Florence/Frances Annie Hancock
A THAMES MYSTERY.
Mr. Baxter resumed an inquiry on Monday, at the Vestry Hall, High-street, Shadwell, into the circumstances attending the death of Florence Annie Hancock, aged 26, lately residing in Pulross-street, Brixton, whose body was found in the Thames, off Wapping, on the 9th inst. George Hancock, a carpenter, on a photograph of the deceased being handed to him, identified it as that of his wife, who left him two years ago. He had not seen her since she left him. Alice Land stated that she was a servant in the employ of the deceased. On Oct. 22 deceased left the house, saying she was going to meet a friend at Liverpool-street. She never returned. The friend referred to used to call at the house once a week, generally on the Wednesday evening. He called last on the Thursday before deceased was missing, and again last Monday. Witness did not become alarmed when her mistress did not return, as she thought she had perhaps gone away for a holiday. When Mr. Pain called last Monday he asked for "Florrie." When told that she was missing he said: "I shall be at Liverpool Station on Wednesday; meet me there and tell me all about it." Witness met him and told him that the deceased had been found drowned in the river. He seemed much upset. Beatrice Williams, a widow, said she identified the photographs as those of a friend of hers. On Monday, October 22, witness met her at Charing-cross, and had a drink with her in the Northumberland. They were there at twenty-five minutes to twelve, when witness left to catch the train. The deceased was then in the company of a strange gentleman. She had had a little drink, but knew what she was doing. She was a girl of a most lively disposition, and would not be likely to commit suicide. When witness left her she had a small gold chain, which was attached to her brooch round her neck. Early in the evening deceased had told witness that she had seen her friend, who allowed her 5 pounds a week, and that she had had a few words with him, but she said "I received my money just the same." Deceased had some money, and asked witness to go home with her, but she refused. The chain produced was not the one deceased had round her neck when witness left her. The gentleman deceased was with was a tall, fair man with heavy moustache. Mr. J. Pain deposed that he knew the deceased. He had not made her any allowance. He had known her for three years, and last saw her alive on the 22nd of October at Broad-street Station. There was no disagreement between them; in fact, witness told her he might see her on the Wednesday following. Deceased used to meet him at different times. It was incorrect to say that he allowed her 5 pound a week. The last time he saw her she was in her usual spirits. He had not complained of her conduct with other men, although he had seen her with one or two. He gave her no money on that occasion. On the 22nd she left him at 20 minutes past five o'clock, and he did not see her alive again. He had no reason to believe she would commit suicide. On the Wednesday following his parting with the deceased he left London for the Lake District, and afterwards went to the Isle of Man and Ireland, and only returned on the 7th inst. On one or two occasions the deceased had said she wished she were dead. Mr. M'Coy, divisional surgeon, who made a post-mortem examination of the body, said that there were no marks of external violence. The body had been in the water fully a fortnight, and perhaps more. The organs were generally healthy. She was not enceinte. The cause of death was asphyxia from drowning. Inspector Francis, of the Thames Police, stated that every inquiry had been made in the hope of discovering how the woman came into the water, but without result. No one saw her after Beatrice Williams left her on Monday, Oct. 22. The jury returned a verdict "That the deceased was found drowned, but how she came into the water there was not sufficient evidence to show."
Source: Hornsey and Middlesex Messenger, Friday November 23, 1888
A BRIXTON GIRL'S DEATH.
FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED.
A reporter writes this morning: - On Friday last, William Wood, a waterman, was in his boat off Wapping-stairs, when he noticed the body of a woman, dressed in superior clothing, floating down the river. He secured the body, and took it ashore. The police were then communicated with, and the body was removed to the mortuary. It was fully dressed, with the exception of the hat and boots, which were missing. Inquiries were at once set on foot by the police, and it was then found that the body was that of Frances Annie Hancock, who had been missing since the 21st of October. On that day she was seen walking along the Strand in company with a tall, fair gentleman, with a heavy moustache. She was wearing a gold necklace. That was the last time she was seen alive. When the body was recovered the necklace was missing. Deceased resided at Prusom-street, Brixton. At an inquiry held by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, on the body of the deceased, only evidence of identification was taken; and owing to the mysterious nature of the case, and the suggestion that the deceased woman might have met her death by foul means, the Coroner adjourned the inquiry in order that a post-mortem examination might be made, and to give the police an opportunity of full inquiry into the facts of the case. These (a Correspondent writes) will, it is stated, be of a startling and sensational character, owing to the relations formerly existing between the dead woman and some gentleman of distinction.
Source: The Echo, Tuesday November 13, 1888, Page 4