Mary Malcolm’s Testimony

On Wednesday, 3rd October 1888, The Aberdeen Free Press, published a lengthy article on the evidence that had, the previous day, been given by Mary Malcolm, at the inquest into the death of Elizabeth Stride.

Contrary to what everyone else was saying, Mary Malcolm insisted that the victim was, in fact, her sister Elizabeth Watts.


On Tuesday 2nd October 1888 Mrs Malcolm appeared as a witness at the inquest into the Berner Street victim’s death.

Mary Malcolm, Eagle-street, Holborn, wife of a tailor, said she recognised the deceased as her sister, Elizabeth Watts. She last saw her alive on Thursday evening at witness’s house, and gave her a short jacket and a shilling.

Deceased never told her where she was living.



Her husband was the son of Mr. Watts, wine merchant, Bath.

Witness believed he had gone to America because the deceased brought disgrace upon him eight years ago. She then had two children.

One, a girl, was now dead, and the boy was at school, under the care of his aunt.

Deceased lived with a man who went to sea and was drowned two or three years ago. Witness knew she was called “Long Liz,” and used to meet her every Saturday afternoon at the corner of Chancery-lane. She had never missed a Saturday for three years till last Saturday.


Witness felt a presentiment on reading the paper on Sunday morning, and went over to Whitechapel.

On seeing her in the mortuary she did not at first recognise her by gaslight, but had done so since.

Witness had a presentiment at twenty minutes past one on Sunday morning, when there came a heavy fall on the bed. and she heard three distinct kisses. Her husband heard the same.

An illustration showing Elizabeth Stride stooping to kiss Mary Malcolm
Mary Malcolm’s Strange Experience.


One proof of identity was a mark on the leg, caused by the bite of an adder when she was a child.

The Coroner advised Mrs Malcolm to go to the usual meeting place Saturday next, as there was some doubt as to the deceased being her sister, and the witness promised to do so.


There is reason to believe that she has been mistaken, as a Press Association representative had an interview yesterday evening with a man who has positively identified the murdered woman as a woman with whom he had cohabited for over three years.

He is most positive in his assertions, while Mrs Malcolm at first hesitated a good deal before declaring that the victim was her sister. She only saw her sister occasionally, while the man referred to lived with her up to a few months ago.


Mrs Mary Malcolm, who was examined at the coroner’s inquiry last night, made an important statement to a representative of the press.

She stated that she had again seen the body, and and she was certain it was that of her sister.

Someone else came to look after a lost friend, but he stated that he did not know the deceased.

She could not answer all the questions put by the coroner because she was so upset, her memory failed her, but they had come into her mind since – she had reasons for wishing to answer others.


She then volunteered the following statement of the deceased’s life.

Her sister when a young woman entered Mr. Watts’s family at Bath as a servant. Her young master, young Mr. Watts, became enamoured of her, and she became encente by him. He afterwards married her secretly, and then took her to his father’s house and introduced her as his wife.

The family at first recognised her, and she had a splendid house and a brougham.


She however, was fond of drink, and then became intimate with the porter. Her husband sent her home to her mother, where she remained till after the birth of a child. When she returned to her husband’s home at Bath she found the home had been sold up, and her husband sent away to America by his father.

The family discarded her, and then she took up with a policeman in her poverty, by whom she had a child in Holloway workhouse.


After that a man at Poplar took up with her.

She knew who that man was, but she had reasons for not wanting to say.

When she was with this man they kept a coffee shop at Poplar. Inspector Reid thought it was Stride, and asked her some questions about him, and she had seen Stride, but he was not the man. and the reason she did not answer the questions was because there was an affair she did not want to come out.

When reminded that in keeping anything back she might be defeating the ends of justice, she said that she did not think she was, but if she thought so she would tell.


In reply to another question as to whether the deceased had ever had a quarrel with the man who kept the coffee-shop, or any other man that might have owed her a grudge, Mrs. Malcolm said, “Well, yes. She had a fearful quarrel with the man who kept the coffee-shop but she was of such kind disposition that she (Mrs. Malcolm) did not think he could owe her (Mrs. Watts) any grudge, as, poor dear, she bore him no malice. But the real fact was that there was a stabbing affair. He either stabbed her, or attempted to stab her, and the police were after him.


He was a shipbuilder by trade, so he took a ship to New Zealand. On the voyage out the ship was wrecked off the island of St. Paul and nearly all lost. She told the coroner he was wrecked, but she did not tell him all.

She stopped there, but the real fact was that he was almost about the only one that was saved, for though he was wrecked off the island of St. Paul, he was picked up by another ship and eventually succeeded in reaching New Zealand. She knew this because she had another sister living in New Zealand, in a good position, and he went to their house.


In answer to further questions, she said that it might be possible that he had come back to England, but though her sister had been a curse to several families, she could not bring herself to think that he still bore her any malice.

The date of the stabbing affair, which caused him to leave the country, was about 1882.

One of her reasons for not wishing to give his real name to the coroner or to the inspector was because he was very respectably connected at Poplar. He had three brothers there now, and the family are shipbuilders and ship owners.