James Hatfield

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Witness at Mary Ann Nichols' inquest.

Born c.1830, Spitalfields. An inmate at the Whitechapel Workhouse, occupation given as 'Dock Labourer'.[1]

After arriving at the workhouse mortuary in Old Montague Street at about 6.30am, 31st August 1888, Hatfield assisted Robert Mann in undressing Nichols' body.

They first removed the ulster and put it on the ground. Hatfield then removed the jacket and put it with the ulster. Apparently, he did not have to cut the dress to remove it, but did cut the two bands of petticoats before tearing them down with his hands. Nichols was also wearing a chemise, which Hatfield tore down the front. The two men apparently did this in order to have the body ready for examination when the doctor arrived.

Hatfield did not recall being given any instructions not to touch the body and said that nobody else was present at that time. When the police arrived, it was noted that the band on one of the petticoats bore the mark of the Lambeth Workhouse and Hatfield was requested by Inspector Joseph Helson to cut this piece out.

He also did not recall the deceased wearing stays, though the inquest foreman reminded Hatfield that he had seen stays in his presence and remarked that they were short. At this point, Hatfield admitted that his memory was bad.[2]


  1. Census report 1881
  2. Inquest report, The Times, 18th September 1888