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Henry WAINWRIGHT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Disinterred the body and cut it into manageable pieces
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 11, 1874
Date of arrest: September 11, 1875
Date of birth: 1839
Victim profile: Harriet Louisa Lane, 23 (his mistress)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: London, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging outside Newgate on 21st December 1875
 
 
 
 
 
 

photo gallery

 
 
 
 
 
 

Wainwright, Henry

Henry met 20-year-old milliner's apprentice Harriet Louisa Lane in 1871 and installed her as his mistress in a house in Mile End. Wainwright was a brush-manufacturer with a shop, and wife, at 215 Whitechapel Road.

Over the next couple of years Harriet, who called herself Mrs Percy King, had two children by Wainwright. Henry found that the cost of running two homes was getting too much for his limited income and moved Harriet and the children to cheaper accommodation in Sidney Square. Even this could not prevent him becoming bankrupt.

Harriet arranged for friends to look after the children and the last that was seen of her was when she left Sidney Square with her night clothes wrapped in a parcel. When the friends became worried about Harriet's disappearance Wainwright told them that she had gone to Brighton. This was followed by a letter that explained that she was going to live on the continent with a man named Edward Frieake.

Because of his financial position Wainwright was forced to move from his shop and enlisted the help of a former employee named Stokes to help him move two parcels. Stokes noticed the weight of the parcels and the disagreeable smell and, while Wainwright went to fetch a taxi, he looked inside one of the bundles. It contained a decomposing arm and head. He helped Wainwright load the parcels into the cab and then decided to follow on foot. Stokes summoned a policeman and they apprehended Wainwright taking the parcels into his brother's house.

Wainwright had killed Harriet at his shop and buried her under the floor. Then, a year later and aided by his brother, Thomas alias Frieake, they had disinterred the body and cut it into manageable pieces.

The pair were tried at the Old Bailey in November 1875. Thomas Wainwright was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and Henry was sentenced to death. He was hanged outside Newgate on 21st December 1875.

 
 

A PECULIAR SMELL: THE DEATH OF HARRIET LANE

by Nene Adams

"He had to suffer for this deed,
And Justice she has held the sway,
By murdering poor Harriet Lane,
His life, the forfeit had to pay."

-----19th century murder ballad

"A most fearful murder has been brought to light,
I'll describe it to you in the verses I write,
A poor woman's body cut up has been found,
Causing dismay Whitechapel around..."

-----19th century murder ballad

On the surface, Henry Wainwright was a respectable, hard-working, likeable man of the comfortable Victorian bourgeoisie. He had inherited his father's brush-making business at 84 Whitechapel Road, London, was a temperence lecturer, and he lived with his wife and four children in an upscale house in Tredegar Square. But despite his personal and financial success, Henry also owned a questionable character and a secret -- a secret buried under the floorboards of a warehouse which would ultimately lead him to the gallows.

Next door to the brush-works was the Pavilion Theatre, which Henry enjoyed. He also enjoyed the pretty young performers, often arranging a quiet, short-term romantic liaison with a girl who caught his roving eye. However, in 1871 he met the vivacious Harriet Lane, an apprentice milliner at a dressmaker's, and Henry fell in love. He set up Harriet in her own little love-nest in the West End; under the name Mrs. King, she gave him two children in the years he carried on his double life. Unfortunately, happily ever after began to sour after a while. Harriet liked to drink, and she turned strident and demanding when she was drunk.

By 1874, Henry's business was failing. His debts were mounting. Harriet was constantly pressuring him for money to support his illegitimate children (and herself in the style to which she had become accustomed). She threatened to expose their affair to his wife if he did not come through. Something had to be done.

Henry asked his brother, Thomas, to court Harriet; this was to lay the groundwork for a later disappearance. Thomas agreed, and began to woo the woman using the pseudonym Edward Frieake (which to add to the confusion, was the actual name of an auctioneer of the Wainwright's acquaintence). Correspondence was exchanged between Harriet and her new 'admirer.' It is debatable whether Thomas knew the truth of his brother's plan, or if he was an unintended accomplice to a murder plot.

What is known as a fact is that the last time Harriet Lane was seen alive was at four o'clock in the afternoon of September 11, 1874, having told her family she was meeting 'Mr. Frieake' at 215 Whitechapel Road -- a warehouse belonging to Henry Wainwright. Later that afternoon, some workmen near No. 215 heard gunshots, but they saw nothing suspicious and supposed it must be a nearby resident, an eccentric who was known to let off a few rounds from his shotgun from time to time.

Mrs. Wilmore, a close friend of Harriet's who cared for the children while their mother was away, was shown a letter by Henry. In the missive, 'Mr. Frieake' stated that he and Harriet were getting married, and that Harriet was determined to cut off all communication with her friends and family to begin a new life. Henry began paying Mrs. Wilmore for the children's care, but his payments were very irregular.

In October, she received a telegram purporting to be from 'Mr. Frieake' telling her: "We are just off to Paris and intend to have a jolly spree." Harriet Lane's father was growing anxious because he had received no word from his daughter. In the meantime, a peculiar smell could be detected in Whitechapel Road near the warehouse at No. 215, the odor so strong at times it occasioned disgusted comments from neighbors.

The months rolled by. Despite having gotten rid of one encumbrance, Henry's financial situation remained desperate. At last, he had to sell the warehouse but dared not put it on the market while the peculiar smell lingered.

On September 11, 1875 -- twelve months after Harriet's disappearance -- Henry went to the warehouse where he used a spade to unearth a shallow grave that had been dug into the ground beneath the floorboards. Lime chloride had failed to disguise the stench of the rotting human remains he had buried there a year ago. Henry got on with the gruesome task of dismembering Harriet Lane's body and wrapping the pieces into two heavy parcels, preparatory to moving the remains to another location.

When he was finished, Henry gave the reeking parcels to Alfred Phillip Stokes, a former employee whom he had asked to help him with an errand. He gave Stokes instructions to guard the parcels while he fetched a hansom cab. He also told stokes that later he would be giving him a chopper (butcher's knife), a shovel and a hammer that needed to be sold discreetly. Appalled by the smell, once his ex-employer had gone, Stokes opened the top parcel. To his horror, he discovered what appeared to be a decomposing human head, a hand and an arm. He hastily re-wrapped the remains, but before he could raise the alarm, Henry returned with a cab.

Stokes did not dare confront the man, fearing he might be killed. He handed over the parcels without demur, but was nevertheless determined not to let Henry Wainwright get away with murder. Stokes followed the cab as it rattled through the London streets, stopping to pick up Alice Day, a former ballet-girl at the Pavilion Theatre and Henry's  current girlfriend.

Stokes ran headlong through Aldgate and Leadenhall Street to the Hop Exchange, where the breathless and flustered fellow tried in vain to convince a pair of constables to search Henry's cab. They dismissed him as delusional. Stokes stumbled on, still following the cab until it halted outside a house called the Hen and Chickens, leased by Thomas Wainwright. This time, a police constable believed Stokes' wild story enough to take action.

