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Title: Science and the Criminal
Author: Mitchell, C. Ainsworth
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Science and the Criminal" ***

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"It is the work of a man of established reputation, who has devoted
himself for years to the subject, and whose aim it is to tell what
Hypnotism really is, what it can do, and to what conclusions it seems to








In the following pages I have endeavoured to give some account of the ways
in which scientific discovery has been utilised in the struggle between
society and the criminal.

I have tried to describe the principles upon which different kinds of
scientific evidence are based, and at the same time to bring human
interest into what would otherwise tend to be dry detail by giving an
outline of trials in which such evidence has been given. It is, perhaps,
hardly necessary to mention that in many of these illustrative trials the
accused persons were proved innocent of the charges brought against them,
and that although their cases were tried in the criminal courts the title
of the book in no way applies to them.

For the accounts of the older trials I have drawn freely upon Cobbett's
_State Trials_, Paris and Fonblanque's _Medical Jurisprudence_, and the
first edition of Taylor's _Medical Jurisprudence_, while I must also
acknowledge my indebtedness to the _Circumstantial Evidence_ of Mr.
Justice Wills and the recent excellent lectures on _Forensic Chemistry_,
by Mr. Jago.

In the later cases I have mainly relied upon contemporary accounts and
upon my own impressions of some of the trials at which I have been

My best thanks are due to all those who have given me valuable and
ungrudging assistance. In particular I would mention Major Richardson, who
has kindly given me a photograph of one of his trained bloodhounds and has
allowed me to quote the description of an actual man hunt with
bloodhounds, from his book, _War, Police, and Watch Dogs_; and
Mademoiselle Arlette Clary (and the _Daily Mirror_) who have supplied me
with a photograph of a Paris police dog.

I am further indebted to the late Sir Francis Galton and his publishers,
Messrs. Macmillan & Co., who gave me permission to reproduce illustrations
from his book on _Finger Prints_; and to Mr. Thorne Baker and the _Daily
Mirror_ for photographs illustrating the use of telegraphy in transmitting

The excellent drawings of the hairs of different animals were made by my
friend Mr. R. M. Prideaux, and are reproduced here by the kind permission
of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co.

Finally, I would thank the proprietors of _Knowledge_ and the Editor, Mr.
Wilfred Mark Webb, for the loan of various blocks and for permitting me to
make use of material from several articles of mine on handwriting, which
have appeared in that journal.

C. A. M.

  _White Cottage,
    Amersham Common,





    Conflict between the Law-maker and the Law-breaker--
    Illustrations of Deductive Reasoning in Criminal Cases--
    Scientific Evidence--Scientific Assistance for the
    Accused--Instances of Advantages of Conflict of Scientific
    Evidence--Scientific Partisanship                                    1



    Contrasts between Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth
    Centuries--Margaret Catchpole--Tawell--Crippen--Portraits
    and the Press--Charlesworth Case--Bloodhounds--Police
    Dogs--Circumstantial Detection                                      22



    McKeever's Experiment on Fallibility of Eye-witnesses--
    Gorse Hall Murder--Cases of Mistaken Identity--Gun-flash
    Recognition--Self-deception--Tichborne Case                         37



    Photography--Anthropometry--Finger-prints and their Uses            48



    Heredity--Emotional Influences--Effects of Disease on
    Handwriting                                                         70



    Illustrative Cases--Handwriting Experts                             85



    Use of Microscope--Erasures--Photographic Methods--
    Typewritten Matter--Examinations of Charred Fragments--
    Forgery of Bank Notes                                               93



    Elizabethan Ink--Milton's Bible--Age of Inks--Carbon
    Inks--Herculaneum MSS.--Forgery of Ancient Documents               105



    Trial of Brinkley--Trial of Robert Wood                            116


  SYMPATHETIC INKS                                                     130



    Trials--William Hale--The Perreaus--Caroline Rudd--Dr.
    Dodd--Whalley Will Case--Pilcher, etc.                             135



    Structure of Blood--Human Blood--Blood of Animals--Blood
    Crystals--Libellers of Sir E. Godfrey--Trial of Nation in
    1857--Physiological Tests--Precipitines--First Trial in
    France--Gorse Hall Trials--Human Hair--Hairs of Animals            154



    Murder of Sir T. Overbury--Mary Blandy--Katharine Nairn,
    etc.                                                               171



    Use of Poisons--Arsenic and Antimony--Chapman Case--
    Strychnine in Palmer Trial--Physiological Tests--Case of
    Freeman--Error from Quantitative Deductions--Poisonous Food
    Given to Animals--Mary Higgins--Negative Result of
    Physiological Tests--Hyoscyamus Poisons--Crippen Case--
    Experiment on Cats--Time Limit for Action of Arsenic--
    French Case                                                        190


  THE MAYBRICK CASE                                                    206



    National Loss from Adulteration--"Adulterated"
    Electricity--The Beer Conner--Conflict of Evidence--The
    Notice Dodge--Preservatives--Standards for Food--Court of
    Reference--Administration of the Law                               214

  INDEX                                                                239



  TRIAL OF CAROLINE RUDD                                    _Frontispiece_

  WAR PLAN SENT BY WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY                                  24

  PHOTO SENT BY TELEGRAPHY FROM PARIS                                   26

  PORTRAIT SENT BY "WIRELESS"                                           28

  MAJOR RICHARDSON'S MAN-TRACKER "PATHAN"                               30

  FRENCH POLICE DOG                                                     32

  PURKENJE'S STANDARD FINGER-PRINTS                                     64

  TYPES OF FINGER-PRINTS                                                66

  HEREDITY IN HANDWRITING                                               71

  INFLUENCE OF TRAINING ON HANDWRITING                                  74


  WRITERS' CRAMP                                                        78

  SPECIMEN OF AGRAPHIA                                                  78

  WRITING OF LENAU, BEFORE AND DURING INSANITY                          79


  MIRROR WRITING IN PARALYSIS                                           80

  HYPNOTIC HANDWRITING                                                  82

  GARIBALDI'S SIGNATURE                                                 83


  DISTINGUISH OLD FROM NEW INKS                                        102

  ELIZABETHAN DOMESTIC RECIPE FOR INK                                  107

  THE TINTOMETER                                                       109

  GOAT'S AND COW'S HAIR                                                162


  FIBRES OF CHINESE SILK                                               164

  RABBIT'S AND HORSE-HAIR                                              166

  WOOL FIBRES FROM DIFFERENT BREEDS OF SHEEP                           168

  COTTON AND FLAX FIBRES                                               170

  ANNE TURNER                                                          172

Science and the Criminal



    Conflict between the Law-maker and the Law-breaker--Illustrations of
    Deductive Reasoning in Criminal Cases--Scientific Evidence--Scientific
    Assistance for the Accused--Instances of Advantages of Conflict of
    Scientific Evidence--Scientific Partisanship.

In the constant state of warfare between the law-maker and the
law-breaker, which began when mankind first organised itself into
communities and has existed ever since, every new invention or practical
application of scientific discovery has supplied each side with new
weapons frequently of much greater precision.

The advantage thus conferred tends to be on the side of the law-maker but
not invariably so; for in spite of all the facilities of investigation now
available it is surprising how many crimes remain undetected, or how
frequently in suspicious cases it is impossible to discover the truth. The
law-breaker's primitive weapon of natural cunning has thus often proved
more than a match for all the weapons at the disposal, of his opponent.

There is much to be said, therefore, for the suggestion which has recently
been put forward on many sides that a department specially trained for
the work of criminal investigation should be created.

Under the present conditions the rank and file of the detective force,
recruited as it is from the best of the uniformed policemen, contains many
men of acute intellect and reasoning capacity, but it cannot be doubted
but that in many cases their efficiency would have been enormously
increased by a scientific training.

The present system somewhat recalls that under which doctors acquired
their knowledge of medicine in the early part of last century. Their
mistakes taught them what not to do, but in the meantime the patient
sometimes died.

Methods of scientific reasoning so as to draw deductions from observed
facts cannot be acquired by solitary night watches upon a "beat," nor does
the facility for breaking up a tangle in traffic which the constable
acquires as the outcome of his daily duties, necessarily render him more
capable of extricating from a mass of confused details the essential facts
upon which stress should be laid.

In some of the unsolved mysteries that have occurred during the last few
years the presence of a highly trained intellect at the first hour of the
investigation might conceivably have led to the detection of the criminal.
As a rule, it is only after the first examination is over and the case
appears likely to be a difficult one, that the best brains of the
department are brought to bear upon the facts, and it may then be too late
for effective action.

It should be made possible for a man who possesses a facility for this
type of work to join the criminal investigation department without having
to go through the routine work of a police constable, which will probably
add nothing to his powers of following up a clue; but, on the other hand,
this period of probation should be occupied by practical training in
scientific methods of working.

The present conditions both of payment and of status are not of the kind
that will attract the highest type of brain to the work of criminal
investigation, and yet there is no reason why it should not be made to
offer the advantages of other branches of professional work.

An apt illustration of the use of acute observation and deduction in
solving a mystery is afforded by the strange story of a shooting accident,
that, according to a writer in one of the leading morning papers, took
place many years ago.

A country gentleman was found lying dead upon a sofa, with the whole of
the charge of a sporting gun in his body. The discharged gun was hanging
in its usual place upon the wall, and there were no indications of any
struggle having taken place. All the circumstances apparently pointed to
the man having been murdered in his sleep, for it was impossible for him
to have shot himself and have then replaced the gun upon the wall, and
strong suspicion fell upon one of the servants in the house.

This man was arrested, and would probably have been convicted had it not
been for the detective noticing that the dead man's watch, which had been
smashed by some of the shot, had been stopped early in the afternoon, and
that at exactly the same moment the sun was focussed through a bottle of
water that was standing upon the table in such a way that the ray fell
upon the nipple of the gun upon the wall.

Accordingly he loaded the gun again, hung it in the same spot, and placed
a dummy figure upon the sofa, and as soon as the sun's rays passed through
this unintended burning-glass and were focussed upon the gun, an explosion
occurred and the contents were discharged into the figure.

The writer has been unable to trace the date of this occurrence, but even
if it is not founded upon fact it is not impossible, for there are
undoubtedly cases where papers have been set on fire by the rays of the
sun being concentrated upon them, through a bottle of water.

An instance of the way in which one small fact may give conclusive proof
that a crime has been committed is afforded by the trial of Swan and
Jefferies in the early part of last century.

The prisoners, who were indoor servants, had committed a murder and then
raised an alarm with the object of throwing the suspicion upon burglars,
who they alleged had broken into the house. But an examination of the
grass outside the house showed that although dew had fallen heavily
through the night there were no indications of its having been disturbed
by footsteps. This piece of circumstantial evidence led to their arrest,
and they were subsequently convicted and executed.

Equally convincing were the clues that led to the arrest of Courvoisier in
1840, for the murder of Lord William Russell, who was then seventy-five
years of age.

The prisoner had only been in the service of the murdered man for a short
time. He stated that on the night before the murder he had left his master
reading in bed, as was his frequent custom, and a fact in support of this
was that the candle had burned down to the socket.

Early in the morning the housemaid found the silver plate scattered about
the room, and various articles of value tied up in bundles, as though
burglars had broken into the house and had been interrupted in their work.

She called Courvoisier, and he appeared almost immediately, fully dressed,
and going into the room of Lord William Russell found him with his throat

On a door were marks which indicated that it had been broken in by the
supposed burglars, but closer examination showed that the damage had been
done from the inside. In addition to this, any burglars entering the house
through this door must have passed over a wall, and this was found to be
thickly coated with dust which had not been disturbed.

For a long time no trace of the missing valuables were discovered, but
finally after a thorough search of the premises, some of the money was
found hidden behind the skirting in the pantry of the accused, while later
on the stolen plate was discovered in the keeping of a man with whom
Courvoisier had formerly lived.

Mainly on the circumstantial evidence of these facts the prisoner was
convicted; afterwards he made a full confession of the crime.

Clever deductive reasoning was also shown in the following case, in which
the author of a shooting outrage that occurred in 1831 at Ayr was
discovered in a singular manner. Someone had maliciously fired a gun into
a church, and had hoped to escape detection. It was noticed, however, that
some of the bullets, after having passed through the windows, had left a
mark upon the wall opposite. By drawing a straight line between these
marks and the holes in the windows, and extending the line outside the
church, the other end was found in a window on the other side of the
street. Subsequently other proof was obtained that the gun had been fired
from this window.

Numerous cases might also be quoted where the trained observation of a
doctor has called attention to some slight point which would otherwise
have been overlooked, but which has furnished the clue to the detection of
a crime.

In the year 1806 a man named Blight was shot with a pistol at Deptford by
someone unknown, and died from the wound. Sir Astley Cooper, who was
called in to attend to the victim, carefully noted the relationship of the
body to other objects in the room, and from the position of the wound
concluded that the shot had been fired by a left-handed person. This
inference drew suspicion upon a gentleman named Patch who was the only
left-handed person who had been seen with Mr. Blight. He was a close
personal friend of the latter, and no one had dreamed of suspecting him of
the crime. The results of further inquiries proved that this man had
fired the shot, and after his conviction he confessed that he had been
guilty of the murder.

The fact that a weapon is tightly held in the hand of a person who has
been shot is strong presumptive evidence that it is a case of suicide,
since it is improbable that the hand of a dead man could subsequently be
made to grasp a pistol.

There is a remarkable case on record, however, in which the fact that a
pistol was found clenched in the hand of a dead man was at first regarded
as evidence of a murder. A son of the deceased, who had slept in the same
room was accused of having killed him and of then placing the discharged
pistol in his hand to give the suggestion of suicide. Experiments were
made in which the hand holding the pistol was lifted into the position in
which it must have been held if it had been a case of suicide, and in each
instance the hand, when allowed to fall, did not retain the pistol. For
the defence medical evidence was given that the spasmodic contraction of
the muscles after death would account for the pistol being still clenched
in the hand, while the inability of the hand to grasp it afterwards did
not prove anything. Evidence as to the presence of a motive was given, but
the scientific evidence was regarded as decisive and the prisoner was

The question whether a person who has apparently committed suicide could
possibly have made use of the degree of force to which circumstances
pointed has frequently arisen.

The most notable instance of the kind was in reference to the Earl of
Essex who was found dead in the Tower in July, 1683, his throat having
been cut. A razor was lying by his side with its blade notched, and public
opinion was strongly divided as to whether he had committed suicide or had
been murdered. The medical men who supported the former view explained the
notches upon the razor blade as the result of its having been drawn
backwards and forwards across the neck bone, although for a suicide to
have done this would have been an impossibility.

Occasions have arisen where a chemical expert has been asked to state
whether a gun or pistol found lying near a body has or has not been
recently discharged.

Even in the case of firearms that had been loaded with black powder no
very definite answer can usually be given to this question. Taylor
suggested that the presence of potassium sulphide (formed from the powder)
adhering to the barrel would indicate that the gun had recently been
fired, whereas after a short time this sulphide would become oxidised, and
no longer give the reactions of a sulphide. After a longer time traces of
iron oxide formed from the iron of the barrel might be expected.

It would not be safe to lay stress upon conclusions based upon such data
as these, and at best they could only afford corroborative evidence.

An amusing instance within the present writer's experience affords another
example of the way in which a trifling point being overlooked may be
strong presumptive evidence of attempted fraud. A family of the name of,
say, Abendessig, effected an insurance against burglary with a company
which may be described as the Safeguard Assurance Co.

It was not long before they were the unhappy victims of a burglary in
which Miss Abendessig lost several valuable pieces of jewellery including
a watch, a diamond ring, and several brooches.

In proof of her claim she produced receipts from the jeweller from whom
she stated she had bought these articles, the total value of which was
given at £150.

There were three receipts in all, dated at intervals of two or three
months, the first being made out to Miss Abendessig and the last to Mrs.
Lab, she having been married in the interval, and the second to her
father, Simeon Abendessig.

The Safeguard Assurance Co. had a suspicion that the jeweller, who had an
address but no shop, was in league with the Abendessigs, and that the
first and third receipts had been written at the same time.

The present writer was therefore asked to examine these documents to see
whether any evidence of the date of writing could be obtained.

They were both written in blue ink upon common billheads, but the fact
that the ink and paper were of the same kind was no proof that they were
not genuine receipts.

When, however, the receipt stamps were examined under the microscope it
was obvious that the right-hand side of one stamp corresponded with the
left-hand side of the other stamp. That is to say, the little projections
of paper left when two stamps are torn apart across the perforation
exactly coincided in every instance, a long projection on one being
matched by a short projection on the other, and so on.

The exact coincidence of seventeen points could not have been the result
of chance, and the stamps on the two receipts must therefore originally
have been attached to one another in the sheet.

The further inference was that the jeweller must either have torn them
apart and put one on the earlier receipt and the other on the later one at
the same time, or he must have had the second stamp put aside for three
months and then affixed it to the later receipt.

A much more obvious slip than this was made some years ago in a bogus
claim upon a fire insurance company, the story of which is related in Lord
Brampton's "Reminiscences." The fire broke out on the premises of a firm
of tailors, and it was claimed by them that the whole of their stock,
including many hundred pairs of trousers, had been destroyed.

The insurance company, after examining the burnt-out building, instructed
a number of their agents to sift carefully the whole of the ashes.

At the hearing of the case the counsel for the company remarked that it
was strange that in a fire in which so many pairs of trousers had been
burned the metal buttons upon them should not have been found.

On the next day the tailors appeared with a whole bucketful of buttons,
but their production was too late to be convincing, for the ashes had been
thoroughly sifted before the claimants attempted to make good their
oversight, and only a very few trouser buttons had been discovered.

On the other hand, the danger of jumping to a sudden conclusion from
circumstances has been frequently demonstrated. Thus, a very extraordinary
case in which some facts that clearly pointed to the guilt of a prisoner
were found to have misled many witnesses, was tried in 1813 at the assizes
at Bury St. Edmunds. A farmer who owned upwards of 1,200 acres was accused
of burglary, and as evidence against him it was positively stated that
certain articles in his possession had been stolen from the house. The
witnesses swore that they had identified some sheets by stains upon them
and a cask by the fact of its being marked with the letters P.C. 84 in a
circle. For the defence, witnesses stated that the prisoner was in
possession of sheets stained in exactly the same way, and that the cask
was one of those in which he had received cranberries from Norwich, all of
which casks were marked in the same manner. The prisoner was acquitted.

Scientific testimony is another form of the so-called "circumstantial
evidence," and as such is sometimes looked upon with suspicion. Yet in how
few cases is it possible to produce the man who can say, "I saw the deed
done," and even in such cases, what errors of identification may occur! In
far the greater number of crimes the proof must depend to a large extent
upon the evidence of circumstances. But these must be so convincing that
it is impossible in reason to draw any other conclusion from them. In this
country it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt, and unless
that is done in such a way as to leave no shadow of doubt in the minds of
the jury, a prisoner is entitled to be acquitted.

There must be no speculation upon a man's guilt. A man is regarded as
innocent so long as it is impossible to connect to him the last link in a
long chain of circumstantial evidence.

In the brief accounts of various celebrated trials in the following pages
an attempt has been made to give an outline of the scientific
circumstantial evidence that has led to the conviction or acquittal of the
prisoners. In some of these trials proof of guilt has been overwhelming,
although the testimony of an eye-witness has been lacking, but in others
the Scotch verdict of "Not proven" (a curious equivalent of which,
however, was once given in the trial of Mrs. Rudd) would be a more fitting
deduction from the evidence, than the alternative of "Guilty" or "Not
guilty," which is all that is allowed by the English law.

A good illustration of the value of scientific proof was seen, in 1884, at
the trial of a woman named Gibbons on the charge of having shot her

For the defence it was urged that the man had committed suicide. There
were four bullet wounds from a revolver in the body, and the medical
evidence went to prove that although any one of the wounds might have been
inflicted by the man himself, it was extremely improbable that all of them
had been. Moreover, some of them were in such a position that they could
only have been self-inflicted if the revolver had been held in the left
hand, whereas witnesses testified that the deceased was not left-handed.
The prisoner was found guilty.

Attempts have frequently been made by defending counsel to obtain
permission for a scientific man to be present on behalf of a prisoner at
any examination made before a trial, but all such requests are invariably

It is quite a common occurrence, however, for the evidence given by
scientific witnesses for the prosecution to be controverted by scientific
witnesses for the defence, and the most recent instance of the kind at the
trial of Crippen will be fresh in the memory of everyone. Where there is
any possibility of doubt it should be possible for every prisoner to
obtain scientific assistance.

An accused person who lacks the means to procure legal assistance in his
defence has assigned to him by the Court a barrister who will represent
his interests and see that they do not suffer from ignorance of legal

This principle might well be extended so as to cover the ground of
scientific evidence. Under the present conditions the prosecution has
unlimited facilities for applying every description of test, but it has
not always been easy for the representatives of the accused person to
obtain scientific help in criticising the nature of this evidence.

Scientific evidence should be, and usually is, quite impartial, but the
everyday conflict of honest opinion in civil actions illustrates the
possibility of mistakes occurring or of certain points that would tell in
favour of the accused being overlooked.

For instance, suppose a stain on the clothes of a person accused of murder
were examined by a chemist for the prosecution and found to consist of
blood. The fact would tell against the accused, even though the witness
(as in a recent case) could express no opinion whether it was human blood,
or the blood of an animal. Assuming in this hypothetical trial that the
blood stain was really due to rabbit's blood, another chemist representing
the prisoner might be acquainted with the comparatively recent
physiological methods of distinguishing between the blood of different
animals, and thus be able to prove the real nature of the blood stain and
break one of the links in the chain of evidence.

In most of the important criminal trials the scientific evidence is given
by more than one witness, and the possibility of mistake is thus greatly
reduced, but this is not invariably the rule.

Scientific criticism derived from a first-hand examination of the material
would be of much more value than the criticism of the statement of the
results, and might have considerable weight upon the conclusions of the

A defending counsel cross-examining a scientific witness is usually
dealing with an unfamiliar subject, and lacks the specialised knowledge
that would enable him to point out the weak points in the evidence.

When a wealthy person is on trial, however, the counsel has the advantage
of getting the best expert advice upon the scientific matters put forward
in evidence, and is thus able to lay stress on all that will help his
client, but a poor prisoner lacks this advantage, and therefore runs a
greater chance of being convicted.

An early trial in which the prisoner owed his acquittal to a conflict of
scientific evidence was that of Spencer Cowper, the grandfather of
Cowper, the poet, who was tried at the Hertford Assizes in 1699 for the
murder of a young gentlewoman named Sarah Stout.

With Cowper were also tried several of his friends, whose remarks having
been overheard had suggested that they were aware of what had happened to
the girl.

Cowper, who was a barrister, defended himself and incidentally his
companions. The story told by the prosecution was that at the previous
Assizes the prisoner had stayed for a night at the house of Mrs. Stout,
the mother of Sarah Stout. The servant-maid stated that she had been told
to prepare Mr. Cowper's bed, and that when she came downstairs again, it
then being about eleven o'clock in the evening, he had gone out,
presumably with Sarah Stout, who was never again seen alive. The next day
her dead body was found floating upon the river.

The condition of the body was, it was asserted, conclusive proof that she
had been strangled and then thrown into the water; for, to quote the words
of the counsel for the prosecution, "when her body came to be viewed it
was very much wondered at; for in the first place it is contrary to nature
that any persons that drown themselves should float upon the water. We
have sufficient evidence that it is a thing that never was; if persons
come alive into the water, then they sink; if dead, then they swim. At
first it was thought that such an accident might happen though they could
not imagine any cause for this woman to do so, who had so great
prosperity, had so good an estate, and had no occasion to do an action
upon herself so wicked and so barbarous. Upon view of the body, it did
appear there had been violence used to the woman; there was a crease round
her neck, she was bruised about her ear; so that it did seem as if she had
been strangled either by hands or a rope."

The evidence brought forward to support the theory that Sarah Stout had
been killed, before being thrown into the water, included that of several
local doctors who had examined the body, and also that of several London
doctors who were called in as expert witnesses.

These all gave as their opinion that the body of a person who had been
drowned must contain water in the thorax, and that since no water was
present in the body, death must have been caused in some other way. Two
seamen of the Royal Navy were also put into the box, and both were
emphatic in their opinion that the body of a person who had been drowned
would sink, while a dead body thrown into the water would float.

Spencer Cowper, who, as has been stated, conducted his own defence,
cross-examined the medical witnesses and made them admit that they had no
knowledge of the way in which the body of a person who had drowned himself
would behave.

He entered a strong protest against the body having been examined after
the coroner's inquest (at which a verdict of suicide while of unsound mind
had been found) by medical men acting in the interests of the relations of
the dead woman, with the intention of becoming prosecutors. "If," said he,
"they intended to have prosecuted me or any other gentleman upon this
evidence, they ought to have given us notice, that we might have had some
surgeons among them to superintend their proceeding. My Lord, with
submission, this ought not to be given in evidence." The judge overruled
this objection, saying that supposing an ill thing had been done in taking
up the body without some order, that was no reason why the evidence should
not be heard.

In further cross-examination Mr. Cowper succeeded in throwing doubt upon
the statements of witnesses, who alleged that they had seen marks of
strangling, and produced witnesses to prove that any marks upon the body
had been the result of contact with stakes in the bed of the river. Then
he brought forward his own expert medical evidence, which was given by ten
of the leading doctors of the day, including Sir Hans Sloane and the
celebrated surgeon William Cowper. These held a different view from that
of the doctors called for the prosecution, and gave their reasons for
concluding that the appearance of the body was quite consistent with death
by drowning.

Some described experiments they had made upon animals, which proved that
when killed and thrown into the water the body sank at first and then rose
to the surface, and also that drowning could take place without much water
being swallowed.

As proof of the dead woman having been of a melancholy disposition and not
of sound mind, letters of hers were read to the jury, but these her mother
and brother would not admit were in her handwriting, since, they asserted,
it did not suit her character. (See p. 85.)

The judge, Sir Henry Hatsell, in summing up confessed that he was very
much puzzled, and that he perceived that "doctors do differ in their
notions about these things."

The conclusion of his remarks is worthy of quotation: "I am sensible I
have omitted many things; but I am a little faint, and cannot remember any
more of the evidence."

It is not surprising that, soon after Queen Anne came to the throne, he
was removed from the bench.

The jury believed the medical witnesses for the defence, and after a short
discussion found Spencer Cowper and the other prisoners "Not guilty."

To come to more modern times, the advantage of a conflict of scientific
opinion to the accused was seen in the celebrated Maybrick poisoning case.
At the trial evidence was given by Professor Tidy to the effect that the
symptoms and appearances were not those of arsenical poisoning and that
the amounts of arsenic found in the body were not greater than those
present in cases where arsenical medicines had been taken months before
death, and where there was no suspicion of poisoning. Although the
prisoner was convicted and sentenced to death, there can be little doubt
but that this evidence had an important influence in determining the
subsequent alteration of the sentence to penal servitude.

There is no necessity for such scientific assistance given to the defence
to degenerate into partisanship, such as was shown at the trial of Palmer
for poisoning in 1856. That case was characterised by many remarkable
features, the suspected person, for instance, being allowed access to the
bottle in which had been placed the material taken from the body for
analysis, and also being given the opportunity of attempting to destroy

Prior to the trial, Taylor, the chemist who was to give evidence as to the
presence of poison in the body, communicated with the papers, while
Herapath, one of the witnesses called for the defence, publicly accused
Taylor of incompetence.

So acrid were the statements of the scientific witnesses for the defence
at the trial that the judge commented in vigorous terms upon their
evidence as having been given with the object of obtaining an acquittal at
all costs. "It is indispensable," he said, "to the administration of
justice that a witness should not be turned into an advocate, nor an
advocate into a witness."

In another poisoning trial which took place three years later, the
chemical evidence brought forward by the defence resulted in the prisoner
being set free, after having been sentenced to death. In this case a
doctor named Smethurst was accused of poisoning a young woman named
Isabella Banks.

Dr. Taylor, who was the chief chemical witness called for the prosecution,
had found arsenic in material from the body, although he could not detect
any remaining in the tissues. On the other hand, Dr. B. W. Richardson, who
was called as a witness for the defence, stated that arsenic was a
cumulative poison, and that if it had been given for a long period, as
alleged, traces must inevitably have been present. Hence in his opinion
the absence of arsenic in the tissues was conclusive proof that death was
not the result of slow arsenical poisoning.

