A definition of witness.


Resident Of Dorset Street

Maurice Lewis (whose first name was also spelt as Morris by several newspapers) was quoted extensively in the press in the wake of Mary Kelly's murder, as claiming that he had seen her several times over the twelve hours prior to her death.

According to several newspaper reports, he was "playing pitch and toss" in Miller's Court (some newspapers gave it as McCarthy's Court) at 9am on the morning of the murder.

About an hour before that, so he claimed, he had seen her leave Miller's Court, and return carrying some milk.

His statement, if it was true, contradicts the opinions of the doctors as to the time of her death, as, if he did see her as he claimed, she was still alive a good four hours after the medical men had placed her time of death.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, reported his claims on Sunday, 11th November, 1888. The "Dan" whom he mentions in the article was almost certainly Joseph Barnett, and this report also contradicts Barnett's testimony about the last time he saw Mary Kelly alive:-

Maurice Lewis, a tailor, living in Dorset-street, stated that he had known the deceased woman for the last five years. Her name was Mary Jane Kelly. She was short, stout, and dark; and stood about 5ft. 3in.

He saw her on the previous (Thursday) night, between 10 and 11, at the Horn of Plenty, in Dorset-street. She was drinking with some women and also with "Dan," a man selling oranges in Billingsgate and Spitalfields markets, with whom she lived up till as recently as a fortnight ago.

He knew her as a woman of the town.

One of the women whom he saw with her was known as Julia.

To his knowledge, she went home overnight with a man. He seemed to be respectably dressed. Whether or no the man remained all night he could not say.

Soon after 10 o'clock in the morning he was playing with others at pitch and toss in McCarthy's-court, when he heard a lad call out "copper", and he and his companions rushed away and entered a beer-house at the corner of Dorset-street, known as "Ringer's".

He was positive that on going in he saw Mary Jane Kelly drinking with some other people, but is not certain whether there was a man amongst them.

He went home to Dorset-street on leaving the house, and, about half-an-hour afterwards, he heard that Kelly had been found in her room murdered. It would then be close Upon 11 o'clock."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, 11th November, 1888.