Constable Turner questioned Henry, who was very reluctant to surrender his parcels. He even offered Turner and another Constable a £200 bribe to go away and forget the whole thing (he would pay them later, of course, having not so much cash on his person). That was Henry's last mistake. When Turner opened the first parcel and saw the human head, he immediately put Henry Wainwright and Alice Day under arrest. Thomas Wainwright was later arrested and along with Henry, charged with murder. A search of the warehouse at 215 Whitechapel Road revealed the shallow grave and patches of what appeared to be old blood.

Stokes suggested that the body was the missing Harriet Lane, telling them that to his knowledge, she had been constantly importuning Henry for money before she conveniently disappeared. Although the features were mainly unrecognizable, a surgeon was able to find a distinctive scar, enabling Mrs. Wilmore and Harriet's family to identify the body as the missing woman.

Jewelry discovered in the warehouse grave was thought to have belonged to Harriet. A post mortem revealed the victim had been shot in the head with a small caliber firearm, and the throat cut afterwards. Henry was known to possess a 'six-shooter' of a type consistent with the murder weapon.

Henry's defense was that he had no idea what the parcels contained. He had been asked by an unidentified 'mystery man' he met in a pub to take the parcels from the warehouse for a sum of money. His defense counsel also suggested to the jury that the body was not that of Harriet Lane, but some anonymous unfortunate. The jury chose to believe the prosecution. Henry Wainwright was found guilty of wilful murder and hanged on the 21st of December, 1875, at Newgate Gaol.

Thomas Wainwright got seven years penal servitude as an accessory after the fact.

There are two curious asides to this tasty little tale. First, the nautical slang expression 'Harriet Lane' -- dating from 1896, and meaning tinned or preserved meat -- is believed to originate with this case of murder and dismemberment. And second, W.S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) acted as a junior barrister in Henry's Wainwright's defense in order to avoid jury duty.

For more information:

Penny Illustrated Paper, The Times, 1875

The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London, Gilda OíNeill, 2006

The Whitechapel Murder: Execution of Henry Wainwright For The Murder Of Harriett Lane,

Confession Of The Murderer, (a broadsheet ballad) 1875

Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Londonís East End, Geoffrey Howse, 2005

 
 

The Whitechapel-road Murder (Harriet Lane)

The Times, September 13, 1875

SUSPECTED MURDER

    The mutilated body of a human being, stated to be that of an adult female, was discovered on Saturday night on the Southwark side of London-bridge in a cab which had driven there from the East of London. The surrounding circumstances are such as to lead to the certainty that a brutal murder of the Greenacre type has been committed.

    On Saturday night the Southwark police were informed by a young man that there was something very suspicious in a four-wheeled cab which had come over London-bridge. The vehicle contained apparently only a man and woman, and the police on stopping it found a human body in a very decomposed state and mutilated in a shocking manner, being sawn asunder in such a way that parts of it might be disposed of separately. The man and woman were taken into custody. The man was said to be Charles Wainright, who had been a contractor for police goods at the East-end of London, and is stated to have been in charge for arson.

    The police in charge of the Southwark Station informed the representatives of the Press that they were instructed by the their superiors "to give no information whatever," and they strictly obeyed the injunction. The following particulars are from another source:-

A youth was, in the Commercial-road, accosted by a young woman named Day, who asked him to help her to convey two parcels wrapped up in American canvas. A man afterwards drove up in a four-wheeled cab, No.8505, and told the driver to wait while he went to fetch some luggage from his town residence. The boy, on entering the front room of an empty house, was horrified to see the mutilated hand of a dead body protruding slightly from one of the bundles. He kept his own counsel, and did not make any remarks in reference to the strong effluvium coming from the parcel. In about five minutes the man got into the cab and received the parcels from the youth and directly afterwards the young woman followed. The man then ordered the cab-man to drive towards London-bridge, and immediately the cab started, the young made up his mind to follow it. The boy frequently called to the police to stop the cab, but they took no notice of him. In passing over London-bridge, owing to the great traffic, the cab proceeded at a slow pace, but the youth failed to draw the attention of the police to the case until he arrived in the Borough. The man ordered the cabman to halt at an empty house, No.54, High-street, and the youth stopped two police-constables, 48 and 290 M, and told them what he had seen. They accordingly opened the cab door and ordered the man to inform them of the contents of the parcels. The effluvium arising therefrom was unbearable, and, in order not to attract the attention of the pedestrians, the officers ordered the cabman to drive to the police-station in the Borough. The smallest parcel, which was wrapped up in a black piece of American canvas, was found to contain the decomposed trunk of a woman. The second parcel, which was larger, had in it the head of a woman, apparently about 24 years of age, and two arms and legs. Her auburn hair was partially burnt off the crown of the head through the action of lime, and the eyes were not discernible. The man has given his name to the police as Henry Wainwright, 26, residing at School House-lane, Chingford, Essex. He is charged with the young woman, Alice Day, aged 20 years, a dress-maker, living at No.5 Queen's-court, Commercial-road East, with having in his possession the mutilated body of an adult female, at present unknown, supposed to have been murdered. The male prisoner, it is believed, has been a manager to a large corn chandler. The mutilated remains were removed by the police and handed over to the coroner's officer, Mr. Drewitt. They are now lying in St. Saviour's Mortuary.

*****

The Times, September 14, 1875

AT THE POLICE-COURT

    Yesterday, at the Southwark Police-court, Henry Wainwright, 36, respectably dressed, described as a manger of a schoolhouse at Chingford, Essex, and Alice Day, aged 20, a dressmaker of 2, Queen's-court, Commercial-road-east, were charged before Mr. Bensons with having in their possession the mutilated body of a woman, at present unknown, supposed to have been murdered.

    Mr. Superintendent Garforth, of the M division, and Mr. William Moore, of the Associate Institute for Improving and Enforcing the Laws for the Protection of Women, watched the case.

    The prisoners, on being placed in the dock, were asked if they had any attorney for them.

    Wainwright said he had instructed Mr. Gildey to appear for him.    

    Mr. Edlin, solicitor, said that Mr. Gildey had sent for him to take up the case, which he had refused to do.

    Alfred Phillip Stokes said - I live at 32, Baker's-row, Whitechapel, and am a brushmaker. I know the prisoner Wainwright, who is a brush manufacturer. About nine months ago I ceased to work with the prisoner. Since then we have been working at Mr. Martin's, 78, New-road, Whitechapel. I have seen the prisoner Day at publichouses with Wainwright; she was formerly a ballet-girl at the Pavilion Theatre. For the last three years Wainwright often went to the theatre, and they often came out of the place together. I saw the prisoners together a fortnight ago. From what Wainwright told me I knew that he lived at Chingford. I used to go to the Bethnal-green Junction Station to see him off. He has lived in the country five or six months; before that he lived near Bow. We were working together on Saturday afternoon last a half-past 4, when he said to me, "I want you to come round with me to the old premises and carry a parcel for me." I said "Yes, Sir." The "old premises" were the premises formerly occupied by him. On getting to the place the prisoner pulled a key out of his pocket and opened the door with it, and we both went into the workshop. The prisoner said, "go upstairs, you will find a parcel there." I did so and looked about, and seeing no parcel there, came down again and said, "I can't find it." He said, "Never mind; they are under the straw, where I put them a fortnight ago." I then saw two parcels wrapped in black American cloth. They were very heavy - one weighing about three-quarters of a hundredweight and the other a half-hundredweight - and had a rope round them. I said they were too heavy to carry. "Oh, well," he said, "carry them out of the court for me, and I will take one myself." Before I took them up he said, "I have a chopper, shovel, and hammer, and I want you to take them home to your house on Monday and bring them back after dinner with you and sell them to Mr. Martin. Be sure and say they are yours, and I'll give you half they fetch." The articles were on the floor, and I picked up the chopper. There was something on it, and I said, "It stinks." He said it was only dirt, and rubbed it off with a piece of paper. He then said, "Come on, Stokes," and I took hold of the parcels and carried them out of the court into Whitechapel-road. He took one of the parcels from me, as he had promised.

