Elizabeth Stokes

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Witness at Elizabeth Stride's inquest.

Born Elizabeth Perrin, father of a publican and one of four daughters and four sons[1]. Witness Mary Malcolm was her sister.


Mrs Stokes gave her address at the inquest as 5 Charles Street, Tottenham, married to Joseph, a brickmaker. She had been married three times in all; her first husband, a wine merchant named Watts, was sent abroad after his family disapproved of the marriage and he later died in America, whilst the children were taken from his wife. The grief of this tragedy caused her to lose her mind and she was committed to Fisherton House lunatic asylum. On obtaining a discharge, she went into service at Walmer, where she met her second husband, a Mr Speller. Unfortunately, Mr Speller went to sea and was stranded on St Paul's Island and eventually died there.


Elizabeth was then left destitute and was again committed to a lunatic asylum (at Peckham). After being discharged from this institution, still destitute and with a poor memory, she met her third husband, Mr Stokes. She claimed that she hadn't seen any of her family for years, including her sister Mary Malcolm.[2]


Elizabeth appeared on the last day of the Stride inquest in order to clear her character after hearing that she had been identified by Mrs Malcolm as the deceased woman. She acknowledged that Mrs Malcolm was her sister and that she had not seen her for years, but that she had given her 'a dreadful character'. She stated that all her sister's evidence was false and denied the claim that she was allowed 2s a week from her[3]. She was obviously deeply distressed by the whole experience:

"This has put me to a dreadful trouble and trial. I have only a poor crippled husband, who is now outside. It is a shame my sister should say what she has said about me, and that the innocent should suffer for the guilty."[4]


References

  1. The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Begg, Fido, Skinner (Headline 1996)
  2. Jack the Ripper: The Facts, Paul Begg (Robson 2006)
  3. Inquest report, Daily Telegraph, 24th October 1888
  4. Inquest report, The Times, 24th October 1888