Murderous Affair In A Brothel

On Thursday, October 31st, 1850 The North Devon Journal carried the following story that illustrated yet another knife crime that had occurred in Whitechapel:-


At the Thames Police-court on Thursday, James Daley, a tall man, 25 years of age, was brought up on remand before Mr. Ingham, charged with feloniously cutting and wounding William Freeman, with intent to murder him, or do him grievous bodily harm.

Both men are registered coalwhippers.

Freeman is a burly fellow, about 50 years of age, and he appeared in Court with his left arm and shoulder bandaged, and in a weak state from loss of blood.

The exterior of the Thames Police Court.
The Thames Police Court. Courtesy of Adam Wood.


It appeared that Daley and his wife, a woman of loose character, had been living apart for some time, and that she had been cohabiting with Freeman occasionally.

On Friday night they proceeded to an infamous house in Bluegate-fields, Shadwell, for the purpose of passing the night there.


At a late hour Freeman, who was lying on his right side, was awoken by some one jabbing him with a knife.

He called out “Murder,” and received several other stabs on the left shoulder and arm. He got out from the bed as soon as he was able, and called out “Murder.”

He saw the prisoner leaving the room, and attempted to follow him, but was unable to do so from loss of blood, which was flowing profusely from his wounds.


An alarm was raised, and a policeman named Sansom, No. 85 K. and others, went into the house, and, on entering the room where the prisoner’s wife and her paramour were, the bed, bedding, and the floor were found to be saturated with blood.

The prosecutor at once said, “Jem Haley has stabbed me, and has run away.”


He was immediately carried to the station-house, and Mr. Ross, divisional surgeon of police, was sent for, who ascertained that Freeman had received seven wounds, and that he had lost a very large quantity of blood.

There were four punctured wounds immediately over the blade-bone, one on the back, and an incised wound on the upper and back part of the left arm in extent full two inches, and in depth about an inch and a half. Those on the back were about an inch and quarter in depth.

They were all inflicted with some very sharp cutting instrument.

The man was bleeding in such a rapid manner when Mr. Ross first saw him, that he had some difficulty in saving his life.


The prisoner was apprehended at two o’clock on Saturday morning in his own dwelling in Pinsom’s Island, behind the gas-works, in Wapping.

He was in bed when Police-serjeant No. 20 K. took him into custody, an he denied that he was the person who had stabbed Freeman, or that he had been in Bluegate-fields at all in the course of the night.


There was, however, not only the positive evidence of Freeman that Daley was the man who stabbed him, but Sansom, the policeman, said that he saw the prisoner is Bluegate-fields, proceeding towards the house, a few minutes before the alarm was given, and he saw him coming from the direction of the house directly after he heard the cries of “Murder!”

Other witnesses of infamous character saw the prisoner go into the brothel, which the prisoner’s wife had frequented for nine weeks – one of them, a woman named Simmons, alias Martin, saw a man and woman go into the house after Haley’s wife and her paramour had gone to bed.

The woman opened the door of the bed-room where the abandoned pair were sleeping, and pushed the man in, saying, “There is the Freeman; now you have got him.”

Directly afterwards Simmons heard a noise in the room, followed by cries of “Murder!” and then a man, whom she could not swear to, rushed out of the house.


It also appeared that Daley was perfectly acquainted with the fact that his wife and Freeman had been living in a state of adultery, and had declared that he would be revenged.

Sansom, the police-constable, No. 35 K, who had charge of the case, said that since the last inquiry he had ascertained that Daley was actually married to his wife, at Whitechapel Church, and there were two attesting witnesses to the marriage.


Mr. Ingham would not call the wife, who was present and anxious to give evidence against her husband, but was desirous of having the testimony of the witnesses who were present at the marriage, and have them in attendance on Saturday until which day he should remand the prisoner.


Mr. Joseph Smith said that he had been requested by Mr. Pelham, who had left the Court, and who was retained for the defence, to offer bail for the prisoner, who would tender most respectable sureties, and to any amount.

Mr. Ingham:- “No; I really cannot take bail at present. He must be remanded to prison.”