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Date of Incident

August 31 1888
Location of Incident Bucks Row
Type of Incident Murder



Investigating Officer:Inspector Fredrick George Abberline. Scotland yard.

Results of Autopsy

Witness: Dr. Henry Llewellyn, surgeon attending.

On Friday morning I was called to Bucks Row about four o'clock. The constable told me what I was wanted for.

On reaching Bucks Row I found the deceased woman lying flat on her back in the pathway, her legs extended.

I found she was dead, and that she had severe injuries to her throat. Her hands and wrists were cold, but the body and lower extremities were warm.

I examined her chest and felt the heart. It was dark at the time.

I believe she had not been dead more than half-an-hour.

I am quite certain that the injuries to her neck were not self-inflicted.

There was very little blood round the neck. There were no marks of any struggle or of blood, as if the body had been dragged.

I told the police to take her to the mortuary, and I would make another examination.

About an hour later I was sent for by the Inspector to see the injuries he had discovered on the body. I went, and saw that the abdomen was cut very extensively.

I have this morning made a post-mortem examination of the body.

I found it to be that of a female about forty or forty-five years.

Five of the teeth are missing, and there is a slight laceration of the tongue.

On the right side of the face there is a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw. It might have been caused by a blow with the fist or pressure by the thumb.

On the left side of the face there was a circular bruise, which also might have been done by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about an inch below the jaw, there was an incision about four inches long and running from a point immediately below the ear.

An inch below on the same side, and commencing about an inch in front of it, was a circular incision terminating at a point about three inches below the right jaw. This incision completely severs all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision is about eight inches long.

These cuts must have been caused with a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.

No blood at all was found on the breast either of the body or clothes.

There were no injuries about the body till just about the lower part of the abdomen.

Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. It was a very deep wound, and the tissues were cut through.

There were several incisions running across the abdomen.

On the right side there were also three or four similar cuts running downwards.

All these had been caused by a knife, which had been used violently and been used downwards.

The wounds were from left to right, and might have been done by a left-handed person.

All the injuries had been done by the same instrument.

Witness Statements

Witness: Inspector John Spratling, J Division.

I first heard of the murder about half-past four on Friday morning, while I was in Hackney Road.

I proceeded to Buck's-row, where I saw Police-constable Thain, who showed me the place where the deceased had been found.

I noticed a blood stain on the footpath.

The body of deceased had been removed to the mortuary in Old Montague  Street, where I had an opportunity of preparing a description.

The skin presented the appearance of not having been washed for some time previous to the murder.

On his arrival Dr. Llewellyn made an examination of the body which lasted about ten minutes.

I next saw the body when it was stripped. I did not order anyone to do this.

The clothes, which were lying in a heap in the yard, consisted of a reddish-brown ulster, with seven large brass buttons, and a brown dress, which looked new. There were also a woollen and a flannel petticoat, belonging to the workhouse.

Inspector Helson had cut out pieces marked "P. R., Princes-road," with a view to tracing the body. There was also a pair of stays, in fairly good condition, but I did not notice how they were adjusted.

There was blood on the upper part of the dress body, and also on the ulster, but I only saw a little on the under-linen, and that might have happened after the removal of the body from Bucks Row.

The clothes were fastened when I first saw the body. The stays did not fit very tightly, for I was able to see the wounds without unfastening them.

About six o'clock that day I made an examination at Bucks Row and Brady Street, which ran across Bakers Row, but I failed to trace any marks of blood.

I subsequently examined, in company with Sergeant Godley, the East London and District Railway lines and embankment, and also the Great Eastern Railway yard, without, however, finding any traces.

A watchman of the Great Eastern Railway, whose box was fifty or sixty yards from the spot where the body was discovered, heard nothing particular on the night of the murder.

I also visited half a dozen persons living in the same neighbourhood, none of whom had noticed anything at all suspicious.

One of these, Mrs. Purkiss, had not gone to bed at the time the body of deceased was found, and her husband was of opinion that if there had been any screaming in Bucks Row they would have heard it.

A Mrs. Green, whose window looked out upon the very spot where the body was discovered, said nothing had attracted her attention on the morning of Friday last.

Constable Neil was the only one whose duty it was to pass through Bucks Row, but another constable passing along Broad Street from time to time would be within hearing distance.

Witness: Inspector Joseph Helson 

I first received information about the murder at a quarter before seven on Friday morning.

I afterwards went to the mortuary, where I saw the body with the clothes still on it.

The dress was fastened in front, with the exception of a few buttons, the stays, which were attached with clasps, were also fastened.

I noticed blood on the hair, and on the collars of the dress and ulster, but not on the back of the skirts.

