Murder In Whitechapel 1866

A disturbing article from The Maidstone Telegraph in its edition dated Saturday 30th June 1866, demonstrates that murder in Whitechapel, even long before the Jack the Ripper murders occurred, took many forms and had many different types of perpetrator.

The article carried the headline:-


It read:-

“Patrick Harrington, aged 77 year, an Irish labourer, of No. 3, Bakers’ Arms-alley, Royal Mint-street, better known as Rosemary-lane, was brought before Mr Paget at the Thames Police-court charged with the wilful murder of Peter Mann, his son-in-law.

Mr. Paget said that Mr. Pyer, the chief clerk, had better proceed with the depositions formally, as he supposed he should have to commit the prisoner for trial.


Inspector Dendy, of the H-division, who had charge of the case, said that several persons saw the prisoner kill his son-in-law, and some of them were present; but the prisoner so pertinaciously asserted his innocence, and that he was not on the spot when his son-in-law was murdered, that he should have to ask for remand to remove all doubts on the case that might arise.


Cornelius Leary, a tailor, of 41 Royal Mint Street, stated that on Sunday night, about twelve o’clock, he was standing at his door with all his family, consisting of his wife, son, and two daughters, when he heard a woman call out “Murder” in Bakers Arms alley, and Paddy Mann, or Peter Mann, and his wife came out of the alley into the street.

The woman had a long handled broom in her hand.

She was trying to defend herself with the broom, but not going to hit him with it.


They came to close quarters together, and Mann struck his wife twice.

She said, “You called me a  –, but I am not one.”

He then hit her a third blow and knocked her down.

The husband also fell.

She got up and hit him twice in the face with her fists.


The prisoner directly afterwards came out of Bakers’ Arms alley, raised his hand, and struck his son-in-law, Mann, a blow on the chest.

Mann turned round and reeled, and said, “Old man, you have stabbed me.”

Mann turned over, the blood gushed from a wound on the breast, and he died almost immediately.

The prisoner left the spot directly he struck his son-in-law, and he saw no more of him.


The prisoner, who is very deaf, was asked if he had any questions to put to the witness.

He said, “He had not heard a word of the evidence.”

Mr. Livingston, the chief usher, then read Leary’s deposition in a loud voice, and shouted in his ear.

The prisoner put on an appearance of surprise, and said “I was not there at all. I know nothing of it. I never touched him. Why should I do it?”


Daniel Leary, a youth, son of the last witness, stated that he saw Peter Mann and his wife quarrelling. He saw the woman strike her husband on the face twice, but he did not see the man strike her.

The old man, Harrington, directly struck Peter Mann on the right breast, and he turned round and said, “Old man, you have stabbed me.”

The prisoner then put his hands in his pockets and retired to a corner of the court, where he remained until a police-constable made his appearance.

A woman said, “There’s the Murderer” and the police constable laid hold of him.

The prisoner, on being accused of murdering his son-in-law, said, “I know nothing of it.”


John Greathead, a police-constable, 31 H, stated that he found Mann dead in the street, with a wound on the right breast.

He saw the prisoner in a corner of the court, and took him into custody.

He told him the charge, and he said he knew nothing about it whatever.

The Prisoner: “I had nothing to do with him; nothing in my hands – nothing but what I have now.”


Mr. Joseph Dendy, inspector of police, H Division, said the deceased was brought into the station house on a stretcher, quite dead.

He called the prisoner’s attention to his son-in-law, who was lying dead at his feet, and said, ” You are charged with stabbing him.”

The prisoner, who was rather the worse for liquor, said he knew nothing whatever about it.


Dr. John Loane, physician and surgeon. of No. 1, Dock street, Whitechapel, said he was called upon to see the deceased on Sunday night. There was a wound on the right aide of the heart.

The Prisoner: “Was he stabbed with anything?”

Dr. Lucas: Certainly, he has been stabbed; it is a puncture wound.


