Life in Whitechapel in the late 19th century could be dangerous. All manner of nefarious and criminally inclined characters were out on the streets ready to assault, rob or even murder the unwary citizens who might just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One such case as reported by The London Evening Standard in its edition of Tuesday 28th September, 1880:-
A SERIOUS CHARGE OF STABBING
“Joseph Bateman, a young man, described as a labourer, was charged before Mr. Saunders with cutting and wounding Henry Gibbs, a printer, living at 17, Plummer’s Row, Whitechapel, and his sister, Lydia Dealey, with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.
The Prosecutor said that between twelve and one on the previous morning he went out to fetch some supper at an adjoining public-house, but he found the place closed.
The Prisoner and a female were standing on the kerb with several men, and as he was about to retrace his steps the female pushed violently against him. He told her he was not speaking to them, when she slapped his face, but he thought it prudent not to take any notice of that and proceeded on his way, followed by the woman and the men.
The Prisoner came up to him as he was going up the steps of 17, Plummer’s Row, made a blow at him and then pulled him down the steps. During a struggle between them, the Prisoner struck him in the mouth with his fist, drew a pocket knife, stabbed him on the right arm, called him all sorts of foul names and threatened to have his life before the morning.
His mother and sister came to his assistance, and, on the arrival of a constable, he gave the Prisoner into custody.
He afterwards went to the London Hospital and had his injuries attended to.
LYDIA DEALEY’S TESTIMONY
Lydia Dealey, the sister of the last witness, said that she heard loud cries of “Murder,” and, on running outside to ascertain the cause, she saw her brother lying on the step in a pool of blood. She tried to pull him away from the Prisoner, who was standing over him with an open knife in his hand, when he made a blow at her face with his fist and stabbed her twice in the right arm and threatened to murder all in the house.
Hane Gibbs, the mother of the last two witnesses, said that she heard cries of “Murder!” and, on going out, she saw the Prisoner stab her son and daughter.
Several of the mob beat her about the face and head until she was rendered insensible, but she was unable to identify any of the parties who had ill-used her.
TAKEN TO THE POLICE STATION
A Constable said that he was on duty when he was called to a disturbance at Plummer’s Row, and, on arriving there, he saw Henry Gibbs bleeding from the right arm, and he gave the Prisoner into custody for wounding him with a knife.
On telling the Prisoner the charge he said, “I have no knife, and I used no weapon.”
On tire road to Leman Street, Dealey came up and also charged the Prisoner with stabbing her.
On searching him at the station he found a two-bladed knife on him, but there were no stains blood on it.
Mr. Saunders committed the Prisoner for trial.”