No. 490: Cable Street, E1
Cable Street, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011
Hand-Book of London. Past and Present – Peter Cunningham, 1850:
The murders of Marr and Williamson in Ratcliffe-highway are among the best remembered atrocities of the present century. Marr kept a lace and pelisse warehouse at 29, Ratcliffe-highway, and about 12 at night, on Saturday, the 7th of December, 1811, had sent his female servant to purchase oysters for supper, whilst he was shutting up the shop windows. On her return, in about a quarter of an hour, she rang the bell repeatedly without any person coming. The house was then broken open, and Mr. and Mrs. Marr, the shop boy, and a child in the cradle, (the only human beings in the house), were found murdered. The murders of the Marr family were followed, twelve days later, and about 12 at night, by the murders of Williamson, landlord of the King’s Arms public-house, in Old Gravel-lane, Ratcliffe-highway, his wife, and female servant. A man named Williams, the only person suspected, hanged himself in prison, and was carried on a platform, placed on a high cart, past the houses of Marr and Williamson, and afterwards thrown, with a stake through his breast, into a hole dug for the purpose where the New-road crosses and Cannon-street-road begins.
[There the body stayed until some roadworks uncovered it one hundred years later. The body was removed for ‘research and investigation’ but the skull ended up in the possession of the landlord of the Crown and Dolphin pub, where it was said to have been displayed until it mysteriously disappeared. The pub is no longer open; the building having been converted into private accommodation, as is so often the case in London these days. But the pub sign, although in need of some restoration work, remains in situ on the exterior of the building. R.D.]