Sarah Lewis

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Witness at Mary Jane Kelly's inquest.

In an initial statement made on 9th November 1888, Sarah Lewis was described as being a laundress of 34 Great Pearl Street. Between 2.00 and 3.00am that morning she said she had gone to stay with her friends the Keylers at 2 Miller's Court as the result of 'a few words' with her husband. As she entered the court, she saw a man standing on the opposite side of Dorset Street, outside the lodging house (Crossingham's at No.17), but was unable to describe him. Shortly before 4.00am she heard a scream of 'murder', like that of a young woman, which seemed to be not far away. She only heard it the once and did not look out of the window. She did not know Mary Jane Kelly and left the Keyler's at 5.30pm.

She further stated that when in the company of another woman in Bethnal Green Road the previous wednesday (7th November), a suspicious man with a black bag accosted her.

Mrs Lewis was later called to Kelly's inquest on the 12th November and as is common, her testimony was fleshed out with further details, reproduced in full below for comparison:

"I live at 24 Great Powell[sic] Street, Spitalfields. I am a laundress. I know Mrs. Keyler in Miller's Court. I was at her house at half past 2 on Friday morning she lives at No.2 in the court on the left on the first floor I know the time by having looked at Spitalfields Church clock as I passed it - When I went in the court I saw a man opposite the court in Dorset Street standing alone by the lodging house. He was not tall - but stout - had on a black wideawake hat - I did not notice his clothes - another young man with a woman passed along - the man standing in the street was looking up the court as if waiting for someone to come out, I went to Mrs ["Kelsey's" - deleted] Keyler's I was awake all night in a chair I dozed I heard no noise I woke up about half-past three - I sat awake until nearly five - a little before four I heard a female voice shout loudly one Murder! the sound seemed to come from the direction of deceased's room there was only one scream - I took no notice of it - I left Mrs Keyler's at about half past 5 in the afternoon the police would not let us out before - About wednesday night at 8 o'clock I was going along Bethnal Green Road with another female and a Gentleman passed us he turned back & spoke to us, he asked us to follow him, and asked one of us he did not mind which we refused, he went away and came back & said if we would follow him he would treat us - he asked us to go down a passage - he had a bag and put it down saying what are you frightened of - he then undid his coat and felt for something and we ran away - he was short, pale faced, with a black moustache, about 40 years of age - the bag he had was about a foot or nine inches long - he had on a round high hat - a high one for a round one - he had a brownish long overcoat and a short black coat underneath and pepper & salt ["and" - deleted] trousers.

"On our running away we did not look after the man - On the friday morning about half past two when I was coming to Miller's Court I met the same man with a female - in Commercial Street near Mr Ringer's Public House - near the market - he had then no overcoat on - but he had the bag and the same hat trousers & undercoat.

"I passed by them and looked back at at [sic] the man - I was frightened - I looked again when I got to the corner of Dorset Street. I have not seen the man since I should know him if I did.[1]


  1. Kelly inquest papers - MJ/SPC, NE1888, Box 3, Case paper 19 (London Metropolitan Archives)