A definition of witness.


Member Of The International Workingmen's Educational Club

Morris Eagle was a member of the International Workingmen's Educational Club, which met at 40, Berner Street, and one wall of which ran alongside Dutfield's Yard, a turning off Berner Street.

On the evening of Saturday, 29th September, 1888, he had chaired a discussion at the club on "Why Jews Should be Socialists", which was attended by about a hundred people.

The discussion ended at around 11.30pm, and most members then exited the club through the street door onto Berner Street.

At some stage between 11.30pm and midnight, Morris Eagle left the club to walk his girlfriend home, and, having done so, he returned to the premises at approximately twenty to one on the morning of the 30th of September.

Finding the street door to be locked, he went into Dutfield's yard and entered the club via a side door.

He saw nothing in the yard.

About twenty minutes later, a fellow member came in to the club and notified him that there was a woman lying dead in the yard below.

Appearing as a witness at the inquest into the victim's death, he was questioned by the Coroner about what he saw.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, published his inquest testimony on Sunday, 7th October, 1888:-

Morris Eagle, who also affirmed, said:-

I live at 4 New-road, Commercial-road, and travel in jewelry. I am a member of the International Workmen's club, which meets at 40, Berner-street.

I was there on Saturday, several times during the day, and was in the chair during the discussion in the evening.

After the discussion, between half-past 11 and a quarter to 12 o'clock, I left the club to take my young lady home, going out through the front door.

I returned about 20 minutes to one. I tried the front door, but, finding it closed, I went through the gateway into the yard, reaching the club in that way."

Coroner:- "Did you notice anything lying on the ground near the gates?"

Witness:- "I did not -it was rather dark. There was a light from the upper part of the club, but that would not throw any illumination upon the ground. It was dark near the gates."

Coroner:- "Did you see anyone about in Berner-street?"

Witness:- "I dare say I did, but I do not remember them.

As soon as I entered the gateway on Saturday night, I could hear a friend of mine singing in the upstairs room of the club. I went up to him. He was singing in the Russian language, and we sang together,

I had been there 20 minutes when a member names Gidleman came upstairs, and said, "There is a woman dead in the yard."

I went down in a second and struck a match, when I saw a woman lying on the ground in a pool of blood, near the gates. Her feet were towards the gates, about six or seven feet from them. She was lying by the side of and facing the club wall.

When I reached the body and struck the match another member was present."

Coroner:- "Did you touch the body?"

Witness:- "No. As soon as struck the match I perceived a lot of blood, and ran away and called the police."

Coroner:- "Were the clothes of the deceased disturbed?"

Witness:- "I cannot say. I ran towards the Commercial-road. Diemshutz, the club steward, and another member going in the opposite direction down Fairclough-street.

In Commercial-road I found two constables at the corner of Grove-street. I told them that a woman had been murdered in Berner-street, and they returned with me."

Coroner:- "Was any one in the yard then?"

Witness:- "Yes, a few persons - some members of the club and some strangers

One of the policemen turned his lamp on the deceased and sent me to the station for the inspector, at the same time telling his comrade to fetch a doctor.

The onlookers seemed afraid to go near and touch the body. The constable, however, felt it."

Coroner:- "Can you fix the time when the discovery was first made?"

Witness:- "It must have been about one o'clock. On Saturday nights there is free discussion at the club and among those present last Saturday were about half a dozen women, but they were those we knew - not strangers. It was not a dancing night, but a few of the members may have danced after the discussion."

Coroner:- "If there was dancing and singing in the club you would not hear the cry of a woman in the yard?"

Witness:- "It would depend upon the cry.

The cry of a woman in great distress - a cry of "Murder!" - yes, I should have heard that."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, 7th October, 1888.