Mary Ann Connelly
Witness at Martha Tabram's inquest. aka 'Pearly Poll'
Described as a big woman with a low voice and a drink reddened face, Mary Ann Connelly was an unmarried prostitute of about 50 years of age who had known Tabram for four or five months, although under the name of 'Emma Turner'. She had been living at Crossingham's Lodging House at 35 Dorset Street for two months.
On the night of 6th August 1888, Connelly and Tabram met a guardsman and a corporal in the Two Brewers on Brick Lane at approximately 10.00pm. They proceeded to spend the rest of the evening in the company of the soldiers, visiting several pubs. They were seen by Tabram's sister-in-law, Ann Morris, entering the White Swan on Whitechapel High Street at about 11pm. At approx. 11.45pm, Connelly took the corporal into Angel Alley and Tabram took the guardsman into George Yard, undoubtedly for sex, which was the last time Mary Ann saw Martha alive.
After the inquest and police questioning, authorities believed their best hope of catching the killer was through 'Pearly Poll', so naturally they were quite taken aback when she disappearead shortly thereafter. Some time later, however, Sergeant Eli Caunter located her staying with her cousin at 4 Fuller's Court, Drury Lane. Confident that they had their star witness, the authorities staged a parade of Scots Guards at the Tower of London. Either unwilling or unable to pick out her suspect, she added that the soldiers she was with had white cap bands, the mark of the Coldstream Guards. Another parade was held for Connelly, this time at Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, where she picked out two guardsmen. They provided unshakeable alibis, however, and were soon after released. The entire incident was quite embarrassing for the police, who finally concluded that Connelly was not going to help them.
Connelly was also believed to have known Annie Chapman, according to a brief account in The Echo:
Strangely enough, "Pearly Poll," who was with Martha Turner on the night of that poor creature's barbarous murder in George Yard buildings, knew Annie Chapman, and had actually lodged with her at 35 Dorset street, Spitalfields. "Pearly Poll" has been questioned as to her knowledge of "Dark Annie," but her answers on the subject have served little to elucidate the mystery.
One final note of interest concerns 'Pearly Poll' in a later story published on the Whitechapel Murders:
"Inspector Reid, Detective Sergeant Enright, Sergeant Goadby [sic. Godley] and other officers then worked on a slight clue given them by 'Pearly Poll.' It was not thought much of at the time; but what was gleaned from her and other statements given by Elizabeth Allen and Eliza Cooper of 35 Dorset Street, Spitalfields, certain of the authorities have had cause to suspect a man actually living not far from Buck's Row. At present, however, there is only suspicion against him."
Whatever the case, the clue and the suspect are still a mystery, and no other known citations to this effect are still in existence today.
- The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Begg, Fido, Skinner (Headline 1991)
- Report by Inspector Reid, 24th August 1888 (MEPO 3/140 ff.49-51)
- Report by Inspector Reid and Superintendent Arnold, 16thAugust 1888 (MEPO 3/140 ff.44-8)
- The Echo, 14th September 1888
- The Echo, 20th September 1888