A definition of the word witness.


Customers at the Bricklayers Arms, Settles Street.

J. Best and John Gardner were quoted in The Evening News, on Monday, 1st October, 1888, as having seen Elizabeth Stride in the company of a man in the doorway of the Bricklayers Arms, at a little before 11pm on the night of Saturday, 29th September, 1888.

Best stated that he and his friends had been surprised by the way in which the man was "going on with the woman". He claimed that he was so suspicious of the man that, if he had seen a policeman, he would have had the man arrested.

The article in The Evening News read:-

J. Best, 82, Lower Chapman-street, said:-

"I was in the Bricklayers Arms, Settles-street, about two hundred yards from the scene of the murder on Saturday night, shortly before eleven, and saw a man and a woman in the doorway. They had been served in the public house, and went out when me and my friends came in.

It was raining very fast, and they did not appear willing to go out. He was hugging her and kissing her, and as he seemed a respectably dressed man, we were rather astonished at the way he was going on with the woman, who was poorly dressed.

We 'chipped" him, but he paid no attention.

As he stood in the doorway he always threw sidelong glances into the bar, but would look nobody in the face.

I said to him, "Why don't you bring the woman in and treat her?", but he made no answer.

If he had been a straight fellow he would have told us to mind our own business, or he would have gone away.

I was so certain that there was something up that I would have charged him if I could have seen a policeman.

When the man could not stand the chaffing any longer he and the woman went off like a shot soon after eleven.

I have been to the mortuary, and am almost certain the woman there is the one we saw at the Bricklayers Arms. She is the same slight woman, and seems the same height. The face looks the same, but a little paler, and the bridge of the nose does not look so prominent.


The man was about 5ft. 5in. in height. He was well dressed in a black morning suit with a morning coat. He had rather weak eyes. I mean he had sore eyes without any eyelashes. I should know the man again amongst a hundred. He had a thick black moustache and no beard. He wore a black billycock hat, rather tall, and had on a collar. I don't know the colour of his tie. I said to the woman, "that's Leather Apron getting round you." The man was no foreigner; he was an Englishman right enough."


John Gardner, who was one of the men with J. Best, confirmed everything that his companion had told the reporter, and stated that, like his friend, he had also viewed Elizabeth Stride's body at the mortuary:-

John Gardner, labour, 11 Chapman-street, corroborated all that Best said respecting the conduct of the man and the woman at the Bricklayers Arms, adding, "before I got into the mortuary today (Sunday), I told you the woman had a flower in her jacket, and that she had a short jacket.

Well, I have been to the mortuary and there she was with the dahlias on her right side of her jacket.

I could swear she is the woman I saw at the Bricklayers Arms and she has the same smile on her face now that she had then."

Source: The Evening News, Monday, 1st October, 1888.


Interestingly, the police do not seem to have interviewed either of the men, and, as far as can be ascertained, neither of them was called to give evidence at the inquest into the death of Elizabeth Stride.