A definition of witness.


Complained To The Coroner

Mr. North approached the Coroner, Coroner Baxter, on the evening of Thursday, 25th October, 1888, to complain that the police had refused to accept his identification of the Berner Street victim as Elizabeth Stride.

He had gone to Leman Street Police Station and told the Inspector in charge that he had known Elizabeth Stride and her husband for several years, and he was certain that the victim was the same woman.

The Inspector, he said, had sent him away, claiming that Mrs. Malcolm had already identified the victim as her sister, Elizabeth Watts, and so his identification must have been incorrect.

As it transpired, it was Mary Malcolm's identification that was wrong, so Mr. North may well have being telling the truth, albeit his claim that Thomas Stride, Elizabeth's estranged husband, had been seen as recently as two weeks is not borne out by the known facts, since Thomas Stride died in Polar Workhouse in 1884.

The Illustrated Police News, carried the following report on his claims in its edition of Saturday, 27th October, 1888:-


On Thursday Evening, Mr. North, of High Street, Poplar, called upon Coroner Baxter, and complained of the manner in which the police have conducted the case.

Mr North said that, on the day following the murder, believing that he could identify the woman, he, in company with constable Daniels, went to Leman Street Police Station, and informed the Inspector on duty that he knew the deceased, and had done so for fifteen or sixteen years.

He was told that the woman had been identified by her sister, and that his services would not be required.

To this he replied that the woman had no sister, that she was a Swede, and used to keep a lodging house for foreign seamen, at 178, High Street Poplar.

The Inspector refused to believe him, but Mr. North, on leaving the station, went to the mortuary, where he saw the body, which he immediately identified as the wife of Thomas Stride, a carpenter.

Mr. Baxter, on hearing this, asked Mr. North to attend the sojourned inquest next Tuesday.

Mr. North told a reporter that he had known Stride and his wife since 1872. "From '72 to '79 (he said), I saw the deceased daily, and from then till last year frequently.

On one occasion she told me that she was trying to get some money from the Mansion House Fund, as her husband had been drowned in the Princess Alice; but that was all lies.

Stride is alive now, and was seen by a lot of his mates a few weeks ago. He was then very down in the world, and was selling pencils at the docks.

She used to be called "Mother Gum", on account of a peculiarity of the top lip, which, when she laughed, shewed the whole of the upper gum, and I noticed the lip when I went to the mortuary.

PC Daniels knows her just as well as I do, and he identified her.

Drink parted her and Stride."

It is believed that the police will now make a vigorous search for the man Stride."

Source: The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 27th October, 1888.