Following the evidence given by Mary Malcolm at the inquest into the death of Elizabeth Stride, in which Mrs. Malcolm claimed that the murdered woman was, in fact, her sister, Elizabeth Watts, the Central News Agency, managed to track down Elizabeth Watts, and found that she was alive and well.
Several newspapers carried her story:-
AN UNEXPECTED TWIST
Notwithstanding the apparently conclusive evidence given at the inquest by Michael Kidney, as to the identity of the Berner-street victim, many people have continued to believe that the murdered woman was really Elisabeth Watts, wife of a former wine merchant at Bath.
It will be remembered that Mrs. Mary Malcolm, of Red Lion Square, swore that the deceased was her sister, Elisabeth Watts, whom she had last seen on the Thursday preceding the murder.
The Central News has succeeded in finding Elisabeth Watts in the person of Mrs Stokes, the wife of a brickyard labourer living at Tottenham.
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THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH STOKES
Mrs. Stokes says:-
“My father was a publican in the village of Coleree, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. There were eight children of our family, four girls and four boys. I have one sister in New Zealand, and one brother still lives in Wiltshire. But I have no idea where the rest of the family are.
My maiden name was Elizabeth Perrin.
MARRIED THREE TIMES
I have been married three times.
My first husband was Mr. Watts, a wine merchant at Bath, to whom I was married at Bristol. My second husband’s name was Sneller, whom I married at Deal; and my third and present husband’s name is Stokes, to whom I was married in St Andrew’s Church, New Kent-road, on December, 15th, 1884.
He has been employed lately at Plowmen’s Brickfield. Tottenham.
MARY MALCOLM WAS HER SISTER
Mrs Malcolm, who gave evidence at the inquest, is my sister, but I have not seen her for years, and I do not expect to see her until I attend the adjourned inquest on the 23rd inst.
My sister, Mary Malcolm, has never, as she swore, given me any money. It is untrue that I saw her on the Thursday preceding the murder. I was out washing on that day at Mrs. Peterkin’s laundry, near White Hart-lane. I never used to meet her, as she said, in Red Lion-street, to receive a shilling from her.
I am not short of clothes, and I never lived in Commercial-road nor kept a coffee-house at Poplar.
I may take a little drink now and then, but my sister never saw me in drink.
HER CHILDREN TAKEN FROM HER
My two children by my first husband, Watts, were taken from me, and that preys on my mind at times.
I never quarrelled with my first husband. Watts’s friends did not approve of our marriage on account of my being a poor girl. He was sent abroad, and died in America, leaving me with the two children, a boy and a girl. Where they are I do not know.
Their father’s friends took the children from me, and I was placed in a Lunatic Asylum of Fisherton house, near Salisbury.
The Relieving Officer of Bath got me out, and I then went to live as a domestic servant at Walmer.
There I made the acquaintance of Sneller, whom I afterwards married at Deal Church. He was engaged on a vessel in the Royal Navy, which was stranded on St. Paul’s Island, and there he died. His half-pay was then stopped, and I was left destitute.
Subsequently I was put in the Peckham Lunatic Asylum, under Dr. Stocker and Dr. Brown.
I endeavoured to gain possession of my two children, whom I have never seen or heard of since they were taken from me.
HER MEMORY IMPAIRED
The Lunacy Commissioners afterward pronounced me to be sane, and I was again discharged perfectly destitute.
Owing to my troubles my memory is impaired. I married my present husband, Stokes, four years ago.
HER HUSBAND NOT IMPRESSED
According to the Central News report, which appeared in several newspapers on the 9th of October, her current husband, Mr Stokes, confirmed that his wife’s statement tallied with what she had frequently told him.
He said that they lived very happily together and he certainly did not wish to see her dead.
He was determined to have the matter cleared up, because with such a stain on his wife’s character, no one would employ either of them.