An illustration of a man reading a newspaper.



The murder of Martha Turner (Tabram) was still very much in the news for the week ending 18th August 1888. Under a headline which read "THE WHITECHAPEL MYSTERY " the East London Observer reported that "The Body is identified," and posed the question "But Where is the Murderer?"

The article read:-

The identity of the woman who was found so cruelly murdered and outraged at 37, George-yard buildings, on the morning after Bank Holiday has at least been decided, and henceforth the murdered woman will be known as Martha Turner. It cannot, however, be said with any degree of certainty that that was her correct name: it was simply the name by which she was known among her equally unfortunate associates on the streets - because, unhappily, one result of the inquiries made has been to connect the deceased with that class of women whom poverty or misfortune have driven to seeking a living upon the streets of London.

The woman who identified the poor unfortunate was Connolly, otherwise known as "Pearly Poll," a tall, masculine looking woman, who had been hunted up by Inspector Reid, of the Criminal Investigation Department, who has the case in hand. But beyond identifying the body, "Poll" gave another piece of information, which seemed at the time likely to prove immediately useful. She stated that on the night preceding the murder, she was in company with the deceased in the Whitechapel-road, when they were accosted by two soldiers, who invited them to drink at a neighbouring public-house.

The invitation was accepted, and the women and soldiers stood drinking there till late in the night, when something was said in the hearing of Connolly about the deceased accompanying one of them to George-yard. The whole party then left the house, but as to the after movements of the deceased, "Pearly Poll" professed complete ignorance.

As bearing on this incident, the statement of Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, who, it will be remembered, gave evidence at the inquest as to being called to George-yard and finding the body, is important. That officer was on duty in the neighbourhood of George-yard at about two o'clock on the morning of the tragedy, and he noticed a soldier loitering. Barrett remarked that it was quite time he was in barracks, and the soldier replied that he was waiting for a comrade who had accompanied a woman to one of the buildings close at hand.

At a parade of soldiers which took place at the Tower on Monday, Barrett identified the man whom he had accosted as described, but the soldier refused to give any account of himself. This information was considered by Inspector Reid to be sufficient to warrant him in taking Connolly to the Tower in order to endeavour to identify the soldiers with whom she and the deceased had been drinking, two of whom had been placed under temporary arrest on suspicion. Inspector Reid, accompanied by "Pearly Poll", proceeded to the Tower on Monday afternoon, where she was confronted with every non-commissioned officer and private who had leave of absence at the time of the outrage. They were paraded at the back of the Tower, unseen by the public - of whom on Monday there was a large number frequenting the historic structure - and "Pearly Poll" was asked, "Can you see either of the men you saw with the woman now dead?" ""Poll," in no way embarrassed, placed her arms akimbo, glanced at the men with the air of an inspecting officer, and shook her head. This indication of a negative was not sufficient. "Can you identify anyone?" she was asked. "Pearly Poll" explained, with a good deal of feminine emphasis, "He ain't here.""

The woman was very decided on this point, and the men were then dismissed, while the two men upon whom a faint share of suspicion had rested were considerably relieved at their innocence being declared.

As soon as the murder was known the suspected corporal was interviewed by the police and questioned. He had his bayonet with him when on leave at the time of the outrage, but this he at once produced, and no trace of blood was discovered upon it. His clothing, too, was also examined, and upon it there was no incriminating blood-stain.

After the parade, Adjutant A. W. Cotton, the officer in command, stated that all the men were now entirely exonerated; indeed the men themselves were most anxious to afford every facility to the police, and gave all the information in their power to assist the officers of justice in their investigation.

There is one fact noted by Inspector Reid which seems to prove that the murderer was a military man, and that is the wound on the breast bone of the woman. It will be recollected that at the inquest, when asked his opinion as to the instrument with which the wounds were inflicted, Dr. Keeling replied that they were undoubtedly committed with an ordinary pocket-knife - all except the wound on the breast bone. As to the instrument with which that had been caused he could not say with any degree of certainty, but of this he was sure that it must have been an heavy, dagger-pointed instrument, since an ordinary knife-blade would have been broken by contact with the bone.

There have been many visitors to George-yard-buildings since the murder with the rather morbid purpose of seeing the place where the deceased was discovered. Here there is still a large surface of the stone flags crimson-stained. It is at the spot where the blood oozed from the poor creature's heart.

