A definition of witness.


Friend Of Mary Nichols

Emily Holland, the lodging house keeper at 18, Thrawl Street, was a friend of Mary Nichols who had, so she testified at the inquest, shared a room with Mary for about six weeks.

However, she said that Mary had not been in her house for the ten days prior to her murder.

At around 2.30am, Emily was returning from having watched a fire at Ratcliffe when she encountered Mary Nichols, who somewhat the worse for drink, at the junction of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road.

Concerned at her friends drunken state, she tried to persuade Mary to come back to the lodging house with her and sober up.

Mary declined and told Emily that she was going to try to make the money for a bed at the lodging house.

So saying, she staggered off along Whitechapel Road, heading in the direction of Buck's Row where her body would be found at 3.40am.

Emily was, therefore, the last person to see Mary Nichols alive, apart from her murderer.

The corner of Osborn Street where Emily Holland met Mary Nichols.

The Corner of Osborn Street where Emily Holland met Mary Nichols.


She gave her evidence on the first day of the inquest into her friend's death/

The East London Observer published a detailed transcript of her inquest testimony in its edition of Saturday, 8th September, 1888:-


Emily Holland, an elderly woman in a brown dress, with a dolman and bonnet, whose naturally pale face was flushed with excitement, and who gave her evidence in a frightened manner, which necessitated the coroner frequently urging her to speak up, was then called.

She lived at 18, Thrawl-street, she said - a common lodging house - and was married.

The Coroner:- "Did you know the deceased?"

Witness:- "Yes; I knew her. For about six weeks she slept in the same room with me, but she has not been in my house for the last ten days."

The Coroner:- "Did you know where she was?"

Witness:- "She told me that she was living in another house, together with a lot of men and women. On Friday morning, at about half-past two o'clock, I was returning from a fire which I had been to see at Ratcliffe, when I saw her at the corner of Osborn Street, Whitechapel Road, just outside a grocer's shop there.

The Coroner:- "Which way was she going?"

Witness:- "She was coming down Osborn-street into the Whitechapel-road."

The Coroner:- "Was she by herself?"

Witness:- "Yes"

The Coroner:- "Did you stop to speak to her?"

Witness:- "Yes. She was the worse for drink."

The Coroner:- "What do you mean? Could she walk straight?"

Witness:- "No ; she staggered a bit."

The Coroner:- "Did she say where she was going?"

Witness:- "No; but she told me she had altered the place where she was living."

The Coroner:- "Did she tell you where that was?"

Witness:- "No: but I think it was in the next street. Flower and Dean-street, I understood."

The Coroner:- "Did she say where she was going that night?"

Witness:- "No. I persuaded her to come home with me as she was the worse for drink, and I would get her lodgings where I was living, but she refused to come."

The Coroner:- "Did she say where she had been?"

Witness:- "She said, "I have had my lodging money three times today, and I have spent it.""

The Coroner:- "Did she say where she was going?"

Witness:- "No; but when I left her she headed towards this place (Whitechapel-road) and went along there."

The Coroner:- "What did she do for a living?"

Witness:- "I don't know, sir."

The Coroner:- "Did she stay out late at night?"

Witness:- "I don't know. She always seemed to keep herself to herself, and I don't know anybody that she knew."

The Coroner:- "She never spoke about herself you mean."

Witness:- "No, sir."

The Coroner:- "Had you seen her before that night?"

Witness:- "No, I had not."

The Coroner:- "Have you heard of anyone who saw her?"

Witness:- "No, sir."

The Coroner:- "Do you know whether she used to get the worse for drink?"

Witness:- "I have seen her two or three times the worse for drink."

The Coroner:- "Did you consider that she was very cleanly in her habits?"

Witness:- "Oh, yes; she was a very clean woman."

Mr. Horey:- "Did you think she was quarrelsome or good tempered?"

Witness:- "I have never seen her quarrel with anybody."

Mr. Horey:- "Did anyone ever threaten her?"

Witness:- "Not that I am aware of."

Mr. Horey (the foreman of the jury):- "Did she seem as if some trouble was weighing on her?"

Witness:- "Yes, sir."

The Coroner:- "How long were you with her?"

Witness:- "I had only just met her, we were talking for about seven or eight minutes. While we were talking the clock at Whitechapel Church struck half-past-two."

The Coroner:- "What were you talking about all that time?"

Witness:- "I was persuading her to come home with me."

The Coroner:- "Did she say anything about having an appointment?"

Witness:- "No, she did not say that she was to meet anybody. She said she had no money and that she must make up the amount of her lodgings."

Mr. Horey:- "I suppose you formed an opinion of what that meant?"

Witness:- "No, she said, "it won't be long before I'll be back.""

The Coroner:- "To your house?"

Witness:- "Yes; she said that there were too many men and women at the place she was staying at, and she didn't like to go there."

The Coroner:- "Where was that?"

Witness:- "I thought from what she told me that it was "The White House.""

A Juror:- "Do you know of any companions she met?"

Witness:- "Only one - female - with whom she ate and drank for a few days."

Mr. Horey:- "What name did you know her by?"

Witness:- "Only as "Polly""

Mr. Horey:- "You were the first one to identify her?"

Witness:- "Yes, sir."

Mr. Horey:- "Were you crying when you identified her?"

Witness:- "Yes, and it was enough to make anyone shed a tear, sir.""

Source: The East London Observer, Saturday, 8th September, 1888.