The St. Marychurch Inquest

Already a guilty man. John Lee was in attendance at the inquest.  He was yet to face judge and jury. Lee was a murderer in the eyes of the coroner and the majority of local residents. But where was the evidence and the full thrust of the British legal system?

The fiasco which was the law begins here at the St. Marychurch Town Hall and ended with a botched execution in Exeter which eventually dragged in the government and the monarch.

Here are the very words of the witnesses in the Coroner’s Court, 120 years ago.

Notes:

  • The following records appear courtesy of The National Archive
  • I cannot take responsibility for any error in the following as every effort has been made to ensure this is as true a transcription from the original handwritten court records as possible.
  • These records describe a brutal murder. You might find the contents of this archive disturbing.
  • Spelling and general language remain unchanged from the original documents. Brackets are placed around a phrase or word where difficulty is experienced in understanding the original text.
  • These documents can be located at the National Archive, Kew, filed as follows: English Assize Record reference: ASSI / 26 21 64326.
Sidney Hacker

Man with a mission. Sidney Hacker, Coroner. He famously declared John Lee a guilty man without trial. Following the inquest, Emma Keyse’ death certificate read ‘Wilful murder by John Lee’ – guilty before trial – justice Victorian style.

TOWN HALL ST. MARYCHURCH

Before Sidney Hacker Esquire,
Her Majesty’s Coroner for the County of Devonshire.
Re: Emma Ann Whitehead Keyse, Deceased

REGINA v JOHN LEE

Depositions of Witnesses taken at the Coroner’s Inquest
17th November 1884 – 1st December 1884

Witnesses for the Coroner

Elizabeth Harris – Babbicombe, Servant
George Whitehead – Relative of the Deceased
Jane Neck – Babbicombe, Servant
Eliza Neck – Babbicombe, Servant
Herbert Nicholas Chilcote – Surgeon
William Gasking Walling - Cary Arms, Babbicombe – Innkeeper
Richard Harris – Beach Cottage, Babbicombe – Fisherman
William Salter – Ironmonger
George Pearce – Babbicombe, Coastguard
Mary Blatchford – Compton House, Lady’s Maid
Ann Bolder – Compton House, Cook
William Stott Steele – Surgeon
Thomas Bennett – Babbicombe, Coastguard – Chief Officer
George Phillips – Babbicombe, Chief Boatman
Eliz. Harris – Beach Cottage, (wife of Richard Harris)
George Russell – Chimney Sweep
William Richards – Babbicombe, Servant
William Delf Bowden – Surveyor
Julius Meech – Babbicombe, Police Constable
Abraham Nott – Police Sergeant
George Rounsfell – Police Constable
Charles Henry Sutton – Hairdresser
Douglas Barbor – Superintendent of Police
Frederick George Boughton – Babbicombe, Police Constable
Thomas Stevenson – Doctor of Medicine, Official Analyst to the Home Office

RE: Emma Ann Whitehead Keyse deceased
REGINA v JOHN LEE

Depositions of Witnesses taken at the Coroner’s Inquest

Document dated: 17 November 1884

Information of witnesses severally taken and acknowledged on behalf of our Sovereign Lady the Queen touching the death of Emma Ann Whitehead Keyse at the Town Hall in the Parish of St. Mary Church, the 17th day of Nov 1884 before Sidney Hacker Esquire one of Her Majesty’s Coroners for the said county on view of the Body of the said Person laying dead in Babbacombe in this County.

Document dated:17 November 1884

ELIZABETH HARRIS

I reside at the Glen Babbacombe. I am cook there to Miss Keyse, the deceased. The deceased was my mistress. On Friday morning last the 14th November instant I went into the dining room at about 10.30 AM to prayers. The three servants being myself, a Jane Neck and Eliza Neck.

The occupants of the house were myself, Eliza Neck and Jane Neck and John lee.

John Lee works in the grounds. His duties are not indoors. John Lee sleeps in the pantry downstairs. It is situated between the kitchen and the dining room. I sleep upstairs in a room on the upstairs floor. The two other servants sleep on the same floor in a room together.

I saw nothing of the deceased after morning prayers. I went to bed at about 5 o’clock not feeling well. I went to sleep and slept till nearly 11 PM. I woke when Eliza the other servant came in to see me. When she left I stayed awake a little while and then vent of sleep. I slept till about 3 or 4 AM. I then woke. I smelt smoke. I got (my torch) (&) light and when I opened my door I found the passage full of smoke. I called out loudly. They answered & I heard them leave their room a go towards the deceased room.

I went then & put on my clothes. I came out of my bedroom then with a jug m went to the water cask & got some water & took it to Eliza Neck. The passage was full of smoke.

John Lee helped me get the water. I threw some water on the wall of the Honeysuckle Room. The wail and the bed were on fire. Then I saw John Lee. He had on his shirt and trousers. He did not say anything to me that I remember. I then went downstairs and into the dining room and saw the body of the used lying on the floor in front of the couch. I cannot say if the shutters in the dining room were opened or closed. While I was there Mr. Gasking came in and Mr. Gasking & John carried the deceased out of the dining room. The dining room was smouldering on the side where the couch and the body of the deceased was lying. The clothes on the deceased were partially burnt. It was part of a nightdress. I went upstairs. On coming down again I noticed a pool of blood in the hall. When John was helping me get the water we had the lamp to see to do it with. I did not notice then if there was any blood on him.

When we got downstairs he made a statement to me that he had cut his arm in breaking the glass.

John Lee is a half brother of mine. The same mother but not the same father. When I first left my bedroom after putting on my clothes I went to get the water. The door leading out to it was open. I had not opened it. I don’t know who did.

When I returned the 2nd time John Lee helped me. I (saw) John Lee in the passage before I went for the first jug of water.

John Lee has four shirts altogether. Two colour and two white. The coloured one a reddish one is row at hams clean ready for wearing. The other coloured one is a bluish one. The socks produced are John Lee’s socks. (note: produced by Sergeant Nott)

I have nothing to do with the oil in the pantry. I took some from the can on Saturday. I have not touched the can.

I took some warm water for John Lee into the scullery for him to wash his hands there. There is a towel hanging there. He washed his hands there.

About two months ago John Lee & I were talking in the evening in the kitchen at the Glen. I said (?)(regarding?) Miss Keyes won’t give you a character. He said “She will give me a character. I will level the place in ashes to the ground.” I said “don’t burn me with it.” He said “I will let you know.”

On the 24th October last John Lee came into the kitchen crying. I asked him what to was crying for he made me no answer. He said Miss Keyse was only going to pay him 2/- week. I said I thought the agreement was 2/6 per week. He said he did not know. He then grew very angry. He said “I will not stay another night.” He said before he left he would have his revenge. He said on one occasion that (if) Miss Keyse had been grumbling at him and if he had been anywhere near the cliff he would have thrown her over.

He said on one occasion that he would set fire to the house and see it burning from the Hill.

(signed: ELIZABETH HARRIS)

Taken upon oath this 17th day of November 1884.
Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner.

