The Murder Of Emily Barrow

Murderous attacks and murder itself were both extremely common in the East End of London around the time of the Jack the Ripper crimes.

The Manchester Evening News  broke the news of one such case on Saturday 18th October 1902:-


“An exciting scene was witnessed shortly after eight o’clock this morning in Glamis Road, Shadwell, a working-class district of the East End of London.

A young work-girl, Emily Barrow, was hurrying along the road to her place, of business when a man, who had been waiting on the opposite side of the road, rushed across and stabbed her thrice in the back and once in the head. The poor girl was quickly removed to the Children’s Hospital. Her injuries were of terrible nature, and she succumbed before reaching that institution.

Two civilians who witnessed the dreadful deed ran to the man and secured him. He was handed over to a constable and taken to the police station, where he was formally charged with the murder.

Another report says that the dead woman was quite young, and that her assailant was her father.

The dead woman is said have been stabbed in the neck and the upper part of the body.

An illustration showing Emily Barrow's murder.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday 25th October, 1902. Copyright, The British Library Board.


A Central News reporter says:- The man who murdered the woman was named Thomas Barrow or Coates, and is the uncle of the victim, who was 33 years of age. She kept house for the murderer, and a few days since obtained a summons against him for assault. The summons was returnable this afternoon.

It is believed that the man’s annoyance at the woman’s action in summoning him was the cause of this morning’s crime.

When arrested the prisoner said, “This is the end of now.”


Thomas Fairclough Barrow, of Red Lion-street, Shadwell, was brought before Mr. Mead at the Thames Police Court, today, and charged with the murder of his niece, Emily Coates, 33, of the same address.

Inspector Davill, who gave evidence of the arrest, said Barrow, on being charged, replied “Yes this is an end to it now.”

No other evidence was taken, and prisoner was remanded to this day week.”


The inquest into Emily Barrow’s death opened on the evening of Monday, 20th October, 1902, and the London Daily News published the following report on the proceedings in its edition of the next day:-

“At the Stepney Coroner’s Court last night, Mr. Wynne Baxter opened the inquest on Emily Barrow, 33, residing at 17, Red Lion-street, Wapping, who was stabbed to death in Glamis-street. Shadwell, on Saturday morning.

Thomas Fairclough Barrow, labourer, who had lived with the woman for 15 years, and who has been charged with murdering her, was present in Court in the charge of two warders.


Jane Corker, the wife of  a labourer, living at Wapping, said that she had known deceased for 14 or 15 years. She was the illegitimate daughter of the prisoner’s wife, who died more than fifteen years ago. After her mother’s death Emily continued to live with her father.

Prisoner had two sons alive, one was in the Navy and the other in the Army.

Deceased had had two children, one of whom, a girl, aged twelve, was still alive. Witness did not know who was the father of the children. She never suspected that the man and woman were living together as husband and wife.

Emily frequently complained of being beaten by Barrow. Six weeks ago, she saw the girl with a black eye, which she understood the prisoner had given her because she was late one night in reaching home.


On Friday, the 10th October, Emily came to the witness’s house and complained that Barrow had assaulted her. He had, she told the witness, beaten and kicked her because he had seen her standing in the street speaking to a young man. Her left arm bruised, and she said that she was afraid to go home, so the witness allowed her to remain in her house.

Prisoner came to the house the next day and said, “I want my wife.”  Witness replied, “Wife? There’s no wife of yours here.” She then pushed him off the doorstep, and shut the door.


That day, Emily and she went to the Thames Police-court, and obtained a summons for assault against Barrow, who called again at the witness’s house the following Saturday evening and Sunday morning, but was on both occasions put out.

Last Thursday evening, Emily came home, and told the witness that she was passing through Shadwell Market when Barrow sprang at her, shouting, “I’ve got a piece of paper through you.” Some men came to her assistance, and they held him until she had disappeared from view.

On. Friday evening he came again to the house, and on being told that Emily was out, shouted through the letter box, “You shall all know tomorrow before twelve.”


On Saturday morning, the girl looked carefully up and down the road to see that the prisoner was not in the vicinity, and with a parting remark, “The road’s clear,” she left home about ten minutes to eight for her work.

Emily kept Barrow for long periods out of her earnings at the provision factory where she worked. The girl hardworking, honest. and obliging.

When asked if he wished to put any questions to the witness, the prisoner proceeded to make a rambling statement. He was stopped by the Coroner, and was advised defer it to later occasion.

“You old sneak”, remarked Barrow, as the witness left the box.


Dr William Branson, of the East London Hospital for Children, said that the woman was dead when brought to the hospital on Saturday.

There were five wounds on the body, one in the chest, two in the back, one near the left ear and one in the hand.

The knife produced – a single bladed weapon commonly used by sailors – might have caused the wounds.

The inquest was adjourned.”


At the final day of the inquest, on Thursday, 23rd October, 1902, the jury returned a verdict of wildul murder against Thomas Fairclough Barrow.

The London Daily News, on Monday, 27th October, 1902, carried the following brief report on his next court appearance:-

“Thomas Fairclough Barrow was brought up on remand, at the Thames Court, charged with the wilful murder of Emily Barrow, at Glamis-road, the 18th inst.

The prisoner had greatly altered in appearance since he was first charged, and seemed to be both ill and weak. was again remanded, and left the dock muttering.”


He appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday 20th November, 1902, was found guilty and was sentenced to death.

He was executed at Pentonville Prison on the morning of Tuesday 9th December, 1902.