A definition of witness.


Landlady Of Number 29 Hanbury Street

Amelia Richardson was a resident and the landlady of number 29 Hanbury Street, in the back yard of which the body of Annie Chapman was discovered on Saturday, 8th September, 1888.

She was called to give evidence at the inquest into Annie's death, and appeared on Wednesday, 12th September, 1888.

The Globe, published a synopsis of her inquest testimony on Thursday, 13th September, 1888:-

Mrs. Amelia Richardson, a widow, living at 29, Hanbury-street, said she occupied the lower part of that house.

She was a packing-case maker, and her workshop was in the cellar. She employed her son and another man there.

On Saturday she sent her grandson, aged 14. years, down to see what caused the noise in the yard, and he came back immediately and said, "Oh, mother, there's woman murdered."

She went immediately, and saw the body of the deceased lying in the yard.

So far as she knew, the constable was the first person to arrive in the yard.

She went to bed about half-past nine on Friday night, and lay awake half the night. She awoke at three o'clock, and only dozed after that. She heard no noise during that time.

An old man, a maker of lawn tennis boots, occupied the first floor back room, and his son slept with him. He was a weak-minded man, but inoffensive.

The witness gave an account of the other tenants in the house.

The front and back doors of the house were always left open. She was not afraid of the doors being left open, and was confident no one went through into the back yard early on Saturday morning, for, unless it was done very quietly, she must have heard it."

Source: The Globe, Thursday, 13th September, 1888.


Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper published a more detailed account of her testimony on the following Sunday:-

Mrs. Amelia Richardson, 29, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, said::

"I rent half the house in Hanbury Street. I carry on business there and employ there my son, aged 37, and a man named Francis Tyler. Tyler should have come to work at six o'clock, but he did not come until eight. I'd sent for him. He was often late when work was slack.

My son also works at the market. My son went through our yard about five o'clock, but there was nothing then.

About six o'clock my grandson, Thomas Richardson, aged 14, went down to see what was the matter, as there was so much noise in the passage. He came back and said, "Oh, mother, there is a woman murdered."

I went down and saw the deceased in the yard. There was no one in the yard at the time, but there were people in the passage. Soon afterwards a constable arrived and took possession of the place. So far as I know, he was the first person to go into the yard. I occupy the first-floor front. My grandson also slept it the same room. I went to bed at half-past nine. I was very wakeful, and was awake half the night. I woke at three, and only dozed afterwards. I heard no noise during the night.

The first-floor back was occupied by Mr. Walker, an old gentleman, with his wife and son, 27 years of age. The son is weak-minded and inoffensive.

On the ground-floor there are two rooms, occupied by Mrs. Hardiman and her son, aged 16. Mrs. Hardiman keeps a cat's-meat shop. The son goes out with the cat's-meat.

I occupy the back parlour for cooking, and on Friday night I had a prayer meeting there. When I went to bed I locked that room up. It was still locked in the morning.

John Davies and his family occupy the third-floor front.

An old lady occupies the back room on that floor.

The house is practically open all night, and although I have property there I am not afraid. There are never any robberies there. I am not the owner of the house. I can hear anyone going through the passage. I heard nobody on Saturday."

A Juryman:- "You mean to say you could hear them if you were awake?"

Witness:- "Yes. Of course there is noise and bustle on market mornings. I heard no cries on Saturday."

By the Coroner. "It is customary for people to go through the house. They go to the backyard, but I always hear them. Some people go through who have no business there."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, 16th September, 1888.


Her son, John Richardson, in his inquest testimony, had spoken of the house and yard used for immoral purposes, and so she was later recalled and asked to corroborate this:-

Mrs. Richardson was brought in again from the corridor, to which she had retired; and in reply to questions from the coroner, said:-

I never have lost anything from my house, and I leave my door open. I, once missed a saw and a hammer from the cellar, but that was a long time ago. I used to lock the cellar, but they broke the padlock. That was done in the early morning. My son looks round on market mornings."

The Coroner:- "Had you any suspicion that the yard or any part of the house was at any time used for immoral purposes?"

Witness:- "No, sir."

The Coroner:- "Did you say anything about a leather apron?"

Witness:- "Yes; my son wears one when he works in the cellar."

The Coroner:- "It is rather a dangerous thing to wear, is it not?"

Witness:- "Yes. On Thursday, Sept. 6, I found my son's leather apron in the cellar mildewed. He had not used it for a month. I took it and put it under the tap in the yard, and left it there. It was found there on Saturday morning by the police, who took charge of it. The apron had remained there from Thursday to Saturday."

The Coroner:- "Was this tap used?"

Witness:- "Yes, by all of us in the house. The apron was on the stones. The police took away an empty box, used for nails, and the steel out of a boy's gaiter. There was a pan of clean water near to the tap when I went in the yard at six o'clock on Saturday. It was there on Friday night at eight o'clock, and it looked as if it had not been disturbed."

The Coroner:- "Did you ever know of strange women being found on the first-floor landing?"

Witness:- "No."

The Coroner:- "Your son had never spoken to you about it?"

Witness:- "No."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, 16th September, 1888.


It would appear that Mrs Richardson was not particularly impressed that her son had told the inquest into the death of Annie Chapman that 29 Hanbury Street was used for immoral purposes. To set the record straight, she gave an interview to a representative from Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, in which she expressed her displeasure at her son's inquest revelations and questioned the veracity of his testimony. She also revealed the intriguing information that Annie Chapman was, in fact, known to herself and some of the other residents at 29, Hanbury Street:-

;Our representative on Friday again visited 29, Hanbury-street, and saw Mrs. Richardson, who is naturally greatly shocked that such a terrible crime should have been committed there.

As her rooms are used for prayer meetings once a week, both she and the landlord are very angry at anything like a slur on the respectability of the house.

It seems to be certain that the murdered woman was known there.

Mrs. Richardson said:- "When I saw the murdered body I was so shocked I did not like to look particularly at her face, but I have no doubt it is the dark woman that used to come round with cotton and crochet work, and I have bought off her many times when she has said that she has been hard up.

She used to come round to these houses, and other neighbours used to buy off her too, and lend her money when she said she had not enough for her lodgings.

She then expressed her great indignation that her son, John, should have told the coroner that people came into the house, for improper purposes."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, 16th September, 1888.