Witness Index

 

Document dated:17 November 1884

GEORGE WHITEHEAD

I live at 7 (Innerlent?) Road Edinburgh. I am a Gentleman.

Mr Whitehead

The deceased is Emma Ann Whitehead Keyse. The deceased is my step sister. She was between 60 & 70 years of age. She was a spinster. I know the House called the Glen (Boathouse?).

She had lived in the house for many years. I don’t know if she had made any will. I don’t think she was in the habit of keeping (secret) money in the house.

I have known the house all my life. I arrived in Torquay on Sunday. I examined the house on the ( ? ) . I am perfectly sure that no housebreaking implement has been (and)(used?) from the outside. I examined the bedroom of deceased and the (interior?) of the house. I feel quite certain that no one could have got into the house unless they had been admitted.

(signed: GEORGE WHITEHEAD)

Taken upon oath this 17th day of November 1884.
Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner.

Witness Index

 

Document dated:17 November 1884

JANE NECK

I live at the Glen Babbacombe. I am parlor maid there. I have been in the employ of the deceased since 1836. I had lived there ever since.

On last Friday at about 10.30 I went to prayers as usual into the dining room there were present John Lee, myself, Eliza Neck and the deceased. After that John Lee went to bed. I had same (bathings to work on) and I went in his room to mark them. He was in bed. As usual on Friday night having done my work I went into the dining room to tell Miss Keyse the time. I left the cup produced and cocoa ready in the kitchen for her to take up to bed as usual. It was 20 minutes to 1 o’clock by the hall clock on Saturday morning when I went upstairs. The hall clock is about half an hour fast. I took the keys of the sideboard and put them in the deceased’s bedroom as usual. Having put the keys there I went to bed. Eliza was there – we went to bed. I shut the door in the passage between the bedroom of the deceased and my bedroom. We were not long and the (?) went to sleep.

I was awoke by being called by the (cries?) of Elizabeth Harris.

I went straight to Miss Keyse’s bedroom. It was all in a blaze. The partition was (firstly) on fire. The deceased was not in bed. I examined the bed. I found the Hot Water Bottle in the bed unmoved. The bed had not been slept in. I then left the room. As I was leaving the room John Lee who was outside took my arm to guide me to the (mistress?). He only said “Good God the fire.”

I went downstairs into the dining room. John Lee was there. Someone opened the shutters of the window. I am not sure that I did. The window was then broken. I opened the window. I went on to the lawn and called Fire.

John Lee told me that he had broken the window to let out the smoke. Shortly afterwards I sent him to fetch Gasking. He said that he had cut his arm in breaking the window. He then went out. The candle stick produced I left for the deceased on the sideboard in the dining room. It is my duty to (open [ ? ]) the lamps. I used (alexandria ?) oil. The can produced is the can in which the oil is kept. It is kept in the pantry, the room where John Lee sleeps. The oil is obtained from Mr. Salter. I trimmed my lamps on Thursday morning.

There was some oil left in the can. There was a good drop left. I put the can back in its place on Thursday morning. I found the can in its place on Sunday morning it was then empty.

I have just remembered John Lee stated me that I was present and I saw him break the glass of the window. He said Jane you saw me break the glass. I think the glass was broken when I was in the dining room.

On Friday night I went round the house as usual to shut looked and bolt all the doors inside. I did not shut the shutters of the window in the dining room opposite the door. I put them to. I fastened the other shutter of the other window. I did not fasten the shutters outside. I sent John Lee to Compton. I told him to break the news of the death of Miss Keyse to them as mildly as possible.

Lee could not I think have gone (?) without making a noise and without being heard.

The lamps produced are the only two lamps used in the house.

The comb produced is that of the deceased.

The oil can was usually kept in the cupboard on the right hand side of the fire place.

The deceased was in the habit of using the combs produced at night.

The bracket table in the pantry was up as usual on the brackets on Friday the 14th November when I went to bed.

I found the cork of the oil can with the flannel round it on Saturday 15th November on the floor of the pantry under the window. The cork produced is the cork. The trays & other things on the table I found exactly as I left them.

The knife produced is Miss Keyse’s garden knife and is usually kept on the hall table outside the dining room door.

I did not notice where it was on Friday. I don’t think it was in my drawer on Friday. When I first opened the window in the dining room to go, out I did not notice that the window was broken. I should have noticed it if it had been then broken. When I went out the second time I noticed it was broken. When I went out the first time I had not then sent for Gasking Walling.

Witness Index

 

Document dated:17 November 1884

ELIZA NECK

I live at the Glen in Babbicombe. I am (? servant?) to the deceased. I have been in her employ for nearly 40 years. On Friday last at about 10.30 I was present at family prayers. I went to bed at the same time as my sister the last witness Jane Neck. I took up the hot water bottle and put it in the bed of the deceased about a foot from the pillow. I put her night dress ready. I preceded my sister to bed by a few minutes.

The red cord produced is the bell pull in the deceased’s room. It was not down on the Friday night and I should have seen it as I looked on the settee. I bolted the door leading out to where the water tank is. I heard nothing in the night though I woke up once. I was awoke by hearing Elizabeth Harris call out.

I (?) my way down stairs to the dining room at the bottom of the stairs. John Lee was there. He said “What is the matter”. He saw this is choking me. I went into the dining room alone. He was (blayery?) I went and got same water from the pantry and poured in it on the fire. I saw the body of deceased in the dining room. I then went out a called upstairs. Elizabeth Harris and Jane Neck came down. I opened the door before I went down stairs leading to the water tank. After Elizabeth Harris and Jane Neck had come down I went up to the Honeysuckle room and helped put out the fire.

I have nothing to do with the oil kept in the pantry. I have not taken any from it. I use (Benigoline?) for my lamp. I keep the (Benigoline?) in my room. It is now untouched.

I went to the deceased bedroom. The bed had not been slept in. The water bottle use in the same place I put it.

John Lee said to me “Look I have cut my arm.” He said he had done it by breaking open the window of the dining room to let out the smoke. The candle produced I saw on the floor of the dining room lying on it’s side. The window of the dining room is a (perch?) window not difficult to open. The cover of the chair produced covered with blood on it is a chair covering of a hall chair in the hall of the house. It is similar to the ones there. The petticoat produced is the petticoat of deceased.

The matches produced are the kind used in the house.

The towels produced with blood on them belong (one?) to the scullery & the other to the (Butlers?) Pantry.

Witness Index

 

Document dated:17 November 1884

HERBERT NICHOLAS CHILCOTT

Surgeon practicing at St. Mary Church.

I was called by a Constable between 5 and 6 on Saturday morning. I went down to the Glen Babbicombe. I saw the body of the deceased it was lying in a small boathouse near the house in charge of the police. The body was scorched by fire and there was a wound on the throat and wounds on the head. I made an examination of the body in conjunction with Dr. Steele. The skull was fractured in two places. There was one wound at the back of the head. It was a cut wound and the blow had fractured the skull. There was another wound on the right side of the head. The skull was fractured (in?) that place also. Those wounds had been inflicted during life. The throat was cut, the (pigular?) vain being severed and all the arteries even the bone was notched. The right foot of the deceased was very much burnt and several (hairs?) on other parts of the body. There is no doubt that the burns were caused after death.

