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Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) Mphil

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The Eliza Armstrong Case: Being a Verbatim Report of the Proceedings at Bow Street

(Pall Mall Gazette Supplement, October 3, 1885)


Wednesday, September 2, 1885.

At Bow-street, on September 2, Rebecca Jarrett, aged about forty, was charged with several offences in connection with the Eliza Armstrong case, which have already been given in the introductory statement.

Mr. Poland, instructed by the Public Prosecutor, appeared for the prosecution, and on this day Mr. Vaughan Williams only appeared for the defence.

Mr. Poland said: I appear before you instructed by the Solicitor to the Treasury, who has been directed to take charge of this case by the Secretary of State and Attorney-General. You are probably aware that on Derby day, the 3rd of June, the prisoner, Rebecca Jarrett, took away from Marylebone a child, by name Eliza Armstrong, a little over thirteen years of age, who was the daughter of Charles Armstrong and Elizabeth his wife. We do not propose to-day to enter into the circumstances under which the child was taken away, but the fact is undoubted that the child was taken away by the prisoner on the pretence that the child was wanted to aid the prisoner in her household work at her house at Croydon, where she said she lived. From that day until Monday, 24th August, neither mother nor father set eyes on their child. Repeated efforts were made to find out what had become of the child, and on the 14th of July the prisoner was at Winchester, and she wrote from there to the mother of the child to say that the child was then all right. She had written previously on the 10th of June to say that the child was all right. As soon as it was known that the child was at Winchester, Inspector Borner went there, but he was unable to find the prisoner. Mrs. Armstrong then applied at the Marylebone police-court to see if she could obtain any information as to what had become of the child. On August 1 she obtained the child's address from Mr. Bramwell Booth, which was at L' Oriol, in the department of the Drome, France. The child had not been taken with the prisoner to Winchester in July, but was taken from this country on Thursday, June 4, first to Paris, and then, when inquiries were being made after the child, she was sent nearly 400 miles from Paris to the Drome. The father of the child was taken by Police-inspector Tornow to France, so that he might obtain possession of the child. The father started from this country for that purpose on Wednesday, the 19th of August, because it was not until shortly before that time that definite information had been obtained by the police. The police-officer received every assistance from the French police and authorities. When the father got there the child was not to be found. She had been sent away back to Paris for the purpose, no doubt, of being brought back to this country, because it must have been obvious to the people who had stolen the child that the "game was up." The child was brought back to this country and restored to the mother on Monday, August 24. I should say that perhaps a better word than restored would be recovered, because it was through the instrumentality of the police that ultimately the child was recovered. The mother and the father were most anxious to know where the child had been detained and what she had been detained for. Their efforts were unavailing, and it was supposed that the prisoner had gone to France. She had undoubtedly gone to France on the morning of Thursday, the 4th June, and it was supposed she was in France, and accordingly on a sworn information before Mr. Flowers, a warrant was obtained on Friday, the 21st of August, with the view to the extradition of the prisoner if it turned out she was in France. The police were unable to execute the warrant, but in consequence of information they obtained they saw Mr. Bramwell Booth at the Salvation Army quarters, Queen Victoria-street, and it was then ascertained that the prisoner was in this country. It was arranged that she was to be seen at the Salvation Army quarters on Monday at two o'clock; but Mr. Bramwell Booth rightly enough thought it better that the prisoner's solicitors should be communicated with instead of the prisoner being at the Salvation Army quarters a letter was received from the solicitor of the prisoner that showed him information was given to the prisoner that there was a warrant out against her, and we were then informed that she would be duly forthcoming in answer to the charge. On Tuesday night about ten o'clock the prisoner came to Scotland-yard with "Captain" Jones, who is a lady in the Salvation Army, and then surrendered herself into custody, giving the name under which she is now charged before you, although she seemed to have written letters signing herself Mrs. Sullivan. What I propose is not to go into the details of the case to-day because the authorities have been waiting before proceeding against any other person. Rebecca Jarrett was the person who took the child out of the possession of her father and mother, and as she was now in custody I shall have to ask you upon merely formal evidence to remand her to a further day, and then I shall ask for summonses against the other persons, her accomplices, who aided and abetted her in stealing the child. These persons are Mr. W. T. Stead, the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, who calls himself the Chief Director of some Special Commission: Mr. Jacques who is also employed on the Pall Mall Gazette,and who assisted Mr. Stead in the abduction of the child; Mrs. Combe, who lives at 51, Holland-road, Kensington, a lady employed by the Salvation Army, to whose house the child was taken on the morning of Thursday, 4th June, and who with the prisoner carried her from London to the headquarters of the Salvation Army in Paris, where the child was kept four weeks. I have also to ask for a process against Mr. Bramwell Booth, who, I shall show you, was cognizant of what was done, and was a party to the detaining of the child for a long period from her parents, and also against Mdme. Louise Mourez, 3, Milton-street, Milton-square, to whose house the child was taken for an examination on the 3rd of June. The charge is brought under the 56th section of the Offences to Person Act, which relates to the taking away of a child under the age of fourteen years and under section 55, which relates to the abduction of an unmarried girl under the age of sixteen. And there is also a charge made under the 24th section with reference to the administering of any "noxious thing." Besides these there is a charge against Madame Mourez of indecently assaulting the said child, and a general charge including all these persons of conspiring to get possession of the child and taking her from her parents. Mr. Poland concluded by referring to a letter which he had received from Messrs. Lewis and Lewis, as the solicitors for the Pall Mall Gazette and Mr. Stead, stating that Mr. Stead was willing to give every information, but that he was now in Switzerland. He could be telegraphed for, and no doubt he would feel it his duty to come forward and meet this charge.

