Mary Malcolm

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Witness at Elizabeth Stride's inquest.

Born Mary Perrin[1] in 1848 in Bath, Wiltshire. Married to tailor Andrew Malcolm (b.1848, Glasgow) and living at 50 Eagle Street, Red Lion Square, Holborn.

Mrs Malcolm claimed that at about 1.20am, 30th September 1888, she was lying in bed when she felt pressure on her chest followed by three kisses on her cheek, which she also heard. After hearing of the murder in Berner Street, she feared that it was the presence of her sister, Elizabeth Watts. She visited the mortuary twice and identified the body of Stride as that of her sister. She was confident of her identification, mentioning that her sister had a mark on her leg caused by an adder bite in childhood and that she had seen the mark on the body of the deceased.

She claimed that her sister was prone to epileptic fits and had appeared on several occasions at Thames Magistrates Court for drunkeness. She believed that she went by the name of 'Long Liz', but was not aware that she had been living in Flower and Dean Street. She also said that Elizabeth Watts had been living with a coffee shop owner in Poplar, but that several years previously, he had gone to sea and had been killed during a shipwreck on the Isle of St. Paul's.[2]

Despite being cautioned by the coroner, Mrs Malcolm was confident about the veracity of her identification throughout the questioning. Although the domestic press seemed to show Mrs Malcolm as an upset woman who obviously cared for her sister, a press report from New Zealand the following december regarded her somewhat differently:

"The sister of the poor woman Stride was a gin soddened virago, and identified her mutilated relative with ghoulish relish. From first to last this woman's transparent object was to turn the catastrophe to account somehow. So obvious did the past become that the coroner doubted whether she was the deceased's sister. Others, too, were sceptical on the point. But the story she told in the main proved accurate. Not one word of honest pity for the dead woman's shocking fate crossed her lips. Her own goodness and generosity to her poor sister was the never ending theme of her discourse, or would have been, if the coroner had not cut her short."[3]


Eventually, on hearing of this testimony, her sister (now remarried as Elizabeth Stokes) came forward to prove she was alive and well, rendering the whole matter a farce. Mrs Malcolm never subsequently accounted for her actions.


Three years later, Mary and Andrew Malcolm were living at 3 Cranmer House, Fry Court, Holborn.[4]

References

  1. The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Begg, Fido, Skinner (Headline 1996)
  2. Inquest report, The Times, 3rd October 1888
  3. Te Aroha News, 12th December 1888
  4. Census reports, 1891