Articles on the Funeral of Frances Coles

26 Feb 1891 - London Echo Article about Frances Coles' FuneralThe Standard, Thursday, February 26, 1891

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Source: The Echo, Thursday February 26, 1891, Page 5



The funeral of Frances Coles, the victim of the last Whitechapel murder, was yesterday made the occasion of the gathering of vast crowds in the East-end and in the East London cemetery, where the interment took place. It was noted as a curious circumstance that whereas the population of the eastern portions of the Metropolis have displayed scarcely any concern in the proceedings connected with the investigation of the crime committed in their midst at Swallow-gardens, on the 13th inst., the liveliest interest was manifested in the burial of the deceased. On Monday, when it was originally intended that the ceremony should take place, nearly 15,000 people flocked to Plaistow only to be disappointed. Yesterday afternoon the brilliant sunshine and springlike weather, which succeeded the dispersal of the fog, induced a much larger number of persons to journey to the graveside, whilst all along the five or six miles of route, from Whitechapel to beyond Canning-town, the streets were lined with spectators. Naturally the mob was thickest and most typical of the locality upon Mile-end “Waste,” where factory girls, boys, and men and women inhabiting the congested streets branching from the main roads, congregated during the dinner hour, waiting for the arrival of the mourning coaches from the City, and the appearance of the hearse from the yard attached to the Whitechapel mortuary. A brisk trade was done in “In Memoriam” cards, and the kerbstone vocalists invited patronage by their rendering of the latest patriotic songs of the day. Chief Inspector West was on the scene with a large staff of police at his command.


The funeral arrangements had been entrusted by the father of the deceased to the London Common Lodging-House Mission, and it was from the offices of this society in Ludgate-circus that three carriages started. The first contained Mr. Coles, the father, and Miss Mary Ann Coles, the sister, of the murdered woman; Mr. A.H. Shepherd, one of the vice-presidents of the mission; Mr. John Harvey, the hon. secretary; and the Rev. D. Thomas, of Grove-road, Victoria-park. In the second were Mrs. Harvey, Mrs. Bordman, and Mrs. Day, representing the lady workers of the mission; and in the third Mr. F.C. Paynter, honorary solicitor; Mr. Maysmith, and Mr. Johnson. About five hundred people marched on each side of the hearse, which fully exposed the polished elm and white-metal mounted coffin to view. The plate was simply inscribed with the name of the deceased, the date of her death, and her age (26). A few wreaths were placed about it, one of them having been sent from Maidstone. The route to the cemetery, after leaving the Mile-end-road, was by way of Burdett-road, into the East India Dock-road, at the junction of which large numbers of people were collected, and thence across the iron bridge to Barking-road, the time occupied in traversing this distance being nearly an hour and a-half.


In the cemetery fully 20,000 people had assembled, and the majority of these, when it was noticed that the hearse was taking a lower road through the grounds, made a wild stampede across the grass, tumbling down in their haste, shrieking and laughing in the most unseemly manner. Mr. Murray, superintendent of the cemetery, had, however, made effectual arrangements to ensure the utmost decorum in the immediate vicinity of the grave. A securely roped-off inclosure marked the spot, and half-a-dozen policemen kept the crowd from encroaching upon its limits. The site assigned to the last resting-place of Frances Coles is within a few yards of the graves of Mary Ann Nicholls, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, and Mary Jane Kelly, four of the women murdered in Whitechapel and Spitalfields during the year 1888; and close by lie buried the mutilated remains of the unknown woman whose dismembered body was discovered in Pinchin-street in the autumn of 1889. The burial service was short and simple, being conducted by the Rev. D. Thomas, who, in his prayer, supplicated the Almighty “to bring to the bar of justice the cruel hand that smote the death blow, so that right might be done,” and “that which cried from the very ground for vengeance might be heard and answered.”

There were addressed delivered at the graveside by Mr. Thomas, Mr. Harvey, and Mr. Paynter, the last gentleman remarking that Mr. Coles had assured him that his daughter had never given him any trouble or pain during her life. The father, who appeared in a feeble state, and shed tears abundantly, took a last look at the coffin, and was then led away to the carriage in waiting. Happily he did not see the crowd surge over the ropes and nearly throw the two attendant policemen into the open grave.


The police (says a reporter) took depositions yesterday which will tend to make the evidence of the man William Friday, or “Jumbo,” of doubtful value. “Jumbo” told a story on the morning of the murder to the effect that he had seen a man and a woman standing together near the spot where the body was found some few minutes before the murder must have taken place, and afterwards identified the deceased as the woman he had then seen. Inquiries have led the police now to believe that “Jumbo” was mistaken as to the identity, and that the woman he saw in Mint-street was a sackmaker who is well known in the locality, and the man who was with her was her sweetheart. Evidence to this effect will be given at the adjourned inquest tomorrow.


A reporter was informed last night that one of the principal witnesses in the case died last night, viz. Charles Quiver, night watchman at the common lodging-house, 8, White’s-row, Spitalfields. The death is reported to have arisen from excitement in connection with the case. Quiver, it will be remembered, gave evidence as to Sadler’s visit to the lodging-house on the night of the 12th, and the more important point in his testimony was that more than an hour elapsed between the time Sadler went out and the time the unfortunate woman Coles left.


The body of a young female named Minnie Minter, aged 16, was found under the West Cliff at Ramsgate early this morning, the head being dreadfully mutilated. Nothing is yet known as to how she came by her death.

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