A definition of witness.


Testified At Her Inquest.

William Turner had lived with Martha Tabram off and on for ten years prior to her death. In consequence of their relationship, she was known as Martha Turner by some people, and was initially identified under that name.

Turner appeared as a witness at the inquest into her death on Thursday, 23rd August, 1888.

Two days later The East London Observer published the following account of his testimony:-

Next there was called a young man dressed in a light tweed suit, with a pale face and a light moustache and Imperial, who said his name was William Turner, and that he was a carpenter by trade, but was out of any regular employment just now. At present, he got his living by selling articles in the streets.

I have been, he proceeded, living with the deceased up to three weeks ago. On and off, I've lived with her for nearly nine years. Occasionally she had given away to drink, and then I had to leave her.

I was living with her for three weeks previous to the occurrences.

She used to sell in the streets sometimes, usually selling the same things as I did.

I last saw her alive on the Saturday before Bank Holiday, when I met her in Leadenhall street, just against the Aldgate Pump.

On the day of the inquest, I was working at Leather Lane, and these friends of mine came up and told me of the proceedings, and I identified her.

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when I saw her in Leadenhall Street, and I was with her about 20 minutes altogether. I gave her one shilling and sixpence to purchase stock with which to earn a few ha'pence.

Since she has been living with me, her character for sobriety was not good. If I gave her any money, she generally spent it in drink. In fact, it was always drink.

She was in the habit of staying out late at night. I couldn't say for certain what time she usually came home. When I was with her it was usually eleven o'clock, except on Saturday night when it was usually twelve. The average, I should think, would be about elven o'clock. When she took to drink, however, I generally left her to her own resources and I can't answer for her conduct then.

She had no regular companions that I am aware of. I am not accountable for whether she walked the streets or not, but she certainly never did to my knowledge while I was with her.

While I was with her, we frequently had a drink together, like any other man and woman. We never used to stay out late when she was in my company; we generally got home then about eleven o'clock, although there might have been exceptions.

I never knew that she was acquainted with the woman "Pearly Poll", until I read the account of her death in the papers.

I am a man of sober habits as a rule, and we usually agreed well enough together as long as she remained sober, but when she got the worse for drink, I left her. There was no quarrel then, I simply left her.

Questioned by Inspector Reid, he said there were times when she stayed out all nights, but her excuse was invariably that she was subject to hysterical fits, had been overtaken with one and had been taken to a police station or hospital. I myself have seen her in these fits, but it was as a rule when she was under the influence of drink.

She might have told me occasionally that she was out all night in the streets, or that she had been taken to a police station, but I can't remember any particular dates.

I have no family by her."

Source: The East London Observer, Saturday, 25th August, 1888.