The medical evidence called by the defence, also left room for some doubt
as to whether death might not have been the result of dysentery, the
symptoms and appearance, it was alleged, being as consistent with that
cause as with arsenical poisoning.

The scientific witnesses for the defence did not succeed in convincing the
jury, but after sentence of death had been passed the judge forwarded the
papers to the Home Secretary, and advised that the opinion of an
independent scientific authority should be taken. Accordingly the whole of
the chemical and medical evidence was studied by Sir B. Brodie, whose
report was that there were six reasons which led to the conclusion that
Smethurst was guilty, and eight reasons which pointed in the opposite
direction; and that, therefore, the impression left upon his mind, was
that the proof of Smethurst's guilt was not absolutely convincing.

The Home Secretary, on receiving this statement of opinion from his
scientific referee, immediately granted a free pardon. In this case, but
for the conflict of scientific opinion upon the medical and chemical
evidence the prisoner would have been hanged.

Instances such as these might be largely multiplied, but the above are
sufficient to show that a scientific defence may succeed in breaking down
the scientific evidence brought by the prosecution in criminal cases; or,
failing that, may (as in the Maybrick case) help to bring about a
commutation of the sentence.

There is thus abundant justification for the plea that the poor prisoner
should have the same advantages as regards scientific assistance as he now
possesses in legal matters, and thus be placed on an equality with a
wealthy prisoner.

It ought not to be a difficult matter to draw up a list of men of
recognised standing in chemistry and medicine, who would be willing to
serve in this capacity when selected by the judge in a trial.



    Contrasts between Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth
    Centuries--Margaret Catchpole--Tawell--Crippen--Portraits and the
    Press--Charlesworth Case--Bloodhounds--Police Dogs--Circumstantial

In the days of the stage-coach a fugitive had a better chance of escaping
than in the present age of steam power on land and sea. For then, slow as
were the ways of escape, the ways of advertising the crime were slower
still, and once on board a ship a runaway was comparatively safe from

The story of Margaret Catchpole, which has now become almost classic, may
be cited as a good illustration of the way in which the pursuers were
handicapped, when the fugitive had had a few hours' start.

It was in 1797 that Margaret Catchpole, a servant-maid at Ipswich, stole a
horse from the stable of her master, in order to join her lover, and
disguised as a lad rode all the way to London in eight and a half hours,
with only a single stop at Marks Tey, in Essex.

A few hours later the horse was missed, and handbills describing it and
offering a reward for the capture of the thief were hurriedly printed and
sent out of Ipswich by every vehicle that left the town.

Two men were also despatched in pursuit along the London road, but being
falsely directed were about to turn off in the direction of Maldon, when
they chanced to meet a man who had seen Margaret riding to London. But
for this chance meeting Margaret would probably have escaped capture.

As it was, the pursuers reached London the following day and Margaret was
arrested just as she had concluded a sale of the horse with a dealer.

She was tried at the Bury Assizes and sentenced to death, but through the
influence of her former master the sentence was commuted to a term of

Three years later her lover, Laud, who was a smuggler, assisted her to
escape from Ipswich gaol, and again handbills for her arrest were issued.
She was captured on the beach while in the act of embarking in Laud's
boat, and Laud himself was killed in the fight. For the second time she
was sentenced to death, and was once more reprieved, her sentence now
being transportation to Botany Bay. There she married, and died many years

The introduction of the railway did not materially change the relative
position of pursuer and pursued; for although the fugitive could travel
more rapidly than before, and thus when chance favoured him could get to
the coast and on board a ship about to sail, he had against him the more
speedy notification of the crime in all directions, which was also
rendered possible by the railway.

It was not until a means of communication infinitely more rapid than the
steam engine had been discovered, that the balance turned decisively
against the man endeavouring to elude the grasp of the law.

It is strange to reflect that it was not until it had been employed in the
capture of a criminal that it was recognised in how many directions the
electric telegraph might be of service to mankind.

Prior to that time the invention had been little better than a failure
from a commercial point of view, for, although the railway companies had
some time before this realised the advantages of the new system of
communication, the Government had refused to have anything to say to it.

It was thus little short of a revelation to the public when, in 1845, the
news was made known that a suspected murderer had been arrested through
the agency of the telegraph.

A woman had been brutally murdered not far from Slough, and a neighbour,
who had heard her screams, rushed to the spot with a lighted candle in her
hand just in time to see a man in Quaker garb hurrying away.

This man, John Tawell by name, a former member of the Society of Friends,
succeeded in escaping unchallenged to the station and in catching a train
to London, and had it been two years earlier would probably have managed
to get out of England; for news still travelled slowly in those times, and
the train service to London was very infrequent.

But the police bethought them of the telegraph, which had not long been
established on the Great Western Railway, and a description of the wanted
man was sent over the wires to London. Although Tawell had had a good
start, the message arrived long before him, and detectives were awaiting
the arrival of the train at Paddington. He was followed from the station
to the Bank, and from there to an eating-house, where he had a meal,
and finally to a lodging-house in Cannon Street, where he meant to pass
the night. Here, much to his amazement, he was quietly arrested. His trial
followed in due course, and he was convicted and executed.


_By kind permission of Mr. Thorne-Baker and "The Daily Mirror"_]

There were several points of scientific interest in his trial, which are
described on another page.

Last year, sixty-five years after the sensational capture of Tawell, the
attention of the whole world was rivetted upon an Atlantic steamer on its
way from Antwerp to Canada.

It had on board a man and a woman, who disguised as a Quebec merchant and
his son, were expecting to reach Canada without detection. For a week
previously search had been made for them in every corner of Europe, and
once on board a ship sailing from a foreign port they might reasonably
have anticipated that they were safe.

But their portraits had been so widely circulated by the newspapers that
their faces were familiar wherever English papers were read, and the ship
was only a few miles on its journey when their disguise was penetrated by
the captain.

The vessel was fitted with a wireless installation, and now for the first
time since its invention wireless telegraphy played the leading part in
the capture of fugitives from the land.

The police in London were thus immediately acquainted with the whereabouts
of the wanted pair, and an officer was sent off by a swifter steamer to
greet them on their reaching Canada. Day by day, with almost feverish
excitement, the progress of the _Montrose_ across the ocean was followed,
and the chief topic of public interest was the race between the police
officer on one steamer and the fugitives upon the other.

The inspector won easily, and was ready waiting to arrest Crippen and his
companion at the first approach of the _Montrose_ to the Canadian shore.

The trial that followed had many features of scientific interest to which
reference is made in another place.

The recent advances in the methods of telegraphing a facsimile of a
specimen of handwriting or a sketch, or of reproducing a photograph at a
distance have greatly increased the difficulties of criminals escaping
detection, and the telectrograph, as it is termed, will prove a powerful
weapon in the hands of the detective.

The selenium machines of Professor Korn were employed by the _Daily
Mirror_ in transmitting the portraits of the chief actors in the Steinheil
case, and one of these photographs, which was received in London while the
Court was still sitting in Paris, is shown in the accompanying picture.

A still more practical telectrograph is that invented by Mr. Thorne Baker,
which weighs only about twenty-four pounds. This has been simplified to
such an extent that the photograph may be printed upon a flexible plate
with a backing of lead foil, and by attaching this to the transmitting
cylinder the thousands of minute points which go to make up the image will
be exactly reproduced upon a receiving cylinder at the other end of a
telephone wire.

The instrument may also be used with wireless installations for the
transmission of simple pictures or diagrams, and by its means it would be
easy for a ship at sea to send or receive portraits of an individual under


_By kind permission of "The Daily Mirror"_]

The accompanying illustrations, which are reproduced here by the
permission of Mr. Thorne Baker and the _Daily Mirror_, show a portrait of
King Edward VII and an outline war map which were thus transmitted by
"wireless" telegraphy.

Mr. Thorne Baker states that the use of his instrument renders "tapping"
impossible, since by merely making a slight alteration in the speed of
running the machines, in accordance with a signal arranged beforehand, the
pictures would be so distorted as to be unrecognisable.

As an early instance of the use made by the police of a portrait in
identifying a suspected individual the case of Arden, who was executed for
murder at the beginning of last century, may be mentioned.

Arden had given a drawing of himself to a youth, and this was handed to
the police who were thus able to identify the accused in London a month

The general use of photography in the press has frequently come to the aid
of the police, and instances of photographs of a wanted individual being
employed for this purpose will occur to everyone. At any police station
may now be seen reproductions of photographs of missing individuals, and
these being circulated all over the world, reduce to a small compass the
limits within which a suspect may go without detection.

Reference may be made to two recent cases by way of illustration. A nurse
had kidnapped a child and all traces of her whereabouts were lost for some
days. Her portrait was published in all the leading papers, and being seen
by the proprietor of an hotel in the Midlands was recognised as that of
one of his guests.

Acting on this information a police inspector suddenly accosted the
suspected woman and addressed her in her real name, and she, taken off her
guard, answered his remarks naturally, and was at once arrested.

In January of 1908, Miss Violet Charlesworth succeeded in filling pages of
every English paper by suddenly vanishing from her creditors, under
circumstances intended to suggest that she had been killed. She arranged a
motor-car "accident" upon the cliffs at Penmaenbach, and ostensibly was
flung through the glass screen of the car into the sea.

As no trace of the body could be found it was soon suspected that there
had been no accident, and that before long the victim would come to life
again. Her portraits were published in hundreds of papers, and were posted
at police stations all over the United Kingdom, and amateur detectives by
the score endeavoured to discover her whereabouts.

She was recognised from the portraits in half a dozen parts of the country
at the same time, but it was not until a fortnight later that she was
positively identified at Oban.

The anti-climax of the farce was reached, when, a few days later, she paid
a visit to the London office of her solicitor, and was attended from the
station by a string of motor-cars each containing the special
representative of a London paper.


_By kind permission of Mr. Thorne-Baker and "The Daily Mirror"_]

Two years later she was found guilty of having defrauded a poor landlady
of a large sum of money at the time when everyone had accepted her great
"expectations" at her own valuation.

There have been frequent failures in the use of bloodhounds to detect a
criminal, but this must be attributed, in part at all events, to the
circumstance that the dogs have often not been employed until every other
means has failed.

In the Luard case, for instance, in 1908, bloodhounds were set upon the
track of the supposed assailant of the murdered woman, but the trial was
not made immediately after the discovery of the crime. The scent had
become faint, and it was therefore not surprising that the dogs, after
starting hotly upon the trail, soon lost it again.

The writer is indebted to Major Richardson for the accompanying photograph
of his trained bloodhound, "Pathan," and for his kind permission to quote
the graphic description of actual man hunts from his fascinating book upon
the subject.[1]

    [1] _War, Police, and Watch Dogs_, by Major E. Richardson (Blackwood
    and Sons).

"On one occasion, when searching for the body of a woman, I used two
collies and a bloodhound. It was summer, and the police, after patrolling
the entire countryside, had narrowed the search down to a mountain covered
with a dense wood and undergrowth of rhododendron bushes. It happened in
mid-summer, and the day was very hot. The collies worked industriously
for almost two hours, keeping well ahead, but after that time they began
to flag, and soon refused to leave my heel. The bloodhound, on the
contrary, continued persistently to search ahead of me all through the
hottest part of the day, until the woman's body was found on the top of
the mountain.

"As further illustrating the persistency of the bloodhound when on the
trail, I may mention the case of a murder to which I was called in to
assist the police in Scotland. As I and my hounds were in England at the
time, it was seventeen hours after the murder when we reached the scene.
Not only this, but severe frost had intervened during the night, rendering
the ground very unfavourable for scenting purposes. The murder had taken
place in a town, but evidences were found that the criminal had been at a
certain spot outside the town on the cliffs where he had discarded certain

"I took my hounds to this spot and laid them on the trail, first giving
them the scent from the discarded articles. They went clear away for some
distance, and leaving the main road crossed some fields through a wood to
a cottage. Here they seemed to be at fault, and ran about whimpering. On
inquiry at the cottage it appeared that a man had shortly after the murder
called there for some water.

"Feeling the hounds were right so far I cast them round about in hopes of
their picking up the trail again. After working persistently for a little
time one of them, 'Solferino,' opened to a line beyond the wood, and went
off at a steady rate followed by the other hound, 'Waterloo,' who also
found the line himself. They held to this for a while until checked by a
main road.


_By kind permission of Major Richardson_]

"The murderer had evidently walked along the road some distance, until,
perhaps, scared by a pedestrian or vehicle, and he then evidently took to
the fields again.

"Although checked by the road, where the trail became obliterated, the
hounds, nothing daunted, kept steadily onwards, casting all the time on
each side, until they found it again in the fields. By steadily working in
this manner they led us for four miles, partly across country, and partly
on the road, to a populous town, and to the vicinity of a railway station.
Here the trail was completely obliterated, and it was evident that by this
time the murderer had got clear away, probably by train, and was not
hiding in the neighbourhood.

"The chief constable testified to the excellent work of the hounds on this
occasion, and there is not the slightest doubt, that had this town been
supplied with a bloodhound which could have been put on the trail
immediately on the discovery of the murder, the murderer would have been
quite easily run to earth."

In Moscow a bloodhound is systematically used by the police to discover
stolen property, and some of his "finds" have been recorded in all the
European papers. In the early part of March of last year this police dog,
"Tref," recovered a number of bank-notes and a quantity of silver plate
that had been taken from the house of a Moscow gentleman.

"Tref," having been put upon the scent, followed the trail through
several streets until he came to a night-shelter. Here he made for a coat
that belonged to a house-painter, and in the pockets of this were found
the missing notes. He then left the shelter and followed the trail to the
shop of a dealer in old silver, and here the stolen plate was discovered.

In addition to their occasional use as detectives, dogs are now being
systematically employed as scouts to accompany the police on their rounds
and to aid in the capture of evil-doers.

The Paris dogs, which are specially trained for the police by Mademoiselle
Arlette Clary, are cross-bred hounds described as "wolf-shepherd hounds,"
and "brindled mastiff bulls." They are powerful beasts weighing upwards of
twelve stone, and can easily overthrow and master a man.

When attacking, they at once make for the right arm, so as to guard
against a pistol bullet, and they are also trained to refuse food except
from the hands of those they know, so as to safeguard them against
poisoning. As a proof of their efficiency, Mademoiselle Clary informed the
writer that one of her police dogs had captured nine apaches in one night.

Last year a demonstration was given in London before the most eminent
representatives of the Metropolitan police force, the apache being
represented by a man thickly padded to protect him from the teeth of the
dogs. When the man attempted to escape over a screen representing a wall
the great hound, "Max," promptly caught him and dragged him down again, as
is shown in the accompanying photograph which is here reproduced by
permission of Mdlle. Clary and the _Daily Mirror_. The dog also easily
cleared this wall, which was 8 ft. 10 in. high, in one bound, and captured
a "padded apache" as he climbed down on the other side.

[Illustration: FRENCH POLICE DOG

_By kind permission of Mdlle. Clary and "The Daily Mirror"_]

Police dogs trained on these lines have for some time past been used to
assist the police in Glasgow, and within the last few months Nottingham
has strengthened its police force by the addition of dogs.

The dogs used in this country are powerful cross-bred animals of the
Airedale terrier type, specially reared and trained by Major Richardson.
The first dog used for the purpose in this country was given to the
Berkshire Constabulary, and its duties are to accompany a policeman on his
rounds at Windsor, to protect him from attack, and, if necessary, to
capture escaping criminals.

From two to three months are required to train the dogs for this purpose.

In what may be described as circumstantial detection a very faint clue has
sometimes resulted in the discovery of a criminal. One of the most
striking examples of the kind was seen in 1864, when a gentleman named
Briggs was murdered on the North London railway, for the sake of his watch
and money.

The murderer succeeded in escaping without having been noticed by anyone,
and the crime would probably have made another in the long list of
unsolved mysteries, but for several slips that were made by him.

He had changed hats with his victim and his soft felt hat, which was found
upon Mr. Briggs, was one of the chief factors in his subsequent

Hats of this particular shape, by the way, were for many years afterwards
popularly known as "Müllers."

The watch and chain of the murdered man were soon traced to the shop of a
London jeweller, who stated that he had given another watch and chain in
exchange for them. He remembered the man and was able to give a
description of his appearance, although he had no knowledge of his name or

At this point all further signs of the trail were lost, for all efforts to
discover the jeweller's customer proved fruitless.

Some time afterwards, however, a man called at Scotland Yard with a
jeweller's small cardboard box, which, he said, a man who had recently
been lodging at his house had given to his little girl. On this box was
stamped the jeweller's name, which, ominously enough, was "Death," and
this man was the very jeweller to whom Mr. Briggs' watch had been taken.

Thanks to this clue Müller was tracked first to Liverpool and then to New
York, where he was arrested and extradited.

At the trial the changed hat found upon the victim helped to prove his
identity with the murderer, and he was convicted and hanged at Newgate.

No more extraordinary instance of a single circumstance leading to the
detection of a criminal can be offered than in what was known as the
"Yarmouth Murder."

On September 23rd, 1900, a woman was found lying dead upon the beach at
Yarmouth, and from the appearance of the body she had evidently been
strangled. On her fingers were some rings, but with the exception of the
laundry mark upon her clothes, there was no clue by which she could
possibly be identified. She had been staying for some days in lodgings in
the town, and was known to her landlady as Mrs. Hood. While she was there
letters bearing a Woolwich postmark had come addressed to her by that
name. Only a day or two before her death she had had her photograph taken
upon the beach.

All investigation to discover who the woman really was or to trace her
murderer proved unavailing, and at the coroner's inquest a verdict was
brought in of wilful murder against some person unknown.

Subsequently it was discovered that the laundry mark upon the dead woman's
clothes, 599, was that put by a laundry upon the clothes sent to them from
a particular house in Bexley Heath. Further inquiry showed that a woman
named Bennett had formerly lived there, and she was identified as the
original of the photograph that had been taken at Yarmouth.

This led, early in November, to the arrest of the dead woman's husband,
Bennett, who was a workman in Woolwich Arsenal, and he was committed for
trial on the charge of murder. He denied all knowledge of the crime, and
asserted that he had never been to Yarmouth. This was disproved, however,
by collateral evidence, and many facts were brought forward connecting the
prisoner with the murder.

The motive alleged for the crime was that Bennett might be free to marry
another woman. The date of the wedding had been fixed, and it was shown
that his behaviour after the night of the murder pointed to his having a
knowledge of his wife's death. So convincing was the whole of the
circumstantial evidence, that after a short deliberation the jury brought
in a verdict of "Guilty," and Bennett was executed.



    McKeever's Experiment on Fallibility of Eye-witnesses--Gorse Hall
    Murder--Cases of Mistaken Identity--Gun-flash
    Recognition--Self-deception--Tichborne Case.

The untrustworthiness of the eye-witness as to detail was recently
demonstrated by Professor McKeever at the Kansas State College in the
following manner.[2] He asked twenty-five students at the college to
witness a short drama, and immediately afterwards to write a detailed
description of the characters and incidents.

    [2] _Daily Mirror_ report.

This little drama, which was supposed to take place in one of the
class-rooms, ran as follows:--

    Jones, a tall man, wearing a hat and a black mask over his eyes, nose
    and mouth, and dressed in a grey rain-coat rushed in carrying a salt
    bag half full of nails in his left hand and a small wrench in his
    right hand. Across his left cheek was a streak of red paint.

    When just inside the door he turned and pointing the wrench at some
    pursuers, shouted "Stand back, or I'll shoot." He then ran across the
    room, fell on his knees, and dropped the bag, saying, "There it is,
    take it"; after which he got up and rushed from the room.

    Smith dashed into the room after Jones, crying "Give it up, you
    scoundrel," and picked up the bag which Jones had dropped. White,
    short and stout, dressed in a blue serge coat and cap, and carrying a
    revolver with its cylinder removed, came in last. He called out to
    Smith, "Take it from Eddie, he won't hurt you!" He then went out after
    Jones but before Smith.

    The professor pretending to be alarmed jumped up from his chair and
    exclaimed, "Men, what are you up to here?"

    These were the actual facts, and the manner in which the accounts of
    the twenty-five witnesses disagreed may be shown by a few examples of
    the different particulars described:--

    Jones' appearance: (1) Black coat, light mask. (2) Red mask, cheeks
    painted red. (3) Black coat, mouth painted red. (4) Carried pistol.
    (5) Cheeks more than natural redness; club in his hand; dark suit. (6)
    Dark suit. (7) Black clothes. (8) Red mask on; black clothes. (9)

    Smith's appearance: (1) Wore a grey suit. (2) Six-footer. (3) Dark
    grey suit. (4) Bareheaded. (5) Blue suit.

    White's appearance: (1) Dark suit and raincoat. (2) Bareheaded. (3)
    Hardly noticed him (nearly everyone said this).

    Smith's conduct: (1) Carried pistol and snapped it several times. (2)
    Came in last; went out second; said "Get out of here." (3) Carried
    pistol, snapped it several times, and cried "Stop or I'll shoot,"
    aiming at Jones. (4) Dropped umbrella on floor. (5) Came in last,
    stayed behind; yelled "Catch that man!"

    Professor's conduct: (1) Said: "What's all this?" (2) Said: "What does
    all this mean?" (3) Said: "Here." (4) Said: "Hullo, what's going on
    here"? (5) Said: "Who are these men?"

These discrepancies illustrate how difficult it is for the eye and ear to
record accurately the impressions received in a rapid succession of
events, one of which may focus the attention to such an extent that events
simultaneously occurring are only imperfectly or partially observed.

The fallibility of identification by eye-witnesses was strikingly
demonstrated at the trial of Benjamin Bates and John Green at the Old
Bailey in 1776, on the charge of burglary.

The house of James Penleage had been broken into, and plate to the value
of four or five hundred pounds had been stolen.

Mrs. Penleage swore that four men had entered her bedroom, one of whom
carried a dark lantern; that two of these men came, one on each side of
the bed, and held pistols to her head, and that of these men of whom she
had a perfect view, she recognised one as Green and the other as Bates.

Her husband testified as to the house having been entered, and as to his
loss, but stated that as he was near-sighted he would not swear to the
men, though he believed Bates had presented a pistol to his head.

Evidence was also given by a servant and by another woman, and
notwithstanding the good character given to the prisoners by a number of
witnesses, the jury brought in a verdict of "Guilty."

The newspapers of the day called attention to the inconclusive evidence
of identification, and as a result the prisoners were respited from month
to month.

At last another man, who was executed in the country, confessed that he
had also been the author of this burglary at the house of Penleage, and
that the two men who had been convicted had had nothing to do with it. In
consequence of this Bates and Green received a free pardon, but not until
they had been in prison for many months.

A contemporary comment upon this trial richly warrants quotation:--"On
this occasion Britons have cause to triumph in the LIBERTY OF THE PRESS.
If newspapers had not been printed in this country, the lives of two
honest men would have been sacrificed to the rigour of the laws, yet no
party concerned have been the least to blame. The ways of Providence are
mysterious; casual circumstances frequently produce great effects; and a
life may be saved or lost by an accident apparently beneath the notice of
a common observer."

Another very curious instance of mistaken identity was that brought out in
a trial for robbery in 1784. A barrister had been attacked and robbed in
broad daylight, and he positively swore that he had recognised two men
named Wood and Brown as his assailants. Fortunately for them the prisoners
were able to prove an alibi, which showed beyond all doubt that they were
far from the spot at the time, and they were accordingly acquitted.
Subsequently the real robbers were discovered and found in possession of
the missing property. In this case there was a man of trained
observation, being absolutely certain of the identity of two men, who had
never been near the place.

The case of the Perreaus, related in a subsequent page, was another
example of the kind. The two brothers, who were twins, were so exactly
alike that a money scrivener who had drawn up bonds by order of one or the
other of them hesitated to fix upon either. At last, when pressed to make
a positive declaration, he fixed upon Daniel as the brother who had come
to him in connection with the forged bond.

In 1797 a mistake as to identity resulted in the death of two men. Martin
Church, a bookseller, and James Mackley, a printer, were tried that year
at the Old Bailey on the charge of murdering Sydney Fryer, at the back of
Islington workhouse. Miss Anne Fryer, who was with her cousin at the time
he was attacked, swore positively that the two prisoners were the

Some years later Burton Wood, who was executed at Kennington Common, and
Timmins, who was hanged at Reading, confessed separately that they had
done the deed for which the other men had suffered.

In modern times the case of Adolph Beck, who was twice wrongfully
convicted through his unfortunate resemblance to another man is notorious,
and has been the subject of a special report.

The most recent and strangest instances of wrong identification arose out
of the mysterious crime which became known as the "Gorse Hall" murder.

In November, 1909, Mr. Storrs, a wealthy mill-owner, who lived at Gorse
Hall, in a lonely district in Cheshire, was attacked by a man who had
forced his way into the house. A desperate struggle followed, in the
course of which Mr. Storrs was repeatedly stabbed with a knife and fatally
wounded. His assailant also attempted to shoot him with a revolver, but
this was snatched from him by Mrs. Storrs.

A relation of Mr. Storrs, named Howard, who was an ex-soldier, was
arrested and charged with the murder. At the trial that took place at the
Chester Assizes in March, 1910, he was positively identified by the widow
of the murdered man, who swore that she recognised him by "the look in his
eyes." He was also identified by some of the servants at the Hall as the
assailant of Mr. Storrs.

Fortunately Howard was able to prove conclusively that he was somewhere
else at the time of the murder.

Some time later, another ex-soldier named Mark Wilde was arrested upon the
same charge, and once more evidence of identification was given by the
same witnesses as in the previous trial, though they were now less
positive in their assertions.

The two men, Howard and Wilde, bore a singular resemblance to each other,
and evidence was given that at the time of the murder Wilde was dressed in
dark clothes, dark cap and muffler, which was the description of the
clothes of Mr. Storrs' assailant given by witnesses at the first trial.

Stains upon the prisoner's clothing were identified as human blood by the
serum test. The revolver which Mrs. Storrs had snatched from the murderer
was also identified as having belonged to Wilde, for it was recognised by
two ex-soldiers who had, they alleged, frequently seen it in his hands,
by its broken spring and marks upon its barrel.

For the defence, however, witnesses were called to prove that the revolver
taken from the murderer was not identical with that of Wilde, and that the
blood upon his clothes was the result of a fight he had had upon the night
of the crime.

No motive could be alleged, and the jury distrusting the evidence of
identification, found the prisoner "Not guilty."

The murder was thus unique in the fact that two innocent men were in
succession identified as the assailant and acquitted.

With regard to the amount of light needed for the recognition of a person,
curious scientific evidence has been given in trials, and several cases
are on record where witnesses have claimed to identify a person by a
momentary flash. A notable instance of this kind was seen at the trial of
Joseph Brook for burglary at the York Assizes in 1813.

The prisoner, it was alleged, had broken into the house of a farmer named
Strickland at Kirk Heaton.

Anne Armitage, a niece of the farmer, deposed that he had struck upon the
stone floor with something she took for a sword to intimidate her, that it
produced a flash, and gave a light by which she could see his face. She
swore that she had seen enough by the momentary flash to recognise him
again. She had also heard his voice, and knew it again when she heard it
later, and thought she could undertake to say that it was the voice of the
accused man.

The prisoner set up an alibi, and the jury, although as they stated
subsequently, not believing in this alibi, returned a verdict of "Not

The question of the possibility of a person firing a gun or pistol being
identified by the light of the flash was submitted to a committee of
scientific men in Paris, in 1809, and their conclusion was that such
identification was not possible.

On the other hand, the evidence in a case that was tried shortly
afterwards in France indicated that under favourable conditions the face
of the person who had fired a gun might be recognised. A man had fired at
another at night, and a woman who was near at the time, swore at the trial
that the flash had plainly shown her the face of the assailant. Similar
evidence was also given by the man who had been wounded.

Experiments to determine this point were made by Desgranges, at Lyons, and
from the results of these he concluded that there was a possibility of
such identification at a short distance from the flash of the gun,
provided that the night was very dark and that there was no other source
of light to interfere with the gun-flash; but that if the flash was very
pronounced, or much smoke was produced it was not possible to recognise
the person firing the gun.

