A Swedish Student Robbed.

The Eastern Evening News, in its edition of  Saturday, 13th October 1888, carried the following report of a robbery that had occurred a a Spitalfields common lodging house:-


At Worship Street Police-court yesterday, Mary Hawkes, 18, and James Fordham, 21, the latter with several aliases, were charged on remand, before Mr. Montagu Williams, with having been concerned with others, not in custody, in assaulting Carl Edwin Henman, and robbing him of a pair of trousers and sum of £4.

Mr. Phillips appeared to defend Fordham.


The facts of the case were reported on Tuesday and it may be remembered that the prosecutor, a Scandinavian, who described himself as a student, met, whilst intoxicated, a woman with whom he went to Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields, and was taken by her into a common lodging-house, where he paid 8d. for a “double” bed, and was shown to a room where he found fault with the accommodation.

He was left by the woman, and almost immediately afterwards was attacked by four or five men, who burst into the room and seized him, throwing him onto the bed and rifling his pockets of a purse containing £4 in gold, as well as stealing his trousers.

An illustration of Flower and Dean Street.
32 Flower And Dean Street, One Of Many Common Lodging Houses In The Street.


It happened, however, that two police-constables had been informed of the fact of the man being taken to the house by two women, and the officers, remaining near the spot, heard the prosecutor’s cries, and entered the place just as he was thrown down the stairs.

The room he had been in was searched, and in the adjoining room the prisoners were found in bed.

The trousers and purse were also found there, the purse being minus £2 10s of its contents.

Fordham denied having taken part in the assault on the prosecutor, but the latter identified him.


The prosecutor, also said that he had paid the 8d. for the bed to a woman (the deputy), and the police said that when they entered the house the deputy was not to be seen.

The magistrate had ordered the police to produce her, and also desired to have some information as to the supervision of the common lodging-houses of the district.

Margaret Brown a young woman, now deposed that she acted as “deputy” of the house in question, No. 34, Flower and Dean Street, erroneously stated last time by the witnesses to be No. 36.

The house was owned by a Mr. Coates, who kept a chandler’s shop in Dorset Street and lived in Whitecross Street.

Replying to the magistrate, the witness said that there were nineteen “double” beds and seven “singles” in the place.

She remembered letting in the female prisoner and a man –  a foreigner – the latter paying eight pence for a double bed.


Witness also knew the prisoner Fordham, whom she let in at a quarter to one o’clock, or about ten minutes after the woman and the foreigner.

She could not account for the prisoner Fordham being afterwards found with the female prisoner in a “double” when he had paid fourpence for a single bed.

She had known him before, he having slept there about once a week for some time past.

She did not know the other four men who attacked the prosecutor.

There were no other men that she knew of up there.


She had heard the prosecutor calling out, and went up, when the prosecutor said the woman had robbed him.

That was after the police were in the house. Witness went up with the police.

She had sole charge of the place, and was paid 6s. a week.


Police-constable Dennis, 67 H, recalled, said that when he entered the place the deputy was not to be seen.

After going in a second time she came from the kitchen.

The witness explained that the “single” beds were undivided and stood in rows in a large room, the “double” beds being in small rooms made of partitioning.

The partitions did not reach the floor or the ceiling, a space of about 18 inches being left top and bottom.

A person might pass from one room to another by a good squeeze.

Previous convictions were then proved against both the prisoners. The man had been several times sentenced for felony, and the woman twice for cutting and wounding, her last sentence being twelve months.


Police-sergeant 32 H said that he had, with an inspector, to inspect the registered lodging-houses in the district. There were 127 common lodging-houses, accommodating about six thousand persons. They were all visited once a week, on an overage.

The house, 34, Flower and Dean Street, had hitherto been a well-conducted house. Of course it was frequented by thieves and prostitutes.

He (witness) doubted a single registered lodging-house would be found without thieves and prostitutes among the lodgers.


The magistrate having stated that he should send the case for trial, Mr. Phillips said Fordham would reserve his defence.

The prosecutor was not in attendance, and it was said that he was on the eve of starting for America.

Mr. Williams remarked that he should chance the prosecutor being in attendance at the trial. If he was not the Judge would probably deal with the matter.

He directed that the proceedings at the lodging-house in question should be reported to Scotland Yard.

The prisoners were then committed to the sessions.