James Kent

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Witness at Annie Chapman's inquest.

A labourer in the employ of Bayley's packing-case manufacturers, 23a Hanbury Street, living at 20, B-Block, King David Lane, Shadwell.

At approximately 6.10am, 8th September 1888, Kent was waiting with James Green for more workmen to arrive at Bayley's when they saw John Davis who called them to the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street where he had just found Annie Chapman's body. He did not enter the yard, but viewed the body from the steps. He then went to the front of the house to see if a policeman was coming. Obviously shaken by what he had seen, he then went to have a brandy (possibly in The Black Swan pub at 23 Hanbury Street) before going to Bayley's workshop to get a piece of canvas to throw over the body.

By the time Kent had returned to No.29, Inspector Joseph Chandler had arrived and had taken possession of the yard. A crowd had assembled at the front door.[1]

An entertaining account of Kent was given by the press:

"A youngish looking man, with a bullet-head and cloely-cropped hair and a sandy, close-cut moustache. He wore a long overcoat that had once to be green, and into the pockets of which he persistently stuck his hands. He had a peculiar habit of lowering his neck into the blue and white spotted handkerchief which encased it when under examination and jerking it out suddenly whenever he was called upon to answer a question."[2]


  1. Inquest report, The Times, 13th September 1888
  2. East London Observer, 15th September 1888