    Mr. BENSON - Did he say anything about care as you went along?

    Witness - Oh, yes. He said, "For God's sake don't drop them, or you may break them."

    Examination continued. - I imagined it was hair we were carrying, as we were talking about it, before we got to Whitechapel Church. There the said, "Put your parcel down." I did so, and the prisoner having put his parcel down also, said, "Mind these while I fetch a cab." When he was gone I thought I would have a look, and on opening one of the parcels saw the human head. My hair stood upright; my hat fell off. The hair of the deceased was brown and matted with lime. I took it for a man's hair, as it was short. I could not see the features, but I saw a hand and an arm. The remains were decomposed, and emitted a frightful smell. When Wainwright came back I did not say what I had seen. He brought with him a four-wheel cab, and said, "Help me with the parcels." I did so, and they were put inside. Then he got in and told the cabman to go to Commercial-road. The cab went off, but stopped outside a chymist's shop in the Commercial-road. The prisoner got out and went to the corner of Greenfield-street, where the prisoner Day met him. In about a minute they both got into the cab, Wainwright saying, "Drive off as fast as you can to the Borough." I had followed the cab and was then hiding myself. I followed the cab through Aldgate and Leadenhall-street to the Borough. I said to two constables, "For God's sake, stop the cab, there's something wrong." I was then exhausted, and the constables laughed and said I was mad. I went after the cab, which stopped outside the Exchange, and saw the prisoner get out. Two constables were beside me. Wainwright walked towards a shop called the Hen and Chickens, about 30 or 40 yards off, carrying the lighter parcel. I told the constable to stop him, and Police -constable 48 M did so. The constable then let him go into the house. That was the last I saw of him. I went to Mr. Martin, my employer, and after telling him what had occurred, I proceeded to the Stones-end police station.

    Police-constable Henry Turner. - On Saturday afternoon last, at half-past 5, I was on duty in High-street, Borough, at the corner of St. Thomas-street, when the last witness, Stokes, came to me in an exhausted state and said, "Policeman, for God's sake stop that cab." I saw a cab standing outside the Hen and Chickens, an empty house. The prisoner Wainwright got out with a parcel in his hand. I saw him take a key out of his pocket, put the parcel down, unlock the padlock, and go into the Hen and Chickens. When I got to the cab another constable came up. We went to the cab, in which the prisoner Day was sitting, on the offside. There was a parcel on the front seat wrapped in American cloth, and tied up with large string. I said to her, "What are you waiting here for?" She made no answer. I said, "What have you got in this parcel?" She then said, "The idea of your interfering with me! I am waiting for my husband." The prisoner Wainwright, smoking a cigar, came up to the cab, opened the door, took the parcel, and walked to the Hen and Chickens. When we got to the door the padlock was off. I said, "Do you live here?" and he said, "No." "Well," I said, "have you got possession of the place?" He said, "I have and you haven't." I said, "Well, go inside." He said, "No, perhaps you had better go in." I said, "I want to see what's in that parcel you have just taken in." He seemed reluctant to go in with me, and the other constable pushed him inside the door. The prisoner still had the parcel in his hand. I said, "How did you obtain possession of the place? It used to belong to Mr. Lewis." "Yes," he said, " and if you come with me, Mr. Lewis will settle the matter. Say nothing, ask no questions, and there's £50 each for you." I asked, as we walked down the shop, what he had done with the other parcel. He said it was on the first floor. I told 290 to go up and see if it was there. I afterwards saw the parcel on the same floor, and I said to the other constable, "Hold this gentleman while I see what is in it." He said, "Don't, for goodness sake, don't touch it," and then lifted it up and put it on an old counter in the shop. He again said, "Don't touch it; let me go; I will give you £200 and produce the money in 20 minutes." The stench from the parcels was very bad. Pulling off the cloth I saw the head with a little hair on. We then took both the parcels up, 290 M still holding the prisoner. We went back to the cab, put him inside, and brought him to the station. The woman said to Wainwright, "What have you done? this is a fine thing for me." At the station we untied the parcels in the yard, and found them to contain the body of a woman. The sex was indicated by the length of the hair. It was much decomposed; the features were undiscernible, and the hair was clotted with lime and blood.         The remains were taken to St. Saviour's deadhouse.

    Frederick George Larkin - I am a surgeon, residing at 44, Trinity-square. On Saturday afternoon, about half-past 5, I was called to the police-station. The two parcels jointly contained the remains of a human being - a woman. The body was much decompose, and I am sure that some preparation of lime had been used to prevent identification. The body had been chopped up by some one who evidently had no knowledge of anatomy. At present I cannot say that death was caused by violence. There was blood on the hair, which would not have been produced by the chopping up of the body. There was a cut across the throat, besides that which severed the head from the body.
Inspector Fox. - I am Inspector of the M Division. On Saturday I received the prisoners at Stone's-end station, and told the charge, when Wainwright said, "I am quite prepared to say how I got the parcels, and how they came into my possession when I see my employer, Mr. Martin." Mr. Martin arrived at the station about 8p.m. , when Wainwright said, "Yesterday week, I think, a gentleman known to me for some time, seeing me at a publichouse, asked me if I wished to earn a pound or two. I said, 'Yes, I am always willing to make money,' or something to that effect. He said, 'I can put a sovereign or two your way.' I inquired how and he said, 'By taking two parcels over to the Borough.' I said it was a big price for so small a job. He said, 'Take them over and ask no questions, and here's a couple of sovereigns.' I said, 'If you make it £5, I will taken them.' He then agreed to give me £3, gave me the key, and told me to take them to the Hen and Chickens, an empty house in the Borough. He brought the two parcels out, put them on the pavement, and brought them over. That is my account of the possession of them." The prisoner had not seen Stokes then. The prisoner Day said, "I met this gentleman," Wainwright, "in the Commercial-road. He asked me to go with him to the Borough. As I knew him, and have known him for some time, I consented, saying I should have to be back at a quarter-past 6. I know nothing whatever of the parcels containing the body; they were in the cab when I went into it." Wainwright was searched at the station and among other things found on him was a quantity of keys. I accompanied Stokes to 215, Whitechapel-road. I opened the back door with a key which I had taken from the prisoner. The door being opened, I got into an empty shop or warehouse. The flooring was of boards, laid upon joists placed next the earth. I there saw a chopper wrapped in paper, a spade, a hammer, and an open knife. I examined the axe, and found fleshy matter and lime and dirt upon it. I also found some of the flooring boards loose and some of the joists cut through, and under them was a newly-formed open grave 5ft. long and 2 in. wide. The mould was mixed with lime. There was no more lime than earth. I dug out the earth, and found some hair and brain, also a piece of rope, which had been looped so as to be tied round a neck. I entered the yard and there found a straw bed and pillow, both having the appearance of being much used. On the flags and round the bed was a great quantity of cinder ashes and rubbish. That was cleared away, and I found on the flags a great many patches of what appeared to be blood.