Juries have always been reluctant to convict a prisoner upon evidence of
this kind. For instance, at the trial of a man named White at Croydon in
1839, the prisoner was accused of firing at a gentleman while he was
driving home in an open trap, and his intended victim, who was shot in the
elbow, swore positively that the flash of the gun showed so clearly the
features of his assailant that he was absolutely certain that he was the
prisoner. The defendant denied the charge and, notwithstanding the
positive statement of the principal witness, was acquitted.

There are other instances, however, where convictions have resulted from
such momentary glimpses. Thus, at the trial of some highwaymen in 1799,
which is quoted by Paris and Fonblanque (1823), it was stated by a Bow
Street officer that he, together with some of his companions, had been
fired at by the prisoners upon a dark night, upon Hounslow Heath. He swore
that the flash of the pistol enabled him to see that one of the
assailants, a man named Haines, who had come up to the side of the coach,
was riding upon a dark brown horse which had certain peculiarities about
its head and shoulders, and that the rider was wearing a rough brown coat.
Afterwards, said the witness, he had seen the same horse in a stable in
Long Acre, in London, and had recognised it as the one upon which the man
was riding by its curious square head and thick shoulders. The jury
believed the evidence of this witness, and the prisoner was convicted.

A case within the experience of a former Recorder of Birmingham (Hill) is
mentioned in Wills' _Circumstantial Evidence_. A man was committed for
trial at the Assizes at Derby, in 1840, on the charge of shooting at a
young woman.

She was prepared to swear that she had recognised him by the momentary
flash of the gun.

Experiments were made to determine to what extent reliance could be placed
upon such identification, and the conclusion drawn from these was that
"all stories of recognition from the flash of a gun or pistol must be
founded on a fallacy."

In addition to these, several instances, collected from different sources,
are referred to in Taylor's _Medical Jurisprudence_, where the general
conclusion is drawn that occasionally it may be possible to identify an
assailant in this way.

From the same source comes the amusing story of a man who swore that he
recognised an assailant who attacked him in the dark, by the flash
produced by a blow upon his eye! The absurdity of the claim is
self-evident, for the "flashes" due to a blow do not emit light, and can
therefore never cause any external object to be visible.

A curious factor influencing the value of evidence of personal
identification is the readiness with which credulous humanity will accept
any story however improbable. But for this the notorious Tichborne case,
which dragged on for years, would have been settled in a few days. It is
difficult now, recalling the facts, to understand how anyone could have
believed in the identity of the butcher, Arthur Orton, with the missing
heir to the estates, Roger Tichborne. The latter was of a slim build,
while the claimant was a couple of inches taller and weighed twenty-five
stones. The real Roger had had the education of a gentleman, while the
claimant could neither write nor speak correctly.

Yet, notwithstanding the enormous dissimilarity in appearance and manners
of the two men, the mother of Roger Tichborne recognised Orton as the son
whom she and everyone else had believed to have been drowned when the
ship was wrecked. When he came to England to see her he had thought it
prudent to feign illness. Lady Tichborne, therefore, went to see him, and
he got on the bed, and turned his face to the wall. His adopted mother,
however, recognised him by his "ears so like his uncle's."

This must have been an instance of self-deception, for there was evidence
that the lobes of the ears of the two men were absolutely different.

It was this recognition, however, that encouraged Orton to persevere with
his claim to the estates, and assisted in aiding the recollection of other
people, who swore that he was Roger.



    Photography--Anthropometry--Finger-prints and their Uses.

The discovery of photography was welcomed by the police authorities of
civilised countries as affording a certain means of registering criminals
for subsequent identification. But the promise that the photographic
method held out was not fulfilled; for with the accumulation of
photographs there was a corresponding increase in the difficulties and
uncertainties attending the identification of the originals.

Apart from difficulties due to the effects of the changes produced by time
or by intentional disguise, it was no light task to search through many
thousands of prints to see whether a particular individual had been
photographed ten years previously, and physical weariness of the searchers
must frequently have set an obstacle in the way of the identification.

On the other hand, it is a matter of common knowledge, that two
photographs of the same person, taken under different conditions of
lighting or with different lenses may readily be thought to be the
portraits of two distinct individuals, or that a photograph of one person
may unduly emphasise a momentary expression differing from the normal one,
with the result that the portrait may be mistaken for a likeness of
someone else. These considerations fully explain the numerous instances of
mistaken identification, some of which are cited below, where the police
based their recognition upon old photographs.

Prior to the introduction of the anthropometric and finger-print systems,
the insufficiency of the photographic records kept by the police in this
country for the identification of criminals was repeatedly proved. The
advisability of introducing the French anthropometric system into England
was raised in Parliament on several occasions in 1887 and 1888, but each
time the Home Secretary defended the system of photographic registration
as being sufficiently satisfactory, while he considered it doubtful
whether the French system would be any better.

A sufficient answer to this official defence was afforded by the number of
cases of mistaken recognition from photographs, that shortly afterwards
were brought before both Houses of Parliament.

In 1888, the Lord Chief Justice (Coleridge) mentioned an instance that had
come under his notice at the Gloucester Assizes. After a man had been
convicted of some small offence police evidence was given that the
prisoner was a man who had been convicted before. This was subsequently
proved to be a mistake.

Again, in July, 1889, after the conviction of a prisoner, evidence was
given by a warder that the man was one who had been sentenced to seven
years' penal servitude and seven years' police supervision.

It was found afterwards, however, that this man had been previously
convicted in 1882 and therefore could not possibly have been the person
alleged. The remarkable feature about this mistake was that both men had
been under the police control at the same time.

The failure to identify a criminal from the photographic records had a
tragic result in 1888, when a man named Jackson was given a light sentence
as a first offender. Although he had been previously convicted of numerous
crimes, and was at the time "wanted" by the police for housebreaking and
other offences he escaped recognition, and was able to take advantage of
the lenient treatment he received by murdering a warder in the prison at

In 1894 a Special Committee was appointed to examine and report upon the
different systems of identifying criminals, and they recommended that the
anthropometric system was the most satisfactory for preliminary
classification, but that for further grouping the finger-print method gave
the best results. Accordingly a system including both methods was adopted
in this country and was in use until 1901, when, as is mentioned below,
the present system of finger-print identification was introduced.

The success of M. Bertillon's system in France speedily led to its
adoption in other countries. Early in 1892 it was introduced into India,
and within six years upwards of a quarter of a million of classified cards
had been collected.

The chief difficulty was found to be in the classification of the
measurements for reference, and a committee was accordingly appointed by
the Indian Government to report upon the system. Their report stated that
the finger-print method was preferable to the anthropometric system in
simplicity, rapidity and certainty.

Since that time (June, 1897) the finger-print method has been in use in
India for the identification of criminals.

The system of identification by bodily measurements, which has now come to
be known as _bertillonage_, was first introduced as a method of police
registration in Paris in 1882. During the first year of its employment it
detected forty-nine criminals giving false names, while in the following
year the number rose to 241.

In 1889 M. Bertillon stated that there had not been a single case of
mistaken identity since the system had been introduced, and that in the
previous year 31,849 prisoners had been measured in Paris, 615 of whom
were in this way recognised as former convicts, while fourteen were
subsequently recognised in prison. Of the latter, ten had never previously
been examined, so that the failures were only four in 32,000, or one in

The system, as described by M. Bertillon himself in a pamphlet on _The
Identification of the Criminal Classes_, consists in taking the
measurements of the body structure of each individual. Although such
measurements might be indefinitely extended, the number is usually
restricted to twelve, including the height, length and width of the head,
length of the middle finger, of the foot, etc.

These measurements are rapidly taken with standard instruments by a
special staff, and are recorded upon a card upon which are pasted full
face and profile photographs of the prisoner.

The data obtained enable the photographs to be classified into different
groups of short, medium, and tall men, and these, again, may be
subdivided into groups of short, medium, and long heads, while further
subdivisions are afforded by the width of the head, width of the arms
outstretched at an angle of the body and so on. The colour of the eyes
affords the means for a further subdivision, while special birthmarks or
peculiarities differentiate the individuals still further.

In this way alone, M. Bertillon claims that 100,000 persons can be
classified into groups of ten each, the portraits in which would offer no
difficulty in examination.

M. Bertillon undoubtedly puts the position too favourably here, in
assuming division into equal groups; for out of his hypothetical 100,000
individuals, seventy-five per cent. might conceivably be tall men, and
seventy-five per cent. of these, again have long heads, so that the final
groups would in some cases have no representatives, while in the other
groups there might be 1,000 individuals.

In recording the colour of the eyes a special table is used, the scale of
which is based upon the intensity of the pigment of the iris. A number
corresponding to one of the following groups is then assigned:--(1) Iris,
azure blue, with areola pale but free from yellow pigment; (2) Iris blue
or slate, with light yellow areola; (3) Same shade, with larger areola
approaching orange; (4) Iris, greenish reflection; hazel areola; (5) Same
shade with dark hazel areola; (6) Hazel distributed over surface of iris;
(7) Eye entirely hazel.

When first the system was introduced into Paris it was a common practice
for the old offenders to change their names and try to escape
identification, but, according to M. Bertillon, after a few years this was
only done by those who had been away from Paris for a long period, or had
some very special reason for attempting to slip through the examination

A similar method is employed in the United States Army for recognising
deserters. Each man on joining is measured, and an outline figure card
showing the measurements of the front and back surfaces, which are divided
into areas by means of dotted lines, is filed in the Medical Department of
the War Office. When a man deserts or is dismissed his card is placed in a
separate file, and the new cards of recruits are compared with those in
this particular file.

A special register, ruled into columns corresponding to the areas on the
cards, and giving the measurements and any peculiarities such as scars,
tattoo marks, etc., is used to facilitate the search, and when, on
reference to this, there appears to be a probability of a recruit being
identical with a deserter, the original card is used for the comparison.

During the first five months after the system was instituted (1891)
sixty-two men were suspected of concealing their identity, and in
sixty-one of these cases the suspicion was justified and the identity

A drawback of the Bertillon system of identification is that much depends
upon the accuracy of the person who takes the measurements, and that,
therefore, a permissible error must be admitted. In the United States
Army an error of one inch in either direction is allowed, for the recorded
height. In addition to this, some degree of natural variation will take
place in the course of years, and due allowance must also be made for this
influence upon the measurements.

Striking as has been the success of M. Bertillon's system of
anthropometrical measurements as a means of identification, it has been
altogether surpassed in certainty by the methods of recording the
impressions of the fingers. From time to time in the past use has been
made of a finger or thumb impression as a seal or to give a personal mark
of authenticity to a document. One of the earliest examples extant of the
use of the manual seal is to be seen on one of the Assyrian clay tablets
in the British Museum.

This is imprinted in cuneiform characters, and contains a notice of the
sale of a field, which concludes with the imprint of a finger nail, and
the statement that this had been made by the seller of the field as his
nail mark.

Similar imprints of nails are to be seen upon Chinese coins, as has been
pointed out by Sir Francis Galton, and a tradition has it that they were
first put there as a compliment to an early Chinese Empress who had
accidentally pressed her finger nail into the wax model of a coin that had
been submitted for her approval. The ancient Egyptians caused criminals to
seal their confessions with finger nails.

There are also numerous instances in which impressions of finger-tips are
found upon documents, but these do not seem to have been put there with
any idea of identification, but rather to have been of the nature of a
ceremonial observance comparable with the legal survival of putting a
finger upon the seal of a document, and delivering it as "my act and

The first attempt by Europeans to make use of the characteristic ridges of
the fingers to record the identity of individuals appears to have been
that of Sir William Herschel, who introduced a method officially into

His system arose out of the difficulty of checking forgeries by the
natives in India, and his having made two of them record their finger
impressions upon contracts, so that he might be able to frighten them
should they subsequently deny their signatures.

This was in 1858, and the device proved so unexpectedly successful that
for several years Sir William Herschel made a study of the use of
finger-prints in identification, and finally found them so satisfactory
that, in 1877, he gave instructions for their systematic use in the

A description of the advantages that were thereby reaped is given in
_Nature_ (1880, Vol. XXIII, 23). The frequent attempts previously made by
the natives to deny their own signatures were completely frustrated, and
documents thus stamped with a finger-print could not afterwards be

The use of finger-prints was also invaluable as a means of preventing the
fraudulent claims of pensions by persons who were not entitled to them.

Then as the system was found to work so well in these cases it was
introduced into the prisons, each new-comer being made to sign the
register with the finger. The official visitors had thus the means of
satisfying themselves as to the identity of each inmate of the prison.

Although Sir William Herschel tried to obtain permission to extend the use
of the finger-print identification still further, his attempts did not
meet with success.

About the same time that Sir William Herschel published the account of his
system a suggestion was made to register the Chinese in California by a
similar process, but nothing was done in the matter.

There have also been occasional applications of the method to prevent
forgery, as, for instance, in 1882 in the payment orders signed by Mr.
Thomson of the American Geological Survey, upon which, as a safeguard, he
made the imprint of his own finger.

It is to Sir William Herschel, however, that the credit is due of having
established the first modern systematic process of registration of
individuals by means of finger impressions.

According to Dr. Faulds, the Chinese from time immemorial have caused
their convicted criminals to make impressions of their finger-tips as a
record, but he gives no details of their system of classifying the prints,
if such exists.

The curious markings upon which are based these systems of identification
are not confined to the human race, but are also shown by monkeys and to a
less pronounced extent by other animals.

The pattern upon the surface of the skin upon the palms of the hand and
soles of the feet is formed by the arrangement of what is known as the
papillary ridges. It is readily recorded by carefully coating the
finger-tips with a fine layer of printing or ordinary ink and pressing
them upon paper so as to leave an imprint of the markings upon the finger.

The uses of these ridges is to assist the delicacy of touch, and also to
excrete perspiration through the minute pores with which they are covered.

The effect of rough work upon the ridges is to increase their height, and
eventually they may become covered up by the horny accretions known as
callosities. On the other hand, the ridges upon the palms of people who do
very little manual labour are much less apparent, and when the skin is
thin are very low. Hence, in the hands of bedridden invalids there is only
a slight development of the ridges.

Several circumstances may lead to a temporary obliteration of the ridges,
such as, for instance, the constant puncturing of the skin by the head of
a needle in sewing, and the imprint of the forefinger of a tailor will
therefore often present a very characteristic mottled appearance.

More permanent alterations are produced by cuts or by wounds that have
healed and left a white scar. An instance of this is seen in D in the
plate (p. 66), which represents a print of the left-hand thumb of the
present writer. Running across the ridges, and breaking their continuity
is a line which marks the place where twenty years ago the slip of a knife
nearly severed a piece from the thumb. The effect of this cut has been to
add a fresh feature of identity to those furnished by the original ridges,
without interfering with the identification of the latter.

In the case of jagged cuts or of scars formed in the healing of an ulcer
the ridges may be so distorted as to be practically indistinguishable in
that place, or they may even be entirely obliterated. Old age has also an
obliterating effect upon the ridges, so much so that the finger-prints of
an old man frequently exhibit transverse white markings, indicating signs
of the surface disintegration of the skin.

A most important point in the application of finger-prints to the
identification of the individual is the persistence of the main details
throughout life, since otherwise much of the value of the method would be
lost. The observations made by Sir William Herschel in India showed that
after the lapse of twenty years there was so little change in the
finger-prints of a large number of persons that they could still readily
be identified in this way.

Sir Francis Galton has also proved the persistence of the general
peculiarities in the prints for periods of over thirty years. He points
out that an exact correspondence as to the minutiæ is not always to be
expected, since what appears to be a ridge in one print may be really the
result of imperfect printing of an enclosure. Apart from possible
imperfections in the method, there is also a possibility of variation due
to the effect of age rendering the ridges less continuous.

In one of the examples given by him finger-prints were taken of a child of
two and a half in 1877, and again thirteen years later. Between two of the
prints there were forty-two points of resemblance and only one point of
difference. This was a small forked ridge which appeared in the print of
the baby, but had been filled up in the print from the boy. This instance
is mentioned as unique, for in every other case examined by Sir Francis
Galton, comparing prints of the boy with the man, and the man with the old
man there was perfect correspondence between the selected points. He
therefore concludes that "we are justified in inferring that between birth
and death there is absolutely no change in, say, 699 out of 700 of the
numerous characteristics in the markings of the same person such as can be
impressed by them whenever it is desirable to do so."

An interesting series of photographs was recently exhibited by the Chief
Commissioner of the Police. These included the portraits of three men who
so closely resembled one another that they would readily have been
mistaken for one another in photographs. Their finger-prints, however,
were quite distinct.

So persistent are these distinctive markings that they last as long as the
skin itself, and may be clearly seen upon the fingers of Egyptian mummies.

However much the general dimensions of the pattern of the prints may be
changed by the advance of age or the effect of disease, the number of the
pattern will still remain. To use the apt illustration of Sir Francis
Galton, the changes to be expected are comparable with those seen in a
piece of lace. The material may be stretched in one or the other direction
or shrunken to half its former dimensions, but the individual loops and
knots may be identified with those in the original fabric.

As is the case with all the other measurements of the human body
alterations will occur in the size of the markings; for the pattern as a
whole increases with the growth of the finger, but this growth does not
affect the arrangement of the loops and ridges that make up the markings
upon the skin.

In no other way than a study of the finger-prints is it possible to find
over a thousand points of comparison upon which to establish the identity
of an individual.

In estimating the value of finger-prints as evidence of identity, Sir
Francis Galton found that out of 1,000 thumb-prints the collection could
be classified into 100 groups each containing prints with a more or less
close resemblance to one another. He further found that on the average it
was impossible to put great reliance upon the general resemblance between
two given prints as a proof that they were produced by the same finger,
though obvious difference was a proof that they were produced by different

But on studying the minutiæ of the patterns, and calculating the chances
that the print of a single finger should agree in all particulars with the
print of another finger, he concluded that it was as one is to about
sixty-four millions; so that the chance of two persons giving similar
prints from a single finger would be less than one in four. If the
comparisons were extended to two fingers the improbability of agreement in
all details would be squared, "reaching a figure altogether beyond the
range of imagination."

The general conclusion drawn from these numerical results was that even
after making all allowance for ambiguities and for possible alterations
caused by accident or disease, a complete, or nearly complete, agreement
between two prints of one finger and infinitely more so between two or
more fingers, afforded evidence, which did not stand in need of
corroboration, that the prints were derived from the fingers of one and
the same person.

In finger-prints, therefore, we have the only means of proving the
identity of an individual beyond all question.

In the prehistoric flint-holes at Brandon, in Suffolk, there was found
some years ago a pick made from the horn of an extinct elk. This had been
used by some flint-digger of the stone age to hew out of the chalk the
rough flints which were subsequently made into scrapers and arrow-heads.
Upon the dark handle of this instrument were the finger-prints in chalk of
the workman, who, thousands of years ago, flung it down for the last time.

It is strange to reflect that in these perishable impressions he had left
a far more permanent record of his identity than he could have done by any
other conceivable means.

A striking feature in the scriptural account of the death of Jezebel is
that her body was devoured by the dogs, which left nothing but the skull
and the palms of her hands and soles of her feet, so that no man might say
"this is Jezebel." Yet, as Sir Francis Galton pointed out, it was upon
those parts that the dogs had spared that Jezebel carried the only certain
proofs of her identity.

The question of heredity in finger-prints is not only interesting but
might also conceivably be a point of some importance in a criminal trial.

Dr. Faulds concluded that heredity played a great part in the particular
form of the markings. "The dominancy of heredity in these patterns is
sometimes very striking. I have found unique patterns in a parent repeated
with marvellous accuracy in his child."

He suggested that there might thus possibly be an Orton type of pattern
and a Tichborne type, to one or other of which experts might have referred
the finger impressions of the claimant in the celebrated case.

While there is unquestionably a general tendency for a particular type of
finger-prints to be inherited just as any other bodily peculiarities are
liable to be passed on from the parents to the children, there is by no
means that definite relationship that Dr. Faulds hoped to establish.

The observations made by Sir Francis Galton upon this point, and the
mathematical considerations based upon them render it impossible to doubt
that the average resemblance between the finger-prints of two brothers or
of a brother and sister is greater than in those of two persons selected
at random.

The general similarities in the finger-prints in rows A and B in the plate
(p. 66), which are those of two sisters, are obvious.

The case of twins is particularly interesting, for it is well known that
when of the same sex they frequently show remarkable physical and mental
resemblances or the reverse. Here, too, it was found by Sir Francis
Galton that the finger-prints exhibited a strong tendency to similarity,
although in no case were the resemblances so close that the prints of one
twin could be mistaken for those of the other.

For instance, the resemblance may lie in the pattern being made up of
loops or whorls in both, but the smaller details, such as the number of
the ridges or their minute peculiarities (_e.g._, dividing and then
reuniting to form a small island), will not be shared.

The results of other observations tended to show that the influence of the
mother upon the type of finger-print is more pronounced than that of the

The existence of racial peculiarities in finger-prints, which Dr. Faulds
believed that he had discovered in the case of the Japanese, has not been
borne out by the experience of others.

The observations of Sir Francis Galton upon numbers of prints
representative of pure English, pure Welsh, Hebrew and Negro proved
unquestionably that there was no pattern peculiar to any of these races.

The only suggestion of any difference was that the width of the ridges
appeared to be more uniform and their direction more parallel in the
finger-prints of negroes than in those of the other races.

The same conclusions were drawn from the observations upon the
finger-prints of different classes of individuals, those of art students
being compared with those of science students, of field labourers, and of
idiots. In each instance it was possible to match the type of patterns in
one class with those in any of the others. The patterns of the
finger-impression of a statesman, for instance, could be matched by those
of an idiot.

The first attempt to classify the various patterns formed by the ridges
was that of Purkenje, a doctor of medicine who, in 1823, delivered a
thesis upon the subject at the University of Breslau.

He concluded that all the varieties of curves might be grouped under nine
main heads or standard types, which he described as follows:--

(1) _Transverse curves._ (2) _Central longitudinal stria._ (3) _Oblique
stria._ (4) _Oblique sinus._ (5) _Almond._ (6) _Spiral._ (7) _Ellipse or
elliptical whorl._ (8) _Circle_ or _circular whorl_; and (9) _Double

The differences between these different types are best shown by diagrams,
and the accompanying figure, reproduced by permission of Sir Francis
Galton, represents the cores of the nine standard patterns.

This classification, resting as it does upon merely superficial
appearances, does not afford a certain means of separating the types,
since factors, such as the depth of printing, the size of the patterns,
and the prominence of secondary details may have an undue influence in the
placing of a particular print in one or the other group.

After numerous futile attempts to make use of Purkenje's system, Sir
Francis Galton discarded it in favour of a system in which the triangular
space or spaces found in the majority of finger impressions was made the
basis of classification. Starting upon the two divergent ridges from these
spaces an outline was then drawn as far as it could be traced, the course
of each ridge being followed with minute fidelity. In this way a series
of sharply-defined outline figures were obtained.



  1. Transverse flexures
  2. Central longitudinal stria
  3. Oblique stria
  4. Oblique sinus
  5. Almond
  6. Spiral
  7. Ellipse
  8. Circle
  9. Double Whorl

_By kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd._]

The various patterns may, as a rule, be classified into the three main
groups of arches, loops and whorls, while some of the transitional forms
may be grouped under more than one of these heads. Other patterns, again,
which are of rare occurrence, are not suitable for inclusion in any of the
three groups.

A system of indexing based upon this method of classification was also
devised in which letters represented the varieties of patterns. Thus _a,
a, a_ indicate that the outline upon the fore, middle and ring fingers
consists of arches, while _a, w, l_ indicate an arch upon the forefinger,
a whorl upon the middle finger, and a loop upon the ring finger. The
letters _i_ and _o_ are also used, the former indicating a loop with an
inward slope and the latter one with an outer slope upon the forefinger.

The possible variations in such a classification of the impressions of the
three fingers of the right hand cannot exceed thirty-six, and a thousand
prints may therefore be indexed into one of these thirty-six groups.
Subdivisions of these main groups may then be based upon the
characteristics of the prints of the fingers of the other hand and of the
thumbs, while differences in the cores of the patterns afford a means of
forming smaller divisions of the loop patterns.

From observations of the 5,000 prints of 500 individuals Sir Francis
Galton found that arches were present in 6·5 per cent.; loops in 67·5 per
cent.; and whorls in 26·0 per cent. Each digit and hand, however, had its
own peculiarities, and the variations in the percentage of arches upon
different digits ranged from 1 to 17; that of the loops from 53 to 90; and
that of the whorls from 13 to 45.

Loops occurred with most frequency upon the little finger and then upon
the middle finger, while whorls were rarely met with upon these fingers,
but were of common occurrence upon the thumb and ring finger.

The classification employed by the English police was devised by Sir
Edward Henry and is a modification of that of Sir Francis Galton, from
which it differs in making use of four types instead of three. The
impressions are grouped into arches, loops, whorls, and composites. The
last group includes patterns made up of combinations of the other three,
or those which might be classified either as loops or whorls. There are
also numerous subdivisions of the group into patterns with characteristics
in common such as "central pockets" and "accidentals," and further
differentiation is effected by counting the number of ridges between two
fixed points in the patterns.

Examples of these four groups are shown in the plate facing p. 66.

Dr. Faulds, who, while at a hospital in Japan, made an exhaustive study of
the finger impressions of the Japanese, appears to have been the first to
suggest the possibility of tracing a criminal by the imprints of his
fingers upon external objects.

He mentions two instances where the method had afforded valuable
evidence, and these are worth recording as early examples of the use of
the system in detective work.


In one case some rectified spirit had been drunk, and the greasy marks of
the fingers upon the bottle plainly showed who was the culprit, for their
pattern was identical with that of an imprint in Dr. Fauld's collection.

On another occasion someone had been suspected of breaking into a house,
but the sooty imprints of fingers left upon the wall proved beyond all
doubt that this was not the person.

The finger-print system of identification was adopted by the police in
this country in July, 1901, and the numbers of identifications made since
then by the police at Scotland Yard are very remarkable. Up to the end of
1901 there were 93 identifications, which rose in the succeeding years to
the following numbers: In 1902, 1,722; in 1903, 3,642; in 1904, 5,155; in
1905, 6,186; in 1906, 6,776; in 1907, 7,701; in 1908, 9,440; and in 1909,

There have been some very striking instances of the detection of criminals
by means of their finger-prints, a few of which may be quoted by way of

On March 20, 1908, a man named Chadwick was tried at the Birmingham
Assizes on the charge of housebreaking and stealing at Edgbaston. He had
left finger-prints upon a champagne bottle, and when these were made clear
by the application of powdered blacklead they were found to correspond
exactly with the finger-prints of the prisoner. Inspector Collins, in
giving evidence on this point, stated that there were a million and a
quarter classified finger-prints at Scotland Yard, and that these could
all be distinguished from one another. He pointed out that there were
twelve ridges which were characteristic and identical in the two prints.

Similar identifications in cases of burglary have been made by means of
the impressions left on a wax candle, on windows, on paper, such as a
cheque, or on the metallic surface of a cash-box, etc.

On March 11th of last year, a labourer named George Lane was put on trial
at Birmingham on the charge of breaking into the house of a bootmaker and
stealing several articles. He had left a thumb-nail mark upon a glove-box,
and evidence was given as to the identity of this with his own
thumb-print. For the defence it was urged that he was in Nottingham at the
time, and that he could call as a witness "a tall dark man working in a
bar." The judge offered to postpone the trial for the attendance of this
witness, but warned the prisoner that if his statement were found to be
untrue he would be prosecuted for perjury in addition to the present
charge. The prisoner thereupon said he preferred the trial not to be
delayed. He was found guilty, and after evidence of previous convictions
had been given he was sentenced to three years' penal servitude.

In April of last year an equally convincing proof was offered of the value
of the finger-print system, when it proved the identity of a dead man. The
scattered remains of this man were found upon the railway line near
Slough, and there was no clue whatever as to his identity. Upon the
off-chance of the victim's finger-prints being known at Scotland Yard
impressions from his fingers were taken by the local superintendent of the
police and forwarded to headquarters, where on reference to the index of
finger-prints they were immediately recognised. They were those of a man
twenty-four years of age, who had been living at Deal.

