Jane Clouson

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Jane Maria Clouson (1854–1871) was a murder victim who was given a memorial at Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, erected by public subscription following the contentious trial and acquittal of Edmund Walter Pook, a printer from Greenwich, who had been accused of her murder. The monument was paid for by public money and stands alone amongst the trees - a praying child sits on top of a pillar.

Below the figure is an inscription detailing the horrific events surrounding her brutal murder on April 25, 1871: "A motherless girl who was murdered in Kidbrooke Lane, Eltham aged 17 in 1871. Her last words were, "Oh, let me die".

Before she died she allegedly named Edmund Pook as her assailant. The bloodstained hammer was found lying nearby and it was this clue that led the Police to arrest 20-year-old Edmund Pook, the son of Jane’s employer. It was claimed that Edmund Pook and Jane Clouson had been having an affair lasting several months with the result that she had become pregnant; Edmund would not marry Jane because his brother had already angered his father by marrying beneath his station and Edmund had no intention of doing the same.

It was also alleged that the accused was seen running from the lane, and that the murder weapon found at the scene – a hammer – had been sold to him by a local shopkeeper some days earlier, that his trousers were covered in blood and mud, and that there were seven witnesses who swore to having seen Jane and Edmund together that evening. Following a ruling by the judge that all statements made by Jane before her death were hearsay and therefore inadmissible as evidence, the jury acquitted Pook, believing his story that he could not have been in Kidbrook Lane that night and feeling that there still remained a “reasonable doubt”. Public unrest followed. It was widely felt at the time that social class was what helped Pook get off.

For many years afterwards the ghost of Jane Clouson was allegedly seen in Kidbrook Lane, including several reported sightings by patrolling policemen. Appearing in a white dress, her face was said to be running with blood. Her cries for help were also repeatedly heard together with the last groans of her life as she lay dying and people avoided Kidbrook Lane after dark until finally the lane was built upon and Jane disappeared.

References[edit]

  • The Scottish Times: News and intelligence from Scotland, and around the globe. Vol. II–No. 38. Edinburgh, October 11, 1871. Price 3d.
  • Elliott O'Donnell. "Confessions of a Ghost Hunter", Butterworth, repr. Kessinger Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-7661-7932-X, pp. 241-242
  • Jack Smith-Hughes, "Unfair comment upon some Victorian murder trials", Cassell, 1951, pp. 1-71

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