There were no cuts in the clothes, and no indications of any struggle having taken place.

The only suspicious mark discovered in the neighbourhood of Bucks Row was in Broad Street, where there was a stain which might have been blood.

I was of opinion that the body had not been carried to Bucks Row, but that the murder was committed on the spot.

Witness: Police Constable Mizen 

At a quarter to four o'clock on Friday morning I was at the crossing, Hanbury Street, Bakers Row, when a carman who passed in company with another man informed him that I was wanted by a policeman in Bucks Row, where a woman was lying.

When he arrived there Constable Neil sent me for the ambulance. At that time nobody but Neil was with the body.

Witness: Police Constable John Thain

The nearest point on my beat to Bucks Row was Brady Street. I passed the end every thirty minutes on the Thursday night, and nothing attracted my attention until 3.45 a.m., when I was signalled by the flash of the lantern of another constable (Neil).

I went to him, and found Neil standing by the body of the deceased, and I was despatched for a doctor.

About ten minutes after I had fetched the surgeon I saw two workmen standing with Neale. I did not know who they were.

The body was taken to the mortuary, and I remained on the spot.

I searched Essex Wharf, the Great Eastern Railway arches, the East London Railway line, and the District Railway as far as Thames Street, and detected no marks of blood or anything of a suspicious character.

When I went to the horse-slaughterer's for my cape I did not say that I was going to fetch a doctor, as a murder had been committed.

Another constable had taken my cape there.

There were one or two working men going down Brady-street shortly before I was called by Neale.

Witness: Henry Tomkins, horse-slaughterer, 12, Coventry-street, Bethnal Green.

I was in the employ of Messrs. Barber, and was working in the slaughterhouse, Winthrop Street, from between eight and nine o'clock on Thursday evening till twenty minutes past four on Friday morning.

He and his fellow workmen usually went home upon finishing their work, but on that morning they did not do so. They went to see the dead woman,

Police-constable Thain having passed the slaughterhouse at about a quarter-past four, and told them that a murder had been committed in Buck's-row.

Two other men, James Mumford and Charles Britten, had been working in the slaughterhouse. He (witness) and Britten left the slaughterhouse for one hour between midnight and one o'clock in the morning, but not afterwards till they went to see the body.

The distance from Winthrop-street to Buck's-row was not great.

Nobody passed except the policeman.

When he arrived at Buck's-row the doctor and two or three policemen were there. He believed that two other men, whom he did not know, were also there.

He waited till the body was taken away, previous to which about a dozen men came up. He heard no statement as to how the deceased came to be in Buck's-row.

Witness: Charles Andrew Cross, carman,

Said he had been in the employment of Messrs. Pickford and Co. for over twenty years.

About half-past three on Friday he left his home to go to work, and he passed through Buck's-row. He discerned on the opposite side something lying against the gateway, but he could not at once make out what it was. He thought it was a tarpaulin sheet.

He walked into the middle of the road, and saw that it was the figure of a woman. He then heard the footsteps of a man going up Buck's-row, about forty yards away, in the direction that he himself had come from.

When he came up witness said to him, "Come and look over here; there is a woman lying on the pavement." They both crossed over to the body, and witness took hold of the woman's hands, which were cold and limp.

Witness said, "I believe she is dead." He touched her face, which felt warm. The other man, placing his hand on her heart, said "I think she is breathing, but very little if she is."

Witness suggested that they should give her a prop, but his companion refused to touch her. Just then they heard a policeman coming.

Witness did not notice that her throat was cut, the night being very dark.

He and the other man left the deceased, and in Baker's-row they met the last witness, whom they informed that they had seen a woman lying in Buck's-row.

Witness said, "She looks to me to be either dead or drunk; but for my part I think she is dead."

The policeman said, "All right," and then walked on. The other man left witness soon after. Witness had never seen him before.

Witness denied having seen Police-constable Neil in Buck's-row. There was nobody there when he and the other man left. In his opinion deceased looked as if she had been outraged and gone off in a swoon; but he had no idea that there were any serious injuries.

Witness: Emma Green, who lives in the cottage next to the scene of the murder in Buck's- row,

Stated that she had heard no unusual sound during the night.

Rough people often passed through the street, but she knew of no disorderly house in Buck's-row, all the houses being occupied by hardworking folk.

Witness: Thomas Ede, a signalman in the employ of the East London Railway Company,

Said he saw a man with a knife on the morning of the 8th.

Witness then said: On Saturday, the 8th inst., at noon, I was coming down the Cambridge-heath-road, and when near the Forester's Arms I saw a man on the other side of the street. His peculiar appearance made me take notice of him. He seemed to have a wooden arm. I watched him until level with the Forester's Arms, and then he put his hand to his trouser's pocket, and I saw about four inches of a knife. I followed him, but he quickened his pace, and I lost sight of him.