Wainwright asked no questions; but 

    Day said, as far as she was concerned, what had been stated was true.

    Mr. BENSON - I shall remand you.

    As the prisoners were about leaving the dock Alice Day clutched the prisoner Wainwright and exclaimed, "For God's sake, tell them what I know of the matter; I know nothing!"

    Wainwright. - I met her on Saturday. She knows nothing about it.

    Day. - I am innocent.

    Mr. BENSON. - It is probable you may not, but I cannot discharge you now. Get your witnesses ready as to character and knowledge of the other prisoner for the next occasion.

    The prisoners were then remanded.

*****

The Times, September 15, 1875

THE WHITECHAPEL-ROAD MYSTERY

    An extraordinary chain of evidence has now been completed, leaving no reasonable doubt as to the identity of the woman whose mutilated body was discovered in Southwark on Saturday.

   Acting immediately upon the information of the witness Stokes, the divisional police of Southwark, with the divisional police of Whitechapel, set about investigating the history of the prisoners, and they found, as was hinted in The Times of yesterday, that the male prisoner had relations of a questionable character with several women. Above all, they found that he had cohabited with a woman who passed by the name of Mrs. King, and that when he visited her he was known as Mr. King. He first knew her about 3 1/2 years ago, when she was little more than 21 years of age, and was assistant to a milliner at Waltham Cross, where he parents lived. It is said he met her at Broxbourne Gardens, on the banks of the river Lea, a favourite resort of Londoners, and a place of highly-respectable character.

    Her father first knew of her intimacy with the male prisoner by discovering that she was enceinte, and by her confession that Wainwright was the father of her child, for she came to London on the discovery of her condition, gave up her name as Harriet Lane - her true name - and with the full knowledge of her family, lived as the mistress of Wainwright. She often visited her relatives, and when urged by her father to return home, her answers was "Wainwright keeps me like a lady." Exactly 12 months ago last week her family lost all direct trace of her, and, though telegrams purpoting to have come from her have been received, and letters in a man's handwriting, yet nothing has been known of her even though all possible inquiries have been made, since the early past of last September.

    Another witness now comes on the scene, and the history of Harriet Lane as Mrs. King, the wife of the prisoner Wainwright, is carried another stage. This is Mrs. Wilmore, now living at Stratford. She knew Mrs. King - knew that she lived under the protection of the prisoner Wainwright at Sidney-square, Mile-end. A twelvemonth ago, the 11th of September - on the very anniversary of which day, it will be remarked, as an extraordinary coincidence, the prisoner was apprehended with the remains - the woman, Mrs. King, by arrangement with the prisoner, engaged to remove to Stratford, to the house of Mrs. Wilmore. By this time Mrs. King had two children, of whom the prisoner was, and is, for they are living still, the acknowledged father.

    The boxes of Mrs. King were packed up and removed to Stratford on the 11th of September last year, and the two children and the boxes were left in charge of Mrs. Wilmore. Mrs. King, having arranged to be away for an hour or two, saying she had to meet Wainwright at half-past 4 o'clock, then left Mrs. Wilmore, and from that day, a twelvemonth ago last Saturday, Mrs. King has altogether disappeared, leaving no trace behind her. Mrs. Wilmore applied several times to the prisoner Wainwright, and his answer to her was that his late mistress had gone off with a Mr. Friske, who had gone to Brighton; so Wainwright at first said, and afterwards that she had gone to Paris. He, however, held himself responsible for the charge of the children, and paid her £5 a month from September until last July, when he stopped the payments, saying that he should make it all up in November, by which time he was in hopes, it seems, he should have passed through the difficulties of his bankruptcy.

    Photographs of Harriet Lane, alias Mrs. King, show that she wore her hair in the same style - curling over the forehead - as the hair had been worn by the woman whose mutilated remains were found in the bundles conveyed by the male prisoner from his late premises in the Whitechapel-road to the premises the key of which he held in the Borough High-street. The remains, which have been placed in a coffin fitted with a glass lid, were seen yesterday by the relatives of Harriet Lane.

    The body was medically examined yesterday with more care than had been possible before, and it was found that it had been externally preserved, in some respects, while decomposed internally. Whoever had buried it had, from ignorance, perhaps, of the action of chloride of lime, or to cover the smell of decomposition, placed this disinfectant with the body in the secret grave, and the earth, thus largely mixed with a preservative, has kept the body from being resolved into its elements.

    The grave, by a mistake in the report of the Police Court proceedings, is stated to be five feet by two inches. It should have been five feet by two feet, and it was a little over two feet deep. The ground was surrounded with brickwork and it is possible that whoever dug the grave, in which it is now considered the body lay for a year, found it difficult to go deeper from the obstructions. The motive for removing the body has yet to be elucidated; and it is suggested that as the property is to change hands - for it is for sale - it would most likely have been dug up for necessary changes in the sewerage, thought by the unwholesome smell of the place to be necessary. That the body was removed from this spot is unquestionable, and it seems also that it was dug up with the new spade, and mutilated a few hours before Saturday night last with the new hatchet, both of which instruments were found in the house.

    The other articles found in the house were a broken light-coloured silk umbrella, and, wit the corpse, a velvet band for the hair. The space and hatchet are traced to the prisoner's possession, for he told Stokes to sell them, and he would give him half of what they fetched, enjoining him, at the same time, to say they were his own. The prisoner was described in the Police-court proceedings as "manager of a schoolhouse." It should be stated that he described himself as a "manager" to Mr. Martin, of New-street, Whitechapel, and that he lived himself in "School-house-lane, Chingford." It was in this lane that his wife and children lived in furnished lodgings.

    The prisoner's connexion with the "Hen and Chickens" house in the Borough is explained. The house was let to his brother Thomas last January, and opened in the hardware business. The stock was sold off in July, and the brother's whereabouts is not known. The police have received many anonymous communications upon the subject, but all that is known for certainty is that the prisoner was in possession on Saturday of the key belonging to his brother's late premises.

    The inquest opens this morning, when, doubtless, the result of the combined efforts of Superintendent Garforth and Inspectors Fox and McDonald will be laid before the Court.

*****

The Times, September 16, 1875 

THE WHITECHAPEL-ROAD MYSTERY

Step by step the case of identity set forth in The Times of yesterday advances in completeness. The Treasury, acting on the evidence laid before the Home Department, will henceforth assume the responsibility of conducting the proceedings.

