The Black Swan Hanbury Street

Hanbury Street is well known in the Jack the Ripper saga as the location of the murder of Annie Chapman, which took place in the backyard of number 29 on the 8th of September 1888.

However, like many of the other streets that featured in the saga of the Whitechapel Murders, Hanbury Street would spring into notoriety from time to time well into the 20th century.

A photograph showing Hanbury Street.
Hanbury Street As It Was


The Illustrated Police News, on Saturday the 19th of August 1899, published the following article which brought a notorious hostelry in the thoroughfare to the attention of the general public:-


At the Thames Police Court George Hearn, forty-two, a machinist, of 10, Alexander Buildings, St. Luke’s, was brought up, on remand, charged with feloniously receiving a gold watch, chain, pendant, and silver match-box, valued at £100, which were stolen from the person of Dr. H. A. Stoneham, on June 15; and further with receiving twelve inches of a gold chain, valued at £20, belonging to Mr. W. Rea, one of the directors of Messrs. Kinlock and Co., spirit distillers, and residing at Leytonstone.

Detective-inspector S. White appeared for the police.

Mr. Williamson said that he appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


On June 15th Dr. Stoneham had been visiting a patient in Twine Court, Ratcliff Highway, and on coming out of the house was robbed of his watch, chain, silver match-box, and fifteen shillings by five men.

Two of them were convicted.

Dr. Stoneham at the present time was away in Switzerland, and had not yet recovered from the violence inflicted on him.


On June 19 Mr. Rea was robbed of his chain in Prescott Street, but no charge had been made in connection with this case, as the prosecutor was unable to identify the men.

Two of them, however, would give evidence showing their complicity in the affair.


Henry Marsh deposed that he was twenty-three years of age, and was a  convict in, Chelmsford Gaol undergoing a sentence of three years’ penal servitude, having been previously convicted eleven times for robberies.

He was one of the men who took part in robbing Dr. Stoneham, after which four of them went to the Black Swan, in Hanbury Street, and Terry, who had the chain, followed them.


They all-went into the bagatelle room, where they saw “Fatty” Hearn (prisoner).

Thompson weighed the chain, and then the watch was broken up and also weighed. Prisoner broke up the watch, and they received from him £6 15s 9d, which they shared out.

Hearn asked them if it was a “shoe-fly,” which meant a “snatch.”

Payne, one of the men concerned in robbing Dr. Stoneham, answered, “Yes – we searched a mug in Shadwell.”


Prisoner knew witness as a thief. For the robbery he was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude, and to receive twenty lashes. He had not yet received the flogging.,

Witness had previously sold the accused stolen goods at the Black Swan, and he only went to that house for the purpose of getting rid of the “stuff.”

Prisoner always had with him a man, who carried the scales and “swag.”

Prisoner’s Counsel:- “Do you mean to say that the prisoner had £6 in his-pocket?

Witness:- “Yes; and £60 if he wanted it. He can go to the landlord and borrow money from him. I have known him do it when he has not had enough to pay them.

The witness further deposed that the prisoner’s man was always at the Black Swan waiting for stolen goods.


John Levy – a convict, undergoing a sentence of six months’ imprisonment in Pentonville Prison – stated that he took part in the robbery from Dr. Stoneham, and possessed himself of the chain and the half sovereign attached to it.

They took the watch, chain, and match-box to the Black Swan.

The witness had the chain rolled up in his shirt-sleeve.

Hearn took out the works of the watch and weighed the case. He also weighed the chain.

The prisoner gave the witness £5. 4s, and that, with the money taken from the doctor, they shared out. Witness had about a guinea for his portion.

Prisoner knew witness as a thief.

He (the witness) had been convicted on six occasions, and his present sentence had nothing to do with the robbery from Dr. Stoneham.


Thomas Thompson said that he was a prisoner undergoing a sentence of eighteen months’ hard labour for robbery with violence on Dr. Stoneham.

He was also sentenced to receive twenty lashes from the “cat,” and that part of the sentence had been carried out.

After the robbery they went to the Black Swan, in Hanbury Street, where they the saw prisoner. The latter asked what they had, and they told him. They received £6. 3s 9d from the accused.

Hearn had known him for six years as a thief, and the witness had been convicted several times.

In cross-examination the witness said he petitioned the Home Secretary on the grounds of innocence. It might have been a twinge of conscience that made him make his revelations, which he did before he ‘had the “cat.”


Detective F. Beavis deposed that he knew Thompson, Marsh, Levy, and the prisoner.

He had seen the last named follow Marsh and Levy into the Black Swan.

Detective-sergeants Wensley and Gill proved prisoner’s arrest.

Evidence was given as to the robbery from Mr. Rea, on whom violence was used.


Henry, Marsh, Thompson and Levy were called and admitted robbing Mr. Rea.

After finding the chain was 18-carat gold they went to the Black Swan and saw the “swagger,” (prisoner’s man), who took three of the party to Hearn’s place, where they were paid £6 3s 9d, which was at the rate of £2 15s per ounce for 18-carat gold.

Mr. Mead committed the prisoner for trial on both charges.”