For today’s blog, we are travelling away from the East End of London and heading for the streets of Notting Hill, in the West End of London, to cover the story of a murder that was reported in The Illustrated Police News, on Saturday the 8th of February 1896.
However, the murder actually took place on the 30th of January 1896.
MURDER OF A WOMAN AT NOTTING HILL
A CONFESSION AND AN ARREST
“Thomas William Cripps, a short, thick-set young man, of dark complexion, described as a ship’s fireman, residing in William Street Notting Hill, was brought up in custody at West London Police Court on Friday, charged with the murder of Elizabeth Ann Miles, with whom he had been cohabiting, by cutting her throat with a razor.
Mr. Pierron appeared for the prisoner.
SERGEANT EVERETT’S TESTIMONY
Sergeant Everett, 47 X, said that about a quarter to two in the morning he was with Sergeant Taylor in Princes Road, Notting Hill, when he heard the shouts of “Police!” proceeding from two women who were in William Street.
He went into William Street and saw the deceased lying on the ground with a wound in the throat, blood flowing from it very freely.
He sent Sergeant Taylor for Dr. Jackson, the police divisional surgeon, and remained with the deceased.
FOLLOWING THE TRAIL OF BLOOD
In a few minutes he traced the stains of blood on the footway to 37, William Street, where he saw the deputy landlady, the house being let out in furnished rooms.
He followed her into a room on the ground floor and found it in great confusion, the furniture being overturned.
There was a large pool of blood on the floor, and the only occupant of the room was a child about six months old. It was taken charge of by the deputy landlady.
Witness returned to the deceased, who was about forty yards from the house.
HERE I AM COPPER
As soon as he arrived, the prisoner came up and said, “Here I am, copper; I done it, and I hope she’ll die. I’ll take a bit of rope for her.”
Witness took him into custody.
The Chief Clerk: Was he sober?
Yes, perfectly sober.
Mr. Rose: Was the woman alive?
The Witness: I think she was breathing.
On the way to the station the prisoner asked if she was dead, and said he hoped she would die. He also said, “I mean it; I paid four shillings out of my pocket through her yesterday, and meant to do it,” adding an offensive epithet.
CHARGED AT THE STATION
I then took him to the station, where he was charged.
In reply he said he would reserve his defence.
While being searched the prisoner said something, but I do not know what it was.
The inspector was there, and heard it.
The Chief Clerk: Did you see the woman again?
I went back and saw the divisional surgeon. She was then dead.
By Mr. Pierron: I had no time to caution him when he made his first statement.
MARKS ON HIS FACE
Did you notice that he had some marks on his face?
Marks of violence?
They appeared to be.
They had blood upon them.
DR JACKSON’S TESTIMONY
Dr. H. A. Jackson, the police divisional Surgeon at Notting Hill, said he was called to William Street at two o’clock that morning by Sergeant Taylor, and found the deceased lying on the footway.
The body was first removed to the station, and afterwards to the mortuary, where he examined it.
There was an incised wound on the right side of the neck, extending from the back of the ear across the throat, eight inches in length, dividing the carotid artery and the windpipe. On the left side of the throat there was an incised wound five inches in length. The cause of death was haemorrhage from the carotid artery.
At the request of the magistrate Dr. Jackson examined the prisoner’s face, and said there were scratches on both sides and on the forehead, recently inflicted. They were all superficial, but there were not many of them.
By Mr. Pierron: There were eight or nine.
At this stage Mr. Rose remanded the prisoner for a week.”
In its issue of February 15th 1896, The Illustrated Police News reported on the inquest into the death of Elizabeth Miles:-
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Kensington Town Hall, Mr. Luxmore Drew held an inquiry with reference to the death of Elizabeth Ann Miles, twenty-eight, a single woman, who was found with her throat cut outside the house, No. 37, William Street, Notting Dale, on Friday week.
A man named Cripps, a ship’s fireman, stands remanded on a charge of having murdered the deceased.
The accused, who was represented by Mr. H. Pierron, solicitor, was present.
A VIOLENT WOMAN
Several witnesses from the house in question, which is let off in tenements, stated that the couple led a wretched life and frequently quarrelled, the deceased being a violent woman who was given to drink, and who had been several times before the magistrates.
Early on Friday morning another disturbance was heard, with the smashing of crockery.
According to the evidence given in the police court and now repeated, Miles was found in the street dying with her throat cut, there being a track of blood back to her room, where a baby was discovered lying on the floor amidst the broken crockery and furniture.
Cripps, who gave himself into custody in the street, had his face scratched in several places.
CONSTABLE GILBERT’S TESTIMONY
Police-constable Gilbert stated that, on Thursday morning, he was called to William Street, where some men and women were quarrelling.
The deceased came up to witness and asked him if she could charge her husband with hitting her baby on the head with a shovel.
Witness looked at the baby and said no, as there were no marks on the child.
Cripps had a number of scratches about his face and neck, which he said the woman had done.
He was subsequently charged at the police court with creating a disturbance, and he was fined.
He told witness that the deceased was a very wicked and quarrelsome woman, and that he could not leave her because she would go to his parents’ house and cause a disturbance.
The accused seemed very distressed, and kept saying, “Oh, God, what can I do? ” He also said that he gave the woman 20s or 30s a week, and that he had to sleep on the stairs with the baby in his arms when she brought men home.
The coroner having summed up, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the accused.”
A CHARGE OF WILFUL MURDER
On Saturday 15th February, 1896, The St James’s Gazette contained the following brief report:-
“At West London Police Court yesterday Thomas ‘William Cripps, a ship’s fireman, was brought up, on remand, charged with the murder of Elizabeth Ann Miles, with whom he had been living in William-street, Notting-hill, by cutting her throat on the night of the 30th of January with a razor.
The prisoner, who pleaded not guilty, was committed for trial on the charge of wilful murder.”
CHARGE REDUCED TO MANSLAUGHTER
On the 24th of February 1896, Thomas William Cripps appeared at the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) charged with the wilful murder of Elizabeth Ann Miles.
However, on hearing reports of the violent nature of the deceased woman, it was decided that the charge would be reduced to that of manslaughter, of which Cripps was duly found guilty and was sentenced to seven years penal servitude.
You can read the full transcript of the Old Bailey trial of Thomas William Cripps here.