Yesterday the inquest was opened, and what at first appeared to be a strange piece of evidence, and altogether at variance with the account given in these columns regarding Harriet Lane, was set forth by the witness Stokes; but it was soon, by an occurrence which did not come under the cognizance of the Court, proved to be not only in perfect harmony with the chain of evidence which the police have established regarding Harriet Lane, but to substantiate it, and, in addition, show the candour of Stokes's statements. Stokes yesterday set forth that a woman who was constantly importuning Wainwright for money had for three weeks not been seen, and for the time, indeed, most in the court were left with the firm belief that this was the woman whose body was found. But when Stokes returned from the inquest-room to where the witnesses were sitting he uttered exclamations of surprise, and, going up to a woman who was sitting there, gave her to understand that he had made up his mind that she was the victim. That this woman had of late importuned the man Wainwright for money was true, for she proves to be the Mrs. Wilmore who has the charge of the two children of the prisoner by the lost Harriet Lane, alias Mrs. King. Yesterday the relatives of Harriet Lane were again in attendance, and it is not saying too much to state that they appear to regard the body as that of the missing member of their family who cohabited with Wainwright as Mrs. King.

*****

The Times, September 16, 1875

THE INQUEST

    The Coroner's inquiry was opened in the Vestry adjoining the church of St. Saviour, Southwark, before Mr. W.J.Payne, the City and Southwark Coroner. As all the approaches to the church are environed with railings the police were enabled to keep the church and vestry clear from the pressure of the crowd, but a very large number of idlers assembled on the steps leading from London-bridge, and waited with unabated interest the whole time.

    The CORONER opened the proceedings by informing the jury that the investigation was likely to be protracted, and offering any of them who might have engagements in the course of a few weeks a release from the duty, as more than the legal number had been summoned.

    None of the jury accepted the offer, and, having been charged to inquire concerning the "means by which a woman, name unknown," came to her death, they proceeded to view the remains. On their return to the court the Coroner ordered all the witnesses out, police inspectors and all, and Superintendent Garforth of the M Division, alone remained to watch the case for the Treasury.

    The first witness called was Alfred Philip Stokes, but he was not at first present. Shortly afterwards he appeared, and in answer to the CORONER he stated, - I live at 34, Baker's-row, Whitechapel. I am a brushmaker by trade. I have known the person in custody, Henry Wainwright, for the last 18 years. He was a brush manufacturer, and he last carried on business at 215, Whitechapel-road. He has lately lived at Chingford. As to my knowing his being acquainted with a woman who used to come and see him, I know he was acquainted with very many, but there is one whom I saw him speaking to three weeks ago, outside a publichouse, at about a quarter to 8 at night. The place was Baker's-row. I was with Wainwright, walking with him top Bethnal-green Junction, and the woman, coming up to him, said, "I have come all the way from Leytonstone, and walked, and had nothing to eat all day. I wish you would give me some money." He said, "I have not got any." She rejoined, "Oh, you can find me some." He then said to me, "Stokes, lend my a shilling." I said, "I have not one, Sir," though I had, but I refused to lend him money, as he never repaid what he borrowed. Wainwright then said to the woman he had none, and she said, "No more have I." She then pressed him to give her money, and he said, "Here, take the last piece I have," and he gave her something, but whether a sixpence or a shilling, I don't know. He then turned to me when she had gone and said, "I wish I could get rid of her; she is a nuisance." I said, "Why don't you tell her to keep away?" He replied, "I could not do that, for I have known her for many years. She used to do for our family, and the poor thing's hard up." Before they departed, the woman and Wainwright whispered to one another. I did not hear what it was they said except the last words, and these were from the  woman - "You will come, will you not?" and he answered, "I will." The woman wore a dark serge dress, and, I think, a dark hat, with flowers in it. She wore gloves, and she had an umbrella. This was not a light umbrella; at least it did not look so by night. I had not seen that woman since, and that is three weeks to-morrow. I had seen her before waiting about for him. I have seen her two or three times a week before that, and he often said she was a "nuisance" to him. She was rather deaf. Wainwright and I have not talked about her since, and I forgot the matter or thought little of it until this case arose. I have seen the woman meet him in the City, and she has called at my place for him. A week ago, at Martin's, where Wainwright worked, a strange smell of fire arose from a room where he was working. The girls said, "Are you burning anything, Mr. Wainwright? There is a suffocating smell." I was at the bottom of the stairs at the time they asked, and as they passed me they said they thought Mr. Wainwright was burning something. He replied, "I think it is something out at the back." I went up to the room where he was and saw something burning under the grate, over the grate, and in the grate, and I said, "It is here." there was a great smother and smoke, and I said so. Wainwright stood by the doorway as if to keep any one out, for there was no door to the room, and he made no reply. I did not go into the room, but I saw a lot of rubbish; it looked like paper to me, for I had no thought of anything else. I went to the other factory, for our master carries on the business of a corn merchant as well as that of a brushmaker, and was away for an hour, when I returned to give Wainwright business instructions. I went that night with him to Bethnal-green Junction as usual to see him off, and nothing was said about the fire or the stench. On Saturday afternoon last, in the presence of Mr. Martins, at the time when we were leaving off work, Wainwright said to me, "I want you, Stokes, to carry a parcel for me from the old premises." I replied, "All right, Sir." I had got into the habit, from having worked for him, of addressing him as "Sir" or "Mr. Wainwright." We went together to the Whitechapel-road house, and went up the court to the back way. When we came to the back door he unlocked it and let us into the factory or warehouse. I followed him in, and he said "Stokes, if you go upstairs you will see a parcel lying at the top of the landing;" and I said, "All right, Sir." He said, "Bring it me down." I went up, and saw no parcel nor anything else, except an umbrella, the covering of which was dark blue, and torn. I did not see any handle upon it. I called out to Wainwright, "There's no parcel up here, Sir;" and he replied, "All right, Stokes; I have found them under the straw where I had placed them a fortnight ago." There was plenty of straw about. He added, "Here they are; carry them outside the court for me." When I got down I found he had two large parcels by his side. He said he would take one from me when we got outside the court, and I, having tried to carry both, said they were too heavy for me. I put them down, and as I did, so I saw on the floor a small axe, and, picking it up, I said, "What's this, Sir?" "Oh," he said, "this is the axe and here's the hammer and shovel I spoke to you about yesterday." He had spoken to me the day before, and he said, "I want you to take them home to your place on Monday morning and bring them back with you after dinner to Mr. Martin's and sell them to him, and be sure to say they are yours. Ask him to buy them in the presence of me, and I will say they are useful to us. I will give you half what they fetch, for they are no use to me, but they will be very useful in the shop." I observed that they would be useful, "but," I said, "what's this on this axe - on the blade - it stinks?" Wainwright, using some expression, wiped the filth off with his naked hand and placed the axe in a piece of paper by the side of the shovel. He then said, "Now then, Stokes, come along." I picked up the parcels, complaining as I do so of a great smell from them, and he said it was through their having laid under the dirty straw for a fortnight. He then said, "Wait a minute" - just as I was ready - "I will see if any one is in the court. I lay old Johnson is looking about after us." Looking out, he said, "I don't see him; come one." Johnson is a builder and house agent, I believe. That first aroused my suspicions that all was not right. I then took hold of the two parcels and followed him out. The parcels were "done up" in American cloth. I carried them to the bottom of the court, where he took one, observing with a small as he did so, "They are heavy, ain't they?" I said, "They are, and the stench is enough to give you a fever. I shall have a rest." He said, "It's all right; it will blow off soon." I said, "I must rest, Sir," and he replied, "Don't drop them for God's sake, or you will break them." I said, "I shan't break them; I know how to handle hair" - for this what he had said it was. He carried on with his right hand and I carried mine with the left. When we came to the corner by Whitechapel Church he said, "Put your's down Stokes, and mind the two while I fetch a cab." He put his by the one I had carried and went off. The cabstand is three minutes' walk from where we were. I looked into the parcel I had been carrying, and I saw a human head, with the hair upwards. I looked further, and saw a hand and an arm. I was shocked and alarmed, but I closed the parcel and waited until he returned. He came back with a four-wheeled cab. Wainwright said, "Help me inside with the parcel;" and I said at first, "I can't." He asked, "Why? Has the parcel come undone?" I said, "Oh no, Sir." He rejoined, "It's all right, then, help me in with them," and I did so. They were placed on the floor of the cab. He got in, and he said to the cabman, "Drive as fast as you can down the Commercial-road" (further east), and said to me, "I shall see you, Stokes, at 7 o'clock down at your house." I said, "All right, Sir," and I followed the cab when it drove off. I saw it stop opposite a chymist's shop near Greenfield-street, and he walked from the cab to the corner of Greenfield-street, where a young woman was standing close by a publichouse. I saw them talk together for about a minute, and they came back together and got into the cab. She got in first, and he said to the cabman, "Drive on as fast as you can to the Borough." The cabman then turned and drove southward. I was standing in a doorway at this time quite close, and had pulled up the collar of my coat so as not to be noticed. I followed the cab over to the Borough. I had made up my mind to run behind until I saw some constables. I saw two (in the City), and when I told them to "Stop the cab for God's sake," they laughed at me and said, "You are mad." I then saw the cab stopping just by the Hop Exchange, near which I saw two policemen. I said to them, "For God's sake follow that man and see what he's got in the parcels in the cab." One policeman did not wait, but went at once, and I said to the other, "You go to the cab," and he did so. I stood watching the cab, for I was exhausted, and I saw Wainwright walk to the Hen and Chickens from the cab, which had stopped about 40 yards from the house, and he had the lightest parcel, leaving the woman in the cab. I saw him taken into custody, or in the hands of the police, and then ran back to my employer.

