Joseph Allen

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Police Constable Joseph Allen, 423H

Witness at Alice McKenzie's inquest.

Born c.1853, Saltash, Cornwall. Married to Anne (b.1852) with one daughter, Caroline (b.1878)[1]. Warrant No. 64896.[2]

PC Allen's beat took him through Castle Alley on the night of McKenzie's murder and at around 12.20am he paused for a snack at the exact spot where the body was found just thirty minutes later. Allen testified that he saw nothing out of the ordinary at the time.

Allen's testimony was taken at the inquest on 17 July 1889:

Police-constable Joseph Allen, 423 H, deposed, - Last night I was in Castle-alley. It was then 20 minutes past 12 when I passed through. I was through the alley several times. I remained there for five minutes. I entered the alley through the archway in Whitechapel-road. I had something to eat under the lamp where the deceased was found. Having remained in the alley for five minutes, I went into Wentworth-street. There was neither man nor woman there. There were wagons in the alley - two right underneath the lamp.

[Coroner] Would you swear there was no one in the wagons? - I would not swear to that, as I did not look into them; one of the wagons was an open one. Everything was very quiet at the time. The backs of some of the houses in Newcastle-street faced the alley, and in some of the upper windows were lights. That was not an unusual thing at that time. I cannot say if any of the windows were open. No sounds came from those houses. On leaving the alley I met Constable Walter Andrews, 272 H, in Wentworth-street. It was about 100 yards from the alley where I met Andrews. I spoke to Andrews, who then went towards Goldston-street. [Goulston Street]

[Coroner] How did you fix the time? - I looked at my watch. It was 12:30 when I left the alley. At the end is a publichouse - the Three Crowns - and as I passed the landlord was shutting up the house. After leaving Andrews I went towards Commercial-street and met Sergeant Badlam, [Badham] 31 H, who told me a woman had been found murdered in Castle-alley, and he directed me to go to the station. When the sergeant spoke to me it was five minutes to 1, and 1 o'clock when I got to the station.[3]

A short summary of P.C. Allen's testimony appears in a report filed by Superintendent Thomas Arnold and dated 17 July 1889:

P.C. 423H Allen passed through the Alley at 12.30 a.m. and remained under the lamp, exactly where the body was found, for five minutes whilst partaking of his supper, he neither saw or heard any person in the alley.[4]


  1. Census reports 1891
  2. The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner (Headline 1996)
  3. Inquest report, The Times, 18th July 1889
  4. HO 144/221/A49301I Ref. ff.7-10