Life in Spitalfields in the 19th century could be hard and dangerous.
Arguments between neighbours took place on a frequent basis, and, from time to time, those arguments could result in unintended tragedy.
The East London Observer reported on one such case that had occurred in Spitalfields in its edition of Saturday the 10th of August 1878:-
THE ALLEGED MURDER IN WHITECHAPEL
At the Worship Street Police Court on Thursday, Charlotte Cantor, middle-aged, and Joseph Cantor, 27, mother and son, were charged on remand with killing and slaying John Grayburn, and both the prisoners with attempting to murder Jane Grayburn.
Mr. R. J. Abbott appeared for the defence.
The case has been several times before the court, but in consequence of the woman Grayburn being unable to attend has not been thoroughly gone into.
JANE GRAYBURN’S TESTIMONY
Jane Grayburn, whose head was still bandaged, was now present and said that she lived in Lisbon Street, Spitalfields.
At the time of the occurrence, she lived with her husband at 4, Nelson-court, Whitechapel.
The prisoners, who are members of the Jewish faith, lived at number 7.
HER HUSBAND WAS TALKING LOUDLY
On the night of July 7, she was sitting at home, and she heard her husband talking loudly at the door of the Cantors.
She went out and tried to persuade him to go in, and was attacked.
STRUCK WITH A POKER
The woman had a poker, and the man took it from her and struck her (the witness) on the head.
She fell insensible, and remembered no more, except that she was taken to the hospital.
Her husband was struck before.
That was all she knew.
HER HUSBAND HAD BEEN DRINKING
In reply to Mr. Abbott, the witness stated that her husband had been drinking a good deal during the day, and might have abused the Cantors.
He would in such cases use strong language.
She did not know if the Cantors sent for the police, and got two, who ordered both parties into their houses.
She could not say if her husband went out and hammered at the shutters of the house and burst in the door, calling the Cantors to come cut and fight.
A stone might have been thrown and windows broken.
She could not say.
DON’T TAKE ANY NOTICE
She did not know if the prisoner Joseph expostulated with anyone about the disturbance, but was on the point of saying to him, “Don’t take any notice of the old man; he’s got a drop of drink,” when Joseph struck her on the head with a poker, and she fell.
He took the poker from his mother’s hand as she stood on the doorstep awaiting him.
The Cantors had some months ago summoned her husband for abuse and disturbance.
ALEXANDER GRAYBURN’S TESTIMONY
Alexander Grayburn, a boy of about 16, said that he returned home about twelve o’clock on the night in question, and found his mother and father at the prisoner’s door quarrelling.
He saw “Joe Cantor”‘ knock his father down with a poker.
Cross-examined by Mr. Abbott, the witness said that he did not know if his sister fetched a poker on the bidding of Mrs. Grayburn. He did not see his mother with the poker, nor Joseph take away from her.
WHAT MRS. CHIVERS SAW
A Mrs. Chivers deposed to seeing Mrs. Cantor strike Mrs. Grayburn with a stick, and the son follow it up with a blow with the poker. The stick was broken over Mrs. Grayburn’t head by Mrs. Cantor who gave two blows; Joseph Cantor also hit the deceased with the poker, the witness thought, two or three blows.
EMMA BANGALER’S EVIDENCE
Emma Bangaler, a married woman, gave a circumstantial account of the matter, it appearing that the son struck the blows deliberately and then ran into the house.
The deceased lived for but a short time after.
RELEASED ON BAIL
At this point, a further remand was ordered. Mr. Abbott applied for bail for the son. The mother having been already admitted, Mr. Bushby contented to take bail of £300.
Mr. Abbott stated that he had witnesses to call, and on behalf of the prisoners could only say how much they regretted the matter.
Their friends had done everything possible for the woman Grayburn, and had supported her since her husband’s death.
Bail was at once put in and accepted.