Victorian London - Crime - Violence, murders and assaults - Murder at Chelsea (Henry Ernest Scrivener)

Thursday, May 14th, 1874

THE MURDER AT CHELSEA - On Tuesday Mr. Humphreys opened an inquiry at the Green Man Tavern, Poplar, respecting the death of Henry Ernest Scrivener, aged 12 months, whose body was discovered floating in the River Thames on Thursday last. Mrs. Henrietta Scrivener, of 4, Lordship-place, Chelsea, identified the deceased as her son. She stated that on Tuesday, the 28th of April, her mother, Frances Stewart, who had been residing with witness and her husband, ended a long series of domestic quarrels by going away with the child. Some days prior to this she had said to witness, "I'll do something yet to make your hearts ache." She had always behaved well to the child. Charlotte Sparrell, married, 23, Spencer-road, Fulham, stated that late at night on Tuesday, the 28th ult., the woman Stewart, with whom she was well acquainted, came to her house and requested to be allowed shelter for the night in a spare room for herself and the child. Witness complied, and gave her bread and cheese, and a glass of ale. Mrs. Stewart took the child away shortly after noon the next day, telling witness that a family quarrel was the cause of her staying away from home all night. Ann Ireland, 20, Lawrence-street, Chelsea, deposed that on Wednesday, the 29th ult, she met Mrs. Stewart and the child in the Fulham-road. They entered into conversation, in the course of which the accused alluded to the family dissensions at home, and requested witness to allow her to go home with her and rest a while. Some time after witness met the mother of the child, who was distressed about the prolonged absence from home of the accused and the child. Edmund King, licensed water-man, 9, Globe-street, Bethnal-green, said that while plying on the river on the 7th inst. he discovered the body of the deceased floating in the Millwall Docks. Inspector James Sherlock, T Division of Police, in charge of the case, said that Mrs. Stewart was apprehended on Friday, the 1st inst., on the charge of stealing the child, in consequence of a letter written by her to an unmarried daughter, a domestic servant, having been picked up. It was as follows:- "Carry, - Come out at once; I have committed murder; I have killed the dear boy, and wish to be given into the hands of justice." When apprehended and questions the accused preserved a sullen and stubborn silence as to the child, only remarking that she would make no admissions till the proper time. At the police court nothing in any way explanatory of the mystery could be elicited from her. She confessed to having written the letter, and also a previous one containing the passage "Myself and child are in the water." Mr. Giles, surgeon, deposed to having examined the body. He was led to believe that the child was not dead before its immersing in the water. A verdict of "Wilful Murder" against Frances Stewart was returned ...

Times, May, 1874