This was noteworthy as being the first occasion upon which the method has
been used to discover the identity of anyone after death.

A striking proof of the value of finger-prints in the identification of an
individual by the French police was afforded last year in Paris.

A man named Lemarque, one of a notorious gang of thieves, known as
Chaffeurs de la Drome, had escaped when three of his companions had been
captured. They were tried at the Assize Court of the Drome Department in
July, 1909, on the charges of murder and robbery and were condemned to
death, while Lemarque was sentenced by default.

All attempts to discover the missing man proved fruitless, until in March,
1910, a man was arrested for theft at Nîmes. He gave the name of Charles
Garnier, but the police suspecting that the description he gave of himself
was false, took impressions of his finger-prints, and forwarded these,
together with the man's description and photograph, to the
Anthropometrical Department of the Prefecture of Police in Paris. The
finger-prints were immediately recognised by M. Bertillon, and Charles
Garnier was identified as Lemarque, the man who had so long been



    Heredity--Emotional Influences--Effects of Disease on Handwriting.

The identification of an individual solely by means of his handwriting is
always liable to lead to a miscarriage of justice, for even in the cases
of the closest resemblance between two writings there can be no certainty
on this point. In the following pages I have attempted to point out under
what varying conditions handwriting may show alterations and thus lead to
wrong conclusions.

In the making of handwriting heredity plays a very important part, just as
it does in the characteristic gait and the little mannerisms which are
peculiar to each individual. In addition to this, the writing may be
modified by the results of training and other external influences.

It is obviously not possible to determine from which ancestors all the
features in one's handwriting are inherited, just as it is impossible to
trace the origin of certain obviously inherited traits of character. At
the same time, instances in which close resemblances may be noticed
between the handwriting of a man and that of his father and grandfather
will occur to everyone. Thus a particular slope in the direction of the
writing or a mode of looping the letters or of forming certain words may
be passed on from generation to generation.


A remarkable fact in this connection is that there is frequently a
tendency for a son to inherit certain characteristics in the father's
writing and for the daughters' writing to resemble more closely that of
their mother than that of their father.

The examples shown in the figure illustrate this tendency. The words were
all written by members of one family, the first two lines being those of
the father and the mother. The third, fifth, eighth and ninth lines were
written by their daughters, and the fourth, sixth and seventh lines by
their sons.

It will be noticed among other points of resemblance that the bold
characteristic looping of the letter L in the mother's handwriting is
reproduced more or less closely in the writing of all the daughters, while
the sons form the same letter with a small loop, as in the word written by
their father. The angles at which the different words are written also
show the effect of this "parallel heredity," as it might be termed.

While possessing such points of resemblance obviously inherited from the
parents' handwriting, the writing of each of the children also shows
characteristics of its own that distinguish it from the writings of the
others--characteristics partly inherited from other ancestors and partly
the result of environment.

So close, however, is the resemblance between the handwriting of the
father and of the eldest son that on more than one occasion one has been
mistaken for the other by other members of the family.

The normal handwriting of every individual is affected by very many
external influences, the term "normal" being used here to describe writing
that is done when the thoughts of the writer are being concentrated upon
what is being written and without a mental side-glance at the form of the
writing itself.

In the latter case various psychological influences cause the writing to
vary more or less. For instance, the handwriting of an artist may show
marked variations at different periods, especially in the form of the
capital letters; for the artist usually keeps before his eye the
decorative effect of his letters and words, and is constantly making
experimental changes in his writing.

In like manner, handwriting is often influenced to a considerable extent
by sub-conscious memories of the writing of other people, especially of
those whom the writer tries to imitate in other respects. In some
individuals this unintentional imitation of other handwriting is so
pronounced that they are unable to answer any letter without its
characters having some effect upon their own writing.

Conscious imitation is a still more frequent influence upon the form of
writing and some of its effects may become fixed characteristics.

Instances of this are to be seen in the "good" writing of the
old-fashioned writing-master, whose ideal was the copper-plate engraving
of the visiting card with its thick down-stroke and thin up-stroke and
absolute regularity of letter; in the pointed Italian writing, taught
generally in mid-Victorian ladies' schools; in the Civil Service "hand"
set as a standard for securing marks in examination; and in modern
commercial handwriting now rapidly giving place to the typewriter.

An instance which illustrates the manner in which a writing-school will
turn out hundreds of pupils all writing in the same manner is shown in the
accompanying figure, for which I am indebted to Mr. W. J. Kinsley, of New
York. The members of a class in the Packhard Business School at New York,
numbering about forty young men and girls ranging from sixteen to twenty
years of age, were all told to write the same words: "This is a specimen
of my writing," without any directions being given them and without
knowing for what purpose it was wanted. The results obtained, some of
which are here shown, were published in a paper in New York. The striking
resemblance among them all is obvious at the first glance, and when these
specimens first appeared a lawyer wrote to the editor complaining that an
attempt had been made to pass off the handwriting of one person as having
been done by several.

[Illustration: Influence of training on handwriting

Each of these lines was written by a different person]

The writing of the writing school is no more the real writing of the
individual than laborious printing in capitals would be.

Even when what must be regarded as the vicious style of the writing school
has been so thoroughly acquired that the writer ceases to be conscious
that he is copying a model, the writing not infrequently reverts to a
normal state and will then tend to show indications of inherited traits.

Under ordinary conditions, where there has been no prolonged attention
given to the form of the writing, as in conscious imitation or
experimental alteration, and but little unconscious imitation, certain
distinctive features may persist for a very long period. Thus the angle at
which the writing slopes may remain practically the same for years, or the
form of a particular slope beneath a signature will repeat itself almost
exactly time after time, and even the absence of a flourish may become a
significant characteristic.

Emotional influences often have an effect upon handwriting, though the
alterations thus produced are frequently only slight and temporary. Thus
a man weighed down by overwhelming grief will often write in smaller
characters than usual, while violent anger will find its expression in
more vigorous cross strokes to the "t's," heavier dotting of the "i's,"
and the thickness of a flourish to a signature. On the other hand, slight
changes caused by long-continued depression may leave permanent traces
upon the handwriting.

A deeply interesting historical instance of this tendency of handwriting
to vary with the mood of the writer is to be seen in the signatures of
Napoleon at various periods of his career. Several of these written on
occasions calling forth widely differing emotions are here reproduced, and
it is not difficult to discern in some of them the effect of emotional
influence. Very striking, for instance, is the difference between the
orderly signature written after the victory at Austerlitz and the blotted
scrawl dashed off after the defeat at Leipzig. Nor will it escape notice
that nearly all the signatures written at moments of depression or failure
have a downward slant, whereas that of the victor of Austerlitz runs
upwards. A great contrast, too, is shown between the general features of
the first three signatures penned in moments of triumph or success, with
that written on the retreat from Russia and the still less assertive
signature of the prisoner of St. Helena.

Instances of the effects of passing emotions upon writing might be
multiplied indefinitely, but what has been said above is sufficient to
show that this factor is of importance in drawing any conclusions as to
the identity of an individual from his handwriting.


    1804. After being crowned Emperor.

    1805, Dec. 2. Signature on proclamation after the victory at

    1806. After the campaign of 1806.

    1812, Sept. 21. After entrance into burning Moscow.

    1812, Oct. On the retreat from Russia.

    1813, Oct. 23. Signature to a document signed at Erfurt. After the
    defeat at Leipzig.

    1814, April 4. Fontainebleau, prior to abdication.

    At St. Helena.]

If passing emotions can have so great an influence upon handwriting, how
much greater must be the effect when the centre or centres in the brain
that control the writing mechanism are affected or destroyed by disease!

Among the disturbances of handwriting due to defective control of the
muscles we may include the so-called _tremor-writing_, which is common in
old age, and the writing of people suffering from writers' cramp, an
example of which is shown in the figure.

[Illustration: Writers' Cramp]

Other forms of defective writing may be the result of a paralytic stroke
affecting the writing centre of the brain, which causes the patient either
to form only parts of letters or endlessly to repeat the same letter under
the impression that sentences are being formed, while in extreme cases
there may be merely a succession of meaningless strokes in place of
written characters.

[Illustration: Specimen of Agraphia]

The writing of insane people almost invariably shows the effect of mental
disturbance. In some cases the form of the letters is changed, but they
are still used in their right places. An illustration of this is given in
the accompanying figure, which represents the signatures of the poet Lenau
before and during his insanity.

[Illustration: Writing of Lenau, the poet, before and during insanity]

In other instances there is both alteration in the form of the writing and
_paragraphia_, or the use of the wrong letters. Thus Hölderlin, the German
poet, who became harmlessly insane in 1806 at the age of thirty-six, ever
afterwards misspelled his name in the manner here shown.

[Illustration: Signature of Hölderlin before and during insanity]

A very interesting derangement of writing, which is probably due to the
writing centre in one hemisphere of the brain becoming adapted to do the
work of that in the other, is that commonly known as _mirror writing_. An
example of this which came under the writer's observation is shown below.

This shows the ordinary handwriting of a working woman of about sixty-six,
who for the last three years has been paralysed in the right arm, and
since then has produced mirror writing with her left hand.

[Illustration: Mirror writing in paralysis]

The most remarkable instance of mirror writing on record is to be seen in
the last manuscript of Leonardo da Vinci, known as the _Codex Atlanticus_,
in the library at Milan. Various speculations have been made as to why
backward writing should have been employed here, but the obvious
explanation may be deduced from the letter of a monk, Antonio de Beatis,
who, after visiting Leonardo in his retirement at Amboise, wrote that the
artist would never paint again, as his right arm was paralysed. The
manuscript was in all probability, therefore, written with the left hand,
and, as frequently happens in such cases of paralysis, the other
hypothetical writing centre was brought into action and mirror writing was

Of all the temporary influences tending to modify handwriting none is more
remarkable, or affords a better proof of the way in which written
characters vary with the condition of the mind than the effect of hypnotic

The experiments of Professors Lombroso and Richet have proved that a
suggested change of personality is accompanied by an appropriate style in
the handwriting of the subject. Thus, a young hysterical girl when
hypnotised under the suggestion that she was a child wrote in childish

Still more striking were their experiments upon a young Austrian student,
Chiarloni Clementino, who within little more than an hour was made to
assume successively the characters of a child, of Napoleon, of Garibaldi,
of a clerk, and of an old man of ninety. He was made to write some words
on each of his assumed characters, and the writings not only differed to a
marked extent from his normal handwriting, but also had characteristics
suggestive of the type of individual he was temporarily personating.


The results of some of these experiments, which the present writer had the
permission of the late Professor Lombroso to reproduce, are shown in the
accompanying figures. The normal writing of the student is represented
below, while Fig. A (p. 82) shows words written under the suggestion that
he was Napoleon, Fig. B, his writing as the old man of ninety, and Fig. C
that done as Garibaldi.


A. As Napoleon

B. As an old man

C. As Garibaldi.]

The handwritings of the suggested Napoleon and Garibaldi were quite
different from the writing of the real individuals, although it is
interesting to note that there is some attempt to form the letters of
Garibaldi's signature in the same manner as in the genuine signature here


In a private letter to the present writer Lombroso mentioned that it was
quite possible for the hypnotised student to have been familiar with the
signature of Garibaldi. Or, again, the hypnotisers may have had their
thoughts upon the form of the genuine signature while the student was
writing the suggested version of it.

It has been observed by Dr. Preyer that certain individuals, when under
hypnotic influence, write in a better handwriting than when they are in
their normal condition, whereas in the case of other subjects the letters
are childish and badly formed. It is even possible to make them omit by
suggestion particular letters from each word they write, "Europe," for
instance, becoming "Urop," and so on, while by further suggestion they may
be induced to make use again of the missing letters.

The fact that handwriting may be completely altered under the influence of
hypnotism is not only of great scientific interest, but may also have an
important bearing on the results of legal cases in which handwriting is

It was pointed out some years ago by Dr. Bianchi that hysterical women are
particularly prone to write anonymous letters, and it is well known that
such women are readily responsive to hypnotic suggestion.

Facts such as these suggest how necessary it may often be to take into
account the possibility of hypnotic influence before deciding upon the
authorship of a given piece of writing.

The extent to which a man should be held responsible for what has been
written as the result of hypnotic suggestion from another person will
obviously depend upon whether he was the dupe or the willing instrument of
the hypnotiser. In any case it may not be easy to prove that the writing
is his, for it will probably be very different from his ordinary

Hitherto no case of criminal libel involving such delicate questions as
these appears to have come before the courts, but it is one that might
conceivably occur at any time, and a jury would then have to decide upon
the responsibility of the writer.



    Illustrative Cases--Handwriting Experts

At one time the only evidence that was allowed to be given as to
handwriting was that of the writer himself, or of someone who had seen the
writing done, or was well acquainted with the handwriting in question.

Examples of evidence of this kind are numerous and occur in many of the
cases mentioned in other parts of this book, such as the trial of Spencer
Cowper in 1699, or of that of the Perreaus in 1775.

In the trial of Spencer Cowper (1699) an important part of the defence was
that the girl had drowned herself in a fit of depression, and letters
written by her were put forward to prove this view.

A gentleman named Marshall produced letters that he had received from her,
and a man named Beale gave evidence that he believed it to be in her
handwriting, having seen her write and holding a receipt of hers.

The jury declared they were satisfied with the evidence, but the judge
(Baron Hatsell) remarked that they might ask the mother to say whether it
was her daughter's handwriting.

Sarah Stout's brother was also questioned.

_Mrs. Stout._--How should I know! I know she was no such person; her hand
may be counterfeited.

_The Judge._--But if it were written in her more sober style, what would
you say then?

_Mrs. Stout._--I shan't say it to be her hand unless I saw her write it.

_Mr. Stout._--It is like my sister's hand.

_The Judge._--Do you believe it to be her hand?

_Mr. Stout._--No, I don't believe it; because it don't suit her character.

The judge in his summing up remarked that if the jury believed that the
letters were in the handwriting of Sarah Stout there was evidence to show
that although she was a virtuous woman a distemper might have turned her
brains, and discomposed her mind.

The history of the admission of expert evidence on handwriting in this
country is a curious one, and shows that opinion has long been divided as
to its value.

In a trial that took place in 1836 a bank inspector was put in the box to
give an opinion as to the genuineness of a signature and the judge refused
to admit this as evidence. The point was carried to the Court of Appeal,
but was still left unsettled, an equal number of judges being for and
against the admissibility of such evidence.

Mr. Justice Wills, in his standard work on _Circumstantial Evidence_,
relates that Lord Denman pronounced that evidence as to handwriting might
be regarded as an expunged chapter in the book of evidence. In spite of
this dictum, however, the evidence of the handwriting expert was made
legal in Civil Cases in 1854, and eleven years later it was also legalised
in Criminal law.

Long before a witness was permitted in this country to give his opinion
upon writing which he had not actually seen written, or with the author
of which he was unacquainted, expert evidence of this kind was admitted in
the laws of different countries in Europe and in many of the American


A good deal has been heard of late of the shortcomings of the handwriting
expert, and owing to a mistaken idea as to the nature of his evidence, the
view has been strongly expressed that such evidence should no longer be

The present feeling against evidence on handwriting is partly due to an
exaggerated importance having frequently been attached to the conclusions
of the expert, so that as soon as it could be shown that he had made a
mistake, no further trust was to be placed in his opinion; and partly to
the dogmatic attitude of certain experts in the past.

As Lord Brampton pointed out in his _Reminiscences_, the judges in
mid-Victorian days were afraid to trust their own judgment in matters of
handwriting, and powers almost occult were ascribed to the expert, who,
after all, only uses ordinary scientific methods.

The true function of the handwriting expert is to act as a sign-post to
the jury. His observation has been trained to notice minute points of
resemblance and difference, and he is thus in a position to point out in
what respect and to what extent two handwritings resemble one another or
differ, and it is then for the jury to draw their own conclusions from the
facts laid before them.

It is now no uncommon occurrence for a judge in summing up a case to the
jury to emphasise the point that the evidence of the expert is only a
matter of opinion, and that the real decision rests with them. In this way
it is possible for the judge to correct the too decided statement of
opinion which the expert is sometimes, under stress of cross-examination,
forced to give.

Netherclift, who was the chief expert in the days when Lord Brampton was
at the bar, had such faith in his methods that finally he came to believe
that he could never make a mistake.

This belief received an amusing check in a case in which he was under
cross-examination by Lord Brampton (then Mr. Hawkins).

Netherclift had claimed that his system gave infallible results, and had
further stated that his son, whom he had trained, made use of the same

"Then," said the wily advocate, "your son working on your system is as
good as you are?"

"Yes," replied the father with some pride in his voice, "he is."

"That is to say, he, too, is infallible?"

"Yes," again replied the witness.

"Well, now, Mr. Netherclift, was there ever a case in which you and your
son appeared on opposite sides?"

Netherclift tried to evade the question, which, he complained, was an
unfair one, but on being pressed was forced to admit that on a certain
occasion he had given evidence on one side and his son upon the other.

Swift came the unanswerable retort, "How comes it then that two
infallibles appeared on opposite sides?"

Netherclift's dogmatic manner rendered him peculiarly liable to fall into
traps like this, and many were the occasions on which he was found

Readers of Lord Brampton's book will recall another amusing instance in
which the expert was "put in a hole" by his opponent, who tells the story
in these words: "When I rose to examine I handed to the expert six slips
of paper, each of which was written in a different kind of handwriting.

"Netherclift took out his large pair of spectacles, magnifiers, which he
always carried. Then he began to polish them with a great deal of care,
saying as he performed that operation, 'I see, Mr. Hawkins, what you are
going to try to do--you want to put me in a hole.' 'I do, Mr. Netherclift,
and if you are ready for the hole, tell me--were those six pieces of paper
written by one hand about the same time?'

"He examined them carefully, and after a considerable time, answered: 'No;
they were written at different times, and by different hands.'

"'By different persons, do you say?'"

"'Yes, certainly.'"

"'Now, Mr. Netherclift, you are in the hole! I wrote them myself this
morning at this desk.'"

The feeling of distrust with which the evidence of the expert in
handwriting is often regarded by the legal profession is illustrated by a
capital story that was told recently by Sir Edward Carson in a letter to
the _Times_. An Irish counsel in a now forgotten case began his
cross-examination of a handwriting expert with the curious
question--"Where's the dog?"

"What dog?" said the bewildered witness.

"The dog which the judge at the last assizes said he would not hang upon
your evidence."

How closely two distinct handwritings may resemble one another was shown
in a celebrated case in which handwriting experts were proved to be
utterly mistaken. This was the trial of Sir Francis Truscott, a former
Lord Mayor of London, at the Old Bailey in 1879.

It was asserted that the defendant had sent a post card to a friend named
John Kearns, who had at one time served with him upon the City Council,
accusing him of a criminal offence and warning him that he was being
watched by the police.

At the trial evidence was given in the most positive manner by a lady who
was acquainted with Sir Francis Truscott to the effect that the moment she
had been shown the card she had recognised the writing as his.

This opinion was supported by Charles Chabot, an expert in handwriting,
who stated in the witness-box that he was certain that the writing on the
post card had been done by the same individual who had written certain
letters of the defendant which he had examined. The similarities between
the two writings were, he asserted, too close not to have been the work of
one individual.

Evidence of the same character was then given by Netherclift, who swore
that from a minute comparison of the libellous post card with letters in
the admitted writing of the accused there could be no doubt but that they
were written by the same person.

The defence was opened by a witness named Smith being put in the box. He
stated that he knew both Mr. Kearns and Sir Francis Truscott, and was
aware that the friendship between them had ceased. He was then shown the
post card and asked whose was the handwriting upon it.

"I wrote the post card," he said. "It is my own writing."

Answering further questions, this witness stated that he had been abroad
when the charge was brought against Sir Francis Truscott, and that as soon
as he learned what had happened he had made an affidavit that the writing
was his.

The father of this witness produced post cards written by his son and
stated that the libellous post card was in the handwriting of his son and
not in that of Sir Francis. Evidence was also given by another witness who
knew both Sir Francis and Mr. Smith, and who had no doubt but that the
post card was in the handwriting of the latter.

At this stage the jury intimated that they had heard sufficient, and
brought in a verdict of "Not guilty."

Mr. Justice Wills records a case in which a bank clerk being shown a
forged signature swore positively that he had written it, while he was
doubtful as to the authenticity of signatures that were undoubtedly his.

Another instance of the way in which writing may be so skilfully imitated
as to deceive even the man whose writing it purports to be is afforded by
the trial of a solicitor named Shaw at the Derby Assizes in 1861.

He was accused of having forged a mortgage, and at the trial a client of
his named Abel went into the witness-box and in all good faith swore that
his genuine signature upon a document was not his, while he recognised the
forged signature as his genuine writing.

It was proved conclusively, however, at a subsequent action that was
brought three years later, in connection with the forged deed, that Abel's
signature upon it had been forged, and the convicted solicitor was brought
into court to give evidence that he had himself signed the document.

Another curious example, also cited by Wills, of the uncertainty of
evidence as to writing was that of a trial in which a deed that was
produced bore the signature of Lord Eldon. The solicitor in the case had
no doubt as to this being a genuine document, and yet it was positively
stated by Lord Eldon that he had never witnessed any document in his life.

The cases of wrong conclusions as to handwriting have been as numerous as
those of mistaken identity of person, and have had as tragic consequences.

The notorious case of Beck will occur to everyone as an instance of a man
being not only wrongly identified, but of being also the unfortunate
possessor of a handwriting that had a close resemblance to the writing of
someone else.

The two false identifications combined were sufficient to send an innocent
man to prison, and it was long before it was established that the
witnesses upon whose evidence he had been convicted had been utterly
mistaken both with regard to his identity and his handwriting.



    Use of Microscope--Erasures--Photographic Methods--Typewritten
    Matter--Examinations of Charred Fragments--Forgery of Bank Notes.

The most valuable methods of detecting forgery have been based upon the
use of the microscope, which will frequently reveal alterations that are
quite invisible to the naked eye.

For instance, a letter may have been so carefully erased as to defy
detection by ordinary examination, but a microscopical examination will
show the slightly roughened surface of the paper, where the fibres have
been disturbed in the process of erasure. A notable example of this was
seen in the Whalley will case, an account of which is given on a later
page, and numerous instances of the same kind have come under the direct
observation of the present writer.

In one of these cases, which was settled before it reached the courts, a
letter which was to be put in evidence in a dispute as to some property
had originally contained the words "your house," but the "y" had been
skilfully erased, so that the words read "our house."

When the paper was held to the light it showed an almost imperceptible
thinness at that place, but under the microscope the ruffled fibres on the
surface of the paper where the sizing had been scratched off, were very

Skilful forgers guard against this obvious sign of alteration by treating
the erased place with a solution of rosin in spirit, which leaves a fine
shiny layer upon the paper similar to that of the original sizing.

A treatment first with hot water and then with alcohol will remove this
coating of glue or rosin, and when the paper has been dried again it will
be found that this part, which will now be free from its protective layer,
will absorb a drop of water more rapidly than the rest of the surface.

Another simple test to reveal erasure is the use of iodine vapour, which
will often cause a blue coloration (due to starch) upon the moistened
surface from which sizing has been removed, but will only colour the
remainder of the paper brown.

This test gave a very pronounced result in the examination of the letter
to which reference has been made, in which erasure of the letter "y" had
been suspected from the general appearance and microscopical examination
of the surface of the paper.

The course of the tests described above should be followed under the
microscope, although in some instances the fraud is so extensive as not to
require any magnification. As a rule, however, it is preferable to use
only one drop of a reagent, and to follow closely under a low power of the
microscope, its action, both upon the material of paper and upon the ink
of any writing, which it may render visible.

The detection of mechanical erasure, which as was mentioned above, is
frequently indicated by the paper being thinner and more transparent at
that place, is often rendered more certain by photography.

Thus if the document on which was the suspected erasure is placed between
a strong light and the camera, the negative will show a darker area
corresponding to the place where more light was transmitted through the

A photograph taken in direct light would probably in such a case show
nothing, but in a negative taken with the light falling obliquely upon the
paper, the fibres that had been roughened by the erasure would be visible,
unless a subsequent treatment with glue or rosin had been used to conceal
the injury to the surface.

Ink applied to the surface of paper from which the sizing has been removed
will show more or less tendency to spread, as upon blotting paper, and
although this may be so slight as to escape the notice of the naked eye,
it will be plainly visible under the microscope, and on a photographic
enlargement the rough edges of the marks will be very pronounced.

Every little fault or attempt at touching up will be brought into
prominence, and in cases where writing has been removed by the use of
chemical reagents the slight yellow stain which is frequently formed upon
the paper--a stain so trifling that it would not ordinarily attract
notice--will appear as a dark blotch upon a photographic reproduction. It
has frequently been claimed that it is possible to distinguish between
different kinds of ink by means of photography. Since inks contain
provisional colouring matters which cause the dried pigment upon the paper
while apparently black to be in reality red-black, blue-black, etc., it
was asserted that such differences would be made manifest in photographs
taken on an ordinary plate, and still more by the use of colour-sensitive

The present writer, however, has been unable to confirm these statements.
It is true that differences in intensity appear upon the negative, but
these are not any more pronounced than the differences obvious to the eye
in the writing, and the use of special plates and screens does not give
any more satisfactory results.

The chief use of the photographic methods is to distinguish differences in
form rather than in colour, and to record them for purposes of

One direction in which photography is particularly useful is in
deciphering the words in faded ink upon old documents, for the yellow
colour of the ancient vellum is due to the formation of iron oxide.

Of recent years photography has supplied another valuable means of
detecting alterations in documents, and it has been found particularly
useful for demonstrating to a judge and jury the results of a
microscopical examination.

Photographic reproduction and enlargement has the advantage over chemical
methods of not producing any alteration in the ink or paper, and in some
instances is just as effective as the latter. In the examination of wills,
for instance, it is necessary to obtain the express permission of the
President of the Probate Court, before any chemical tests may be applied
to the document, and except under special circumstances such permission
would certainly be refused.

All the details of the writing and of the texture of the paper may be
recorded by the camera, and a photographic enlargement may then be made to
any required extent, so as to obtain what practically amounts to a record
of the microscopical appearance. And the process has the additional
advantage over microscopical examination that a large portion of the
magnified surface may be examined at the same time, whereas in studying a
document under the microscope, the view is restricted to a very minute
portion of the surface.

With the more general use of the typewriter it became possible to write
libellous letters with much less risk of detection than in the case of
letters written in ordinary pen and ink, for the machine eliminates the
personal characteristics of the writer.

The differences between various makes of typing ink are also less
pronounced than the differences between different kinds of writing ink,
and the proof of the identical character of two inks has, therefore,
usually less significance.

There are, however, certain typewriting inks, which are characteristic
from the fact that they contain finely-divided carbon, and are, therefore,
unlike most typing inks, exceedingly permanent, and it is also possible to
distinguish between the more common violet aniline inks by the different
degrees of resistance that they offer to bleaching reagents.

Although it is not possible to identify the writer of a typed document by
a study of the typing it is frequently not a difficult matter with the aid
of the microscope to identify the machine upon which it was written.

The principle underlying such identification is that the letters upon a
new typewriter are arranged at very nearly equal spaces from each other
and produce a fully horizontal line of writing. But after being in use for
a very short period some of the letters are certain to get out of
alignment, and to give faults in their relative position, which are
usually reproduced every time those letters are struck. Thus, for
instance, an "a" may be a little above the line and an "r" fall too much
to the right, and these peculiarities will almost invariably recur
throughout every scrap of writing done upon that machine, until the
alignment has been adjusted. In no two machines are exactly the same
variations in the relative positions of the different letters likely to
occur. The chances of this happening is exceedingly remote, for there are
some seventy letters and signs upon a typewriter.

A practical illustration of the value of the evidence thus afforded, was
seen in a case that occurred about a year ago. It was suspected that a
letter had been written in collusion with a clerk in a certain office, and
proof of this was thought likely to have considerable influence upon the
issue of the trial.

When this letter, which was in typewriting, was compared with another
letter that had unquestionably been written in that office it was found
that the faults of alignment in both were identical. Wherever a letter, or
combination of letters, in the one fell above or below the line, the same
thing occurred in the other, and wherever there was unequal spacing
between two letters the distances were invariably equal in both cases.

