21 August 1888
Mr. George Collier held an inquest yesterday at the Poplar Town Hall, into the circumstances attending the death of Elizabeth Bartlett, aged 58, the wife of a general dealer, lately living at 248 Manchester road, Cubitt Town. The body lay in the Poplar Mortuary, and presented a shocking appearance, the head being completely battered in, while the neck bore marks as if an attempt had been made to cut her throat.
Great excitement prevailed in the district, and the precincts of the Town Hall were crowded with the general public, who, owing to the court being small, were not admitted to heard the evidence.
Mrs. Emma Mears, of 290 Manchester road, stated that she was the sister of the deceased, whom she last saw alive at a quarter to twelve on Saturday forenoon. She was complaining of a bad throat, and said to witness, "I must prepare for death, for I know I shall be choked one of these times." She had been ill for some time. On the following day a boy, who worked for the husband of the deceased, who went by the name of Freeman, came to her house, and said, "Hurry up, hurry up; Freeman has bashed his wife's head in with a hammer and cut his own throat." Witness went at once to the house, and found her sister lying on the bed. There was a doctor and four policemen at the bedside. The doctor's name was Smyth, and he attended to her, but she died in half an hour. The husband was lying on the bed with his throat cut and bleeding. Both were unconscious. The doctor strapped his throat up, and he was taken to the hospital. Deceased and her husband were continually quarrelling when the latter was in drink. He was very often violent, and witness had seen him strike her often. When he was sober he was a good husband, but the drink made him mad. Witness saw her sister constantly, and she continually complained of his conduct towards her. Witness had heard him say that he would cut her head off and throw her out into the street. That was when he was drunk. She never heard him say so when he was sober. Deceased was a most sober woman.
The Coroner: Have you seen her strike him? - Witness: Yes, in self defence only; not otherwise.
The Coroner: She was a fine woman, and looked able to have taken her own part.
Witness continuing, said hr sister was generally of a quiet disposition, and would not quarrel without a cause.
the Coroner: Do you know if she was legally married to him? - Yes, sir.
The marriage certificate was here handed to the Coroner, who remarked that it appeared all right.
By the Jury - They lived together as man and wife some years before they were married. They have been married 14 or 15 years but have lived together for 20 years.
The Coroner said there could be no moral doubt as to who inflicted the injuries, but it was necessary to prove them, and under these circumstances it was necessary to adjourn the inquiry for the police to get up the evidence.
The inquiry was then adjourned for a fortnight.