Peter Hawkes

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Witness at Frances Coles' inquest.

Born Peter Lorenzo Hawkes c.1873 in Bethnal Green[1], working as an assistant in his mother's Milliner's shop at 25 Nottingham Street (part of today's Vallance Road).

Appearing on the second day of the Coles inquest, Hawkes stated that on the previous Thursday, 12th February, a woman came into the shop and asked to be shown some hats. He showed her several and she selected a black crepe hat, the price of which was 1s 11d. After Hawkes told her the price, she went outside the shop and spoke to a man who had been looking in at the window. She went away in the company of the man, but returned shortly after having decided to buy the hat. She handed over 2s and Hawkes gave her half-penny change. She was already wearing an old black hat with an edging of beads.

Having been to the mortuary, Hawkes identified the body of Frances Coles as being the woman who bought the hat. He also said that whilst at the Police Station, he saw a number of men, one he claimed was James Sadler, the man outside his shop. The coroner was not happy with this identification, but was promised that the connection between Sadler and the gentleman outside Hawkes' shop would soon become apparent.[2]

In his own statement to police, James Sadler erroneously described the hat shop as being either in Baker's Row (also now part of Vallance Road) or White's Row (now the western end of Durward Street and not to be confused with the street of the same name in Spitalfields).[3]

Peter Hawkes later became an undertaker based at 99 Vallance Road[4], before moving the business to Green Street and later Bonner Street, Bethnal Green.[5]


  1. Census reports 1881
  2. Inquest report, The Times, 18th February 1891
  3. Sadler's statement, 14th February 1891, MEPO 3/140, ff.97-108
  4. Census reports 1901
  5. Phone Directories, 1923-1930