The police authorities regard as little short of marvellous the fact that no dweller in this model block heard any disturbance. Mr. Francis Hewitt, the superintendent of the dwellings, who with his wife occupied a sleeping apartment at nearly right angles with the place where the dead body laid, procured a foot-rule, and measured the distance of his sleeping apartment from the stone step in question; it was exactly 12 ft. "And we never heard a cry," remarked Mr. Hewitt.

Mrs. Hewitt remarked that early in the evening she did hear a single cry of "Murder." It echoed through the building, but did not emanate from there. "But," explained Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt in a breath, "the district round here is rather rough, and cries of 'Murder' are of frequent, if not nightly, occurrence in the district."

From an interview with Connolly, it appeared that Martha Turner had lived apart from her husband for some years, and latterly had attempted to get her living by hawking.


Meanwhile, the East London Observer carried a report which was headlined "A FEMALE CANNIBAL - EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENT." The subsequent article told how, at the Thames Police Court:-

Bridget Dooley, 19, was charged, on a warrant, with assaulting Eliza Borman, of 2, Hanks-court, Poplar.

Prosecutrix stated that on Thursday, 2 February, she had been to Barking Road, and when she returned she saw the accused, who lived next door to her. Dooley said "You ---, I pay you for your mother false-swearing my mother's life away. " she then dragged her to the ground by the hair of the head, fell on top of her, and bit her on the forehead. Witness went into a faint, when prisoner got her thumb into the mouth and bit it.

Witness's mother rescued her, and she was taken to the London Hospital, where her wounds were dressed. She now had scars on her forehead and thumb.

The reason prisoner assaulted her was because two days previously, prisoner's mother, was sentenced to 4 months hard labour, and witness's mother, gave evidence against her.

Police constable Rowe 396 K, said that on the day in question he was called to Hank's-court and the best saw Prosecutrix lying on the ground with prisoner on top of. It appeared to witness there had been a free fight and he arrested Dooley, Prosecutrix and her mother, but at the Police-station the charge was not entertained.

The Prosecutrix afterwards complained of being bitten, and went to the hospital. When witness arrested the accused on Wednesday evening, she said "All right. I know all about it." The prisoner said she had been continually persecuted by Prosecutrix and her friends. On the day in question, she attacked her, and she acted in self defence.

Mr. Lushington said he believed the Prosecutrix's statement that the prisoner bit her. If she chose to act like a brute and a beast she must put up with the consequences. She would be sentenced to four months hard labour. For resisting the police and attempting to rescue the last prisoner from custody, Catherine Dooley, 53, her mother, was sentenced to one months hard labour. When the constable in the last case was taking his prisoner to the station, her mother behaved in a very violent manner, and attempted to rescue her. She could not be made to let go of the prisoner and was then arrested.


Another report from the Thames Police Court carried by the East London Observer told how:-

Emily Banner, 16, was charged on remand, with violently assaulting Elizabeth Barber, of 43 Samuel-street, Limehouse.

Prosecutrix, whose face was surgically bandaged, said that on the evening of Monday week, about 5.30, she was looking on at a row in Repton-street, when the prisoner knocked her down and kicked her. Some young men got witness away, and she was going to White Horse-street to get some supper.

Banner followed with a long hat-pin in her hand, which she ran into witness's eye. It broke, and another young man pulled the piece out.

The accused then ran the other portion of the pin into witness's breast and went away.

Witness went to the London Hospital, where her eye was dressed. The surgeon at the institution said there was nothing in witness's breast, but when she went to the Children's Hospital the next day , the doctor took the portion of the pin (produced) out.

George Poulford, a lad, stated that on the Monday evening he saw the prisoner and Barber quarrelling. Prisoner had a hat-pin and a hair-pin in her hands. They fought for about two minutes, when witness pulled the small portion of the hat-pin (produced) out of her eye. Witness told her to go to the London Hospital and she did so.

Charles Duke, another lad, set his stall prisoner, stick the pin in prosecutrix's eye. A policeman came up, and they went away. The accused had a pin in each hand, and she struck prosecutrix twice.

Constable George Ramplin, 48 HR, said when he arrested prisoner on the night of Wednesday week she said, "She struck me first , and I must have struck her in the eye with the pin, but I did not mean to do it."

Dr. W G. Brett, house-surgeon the Children's Hospital, Shadwell, said prosecutrix. He found she had a portion of a needle in her right breast. He had to cut it out, and it was now produce. She also had a contusion of the right eye.

Mr. Lushington committed the accused for trial.

Article Sources

East London Advertiser 18th August, 1888