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John Spratling

Inspector John Thomas Spratling.

Witness at Mary Ann Nichols' inquest.

Born 1845, St. Pancras, London. Joined Metropolitan Police in 1870 (warrant no.53457) after working as a clerk. Married to Emma (b.1847, Edgeware) with two children, Herbert (b.1880) and Frederick (b. 1882), though Herbert does not appear on the 1891 census. Was rapidly promoted to Inspector of J-division(Bethnal Green) in 1887. Lived in Gore Road, Hackney.

Spratling was called to Buck's Row at 4.30am, 31st August 1888, after Nichols' body had been taken to the mortuary. James Green, son of Emma Green who lived at New Cottage, had just washed away the blood, although traces could still be seen between the cobblestones.

On going to the mortuary, he found that the body was still on the ambulance in the yard and whilst waiting for the attendant, proceeded to take a description of the deceased, although at this time he was not aware of any wounds on the body. Once inside, he undertook a more detailed examination and found that Nichols had been disembowelled. He at once sent for Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn.

With Sergeant George Godley, Spratling made an examination of the East London and District Railway embankments and lines, as well as the Great Eastern Railway yard, but neither found any further evidence. Spratling questioned a constable who had been on duty at the Great Eastern Railway yard, but he had not heard anything. Questions were asked at several houses in Buck's Row, including New Cottage, Essex Wharf and the Board School - the caretaker of the school had also claimed to have heard nothing on the night of the murder.

Inspector spratling is said to have boasted that he smoked blacker tobacco and drank blacker tea than anyone else in the force and apparently lived so long that he subsequently drew more in pension than in pay.

He retired in 1897 and moved out of London to Mortimer in Berkshire. He died in Reading in 1935.

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