In addition to this, the ink, which was of the violet type, contained the
same pigment, and the watermarks on the two sheets of paper were the same.

There could, therefore, be no reasonable doubt as to the two letters
having been written upon the same machine. As a matter of fact, this proof
of collusion did not carry the weight that had been expected, for the case
was decided upon issues that were not affected by such proof.

With the aid of a measuring-scale upon the eyepiece of the microscope it
is possible to measure the thickness of strokes of writing only ten
thousands of an inch across, and in some cases to prove in this way that a
certain part of a document was written at a different time or with a
different pen than the remainder of the writing.

In attempting to reproduce a signature a forger will probably make a
preliminary outline with a blacklead pencil and then go over this with

The imperfect removal of the pencil marks may then betray the fraud, as in
the Whalley will case described on another page. In some instances the
particles of the graphite may be seen with the aid of the microscope to
project beyond the upper layer of ink.

Additions and alterations made to the letters in writing are clearly
visible when magnified, and may be demonstrated in court by means of a
photographic enlargement. Any irregularities in the edges of the letters
or any break between one part of a letter and another appear much more
pronounced when examined in this way, for all faults are enormously
intensified. Thus the figure "0" might be altered into "9" by the
addition of a stroke, or a "3" turned into an "8," but it would be
practically impossible to do this in such a manner as not to show when
slightly magnified.

The accompanying illustrations, for which the writer is indebted to Mr. A.
S. Osborn and the proprietors of _Knowledge_, will make these points
clearer. In Fig. A is shown the result of an attempt to change the number
"11" into "17" by the addition of a stroke to the top of the second "1."
The small inset represents the appearance of the fraudulent alteration,
while beneath it is seen the microscopical enlargement, in which the
joining of the added portion is plainly visible.

Occasionally it happens in fraudulent alteration of writing that a stroke
or part of a letter may touch some of the original writing, and betray
itself by being above instead of below the older letter.

Thus in Fig. B the words "in full to date" were added to the receipt after
the signature had been put, and it will be noticed in the enlargement of
the cross stroke of the "t" in "date" and the top of the capital "C" in
the signature (Fig. C), that the alleged older writing comes uppermost.
The point at issue in this dispute was whether the receipt referred to a
whole sum or only to a payment on account.

The writer in the course of his experience has seen many similar
fraudulent alterations, but has never met with a case like that described
by Mr. Osborn, where the perforations which are in common use as a means
of preventing fraud had been carefully filled in, and new perforations
made. Fig. D shows that a fraud of this kind may be detected with
certainty by the aid of the microscope, the edges of the original
perforations appearing as rings of a lighter hue.

[Illustration: ALTERED NUMBER]


Detection of Forgery by means of the Camera and the Microscope

_By kind permission of "Knowledge"_]

The subsequent addition of writing to a document was in one instance
detected by the fact that the paper had been folded before the later
writing was introduced, and in the crease thus formed the sizing on the
surface of the paper had become worn, leaving the fibres more porous. Here
the ink had shown a tendency to become diffused, and the blurred edges of
the lines thus produced were very manifest.

Even where paper has been so completely charred that no signs of writing
remain visible, it is frequently possible to render the characters visible
once more by continuing the incineration until only a white structure of
ash remains.

When the writing was originally in ink the characters will usually appear
in reddish-brown marks (due to the iron in the ink) upon the white
background of ash. In the case of inks that do not contain iron, or when
the writing was in carbon or aniline typing ink, this method of
incineration will prove unsuccessful.

Writing that has been done with an ordinary lead pencil can usually be
rendered visible by carefully regulating the heat during the incineration,
so as not to burn away the graphite. Marks done with a red pencil are, as
a rule, burned away with the paper, but blue pencil marks usually persist
owing to the presence of an iron compound in the pigment.

In the case of printing inks it is rarely possible to render the
characters visible again, except when, as in blue printing ink, some iron
pigment was present.

The limits of this method of reading writing upon charred paper have
recently been investigated by Habermann, who finds that a main essential
for the successful working of the process is that the paper itself shall
yield a coherent white ash. In the case of common varieties of paper,
especially printing paper, which are loaded with china clay and other
mineral matter, this condition is admirably fulfilled.

With pure rag papers, however, the ash is much less coherent and is too
small in quantity to leave a background. Even in such cases it is possible
to increase the amount and coherence of the ash by painting the reverse
side of the charred paper with a solution of a mineral fixative agent,
such as aluminium acetate. On now drying the paper and continuing the
ignition the added substance leaves its own white ash which binds together
the ash of the paper.

The fragments of white ash upon which writing has been made visible will
obviously be extremely fragile, but they may be rendered firm enough to
handle by applying a solution of collodion to the reverse side, which on
evaporation leaves a layer of nitro-cellulose similar to that with which
incandescent gas mantles are coated.

Any shrinkage or distortion of the letters in the writing caused by the
contraction of the ash of the paper during the incineration is obviated or
minimised by burning the carbonised paper very slowly.

A record of the revivified writing may also be made by means of

The one pound notes issued by the Bank of England until as late as 1826,
appear to have afforded peculiar temptations to forgery, judging by the
number of persons convicted of the offence.

[Illustration: A FORGED RECEIPT]

[Illustration: PORTION OF THE SAME

_By kind permission of "Knowledge"_]


(SEE PAGE 110)]

The statistics on this point are very remarkable. Between the years 1797
and 1811, 471 people were convicted of uttering the notes or having them
in their possession.

In 1814, the number of fraudulent one pound notes detected was 10,342; in
1815, 14,085; in 1816, 21,860; in 1817, 21,241; and during the first three
months of 1818, 8,937.

The ease with which the notes could be imitated, and the readiness with
which they could be circulated, caused hundreds of people to take up the
trade of forgery, until at length whole days were occupied at the Old
Bailey with the endless trials and convictions.

Much indignation was expressed in the newspapers that the Bank had not
issued notes which could not be imitated, and as a result of this outcry,
a committee of scientific men was appointed to examine and report upon the
best means of checking the evil.

Their report stated that they had examined many specimens of engraving,
but none that had been submitted to them was proof against skilful
imitation. Most of the forged notes had been clumsily imitated, and from
this it appeared that the public were quite ready to be deceived by them.

It was commonly believed, though without foundation, that the Bank placed
a private mark upon their notes by which they could subsequently be

The general dissatisfaction with the behaviour of the Bank authorities was
intensified by the amount of public money that was spent in the
prosecution of the forgers, and the view was freely expressed that the
Bank had no right to assume the office of prosecutor.

In the year 1818, for instance, there were 242 prosecutions, the cost of
which was £34,357.

So pronounced became public opinion upon the subject that the Bank was
forced to allow the culprits to plead guilty to a minor charge, the
penalty for which was transportation instead of death.

This became almost a necessity, since there were frequently batches of
twenty or thirty convicted forgers awaiting execution, though the death
penalty was only exacted in a relatively small proportion of the cases.

During the seven years ending 1825 there were 78,918 males and 14,800
females tried on the charge of forging these notes. Of these prisoners,
17,874 were acquitted, while out of the remaining 75,844 sentence of death
was passed upon 7,770, though not more than 579 of these were executed.
Even this small proportion gave the terrible yearly average of
eighty-three executions.

As it was at that time impossible to stop these wholesale forgeries the
abolition of the issue of one pound notes, which took place in 1826, was
obviously the only solution of the difficulty.



    Elizabethan Ink--Milton's Bible--Age of Inks--Carbon Inks--Herculaneum
    MSS.--Forgery of Ancient Documents.

In order to make clear the principles upon which are based the methods of
distinguishing between different kinds of ink in handwriting it is
necessary to give some account of the nature of ink.

Ordinary writing ink is essentially a mixture of a decoction of galls (or
other substances containing tannin) with a solution of copperas, or as it
is now termed, ferrous sulphate. These substances combine with one another
to form a tannate of iron, which gradually changes on exposure to the air
into another iron tannate, which is insoluble and constitutes the black
pigment of writing.

Characters written with a pure freshly-prepared iron gall ink are very
faint in colour when first applied to the paper, and it is only after the
air has acted upon them that they gradually become dark blue and finally

In the old type of iron-gall ink, that which was universally employed down
to the early part of last century, inks were exposed to the air or were
boiled in order that the insoluble black pigment might form within the
liquid, and thus give some colour to the ink when it was first put upon
paper. The objection to this is that ink thus prepared is liable to clog
the pen and not to penetrate properly into the fibres of the paper.

In the modern type of inks, therefore, which are commonly known as
"blue-black" inks, this method of partial oxidation is not employed, but a
colouring matter is added instead, so that the writing has some colour
immediately, pending the formation of the black pigment within the fibres
of the paper.

The nature of this provisional colouring matter varies in different inks,
and no two manufacturers appear to use the same substance for this
purpose. In some inks indigo is employed, in others logwood, while the
introduction of aniline dyestuffs placed an abundant choice of colouring
matters at the disposal of the manufacturer.

In the case of old inks it would only have been possible to distinguish
between writings done with different kinds where some mistake had been
made in the preparation of the ink, and a large excess of iron or of galls
had been used.

The possibility of such mistakes occurring, however, will be readily
understood when it is remembered that ink-making was formerly as much a
part of the duties of the housewife as the baking of bread or the making
of cordials.

As writing was a polite accomplishment restricted to the educated people
of leisure the ink-manufacturer could not have existed, for there would
have been no customers, and recipes for the making of ink were therefore
handed down for generations.

A particularly interesting example of an early domestic recipe for making
ink is shown in the accompanying figure which Mr. G. Weddell has kindly
allowed to be reproduced. This was taken from a collection of old family
recipes dating back to the early part of the sixteenth century, and
including among its odd assortment of items directions for making
everything needed for the household, from apple pasties to cures for the
king's evil. This particular recipe, which was one of several for making
ink, was probably written towards the close of the sixteenth century. It
gives directions for soaking the galls in rain water (or claret, or red
vinegar) and boiling the liquid, after standing for a few days, with
copperas and gum. The whole collection of these recipes, which suggest
many a picture of the life in an English household in the sixteenth
century, has been published in facsimile (_Arcana Fairfaxiana
Manuscripta_, 1890).

[Illustration: Elizabethan domestic recipe for ink]

Ink made by the rule of thumb methods of the housewife must have often
been very poor stuff, and it is to this cause that we must attribute the
want of permanency of the ink in some of the relatively modern writing as
compared with that upon manuscripts centuries earlier.

No more interesting illustration of the effect of the composition of old
inks upon the permanency of writing can be found than in the various names
written in Milton's family Bible, to be seen in the British Museum. It
will be noticed that all the entries of the births of himself and the
members of his family are in the handwriting of Milton, and that with one
exception all the inks are of a good dark tone. The exception is seen in
the entry relating to the birth of his daughter Deborah "on the 2nd of
May, being Sunday, somewhat before three of the clock in the morning,
1652." Here the ink has faded to a faint brown tint.

Considerable variations are possible in the proportions of galls and iron
that may be used without interfering with the blackness of the pigment,
but a deficiency of tannin outside those limits will cause the writing to
turn brown. A lack of tannin to combine with the excess of iron present is
probably the explanation of this faded entry in Milton's Bible.

It is very probable, too, that tests applied to the freshly-written
entries would have shown that the ink in this entry was of different
composition from that of the inks in the other entries.

Lovibond's tintometer, an instrument which enables slight differences of
colour to be distinguished more accurately than is possible with the naked
eye, has been used in matching the colour obtained in chemical reactions
with those given by the colour scales prepared from known or suspected

For recording colour, strips of glass graduated so as to form a series of
colour scales are employed in this instrument, and in this way a note can
be taken of any given tint.

[Illustration: The Tintometer]

The first occasion upon which this instrument was employed in criminal
work was in the Brinkley poisoning case, in which the colours of the
different inks upon the will and other documents were examined by its

The problem of determining the age of an ink in writing is much more
difficult than that of deciding whether two writings are in the same or in
a different kind of ink.

It is, as a rule, possible to distinguish, with the aid of the microscope
and tintometer, between freshly-written and old writing up to about the
sixth day, after which the black pigment has attained sufficient intensity
to prevent further differentiation until after the lapse of two or three
years or more, when the provisional pigment will have faded or have become
fixed by the iron tannate.

In most cases the provisional pigments used offer greater resistance to
the action of chemicals, but are infinitely less stable than the iron
tannate when exposed to the action of light and air, and eloquent
testimony to this difference is given by the comparison of certain
manuscripts of the seventh and eighth centuries with typewritten matter in
aniline ink, which has been put aside for a few years.

Thus it happens that when characters written in blue-black ink are kept,
the blue pigment will gradually fade out, leaving the black pigment; and
when this stage is reached the ink in old writing is readily distinguished
from ink that has been freshly put upon paper.

Prior to this, however, the blue provisional colouring matter appears to
become enveloped in the particles of iron tannate so that it no longer
reacts rapidly with chemical reagents.

Thus, if writing done within the last year or two be treated with acetic
acid there is an immediate diffusion of the blue pigment, whereas in the
older writing, diffusion, if it occurs at all, is very slow and limited in

A still more useful reagent for this purpose is a saturated solution of
oxalic acid, which causes the pigment of relatively fresh writing to give
an immediate smudge, but has very little, if any, effect on writing six or
eight years old. The differences in the behaviour of old and relatively
recent writing are seen in the tests here illustrated, in which the old
writing of 1898 was hardly affected by the reagents, whereas the writing
done in 1908 gave the results shown.

Both writings were in the same kind of ink and the tests were applied

Speaking generally, a writing done with blue-black ink ceases to show such
diffusion after five to six years. When slight diffusion occurs in an
older ink it is seen under the microscope to differ in character and only
to affect the surface of the letters, whereas the diffusion in an ink
written within the last two or three years affects the whole of the
pigment in the letters.

The first occasion on which chemical evidence as to the age of blue-black
ink has been given in the law courts was in the recent forgery case, in
which Colonel Pilcher was accused of forging his cousin's will. This will
was alleged to have been written in 1898; and assuming this to have been
the case, the ink should only have reacted very slowly with the different
reagents; there should have been little or no diffusion with oxalic acid:
and if any slight diffusion occurred it should only have been upon the
surface of the letters.

The ink upon the will, however, gave an immediate reaction with the
different reagents, the blue pigment diffused at once with oxalic acid,
and the diffusion extended throughout the whole of the letters. There was
thus no doubt but that the ink upon the will had been written within the
last year or two--certainly within the last six years.

Cheques written by the deceased lady during the last thirteen years were
also subjected simultaneously to the same tests, and while those written
quite recently gave an immediate diffusion, the ink upon those written in
1903 showed only the slightest diffusion in the heaviest writing, and no
diffusion at all was obtained upon the cheques written in 1901.

The general adoption of blue-black ink for the old iron-gall ink has made
it a simple matter to distinguish between old and new writing, for it is
easy to differentiate the two kinds of ink by tests which show the
presence of the blue pigment.

The test has been found useful of late in checking the statements of
certain claimants of old-age pensions, who, as a proof of their age, have
pointed to the entries of date of their birth in old family Bibles.

In more than one instance the results of a scientific examination of the
inks have failed to support the claim, for they have proved conclusively
that the ink was of recent origin.

It is a simple matter to distinguish between the ancient types of ink that
were in use during the early centuries of the Christian era until they
were gradually replaced by iron-gall inks and modern writing inks. For the
basis of all these ancient inks is lampblack, or some other form of
carbon, which is very resistant to the action of reagents. It is for this
reason that printing ink, the pigment of which is carbon, is so much more
stable than any ordinary writing ink can be. In fact, in order to increase
the permanence of writing inks it has frequently been recommended to add
a small amount of some carbon ink.

The most easily obtained preparation of the kind is the commercial Indian
or Chinese ink, which consists essentially of a mixture of glue with
lampblack in the finest possible state of division.

In order to distinguish between a carbon ink of this nature and an
ordinary writing ink all that is necessary is to apply a dilute bleaching
agent. The blue-black pigment of the writing ink will then gradually
disappear, whereas the fine particles of carbon in the other ink will show
little, if any alteration, and may still be discerned under the microscope
as minute black granules resting upon the fibres of the paper.

It was by a method similar to this that Sir Humphrey Davy proved that the
writing upon papyri found in the ruins of Herculaneum, which was destroyed
in A.D. 79, had been done with a carbon ink, of the same nature as that
used by the ancient Egyptians and by the Chinese and Japanese at the
present day. On none of the Herculaneum MSS. could any trace of iron ink
be detected.

The same tests may be applied to determine whether the writing upon a
document has been lithographed or has been written with ordinary ink.

An amusing instance of the kind came within the present writer's
experience. A sheet of paper upon which was some writing that was believed
to have been written by Nelson had been handed down in a family for
several generations as an heirloom, and had always been looked upon as a
genuine document. The ink had the faded yellow tone of old iron ink, and
there was nothing to show that the writing was not what it professed to

Its present owner, however, happened to notice in a museum what appeared
to be a duplicate of the manuscript in his possession, and when a chemical
test was applied to the ink upon the latter the pigment was quite
unaffected. Hence there could be no doubt as to its being a copy of the
original reproduced by lithography.

Cases in which it is necessary to distinguish between iron-gall writing
inks and printing or other carbon inks occur from time to time in criminal
investigations. As a recent example a case that was tried a few months ago
may be mentioned. The chief clerk of a firm of merchants had for a
considerable time been defrauding his employers, and when suspicion at
length fell upon him, endeavoured to conceal his doings by falsifying the
entries of previous years in the ledger.

In order to do this it was necessary to abstract certain pages in a
particular part of the ledger and to substitute the necessary alterations.
Then, finding that the ink of the writing would appear too new, and thus
invite inquiry, he added a small amount of Indian ink to an ordinary
writing ink, and thus obtained a mixture, which gave an immediate effect
of age to the writing. To the naked eye there was nothing to show that
these pages had not been written on the dates mentioned on them, three or
four years previously, but on applying a weak bleaching agent the fraud
was at once made obvious. The iron-gall part of the pigment faded away,
but the particles of carbon that had formed the basis of the Indian ink
were left, and their nature could easily be recognised under the
microscope. The entries on the other pages in the ledger, which had been
written in ordinary writing were completely bleached in the test.

A very curious illustration of the difficulties that beset the forger of
ancient documents was afforded by the trial of Humphreys in 1839 in

The prisoner was the claimant to the earldom of Stirling, and in support
of his claim had produced a number of documents supposed to date back to
the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. One of these purported to
be a portion of a charter granted by King Charles I to the first Earl of
Stirling in 1639, permitting the succession to the earldom to descend
through the daughters of the house.

As witness to this there was appended the signature of Archbishop
Spottiswood described as "our Chancellor," whereas as a matter of history
the seal had been handed to the Marquis of Hamilton a year prior to the
date of the pretended charter. There were also various other anachronisms
in the document, such as margins in red ink, which were not used before

Scientific evidence was also given that the ink upon the pretended charter
was not old ink, but ink that had been treated in such a manner as to
appear old.

Similar inconsistencies were shown in the other pieces of documentary
evidence, and scientific proof was given that the date upon an engraved
map, upon the back of which were memoranda supporting the claimant's case,
had been added at a later period.

The jury unanimously found the prisoner guilty of forgery.



    Trial of Brinkley--Trial of Robert Wood

The first occasion upon which scientific evidence as to the difference of
blue-black inks upon a document was given in a court of law in this
country was at the trial of Richard Brinkley at the Guildford Assizes in
July, 1907, for the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Beck.

Brinkley, at the time of his trial, was about fifty years of age. He was a
carpenter by trade, but in the course of his life had turned his hand to
many occupations, and for many months had been living upon the proceeds of
the property which he claimed to have inherited.

For some time prior to her death he had made himself indispensable to an
old lady named Blume, and when, early in 1906, she died, he produced a
will in which she had left him her house and money.

On the strength of this will, which he proved in the usual way, Brinkley
took possession of Mrs. Blume's house, much to the disgust of her daughter
and granddaughter, who had always resented his influence over the old
lady. They had no knowledge that anything was wrong with the will, but
they determined to test its validity, and accordingly a _caveat_ was
entered against it.

Brinkley had not anticipated that he would have to prove that it was a
genuine document, or that he would have to depend upon the testimony of
the men whose signatures as witnesses were present upon the will. He knew
that he could rely upon one of his witnesses, a man named Hird, who had
drawn up the will; but the other witness, Parker, refused to perjure
himself for Brinkley's benefit. He owned that he had signed a paper when
he had been out with Brinkley, but denied that he had ever seen or signed
a will.

As Parker's refusal to appear in court meant that the will would be
declared a forgery, Brinkley decided that he must be cleared from his

He therefore obtained some prussic acid from a man who described himself
as "a friend of our dumb fellow-creatures," alleging that he needed it to
kill a dog, and this poison he introduced into a bottle of oatmeal stout,
which he took round to Parker's lodgings in Croydon, and placed in his

Before Parker came home his landlady, Mrs. Beck, went into his room and
seeing the bottle of stout called her husband and daughter, and they all
drank the poisoned beer that had never been intended for them. Mr. and
Mrs. Beck died the same night, and their daughter, who had taken less of
the stout, was very ill, though she ultimately recovered.

Parker was immediately arrested, but being able to prove his innocence was
soon set free, and suspicion then fell upon Brinkley who, after the
coroner's inquest, was committed for trial on the charge of murdering the
Becks, the law being that if you deliberately intend to kill one person
and unintentionally kill another you are none the less guilty of murder.

On the way to the police station, after his arrest, Brinkley made the
significant statement: "If anyone says I put poison in stout, he's got to
prove it." Up to that moment there had been no mention of poisoned stout.

At the police court proceedings it was proved that the Becks had died from
the effects of prussic acid, that Brinkley had bought that poison, that he
had bought a bottle of stout in West Croydon, and that he had been seen on
the platform at Wandsworth waiting for the West Croydon train.

The motive of the crime was an important link in the chain of evidence,
but Brinkley held stoutly to his story that the will was signed by both
witnesses in the presence of Mrs. Blume.

Parker's version of his signature, the authenticity of which he did not
dispute, was that while he was out with Brinkley one evening the latter
asked him to sign his name upon a paper petitioning for an outing, and
that they had thereupon turned into a public-house, where he, Parker, had
written his name upon a sheet of paper, the upper part of which was folded

In order to test the truth of Parker's statement the bottle of ink was
obtained from that public-house, and he was told to write his name upon a
sheet of paper in that ink, and this paper and the original will were
submitted to the present writer for examination.

By the aid of the methods described in the preceding pages it was found
that the ink of Parker's signature upon the will and that of the writing
upon the piece of paper were of the same kind--an ink readily recognisable
from its particularly brilliant blue pigment. In addition to this, three
distinct kinds of ink were present upon the will, the body of the
document and the signature of one witness being in one kind of ink, the
signature of the testatrix in another, and the signature of the other
witness in a third.

When the case came on at the Assizes at Guildford Mr. R. D. Muir appeared
for the prosecution, while the prisoner was very ably defended by Mr.
Frampton. Every day the judge, counsel on both sides, the prisoner, and
many of the witnesses went down to Guildford by a train in the morning and
returned to London again in the evening.

Each morning the prisoner when he entered the court appeared quite
unconcerned, and chatted with the warders. As is so often the case, he did
not seem to realise the gravity of his position.

It was shown in the evidence that he had some knowledge of poisons, and
that he had selected one that would disappear more or less rapidly from
the body after death. The chemical evidence as to the presence of prussic
acid in the bodies was given by Dr. Stevenson and Mr. Bodmer, and was not
called in question by the defence.

Evidence was also given by the writer with regard to the inks upon the
will, and this, too, was not disputed. In fact, Brinkley, who went into
the witness-box, when asked how he explained the fact of three kinds of
ink being on the will replied that Mrs. Blume had three different sorts in
the house.

He was then asked what had become of two of them, since only one bottle of
ink was discovered when the house was searched, and to this his answer was
that he had given these to a little girl.

Throughout the trial Brinkley's explanations of damning facts were never
supported by any evidence, while for every statement of Parker there was
abundant corroboration.

The scene in court on the opening day of the trial will probably never be
forgotten by anyone present. A heavy thunderstorm passed over Guildford,
and for some minutes such blackness filled the interior of the hall where
the Assizes were held that it was barely possible to distinguish the faces
of those who were trying a man for his life, excepting when they were lit
up by the vivid flashes of lightning. Throughout the storm Mr. Muir
continued, in clear incisive tones, which could be plainly heard across
the noise of the thunder, to marshal the array of deadly facts, from which
there could be no escape for the prisoner sitting motionless in the dock.

To the journalist nothing that means "copy" is sacred, and the
representative of one leading London paper whispered to another sitting
just behind the writer, "What a pity this couldn't happen while the
sentence of death was being passed!"

Mr. Frampton in his speech for the defence dwelt principally upon other
possible explanations of evidence, which, as he urged, was entirely
circumstantial in character, but he was unable to produce any witnesses to
support the assertions of Brinkley.

After a trial which lasted four days, the judge (Sir John Bigham) summed
up, and the jury, after a short retirement, found the prisoner guilty.

Until the end he protested his innocence.

The most sensational trial that has taken place in this country for many
years was that of Robert Wood, a young artist, in 1907, on the charge of
murdering a woman.

The story of the crime itself is a particularly sordid one, but the
behaviour of the prisoner in court, and the excited state of public
feeling upon the subject gave a profound psychological interest to the

A woman had been found brutally murdered in her lodgings in a small house
in Camden Town, and no trace could be found of the murderer.

In the fire-grate, however, had been found some charred fragments of a
letter, while in the chest of drawers a post card that had escaped notice
had been discovered.

A reproduction of this post card was posted up at the police-stations and
published in the papers, and was soon recognised by several people as
being in the handwriting of Robert Wood.

In the meantime, Wood, finding that suspicion was likely to attach to him,
persuaded a girl of his acquaintance, named Ruby Young, to promise to
support his statement that he had been with her upon the evening when the
murder took place.

A day or two later Ruby Young became uneasy as to the effect her promise
was likely to produce, and asked the advice of a journalist as to what
would be the best thing to do, putting the case as a hypothetical one. The
man, however, at once saw to what she alluded, and immediately telephoned
to the police, and this led to the arrest of Robert Wood.

At the police court proceedings an expert opinion was given that the
fragments of charred paper found in the grate of the dead woman, were in
the handwriting of Wood, and evidence was also given by the present writer
that the pigment in which the characters were written was identical with
that of a marking-ink pencil found upon the prisoner.

For a long time Wood denied that he had had anything to do with these
fragments. Subsequently, at the beginning of the trial at the Old Bailey,
he admitted that he had written them, though to the end he strenuously
refused to admit that the words had the meaning which they appeared to

He denied that they referred to any appointment made with the dead woman
for the day upon which she was murdered.

The proof of the fact that these bits of charred paper had really been
written by Wood brought him very close to the scene of the crime, and his
attempt to create a false alibi and to get Ruby Young to bear this out
still further strengthened the suspicion against him.

The most telling evidence, however, was the statement of a carman, who
had, he asserted, seen a man leave the house of the murdered woman at five
o'clock in the morning. He had not seen the face of the man, but had
noticed that he had a characteristic swinging walk, and when taken to the
police station had identified the prisoner among a number of other men,
who had been made to walk round the yard, as the man that he had seen
coming down the steps of the house.

Other evidence was given as to Wood's having been seen in the company of
the deceased woman on several occasions in the past, although he asserted
that he had only known her a few days and had seen her only once or twice.
The bad reputation of most of these witnesses detracted from the value of
their evidence.

Mr. Marshall Hall, who conducted Wood's defence, made a very brilliant
speech, in which he laid stress upon the weak points in the case for the
prosecution--the evidence that had been gathered from a tainted source,
the complete absence of any motive for the crime, and the fact that the
jury were trying the prisoner for murder and not for immorality or lying.

He urged that the keynote in this case was that Wood, who had a great deal
of vanity, could not take upon himself the responsibility of admitting
what would cause him to occupy a lower position in the estimation of those
who had given him their undivided respect and affection.

What, he asked, was the evidence of murder? The only iota of evidence that
turned the scale against Wood was that of the man McGowan, who stated that
he had seen the prisoner leaving the house, and had afterwards recognised
him by an alleged peculiarity in his gait.

