Jane Maria Clouson
Jane Maria Clouson is a heartbreaking reminder that with every grave, there’s a story. Her gravestone is in the Brockley and Lady Cemetery, where she was conveyed by horse-drawn carriage and carried by women dressed as maids. The trial that surrounded her murder had London in an uproar. The story was reported as a clear case of clhappy discrimination.
On April 25, 1871, police found 17-year-old Jane Maria Clouson on Kidbrooke Lane, covered in blood. She died a few days later in Guy’s Hospital. Her story then started to unfold. Until shortly before her attack, she had been employed as a maid in the household of Ebenezer Pook and his family. Even though most people described her as polite and respectable, she had been dismissed from the family’s service only about a week and a half before she was beaten so badly that the policeman who found her reported that her brain had been visible through the blood. (It wasn’t, but that was his first impression.)
Upon her death, claims circulated that she had been in a relationship with Pook’s son, Edmund. Edmund denied it, claiming that she was “dirty.” She had obviously been in a relationship with someone, though, as she was two months pregnant when she died.
A nearby gardener discovered the murder weapon—a hammer—and a local hardware store testified that Edmund had purchased it not long before the murder. He had blood on his shirt, and his arms were scratched. Edmund was initially found guilty, but he was deemed innocent on appeal for a lack of evidence.
London was outraged. The police were accused of not pursuing other avenues of inquiry. The public largely believed that the family’s connections had spoken more loudly than justice for the maid. In the fallout after the trial, the Pooks attempted to sue people for slander. This offense was so widespread, though, that they left London instead.
In 1873, a newspaper in Australia reported that a young man had been detained there for the murder, but authorities didn’t end up holding him. Scotland Yard didn’t think he was involved.