    Questions were asked which elicited that the witness had confounded the London and County Bank, which stands on the site of old Southwark Town-hall, with the Hop Exchange. The cab had stopped by the Bank. He further deposed that the person who got into the cab with Wainwright was not the one who came to him and asked him for money three weeks ago, as he had said. I know quite well, he said, the woman who was in the cab. I knew the Hen and Chickens before Saturday night, as Wainwright's brother had it. His brother was down at our place last week, but I do not know how Wainwright got the key.

    One of the jurors asked the witness why he did not give the man Wainwright into custody at Whitechapel on discovering the nature of the parcel, and the witness said, I can give you an explanation. I knew him to be of a proud and daring spirit, and I thought that if he had had the courage to cut a body up - as it seemed to me he had done from having it in his possession - he would not hesitate to shoot me at once if he had a revolver in his pocket, and I therefore thought my best course would be to follow him up and give information to the police. I do not know whether woman who was with Wainwright on Saturday (Alice Day) knew the other woman; but I should think they must have met, as both have been in the habit of waiting for him. I have not seen the two women together - the one I saw three weeks ago and Alice Day. I could not identify the umbrella I saw in the house with that carried by the woman who importuned Wainwright for money. . . . .

*****

The Times, September 18, 1875

THE WHITECHAPEL-ROAD MYSTERY

    A week has this day elapsed since the discovery of the mutilated body in the Borough High-street of Southwark, and as in the week many stories have been told of the terrible event, making the mystery still more mysterious than it has been, it will not be out of place now to show what has been done and present an outline of the case which will next week come before the magistrate and coroner.

    When the police found themselves in possession of the mutilated remains and with two persons in custody last Saturday night, the first idea on the relationship of the two prisoners being established by the prisoners themselves, was that the body was that of Wainwright's wife. The credit to be attached to Wainwright's "statement," accounting for the body - a statement given when he for the first time realized that he had to answer for the terrible possession - was quickly sifted by the questioning of Stokes, who had returned from the East-End of London with Mr. Martin, the purchaser of Wainwright's business and stock in trade, and, up to that time, his employer.

    The police were quickly down at Whitechapel testing the statements of Stokes, and sufficient evidence was found in the empty warehouse of Wainwright to justify them in giving full credit to the evidence of Stokes and placing full reliance upon his statements. Still they had not a clue to whether or not a murder had really been committed, and the next morning (Sunday) found them on the spot investigating the grave and the condition of the premises in regard to proofs of a crime of violence having been committed.

    On this second hasty examination they found sufficient to convince them that a crime had been committed, but the facts about it were puzzling, for they were only told of one missing woman, and that, one who had known Wainwright recently, and of whom Wainwright had expressed his wish that he could get rid, while there were no recent marks of such a crime about the spot.

    The officers heard about "School-house-lane, Chingford," and thought they would spend an hour or two in finding what relation that place had to the prisoner. They got out at the wrong station on the forest, and had a long walk until they came to Chingford, but no one could tell them were "School house-lane" was. A happy chance brought them face to face with a person who knew the name of Wainwright from having had to send a letter to him, and by this means they were directed to a little cottage in a secluded lane. Mrs. Wainwright and the children - five little ones - were out.

    The officers startled the woman of the house by telling her what they were, and that they must search the house. She told them that the Wainwrights had no furniture, that all there was her own property, and begged them to await Mrs. Wainwright's return. The family, who had probably gone to meet the father (expected home the previous night), returned, and then the wife heard the news as to the suspicions attaching to her husband. She readily showed the officers his clothes, and they, having made an examination to satisfy themselves on different points, departed to seek elsewhere for the identity of the victim.

    Monday morning gave the strange intelligence to London, and, not many hours after the newspapers mentioning Wainwright's name in connexion with the discovery had been circulated, a flood of anonymous letters began to pour in upon the officers, as is usual on all such occasions. One of these mentioned a relative with whom Wainwright was supposed to be on bad terms, and offered to send a photograph if an advertisement should appear in The Times for "Justice."

    The important fact was on Monday - while the examination of the prisoners was going on - brought to the knowledge of the police that a woman named L.King, who had lived with the prisoner Wainwright (the two going under the one name of King), left him, or was said to have left him, a year ago - at all events that she had not been seen for about a year. Wainwright's workpeople knew her, for he used to take her into publichouses near his trade place, and they used to pass the word when they saw her that she was "the Mrs. King." She is said by them to have been a lively little woman of pleasing manners, and with a love of finery. She used to wear, as Mrs. King, a thick wedding ring, as well as other jewelry suitable to a woman holding the position of a respectable tradesman's wife, and she had for household expenses £4 a week. An officer was detached to follow the clue up.