Two months after the arrest of her lover, Ruby Young, for the first time,
had said that he had a peculiar gait similar to that described by McGowan,
and so far as she was concerned this, said counsel, was a gross and
vindictive lie.

The chief evidence called for the defence was that of Wood's father and
brother, who stated that he was at home on the night of the murder, and of
a neighbour who had lived beneath them, who had seen Wood come home that

A ticket collector named Westcott, employed at King's Cross station,
stated that he lived in the same road, and that on the early morning, when
Wood was stated to have been seen, he left his house at five minutes to
five. He was then wearing a loose overcoat. Westcott was a
broad-shouldered man, and a boxer, and had a brisk swinging walk. It was
this man, it was suggested, whom McGowan had mistaken for Wood.

Wood, himself, was put into the box and gave his evidence in a low, and at
times, nearly inaudible voice, though he showed not a sign of nervousness.
He gave emphatic denials to the questions put to him in cross-examination
by Sir Charles Matthews, but he admitted having lied in the matter of the
false alibi that he had attempted to set up. He was, he said, in a tight
corner, and any man would have done the same if placed in the same

With reference to the fragments of paper on which were words in his
handwriting he denied that they were part of a letter, and suggested that
it might have been some scrap of writing taken from his pocket by the dead
woman. The theory of its referring to an assignation was, he suggested, an
act of imagination upon the part of the prosecuting counsel.

The judge, Sir William Grantham, in summing up the case, pointed out that
had it not been for the conduct of Wood himself in telling lies and
keeping back what he knew, there would have been no justification for
such a lengthy trial.

The evidence of McGowan was, he said, open to a certain amount of doubt,
owing to the fact that the witness had not mentioned at once about having
noticed a peculiarity in the walk of the man he saw leaving the house in
St. Paul's Road, just before five o'clock on the morning of September

Then the statements of Ruby Young did not bring the crime home to the
prisoner at all. That was a remarkable feature in the case. A number of
witnesses for the Crown did not directly connect the prisoner with the

The inference, in view of the evidence of other witnesses, was that Wood
in his evidence had been lying all through. But the jury could not convict
him because he was a liar. It was mainly in consequence of Wood's own
false statements that the prosecution were bound to rely upon the evidence
of the other witnesses who had come forward.

"Although," said the judge in concluding his address to the jury, "it is
my duty to do all I can to further the interests of justice, it is also my
duty to inform the jury that they must not find a man guilty unless no
loophole is left by which he can escape. In my judgment, strong as is the
suspicion in this case, I don't think the prosecution have brought the
case near enough home to the prisoner--with the exception of the evidence
of McGowan. That evidence, if implicitly relied upon, would justify you in
finding him guilty; but that evidence is considerably controverted. I
don't think the identification, even if true, is sufficient to justify
you in finding this man guilty. Therefore, although it is a matter for you
alone, it is my duty to point out the effect of the evidence, and it is my
duty to point out that unless the effect of the evidence is so conclusive
that there can be no doubt in anyone's mind, you should give the prisoner
the benefit of the doubt, and say you don't think he is guilty."

It was a quarter to eight in the evening when the jury retired to consider
their verdict, and before eight had struck they were back again in court,
and had pronounced their verdict of "Not guilty."

Cheer on cheer swept through the court, and for some minutes it was
impossible for the judge and the court officers to obtain silence. Men and
women thronged round the dock eager to grasp the hand which Robert Wood
held out to them over the rail.

Outside, in the street, the dense mob that thronged up to the very doors
of the court, took up the cry, and yelled itself hoarse with the words
"Not guilty. Not guilty."

The public had long before this decided that Wood was innocent, and the
orgies of wild enthusiasm that followed upon the announcement of the
verdict were some indication of the tense excitement that had been pent up
for so many days. Robert Wood had become the popular hero of the hour.

It is difficult now to account for this hero-worship of a man who had done
nothing to justify such worship, except upon the theory of an emotional
infection that had destroyed the balance of collective judgment. This want
of proportion reached its limit perhaps in an article written for a Sunday
paper by one of the best known actresses. After describing the emotional
stress through which she had passed while waiting for the jury to give
their verdict she mentioned that she had gone into the hall. There she had
noticed a forlorn little figure of a girl wandering listlessly up and
down. Someone told her that this was Ruby Young, and for a moment she had
felt an impulse to go and speak to her, for she pitied her from the bottom
of her heart. And as she looked at her, with tears welling up in her eyes,
she thought of Peter when he had gone out and wept bitterly!

It was a matter of the greatest difficulty for those connected with the
case to force a way through the surging crowd that was waiting to give a
boisterous welcome to the acquitted artist and his solicitor and counsel,
and to vent their disapproval upon witnesses who had dared to give
evidence against him, and particularly Ruby Young.

For hours she waited, trembling, within the building, for it was not
thought prudent to allow her to venture outside; and it was quite late at
night before, disguised as a charwoman, she was able to make her escape
through a small door that had not attracted the notice of the mob.

This was the climax of one of the most unpleasant features of the trial,
in the course of which several of the witnesses had complained to the
judge of the attempts that had been made to intimidate them from giving
their evidence.

Another memorable feature in the trial was the behaviour of the accused.

Throughout his ordeal Wood seemed to be more concerned about the
impression he was making upon the spectators in court than about the
necessity of accounting satisfactorily for many suspicious circumstances
that told against him.

So well did he appear to be able to control his emotions that, as he
himself wrote afterwards, he could notice whether one of the actresses who
attended the trial day by day, smiled upon him.

Never for one moment did he lose this self-control or appear otherwise
than an unconcerned witness of the events upon which his life depended.

This absence of nerves in the accused is what struck most people as one of
the strangest features in a strange trial, and caused Mr. Hall Caine, who
was present in the court throughout the whole time, to write of him: "That
he felt nothing I will not dare to say, that his mental processes were not
frequently stirred to such pain as comes of baffling difficulties, but
that the ordeal of his trial was a terrible one to him I absolutely refuse
to believe. Robert Wood, innocent of the murder of Emily Dimmock, is yet
the most remarkable man alive."

In what trial upon a charge of murder has there ever been witnessed the
sight of the prisoner, whose life was hanging in the balance, laughing and
chatting with his friends, and making sketches of the judge, the counsel,
and the witnesses? Even at the most crucial moment of the trial, when the
jury had withdrawn to consider their verdict he exhibited no trace of
anxiety, but until called below sat calmly sketching, while he waited for
their return.

And thus Mr. Hall Caine wondered, as he got the prisoner to sign his name
upon the back of a copy of the charred fragments of the letter, whether
"with all his mental alertness, his intellectual activity, his
temperamental composure, this was not one of those men, the rare and
mysterious men, who lack some necessary quality on the moral side of their



The so-called _sympathetic inks_, by which is understood inks that give a
writing that is invisible, or nearly so, until it has been acted upon by
the air or treated with a special reagent, have been put to many ingenious
uses by the criminal.

Some five years ago an innocent-looking individual called at the
laboratory of one of the leading consulting chemists in London, and asked
whether he could be supplied with a writing fluid that would give writing
which would fade away in a short time, and also with another ink that
would produce words that would be invisible for some time and then appear.
He gave as his reason for requiring these that he wanted to amuse a small

The sequel was seen a few weeks later when the same plausible individual
was arrested for swindling on the race-course. He had made tempting bets
on certain horses, the names of which he had written on slips of paper,
and had handed these slips to those who had accepted his wagers.

In a short time the name of the horse on each slip of paper gradually
faded away while the name of another horse slowly appeared in its place.

One man to whom one of these slips had been given, having been warned by
another victim, hurried away to the police station, and was in time to let
the superintendent see the name of an "outsider" replace that of one of
the favourites upon which he had laid his money.

This appears to have been the last detected attempt to use a sympathetic
ink upon the race-course. A disappearing ink frequently used for this
purpose is a weak solution of starch containing a slight trace of iodine,
the effect of which is to produce a faint blue colour. On exposure to the
air the colour of writing done with such a fluid soon fades away.

Fugitive dye-stuffs have also been employed as disappearing inks, and some
of these, such as quinoline blue, give characters that rapidly disappear
when exposed to sunlight.

An ink that is invisible for some time is a solution of silver nitrate in
ammonia, which gradually becomes black when acted upon by air and light.
Or certain dye-stuffs such as magenta, that have been treated with a
bleaching reagent in just sufficient quantity to decolorise them fulfil
the same purpose, the original colour gradually reappearing as the oxygen
of the air acts upon the pigment.

The earliest inks that were rendered visible by chemical reagents were
believed to act by magnetism.

Thus in a medical book of the seventeenth century, written by Brossonius,
a "magnetic fluid" is described made from "arseniated liver of sulphur,"
which only became visible when looked at with the "eyes of affection."
This appears to have been nothing more mysterious than an ink of lead
acetate, the characters written with which could be rendered visible by
exposing them to the vapour of sulphuretted hydrogen.

Inks of this kind were also mentioned, in 1669, by Otto Tachen, who
referred to them as _aquæ magnetice e longinquo agentes_, but pointed out
that there was nothing magnetic in their action. The term _sympathetic
ink_ appears to have originated with Le Mort, who applied it to the lead
acetate ink, and later on the name was extended to all secret inks.

The best known sympathetic inks consist of solutions of cobalt salts, the
writing done with which changes on heating from a nearly invisible pink to
blue. This peculiarity of cobalt to form two series of salts containing
different amounts of water was discovered in 1715 by Waiz.

Other compounds that may be used as sympathetic writing fluids include
tannin, which forms ordinary ink on the addition of iron sulphate; cobalt
nitrate which becomes blue on adding oxalic acid, and gold chloride which
gives a purple colour with tin chloride.

Some thirty years ago a patent was taken out by Kromer for the use of a
sympathetic ink in detecting any tampering with envelopes. The two dried
constituents of the ink, say tannin and iron sulphate, are separated by
the adhesive gum upon the envelope, so that should steam be applied to
open the letter, the two substances come into contact, and form an ink,
which leaves a stain upon the paper.

Printing inks based upon these principles are used in preparing the
groundwork of cheques, so that any attempt to remove the writing from the
cheque by means of chemical agents will be betrayed by the change of
colour upon the body of the paper.

The value of sympathetic inks in detecting an offender was strikingly
shown in the recent Sutton libel case, in which a woman was found guilty
of sending offensive cards through the post.

The story is a very remarkable one. For many months during 1908 and the
early part of 1909, there was an epidemic of anonymous post cards in
Sutton, many people receiving them and no one being able to trace their

Among other people who received these cards was a Mrs. Tugwell, and in
some of them it was stated that she and another woman were "not fit
members" of a certain congregation. Suspicion fell upon the housekeeper of
the Roman Catholic priest, Annie Dewey, and mainly on the evidence of a
handwriting expert, she was committed for trial at the Assizes.

The writing on the libellous cards was undoubtedly extremely like that of
Miss Dewey, and, as events subsequently proved, was a very skilful
imitation of it by someone who wished to throw suspicion upon her. When
the Assizes came on, no evidence was offered by the prosecution and the
case was dismissed. The libels still continued, however, and Mrs. Tugwell
having received more libellous cards, her husband again took the matter
up, and Miss Dewey was once more committed for trial in March, 1910. The
trial was a very exhaustive one, but no convincing evidence was brought
against the accused, who was therefore acquitted.

In the meantime a number of suspicious circumstances pointed to the
conclusion that Mrs. Tugwell herself was the author of the libellous cards
and letters, and that she had also apparently written those that she had
received through the post.

In order to obtain proof of this the police, by arrangement with the
postal authorities, marked a large number of stamps with a sympathetic
ink, that would not become visible until it had been treated with another

Instructions were given to the postmaster that these marked stamps were to
be supplied to none but members of the Tugwell family.

In April two more libellous post cards were sent to Canon Cafferata, a
Roman Catholic priest, and the stamps upon these cards were two of those
marked with the invisible ink.

The house of the Tugwells was now watched by the police, and one evening
when Mrs. Tugwell was seen coming out, the pillar-box close at hand was
immediately cleared of all its letters by an official. Mrs. Tugwell then
put two letters in the box, both of which contained foul libels. One of
these was addressed to a friend of hers and the other to herself.

The handwriting on both these letters was an imitation of that of Miss
Dewey. A warrant was now issued for the arrest of Mrs. Tugwell, and when
her house was searched, envelopes having the same watermark as that of the
envelopes containing the libellous letters were discovered. There were
also found some French books containing the French phrases used in the
letters, and several pieces of blotting paper upon which were words and
phrases occurring in libellous letters.



    Trials--William Hale--The Perreaus--Caroline Rudd--Dr. Dodd--Whalley
    Will Case--Pilcher, etc.

The evidence given at the trial of William Hale, in 1728, at the Old
Bailey has many points of interest. The accused was charged with forging a
promissory note for £6,400.

At this time it was customary for certain privileged persons to frank
letters by merely signing their names upon them and adding the word

In this case the forged promissory note bore the words "for myself and
partners" followed by the signature, and the Attorney-General pointed out
in his speech for the prosecution that this had been done by erasing the
two "e's" of "free," inserting an "o" between the "f" and "r," and then
adding the additional words.

It was also alleged that the ink in the stroke of the beginning of the
letter "m" in the word "my" was in an older kind of ink, and probably
originally formed part of one of the "e's" in the word "free."

The old creases in the paper were also such as might have been produced by
the folding of the cover of a letter.

Philip Booth denied the authenticity of the handwriting, and was then
questioned further:--

"Are they in the same ink?"

To which he replied, "I take them to be of a different ink."

The prisoner was found guilty and condemned to stand thrice in the
pillory, to pay a heavy fine, and to suffer five years' imprisonment. He
died the same year in Newgate.

Two celebrated trials for forgery in which evidence as to the authenticity
of handwriting was given, took place in 1775, and the justice of the
verdicts was hotly discussed for long afterwards. In the first of these
trials Robert and Daniel Perreau, twin brothers, were accused of a series
of frauds by means of false bonds, while in the second trial Caroline
Rudd, who had given evidence for the Crown against the Perreaus in the
first trial, was indicted for the same offence.

According to the contemporary accounts Robert Perreau was an "apothecary
of great practice," while his brother "lived in the _stile_ of a

The evidence went to prove that Robert Perreau asked Drummond, the banker,
to lend him £5,000 upon the security of a bond for £7,500 which, he
alleged, had been given to his brother Daniel Perreau by a Mr. William

Mr. Drummond questioned the authenticity of the signature upon the bond,
which he therefore retained for further examination, promising to return
it the next day or to advance the money for the loan. In the meantime he
showed it to the Secretary of the Admiralty, who at once agreed that the
signature was a forgery.

The next day Perreau willingly accompanied Drummond to Mr. William Adair
who promptly denied all knowledge of the bond.

The Perreaus and Mrs. Rudd now attempted to escape in a coach, but were
arrested and charged with forgery before Sir John Fielding at the
Westminster Guildhall. Similar charges of obtaining money from other
persons by means of bonds, all of which had been signed with the name of
William Adair, were brought, and after Mrs. Rudd had given evidence that
she had forged the signatures at their instigation, the two brothers were
committed for trial at the Old Bailey.

At the trial evidence was given by William Drummond that he had had an
interview with Mrs. Rudd, that then she had admitted having given the bond
to Robert Perreau, and after confessing that she had forged it had begged
them "for God's sake to have mercy upon an innocent man."

Robert Drummond, brother of the previous witness, stated in his evidence
that when Mrs. Rudd acknowledged the forging of the bond he had expressed
doubts whether she was speaking the truth, seeing that the handwriting was
so different from that of a woman. Mrs. Rudd had then written the words,
"William Adair," upon a piece of paper in writing so like that of the
signature on the bond that it had satisfied him and he had burned the

Evidence was next given by a brother of William Adair and by a clerk that
the handwriting upon the bond was not that of William Adair.

John Moody, a livery servant of Daniel Perreau, who was called for the
defence, asserted that Mrs. Rudd had two different kinds of handwriting,
in one of which she wrote letters to his master as though coming from Mr.
William Adair, this fictitious writing being absolutely different from her
ordinary writing. He also stated that she used different pens, ink and
paper for these forged letters, and that the handwriting upon the bond was
precisely the same as that in the fictitious letters.

The defence of both brothers was that they had been deceived by Mrs. Rudd,
who had given them the bond as a true one and that they had presented it
believing it to be genuine.

Many distinguished persons, including Sir John Moore, gave testimony as to
their character, but in spite of this both were found guilty and sentenced
to death.

After their conviction great efforts were made to secure a pardon for
them, and especially for Robert Perreau, against whom the evidence was not
so strong. A petition was presented to the King, and the newspapers were
filled with letters in favour of the men, who, as a large section of the
public believed, had been the victims of a designing woman. But all was of
no avail and they were executed in January, 1776.

Between their conviction and execution came the trial of Caroline Rudd for
the same forgeries. She pleaded that having been accepted as a witness for
the Crown she ought not to have been prosecuted as a principal. This point
of law was referred to the whole bench of judges, whose decision was that
the trial should proceed, in order to determine whether the prisoner had
spoken the whole truth.

She had charged Robert Perreau with soliciting her to forge the bond and
his brother Daniel with forcing her to imitate the handwriting of William
Adair. "If," ran the judgment, "she has suppressed the truth she has no
equitable claim to favour; and if she has told the truth and the whole
truth she cannot be convicted." The trial therefore proceeded.

The principal witnesses were the wives of Robert Perreau and John Moody.
Mrs. Perreau stated that she had seen Mrs. Rudd hand a bond to her
husband, Robert Perreau, which was signed "William Adair." In
cross-examination she admitted that she had never before seen a bond, and
when asked how she could recall, after three months, the names, amounts,
date, and other particulars upon it replied, "I have the happiness to have
a good memory." At the same time she was unable to remember the date or
sum in any other document which had been shown to her.

John Moody, Daniel Perreau's servant, again gave evidence as to Mrs.
Rudd's using two kinds of handwriting, and asserted that he believed that
the signature of Mr. William Adair upon the bond was in the handwriting of
the prisoner. In cross-examination he admitted that he had never seen Mrs.
Rudd sign the name of Mr. Adair.

The defence was that there had been a conspiracy on the part of the
relatives and friends of the Perreaus against Mrs. Rudd, and Christian
Hart, a friend of the prisoner, gave some evidence in support of this.

A short speech was then made by Mrs. Rudd, who concluded with an appeal to
the jury: "Gentlemen, ye are honest men, and I am safe in your hands."

After a short retirement the jury gave their verdict in the following
curious form: "According to the evidence before us, not guilty."

For many years after these trials sides were taken for and against the
Perreaus, and an appeal even was made to Mrs. Rudd to "discover the
secrets of a transaction concerning which public opinion has been so much
divided." It was plausibly suggested that a declaration of the fact if she
was guilty could not then affect her since she had been acquitted by the
laws of her country.

Two years after the trial of the Perreaus and Mrs. Rudd came another
notorious forgery trial, which created a still greater sensation, owing to
the fame of the prisoner as a clergyman and an author.

On the 8th of February the Reverend Dr. Dodd, editor of _Dodd's Beauties
of Shakespeare_, once one of the King's Chaplains, and a preacher whom
Sunday after Sunday fashionable London had flocked to hear, was arrested
on the charge of forging the signature of his former pupil, the Earl of

For years he had been attempting to live in the style which he thought his
position required, and had been in constant difficulties with his
trades-people. At length to satisfy some of the more importunate, he
borrowed £4,000 in the name of Lord Chesterfield, whose agent he
represented himself to be, and gave a false bond for the sum.

The manner in which the forgery was discovered is especially interesting,
as being one of the earliest cases in which the appearance of the ink led
to the detection of a fraud.

The bond had been left with a Mr. Manly, who was the attorney for Messrs.
Fletcher and Peach, who had advanced the money, and, according to the
evidence which he gave at the trial, he observed "a very remarkable blot
in the first letter E in the word SEVEN, which did not seem to be the
effect of chance but done with design. He thought it remarkable but did
not suspect a forgery; yet he showed Mr. Fletcher the bond and blot, and
advised him to have a clean bond filled up, and carried to Lord
Chesterfield for execution."

When this was done Lord Chesterfield immediately disowned the bond, and
Dr. Dodd was thereupon arrested. The attorney advised him that if he
returned the money it would be the only means of saving him. Accordingly
he raised the £4,000, on the understanding that the bond should be
returned to him cancelled, but the charge was not withdrawn, and he was
committed for trial at the Old Bailey.

His defence was little more than a confession of guilt and a plea for
mercy, and after an absence of only a few minutes the jury found that he
was guilty, but recommended him to the royal mercy.

After the conviction unexampled efforts were made to gain a reprieve. In
every newspaper there were letters pleading for the life of the prisoner,
and the most distinguished men of the day, including Dr. Johnson, then the
foremost English man of letters, used their influence on his behalf.
Officers of the parish, dressed in deep mourning went from door to door,
gaining signatures for long petitions to the king, and the names thus
collected filled twenty-three rolls of parchment. Finally, the Lord Mayor
and Council went in state to St. James's Palace imploring mercy for the
prisoner. But all was to no purpose, for the king obstinately refused to
show any favour to the divine whom he had formerly dismissed from his
chaplaincy. His constant reply to all these petitions was, "If I save Dodd
I shall have murdered the Perreaus."

On the 27th June, 1777, Dr. Dodd was taken in a cart with another
condemned prisoner from Newgate to Tyburn and executed.

His bad luck attended him to the last, for he went cheerfully to the place
of execution under the impression that the executioner would be able to
cut him down and hand him over to his friends before it was too late to
restore him to life. Unfortunately for him the scheme miscarried. A
contemporary account thus describes the incident: "Just before the parties
were turned off Dr. Dodd whispered to the executioner. What he said cannot
be known; but it was observed that the man had no sooner driven away the
cart than he ran immediately under the gibbet, and took hold of the
doctor's legs, as if to steady the body; and the unhappy man appeared to
die without pain; but the groans, prayers and tears of thousands attended
his exit."

That Dr. Dodd was hanged at Tyburn is unquestionable, but it was commonly
believed at the time that the plan arranged with the executioner had
proved successful, and that after being cut down, he was handed over to
his friends, who applied restoratives, and when he was well again
smuggled him over to France, where he lived quietly for many years until
his death.

There is no reliable evidence of this rescue from the gallows, and
although a few years ago it was stated that an account appeared in a
newspaper of 1784, of the life of Dr. Dodd in France, the present writer
has been unable to find any mention of this in the papers of that date.

       *       *       *       *       *

The trial popularly known as "The Great Matlock Will Case" is a good
illustration of the way in which the internal evidence of documents may
afford definite proof of their authorship.

In the year 1856 a surveyor named Nuttall who lived at Matlock died
leaving an estate worth about £60,000. He had no near relatives, and the
only other occupant of his house at the time of his death was his
housekeeper, Catherine Marsden. Her sister's husband, John Else, had been
employed as a clerk for many years by Mr. Nuttall, and wrote in a
handwriting so similar to the surveyor's that people were frequently at a
loss to tell by which of the two their letters had been written.

Nuttall had had his will drawn up by a solicitor, and had made a copy of
it in his own writing, which was signed and witnessed. In this copy
certain additions benefiting Else had been introduced between the lines. A
number of codicils to this will were subsequently discovered when Else had
become appointed successor to Nuttall, and these were signed and witnessed
by a local farmer and a surgeon, so that if these codicils were not
genuine, there was conspiracy to defraud and perjury on the part of these
witnesses. The genuine nature of the signatures was vouched for by a bank
clerk, who stated that he would have at once paid money upon cheques so

The case was first tried before a jury at the Derby Assizes in 1859, and
the codicils were pronounced genuine. The Master of the Rolls, not being
satisfied with the verdict, directed a second trial, which took place in
1860, and this time the jury decided that the codicils were not genuine.
The plaintiffs then appealed first to the High Court and then to the House
of Lords and a new trial was ordered.

The final trial came on before the Lord Chief Justice (Cockburn) in 1864,
and lasted for eight days. The jury decided against the genuineness of the
codicils, mainly upon the characteristics of the writing and spelling.

Both Nuttall and Else were bad spellers, but their mistakes were
different. For instance, throughout the will "daughter" was spelt
correctly, whereas in the codicil it was "doughter," and it was proved
that Else spelt the word with an "o," while Nuttall had never done so.

The way in which the "t" was crossed was, however, the most convincing
piece of evidence. It was shown that Nuttall's habit was usually to leave
the "t" uncrossed, or when he did cross it to do so completely. On the
other hand, Else generally made a half-cross to the "t's." In the will
written by the testator there were no half-crossings, whereas in the
interlineation and the codicils the half-crossed "t's" predominated. This
difference was also brought out in a large number of the letters of the
deceased and of Else, which were shown to the jury.

After the verdict had been given against them the plaintiffs attempted,
though without success, to obtain yet another trial of the case.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most remarkable trials for forgery that has taken place in this
country was the outcome of the famous Whalley will case, which occupied
the attention of the courts for three years in the early eighties.

James Whalley, whose fortune was in dispute, died in 1881 leaving £60,000.
He had been a reserved man with a touch of eccentricity, and parsimonious
habits, and in spite of his wealth had lived for many years in bare
lodgings in the house of a railway porter named Thomas, at Leominster.

On several occasions he had expressed his intention of leaving his money
to a man named Priestman, who though at the time unaware of the truth, was
in fact his natural son; and there was convincing evidence to show that he
had made a will on blue paper to that effect.

After his death, however, no such will could be found, whereas Thomas, the
railway porter, produced a will on white paper, in which the bulk of the
fortune was left to him.

Certain suspicious circumstances led Whalley's next of kin to challenge
the genuineness of the will, and though as yet there was no suggestion of
forgery, it was urged that the signature had been obtained by some trick.

After some time a compromise was made, and it was arranged that Thomas
should have £17,000 and that the remainder of the money should be divided
between Priestman and Whalley's relatives. The will was proved on this

Here the matter might have ended had it not been for an act of folly upon
the part of Thomas.

Priestman invited his solicitor and some friends to come to Leominster to
celebrate the occasion, and on their way from the station the carriage
drove past the house where Whalley had lived.

As it passed by Thomas stood at the window flourishing a piece of blue

The solicitor, seeing this, jumped to the conclusion that this paper was
the "blue will," which Thomas was flourishing out of bravado, to show that
he had beaten them. This led him to make further inquiries, which finally
resulted in his concluding that the "white will" was a forgery.

As the Court of Chancery regarded the question as one to be decided by a
jury the case was tried in the Queen's Bench Division, eminent counsel
being engaged on each side.

Evidence was given by David Reece, whose name appeared upon the will as
one of the witnesses. He swore that he had never seen Whalley sign a will,
but that, together with the other witness, Nash, he had put his signature
above Whalley's signature on a piece of white paper on which was some
writing in pencil.

Other evidence was then called to prove that shortly before his death
Whalley had asked Thomas to write a letter in pencil to Priestman, to
which he had appended his signature in ink. This letter Priestman had
never received.

The inference, therefore, from this evidence was that the will had been
written upon a sheet of paper from which pencil writing had been erased.

A minute examination of the "white will" disclosed the presence of traces
of the pencil marks, and words could be sufficiently deciphered to show
that they had formed part of a letter.

The evidence of a number of expert witnesses, including Mr. Holmes, the
librarian of Windsor Castle, made clear the manner in which pencil marks
upon paper which had apparently been erased might reappear. When
india-rubber is passed over the surface of the paper it removes part of
the fibres of the material but only doubles over another portion, so that
in time the latter may unroll again and uncover the writing which had for
a time been concealed by it. It was proved further that the words which
had now reappeared upon the paper were in the handwriting of Thomas.

The expert evidence that was brought fully confirmed the story of the
witness Reece, and the "white will" was pronounced a forgery.

Subsequently Thomas was tried on this charge and was convicted and
sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude. It is strange to reflect that
had it not been for his being unable to resist the temptation of showing
his triumph over his rivals, by flourishing a blue paper, his ingenious
fraud would in all probability never have been detected.

It is scarcely likely that this paper was the original "blue will." In any
case, the latter was never discovered, but the Courts held on the evidence
laid before them that its intention should hold good, and that the money
should go to Priestman.