Either of the blows on the heard were sufficient to occasion death. The blows on the head were the cause of death. The wound in the throat was given afterwards. The wounds on the head were probably given by some blunt round instrument. Like a round knob or a hammer. It would require great force & a heavy instrument to have produced the wounds with the head. I think to knife produced could not have been the instrument with which the wound in the throat was made. The stains on the paper in which it is wrapped are blood stains. It was impossible for any person to inflict those wounds on herself either purposely or accidentally. The clothing which was on the deceased smelt of paraffin very strongly. The deceased had been dead four hours if not more when I saw her. The hands were clenched. There was apparently no struggle before death. Death was apparently instantaneous. On that account the blood did not spurt out but would flaw out (quietly?).

I examined the wound on the arm of John Lee. He came to my surgery at about 8 o’clock the same morning. He showed me his arms. On the right arm was a small puncture very slight. On the left arm there were two circular wounds on to inside of the forearm. About the size of a florin. They were circular wounds. He stated to me that he (cut?) the wounds by putting his arm through the window to break the glass. There wounds that might have been (recent?) in that manner. They, were wounds which would probably have bled a good deal. There was a spot of blood on his trousers. The marks on the shirt produced are blood stains. I am of the opinion that the marks of blood on the back of the shirt could not have come from the wound on the forearm of John Lee as he could not have reached his arm is such a position for the blood to drop there. Arterial blood alone I think would have been produced by the wound on the forearm. Venous blood & also arterial were probably produced by the wound on the throat of deceased. The marks on the front and back of the trousers produced is blood. The trousers smell of paraffin.

The marks on the over coat produced are blood stains in the inside of the sleeve.

(Signed: Herbert N. Chilcott)

Taken upon oath this 17th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner.

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

WILLIAM GASKING WALLING

I am the landlord of the Cary Arms Babbicombe. On Saturday morning last the 15th day of Nov instant at 4 o’clock AM I was awoke by my niece Mary Eleanor Wilson. I got out a dressed a went down and went too Miss Keyse. John Lee was standing at the (nursery?) bedroom entrance [water tank entrance]. I said to him “What is the matter”. He said “Miss Keyse is burnt to death”. I said “When”. He said “In the dining room”. I turned round to go.

Elizabeth Harris was there. The door was open. I told him to, (kick?) the top of the cask in to get the water (open cellar?). He did so with a stone. I went down round to the kitchen door. The kitchen door was open. I went through the passage till I came to the dining room door. Lee came down the staircase the other way & met me at the dining room door. I then went into the room and saw the deceased. It was about a quarter past 4 when I got into the dining room. (It was any me?) went up to her. The shutters in the room were then shut. I told him to help me remove the body. When he went(oled) at first. He then helped me to remove the deceased we carried her out of the back door. He put his arm under. His right arm was under her (thigh). We placed the deceased down.

When I saw Lee first he was dressed in his trousers, the braces hanging down behind. Mary Eleanor Wilson arrived then & then Richard Harris. We put the deceased on a carpet. Richard Harris carried the body to the old Workshop and put it (down). I then went back & went into the dining room. The shutters were then shut & fastened. It was still burning. Harris & John Lee & Mary Eleanor Wilson brought water and they threw it (on) the fire.

The Coastguards came shortly after that. I asked for a hatchet.

John Lee went out and came back with the hatchet produced and gave it to Richard Harris. He was not long gone (about? ) five minutes. The hatchet belongs to the house. We eventually got the fire out. Then the (police) (fireman ) arrived & wanted to open the shutters to see the glass. I went round with the fireman and showed him the window. The outer shutters which are Venetian were fastened back. The glass was broken in the window. Why I came back I found the sofa still burning. I then went upstairs & the fire upstairs was then put out.

I went back home and came down to the house again. John Lee was then there. He said he had broken the glass from the inside before he came to call me. He said he did it with his both arms. I did not see any blood on John Lee when I first saw him. I did not an any blood on him when he was with me in the dining room. When he was breaking the water butt he used both his arms. I did not notice any blood then on his arm. When John Lee was helping me move the body I did not see any blood or wounds on his arm. The body was (moved?) there was no blood (running?) from the body. It was almost then dried up. No blood came off it upon me. My attention was called to the pool of blood in the Hall. It was then clotted (coagulated). That was after the fire had been put out. The deceased when I went into the dining room was lying with her left side towards the couch, her feet pointing towards the door and her head to the other end of the room. The right foot the one farthest from the sofa was the most burnt.

I identify the clothing as the portion of the clothing that was on the body of the deceased. I took of it off. The body was not stiff when we carried out. The clothing all smells of paraffin. The trousers produced are like those worn by John Lee.

There is no smell of paraffin about my (own) clothes.

X Ex’d by John Lee. I asked you to fetch water. I did not throw water over Miss Keyse. You did not say to me in the dining room when we were (putting) out the fire that you had cut your arm. I don’t remember you doing so.

When John Lee was helping me to carry out the body there was plenty of light in the dining room to see the wound in her throat. I saw it at once. I don’t think it possible that Lee could have failed to see the wound in the throat then.

(Signed: William Gasking Walling)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed & SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner.

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

RICHARD HARRIS

I live at Heath Cottage, Babbicombe. At about quarter past four on Saturday morning I was awoke by John Lee calling Mr. Gasking Walling. [I am a fisherman].

He shouted that Miss Keyse’s house was on fire. I opened the window and smelt smoke. I (roused) my son & dreamed & went dawn to Miss Keyse’s. I went to the Kitchen Room. Mr. Gasking and John Lee were there just coming out with the deceased. The deceased was on fire then in the upper part of the clothes. We threw some water over her. I helped Gasking carry the body to the boat house his since bought a light.

There was no blood running from the body then. It was then on the carpet. I then went & got some water & went into the house and took it upstairs. I went to find John Lee & he went with me to get the key to turn on the water tap. I did not notice & could not say whether he had any blood or wounds on him.

Shortly after that I went with Lee to get the (steps?). He brought them upstairs. He then complained about his arm. He said it pained him. He said he did it by breaking the window to let the smoke out. John Lee left the house at about quarter past 5 to go to Compton where Miss Keyse’s sister Mrs McLean lives. I saw him leave with his great coat on. Her went alone. I saw him again at about quarter or half past 6. I then asked him about his arm. He took off his coat & showed it to me. It was covered in blood. He went to the scullery to wash it. He then said he was going to the Doctor to have it dressed.

I went into the dining room shortly after I was in the house the shutters were shut.

I saw them opened sometime after by the police.

(Signed: Richard Harris)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (Signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

WILLIAM SALTER

I live at Fore Street, St. Mary Church. I am an Ironmonger – supplied oil to Miss Keyse’s house. On November the 6th that was the last date. It was (Alexandia? ) oil. That was the last I have supplied her with it was one gallon. The oil produced is (Alexandia?) oil – of the same kind as I supplied. There is no leak in the can produced.

(Signed: William Salter)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

GEORGE PEARCE

Coastguard stationed at Babbicombe.

