Thread started to address the seemingly vexed question as to whether or not Elizabeth Prater, a witness at the Kelly inquest, occupied the room above Mary Kelly's room, or the first-floor (second for our American cousins) front room of 26 Dorset Street.
A point to bear in mind here is that Elizabeth Prater, in her inquest evidence, stated "I live at No 20 Room Millers Court up stairs I live in the room over where deceased lived." She also stated "...a kitten disturbed me about 3. 30 to 4. I noticed the lodging house light was out so it was after 4 probably - I heard a cry of oh! Murder! as the cat came on me and I pushed her down, the voice was in a faint voice - the noise seemed to come from close by..."
'Sam Flynn' has stated that he believes that Prater occupied the first-floor front room of 26 Dorset, opposite to and facing Crossingham's Lodging House at 17 Dorset Street. However, we have shown that there were also lodging houses to the rear of 26 Dorset Street, and they would have been visible from the room above Kelly's, certainly a light shining from them would.
To support the contention that Prater actually occupied the first floor front room, Gareth cites the Daily Telegraph report of 10th November 1888 which he states "...gives a very detailed description of the general layout of Miller's Court and states that Mrs Prater "occupied the first floor front room." So far, so good. But I did warn Gareth that the earlier the report the less accurate I have found them to be as there was still general confusion and a glut of self-elected witnesses offering their stories to the pressmen. The inquest evidence, given after the dust had settled, and only from those prepared to swear to valid testimony, is invariably more accurate. Here the relevant part of that Daily Telegraph report of 10th November, 1888, but, hang on, wait a minute, just a few lines after giving the location of Prater's room it states of her "She had heard nothing during the night, and was out betimes in the morning, and her attention was not attracted to any circumstances of an unusual character." But the most important part of Prater's evidence was that she had "heard a cry of oh! murder!" during the night.
This is an obvious error, so the Daily Telegraph reporter is obviously confused about something, is he getting various witnesses he has seen confused?
I think some of the confusion about the question of Prater's room may also come from the 1898 Kate Marshall case, as posted by Jake a little while ago.
David Roberts, was reported as saying that he and his wife occupied the back room on the first floor of #26 Dorset Street, which was known as No. 19 room.
Prater in her statement, does say she occupied No. 20 room.
There is the possibility of renumbering of course.
Debs, thank you for your, as usual valuable, input. But, as you state, the Marshall case was 10 years later which does leave a very real possibility of re-numbering or another press error. I am still marshalling (no pun intended) my points and there is more to follow.
Reading on in the lengthy report in the Daily Telegraph of 10th November there is the significant statement that "Some residents in the court declare that about a quarter to two they heard a faint cry of murder, which would seem to fix with tolerable exactitude the time at which the crime was committed; but against this must be set the statement of a woman residing at 26, Dorset-street, a house the back rooms of which abut upon the court, according to which a cry of murder was heard at three o'clock." [emphasis mine]
The only other witness to hear a cry of murder was Sarah Lewis who was staying the night, from 2.30 am onwards, with Mrs Keyler at No 2 Miller's Court, 'in the Court and on the left on the first floor.' 'Shortly before 4 o'clock' Sarah Lewis heard "a scream like that of a young woman, and seemed to be not far away, she screamed out murder..." According to Prater the cry, or scream, was "in a faint voice." It may well be that Lewis heard it more loudly as her window faced Kelly's, a floor lower, and that it was muffled to Prater as there was the thickness of the floor between her and Kelly as well as the fact that she was only just awakening and may not have registered it clearly.
However, the reference later in the report to the cry heard does refer to it being 'a faint cry', which would tie in with Prater, although the timing is out for both, no one having given the time of 'a quarter to two.' I should say it must refer to Prater, but there is a definite problem with the reporting which had earlier stated Prater had 'heard nothing.'
As Gareth is quoting the Daily Telegraph I thought it would be appropriate to check out what the same paper for 13 November 1888 had to say about Prater's inquest testimony. I found the following, "I live in Miller's-court, above the shed. Deceased occupied a room below." which is in itself contradictory. She also said "I heard a suppressed cry of 'Oh - murder!' in a faint voice. It seemed to proceed from the court.'
So I can see the point that Gareth has raised is valid, but with other reports not agreeing, and the written evidence of the day indicating that Prater's room was over that of Kelly, added to which the Daily Telegraph report is demonstrably error strewn I cannot agree with him. I am sure that I have other reports touching upon this and if and when I can locate them I shall post them. Far from chuntering on or 'throat shoving' I think these debates are useful and valid.
Following on from what Debs was saying. This is the only reference I can find which mentions the number of the room Kate Marshall murdered her sister in. It's from The Illustrated Police News 3 December 1898:
At the time of Kitty Ronan's murder in 1909 P.C. Harry Woodley said the first floor front room was No. 12 Miller's Court, he also said No. 11 was on the ground floor but didn't stipulate where.
Considering the size of 26 Dorset Street, I would expect at least three rooms across the first two floors and two on the top floor.
If the room numbering was altered in the ten years after the Kelly, possibly by a room being done away with to be utilised for other purposes, it may well have then retained the altered numbering. What we really need is more information on the 1888 numbering, not that of years later.
The report carried in the East London Advertiser of Saturday 17 November 1888 (see below), clearly states that Prater "lived in a room above that lately occupied by the deceased..." Mind you a little further on it gets the time she heard the cry of 'murder' wrong at "a quarter past 4 o'clock" although that could be bad shorthand or a mistake for 'a quarter to'.
Interesting thread, Stewart.
What bothers me though are the references to specific or non-specific times.
A few years ago I invited a specialist horologist in these matters to comment on this specific theme on the boards, which he did, maintaining that it would have been highly unlikely that any of the witnesses would have possessed a time piece in 1888, or even the large lodging houses for that matter. As can be seen from many other witness statements in the case, time was always fixed from a church clock, or in some cases a brewery clock... so how could a witness, suddenly woken by a cry in the night, have fixed the time from their bed?
The horologist also maintained that, given the distance from Big Ben, all parish church clocks would have been from ten to twenty minutes out of cinque with GMT.
It is a crucial issue that many gloss over or completely ignore.