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Woodford Times.
Friday, 27 February 1891.


The inquest on Frances Coles, who was murdered in Swallow-gardens, Whitechapel, was resumed on February 23, when a long statement made to the police by the accused man Sadler was read by Mr. Mathews. The prisoner’s statement was as follows:-

"I am a fireman, and am generally known as Tom Sadler. I was discharged at seven p.m. on the 11th inst. from the steamship Fez. I think I had a drink of Holland’s gin at Williams Brothers’, at the corner of Goulston-street. I then went at 8.30 to the Victoria Home. I then left the Home and went into the Princess Alice, opposite, and had something to drink. I had no person with me. While in the Princess Alice between 8.30 and 9 p.m. I saw a woman (whom I had previously known) named Frances. I had known her for 18 months. I first met her in the Whitechapel-road, and went with her to Thrawl-street to a lodging-house and stayed with her all night, having paid for a double bed at the lodging-house. I don’t remember the name of the lodging-house where I then stayed with her. I think I then took a ship, the name of which I do not remember. I did not see this woman again until I saw her in another bar of the Princess Alice, and recognising her, I beckoned her over to me. There was nobody with her. She asked me to leave the public-house, as when she had got a little money the customers in the public-house expected her to spend it amongst them. We left the Princess Alice and went round drinking at other public-houses. Amongst other houses I went into a house at the corner of Dorset-street, where there was another woman. Frances stopped me from treating this woman, and we then went to White’s-row Chambers. I paid for a double bed, and we stayed the night there. She had a bottle of whisky (half-pint) which I had bought at Davis’s, White Swan, Whitechapel. I took the bottle back yesterday morning, and the young woman (barmaid) gave me twopennyworth of drink for it. Frances and I left White’s-row Chambers between 11 and 12 noon, and we went into a number of public-houses, one of which was the Bell, Middlesex-street. We stayed there for about two hours drinking and laughing. When in the Bell, she spoke to me about a hat which she had paid a shilling for a month previously. We then went on the way to the bonnet shop, drinking at the public-houses on the way. The shop is in White’s-row or Baker’s-row, and I gave her half-a-crown which was due for a hat and she went into the shop. She came out again and said that her hat was not ready, adding, "The woman is putting some elastic on." We then went into a public-house in White’s or Baker’s-row, and we had some more drinks. Then she went for her hat and got it, and brought it to me at the public-house, and I made her try it on. I wanted her to throw the old one away, but she declined, and I pinned it on to her dress. Then we went to the Marlborough Head public-house in Brick-lane and had some more drink. I was then getting into drink, and the landlady rather objected to Frances and me being in the house. I can’t remember what the landlady said now. I treated some men in the house. I can’t say their names. I had met them previously in the same house. From there I had an appointment to see a man Nicols in Spitalfields-street, and I left her there to see Nicols, arranging to meet her again at a public-house, where I cannot say now, and I have forgotten it. We came down Thrawl-street, and while going down a woman, in a red shawl, struck me on the head and I fell down, and when down I was kicked by some men around me. The men ran into the lodging-house, and on getting up I found my money and my watch gone. I was then penniless, and I then had a row with Frances, for I thought she might have helped me when I was down. I then left her at the corner of Thrawl-street, without making any appointment that I can remember. I was down-hearted at the loss of my money, because I could not pay for my bed. I then went to the London Docks and applied for admission, as I wanted to go aboard the steamship Fez. There was a stout sergeant inside the gate and a constable. They refused me admission, as I was too intoxicated. I cannot remember what hour this was, as I was dazed and drunk. There was a metropolitan police officer near the gate - a young man. I abused the sergeant and constable because they refused me admission. There were some dock labourers coming out, and they said something to me, and I replied abusively, and one of the labourers took it up, saying, "If the (metropolitan) policeman would turn his back I would give you a d----- good hiding." The policeman walked across the road, across Nightingale-lane, towards the Tower way, and as soon as he had done so, the labourers made a dead set at me, especially the one who took my abuse. This one knocked me down and kicked me, and eventually another labourer stopped him. I then turned down Nightingale-lane and the labourers went up Smithfield way. I remained in Nightingale-lane for about a quarter of an hour feeling my injuries. I then went to the Victoria Lodging House in East Smithfield, and applied for a bed, but was refused (as I was drunk) by the night porter, a stout, fat man. I begged and prayed him to let me have a bed, but he refused. To the best of my belief I told him that I had been knocked about. He refused to give me a bed, and I left and wandered about. I can’t say what the time was. I went towards Dorset-street. I cannot say which way, but possibly Leman-street way. When I got to Dorset-street I went into the lodging-house where I had stopped with Frances on the previous night, and found her in the kitchen, sitting with her head on her arms. I spoke to Frances about her hat. She appeared half dazed from drink. I asked her if she had enough money to pay the double bed with. She said she had no money, and I told her I had not a farthing, but I had £4 15s. coming to me. I asked her if she could get trust, but she said she couldn’t. I then went to the deputy, and asked for a night’s lodging on the strength of the money I was to lift the next day, but I was refused. I was eventually turned out by a man, and left Frances behind in the house. I then went, to the best of my belief, towards the London Hospital, and about the middle of the Whitechapel-road a young policeman stopped me and asked where I was going, as I looked in a pretty pickle. I said that I had had two doings last night-one in Spitalfields and one at the docks. I said I had been cut or hacked about with a knife or a bottle. Immediately I mentioned the word "knife" he said "Oh, have you a knife about you?" and then searched me. I told him I did not carry a knife. My shipmates, one Mat Curley, and another named Bowen, know that I have not carried a knife for years. The policeman helped me across the road towards the hospital gate. I spoke to the porter, but he hummed and hawed about it, and I began to abuse him. However, he did let me in, and I went to the accident ward and had the cut in my head dressed. The porter asked me if I had any place to go to, and I said "No," and he let me lie down on a couch in the room where the first accidents are brought in. I can give no idea of the time I had called at the hospital. When he let me out, somewhere between six and eight in the morning, I went straight to the Victoria Home, and begged for a few halfpence, but I did not succeed. I then went to the shipping office, where I was paid £4 15s. 3d. Having got my money, I went to the Victoria, Upper East Smithfield, and stayed there all day, as I was miserable. The furthest I went out was the Phoenix, about twelve doors off. I spent the night there, and I was there this morning. I had gone to the Phoenix this morning to have a drink, and was beckoned out, asked to come here (Leman-street), and I came. As far as I can think it was between five and six that I was assaulted in Thrawl-street. At any rate it was getting dark, and it was some hours after that that I went to the London Docks. I forgot to mention that Frances and I had some food at Mr. Shuttleworth’s in Wentworth-street. My discharges are as follows: Last discharged 11-2-90 in London ship Fez; next discharge 6-9-90, London; next 15-7-90, London; next 27-5-90, Barry; next 1-10-89 London; next 2-10-88 London; next engaged, 17-8-86; next, 5-5-87; engaged, 24-3-87, London. The last I had seen of the woman Frances was when I left her in the lodging-house when I was turned out. The lodging-house deputy can give you the name. The clothes that I am now wearing are the only clothes I have. They are the clothes I was discharged in, and I have worn them ever since. My wife resides in the country, but I would prefer not to mention it. The lodging-house I refer to is White’s-row, not Dorset-street. It has a large lamp over it. Passing a little huckster’s shop at the corner of Brick-lane and Brown’s-lane I purchased a pair of earrings, or rather I gave her the money and she bought them. I think she gave a penny for them." This statement was read over to Sadler, who said it was correct as far as he could recollect.