I was awoke by a noise of someone calling on Saturday morning at about 4 am. I got up & (dashed?) down stairs & ran to the house. I went into the dining room. Mr. Gasking was there and John Lee they were (knocking?) out the fire. The room was burning in parts. I noticed the pool of blood in the hall.

I went upstairs to the Honeysuckle Room. The bed was smouldering. The (wall) was smouldering also I knocked away some of the partition. To knock out the fire I asked for a hatchet. Then Lee brought me one. The fire was got under in that room. I then went down to take charge of the body.

When I saw John Lee he was in the dining room. He had his shirt & trousers on and a white collar fastened. I did not notice whether the shutters were open or not.

The pole produced is the pole used for (knocking?) out the fire. I took it from the hands of John Lee. There are a few spots of blood on it. The hatchet produced is the one brought up to me by John Lee.

X’d Exd by prisoner. The last time I saw you was when you brought me the hatchet on the landing upstairs. I did not see you pass the Boat House to go to Compton.

(Signed: George H. Pearce)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

MARY BLATCHFORD

I live at Compton House. I am maid to Mrs Maclean. I heard a knocking at the door at about 5.30 am. John Lee was there. He said “Come down. Miss Keyse ‘ s house is burning.”

I then spoke to him out of the window. I asked him where is Miss Keyse. He said after a moments hesititation Miss Keyse is burnt. I then said where is she. He then said “She’s dead and you must tell Mrs Maclean”. He said “Jane told me to come & tell & you must tell Mrs Maclean”.

(Signed: Mary Blatchford)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

ANNE BOLDEN

I live at Compton House. I am cook to Mrs Maclean. I saw John Lee on Saturday morning. He came into the house. He said to me “Miss Keyse’s house is on fire and she is burnt to death”. He shewed me that his arm was bleeding and he told me that he did it in breaking the glass to let out the smoke from the house. He turned up his sleeve to show me.

(Signed: Anne Bolden)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

Document dated:18 November 1884

WILLIAM STOTT STEELE

Surgeon practising at Babbacombe. At about 9 o’clock on Saturday morning I went with Dr. Chilcott to see the body of the deceased. It was in the out building not far from the house. The body was wrapped in sheets but not in any other clothing.

I observed that the right foot & leg were very much burnt. The left leg was not much burnt but there was one hole burnt in the (strelling?). The thighs were somewhat burnt. The abdomen was considerably burnt. The chest was (also?) more, burnt the sides were little burnt.

The head and neck were not at all burnt. The hair was not even singed.

On the throat there was a very extensive wound. It extended from the angle of the jaw on the left side a little below the ear downwards & across the throat a little beyond the (middle line?) of the throat. The wound had divided all the muscles, (the caroted?) artery, the jugular vein, the wind pipe, the gullet & the muscles in part of the (head) & it had notched the vertebrae of the neck. The wound, I think, was made when she was not quite dead. There were three wounds on the head. There was one at the back of the head. It was about an inch long through the scalp. The skull was not fractured there. There was another wound on the top of the head called the (vertex?). The scalp there was divided. The skull was fractured and depressed there.

The largest wound was on the right side. That was a large square shaped wound. The scalp was divided. The bones of the skull were fractured & (dunen?) in on to the hair. The hair was lacerated. That wound was fatal. She would only have lived a short time after that wound. It must have caused immediate unconsciousness. I think the wounds on the head were made first otherwise there would have been a greater spurting & splashing of blood from the wound in the throat.

I saw the pool of blood in the hall of the house. It appeared to me to be the blood which had flowed away quietly and not spurted. There must have been great force used in dealing the blow. It must have been done with a blunt instrument. I think that a sharp knife might have done the wound in the throat. The knife produced might have (effected?) the wound. The paper in which it was wrapped has stains of blood upon it. It is impossible that the blows could have been self-inflicted. I looked at the clothing of the dead. They smelt very strongly of paraffin.

The hatchet produced has been examined by me this morning. I examined it with a microscope. On the iron part of the back of the hatchet I discovered blood. There is also a stain on the right side of the hatchet which I also believe to be blood. There is also blood on the edge of the hatchet. There is a notch in the (steel?) where there appears to be more blood lodged.

There are a few marks in the left side of the hatchet less (distinct?). I can discover none on the handle. I have compared the end of the hatchet with the wound on the right side of the head and it (compares?) with and actually fits the wound. The wound on the vertex might have been done by one of the back edges of the hatchet.

The hatchet was capable of also doing the third wound on the head. The chair covering with blood on it must have been very near the wound for the blood to have flowed on it in that way. The blood from the wound in the throat would produce arterial and venous blood but more arterial than venous.

I also examined the knife produced wrapped in the paper and I found stains of blood upon it.

I have examined the stains on the oil can produced and after an examination (then?) with the microscope I am of opinion that they are blood stains on the side of the can near the handle and in other places I found these stains – on the bottom of the can are several other stains which I have no doubt at all are blood stains.

(Signed William Stott Steele)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

THOMAS BENNETT

I am an officer of Coastguard stationed at Babbicombe. At about 4 o’clock I was awoke by (a? Mr.?) Harris and proceeded to Miss Keyse’s house. On the way I saw John Lee carrying a bucket. He was dressed in a pair of trousers, a shirt, a collar fastened by a stud. I went into the dining room. Gasking, Harris and two of my men were there putting out the fire. I went upstairs went into the bedroom on the left where the feather bed had been on fire but extinguished.

I then came back and saw the linen of the bed in the bedroom of deceased burning. I extinguished that and downstairs. There was a policeman standing at bottom of the stairs. He drew my attention to a pool of blood in the hall. John Lee was there. I went out and saw the corpse. When I came in I asked Lee where the blood came from on his left hand. He then had his shirt sleeve down. I could not see the wounds on his arm. He told me that he had wounded his arm in (opening?) the dining room window to let out the smoke. I then went into the dining room where the men were (hacking away the lathes?) to get under the fire. There was a quantity of paper (strewn?) about the floor smouldering. I saw John Lee when he came back from Compton at about 6.30.

In reply to questions put to Lee by Sergeant Nott he stated that he was home on the previous night by 11 o’clock and that he was in bed by midnight. The blood was then coming from his wounds. When first came into the house shortly after 4 o’clock. The shutters were not fastened but were shut and the window was (broken? ) as I saw the broken glass lying on the floor. Just before Lee went to Compton when the fire was out one of my men opened the shutters.

Xd Exd By John Lee. The colar was fastened by a stud. John Lee states. That is not true. I had my collar with a neck (?) & pin on all night. I saw you leave the house at 20 minutes past 7. There was a man a few steps in advance of you.

(Signed: Thomas Bennett)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

GEORGE PHILLIPS

I am a coastguard stationed at Babbacombe.

I was called on Saturday morning at about 4 o’clock and went to Miss Keyse’s house. I went into the house by the kitchen door & took two buckets of water & went upstairs. I went to the bedroom on the left. I remained there & attempted to put out the fire. When the fire up there was out I came downstairs. I helped to put out the fire there. The shutters ware fastened in the dining room. There was glass on the floor. When I saw Lee he had his collar on.

