William Fewell

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Witness at Frances Coles' inquest.

Born 1844 in Chelmsford, Essex. Married to Mary (b.1844) with two children, Edith (1877) and Arthur (1885)[1].

Testifying on the third day of the Coles inquest, Fewell was a night porter at the receiving room of the London Hospital, Whitechapel Road. He was on duty when James Sadler (whom he described as looking like a sailor) arrived at about 4.45am, 13th February 1891:

"A little before 5 on Friday morning I was on duty in the receiving-room when the man in the dock came in with a lacerated scalp and a small cut over the eye. I trimmed the hair from the scalp wound, which was on the right side, and also washed his face. I asked him how he came by it, and he replied, "The truth of it is, I have been with a woman and she has done me." I asked him whether it was for much. He replied, "Only for 7s. or 8s. and a watch. I shouldn't have minded that, but they knocked me about." Prisoner was trembling very much, and I asked him why he trembled so. He said. "I am so cold. I have been walking about. Can you give me something to warm me?" I told him I had nothing to give him, and persuaded him to go on to his lodgings. He said, "Unfortunately, I have got none. I have only been on shore one night, and have not secured any." He also told me his ship was lying in the London Dock. I saw there was blood on his hands, and asked him if they were cut. It was some few seconds before he answered, and before doing so he put up his hands and looked at them. He then said, "Yes, my finger is cut. He (or they) had a knife." I looked at the finger and saw that it was only a slight cut. I then said, "All the blood cannot come from that little cut." He replied: "Well, if it didn't come from that it came from my head." I asked him where it happened, and he said, "In Ratcliff-highway, near Leman-street." He also added that he had been into one or two places to get a few halfpence, so that he could buy refreshments, but they chucked him out. If he could borrow a little he would be willing to pay treble for it, as he had £5 to draw. The receiving-room nurse then dressed his wound, as it was too slight for the doctor to be called. As he seemed so queer I let him lie on a sofa, and he went to sleep. He slept for an hour and a-half. Then I woke him up, and told him he would have to go, as I was soon going off duty. I gave him a penny, and he seemed grateful for it, and went away."[2]


  1. Census report 1901
  2. Inquest report, East London Advertiser, 21st February 1891