by selling articles in the streets. I have been, he proceeded, living with deceased up to three weeks ago. On and off I have lived with her for nearly nine years. Occasionally she had given away to drink, and then I had to leave her. I was living with her for three weeks previous to the occurrence. She used to sell in the streets some times, usually selling the same things as I did. I last saw her alive on the Saturday before Bank Holiday, when I met her in Leadenhall-street, just against the Aldgate pump. On the day of the inquest I was working at Leather-lane, and these friends of mine came up and told me of the proceedings, when I identified her. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when I saw her in Leadenhall-street, and I was with her about 20 minutes altogether. I gave her 1s. 6d. to purchase stock, with which to earn a few ha'pence. Since she has been living with me her character for sobriety was not good. If I gave her any money she generally spent it in drink. In fact, it was always drink. She was in the habit of staying out late at night. I couldn't say for certain what time she usually came home. When I was with her, it was usually eleven o'clock, except on Saturday night when it was usually twelve. The average, I should think would be about eleven o'clock. When she took to drink, however, I generally left her to her own resources, and I can't answer for her conduct then. She had no regular companions that I am aware of. I am not accountable for whether she walked the streets or not, but she certainly never did so to my knowledge while I was with her. While I was with her we frequently had a drink together like any other man and woman. We never used to stay out late when she was in my company: we generally got home about eleven o'clock, although there might have been exceptions. I never knew she was acquainted with the woman "Pearly Poll," until I read the account of her death in the papers. I am a man of sober habits as a rule, and we usually agreed well enough together, as long as she remained sober, but when she got the worse for drink, I left her. There was no quarrel then, I simply left her. Questioned by Inspector Reid, he said there were times when she stayed out all nights, but her excuse was invariably that she was subject to hysterical fits, had been overtaken with one and taken to a police-station or hospital. I, myself have seen her in those fits, but it was as a rule, when she was under the influence of drink. She might have told me occasionally that she was out all night in the streets, or that she had been taken to a police-station, but I can't remember any particular dates. I have no family by her.
Mary Bousfield was the next witness. I have identified the body as Martha Turner, that being the name by which she was known to me. She was formerly a lodger in my house, but left about three weeks before her death. She was a hawker, her stock in trade being needles, pins, menthol cones, &c. I have known her for about four months, but I have formed no opinion as to whether she was of intemperate habits. She would rather have a glass of ale than a cup of tea, however. She wasn't a woman who got habitually drunk, and I, myself, have not seen her intoxicated. She owed me some rent. She was a person who was rather reserved, and never brought any female companions home with her. Previous to coming to my house to lodge, she was living with a man named Turner. I believe she picked up with this Mr. Turner soon after she was separated from her husband. I don't know how long that would be, but I should think, about thirteen or fourteen years. She used to tell me that Mr. Turner was very good to her, and helped to support her two little children - although I have never seen them.
By Inspector Reid: She left without giving any notice. Her furniture consisted of two mattresses, and I believe that that was hers. Since she left me, she has returned. She returned one night, unknown to me, and left the key of her room.
Mrs. Ann Norris, a pale looking woman, whose pallor was increased by her totally black, but neat attire, said: I live at 23 Fisher-street, Mile End-road, and am a widow. My husband's name was Thomas. I knew the deceased, and last saw her alive on the Monday Bank Holiday, about eleven o'clock at night, going into a public house - the "White Swan." She was alone at the time, but I didn't follow her in, and I saw no more of her after that. She drank very heavily, and was a very bad woman in other respects. She was, I believe, on the streets. We were only on speaking terms. She used to apply to me for money, but not lately. She used to support herself by hawking - so I believe, although I have never seen her selling articles. I was not near enough on the Bank Holiday to see whether she was sober or not. I know nothing of the circumstances of her death, and heard nothing of it until last Monday week.
By Inspector Reid: She has been three times charged with annoying me by using bad language and threats. On the last occasion she was sentenced to seven days. She was never sober on those occasions; indeed she never judged me wrong when she was sober. She had two boys by her husband, one of whom must be about 17 now.
Mary Ann Connolly, otherwise known as "Pearly Poll", was next introduced, wearing simply an old green shawl and no hat, her face being reddened and soddened by drink. The Coroner cautioned her that she was not bound to answer any questions unless she pleased, but that if she did answer them they would be put in writing, and perhaps used against her. Her chest was "queer", she said, so the officer interpreted. She had been living, she said, for the last two nights at Crossingham's lodging-house, Dorset-street, Spitalfields. I am single, she proceeded, and follow no occupation, being an unfortunate. I knew the deceased for about five months as "Emma." I last saw her alive at 20 minutes past eleven on Bank Holiday night, at the corner of George-yard, Whitechapel. I was with her for some time, and we separated at a quarter to twelve. I was with her and two soldiers at the time, one of whom was a private and the other a corporal. I don't know what regiment they belonged to, but one had a white band round his cap. The corporal had no side arms on. During the three-quarters of an hour I was with the deceased we were all in the public-house - all four of us - and during the whole of the time we were drinking, but not in the same house. After she and I separated she went away with the private, and I went with the corporal up Angel-alley. Before we parted there was a quarrel about money, but not with the deceased. We parted all right, however, and with no bad words; indeed we were all good friends. I know nothing of what became of deceased after we left her - not until I heard of her death. The deceased did not drink much, and I don't know what she did for a living. I never met her in the streets selling anything. I have tried to identify the two soldiers, and have been to the barracks for that purpose. When I picked out two after the men had been paraded, I believed at the time that they were the men we saw on the Bank Holiday night. For the purpose of identifying them, I went to Wellington Barracks. I had not seen the men before.
By Inspector Reid: I left the corporal at the corner of George-yard about five-and-twenty minutes past twelve. I went towards Whitechapel, and he went Aldgate way. I first heard of the death of "Emma" on the Tuesday - the day after the Bank Holiday - and I said at once that she was the woman I was with on the previous night. I may have threatened to drown myself after the murder, but it was only in a "lark." If I did not attend the parade of men at the Tower on two occasions, it is because I was with my cousin at Drury Lane.
The Coroner said that that completed the evidence. He was sorry that the efforts of the police to find the murderer had been fruitless so far. As Inspector Reid would tell them, it had been stated that deceased had been seen by several people with soldiers on the night of the Bank Holiday; but all those statements, when it came to a parade of the men for identification, were found to be groundless. "Pearly Poll" had stated that the men had white bands on their caps, according to which they would belong to the Coldstream Guards. She was taken to their headquarters, and picked out two men who, on careful inquiry, were found innocent. It was a most horrible crime, and showed that the deceased had been the victim of a fiend. They could only come to the conclusion that the woman had been foully and brutally murdered by some person or persons unknown. That must be their verdict, and the police would do what they could still to endeavour to trace the murderer.
After some excited talk amongst the jurors, they returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. They added a recommendation to the effect that the stairs in 37, George-yard, and other artizan dwellings, should be lighted until after eleven o'clock at night.
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|Victims: Martha Tabram
|Victorian London: George Yard
|Witnesses: Mary and William Bousfield
|Witnesses: P.C. Thomas Barrett