Murder On Whitechapel Road

On Thursday 24th Septepmber, 1903, Jeremiah Slowe walked into the Lord Nelson pub on Whitechapel Road, and callously stabbed to death the barmaid, whose name was Mary Jane Hardwick.

St James’s Gazette carried news of the murder in its edition of Thursday, 24th September, 1903:-

MURDERED IN WHITECHAPEL ROAD

Barmaid Fatally Stabbed.

“Shortly after midnight, a barmaid at the Nelson situated in the Whitechapel Road, was fatally stabbed by a young man, who is said to be in the habit of frequenting the house.

He is reported to have suddenly rushed in and, without warning, plunged a knife into the unfortunate girl’s breast.

Some of the spectators of the dreadful occurrence at once seized the man, but he struggled and got away. He was, however, chased through several streets, and finally captured and handed over to the police.

Meanwhile, the young woman was conveyed to the London Hospital, but she died on the way.

The deceased has since been identified as Mary Jane Hardwick.”

A sketch of the murdered woman.
From The Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday, 25th September, 1903. Copyright, The British Library Board.

TERRIBLE LONDON TRAGEDY
BARMAID STABBED TO DEATH

The Aberdeen Press and Journal, on Friday, 25th September, 1903, reported the murderer’s first cour appearance:-

“Early yesterday morning, a barmaid, named Hardwick, at the Nelson public house, situated on Whitechapel Road, London, was fatally stabbed by a young man who was in the habit of frequenting the house.

The sequel of the tragedy is to be found in the following Police Court proceedings.

Charles Jeremiah Slowe (26), a dock labourer, was charged at Worship Street Police Court in the course of the day with the wilful murder of Martha Jane Hardwick, aged about 30, a barmaid at the Lord Nelson Public House, Whitechapel Road.

THE MURDER DESCRIBED

It is stated that the deceased was a native of Yeadon, Yorkshire, but that she had no parents living, and had resided with her sister, Mrs Hannah Starkey, a widow, who kept the house in question.

Mrs Starkey stated that Slowe visited the house occasionally as a customer.

He came into the house on Wednesday night, and just before closing time he rose from his seat and struck the deceased with his right and left fists, remarking, “I’ve got you now,” or words to that effect. She did not see any weapon in his hand, but he held a concealed knife.

Her sister swooned and expired.

The witness had never seen the prisoner speak to the deceased except as a customer, and could give no reason for the act.

THE KNIFE PRODUCED

Detective Collins said the deceased had a wound in the chest about the width of a worn butcher’s knife (produced).

There was apparently no motive for the murder, and the accused, when taken into custody, made no remark.

The accused,  a sullen-looking young man, was remanded for a week.”

THE MURDER OF A BARMAID
A YORKSHIRE GIRL’S DEATH

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle, on Friday, 25th September, 1903, published the following article about the first day of the inquest into the deceased girl’s death:-

“Mr. Wynne E. Baxter opened an inquest at the London Hospital, this morning, on Mary Jane  Hardwick, a barmaid at the Lord Nelson public-house, 299, Whitechapel Road, who had been stabbed to death at the entrance of the house, shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

J. Slowe, aged 28, a labourer, who is charged with the murder of the woman, was present in court in the charge of two warders.

THE DECEASED’S SISTER’S EVIDENCE

The first witness called was Mrs. Jane Starkey, a widow, sister of the deceased.

Mrs. Starkey was much agitated when called, and by the Coroner’s direction, she sat at his table. She said that her sister was 20 years of age, and was a native of Yeadon, near Leeds. She was an orphan, and for the last six years had assisted witness as a barmaid.

Witness said she had seen a man, who she knew as Jerry, at the public house.

“Do you see the man in Court?”,  asked the Coroner.

“That is the man,” replied Mrs. Starkey, pointing to Slowe, who was sitting in the corner of the court with his arms folded.

As far as the witness knew, her sister had no love affair. She did not think that the prisoner and her sister had ever met outside the public-house, and, except to serve Slowe, her sister had not, to the witness’s knowledge, ever taken the slightest notice of the man.

On Wednesday night, a few hours before the tragedy occurred, Miss Hardwick had served the man with drink, and he had asked her if a certain man had been there that night.

A photograph of Coroner Baxter.
Coroner Wynne Edwin Baxter

THE STORY OF THE TRAGEDY

The Witness then told the story of the tragedy.

About midnight, the prisoner came into the private bar of the Lord Nelson, and called for a shandy bitter, and then looked into the bar-parlour, where the deceased and her aunt were sitting.

Slowe did not speak at all.

After taking his drink, the prisoner went out into the street. He lingered about, while preparations were being made to close the premises.

The Deceased went to the outer door when the lights were being turned out, and stayed for a few minutes.

