A definition of the word witness.


Thomas Eade (some accounts give his surname as Eades) appeared as a witness at the inquest into the death of Mary Nichols when it resumed on Monday, 17th September, 1888.

Strangely, his testimony would seem to be more pertinent to the murder of Annie Chapman than to that of Mary Nichols, but, for some reason, he was a witness and Mary Nichols's inquest.

The Pall Mall Gazette published his brief testimony in its next day's edition:-

Thomas Eade, a signalman, stated that on Saturday, September 8, he was going down the Cambridge-road, towards the Whitechapel- road, when he saw a man who attracted his attention, as he was holding his arm stiffly.

As he moved his arm, the witness saw the blade of a knife sticking out of his trousers pocket.

Witness told some men of what he had seen, and then followed the man for some distance, intending to give him into custody, but he lost sight of him.

He looked like a mechanic, and was about 5 ft. 8 in. in height, and thirty-five years of age. He wore a dark brown jacket, a pair of white overalls, and a double peaked cap. He had dark whiskers and moustachios."

Source: The Pall Mall Gazette, Tuesday, 18th September, 1888.


The English Lakes Visitor gave a slightly expanded account of Thomas Eade's inquest testimony on the following Saturday:-

Thomas Eade, a signalman on the East London Railway, said that on the 8th inst., at about noon, he was in Cambridge-heath-road.

When in front of the Foresters Arms he saw a man walking along on the opposite side of the way.

There was something in the man's appearance that attracted him.

He caught sight of a large knife partly concealed in the man's trousers pocket.

Three men stood by, and he called upon them to assist him in arresting this suspicious looking character. One of the men said that he was willing to do so, but his two companions refused. The consequence was that the man walked on unmolested.

He saw that he had attracted the witness's attention and he hurried away, being soon lost to view.

The man had not been arrested.

He was about 5ft. 8in. high, and about 35 years of age. He had a dark moustache and dark whiskers. He wore a low peak cap, a short dark brown jacket, and a pair of light overalls over a pair of dark trousers.

The man walked as though he had a stiff knee. He was apparently a mechanic. The overalls were perfectly clean. He was not a muscular or stout man."

Source: The English Lakes Visitor, Saturday, 22nd September, 1888.


Thomas Eades was recalled at the resumed inquest into the death of Mary Nichols, which took place on Saturday, 22nd September, 1888.

He was, in fact, the only witness to be called that day, and he testified that he had since identified the mysterious man whom he had seen on 8th September, 1888.

The Morning Post published the following brief account of his inquest testimony on Monday, 24th September, 1888:-

The inquest on the body of Mary Anne Nichols, 47, who was found murdered in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, early on the morning of the 31st inst., was resumed on Saturday afternoon before Mr. Wynne Baxter, the district coroner, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel.

The only further evidence taken was that of Thomas Eades, the signalman, who had previously deposed to having seen a man carrying a knife near the scene of the murder.

Eades now testified that, since last giving evidence, he bad identified John James, of Hackney, as the man whom he had seen with the knife.

The Coroner observed that the man in question was a harmless lunatic, and then proceeded to sum up."

Source: The Morning Post, Monday, 24th September, 1888.