Elizabeth Ryder

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Witness at Alice McKenzie's inquest.

Born Elizabeth Dixon in 1867. Married Richard John Ryder (b.1865), a cooper's apprentice, at Christchurch Spitalfields, 30 August 1886. At this time they were both living in the lodging house at 6 Little Paternoster Row and it would appear that Elizabeth was illiterate [1]. She was the deputy at Mr. Tenpenny's Lodging House, Gun Street, Spitalfields in July 1889.

On the day of Alice McKenzie's murder, 17th July 1889, Mrs Ryder gave information to the police confirming that McKenzie had been living with John McCormack at the lodging house for about twelve months, appearing to 'live comfortably togather'. She saw McKenzie go out between 8.30 and 9.00pm, 16th July and noticed that she had some money in her hand, though she could not say how much. She had heard McKenzie say in the past that she was about 39 years of age and that she had sons living abroad, though where is not known. She was also aware that McKenzie went out at night, but could not say whether she was a prostitute or not, although the police viewed her as such. She also claimed that McKenzie was 'much addicted to drink'[2].

Mrs. Ryder identified Alice McKenzie's body at 2.00pm that day. Later, in her inquest testimony, she added a few more details to the information in the above report (and made reference to another missing woman, Margaret Cheeks):

I live at 52 and 54, Gun-street, Spitalfields. I am married, and my husband's name is Richard John Ryder, and he is a cooper. I act as deputy of a common lodging-house. I have seen the body in the mortuary, and recognise it as that of Alice M'Kenzie. She has been living there for about four months. She lived with John M'Cormack as his wife. I have no doubt about the identity of the body. I knew she was wearing old stockings. I last saw her alive last night. She was then sober, and was not wearing a bonnet or hat.

[Coroner] Did she speak to you? - Yes. She had been at the lodging house all day. M'Cormack came home between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

[Coroner] Do you know whether there had been any disagreement? I believe there had; but I did not hear anything. When deceased came downstairs between 8 and 9 o'clock she passed through the kitchen and went out.

[Coroner] Did she usually wear a bonnet or hat? - Never; but she wore a shawl, and had one on when she left the lodging-house. It was a light shawl, and witness saw it in the mortuary.

[Coroner] Was she a woman who was in the habit of being out late at night? - No. She was generally in bed by 10 o'clock. As far as I know she got her living honestly, and did not get money in the streets. Between 11 and 12 last night M'Cormack came down and asked me if I had seen the deceased since 8 or 9 o'clock. I told him I had not. He then asked me if she had paid the lodging, and I told him she had not. M'Cormack then asked what he was to do, and I told him to go to bed. He then went upstairs. Before that he told me he had a few words with the deceased, and sent her down to pay the lodging. Witness told him deceased would soon be home. Deceased had some drink during the day, and when her husband came home from work she was drunk. I did not think it necessary to make any remark to deceased when she went out. I have seen her smoke in the kitchen. She used to borrow pipes, which were short clay ones, like the one produced.

[Coroner] What time is the lodging-house closed? - At 2 o'clock in the morning. At 3:30 this morning I went into the kitchen for the deceased and another young woman, but they had not come home.

[Coroner] Has the other young woman come home? - No.

[Coroner] What is the name of this young woman? - Mog Cheeks.

[Coroner] Do you know where deceased got the drink from? - I do not; but there is a publichouse about two doors away.

[Coroner] Had you seen deceased with any other man but M'Cormack that day? - No. Between 3 and 4 in the afternoon she went to meet her husband and they came home together. When she went out at night she was alone. Deceased and M'Cormack had lodged on and off at the lodging-house for the past 12 months. When they were not there they occupied a room at Crossingham's in White's-row. The other woman referred to had lodged there for 18 months, and she was on the streets.

The Foreman. - It is important that that woman should be found.

The Coroner. - I have no doubt that she will be.

Witness. - She was in the habit of staying out all night if she had no money to pay for her lodging.[3]

Mrs. Ryder also gave a statement to Sergeant Pearce on 22nd July which effectively repeated the details given in her inquest testimony[4]


  1. London Metropolitan Archives; Christ Church, Spitalfields, Register of marriages, P93/CTC1, Item 034
  2. Statement by Inspector Henry Moore, 17th July 1889, MEPO 3/140 ff.294-7
  3. Inquest report, The Times, 18th July 1889
  4. MEPO 3/140 f.276