(Signed: George Phillips)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

ELIZABETH HARRIS

I live a Beach Cottage. I am the wife of Richard Harris. I followed my husband down to the house on Saturday morning. I got there at about quarter past 4. I went back & went down again. I saw my husband and John Lee (fixing?) the key to the (tap?) in the garden. John Lee was there. I then saw his arm bleeding that was about 4.30. I said “What have you done”. He said “I have cut my arm with the glass”.

(Signed: Elizabeth Harris)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

GEORGE RUSSELL

I live at St. Mary Church. I am a chimney sweep I was walking along from St. Mary Church towards Wellswood. I met a man with a light. It was John Lee. He said “I am going to Capt. McLeans wife to tell her sister is dead”. I said “Who is her sister” he said “Miss Keyse” I said “Is she really dead” He said “She is burnt to death”. I said “I am very sorry to hear it” he said “So am I”.

“If it had not been for my sister we should all have been burnt to death.”

I said “How did your sister know it”

He said “The smell smoke & came down & and saw the sofa alight in the dining room”

I asked if any lamp (copringing?) (occasioned?) it. He said “No lamp there, fire or candle”

I said “I am very sorry for it”

He said “So am I but as she is dead it will never be known how it was done” He repeated that twice.

I met him again as I was returning at about quarter to eight.

X’d The first word I said to you was Hallo.

(?) did not tell me that your sister smelt fire and woke the servant and went down & found Miss Keyse in the dining room. I met you. We were not going one way.

(Signed: George Russell)

Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:18 November 1884

WILLIAM RICHARDS

I am a postman. I live at 2 James Cottages Babbacombe. I have known John Lee for six years. About 2 months ago he made a statement to me respecting Miss Keyse. Lee was in the grounds at the time I addressed him.

He said “I am tired of the place. If the Mistress does not get me a place soon she will bloody soon wish she had done so. I will put an end to one in the house before I leave.”

I said “You had better be careful. If any one gets hold of your words you will get locked up if anything should occur.”

He said “I don’t care.”

Since then I met Lee.

He (look?) up a stick with a big knob. I said “You might give that to me.” He said “No that is the one I carry. It would give any one a (but?) on the head, wouldn’t it”.

This conversation took place when Lee was standing at the back door of Miss Keyse’s house.

I have mentioned this conversation to my wife previously to the occurrence which has happened.

It was said in a serious & earnest manner.

X’ d by Lee. I cannot give any nearer time what that it was two months since.

(Signed: William Richards) Taken upon oath this 18th day of November 1884. Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner.

Witness Index

 

 

 

WILLIAM DELF BOWDEN

I reside at St. Mary Church. I am a surveyor to the Mary Church (head?) Board. The plan produced is a correct plan of the house & premises where the deceased lived and where her death occurred namely the Glen Babbaccanbe. It is a (foot) to an inch.

(Signed: William Delf Bowden)

Taken upon oath this 21st day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

JULIUS MEECH

Constable stationed at Babbacombe. On Saturday the 15th instant at about 4.30 am (person?) information received. I went at Babbacombe Glen. I arrived there at about 4.50. I went in through the back door & kitchen & went into the Dining Room. I saw Gasking Walling and the Coastguard Officer there. Also Eliza and Jane Neck and John Lee. Eliza Neck told me the deceased was burnt to death. I asked where they found her, she pointed to the sofa. The fire in the Dining Room was then pretty well got under.

I went as far as the door of the Dining Room when Lee came up against me. He had blood on both arms especially on the left arm. I asked him how he came by it. He said “I cut it in the glass”.

He said ” I put my fist through the glass to let the smoke out.”

The shutters were closed in the Dining Room when I got there. I then went up stairs to the Honeysuckle Room. Lee went upstairs with me. Lee pulled down one of the curtains (?) the wall. I attempted to pull down the other. The fire in the Honeysuckle Room appeared to have come up through the Dining Room. I looked in at the bedroom of the deceased. That appeared to have been a separate fire. The fire was quite out there.

I came down stairs & then noticed a large pool of blood under the staircase near the Dining Room door. I noticed there was a cloth there saturated in blood near the (pool?).

I then went with Bennett to the outhouse and inspected the body of the deceased and then saw that her throat was cut.

I left Mr. Bennett in charge of the body and went for Sergeant Nott and then fetched for Chilcott. I came back and took charge of the upstairs rooms. At about quarter past 8 John Lee came up where I was standing. He was trembling and I remarked to him. He said he was cold. He said “This is a bad job for me I have lost a good friend.” Then I first saw Lee in the Dining Room. He was dressed in trousers, shirt and collar. His shirt sleeves were rolled up. I saw then blood on both arms and the wounds on his left arm. He had boots or shoes on his feet. I did (see? smell?) on any oil can about on the Dining Room.

(Signed: Julius Meech)

Taken upon oath this 21st day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:21 November 1884

ABRAHAM NOTT

Sergeant of Police stationed at St. Mary Church.

On Saturday morning the 15th last between 5 and 6 I was called by a constable to the Glen Babbacombe. I arrived and went to the (?) of the deceased through the Kitchen in the Hall where I saw several people. My attention was called to the first floor in the hall and I observed it. I found the chair covering produced lying closed by the pool of blood [produced no.1] Saturated with blood. It is partly burnt and smells strongly of oil.

I then went into the Dining Room saw Mr. Bennett. From what he told me I went out to the old out house and saw the body there & placed a constable in charge. I then returned to the house & went through the place and made enquiries. In the Dining Room I found a hatchet. On the head of that hatchet there were dark spots which I thought was blood. I took charge of the hatchet which is the hatchet produced in court in the last adjournment by George Pearce.

Dr. Chilcott had then arrived & I accompanied him to view the body. The shirt produced is the shirt handed to me by Mr. Gasking Walling and which was identified by him in his evidence. I then took off the four rings from the finger of the deceased. The forefinger of the left hand.

In consequence of what I heard from Dr. Chilcott I went to the Superintendent of Police and accompanied him round the house. I found that one of the windows of the dining room had been broken. It was the window opposite the Dining Rouen door. On the outside of the glass of the window I found there was blood, also on the outside of the (work?). On examining the (?) I found a piece of skin produced on the broken glass still remaining in the window. It was hanging in a downward direction on the inside. There was another piece of flesh or skin on the inside hanging from the (woodwork?).

There were six panes broken. The woodwork was not broken. There was a little glass lying outside the window and some at the distance of three feet. The (greater?) portion of the glass was on the inside in the dining room. I unfastened the shutters. The fastening is rather a difficult one to open. It would have been a difficult one to open by a stranger who had not done it before. The glass was in the dining room when I opened the shutters and the shutters must have been opened previously to that to admit the glass.

I found two dents on the front surface of the shutters opposite apparently made by broken glass being broken against them. I observed no signs that the house had been broken into and there was nothing broken on (outside?) except the window referred to. I found some spots of blood outside the hall door in the colonnade. They were on the floor. There was blood in the under handle & outside handle of the door leading from the hall to colonnade. I then entered the house and made further search & found then the (coaster?) produced lying in the Hall near the pool of blood. I afterwards discovered smears of blood from the place where the pool of blood was along the skirting board as far as the pantry door.

