The Man French

The final name to appear on the Whitechapel murders file is that of Frances Coles, who was found with her throat cut by Constable Ernest Thompson, in Swallow Gardens on Friday, 13th February, 1891.

As with the previous victims, nobody was ever successfully prosecuted for her murder, albeit, people were coming forward long afterwards to either confess to the murder or to claim that they knew the identity of the perpetrator.

Sketches showing the murder of Frances Coles.
Frances Coles. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.


One such confession was reported in The East Anglian Daily Times on Tuesday, 31st March 1891:-

The Maidstone police have received information from a man named French that he was with the man who committed the last Whitechapel murder.

According to his story, on the night of the occurrence the woman kept watch outside a house while the man, whose name he gives, committed a burglary, and as she afterwards wanted a share of the booty this man cut her throat.

French was to dispose of the plunder.

The Scotland yard authorities have been communicated with.


A later telegram from Maidstone states that the man, French, stopped Inspector Waghorn, of the local police force, and stated that he wished to make a confession with reference to the latest Whitechapel murder.

He was taken to the police station, where he stated that on the night of the murder the murdered woman and a friend of his were together, having some stolen property in their possession, the proceeds of a burglary.

When they had reached the archway in which the murder was committed the woman asked for her share of the booty, and the other man knocked her down with his fist, then took out a sheath knife and, saying “dead women tell no tales,” cut her throat.

French states that he attempted to stop the flow of blood with his handkerchief, but, on hearing someone approaching, he ran away, and he and the other man spent the rest the night in a lodging-house in Brick Lane.


French is an ex-convict, and he failed to report himself to the police, whilst the other man is now undergoing imprisonment for burglary.

Inspector Moore, of Scotland Yard, came to Maidstone and had an Interview with French, whom he took to London and detained on the charge of not reporting himself.


The story told by a man at Maidstone in reference to the Whitechapel murder on investigation at Scotland Yard proves to be a canard.