    The information was then traced out, as was, word and fact, published in The Times of Wednesday - that Mrs. King was Harriet Lane, that she was taken from her home at Waltham-cross by the prisoner, who, as she said, "kept her as a lady;" that she had two children by him, that she moved from the place where they lived to Stratford on the 11th September, 1874 - a year to the day on which the body was found in the prisoner's possession - that she went out on that day, leaving her two children, and saying that she was going to meet Wainwright, and never returned again. Not only has she never returned for inquired after her children, of whom she was very fond, but her handwriting has never been seen since in any letter from her.

    The prisoner, upon being interrogated by her father and sister, and by the poor woman in whose care the children were left, returned an answer that she had gone off with a Mr. Friske, or some such name, a friend of his, who promised to marry her on condition of her never speaking to her friends again, or holding correspondence with them.

    Wainwright undertook to pay for the children, and did so up to July last, when he stopped payment, and brought upon himself that importuning for money from Mrs. Wilmore described by Stokes in his evidence before the Coroner. Mrs. Wilmore and the father of Harriet Lane will be called as witness next week.

    The police are searching out legal proof of all the important facts they have acquired knowledge of, but these proofs, of course, cannot be brought before the public in an official form.

*****

The Times, September 20, 1875

THE WHITECHAPEL-ROAD MYSTERY.

    The skilled examination now concluded of the mutilated remains of a woman discovered in the Borough appears to show that she was shot in the head with a "peashooter" - one of those toy-like revolvers which can be carried without attracting attention  - and that afterwards the throat was cut, and with such violence as to sever the windpipe. This, it is supposed, was done immediately after the shot was fired, as the blood is found to have spurted down the woman's throat.

    The legal officers of the Crown, having secured the evidence of the many witnesses necessary to make the case clear, will take a decided course next Tuesday as to the charge to be made.   

    An account was given in The Times of Saturday of the manner in which two police officers found in their journey of Sunday last through Epping Forest to Chingford that the woman was not the wife of the man in whose possession the parcels were found. This may fitly be followed by a narration of the manner in which the disappearance of Harriet Lane, alias Mrs. King, was discovered, and her relation to the prisoner Wainwright traced.

    The Sunday journey to the Forest brought out the fact that Wainwright was in litigation with the Sun Fire Office in regard to a fire which occurred nine or ten mouths ago at one of his two shops in the Whitechapel-road - the one opposite the place from whence the mutilated remains were removed.

    The remembrance of the fire and the allegation of arson in connection with it were in every one's mouth in Whitechapel when the news of Saturday's discovery came out, and the police had the intelligence given them that a Mrs. Rogers, the wife of the manager of Wainwright in his better days, was in the house No. 84 when the fire occurred ; that she afterwards went to live at the No. 215 house, where the grave is; that she had fair hair, and than she must, therefore, be the woman whose body bad been mutilated, the imagined motive being that she was privy to the alleged arson. Investigation of the stories proved, indeed, that a man named Rogers and his wife did live, as stated in the house where the fire occurred, and afterwards in Wainwright's other house.

    On Monday morning, while the case was before the magistrate at Southwalk police-station, Sergeant Foster was detached to search out the facts, and the man Rogers was quickly discovered, and it was soon made clear to the officer that the dead woman was not Mrs. Rogers. Inquiry them as to fair-haired woman whom Rogers had, known coming to 215, Whitechapel, brought out the fact that such a woman had lived at Sidney-square, Mile-end-road, and that Rogers had taken to this woman, whom he described, sums a £4 anti £5 a week from Wainwright. For the purposes of justice, Rogers was taken by the officer to Sidney-square, and his story was found to be correct - -a Mrs.King having lived there and been visited in the day by "Mr. Percy King," and having disappeared suddenly a year ago.

    The officer followed up the trace, and is stated to have found that Wainwright himself was no other than "Mr.Percy King;" that the woman Mrs. King was in every respect of a similar description to the woman whose mutilated remains bad been discovered; and that she bad hastily left to live at Leytonstone with a Mrs. Wilmore. To Leytonstone the officer and Rogers next bent their steps and commenced a vigilant search for Mrs. Wilmore.

    The inhabitants of Leytonstone mistook the two men, who were found persistently knocking at every door and inquiring after a woman for persons belonging to a class for whom the respectable working classes have a horror - namely, "tally-men," the class of tradesmen who tempt women with finery they do not want and cannot afford, and then force payment from the husbands through the County Courts.

    The whole district was consequently gone over without result; but the officer went again, on Monday, in quest for Mrs. Wilmore, to Stratford, and found her, a working men and his wife named Cousens, who hat! known her in better days, having given her a shelter. From her the officer ascertained that "Mrs. King" was the mother of two children by Wainwright, and that they had been left for a year, since the disappearance of the mother, in her care. Mrs. Wilmore showed letters she had received purporting to come from a man who had "gone off" with "Mrs. King "- a  man aimed Friske or Frieke. Wainwright had such a friend, and it was soon ascertained from him that he knew nothing of the woman's disappearance.

    It was also discovered that Wainwright had paid for the children up to last July, and had promised to pay his debt to the foster-mother next November, when he had hopes of his financial difficulties being adjusted. The woman Wilmore, who is the daughter of a deceased solicitor, had been a partner in a small dressmaking business with Mrs. King, alias Harriet lane, before her connexion with Wainwright and has shown a most unselfish love for the children of her missing friend.

    The clue was then followed up to Waltham, where Harriet Lane was living when she first knew Wainwright, and an important fact has been brought to light. At the time when Harriet lane left Waltham as "Mrs. King" the announcement of a marriage of "Percy King" to Harriet Lane was made in the local paper. For a time Wainwright did keep her; as she told her father, "like a lady," but it is said that his neglect of her led to frequent quarrels. After her disappearance the father and friends frequently called upon Wainwright to obtain same account of the missing woman; but his answer had always been that he wished he himself knew, and this had been his answer down to the last few months.

    The family had a portrait of the woman - a photograph in which she and a sister are taken side by side. This shows the relative height of each, and the height of the dead woman corresponds exactly to the height of Harriet Lane shown in the  portrait. The description the family gave of her corresponded in all respects to the remains, and on their viewing of them they had no doubt of the identity of the body.

    In the kitchen grate of No. 215, Whitechapel, where the secret grave was discovered, on looking over the rubbish consumed in the grate a pair of metal earrings was found of what is termed a "gold'∑ pattern - that is, made to look like the precious metals. The police had gained from one source and another a description of the sort worn by "Mrs. King," and their shape, and the pair found correspond to the description they had received. The dirt of the grave was sifted, and in it the keeper-ring and wedding-ring, both gold, have been found. In the ashes and dirt about the grave other articles, such as those worn by the missing woman, have been sifted out. At the grave, too, the pocket-knife of Wainwright has been found, and to his possession and from his possession has been traced a small "six shooter" revolver.

