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The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 28 February 1891.


The burial of Francis Coles, who was murdered on the 13th inst. at Swallow-gardens, Whitechapel, took place on Wednesday afternoon at the East London Cemetery, Plaistow. The hearse had been timed to leave the mortuary at two o'clock, but it was a quarter past two when it issued from the yard into the Whitechapel-road. A crowd of about two thousand persons had assembled in the roadway and on the pavement, and on all hands great eagerness was evinced to catch a glimpse of the hearse. It was an open one, revealing a handsome polished elm coffin studded with white nails and bearing this inscription: 'Frances Coles. Died 13th February, 1891. Aged 26 years.'

A little to the westward of the entrance to the mortuary yard, three funeral coaches had been waiting since two o'clock, and as soon as the hearse made its appearance they drove up and fell in behind. The coaches contained Mr. Coles, the father of the deceased, and Miss Mary Coles, her sister, and Mr. Harvey, secretary of the Common Lodging House Mission; the Rev. Mr. Thomas, Mrs. Harvey, Mrs. Day, Mrs. Bridman, and Mr. Shepherd, all of whom are connected with the mission. A small body of foot police took up their position in front of the hearse, and the cortège thus formed proceeded at once down the Whitechapel-road and into the Mile End-road, passing Mr. Charrington's Assembly Hall, and later on the People's Palace. The horses walked, and those who cared to do so were thus able to accompany the vehicles. Several hundred persons, a large number of them women, availed themselves of the opportunity.

Here and there along the Mile-end-road small crowds had gathered on the pavement anxious to see the procession go by, and the windows of nearly all the houses passed revealed the faces of women. No one who mingled with the crowd could have failed to perceive that a feeling of very genuine sympathy was universally entertained. Many of the spectators appeared to derive a certain satisfaction from the handsome appearance of the coffin, and the Lodging-house Mission was warmly commended, for having come forward to defray the cost of the funeral. The procession turned to the right, down Burdett-road, passed Poplar and Canning Town railway stations and turned into the Barking-road. Hermit-road was entered to the right, and as soon as the last coach had entered the cemetery, the gates were closed, and admission was refused to the hundreds of men and women who had followed in the wake of the procession, many of them having come all the way from Whitechapel.

Inside the cemetery there was a gathering of several thousand people, and the scene was a remarkable one. The grave was situated on rising ground, close to a young poplar tree, and beneath and around, extending for a considerable distance in all directions, was a sea of human faces. The service was an impressive one, and the relatives of the deceased were greatly affected when the coffin, laden with flowers, was lowered into the grave. During the service reference was made to the circumstances under which the deceased came by her death, and the fervent hope was expressed that the assassin would be brought to justice. At the close of the service it was announced that Mr. Coles desired it to be made known that his daughter Frances had never given him a single day's trouble in the whole of her life.

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