HE RUSHED AT HER

When she turned to go into the bar again the prisoner rushed at her, shouting as he did so, “I’ve got you.”

The Deceased was speaking over the bar to the witness and had her back partly towards the prisoner. When Slowe came close to her he struck her with both hands, his right hand appearing to strike her over the left shoulder and breast. Miss Hardwick screamed, and the prisoner seemed to give her a blow in the stomach. Her cries were agonising.

The Witness, did not see that Slowe had anything in his hands.

SLOWE CHASED

The Witness shouted for assistance and leapt over the counter, to get hold of the man, who had bolted out of the door. The Witness raised the alarm, and cried to some passers-by to hold Slowe, who was fast disappearing down the street, and a man caught hold of the handkerchief round his throat, but it came away in his hand, and Slowe dashed down a side street.

The Witness, who had then lost sight of Stowe returned to the Lord Nelson, where she found her aunt standing over her sister, who was lying on her face on the floor. The Witness thought she had only fainted front the blows given her.

A policeman and a doctor arrived in a few minutes, and the unfortunate girl, who was unconscious, was removed to the London Hospital.

MEDICAL TESTIMONY

Dr. Arthur Townsend, who was summoned to the Lord Nelson by a lad, said that he found the deceased lying on the floor of the public bar. There was a lot of blood on the woman’s clothing, and there was a stab wound over the heart. She was not breathing, and life appeared to be extinct.

With all haste, she was removed to the hospital, where the doctors found that she was dead.

Dr. Hodson, of the London Hospital, who made the post-mortem examination, said there were no marks of violence on the body except for two small cuts, one over the left breast, and the other in the region of the right breast. Both wounds had apparently been inflicted with the same weapon. One of the wounds had penetrated the right side of the heart.

Death was due to the stab in the heart, and must have been almost instantaneous. The knife exhibited could have caused the injuries.”

A sketch showing the murder of Mary Jane Hardwick.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 26th September, 1903. Copyright, The British Library Board.

THE MURDERED BARMAID

The Manchester Evening News, on Monday, 28th September, 1903, reported on the proceedings at the resumed inquest:-

The Prisoner’s Cool Demeanour.

“The inquest was resumed in London, today, on Martha Jane Hardwick, 20, a barmaid, who was stabbed to death at midnight on Wednesday last in the public bar of the Lord Nelson public-house, Whitechapel Road.

Charles Jeremiah Slowe 28, dock labourer, who has been charged with the wilful murder of the girl was present during the proceedings. The court was crowded.

Slowe’s demeanour this morning indicated that the serious position in which he stands has not even yet been borne in upon him. He regarded the reporters with an amused smile and frequently chatted with the two warders who sat on each side of him.

THE DEAD GIRL’S SWEETHEART

Mrs. Starkey, the landlady of the Lord Nelson, and sister of the deceased, said the dead girl had a sweetheart to Christmas. He lived at Yeadon, near Leeds (the place of which the deceased girl was a native), and he used to correspond with her. The young man’s name was Harry Murgatroyd, and he worked for his uncle, who was a cloth merchant. The Deceased made his acquaintance while on a visit to friends.

He visited her at the Lord Nelson at Easter, 1902. Whilst staying at the house she saw the prisoner treating him, together with other customers.

EVIDENCE IN CORONERS COURTS
INTERESTING POINTS

Robert Christopher, potman at the Lord Nelson, said that he had known the prisoner for about four years.

Mr. Armstrong (prisoner’s counsel):- “Had you seen the prisoner talking to the deceased in the bar?”

Witness:- “Yes; but she would only speak to him as to an ordinary customer.”

The Coroner:- “Have you ever heard prisoner threaten deceased?”

Witness:- “Yes.”

Mr. Armstrong:– “Is not that a leading question, and hardly fair to the prisoner?”

The Coroner:- “There is no question of leading questions in a coroner’s court.”

Mr. Armstrong:- “The law of evidence applies here, I suppose?”

The Coroner:- “Only to a limited extent.”

Mr. Armstrong:- “It would not be accepted where they know the law.”

The Coroner:- “Do I understand you to mean that I don’t know the law?”

Mr. Armstrong:- “Oh, no, sir. I don’t mean anything offensive to you.”

The Coroner:- “I ought to tell you that there is no prisoner here at all in the sense that there is in a criminal court.”

Mr. Armstrong:- “I have only had the honour of attending law courts for the last 40 years.”

The Coroner:- “A coroner’s inquiry is one as to the cause of death.”

Mr. Armstrong:- “I understand the law of coroner’s courts probably quite as well you do.”

The Coroner:- “I have been the coroner for 25 years, and I have held 30,000 inquests.”

Mr. Armstrong:- “I have had 40 years’ experience. I graduated at Messrs. Freshfields, the Bank of England’s solicitors.”