There was also blood on the outside of one of the drawers of a piece of furniture in the room a sort of cupboard on the right hand of the room (enlessing?) the pantry by the door. There is also a few marks of blood on the right hand side of the wall. The mark on the outside of the drawer was like a finger mark. The drawer contained three (implements?). There was a mark in the drawer as if the blood had trickled down the inside of it. I examined the pantry window. I did not observe any blood on that.

I could find no blood on the bedding. I found the slip of paper produced on the floor of the pantry. It is possible for a man to get in and out of the pantry window.

I observed finger marks of blood on the partition between the pantry & passage leading to the Kitchen. I then examined the bedroom of the deceased. I found the bedding had been burnt & the bed had been on fire. I found the bell pull produced lying on the settee in the bedroom. The wire is not strained, and there are no signs of violence on the bell pull. I also found the clothes of the deceased produced. The corset and chest flannel produced were in the bed. The (shirt?) produced was found in the bed partly burnt. I did not perceive any smell of oil in that room.

The two towels produced I found in the pantry hanging up behind the door. There are marks of blood on them. The third towel produced by me I found in the scullery with marks of blood on it. I found the diamond ring produced lying on the floor in the bedroom of the deceased. I went into the Honeysuckle Room and found the portion of the bedding produced. There is no smell of oil on it.

The miscellaneous papers produced were found by me on the sofa in the dining room. It smells of paraffin.

I found the lamp produced on the dining room table partly full of oil. It was burning when I saw it. It is partly full of oil now.

I saw Lee at about 7 o’clock that morning. I called him into the Hall and cautioned him. I asked him what time he was at home last night. He said “About 11 o’clock. We had prayers in the Dining Room. Miss Keyse was there and the other two servants Eliza and Jane. I went to bed at about 10 minutes or quarter past 11. I said “Did you. hear any noise at all through the night before you were called by the others.” He said “No. I heard them shouting out and I said ‘What is the matter’ and they said ‘The house is on fire.”

“I put on my trousers. I came out when Jane and Eliza was outside. I went into the dining room I did not then see Miss Keyse.”

I said “What is this blood down over your trousers” pointing to marks of blood.

He said “It is blood from my arm sir. I cut it in trying to open the Dining Room window to let the smoke out. I then went and called Mr. Gasking.”

The trousers produced are the trousers the prisoner was then wearing. There are blood marks on them. One at the top by the left hand pocket, one at the waste band, one lower down on the left leg. One on the left leg on the inside below the knee another on the front of the leg nearly at the bottom. On the right side there is a stain in the right pocket another blood stain further down on the right leg above the knee another spot on the right leg nearly at the bottom. The trousers smell strongly of lamp oil. On the back of the right leg near the seat there is a spot. On the left side there are spots of blood in the waste band & just below. There is (on) spots on the front inside the waste band.

From instructions received from Superintendent Barbor I arrested John Lee at about 10 o’clock on Saturday morning. I cautioned him as to what he should say. He again repeated the (previous) statement he made to me. I charged him with having (caused?) the murder of the deceased, Miss Keyse. He shook very much and said “Oh, on suspicion eh? All Right!”

I said you must go with me to Torquay. He said “All right.”

I searched Lee at to police station. He was wearing the same clothes. The prisoner was wearing the socks produced. I said “Your socks are dry”. He said “Yes, I took off my wet ones and put them down in the kitchen. I could not get on my boots before I put on the dry socks.”

The great coat produced Lee said he had worn to Compton. There is blood on the lining of the left arm and there is the smell of paraffin oil in the left arm (outside?). On the lining of the sleeve of the right arm there is also a little blood. He also had on at the time the collar & neck (tie?) produced with him. There was 3 shillings and 4 pence halfpenny in money on the prisoner. I found (another?) key produced which is the key of one of the garden gates of the Glen Babbacombe.

I also found on him the chain produced. I asked what it was he said it is a (hair? han?) chain.

Gold ring which he wore on his finger. The finger (?.ile?) produced. A quantity of matches (corse?). The matches found in the pocket of Lee are similar to matches found in a match box in the pantry.

The remains of the night dress produced were taken in my presence from the body of the deceased. It smells very strongly of paraffin. I also produce the sock (tallery?) from the left leg of the deceased. It also smells very strongly of paraffin. The night dress & sock are both partially burnt.

The carpet produced is a piece of carpet taken from the Dining Room. It smells of paraffin. The second piece of carpet produced is also taken from the Dining Room carpet (found?) in front of the sofa. It also smells of paraffin.

On the same day I took up the carpet in the Hall. I produce the (from?) of carpet. There was a piece of paper marked with blood on it.

I produce a piece of carpet which I took up on turning up the carpet I discovered the mark of blood on the under side. Under the carpet I found the pieces of paper produced with blood & marks on them. They are pieces of Newspaper. There are marks on the paper of earth and blood. I can see earth on it.

The piece of flooring I produce I took from the floor under the stairs in recess in the hall. There is candle grease and blood on it. There is blood on the (cheffoun?) in the Hall. I found marks on the (intude?) and also paper (walls?) of blood on the top shelf.

I have, since this inquiry was opened, let down the bed in the pantry. I find that between the end of the bed and the edge of the table which rests on brackets there are about four inches and a half. On the table there are (some?) small shelves & several trays. Had the brackets had been turned in and the table let down the shelves and trays must have fallen. It is impossible for a person to walk straight round the end of the bed between it and the table. They might get round it by going sideways and resting the hands on the bed. There is no other way of getting from the door of the pantry to the cupboard the right hand side of the fireplace without either going across the bed or (sliding?) round between the bed and the table. There is not room for any man to creep under the bed. The table was up in the morning on the brackets with the trays on when I saw it on Saturday morning.

(Signed: Abraham Nott)

Taken upon oath this 21st day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:21 November 1884

GEORGE ROUNSFELL

Police Constable stationed at St. Mary Church.

On Saturday the 15th inst., I was searching the Butler’s Pantry at Miss Keyse’s residence. On examining the drawer in the cupboard on the right hand side (sorry in the door of the pantry) I found a smear of blood and further dawn in the same drawer there is another smear of blood.

I carefully searched the drawer and found in the bottom of the drawer amongst pieces of paper & rubbish the knife (produced by Dr. Steele). It was wrapped in a piece of grocery paper. There were stains of blood on the paper. The piece of paper produced has blood stains on it.

I took charge of the knife & paper & handed it to Superintendent Barbor. There were (smaller?) marks of blood on the right-hand door jamb of the pantry. There was blood in the passage landing from the Kitchen to the Hall both on the right hand side and on the left. They were smears of blood on the water Butt outside the (nursery?) door. There was also a blood stain on the door at the Back Entrance near the (workshop?). There was blood on Gaskings gate.

X Ex’d by Mr. Templer for Lee. There were spots of blood on the upper stairs on the left hand side coming down from Miss Keyse’s room.