       *       *       *       *       *

An elaborately designed forgery was detected in 1891 by the evidence
furnished by the different documents. An action was brought by a man named
Howe against the executors of a Mr. Ashton to recover £1,375, which he
alleged, had been given him in a cheque shortly before the testator's

The body of the cheque was admitted to be in the handwriting of Howe who
said that he had written it at Ashton's request.

The cheque was signed "B. Ashton," whereas in the cheques (produced by Mr.
Ashton's bank) for many years previously, the signature was invariably
"Benj. Ashton," and the shorter signature was only employed in letters.
The evidence went to show that Howe had traced the signature from one of
these letters.

A further discrepancy was apparent in the form of the figure "seven," Howe
invariably forming it laboriously and with a vertical stroke at the top,
whereas Ashton had always made it in a continuous stroke. In support of
his statement Howe produced some memoranda of sums due to himself, which
he asserted to be the handwriting of Ashton.

In these the figure seven was invariably formed in the same way as Howe
made it, while the figure was never made in that fashion by Ashton.

To account for one sum of £200, which he claimed to have lent to the
deceased, Howe stated that he had borrowed the sum from his mother-in-law,
and in corroboration produced a promissory note which he said he had given
her at the time.

The note was dated 1889, and the date-mark to have coincided with this
should have been "89." An examination of this document suggested to the
judge, Mr. Justice Wills, that there had been some tampering with the
date. A hole in the paper came where the "8" should have been, the
explanation offered for this being that the paper had been put upon a
file. The appearance of the curve of what was left of the first letter,
however, was not like the curve of an "8," and by carefully working at the
back of the paper with an instrument, the torn edges of the hole were
pushed back into their place, and the figures of the year 1890 were made
plainly visible.

So carefully thought out had this fraud been that it took twelve days to
unravel the whole matter. After the exposures described above Howe
naturally lost his case, and the papers were sent to the Public
Prosecutor. Subsequently Howe was tried at the Old Bailey for forgery and

       *       *       *       *       *

The trial of Frederick Pilcher at the Old Bailey in July, 1910, on the
charge of forging his cousin's will, was notable as being the first
occasion upon which chemical evidence as to the age of modern inks has
been given.

Pilcher, who was a naval architect and colonel in the Territorials, in
Liverpool, had for many years been on very friendly terms with his cousin,
Marian Lilian Kerferd, and had been entrusted by her with the management
of some of her property.

Miss Kerferd died in March, 1909, leaving an unsigned will in which she
divided the bulk of her estate, amounting to £20,000 to £30,000, between
various relatives, while only £130 a year was left to Colonel Pilcher,
whom she had appointed her executor.

Shortly after her death Pilcher produced a signed will bearing the date of
1898, which he stated he had found among the papers of the deceased, and
in this will he was left the whole of the property and appointed sole

He obtained probate of this will and took possession of the estate,
dealing liberally with the members of the family mentioned in the unsigned

The relations, however, were not satisfied with this state of affairs, and
Mr. Frank Stokes, as next-of-kin, brought an action, which Colonel Pilcher
did not defend, and succeeded in getting the probate set aside, and the
deceased lady was declared to have died intestate. In the meantime the
prisoner had succeeded in spending about £5,000 of the estate.

When arrested he stoutly denied that the will was a forgery, but after
evidence had been given at Bow Street he was committed for trial. The
writing upon the will showed a close resemblance to that of Miss Kerferd,
but the bank manager of the deceased lady stated in the witness-box that
in his opinion it was an imitation.

A remarkable fact was brought out in his evidence. Up to the year 1903
Miss Kerferd had invariably formed the letter with a particular loop, and
this was seen upon all the cheques, which had been retained by the bank.
After that date, however, she made her "k's" in a totally different
manner, and the looping of former years never occurred in any of her
writing. Now in the will alleged to have been written in 1898 it was
significant that the "k's" were formed in the manner of later years, and
not as Miss Kerferd made them in 1898.

Certain mistakes of spelling in the will were also characteristic of the
prisoner, whereas Miss Kerferd never made such slips. The names of the
witnesses upon the will, which by the way were also wrongly spelled, were
those of men who had been dead several years, but their relatives gave
evidence that these signatures were not genuine.

Evidence was also given by the present writer as to the age of the ink
upon the alleged will. The body of the will and the signatures of both
witnesses were all written in the same kind of ink--a fact of importance
in connection with the half-confession subsequently made by the prisoner.

On his appearance at the Old Bailey, Pilcher was defended by Mr. Marshall
Hall, and after two days' trial, he acted upon the advice of his counsel
and agreed to plead guilty to uttering the will, though he persisted in
his denial of having forged it.

When the prisoner's counsel rose to make this statement there was dead
silence, for everyone in court was aware that something unusual had
happened, and there passed over the room one of those feelings of tension
that make each individual in a crowd lose sight of everything except the
unfolding of the drama before them.

After calling several witnesses to the good character of the prisoner, Mr.
Marshall Hall made a strong appeal for mercy. Colonel Pilcher, he said,
had been a very intimate friend of this lady, who had frequently expressed
the intention of leaving him her money. Unfortunately, having put off
signing her will from day to day, she had died without carrying out that
intention, and unluckily for him the prisoner had found a will among her
papers, but without the signatures of the testatrix or witnesses. He now
owned that the signatures were not genuine, but did not know how they had
been put upon the will. In uttering the will he had only been attempting
to carry out the wish of the dead woman.

In mitigation of his offence it was pointed out that he had not spent all
the money he might have done, that he was over sixty years of age, and
that his wife who had known nothing of this unfortunate liaison of her
husband freely forgave him for any pain he might have caused her.

Before sentence was passed Mr. Muir, who conducted the case for the
prosecution, protested against the explanation of the finding of the will
that had been given in this confession, and said that in face of the
evidence that the ink upon the will was not more than six years old he
could not accept the view that the prisoner was not the forger of the

The judge, in passing sentence, said that even now the prisoner had not
made a clean breast of the matter, for they were still in the dark as to
who had signed the names upon the will. However, taking into account the
good character that had been given to the accused by those who had known
him, and the points urged in his favour, he did not think that the extreme
measure of penal servitude was deserved, and the sentence would be one of
three years' penal servitude.



    Structure of Blood--Human Blood--Blood of Animals--Blood
    Crystals--Libellers of Sir E. Godfrey--Trial of Nation in
    1857--Physiological Tests--Precipitines--First Trial in France--Gorse
    Hall Trials--Human Hair--Hairs of Animals.

In its structure blood may be described as a colourless fluid, the
_plasma_ having in suspension small solid substances--the red and white
corpuscles. The plasma may be separated into a coagulated body termed
_fibrin_ and a transparent liquid called the _serum_. When blood
coagulates, or forms clots, it forms a solid mass in which the red
corpuscles are bound up in the fibrous mass of fibrin. The process of
coagulation is promoted by moderate heat, slight dilution with water, and
exposure to the air, while it is retarded by cold, strongly heating, great
dilution and the addition of various chemical agents.

The red corpuscles differ in size and shape according to the species of
animal. Thus in human blood and in the blood of most mammalia they appear
as double concave circular discs, while in the blood of the camel and in
that of birds, reptiles and fish the red corpuscles are elliptical in

The number of corpuscles present is also subject to great variations, the
blood of amphibia and reptiles, for instance, containing remarkably few.
The following numbers in 100 parts of the blood of different animals have
been recorded: Horse, 53; pig, 43·5; ox, 35; dog, 35·7; and man, 48

The colour of blood is due to a compound known as hæmoglobin, which
constitutes about 40 per cent. of the substance of the corpuscles. In the
bright red arterial blood the hæmoglobin is present in the form of
oxyhæmoglobin, and the latter may be separated in crystalline form by
suitable treatment of the separated red blood corpuscles. These crystals
differ in the case of different animals both in their chemical and
physical characteristics, and have very different forms.

There are also similarly pronounced differences between the microscopical
appearance of oxyhæmoglobin crystals from human blood and from that of
various animals. The crystals from human blood are in the form of long
rhombic needles; those from the blood of the horse are quadrilateral
prisms; the blood of the guinea-pig, rat, and many birds yield rhombic
tetrahedea; while that of the squirrel gives hexagonal plates.

Crystals of other compounds of hæmoglobin, such as hæmin, differing in the
case of different species of animals may also be prepared, and the
identity of oxyhæmoglobin may also be proved by its characteristic
appearance in the spectroscope.

It is, therefore, under favourable conditions, not a very difficult matter
to distinguish between the fresh blood of, say, a man and a squirrel by
means of these characteristic differences. It is rarely, however, that the
problem is presented in such a simple form in criminal work, in which
usually all that is available for the investigation is the dried stain
upon some garment or the clot upon a rusty knife.

One of the most widely employed tests is to dissolve a little of the
material in acetic acid containing a little common salt, to apply a gentle
heat to the microscope slide, and then to notice under the microscope
whether hæmin crystals are formed.

Where the stain is upon iron it is often impossible to prepare hæmin
crystals, and in such cases hydrogen peroxide is used as a reagent. This
compound, when brought into contact with a fragment of the material
moistened with alkaline water, gives off in the presence of blood, bubbles
of oxygen, which gradually form a white scum.

Experiments made by M. Cotton have shown that the blood of different
animals varies in the intensity of its action upon hydrogen peroxide. Thus
human blood liberates about twice as much oxygen as the blood of the horse
or pig, nearly four times as much as that of the ox and guinea-pig, and
about ten times as much as the blood of the sheep.

Unfortunately other animal fluids have a similar action upon hydrogen
peroxide, and the test can therefore only be regarded as corroborative
evidence of the results obtained by other tests.

Attempts have sometimes been made by murderers to remove blood-stains by
treatment with chemical agents, so as to prevent their identification.

For instance, in the trial of Misters for murder at Shrewsbury, in 1841, a
solution of alum was found in his room, and it was supposed that he had
removed the blood from his shirt by treatment with this. He was
convicted, however, upon other evidence.

The identification of blood-stains upon rusty weapons is a more difficult
matter than in the case of stains upon linen.

The action of the acid salts of fruits upon the iron may produce an
appearance very similar to that of a blood-stain, the citrate of iron
formed having a reddish colour which on more than one occasion has misled
even a surgeon.

A case of this kind happened in 1838 in Paris. A man who had been accused
of murdering his uncle, whose heir he was, was found to have a knife on
the blade of which were stains, which everyone who saw them said were

A chemical examination, however, which was made in the presence of the
magistrate and the prisoner, proved that they consisted of citrate of
iron, and had been produced by cutting a lemon and neglecting to wipe the
blade after use.

It has frequently happened in the past that the opinion of policemen or
witnesses without any special knowledge of the subject has been taken in
criminal cases on the point whether stains upon clothes or on a weapon
consisted or did not consist of blood.

This practice was obviously a dangerous one, since even by the modern
methods of examination it is not always a simple matter to be sure of the

Until a comparatively recent date the tests for blood-stains were based
upon bringing the colouring matter of the blood into solution and applying
chemical tests to establish its identity.

The necessity for scientific proof of the presence of blood-stains is
shown by numerous cases in which stains of similar colour have at first
been attributed to blood.

Thus in a case related in Taylor's _Forensic Medicine_ a man was arrested
in 1840 on suspicion of being connected with a murder in Islington. He had
in his possession a sack on which were numerous stains supposed to be
dried and coagulated blood. When these were examined, however, they were
found to be due to red paint.

In another case, a man who was suspected of a murder was found to have red
stains on his shirt and collar, but as these would not dissolve in water
they could not have been due to blood. Subsequently it was found that they
had been caused by the man going out in the wet with a red handkerchief
round his neck.

An early example of the way in which the evidence of an unskilled witness
has been accepted upon the subject of blood is seen in the evidence given
in 1682 at the trial of Thompson, Pain and Farwell for libel.

The libel arose out of the earlier trial in 1679 of Robert Green and
others for the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey, who had been waylaid and
apparently strangled. This trial was one of those arising out of the
so-called Popish Plot, and upon the evidence of Titus Oates, Miles Praunce
and others the prisoners were convicted and executed.

Subsequently a letter to Mr. Praunce appeared in _The Loyal Protestant
Intelligence_, which sought to make out that false evidence had been given
at the murder trial, and that Sir Edmund Godfrey had not been strangled
at all, but had committed suicide.

In the words of the prosecuting counsel for the prisoners--"they say that
if a man or any other creature be strangled or hanged and the body cold
and the blood settled in the veins (as he must be if your evidence be
true, meaning the evidence of the said Miles Praunce). Run twenty swords
through such a body not one drop of blood will come out; but, on the
contrary, his body when found was full of blood. So that they do aver that
that wound that he received by that sword must be the cause of death."

William Batson, who was one of the principal witnesses for the
prosecution, stated: "They showed me in a ditch where they said he lay
some blood. I cannot say it was his blood; and going a little further I
saw some more whitish blood, and this is all I can swear."

The Lord Chief Justice (Scroggs) then asked if the weather had been
frosty, to which the witness replied: "My lord, I cannot tell whether it
was, but I will assure you the blood looked to me more like blood that was
laid there than anything else."

After a lengthy trial, in which the main evidence of the former trial,
which was quite unconvincing, was repeated, the prisoners were found
guilty of traducing the justice of the nation and two of them were
sentenced to stand for an hour in the pillory and pay a fine of £100 each,
while the third escaped with the fine only.

Where stains have been found upon the clothes or on a weapon in possession
of an accused person and have been proved to consist of blood, the defence
has frequently been set up that they were caused by the blood from a
sheep that had been killed or from handling game.

Ten years ago, prior to the discovery of the serum test, it would not have
been possible, except in the cases where the blood corpuscles could be
examined, to prove or disprove this except by corroborative evidence.
There was no chemical means of determining whether an old blood stain had
been caused by the blood of a man or that of an animal.

Taylor, writing in 1844 upon this point, observes: "Some French medical
jurists state that by mixing fresh blood with a certain portion of
sulphuric acid and agitating the mixture with a glass rod a peculiar odour
is evolved which differs in the blood of man and animals, and also in the
blood of the two sexes. This odour, it is said, resembles that of the
cutaneous exhalation of the animal, the blood of which is the subject of
experiment. They have hereby pretended to determine whether any given
specimen of blood had belonged to a man, a woman, a horse, sheep, or fish.
Others pretend that they have been able to identify the blood of frogs and

As Taylor pertinently observes of this: "There is probably not one
individual among a thousand whose sense of smelling would be so acute as
to allow him to state with undeniable certainty, from what kind of animal
the unknown blood had really been taken. Any evidence short of this would
not be received in an English court of law."

On the first occasion upon which scientific evidence as to the difference
between the blood of man and of animals was given in a criminal trial the
remarks made by the judge (Lord Chief Justice Cockburn) to the jury showed
that he was sceptical as to the powers claimed by the chemical witness of
distinguishing between different kinds of blood.

In this case, which was tried at the Taunton Assizes, in 1857, a man had
been found with his throat cut, and collateral evidence pointed to a man
named Nation being the murderer. When he was arrested he was found to have
a knife upon him on which were stains that appeared to be blood, but the
prisoner accounted for these by saying that he had recently been cutting
raw beef with the knife.

The chemical evidence, however, went to prove that coagulation of the
blood had not occurred until after it had come into contact with the
knife, or, in other words, that the blade had been plunged into living

Moreover it was stated by this witness that the blood could not have been
that of an ox, pig or sheep, since the corpuscles were smaller than those
of human blood, whereas the corpuscles of the blood upon the knife were of
the same dimensions as those of human blood. The relative sizes of human
corpuscles compared with those of the animals mentioned were stated to be
as fifty-three to thirty-four in the case of the ox; as fifty-two to
thirty-four in sheep's blood; and as forty-five to thirty-four in pig's

The judge, in his summing up, made the following comments upon the
evidence: "The witness had said that the blood upon the knife could not be
the blood of an animal as stated by the prisoner, and took upon himself
to say it could not be the blood of a dead animal; that it was living
blood and that it was human blood; and he had shown them the marvellous
powers of the modern microscope. At the same time, admitting the great
advantages of science, they were coming to great niceties indeed, when
they speculated upon things almost beyond perception, and he would advise
the jury not to convict on this scientific speculation alone."

The jury found the prisoner guilty upon evidence other than this
"scientific speculation," the novelty of which probably prevented the
judge from accepting it as a demonstration of facts which might be
verified or disproved.

The application of a remarkable discovery in physiological chemistry has
now made it possible to determine whether a blood-stain consists of the
blood of any particular kind of animal.

In 1898 it was discovered by Bordet that on injecting serum of cow's milk
into a small animal, such as a rabbit, which was then killed after a lapse
of some weeks, the serum separated from its blood would produce a
precipitate in cow's milk.

This discovery was supplemented by Wassermann, who, in 1900, found that it
was possible in this way to distinguish between the milk of different
kinds of animals, and he suggested the name _precipitines_ for these
specific precipitating agents formed in the sera of animals.

Then Dr. von Rigler showed that the method might be employed to
distinguish between the flesh of different kinds of animals.

[Illustration: GOAT'S HAIR

  A. Apex of Fibre.
  B. Root.
  C. Fibre showing central canal or medulla.]

[Illustration: COW'S HAIR

  A and B. Fibres showing central canal or medulla.
  C. Apex of Fibre.

_By kind permission of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co._]

He prepared a 20 per cent. aqueous extract from the flesh of seven
different species of animals, and injected small proportions of these
beneath the skin of rabbits at intervals of three days. After a month the
animals were killed, and the serum of the blood separated in a centrifugal

In each case the specific sera were added to the clear filtered aqueous
extracts of the flesh of the respective animals, and the tubes examined
after the lapse of a specified time.

It was found that the sera only gave a turbidity or precipitate with the
corresponding extracts. Thus the serum from the rabbit which had been
treated with an extract of horseflesh only gave a reaction with
preparations of horseflesh, and not with those of venison, beef, mutton or
pork. In like manner, the serum from a rabbit that had been treated with
an extract of rabbit's flesh, only reacted with extracts of rabbit's
flesh, and not with those prepared from the flesh of cats, horses, or
other animals, and so on.

In the case of mixtures the specific sera only reacted with extracts of
the flesh of the two animals in question. Thus a rabbit treated with an
extract from a mixture of the flesh of a hare, cow, deer, and pig, yielded
a serum giving a precipitate with the extracts of the flesh of each of
those animals, but not with that from any other animal.

It was not long before the possibility of using the method to distinguish
between the blood of different kinds of animals suggested itself, and it
was shown by Dr. de Nobel in 1902, that by treating a mouse or rabbit with
any fluid, such as blood serum or saliva from a human body, it eventually
produced a serum that would give a precipitate with human blood, but not
with the blood of different species of animals.

Reactions were also obtained with old human blood. Thus stains on linen
from several days to two months in age, when treated with dilute solutions
of common salt gave a solution which yielded a precipitate with the
prepared rabbit's serum. No reaction was obtained, however, with the
preparation from a blood-stain nine years old or with that from blood
which had been dried in a high temperature.

It was also found that the specific sera could be evaporated in a vacuum
without losing their activity, and that the dried residues could be
preserved in sealed tubes in the dark, and mixed with water when required
for use.

Other investigators showed that it was possible to separate the active
agent by adding magnesium sulphate to the serum, and that the precipitate
could be dried and kept for a long period. By dissolving it in water at
any time a liquid with the specific properties of the original serum could
then be obtained.

Later work has shown that this serum test is not quite so absolute as was
at first believed. Thus, if the blood serum to be tested be used in too
concentrated a form it may give a reaction with a serum that is not
specific to it, though even in that case the precipitate will only appear
slowly and its amount will be insignificant in comparison with that
obtained when the two liquids correspond.

The error is obviated by using extremely dilute solutions for the test,
and when proper precautions are taken a solution of normal blood serum
containing one part in 1,000 invariably gives a reliable reaction with its
corresponding prepared serum. In more concentrated solutions there is an
abundant deposit at the bottom of the tube within thirty minutes, whereas
in the case of sera, which are not specific to the prepared serum, the
formation of precipitate does not begin until the tube has stood for an
hour or more.


[Illustration: KANGAROO'S HAIR]

[Illustration: HUMAN HAIR]

[Illustration: A. Hair of a Cat

B. Hair of a Dog

_By kind permission of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co._]

An interesting exception to the rule is that the serum from the blood of
anthropoid apes gives a pronounced reaction with serum that has been made
specific for human blood, and _vice versa_.

As it is not possible to carry out control tests with an indefinite number
of animals a positive result obtained in the examination of a particular
stain justifies a report that the blood was (_e.g._) probably human blood
and certainly not that of any common domestic animal.

On the other hand, the results of a negative test justify a much more
positive statement.

Thus on the first occasion in which evidence was given as to the results
of this test, which was in a criminal case in France in 1902, the prisoner
had asserted that certain incriminating stains had been caused by the
blood of a rabbit.

A serum specific for rabbit's blood serum was therefore prepared, and the
stains dissolved and tested as described above. No sign of precipitate was
obtained within thirty minutes after applying the test and evidence was
therefore given that the stain certainly did not consist of rabbits'
blood. On the other hand, a serum made specific for human blood gave an
immediate precipitate with the solution of the stain, which, therefore, in
all probability consisted of human blood.

Although this method of testing blood-stains has been used on the
Continent for several years, it is only within the past twelve months that
it has been employed in a criminal case in this country.

Apparently the first occasion was in the recent trial of Mark Wilde for
the murder of Mr. George Storrs, a mill-owner, at Gorse Hall. Evidence was
given that old stains were present upon the outside of the sleeve of the
prisoner's blue serge coat, although they were not visible to the naked
eye. These were found to consist of mammalian blood, and the serum test
for human blood gave a positive reaction. It was, of course, impossible to
form any idea as to the age of the stains, and the witness, Dr. Wilcox,
refused even to give an estimate upon this point.

A simple method of applying the serum test has recently been discovered. A
small quantity of human serum is placed into a series of tubes, and into
each of these is next introduced one drop of the fresh blood of different
animals diluted with salt solution, or of the dried blood dissolved in
that liquid.

The tubes are now allowed to stand for thirty to forty-five minutes and
are then examined. If in the case of the blood of unknown origin there is
a faint red precipitate (of coagulated blood) leaving the upper liquid
quite clear, the blood is of human origin.

On the other hand, the blood of other species of animals will have
dissolved in the human serum, colouring it red.

[Illustration: RABBIT'S HAIR]

[Illustration: HORSE HAIR

_By kind permission of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co._]

If the tubes are charged in the first place with the blood of the horse,
ox, or other animal, the corresponding blood is coagulated, while that of
any other animal dissolves. In this way it is possible to apply the
physiological test without the necessity of preparing a special serum by

       *       *       *       *       *

From time to time in criminal trials, the latest instance being in the
Crippen case, the question occurs whether a given specimen of hair is of
human origin or has been derived from an animal. Thanks to the pronounced
difference in appearance shown by hairs of different origin when viewed
under the microscope there is no difficulty in giving a positive answer to
this question.

Human hair is characterised by being fairly uniform in diameter throughout
most of its length and then tapering gradually to a fine point. The hair
of an infant has very few scales upon its surface, and these stand out
prominently, but in the case of an adult the scales are very numerous and
appear closely pressed against the axis of the fibre. Another peculiar
point of difference between the hair of a young child and that of a
full-grown person is that in the case of the former there are some
particulars in which the hair resembles that of certain animals. Thus it
has a jointed appearance recalling to some extent the structure of the
fibres of merino wool.

In the hair of many animals the medulla, or central canal, is plainly
visible under the microscope, but such medullated fibres are apparently
not formed in the case of human hair.

As the hair of many domestic animals might on superficial examination be
mistaken for human hair, it is essential to take note of the
characteristic differences, some of which are shown in the accompanying

Three types of hair are found upon the cow, viz.: thick beard hairs,
showing a medulla, soft woolly hairs, and fine beard hairs, both of which
are without a medulla. In those fibres in which it is present the medulla
is very pronounced and tapers towards the apex. The hair of the calf has
the same structure as that of the cow.

Horse-hair is characterised by its lustrous cylindrical appearance. The
commercial fibre is mainly derived from the mane and tail, and is much
thicker and stiffer than the hairs from the body, which are those most
likely to be met with in criminal investigations. As a rule, the latter
are less than an inch in length, and the medullary canal is well marked.

In rabbit's hair the medulla is also very pronounced and is characterised
by its structure of curious quadrilateral cells, which may either form a
single row or increase to four or eight rows as the hair becomes wider. On
the surface of the hair are numerous scales which fit into one another
after the manner of the joints in a bamboo cane.

The chief commercial use of the rabbit's hair, which is usually about half
an inch in length, is the manufacture of linings for hats.

The hair of the cat has a superficial resemblance to that of the thinner
hairs of the rabbit. The medullary canal is very prominent, and occupies
more than half of the fibre. It is made up of a single series of
quadrilateral cells, but unlike the cells in rabbit's hair, these may form
additional layers in the thicker parts of the hair. The hair is generally
a little over half an inch in length, and tapers to a fine point.

[Illustration: WOOL FIBRES

From different breeds of Sheep

_By kind permission of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co._


Dog's hair differs from the hair of the cat both in size and appearance.
It is about three times as wide, while the medullary canal only occupies
about one quarter of the diameter of the fibre. The surface of the hair is
covered with characteristic scales, the edges of which project, so that
the edge of the fibre has a saw-like appearance.

The accompanying plate shows hair taken from a Pekin spaniel and Persian
kitten, and drawn to the same scale of magnification (104 diameters).

In the hair of the kangaroo the serrated edge of the fibres, due to
projecting scales, is much more pronounced than in dog's hair. The medulla
is well marked, but lacks the cellular structure to be seen in the hair of
the cat and rabbit.

Goat's hair could not possibly be mistaken for human hair under the
microscope. It has a root of characteristic appearance, and shows a
well-marked medulla containing a structure of narrow cells.

Towards the middle the hair becomes very narrow, but expands again and
reaches its greatest diameter a little before the point.

Sheep's wool is characterised by its surface structure of scales, the
arrangement of which differs in the wool from different breeds of sheep.
In some of the fibres the medullary canal is very manifest. Typical fibres
of sheep's wool are shown in the figures.

It is often necessary to distinguish between fabrics of cotton, linen,
silk and wool, and in such cases the microscopical appearance of the
fibres is invaluable as a preliminary test. Cotton is characterised by its
curious corkscrew-like twists, and linen by its jointed structure, while
silk has a long smooth cylindrical fibre, devoid of scales and showing
little sign of structural formation.

In criminal cases neither cotton nor silk are likely to be claimed as
human hair, although one may easily conceive the possibility of occasions
arising where the composition of a peculiar material was a point of the
utmost importance.

[Illustration: COTTON FIBRES]

[Illustration: FLAX FIBRES

_By kind permission of Messrs. Scott Greenwood & Co._]



    Murder of Sir T. Overbury--Mary Blandy--Katherine Nairn

Merely to mention the word "poisoner" calls up a long succession of
notorious crimes of the past, not to speak of the still more frequent
cases where poisoning was suspected, though probably, often enough, with
but little justification. Less than three centuries ago the fact that
illness and death had come suddenly to any well-known person, was often
sufficient to raise the whisper of suspicion; and any disease that did not
yield to the favourite treatment of bleeding, and for which the physicians
were for the moment unable even to find a name, was sure to be attributed
by popular gossip to the action of poison or witchcraft, or of both.

The mysterious effect of certain substances upon the animal system and the
fact that a knowledge of the nature of poisonous herbs was part of the
lore of the old women who dealt in love-philtres, fully explains this
association of poison with black magic.

In one of the earliest trials for poisoning of which we have any detailed
account--that of Richard Weston in 1615--this belief in the miraculous
power of the poisoner was present in the mind of the Lord Chief Justice
(Coke) when in his charge to the grand jury he said that "The devil had
taught divers to be cunning in poisoning so that they can poison in what
distance of space they please by consuming the _calidum_ or _humidum
radicale_ in one month, two, or three or more as they list; which they
four manners of ways do execute (1) _gustu_; (2) _haustu_; (3) _odore_;
(4) _contactu_."

Again, in the trial of Anne Turner, also for the murder of Sir Thomas
Overbury (1615), evidence was given that she was in possession of
parchments, some of which contained the names of the blessed Trinity;
others on which were written + B + C + D + E; and another with a figure in
which was inscribed the word "corpus," and to which was fastened a little
piece of the skin of a man. "In some of these parchments were the names of
devils who were conjured to torment the Lord Somerset and Sir A.
Mainwaring if their loves should not continue--the one to the Countess and
the other to Mrs. Turner."