    The police of the M (Southwark) and H (Whitechapel) Divisions will now have the assistance of the Scotland- yard detectives

    As to the evidence of Stokes in reference to his idea that the bundles contained "hair," he, it should be stated, meant, not human hair, as has been erroneously inferred in some quarters, but the hair used by brushmakers. He had the idea, he says, that it was hair because Wainwright warned him not "to break it" - ie. split and mix the bundles - as the difference in value between assorted and mixed hair is considerable. Stokes peeped into the one bundle because he thought the two contained some part of the stock which had been sold to his new master, Mr. Martin, and that he was being made a party to some wrongdoing, especially after the cautious attitude assumed by Wainwright.

*****

The Times, December 2, 1875;

Mr. Avory then addressing Henry Wainwright said - You have been indicted for the crime of wilful murder, and to that indictment you have pleaded not guilty and have thrown yourself upon your country. That country has found you guilty. Have you anything to say why the Court should not proceed to pronounce sentence of death upon you under that conviction?

Henry Wainwright, who spoke in a tone perfectly clear and firm, then said, - I should like to make one or two observations, and they shall be very short indeed. I have first to express my deep obligation for the untiring energy and ability of my counsel during this protracted trial. I thank him and all who have assisted him deeply. My thanks are due to the very many friends who have with such promptitude and alacrity come forward to give me their valuable and substantial assistance. I have not been able to reply to all the persons -

    The LORD CHIEF JUSTICE. - I cannot allow you to make a speech. The only question put to you is whether you have anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon you.

    The Prisoner. - Then I will simply say that, standing as I now do upon the brink of eternity, and in the presence of that God before whom I shall shortly appear, I swear that I am not the murderer of the remains found in my possession. I swear that I have never in my life fired a pistol. I swear also that I have not buried these remains, and that I did not exhume or mutilate them has been proved before you by witnesses. I have been guilty of great immorality. I have been guilty of many indiscretions, but as for the crime of which I have been brought in guilty I leave this dock with a calm and quiet conscience. My Lord, I thank you for the patience with which you have listened to me.

    The LORD CHIEF JUSTICE then said, - Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty, in my opinion, upon the clearest and most convincing evidence of the murder of Harriet Louisa Lane, which has been laid to you charge. No one, I think, who has heard this trial can entertain the slightest shadow of a doubt of your guilt; and I can only deplore that, standing as you surely are upon the brink of eternity, you should have called God to witness the rash assertion which has just issued from your lips. There can be no doubt that you took the life of this poor woman, who had been on the closest and most intimate terms of familiarity and affection with you, and who was the mother of your two children. You inveigled her into that lone warehouse. The revolver was not there before, but must have been taken there for the purpose, with which she was slain. The grave was dug there for her remains, which were those you were removing when you were arrested. About that no one can entertain the shadow of a doubt. It was a barbarous, cruel, inhuman and cowardly act. I do not wish to say anything to aggravate the position in which you stand, nor to dwell upon the enormity of your guilt, further than that by so doing I may rouse you to a sense of the position in which you stand, in which all hope of earthly mercy is cut off. The only hope and consolation you can have is in the future, where truth cannot be mistaken, where no assertion of yours will stand you in any stead; and where if you seek for mercy it must be through sincere repentance for the crime which you have undoubtedly committed.  I have to warn you against any delusive hope of mercy here as long as the law exists which says that he who takes the life of a fellow creature with malice aforethought shall answer for it with his own. This is a case to which it would be impossible that mercy could be extended; therefore, prepare for the doom which awaits you. I have now only to pass upon you the dread sentence of the law, which is that you be taken from hence to the place whence you came, thence to a legal place of execution to be there hanged by the neck till you shall be dead, and that your body be buried within the precincts of the gaol in which you shall be last confined after your conviction, and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.

*****

The Times, December 22, 1875

THE WHITECHAPEL-ROAD MURDER

    Yesterday morning the convict Henry Wainwright was executed within the precincts of the gaol of Newgate for the murder of Harriet Lane. An immense crowd of people had collected in the Old Bailey from an early hour, although not one of them had the slightest chance of witnessing the execution.

    The capital sentence was executed in the presence of Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Knight, Sheriff Breffit, Mr. Under-Sheriff Baylis, Mr. Under-Sheriff Crawford, Mr. Sidney Smith, the Governor, and the Rev. Lloyd Jones, the Ordinary of Newgate. A limited number of strangers and representatives of the Press were also present. The gallows had been erected within the gaol yard, and was peculiar in construction and appearance; it being roofed over, lighted with lamps at each end, and having a deep pit, over which a chain and noose were suspended.

    In front of the scaffold, but well away from it, the spectators - comparatively few in number - were placed; and a picked body of the City of London Police were in attendance to maintain order if necessary. As the clock of the neighbouring church of St. Sepulchre chimed the hour of 8 a procession which had been formed within the prison emerged into the open space leading to the scaffold.

    First came the Governor of Newgate; then the Sheriffs and Under-Sheriffs in their official robes, and carrying their wands of office; next the convict, with the executioner - Marwood - by his side; and lastly the Reverend the Ordinary, reading as he went the opening sentences of the burial service. The prisoner, who had apparently been dressed with scrupulous care, bore himself at this awful crisis with conspicuous fortitude; and as he stepped upon the drop, fronting the spectators, his handsome features were lighted up with an expression of resignation unmixed with anything approaching bravado. After the white cap had been drawn over his face, and while the noose was being adjusted, the heaving of deep emotion was distinctly visible through the folds of the cap.

    The necessary preparations were speedily made by the executioner, and all things being in readiness, the drop fell at a touch or signal with an awful shock, echoing for a moment or two all over the prison yard. The body fell a depth of exactly 5ft. 6in. - that being, by a coincidence, the convict's own height. Judging from the tension of the rope for some considerable interval after the bolt had been drawn the prisoner must have "died hard," as the saying goes. After the body had hung the accustomed interval, it was taken down, and Mr. John Rowland Gibson, the prison surgeon, having certified that life was then extinct, it was placed in a coffin and subjected, later in the day, to a coroner's inquest, in compliance with recent legislation.

    Towards evening, in accordance with long usage, the remains were buried within the precincts of the gaol, that being an integral part of the sentence. After the convict had ceased to live, a black flag was hoisted, conformably with the statutory practice of late years, from the roof of the prison to indicate to the outside world that the dread sentence of the law had been carried into effect.    

    The Governor afterwards read, in the presence of the Sheriff and Under-Sheriffs and the representatives of the Press, a written statement which the convict had placed in his hands at 11 o'clock on the previous evening, before retiring to rest. In that, said the Governor - using the convict's own language - he appealed to the loving kindness of a merciful God that his transgressions might be blotted out, for the sake of that blessed Saviour whom he had so long neglected. He then acknowledged the justice of his punishment, and said he deserved it, though he did not absolutely confess that he had committed the murder.

    He afterwards expressed his sincere thanks to the Governor and all the officers of the prison for their attention, and to his many friends - known and unknown - who had, he said, with Christian sympathy, rendered assistance to his family. He hoped and truly believed that their many prayers for his eternal happiness and peace had been answered by a gracious and ever-forgiving God; and he concluded by commending his family to the hands of that Almighty Father who was the protector of the widow and the fatherless.

The Victorian Dictionary
compiled by Lee Jackson

 

 

 
 
 
 
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