A definition of witness.


Her Evidence Contradicted Other Witnesses

The inquest testimonies of Elizabeth Prater and Sarah Lewis, in which they spoke of having been woken by a cry of murder at around 4am, coupled with the medical evidence, led to a consensus that the time of Mary Kelly's murder had been around 4am.

However, doubt was cast on this by the appearance of Caroline Maxwell who swore that she had met Mary Kelly between 8am and 8.30am.

When Mrs. Maxwell appeared at the inquest to give her testimony, the Coroner actually cautioned her to be careful about the evidence she was about to give as it differed from other statements.

Mrs Maxwell, however, was adamant about what she had seen and stuck to her story.

St James's Gazette published the following account of her testimony:-

Caroline Maxwell said that she lived with her husband at 14, Dorset-street. Her husband was a lodging-house deputy.

She had known the deceased for about four months. She also knew Joe Barnett. She believed the deceased was an "unfortunate." She had only spoken to the deceased twice.

The witness saw the deceased at the corner of the court where she lived on Friday morning, between eight and half-past. She spoke to the deceased, and said, "Why, Mary, what brings you out?" The deceased replied, "Oh, Carrie, I have felt so bad." Kelly was standing against the wall on the pavement.

The witness asked her to have a drink, but she refused, stating that she had just had one.

On returning from getting her husband's breakfast she saw Kelly standing outside the Britannia public-house about 8.45 in company with a man. She could not give any description of the man. He was stout and had dark clothes on."

Source: St James's Gazette, Tuesday, 13th November, 1888.


Caroline Maxwell, of 14, Dorset-street, wife of a lodging-house deputy, said she knew Kelly as a young woman who never associated with anyone.

She saw her standing at the entrance to the court on Friday morning about eight o'clock. The witness had just come out of the lodging-house, which was immediately opposite Miller-court. It being an unusual thing to see her up at that time, the witness said, "Why, what brings you up so early?" Kelly replied, "oh, Carry, I do feel so bad." The witness asked her if she would have a drink, but she declined, saying that she had just had half a pint of ale, but could not retain it. By the motion of her head it must have been the Britannia beershop at the corner, where she had had the drink.

The witness then left her, went into Bishopsgate to get her husband's breakfast, and, on returning, saw Kelly standing outside the Britannia talking to a man. That was about 8.45 am.

The witness was standing at her door about 25 yards off, and so could give no definite description of the man. He was a short man, dressed in dark clothes, and wearing a sort of plaid coat."

Source: The Wigton Advertiser, Saturday, 17th November, 1888.


However, several newspapers by the end of the week were reporting that the police believed that Mrs. Maxell had merely miss-remembered the day on which she had met Mary Kelly:-

As to the evidence of the woman Caroline Maxwell, who swore that she saw the deceased at eight or nine o'clock on Friday morning, that is regarded by the police as merely an error of date.

No doubt she did see the woman, and spoke to her as she stated, but on Thursday morning instead of Friday."

Source: The Buckingham Express, Saturday, 17th November, 1888.