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John Don

Police Sergeant John Don.

Witness at Frances Coles' inquest.

Born c.1858 in Scotland. Living with his wife Caroline and their five children at 21 Albion Street, Greenwich.[1]

Sergeant Don, accompanied by PC Gill, found James Sadler in the Phoenix public house at 24 Upper East Smithfield on the morning of 14th February 1891, following a lead given by Samuel Harris. His official report is reproduced below:

The woman found murdered in Swallow Gardens.

I beg to report that at about 12 noon, 14th inst in company with P.C.Gill H. Dn. I was in Upper East Smithfield and from what I was told by a man named Samuel Harris I went to the Phoenix P.H. where I saw the prisoner. I called him outside and asked him if his name was "Sadler" he said Yes. I told him I was a Police Officer and that it was necessary he should come to Leman Street Police Station, as a woman had been found with her throat cut and it was alleged that he had been in her company the night previous. He stopped me and said I expected this. On the way to the station he said, I am a married man and this will part me and my wife, you know what sailors are, I used her for my purpose for I have known Frances for some years. I admit I was with her, but I have a clean bill of health and can account for my time. I have not disguised myself in any way, and if you could not find me the detectives in London are no damned good. I bought the hat she was wearing and she pinned the old one under her dress. I had a row with her because she saw me knocked about and I think it was through her. He accompanied by P.C. Gill & myself came to the station & "Sadler" was handed over to Chief Insp Swanson.[2]

Sergeant Don appeared at the Coles inquest to corroborate statements made by Samuel Harris.[3]


  1. Census reports 1891
  2. MEPO 3/140, ff.117-8
  3. Inquest report, The Times, 24th February 1891

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