John Reeves

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Witness at Martha Tabram's inquest.

Born John Saunders Reeves, b. 1855, Whitechapel. Married Louisa Parsons on 25 December 1879, having 6 children between 1877 and 1891[1].

A waterside labourer residing at 37 George Yard Buildings, described as having a slight dark beard and moustache and wearing earrings. He left home at 4.45am on the morning of 7th August 1888 to seek work at the docks and discovered Tabram's body on the first floor landing, lying in a pool of blood. Alarmed by what he saw, he did not examine the body, but ran to fetch a policeman and returned to the scene with PC Thomas Barrett.

He stated that Tabram's clothes were disarranged, as though a struggle had taken place, though there were no footprints on the stairs or any weapon lying nearby.[2]

Later press reports mentioned that Reeves and his wife had heard disturbances during the night: a result of persistent inquiries a Mr. and Mrs. Reeves now state that on the evening and towards midnight on Bank Holiday a NUMBER OF FIGHTS TOOK PLACE in Wentworth Street and George Street, which thoroughfares can be seen from George Yard Buildings. These streets contain a number of common lodging-houses, and are not far from a house which the woman "Pearly Poll" states that she and the deceased visited that night.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Reeves have pointed out the spot where they allege these disturbances commenced, which they state to be the dead wall of Leterworth Buildings[3], in George Street.

The first row commenced about 11:30, followed by another at 12:20 when both Mr. and Mrs. Reeves assert they heard cries of "Police!" "Help!" and terrible screaming.

Shortly after one o'clock in the morning they were again disturbed with terrible screams, apparently coming from the same neighbourhood. They went on to the balcony of their dwelling, and found that there was not only one, but two separate rows going on. That in George Street this time was not many doors from the house where the murdered woman and her companion, "Pearly Poll," sometimes lodged, whilst the row in Wentworth Street was not from a house in Angel Alley, which the woman "Pearly Poll" is said to have admitted that she visited that evening.

These two rows, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves say, were of a very noisy and quarrelsome character. The crowds round surged backwards and forwards a great deal. At last the police came and dispersed the crowd. This did not conclude the riotous proceedings of the night. About 2 o'clock Mr. and Mrs. Reeves heard more screams, they were this time very piercing. Only a few roughs seemed to constitute this crowd, which seemed to be moving in the direction of George Yard. However, the noise soon lessened in volume, and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves then retired for the night.[4]

According to the census, John (described as a 'Dock & Waterside Labourer'), Louisa and their six children were living at 2 Rupert Street, Whitechapel in 1891.


  1. Census report 1891; London register of Marriages and Banns on
  2. Inquest report, The Times, 10th August 1888
  3. This actually refers to Lolesworth Buildings.
  4. Eastern Post, 18th August 1888