The prisoner made loud protestations of innocence.

He said that he and his son-in-law and others had drunk 12 pots of beer among them on Sunday evening, and all came home steadily together.

The deceased stripped off his coat and began quarrelling with his wife.

He did not interfere with them.

He did not touch his son-in-law; he did not know who touched him, he was innocent.


Inspector Dendy said that several other persons saw the prisoner stab his son-in-law.

They were all certain he was the man who did it.

Mr. Paget: Before I commit the prisoner for trial you had better have other witnesses. You can have summonses.

Inspector Dendy: I have their names and they can be depended upon.

Mr Paget then remanded the prisoner.”


The inquest into the death of Peter Mann – who was described as “a comic singer” – had been held at the Duke’s Head Tavern on Whitechapel Road on the Tuesday 26th June 1866.

The next evening The Evening Standard gave its readers a little more information on the character of the deceased:-

“The deceased had been some four or five years ago a singer at a music-hall, but was dismissed on account of his violent character.

Since then he has been well-known amongst certain classes in the East-end as a comic singer and dancer in public-houses and penny gaffs.”


Amongst those to testify at the inquest was Eileen Mann the deceased’s widow, who, according to The Evening Standard, stated that:-

“Her husband was a comic singer, 28 years of age. On Sunday night last the deceased, his brother, witness, and her father were drinking at twelve o’clock at night in Bakers’ Arms-alley.


There was a quarrel and her husband knocked her down. Witness picked up a broom to defend herself. He struck her, and she struck him twice in the face.

They then went out of the court. Before that her father and her husband’s brother disentangled her husband’s hands from her hair.

They then left the court going into the street. They left her father in the court, and did not see him in the street. She did not see anyone do anything to her husband. All had had a little drop of beer.


Last winter her husband left her for 17 weeks, and she had to go to the workhouse with her four children. A neighbour took her into her room after she got out, and a woman talked about this on Sunday, and said that witness had a man with her in that room.

The deceased said,  “Eileen, you shall take out a summons against her on Monday and clear your character.”


In the evening he got a hammer, and went about looking for witness to kill her. He had a knife in his pocket then.

The Coroner said that the quarrel between the witness and her husband had nothing to do with the case.

The Witness, who gave her evidence with great clearness, insisted that it had, as it was the beginning of the whole disturbance; but she was, of course, overruled. She had a frightful black eye, the result of her husband’s ill-usage.”


The next witness called to give evidence was William Shields, whom The Evening Standard described as “a little newsboy.”

According to the article he:-

“…proved that he saw a man pick up the knife produced out of the gutter near where the deceased lay. The man flung it down again, and witness picked it up, and found blood on it. Witness gave it to a policeman.

The knife was a formidable clasp knife, with a cord passed through the handle so that it might be worn suspended about the neck or waist.


Summing up on the case the Coroner, Mr. John Humphreys, informed the jury that:-

“…witnesses proved that they saw Harrington strike the deceased. Deceased said,”You have stabbed me,” and Harrington did not then deny it, or say anything.

The knife was then found covered with blood close by.

Under this state of facts it was quite clear that Harrington had stabbed the deceased, and the question arose whether the case was one of murder or manslaughter.

Looking at the provocation given to Harrington by the deceased’s beating his daughter in his presence, and the fact that he did not go indoors to get a knife, or allow any premeditation, the case would not seem to be one of wilful murder.


The Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Patrick Harrington for killing and slaying Peter Mann.

The Coroner issued his warrant for the detention of Harrington in Newgate until his trial at the Central Criminal Court.”


Harrington appeared at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on the 11th July 1866.

Having heard all the aforementioned evidence the jury found him guilty of manslaughter.

The Judge, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, “in view of the prisoner’s age, and the fact that his violence, although so much more than as necessary for that purpose, was to protect his daughter, sentenced him to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.”


You can read the full transcript of Patrick Harrington’s Old Bailey trial here.