William Friday

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Witness at Frances Coles' inquest.

Known as 'Jumbo' Friday.

A carman in the employ of the Great Northern Railway Company who, along with the Knapton brothers, saw a man and a woman near Swallow Gardens on the morning of Coles' murder, generally accepted as being Thomas Fowles and Kate McCarthy. He apparently made a statement to the police soon after. Appearing on the last day of the inquest, he deposed:

"On Friday, the 13th inst., I left home about 12:30, and went to the Great Northern Railway depot in Mint-street. I went for a walk with two of my mates, and I lost them in a crowd. I returned to Mint-street alone, entering by the Leman-street end. It was then about 20 minutes to 2. I fixed the time, as I left the depot about a quarter to 2 for my horses. On my way to the station in Royal Mint-street I noticed a man and woman on the opposite side, about five yards from Blue Anchor-yard. That would be 40 or 50 yards from Swallow-gardens. They were standing together, and appeared to be talking. I returned along Mint-street, after booking on, and saw the man and woman standing in the same place. I passed close to them and noticed the woman was dressed in black, and wearing a crape hat. At that time I did not know Frances Coles, and I thought it was a young woman I knew by the name of Kate M'Carthy and her young man Thomas Fowles. I found it was neither Kate nor her young man. The man had a hard felt hat on with a broad rim, and was wearing a dark brown overcoat with a velvet collar. They were standing at the doorway of the house were M'Carthy lives, and that was what made me think it was her. I did not see the man's face when I passed him: his back was towards me. I went to my stables in Blue Anchor-yard, and when I got back to the station I heard of the murder. I was perfectly sober. I made a statement to the police, and said, - 'As I passed along I saw a man and woman near a warehouse standing close together. It was quite dark and I could not see what they were like. When I passed again the man turned his head to the door, and the girl hung her head down and I only saw her neck and her hat."

Friday was asked how he knew that the woman was not Kate McCarthy, to which he replied, "I am sure of that; she is not so tall. If it had been her I should have spoken to both her and Fowles. I was taken to the mortuary, but did not identify the woman, although I did the hat by the beads."

The man seen by 'Jumbo' Friday was described as being about 5ft 8in tall and wearing a scarf.[1]


  1. Inquest report, The Times, 28th February 1891