(Signed: George Rounsell)

Taken upon oath this 21st day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:21 November 1884

CHARLES HENRY Sutton

I live at 14 (Union?) Terrace St. Mary Church Road. [note: 1881 at 9 Harewood Terrace, St. Marychurch]. I am a Hairdresser.

On Saturday morning last at 7.25 am I met John Lee in Plainmoor (Road?). He was walking in the direction of Torquay. I asked Lee where there was a fire.

He said “At my house sir. The lady is burnt to death. I should have been burnt of death too in about half an hour had it not been found out.”

He told me he had cut his arm by breaking glass in the Dining Room window to let out the smoke. I understood him to say that the fire was caused by a lamp. He said that it was unknown because Miss Keyse was the last up.

(Signed: Charles Henry Sutton)

Taken upon oath this 21st day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:28 November 1884

DOUGLAS BARBOR

I reside at Torquay.

I am the Superintendent of the ‘F’ Division of the Devon Constabulary. Babbacombe is comprised within my Division.

On Saturday the 15th November 1884 from information I received from Sergt. Nott I proceeded to “The Glen” Babbacombe arriving there shortly after 7.00 am. In company with Sergt. Nott I went into the dining room & examined the room very minutely without disturbing anything. I found that the room had been on fire, the wall behind the door being burnt, also the Sofa and Chairs, there were heaps of papers & old letters under the sofa & chairs which had also been fired, portions of the wall had apparently been knocked down, & the shutters of the windows opposite the door were shut.

These were opened and I found that 6 panes of the glass were broken, from the appearance of the glass that was loosened which turned inwards, also from there being a greater quantity of glass inside than there was out to there being indents on the shutters & glass was stuck in the shutters. Also from there being stains of blood on several places on the outside of the glass, & a large smear of blood on the outside of the centre upright woodwork of the sashes I formed the conclusion that the glass had been broken from the outside. I afterwards went to the outside of the house & tried the window whether it could be opened from the outside, with the shutters of the window shut & found that they could not be. I found that the shutters would not remain closed without the bar being fastened. I again went to the window when there was more light to make a further examination & I then found a piece of skin on a point of glass remaining in the left centre pane & also another piece slightly lower down

I was present at the Torquay Police Station & saw John Lee’s wounds dressed. The wound nearest the hand corresponds with the largest of the two pieces of skin found. I went to the Hall & there saw a large pool of blood which was thick & clotty. I saw the drugget on the stairs had been fired. On proceeding upstairs I entered the deceased’s bedroom, saw that the bed curtains had been burnt & the bedding slightly burnt & a burnt hole in the (caniks?) partition first to the left on entering the room. I then went into the Honeysuckle Room, saw that the bed & bedding was much burnt, also holes in the flooring which had the appearance of having been burnt by the fire coming up through the dining room ceiling.

I visited all the other rooms in the house & examined carefully the doors & windows from the appearance of which I am of the opinion that no one had broken into the premises. The only door I found bolted was the one from the Scullery to the space outside the pantry windows. On the handles of the front door I found blood both inside and outside, & also on the woodwork. I found 2 spots of blood on the middle doors of the hall, one like as if a drop of blood had fallen on it on the inside & on the outside the appearance of a finger mark. I then went to an outhouse & saw the body of Miss Keyse laying there. I examined the wound to the throat & sent for a doctor. I then examined the outside of the premises found spots of blood in the corridor, one spots of blood on the grass leading to the corridor from the direction of the window. At the back of the house there was a stain of blood on the wall a short distance from the Kitchen Door, then a stain of blood on the Rock work just above, then one on an Iron Gate in the passage to the garden back door & on the lock of the garden back door was a right hand thumb mark in blood and 2 stains on the door still apparently from the left hand. Then on the entrance gates to the Carey Arms the impression in blood of two hands.

I then tried to trace these marks from the house but found the traces other than the smears of blood right and left in the passage from the Kitchen to the spot where the pool of blood was. I entered the Butler’s Pantry and examined the bed clothes & the wearing apparel (being?) up there. Upon these I found no stains of blood except on old one on the bolster. About 9 am Dr Chilcott & Steele arrived. Dr. Steele pointed out to me a fracture on the right side of the deceased’s head, showed me the arteries & wind pipe were cut through & the vertebrae bone notched. After the examination of the body I went into the pantry & directed Sergeant Nott to call John Lee in there. When he came in Sergeant Nott cautioned him & asked him “What time was it you last saw Miss Keyse alive & how do you account for your time till the fire.”.

Lee replied “I went to bed about 11 after prayers & I heard nothing until I was awoke by the cries of the maids. I went into the Dining Rom & broke 6 panes of glass to let the smoke out.”

Showing how he did it by holding up his arms. I then said to him “From the enquiries I have made all the doors and windows were locked at night & were found so when the fire was discovered. That Miss Keyse had been murdered & that it must have been done by a man & as you are the only man in the house, the Sergeant will charge you & you will be arrested on suspicion. ”

Lee replied “On suspicion, oh all right.”

The Sergeant then charged him with murdering Miss Keyse & I directed the Sergeant to take Lee to the Lock up at Torquay.

Later in the day, when in the pantry Sergeant Nott brought me a hatchet, which I ordered was to be taken care of. Constable Rounsfell also brought me a knife wrapped in paper stained with blood, which I also ordered to be taken care of & he further pointed out to me the stains inside the drawer. On the 20th Nov., I received from Sergeant Nott a hatchet, shirt, socks, night gown, & some hair and from Constable Rounsfell a small table knife wrapped in paper which I took and delivered on the 21st of Nov to Doctor Stevenson of Guy’s Hospital London for analysis. I also received from Sergeant Nott on the 23rd Nov., a pair of trousers & a tin oil can which I also conveyed & delivered to Dr. Stevenson on the 27th Nov. On (Sunday?) the 30th November I received back the whole of the articles I handed to Dr. Stevenson and which I now produce.

(Signed: Douglas Barbor)

Taken upon oath this 28th day 28th November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

 

 

Document dated:28 November 1884

FREDERICK GEORGE BOUGHTON

Constable stationed at Babbicombe.

On Saturday the 15th instant shortly after 5 am I went to the Glen at about 5.30. At 5.45 I took charge of the outhouse where the body of Miss Keyse was lying. At 6.15 I saw John Lee coming down the hill towards the house. I asked him where he had been. He said “I have been to Compton.”

He said “Isn’t this a bad job”. I said “Yes it is.”

He shewed me his left arm. He said “Isn’t my arm bad”

He said “I cut it in (healling?) the dining room window to let out the smoke.”

I said “That was foolish”

He said “I was obliged to do it the smoke was so thick I could not find my way back to the door.”

At 9 o’clock the same day Lee came to me. I was standing at the door of the back entrance. He was shaking. I said “You are feeling the cold”.

He said “So would you if you had been running with only your shirt and trousers on.”

He said “Good God that ever such a thing should have happened. I have lost by best friend.”

I said “No doubt about that but did not you hear any of this going on during the night.”

He said “No I was dead asleep and the servants had great trouble to wake me when they came down.”