Witness described the man as 5 ft. 8 in. high, about thirty-five years of age, with a dark moustache and whiskers. He wore a double-peaked cap, a short dark brown jacket, and a pair of clean white overalls over dark trousers. The man walked as though he had a stiff knee, and he had a fearful look about the eyes. He seemed to be a mechanic.

Note: The man named John James was later identified. It transpired, however, that this man is a harmless lunatic who is well known in the neighbourhood.

Witness: Robert Paul, 30 Forster-street, Whitechapel, carman,

Said as he was going to work at Cobbett's-court, Spitalfields, he saw in Buck's-row a man standing in the middle of the road.

As witness drew closer he walked towards the pavement, and he stepped in the roadway to pass him.

The man touched witness on the shoulder and asked him to look at the woman, who was lying across the gateway.

He felt her hands and face, and they were cold. The clothes were disarranged, and he helped to pull them down.

Before he did so he detected a slight movement as of breathing, but very faint.

The man walked with him to Montague-street, and there they saw a policeman. Not more than four minutes had elapsed from the time he first saw the woman. Before he reached Buck's-row he had seen no one running away

Witness: Wm. Nichols , printer's machinist, Coburg-road, Old Kent-road,

Said deceased was his wife, but they had lived apart for eight years.

He last saw her alive about three years ago, and had not heard from her since. He did not know what she had been doing in the meantime.

Witness: Emily Holland, a married woman, living at 18, Thrawl-street.

Said deceased had stayed at her lodgings for about six weeks, but had not been there during the last ten days or so.

About half-past two on Friday morning witness saw deceased walking down Osborne-street, Whitechapel-road.

She was alone, and very much the worse for drink. She informed witness that where she had been living they would not allow her to return because she could not pay for her room.

Witness persuaded her to go home. She refused, adding that she had earned her lodging money three times that day.

She then went along the Whitechapel-road. Witness did not know in what way she obtained a living. She always seemed to her to be a quiet woman, and kept very much to herself.

In reply to further questions witness said she had never seen deceased quarrel with anybody. She gave her the impression of being weighed down by some trouble. When she left the witness at the corner of Osborne-street, she said she would soon be back.

Witness: Mary Ann Monk 

She deposed to having seen deceased about seven o'clock entering a public-house in the New Kent-road. She had seen her before in the workhouse, and had no knowledge of her means of livelihood.

Witness: Walter Purkiss, manager, residing at Essex Wharf,

Deposed that his house fronted Buck's-row, opposite the gates where deceased was discovered. He slept in the front room on the second floor and had heard no sound, neither had his wife.

Witness: Alfred Mulshaw, a night watchman in Winthorpe-street,

Had also heard no cries or noise. He admitted that he sometimes dozed.

In a straight line I was about thirty yards from the spot where the deceased was found.

Witness: Robert Mann, the keeper of the mortuary,

Said the police came to the workhouse, of which he was an inmate. He went, in consequence, to the mortuary at five a.m. He saw the body placed there, and then locked the place up and kept the keys. After breakfast witness and Hatfield, another inmate of the workhouse, undressed the woman.

There was no one present. Inspector Helson was not there.

Hatfield had to cut them down the front.

It appears the mortuary-keeper is subject to fits, and neither his memory nor statements are reliable.

Witness: James Hatfield, an inmate of the Whitechapel Workhouse,

Said he accompanied Mann, to the mortuary, and undressed the deceased.

Inspector Helson was not there.

We took off an ulster, which I put aside on the ground. We then took the jacket off, and put it in the same place. The outside dress was loose, and we did not cut it. The bands of the petticoats were cut, and I then tore them down with my hand. I tore the chemise down the front. There were no stays.

We did it to have the body ready for the doctor.

The police examined the petticoats, and found the words "Lambeth Workhouse" on the bands.

Witness: Edward Walker (victims father)

I live at 15 Maidwell-street, Albany-road, Camberwell, and have no occupation.

I was a smith when I was at work, but I am not now.

I have seen the body in the mortuary, and to the best of my belief it is my daughter; but I have not seen her for three years. I recognise her by her general appearance and by a little mark she has had on her forehead since she was a child. She also had either one or two teeth out, the same as the woman I have just seen.

My daughter's name was Mary Ann Nicholls, and she had been married twenty-two years. Her husband's name is William Nicholls, and he is alive. He is a machinist.

They have been living apart about seven or eight years. I last heard of her before Easter. She was forty-two years of age.

I don't think she had any enemies, she was too good for that.

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