Thames Police: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders
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Wapping and the surrounding area was once again thrown into a state of panic and pressure for an early arrest at last forced the Home Secretary to appoint a Bow Street magistrate, Mr. Aaron Graham, to the enquiry.

Several more arrests were made in connection with the murders and on December 21st the arrest of a seaman by the name of John Williams passed almost unnoticed. He was interviewed by the Shadwell magistrates after information had been received from an unknown source. It would appear that he was seen as something of a dissolute character. Williams had been seen drinking with at least one other at Williamson's King's Arms tavern shortly before the murders. Williams was a man of medium height and slight build, his description in no way matched that given by John Turner who claimed to have seen a large man in a flushing coat of dark colour going through the property of one of the victims before he made his escape and raised the alarm. There was never any hard evidence against Williams, yet, it was decided following his arrest and interview that he should be remanded in custody to Cold Bath Fields prison in Clerkenwell until he could be interviewed again on a later date.

John Williams
John Williams

Williams's arrest was most certainly of interest to two other characters involved in the story, they being Cornelius Hart and William 'Long Billy' Ablass. Hart was a carpenter who had worked for the Marr's at their shop prior to their murder. He had claimed to have lost a chisel at the shop during the course of his work and had made several enquiries about its whereabouts to Marr. Marr had searched his shop but could find no trace of the missing chisel. When Harriott had visited the shop on the morning following the murder, he found the chisel placed in a prominent position and removed it as evidence. Hart was interviewed but always denied any particular dealings with Williams, although other witnesses proved a link between the two and certainly, following Williams' arrest, Hart was quick to send to the Pear Tree tavern to enquire as to whether Williams was being kept in custody. Ablass was a seaman who had sailed with Williams aboard the Roxburgh Castle. He was drinking in company with Williams at the Kings Arms on the night in question and he much better fitted the description given by Turner.

Continue to the next page (5) to learn more about the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.

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