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JACK THE RIPPER
A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
(c) 2004

Frances Coles

Like the murder of Alice McKenzie, the death of Frances Coles was seen in many contemporary press reports as attributable to the Whitechapel murderer. She was found, still breathing, but with her throat cut in the early hours of 14 February 1891 in Swallow Gardens, which led into Royal Mint Street. Coles died soon after being found by PC Thompson, who heard footsteps running away to the south. Thomas Sadler, who had been in Coles' company prior to the murder and was charged with killing her. Sadler was discharged but some sections of the police remained convinced that Sadler was indeed the killer of Frances Coles.
There is only one unequivocal census entry relating to Frances herself, although we do find other information about other members of her family. Frances was the daughter of James William Coles, a master bootmaker, and Mary Ann Coles. We find the family listed in 1871 living at 8 White Lion Court, Leather Market, Bermondsey.
Head:
James W Coles aged 51 born Woolland, Somerset - Master boot and shoe maker
Wife:
Mary A Coles aged 40 born Hammerton, Scotland
Children:
Mary A aged 18 born Bermondsey
Selina aged 14 born Bermondsey
Frances aged 11 born Bermondsey
James aged 8 born Bermondsey.
By 1881 Frances' father was living in the Bermondsey Workhouse. Interestingly, he is listed as unmarried, which suggests that by this time he was either divorced or widowed. His details are given as follows:
Workhouse, Russell Street, Bermondsey
James Coles aged 61 born Woolleston, Somerset - Shoemaker.
Unmarried
In the same year Frances' sister, Selina, was registered as an inmate of the Southwark Workhouse:
Selina Coles
St Olaves Unions Workhouse, Southwark
Selina Cole aged 21 born Southwark, Surrey - Domestic servant - Inmate
In the 1891 census, less than two months after Frances' death, we find records of three of her immediate family. Her father, James William, was still listed as living the Bermondsey Workhouse. On this occasion he is described as widowed and, oddly, as being born in Bristol.
Bermondsey District Workhouse
James William Coles aged 68 born Bristol - Retired bootmaker
Widowed
Frances' sister, Mary Ann, was, in 1891, living at 32 Ware Street, Haggeston, Shoreditch:
Mary Ann Coles aged 38 born Bermondsey - House cleaning (Char) - Unmarried
The saddest case was Frances' other sister, Selina, who in 1891 is listed as a lunatic in the Leavesden Asylum:
Leavesden Asylum, Watford
Selina Cole (sic) aged 32 born Bermondsey - Book folder - Lunatic
The only other possible sighting, and it is only a possibility, is the case of two girls of the name of Coles listed as lodgers:
12 Tabernacle Row, London
Lodgers:
Mary A M Coles aged 21 - born Edgbaston Warwick - Boot machinist - Unmarried
Fanny E Coles aged 19 born Rotherhithe, Surrey - Unmarried.
The place of birth for Mary is obviously wrong if this is the same Mary Coles and her age also at variance. This Fanny E. Coles may be Frances but the identification is by no means definite.


Related pages:
  Frances Coles
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       Diversions: Original Ripper Fiction - The Impersonator 
       Message Boards: Frances Coles 
       Police Officials: P.C. Ernest Thompson 
       Press Reports: Daily Northwestern - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Republican - 17 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Republican - 26 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Republican - 4 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Decatur Herald Dispatch - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East End News - 20 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 7 March 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 28 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 7 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 13 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Lincoln Evening News - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 15 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 7 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Sandusky Daily Register - 4 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Stevens Point Daily Journal - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 14 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 16 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 18 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 27 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Waukesha Freeman - 21 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 13 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 20 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 27 February 1891 
       Ripper Media: Forty Years of Scotland Yard 
       Ripper Media: Lost London: The Memoirs of an East End Detective 
       Victims: Frances Coles