Edward Borner, an inspector of the Metropolitan Police Force, produced a warrant for the arrest of Rebecca Jarrett, granted by Mr. Flowers and dated the 22nd of August. That charged Rebecca Jarrett with having on the 3rd of June unlawfully enticed away and detained Eliza Armstrong, a girl under the age of fourteen. Before that date he had been endeavouring to find the prisoner. On July 15 he went to Winchester, but was unable to find her there or trace her. Since the date of the warrant he had been endeavouring to find her. Last night he was at Scotland-yard, having heard that Rebecca Jarrett intended to surrender herself. At ten o'clock the prisoner came there with another lady, who called herself Captain Jones of the Salvation Army. The prisoner said, "I am Rebecca Jarrett." Witness said, "I shall take you into custody on a warrant which I will read to you."

Mr. Vaughan williams said he did not propose to put any questions at present.

Mr. Poland said as a remand was not objected to he would not produce further evidence to-day.

Mr. Williams asked that the prisoner should be admitted to bail.

Mr. Vaughan said the circumstances of the case precluded him from doing so. The fact that the officer had tried to find her and had been unable was a circumstance which he could not overlook.

Mr. Williams pointed out that it was only on Monday last, through a communication made to Mr. Bramwell Booth, that it was ascertained that a warrant had been issued, and immediately thereafter the prisoner surrendered.

Mr. Vaughan repeated that, looking to the circumstances of the case, he must decline to take bail.

Mr. Poland asked to what day the case would be remanded. He would make the summonses returnable at the same time;

Mr. Lewis, who had just entered the court, said he appeared for the proprietor of the Pall Mall Gazette and Mr. Stead, the editor of that journal. Mr. Stead left England early last week on account of ill-health, and was now in Switzerland. He would be communicated with at once, and no doubt he would return instantly, no matter what the state of his health was, as he was anxious that this case should be heard and sifted, as the Treasury were well aware. He mentioned this so that if summonses were granted his worship might be better able to form an opinion as to when they should be returnable.

Mr. Vaughan said he intended to fix Saturday for the next hearing, but as Mr. Stead was in Switzerland that might be too early. The best course might be to fix next Monday, and give the whole day to the case.

Mr. Lewis said he could not be present on that day, as he was leaving for the Continent.

Mr. Williams renewed his application for bail, but Mr. Vaughan adhered to his decision.

Mr. Vaughan: Will we not have your assistance then on Monday, Mr. Lewis?

Mr. Lewis: No; but Mr. Stead is a very able man, and I am not sure that he will not make his statement himself.

The further hearing was then adjourned.

About this website

I founded this website in 2001 to assist me in my own research on W.T. Stead, little knowing then that it would become the largest online resource on Stead's life and career. Today this site is used by students, scholars and institutions around the world and has significantly contributed to the Study of W.T. Stead and the evils which he campaigned against. I hope you find it useful.

If you have a question that explicitly concerns any of the content on this website, feel free to Contact me and I will get back to you at my earliest convenience. However, please note that I no longer work in academia. With a very "busy" business to run, the time I can spare responding to enquiries through this website is finite, to say the least. So, please do not ask me to do research for you or assist in matters of family history.

Finally, though this website includes a section on Stead's obsession with spiritualism, I myself am not remotely interested in the subject. So, if you think you have seen Stead's ghost in your kitchen or believe you are the reincarnation of the great editor himself (or anyone else who died on the Titanic), I beg you not to tell me about it..

Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil