The Death Of Elizabeth Mary Oliver

As I have mentioned in many previous blogs that look at various true crimes that occurred in Whitechapel during the 19th century, murder was a commonplace occurrence, albeit the type of crime perpetrated by Jack the Ripper was a rarity.

Most of the murders were the result of drunken brawls, arguments, or domestic violence.

The area was home to all sorts of ne’er-do-wells and criminals, such as Shiner Bob, who was universally referred to as “the worst man in London.

The following story, concerning yet another murder in Whitechapel, appeared in The True Sun on Friday the 24th of March 1837:-


Yesterday John Neederman, who has been in custody since Sunday week, on a charge of having caused the death of a young woman named Elizabeth Mary Oliver, by striking her a violent blow with his fist on the back of the neck, through jealousy from her dancing with a German, was brought before Mr. Combes for further examination.


Thomas Sullivan deposed that he kept a chandler’s shop opposite to the Catherine Wheel public house.

On the night in question, he saw the prisoner follow the deceased across the street, and strike her with his fist on the back part of the neck.

The blow was so violent that the deceased instantly fell to the ground, and, on (witness) going to lift her up, he found her quite insensible, and she merely gave one groan.

A young man and two young women took the deceased up, and, he understood, carried her home, when it was found she was quite dead.

Mr. Combes asked if this witness had been examined before the Coroner, and being answered in the negative he expressed some surprise that he was not called before the jury, as he was the most important witness that he (Mr. Combes) had yet heard.


Two prostitutes named Mary Ann Gaiter and Rebecca Newell, and a young man named Clarke, who carried the deceased home, were called; and though there could be no doubt that they witnessed the transaction and knew all the circumstances connected with it, they would not state a word which was likely to affect the prisoner.


R. Davis, one of the officers of the establishment, who has been actively engaged with the police in endeavouring to procure the necessary witnesses in the case, here observed that it was currently stated that the witnesses had been tampered with by the friends’ of the prisoner.

The females’ Gaiter and Newell had some of their clothes taken out of pawn for them, and, as a proof of the indisposition which they felt to give their evidence they were obliged to be taken from a public house to the office, though they were desired to be in attendance.


Cotton, a police constable, H 60, said that on the night named he saw the deceased lying on the pavement.

The female, Gaiter, who was in the act of raising her, made use of a low expression, and mentioned the name of the person who had struck her; but he (Cotton) did not hear it sufficiently to recollect it.

She, however, subsequently, refused to give him the slightest information on the subject, though he was satisfied she knew all about it.


The prisoner, when asked by Mr. Combes if he had anything to say in reply to the charge, said he had not.

Mr. Combes remarked that it was quite clear that some delusion had been practised on the coroner and jury in this case, a circumstance not unusual before such courts, when, as in the present case, the friends of the deceased party were not in a condition of life to attend to the proceedings before the jury themselves, or in circumstances to enable them to employ proper persons to do so.

It was clear also that there must be some strong collusion somewhere or other from the fact of the witness Sullivan not having been called before the jury, and thus it was that he (Mr. Combes) felt it necessary to investigate the case thoroughly, notwithstanding the finding of the jury.


There was strong reason to suspect that threats and other means were resorted to by the friends of the prisoner to keep back witnesses and prevent them from telling the truth.

In such a neighbourhood it was not much to be wondered at that witnesses might be deterred from coming forward by such threats who would otherwise do so.

He (Mr. Combes) would only say that the utmost protection would be afforded to such persons, and the friends of the prisoner would find they were not serving him in the course they were pursuing.


The witnesses were bound over to appear at the Old Bailey to prosecute, but the prisoner will be brought up again next week when it is expected he will be committed for the murder.