Thomas Ede

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Witness at Mary Ann Nichols' inquest.

A signalman employed by the East London Railway Company who claimed to have seen a suspicious man on the railway line on the morning of the 8th September 1888. At the inquest on the 17th September, coroner Wynne Baxter challenged the relevance of Ede's evidence, but allowed him to continue nonetheless.

On Saturday morning, 8th September, Ede was coming down Cambridge Heath Road when he saw a man on the opposite side of the road, just outside the Forester's Arms public house. The man's peculiar appearance made Ede look at him; he appeared to have a wooden arm which was hanging at his side. The man then put his hand down, revealing about four inches of knife-blade sticking out of his trouser pocket. There were three other men present who were also watching and Ede spoke to them. He then followed the man who, realising he was being followed, quickened his pace before being lost under some railway arches.

The man was described as being about 5ft 8in in height, about 35 years of age with a dark moustache and whiskers. He wore a double peaked cap, dark brown jacket and a pair of overalls and dark trousers. He walked as though he had a stiff knee and had 'a fearful look about the eyes'. He had the appearance of a mechanic (he was not muscular) and the overalls were clean. Ede could not tell what sort of knife it was.[1]

He was later recalled to the inquest (this time as William Eade) to state that he had since seen the man again and had ascertained that he was one Henry James, a well-known but harmless local lunatic. James did not, incidentally, have a wooden arm.[2]


  1. Inquest report, The Times, 18th September 1888
  2. Inquest report, The Times, 24th September 1888