(Signed) DONALD S. SWANSON, Chief Inspector

T. ARNOLD, Superintendent.

Other evidence of considerable importance was given. Duncan Campbell, a sailor, deposed that the prisoner Sadler sold him a knife for a shilling on the morning after the murder, and that, having his suspicions aroused, he put the knife in water, which then became salmon-coloured. A marine-store dealer to whom Campbell had in turn sold the knife stated that he sharpened the big blade and ate his supper with it. On the other hand Sadler, whose statement to the police was put in, stoutly protested that he did not sell the knife and that he never had one to sell. Dr. George Phillips and Dr. Oxley concurred in thinking that death was caused by three distinct passings of a knife across the woman’s throat, and that her assailant cut her throat with his right hand, while he held her chin with his left. It was not a sharp knife that was used, and one such as that produced would have inflicted the injuries. The inquiry was adjourned till Feb. 27.


At the Thames Police-court on Feb. 24, Thomas James Sadler, 53, described as a ship’s fireman, was brought up on remand, charged with wilfully causing the death of Frances Coles by cutting her throat with a knife, on the 13th inst.

Mr. Mathews, instructed by Mr. Frayling, now appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Treasury; and Mr. Lawless, instructed by Messrs. Wilson and Wallis, appeared for the prisoner; while Superintendent Arnold and Chief Inspector Swanson represented the police.

Considerable excitement prevailed outside the court, in front of which many hundreds of people had assembled, in hopes of getting a view of the prisoner, but, of course, owing to the limited accommodation for the public inside the court, only a few were successful.

Sadler, when placed in the dock, presented a much better appearance than when last before the Court.

Mr. Mathews, who said Mr. Lawless concurred in what he was about to say, asked that the prisoner should be again remanded on the evidence which was taken on the last occasion. He based his application on the ground that the coroner’s inquiry was not yet concluded.

Mr. Mead concurred, and remanded the accused for a week.

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       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 February 1891 
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