Witness added that on one occasion he heard the prisoner, referring to the deceased, say, “I will put her light out one of these days.”

SCENE IN COURT

Lilly Cheeseman, who had to be led into the box, caused a scene in court. She sobbed bitterly, and kept exclaiming, “I can’t, I can’t.”

The prisoner (she said) was the son of her stepmother by a former marriage.

For the first time in the inquiry, the prisoner seemed to feel his position, and buried his head in his hands whilst the witness proceeded with her evidence.

The Witness (who became almost hysterical at times) said the prisoner had always been unfortunate, and she understood that the landlady of the Lord Nelson had lent him money.

He had threatened to commit suicide, and once he tried to take poison because he was out of work.

After other evidence, the inquest was again adjourned.”

MURDERED YEADON BARMAID

The Bradford Daily Telegraph, on Wednesday, 7th October, 1903, published details of the final day of the inquest:-

“At the Stepney Borough Coroner’s Court yesterday Mr Wynne E. Baxter resumed his inquiry concerning the death of Martha Jane Hardwick, aged twenty years, who was stabbed in the bar of the Lord Nelson public-bouse, Whitechapel Road, where she was employed, on the 23rd ult.

A man giving the name of Charles Jeremiah Slowe, also known as Jerry Hogan, but whose correct name is Lyons, stands charged with the crime.

Detective-inspector Collins watched proceedings on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Police.

A colour-sergeant in the 2nd Battalion of the Rifles stationed at Portsmouth gave evidence as to the prisoner’s military career. The prisoner had served in the Militia, and has risen to the position of corporal.

The Coroner, in summing up, said there was nothing to throw any discredit on the character of Hardwicke. who appeared to have been a well-conducted young woman.

There was nothing either to show that there was any reciprocal feeling on her part towards the prisoner.

The latter had admitted to the police that he had stabbed the woman, and the case seemed quite clear, though there was no apparent motive for the crime.

There was no suggestion that the prisoner was insane.

Tho jury returned a verdict of “Wilful murder” against Slowe, who was committed for trial on the Coroner’s warrant.”

BARMAID’S MURDERER SENTENCED TO DEATH

On Wednesday, 21st October, 1903, Slowe went on trial at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) and the St James’s Gazette reported on his trial in its next day’s edition:-

“At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Charles Jeremiah Slowe (28), labourer, was indicted for the wilful murder of Martha Jane Hardwick.

Mr. A. Gill and Mr. Muir prosecuted, and Mr. Harold Morris defended.

The deceased woman was a barmaid at the Lord Nelson public-house, Whitechapel-road, and the prisoner was an occasional customer there, and so far as the deceased’s aunt said she was aware, there was no further acquaintance between the two. It would seem, in fact, that the deceased woman avoided the prisoner as much as possible, and there was evidence that on one or two occasions he had made use of abusive and threatening language towards her.

On the night of the 24th ult. the prisoner about ten o’clock entered the public-house and was served with drink, and the deceased went into the private bar to get out of his company, but at midnight she went into the public bar to turn out the lights, when the prisoner, rushing from another bar, exclaimed, “Now I’ve got you.”

He struck her two blows and she screamed and fell. The prisoner was seized.

The jury found the prisoner guilty of murder, and he was sentenced to death in the usual way.

The prisoner:- “I shall meet it without fear.”

EXECUTION DATE SET

The next day, Friday, 23rd October, 1903, The Globe reported that the date of Slowe’s execution had been set:-

“The High Sheriff for the County of London has fixed November 10th as the date for the execution of Jeremiah Stowe, now lying in Pentonville Gaol under sentence of death for the murder of Miss Hardwick, late a barmaid at the Lord Nelson public-house, Whitechapel.

Slowe was informed of the date for the carrying out of the sentence this morning.

The convict displays a callous disposition, and appears quite unconcerned as to his fate.”

WHITECHAPEL MURDERER HANGED

On Tuesday, 10th November, 1903 Slowe’s execution took place and The Eastern Daily Press covered it in the following brief report which appeared in its edition of the next day:-

“At nine o’clock yesterday morning, within Pentonville Prison, Charles Jeremiah slowe, dock labourer, was hanged for the murder of Martha Jane Hardwick, late barmaid at the Lord Nelson Public-house, Whitechapel-road.

The murder, which was committed under circumstances of the greatest brutality on the night of September 24th, and appeared to be the outcome of jealousy and drink, and the convict is said to have admitted that it was premeditated.

The execution was carried out in the presence of Mr. Under-Sheriff Medcalfe, the Governor of the Gaol, the medical officer, and other officials.

Slowe walked firmly to the scaffold. Death was instantaneous.

The usual printed notice was posted on the main entrance to the gaol, intimating that sentence had been carried out according to law.”