A definition of witness.


After the body of Mary Nichols had been removed to the mortuary, the police took steps to try and identify her.

"The clothing", noted Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper on Sunday 2nd September, 1888, "was of a common description, but the skirt of one petticoat and the band of another article bore the stencil stamp of Lambeth workhouse."

Officers were despatched to Lambeth to fetch the matron to see the body, with a view to identification. However, she could not do so, and told the police that the clothing might have beep issued any time during the past two or three years.

However, they did locate an inmate of the Workhouse by the name of Mary Anne Monk, who stated that she might know the victim's identity.

The South Wales Echo reported on what happened next:-

At about half-past seven last evening a female named Mary Anne Monk, at present an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse, was taken to the mortuary, and identified the body as that of Mary Ann Nicholls, also called "Polly" Nicholls.

She knew her, she said, as they were inmates of the Lambeth Workhouse together in April and May last, the deceased having been passed there from another workhouse.

On May 12, according to Monk, Nicholls left the workhouse to take a situation as servant at Ingleside, Wandsworth Common.

It afterwards became known that Nicholls betrayed her trust as a domestic servant by stealing £3 from her employer and absconding.

From that time she had been wandering about.

Monk met her, she said, about six weeks ago and drank with her.

She was sure the deceased was "Polly" Nicholls, and, having twice viewed the features as the body lay in a shell, maintained her opinion."

Source: The South Wales Echo, Saturday, 1st September, 1888.


She appeared as a witness at the second day of the inquest into the death of Mary Nichols and, on the following Saturday, the East London Observer published the following report of her testimony:-

Mary Ann Monk - a young woman with a flushed face and a haughty air, who wore a long grey ulster - was the last witness.

She was, she said, an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse.

The Coroner:- "Do you know deceased?"

Witness:- "Yes, sir."

The Coroner:- "When did you last see her?"

Witness:- "About seven weeks ago, in the Duke's Head public House, Lower Kennington Road."

The Coroner:- "Did she tell you what she was doing?"

Witness:- "No; nothing whatever."

The Coroner:- "Had you seen her in the Workhouse?"

Witness:- "Yes."

The Coroner:- "You don't know any of her acquaintances. I suppose?"

Witness:- "No, sir , not in the least."

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