Lee had his great coat on when he came back from Compton.

(Signed: Frederick George Boughton)

Taken upon oath this 28th day of November 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

Document dated:1 December 1884

THOMAS STEVENSON

I live at (? ?) lodge Gresham Road in the Parish of Lambeth Surrey. I am a (Doctor?) of Medicine, a Fellow and (Examiner?) of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Lecturer on Chemistry & Medical (Junsprudence?) at Guys Hospital and Official Analyst to the Home Office. On 21st Nov. I received certain articles from Capt. Douglas Barbor. Viz a hatchet, a knife in paper, a woman’s night dress, mans shirt, a pair of socks and a lock of hair. And on the 27th Nov. I received from the same person a pair of trousers and an oil can. I have examined and analysed these articles. The hatchet produced is the one I examined. I found it marked with white plaster. On the back of the wooden handle there is a smear of blood. On the edge of the (own?) head there is a trace of blood and in the notch on the edge of the blade were a few blood corpuscles, the blood was that of a (mammalian?) animal or that of a human being. I am unable to say which I am unable to say whether it was male or female blood of a young or old person or arterial or venous. The blood on the handle had not lost the character of recent blood. It might have been shed some days before my examination or even 6 weeks. I cannot (assyn?) the date nearer than that.

The knife produced is the knife I examined. It is a table knife, the blade is scratched as if (ueently?) stubbed against some hard substance stone or earth. The handle which is much polished from wear was free from blood. There was a trace of blood round the junction of the blade & handle. There was a trace of blood on the blade near the (lulh?). The rest of the blade was free from blood.

The blood was that of a mammalian animal or a human being. I cannot say which. I cannot say whether the blood was recent or old. There was a little earth also on the knife. Simply wiping on paper would not I think have removed all traces of blood from the blade had there been any there. Washing or scrubbing it would have done so if there had been any blood stains on the handle, persons handling it might have prevented my detecting it. I however found no trace of blood having been (adhevent?). I am of the opinion that the knife in the hands of a powerful man might have been capable of producing a deep wound on a persons throat and went to notch the vertebrae.

I examined the two pieces of paper produced in which the knife was lying. The papers had evidently been originally one piece or the edge where it is torn (put) each other. The pieces of paper were smeared in blood, the smaller piece on both sides and the layer piece on the inner side only. The blood is indistinguishable from human blood and is either a mammalian animal or a human being. If it had lost the character of (recent) blood, it might be a few days old or anytime up to 6 weeks.

The nightdress produced is the one I examined. It had been warn and smelt strongly of (smokey?) oil. The right sleeve was rolled back and the right arm on the inner surface which is the outer surface in its rolled back position, there were smears of blood. It was (extensively?) blood stained on the same sleeve chiefly in the upper part below the shoulder. It was also much smeared behind over the shoulder blades and a few slight smears in part.

There is a small quantity of blood on the left sleeve more especially behind halfway (betwixt?) the (arm?) & the elbow. The inner side of the night dress is free from blood except three small specks which are old probably (fleahtes?). The blood is blood which has been smeared or dropped and spurted. The blood has not lost the characteristics of recent blood. It might have been a few days old up to six weeks. It was indistinguishable from human blood and was either that of a human being or of a mammalian animal.

The mans shirt produced is the one I examined. It is a cheque cotton shirt which has been worn. There are extensive blood stains on the front and left side about as far as a line dropping from the left shoulder. The back of the right side were fairly free from blood. The right sleeve was blood stained between the elbow and the waist. The left sleeve is torn and is generally free from blood, there is a spot of blood below the outside of the shoulder. The blood is all outside generally in the shirt except on the right sleeve where there is blood on the inside surface but where the sleeve has been apparently rolled back so as to (present?) the inside surface outwards. The blood was chiefly in smears but some of it was in spots as if splashed on more especially behind the right shoulder. Some of it may apparently have trickled and run. The blood was that of a human being or a mammalian animal I cannot say which. It had not lost the characteristics of recent blood it might be a few days old or up to 5 or 6 weeks and as there is no recognizable difference (betwixt?) arterial and venous blood after exposure to the air, not between that of an aged or young person, a male or a female, I cannot say whether it was the blood of any of these. The shirt had the smell of (smouldering?) oil.

The socks produced are those I examined. They are striped cotton socks. They were damp and stained with earth and mineral oil. There were several hairs stuck on the socks. There were two hairs which were long (nuent?) human, like those of a woman and they were exactly like the hair produced marked Miss Keyse’s hair. They were alike in size in (texture?) and in the colour which is peculiar. There were also on the socks some human hairs like the others in all respects except that they were thinner. There was a third kind of human hair on the socks greyish in colour like those of a woman. There was also on the socks a fourth fibre, reddish of a (negetable?) structure like matting fibre. On one sock there was a minute spot of blood (altend?) by the secretions of the foot. The characteristics were similar to the other blood but I am unable to say how recent or how old it was.

The lock of hair produced is the one I examined. It is a lock of hair of a woman. If is of the reddish tint. It precisely like the hairs I referred to on the socks. The lock of hair was stained with blood. The blood was that of a human being o~ that of a mammalian animal.

The trousers produced are the ones I examined. There are grease stains smelling of mineral oil on them. On the left leg in front of the thigh there is a blood stain which appears to have been altered by water. It appears to have been sponged or had water spilt on it. There is another little one near it of the same character. There is a third one near it which does not appear to have been altered by water or sponged.

There is another little one near it of the same character. There is a third one near it which does not appear to have been altered by water or sponged. There is another stain of blood on the inner seam of the left leg a little below the knee which appears to have been sponged or wiped. Behind the trouser below the band in the left side there was a double blood stain. There was another just above the band near the button on the lining just opposite to the left brace button behind was another small blood stain.

There were two in the right pocket and a trace of blood just above the left pockets and another small stain just in the front inside of the pocket lining. The blood was (effused?) on the outer side of the garment. The (clotted) parts exhibited the characteristics of human or mammalian blood. And the stains on the garment generally exhibited these characteristics. It is smeared blood. The stain on the lining under the left back brace button has been rubbed and I cannot say it’s age. The same statement applies to the blood in the pockets especially to that in the left pocket. The other blood stains have not lost the character of recent blood and might be a few days old or 6 weeks. The greasy stain on the legs smell of mineral oil.

The oil can produced is the one I examined. It was empty of oil. It had a cork inside and another cork with a red (?) woollen fabric surrounding it.

Below the handle to the right of the can there is a red smear of mammalian or human blood. There were similar smears at the bottom of the can.

These had not lost the characteristics of recent (solulle?) blood. Paraffin over the blood protects it from the air & helps is retain its reddish appearance and I cannot therefore form an opinion as to the date of the blood on the oil can. The stain on the back appears to have trickled down the seam. The can has contained a mineral oil, paraffin or alexandria oil.

The grey hairs found might very probably have come from the same head as the other hair I examined.

(Signed: Thomas Stevenson)

Taken upon oath this first day of December 1884.

Before me. (signed: SIDNEY HACKER) Coroner

Witness Index

 

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