A definition of witness.


Nurse at the Whitechapel Union Infirmary

Mary Elizabeth Simonds was a nurse at the Whitechapel Union Infirmary, to which the body of Annie Chapman was taken following her murder at 29, Hanbury Street, on the morning of the 8th September, 1888.

She claimed in her testimony that she had been directed by Inspector Chandler to undress the body when it was taken to the mortuary shed.

She then stated that she and the senior nurse, Frances Wright, had washed the body, causing Inspector Chandler to state that this had not been done on his instruction, but that it had been done on the direction of the Clerk to the Board of Guardians.

The London Daily News published her inquest testimony in its edition of Friday, 14th September, 1888:-

The nurse from the workhouse was now in attendance, and was called.

Mary Elizabeth Simonds said:-

"I am a nurse at the Whitechapel Union Infirmary.

On September 8th I was requested to attend the mortuary with the senior nurse, whose name I think is Frances Wright.

I first saw the body on the ambulance in the yard.

It was afterwards taken to the shed and placed on a table."

Coroner:- "Were you directed to undress it?"

"Yes; by the inspector, I think." (Inspector Chandler was identified as the officer who gave the instruction.) "I took the clothes off. I left the handkerchief round the neck."

Coroner:- "Did you wash the body at all?"

"Yes, we washed the stains of blood from the body. There were stains over the lower part of the body and the legs. There was blood about the chest, which seemed to have run down from the throat. I found the pocket tied round the deceased's waist."

Inspector Chandler stated that he did not instruct the Witness to wash the body, which was done at the direction of the Clerk to the Board of Guardians."

Source: The London Daily News, Friday, 14th September, 1888.


There also seems to have been some discussion that the missing portions of Annie Chapman's body may have been thrown away when the clothes were removed, as, according to a brief snippet in the St James's Gazette, on Friday, 14th September, 1888:-

Mary Elizabeth Simonds, a nurse at the Whitechapel Infirmary, described the clothes worn by the deceased, which she assisted to take off.

No portion of the body was thrown away with the clothes as far as she knew."

Source: St James's Gazette, Friday, 14th September, 1888.