Reading over the evidence of this trial one can hardly doubt but that this
alleged sorcery had considerable weight in the conviction of Anne Turner;
for, as will be shown presently, there was no conclusive evidence of
poison having been given at all.

The widespread hatred of witchcraft and the readiness with which any
evidence of this description was accepted as a proof of poisoning, must
have rendered it almost impossible for an unpopular character to be
acquitted when accused of poisoning anyone.

The belief in witchcraft was very general in the seventeenth century, and
medical men were even called in to give their expert opinion on behalf of
the prosecution in the trials of those charged with being witches.

The most striking instance of this kind was at the trial of the Suffolk
witches in 1665, before Sir Matthew Hale, Baron of Exchequer. It was
alleged that the two women, Rose Cullender and Amy Duny, of Lowestoft, had
bewitched a number of children with whose parents they had had disputes.
The children, according to the evidence of various witnesses, had been
afflicted in different ways, being sometimes blind, or deaf, or lame, and
then suddenly recovering. And, in particular, it was stated that they
would go into fits and after every fit would vomit crooked pins or
twopenny nails with broad heads.

[Illustration: ANNE TURNER]

Mr. Sergeant Keeling, who was present, was not satisfied with this
evidence and considered that it was not sufficient to convict the

Dr. Browne, of Norwich (the Sir Thomas Browne whose fame rests upon his
_Religio Medici_), was then asked to state what he thought of the
evidence, and said that he was clearly of opinion that the persons were

He said further "That in Denmark there had been lately a great discovery
of witches, who used the very same way of afflicting persons by conveying
pins into them, and crooked as these pins were, with needles and nails.
And his opinion was that the devil in such cases did work upon the bodies
of men and women, upon a natural foundation (that is) to stir up and
excite such humours super-abounding in their bodies to a great excess,
whereby he did in an extraordinary manner afflict them with such
distempers as their bodies were most subject to, as particularly appeared
in these children; for he conceived that these swooning fits were natural,
and nothing else, but only heightened to a great excess by the subtlety of
the devil, co-operating with the witches, at whose instance he doth these

This evidence is quoted at length, as showing the opinion of scientific
men of that time upon the subject of witchcraft. It had great weight with
the jury, and helped to make up for the lack of any real evidence against
the poor women.

Further evidence was given "that at the least touch of one of these
supposed witches, Rose Cullender by name, the children would shriek out,
opening their hands, which accident would not happen by the touch of any
other person."

A test was therefore applied in court, and a number of those present were
directed by the judge "to attend one of the distempered persons in the
further part of the hall, while she was in her fits, and then to send for
one of the witches to try what would happen, which they did accordingly:
and Amy Duny was conveyed from the bar and brought to the maid: they put
an apron before her eyes, and then one other person touched her hand,
which produced the same effect as the touch of the witch did in the court.
Whereupon the gentlemen returned openly protesting that they did believe
the whole transaction of this business was a mere imposture."

But even this test, which was plain proof of imposture, was distorted into
evidence against the witches, and Mr. Pacy, the father of one of the
children, declared "That possibly the maid might be deceived by a
suspicion, that the witch touched her when she did not," and that she
apprehended that the person who had done her this wrong was near.

Additional evidence was afterwards brought to prove other acts of
witchcraft by the prisoners. The judge, in giving his direction to the
jury, did not attempt to deal with the evidence "lest by so doing he
should wrong the evidence on one side or other," but contented himself
with pointing out that there were such creatures as witches, as was shown
by the Scriptures and the laws made by all nations against such persons.

The jury retired, and after deliberating for about half an hour, found
both prisoners guilty, and the judge sentenced them to be hanged. They
were repeatedly urged to make a confession, but were executed without
having done so.

Campbell writing of this trial says: "Hale's motives were most laudable;
but he furnishes a memorable instance of the mischiefs originating from
superstition. He was afraid of an acquittal or a pardon, lest countenance
should be given to a disbelief in witchcraft, which he considered
tantamount to a disbelief in Christianity. The following Sunday he wrote a
'Meditation concerning the mercy of God in preserving us from the malice
and power of Evil Angels' in which he refers with complacency to the trial
over which he had presided at Bury St. Edmunds."

Towards the end of the seventeenth century the belief in witchcraft became
less general, and the last trial in this country took place in 1712 at the
Hertford Assizes, when the prisoner was convicted but not executed. It was
not until 1821, however, that the statute with regard to witchcraft was
repealed in Ireland.

After the beginning of the eighteenth century there does not appear to
have been any attempt made to prove the use of the powers of witchcraft in
poisoning trials, and the evidence as to poisoning gradually became of a
more convincing character than it was, for instance, in the series of
trials of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury in 1615 in the Tower of
London, to which reference has already been made.

The prisoners in these trials included Anne Turner, Richard Weston,
Franklyn, Sir Thomas Elwes (the Lieutenant of the Tower), and the Countess
of Somerset.

It was alleged that the Countess of Somerset resented the interference of
Sir Thomas Overbury, then a prisoner in the Tower, in her matrimonial
schemes, or as Franklyn put it in his evidence: The Countess had told him
that Sir Thomas Overbury "would pry so far into their affairs that it
would overthrow them all."

Richard Weston, who had been an apothecary's man but had afterwards become
under-keeper to the Lieutenant of the Tower, was arraigned on the charge
that "he did obtain at the Tower of London certain poison of green and
yellow colour called rosalgar (knowing the same to be deadly poison), and
the same did feloniously and maliciously mingle and compound in a kind of
broth which he did deliver to the said Sir T. Overbury with intent to kill
and poison."

He was also accused of giving on other occasions poisons called "white
arsenick" and mercury sublimate, which he "put and mingled" in tarts and

Weston refused to answer, and stood "mute on God," until it was pointed
out by the Lord Chief Justice (Coke) that refusing to speak was punishable
by the rack, exposure and starvation, and would have the same consequence
as a conviction by a verdict or by confession.

Anne Turner, who was tried as one of the accomplices, was the widow of a
physician, and a friend of the Countess. She pleaded "Not guilty" to the

The evidence as to sorcery used by her has already been mentioned, but the
chief witness against her was James Franklyn, who made the following

"Mrs. Turner came to me from the Countess and wished me from her to get
the strongest poison I could for Sir T. Overbury. Accordingly I bought
seven, viz.: Aqua fortis, white arsenick, mercury, powder of diamonds,
lapis costitus, great spiders, and cantharides. All these were given to
Sir T. Overbury, and the Lieutenant knew of these poisons.

"Sir T. Overbury never eat white salt but there was white arsenick put
into it. Once he desired pig, and Mrs. Turner put into it lapis costitus.
At another time he had two partridges sent him from the Court, and water
and onions being the sauce, Mrs. Turner put in cantharides instead of
pepper, so that there was scarce anything that he did eat, but there was
some poison mixed. For these poisons the Countess sent me reward. She
afterwards wrote unto me to buy her more poisons."

It is obvious from this confession that the poisons supplied had no power,
and it would seem that Franklyn was making an income for himself by
supplying harmless preparations for the poisons for which he was being

As far as it is possible to judge by reading the evidence there was proof
that attempts had been made to poison Sir Thomas Overbury, but no proof
that any poison was ever given to him.

However, the evidence appears to have been quite sufficient to convict the
prisoners. In passing sentence upon Anne Turner the Lord Chief Justice
informed her that she had been guilty of the seven deadly sins, and that
as she was the inventor of that horrid garb, the yellow tiffany ruffs and
cuffs, he hoped she would be the last by whom they would be worn.

To this end he ordered that she should be hanged in that garb she had made
so fashionable. This was duly done, while as a further condemnation of the
fashion to which the judge had taken exception the hangman wore yellow
bands and cuffs.

It is said that the fashion of wearing yellow starched linen died with

After the execution of Mrs. Turner and Weston came the trial of Franklyn,
who confessed that poison had not been the cause of Overbury's death.

Weldon, who in 1755, published a history of the Kings of England describes
how Franklyn and Weston "came into Overbury's chamber and found him in
infinite torment with the contention between the state of nature and
working of the poison, and it had been very like that nature had got the
better in that contention ... but they, fearing it might come to light by
the judgment of physicians that foul play had been offered him, consented
to stifle him with bed-clothes, which accordingly was performed. And so
ended his miserable life, with the assurance of the conspirators that he
died of poison, none thinking otherwise but these two murtherers."

The account given by Weldon of the manner in which the Lord Chief Justice
received this confession is well worth quoting: "And now poor Mrs. Turner,
Weston and Franklyn began the tragedy. Mrs. Turner's day of mourning being
better than her life, for she died very penitently and showed much modesty
in her last act. After that died Weston, and then was Franklyn arraigned,
who confessed that Overbury was smothered to death not poisoned to death,
though he had poison given him.

"Here was Coke glad to cast about to bring both ends together, Mrs. Turner
and Weston being already hanged for killing Overbury by poison, but he
being the very quintessence of the law presently informed the jury that if
a man be done to death with pistol, poinard, sword, halter, poison, etc.,
so he be done to death, the indictment holds good, if but indicted for one
of those ways; but the good lawyers of those times were not of that
opinion, but did believe that Mrs. Turner was directly murthered by Lord
Coke's law as Overbury was without any law."

After the trial and execution of the minor prisoners came the trial of the
Countess of Somerset, the instigator of the crime, before the House of

The Clerk of the Crown asked her, "Frances Countess of Somerset, art thou
guilty of the felony and murder, or not guilty?"

And she, making obeisance to the Lord High Steward, answered "Guilty," in
a low timid voice.

The Attorney-General, Sir Francis Bacon, then praised King James in a
fulsome manner, and held out hopes of pardon to the prisoner. The Lord
Chief Justice Coke also talked in servile terms of the king, whose
instructions for the investigation of the murder, he declared, "deserved
to be written in a sunbeam."

The Clerk of the Crown now asked the Countess "if she had any cause to
allege why sentence of death should not be passed upon her."

To this the prisoner replied in a low voice, which only the
Attorney-General heard, "I can much aggravate, but cannot extenuate my
fault. I desire mercy and that the lords will intercede for me to the

An officer of the Crown then presented the white staff to the Lord High
Steward, and sentence of death was passed.

The Lord High Steward (Chancellor Ellesmere) now addressed the weeping
prisoner in the following words: "Since the lords have heard with what
humility and grief you have confessed the fact, I do not doubt they will
signify so much to the king, and mediate for his grace towards you."

The next day the Earl was tried and was found guilty, but both he and the
Countess received only nominal punishment. It was alleged that this
leniency to the Earl and Countess was due to King James himself having
been cognisant of the plot to kill Overbury.

The trial of Mary Blandy, in 1752, at the Oxford Assizes for the murder of
her father is remarkable as being the first one of which there is any
detailed record, in which convincing scientific proof of poisoning was

Mr. Blandy, who was an attorney at Henley-on-Thames, was extremely fond of
Mary, his only daughter, and according to the story told by the
prosecuting counsel at the trial, "had pretended that he could give her
£10,000 for her marriage portion in hopes that neighbouring gentlemen
would pay their addresses. But this pious fraud, which was intended for
her promotion, proved his death and her destruction."

A Captain Cranstoun, who was recruiting at Henley, hearing she was to have
£10,000 fell in love, not with her, but with her fortune, and concealed
from her the fact that he already had a wife.

The father having heard rumours of the bad character of Cranstoun, refused
to let his daughter have anything to do with him. She continued to see
him, however, and listened to his proposal to get the father out of the
way as soon as possible, so that he might get possession of the £10,000 of
which the poor man had unfortunately said he was possessed.

In August, 1750, Mary Blandy began to prepare people for the death of her
father by giving out that she had heard music in the house, this being
looked upon as a certain portent of death.

Then Captain Cranstoun sent her a present of Scotch pebbles and enclosed
with them a packet of a white powder which she was to put into her
father's food.

She gave him some of this, which made him very ill, but as he recovered,
Captain Cranstoun sent her more powder, and some of this she put into his
gruel with the result that he again became violently ill, and died with
symptoms suggestive of arsenical poisoning.

Before his death he was told that Mary had been putting poison into his
food, and only said, "Poor love-sick girl. What won't a girl do for a man
she loves? I forgive her: I always thought there was mischief in these
cursed Scotch pebbles!"

The scientific evidence at this trial was given in a very convincing
manner by a Dr. Addington, who had attended the poisoned man and had
examined the body and tested the white powder that had been sent by
Captain Cranstoun. He stated that this was arsenic, and that he had found
the same poison in Mr. Blandy's gruel.

When asked in cross-examination why he believed this to be white arsenic
he described the different tests he had applied to this powder and to a
sample of pure white arsenic that he had purchased, and showed how the
same results were obtained in each case, and concluded with the remark: "I
never saw any two things in nature more alike than the decoction made with
the powder found in Mr. Blandy's gruel and that made with white arsenic."

The judge in his summing up to the jury remarked that the case was one
which was to be made out by circumstances. A great part of the evidence
rested upon presumption, and if the jury regarded the presumption as a
violent one, that is to say, one where the circumstances spoke so strongly
that to suppose the contrary would be absurd, that amounted in law to
full proof.

The jury, after deliberating for five minutes, found the prisoner guilty.
She was executed on April 6th, and left a written confession in which she
stated that she had not been aware that the powder she had given to her
father was in any way noxious or poisonous.

Cranstoun was subsequently prosecuted and outlawed for his share in the

If the scientific evidence in this early trial was a model of what such
evidence should be, the same can hardly be said of that given at the trial
of Katharine Nairn and Patrick Ogilvie at the High Court of Edinburgh in
August, 1765, for the murder of Thomas Ogilvie, the husband of Katharine.
They had only been married in January of that year, and it was at about
the same time that Patrick Ogilvie, who was a lieutenant in the army, had
returned from abroad. Almost immediately he supplanted his brother in the
affections of his wife, and, a quarrel taking place between the two men,
Patrick was forbidden to come to the house. Shortly afterwards the husband
died, having shown symptoms of irritant poisoning.

According to the story of the prosecution, Katharine told a woman named
Clark, who lived in the house with them, that Patrick had undertaken to
procure poison for her, and that she was going to give it to her husband.

An unsigned letter to Patrick Ogilvie, alleged to be in the writing of
Katharine, with reference to the poison, was put in as evidence.

Testimony was also given by a surgeon of Brechin that Lieutenant Ogilvie
had obtained from him a small phial of laudanum which he said he required
for his own health, and also half an ounce of powdered arsenic for the
alleged purpose of killing some dogs that destroyed his game.

These he had sent to Katharine, who was believed to have put the arsenic
in her husband's tea.

The defence was that the deceased had died a natural death, and that
Katharine Nairn was in the habit of taking small doses of laudanum and of
salts for her health. Expert evidence was given on her behalf by a Dr. J.
Scott to the effect that "he had made experiments upon arsenic and knew
well that it would not dissolve in warm water."

The evidence, which by the way is incorrect, went to prove that even if
arsenic had been introduced into the tea it could not have caused death by

A surgeon also gave evidence that the symptoms might have arisen from
natural causes.

For the prosecution no proof of the powder being arsenic or that the
husband had really died of arsenical poisoning was given, and no
post-mortem examination was made.

The counsel for the defence put the position in the following form: "The
incest is supposed to be certain because the husband is supposed to have
been poisoned; and, on the other hand, the man is believed to have been
poisoned, because there is supposed proof of incest."

Both prisoners were found guilty and sentenced to death, but the execution
was delayed pending an appeal to the Privy Council in London. The
sentences were confirmed and Patrick Ogilvie was executed in November,
but Mrs. Ogilvie, who was expecting the birth of a child, was kept in
prison. A daughter was born early in 1766, and Katharine Nairn managed to
escape from prison in March of that year.

The trial curiously foreshadowed the trial of Mrs. Maybrick a century
later in many of its features, and, as in the modern case, convincing
proof of guilt was wanting.

       *       *       *       *       *

The question whether a particular substance is or is not a poison has
frequently been raised in a court of justice, and on several occasions a
prisoner has owed his acquittal to a conflict of scientific opinion upon
the point.

This was the case in a trial that took place in 1836, at the Norwich
Assizes, when two farm labourers were charged with having attempted to
poison a fellow farm servant, by putting "a deadly poison," blue vitriol
(copper sulphate), into a glass of milk. The man noticed that the milk had
a metallic taste and only drank a portion of it; but this was sufficient
to make him ill for a short time. On the milk being examined it was found
to contain copper sulphate, and suspicion pointed to its having been
doctored by the prisoners.

The counsel for the defence raised the objection that the accused were
indicted for having administered a "deadly" poison, and that medical
opinion did not hold that blue vitriol was a deadly poison.

A medical witness called on behalf of the prosecution stated that he
considered that copper sulphate was a deadly poison, but at the same time
admitted that he had no experience of any case of poisoning in which that
salt had been taken.

On the other hand, another doctor asserted that in his opinion the
substance was not poisonous, and pointed out that it was not sold as a

The judge, taking into account this conflict of opinion, decided that the
matter was doubtful and the prisoners were acquitted.

In the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 it is provided that any
attempt to administer any poison or other destructive thing to any person
whether bodily injury be effected or not is guilty of a felony.

As copper sulphate, when taken in quantity, will certainly cause bodily
injury, the case tried in 1836 at Norwich, would now probably be decided
differently, even though no bodily harm had actually been caused.

This is borne out by the trial of Cluderay, on the charge of attempted
poisoning by administering pods of _coculus indicus_.

No harm had resulted to the intended victim owing to the fact that
although the berries themselves are poisonous, the pod in which they are
contained is insoluble when swallowed, and this prevents the berries from
producing their toxic effects upon the system.

It was decided by the judge, however, that the giving of the entire pod
was an administration of poison within the meaning of the Act.

It is not an easy matter to find a suitable definition for a poison.
According to Taylor it is "a substance which, when taken into the mouth or
stomach, or when absorbed into the blood is capable of seriously
affecting health or of destroying life by its action on the tissues with
which it immediately, or after absorption, comes into contact."

As applied to criminal cases this definition is obviously open to
criticism, for it is applicable to a substance such as coffee which, when
taken in excess, will "seriously affect the health." Some reference to the
quantity is therefore needed. A drug, such as morphia, may be of benefit
when given in small doses, but becomes a poison when given in large
quantity. In the case of Cluderay, however, it could hardly be contended
that the administration of entire coculus pods, although not producing
injurious results, could in any way be beneficial.

The trial of Tawell at the Aylesbury Assizes in 1845, on the charge of
murdering Sarah Hart at Slough, presented several points of scientific

The manner in which the electric telegraph was employed in effecting his
capture has been described in another place.

At the trial Tawell denied that he had ever been to Slough at all, but the
woman who had heard the screams of the victim had seen and spoken with
him, and swore positively to his identity.

It was proved that on the day of the murder Tawell had bought some
Scheele's prussic acid in London, but he accounted for this by the fact
that he was constantly in the habit of buying the poison for external use.

In the cottage, where the woman was found lying dead when the doctor
arrived, were two empty tumblers and a bottle of porter, while a small
amount of prussic acid was found in the stomach of the woman.

The counsel for the defence urged that there was no proof that the woman
had died from the effects of prussic acid and that some sudden emotion
might have been the cause of death.

As to the prussic acid found in the body, he suggested that it might have
been derived from apple-pips eaten by the deceased.

Chemical evidence, however, was brought forward to prove that prussic acid
could not have been formed as suggested in the process of digestion, and
the only result of this novel defence was that for long afterwards the
barrister was known as "Apple-pip Kelly."

In his summing up of the evidence the judge, Baron Parker, said with
reference to one of the contentions of the prisoner's counsel: "If the
evidence satisfies you that the death was occasioned by poison, and that
poison was administered by the prisoner it is not necessary to give direct
and positive proof of what is the quantity which would destroy life, nor
is it necessary to prove that such quantity was found in the body of the
deceased, if the other facts lead you to the conclusion that the death was
occasioned by poison and that it was knowingly administered by the

Referring to the argument that there was no proof that the deceased might
not have died from the effect of a sudden emotion he pointed out that they
were not to have recourse to mere conjecture; that where the result of the
evidence gave them the existence of a cause to which the death might be
rationally attributed they were not to suppose without a reason for doing
so, that it was to be attributed to any other cause.

As has already been mentioned, the evidence convinced the jury of the
guilt of the prisoner, and he was sentenced to death.



    Use of Poisons--Arsenic and Antimony--Chapman Case--Strychnine in
    Palmer Trial--Physiological Tests--Case of Freeman--Error from
    Quantitative Deductions--Poisonous Food Given to Animals--Mary
    Higgins--Negative Result of Physiological Tests--Hyoscyamus
    Poisons--Crippen Case--Experiment on Cats--Time Limit for Action of
    Arsenic--French Case.

The use of poisons but little known at the time has generally been due to
a special knowledge of their properties on the part of the poisoner, who
has hoped in this way to escape detection, and, in fact, has often done

Arsenic, which has always been a favourite with ignorant poisoners, is
cumulative in its action, and remains in the system for a long time after
it has been taken. It has a remarkable preservative effect upon the
tissues, which it will keep for an indefinite length of time from
decomposition. There is, therefore, little difficulty in detecting and
identifying it in a body years after a crime has been committed.

The effect of antimony is very similar, and it was owing to this fact that
it was possible in the Chapman poisoning case to prove that some of the
victims had been poisoned with antimony.

Organic poisons such as prussic acid and vegetable alkaloids are much less
stable in character, though they are not so fugitive as some poisoners
have supposed, and the presence of alkaloidal poisons in the system has
been proved months after death.

In the celebrated Palmer case, to which reference has already been made,
Palmer, who was a doctor, made use of strychnine, and, although he was
convicted upon the medical and other evidence, Taylor, the official
analyst, was unable to detect the poison in the remains. On these grounds
and the evidence of other chemists who asserted that they could detect the
slightest trace of strychnine, and that had that poison been given it must
have passed into the system, the defence was set up that no strychnine had
been given, and that the prisoner was entitled to an acquittal.

All that can be fairly deduced from the chemical evidence, however, is
that no very large amount of strychnine was present, and that the method
of separating alkaloids used by Taylor half a century ago was not capable
of detecting traces of strychnine. So far, then, as regards chemical
analysis, Palmer had succeeded in administering a poison in sufficient
quantity to kill, but to escape detection.

With the more delicate methods of analysis now at the disposal of the
chemist this would no longer be possible, for it has been repeatedly
proved that it is possible to detect a minute trace of that alkaloid in
the body many months after death.

The other details of this case are interesting as forming a very complete
chain of evidence.

Palmer, as has been mentioned, was a medical man living at Rugeley, where
he had formerly had a practice. For some time prior to the trial he had
given up medicine and devoted himself to horse-racing, with the result
that he had lost heavily, and by the summer of 1855 owed about £20,000,
which he had borrowed at an exorbitant rate of interest from different

As security for these amounts he had given promissory notes, in which he
had forged the signature of his mother. It was his intention to have paid
the most pressing of his creditors out of the proceeds of an insurance
upon the life of his brother, who died in August of the same year.

The insurance company, however, from certain circumstances that had
reached their ears, had a suspicion of fraud in connection with this
policy, and refused to pay the sum insured.

The holders of the bills, therefore, prepared writs against Palmer and his
mother, which were to be issued unless they received the promised money,
and it was, therefore, a matter of urgency for Palmer to find a means of
satisfying them.

Early in November he went to some races at Shrewsbury in company with a
young man named Cook, and the latter won between £2,000 and £3,000, some
£800 of which he received upon the race-course, leaving the balance to be
paid in London.

To celebrate the occasion, Cook asked a number of his friends to dine with
him at the hotel in Shrewsbury. That evening Palmer was observed holding a
tumbler up to the light outside his bedroom, and he then went into the
other room where Cook was talking to his friends.

After drinking some brandy, Cook became violently ill, and a doctor was
sent for. Cook said he had been given something by Palmer, and gave his
money into the charge of one of his friends, who next day returned it to

Notwithstanding his suspicions, Cook returned with Palmer to Rugeley, and
put up at an inn there near Palmer's house. He was there visited several
times by Palmer, who gave him coffee and broth, both of which made him
violently sick. He was attended by a local medical man, who was very old,
and, acting on Palmer's suggestion, this doctor prescribed morphine pills
for the sick man.

Palmer went with the doctor to his surgery, helped him in the preparation
of the pills, and undertook to see that the patient took them. Accordingly
he went round to the inn the same night, and persuaded Cook, who was
unwilling to have anything to do with them, to take the pills. Within
fifteen minutes he had died, after showing all the symptoms of strychnine

After Cook's death, his stepfather came to Rugeley, and made inquiries as
to the cause of death. Certain circumstances drew suspicion upon Palmer,
and this was strengthened when it was found that on several occasions he
had bought strychnine, and that immediately after Cook's death he had been
seen examining his pockets and searching under the pillow of the bed.

When asked whether there were not some sporting debts due to Cook, he
denied that there were any, and it was significant that the betting book
of the deceased man had disappeared.

It was further discovered that Palmer had since the death paid over
considerable sums of money to his creditors, and that he had induced the
old doctor who had been in attendance upon Cook to sign a certificate
giving apoplexy as the cause of death.

A post-mortem examination was held, at which Palmer, although under
suspicion, was allowed to be present. When the portion of the stomach was
sealed up in a bottle, Palmer removed it to another part of the room while
the attention of the doctors was otherwise occupied, and it was found that
he had cut two slits in the parchment cover, and had attempted to get rid
of the contents. Subsequently he offered a bribe of £10 to the driver who
was to take the doctors to the station if he would upset the carriage and
break the jar.

The evidence of the doctors called by the Crown left little doubt as to
death having been caused by strychnine poison, and although a number of
medical men gave evidence on behalf of Palmer, their opinions were
conflicting and inconsistent, and, as the judge pointed out, were
obviously aiming at an acquittal at all cost.

After a trial lasting twelve days, the judge (Lord Campbell) summed up the
evidence, and dwelt in strong terms upon the scientific witnesses for the
defence (see _ante_, p. 19). With reference to the fact that no strychnine
had been detected in the body, he remarked that "there was no rule of law
according to which the poison must be found in the body of the deceased,
and all they knew respecting the poison not being found in the body was
that in that part of the body that was analysed by the witnesses no
strychnia had been found."

Since physiological tests are, in many cases, much more sensitive than
chemical tests, they have often been used for the identification of traces
of poison isolated from a body. Thus a small quantity of a particular
alkaloid will produce certain characteristic physiological results when
injected into the circulatory system of a small animal, and should
precisely the same results be obtained by the injection of the unknown
substance, the obvious inference to be drawn is that the two substances
are identical.

At the same time it has been shown on more than one occasion that it is
not justifiable to draw a comparison between the quantitative action of a
particular poison upon an animal and upon man.

As an instance of the danger of relying too exclusively upon the results
of experiments upon an animal, the interesting case of Freeman, who was
tried at Leicester in 1829, may be mentioned. A young woman, the servant
of a chemist in the town, was found dead in bed. She had evidently died
from the effects of prussic acid, and from the fact that the one ounce
bottle from which the poison had been taken still contained three and a
half drachms, it was inferred that she had taken four and a half drachms.

Owing to the facts that the arms of the dead woman were crossed upon her
breast, and that the clothes had been pulled up neatly over them, while
the bottle containing the remainder of the poison had been re-corked and
was lying by her side, it was thought that it was not a case of suicide,
but that the poison must have been given to her.

Suspicion fell upon a young man named Freeman, who was an assistant of the
chemist, and he was charged with having murdered the woman.

The point urged by the prosecution was that the action of prussic acid was
so rapid, that it was impossible for the woman to have had the time to
take the amount which had apparently been taken, and subsequently to have
arranged the bed-clothes and corked the bottle.

Expert evidence upon this question was given by five doctors, four of whom
gave as their opinion that these things could not have been done by the
woman herself. In support of their view, one of them stated that the same
quantity of prussic acid had killed a dog in three seconds.

Fortunately for the prisoner he was able to produce conclusive evidence of
his innocence, and the jury, therefore, very rightly refused to accept the
medical opinion.

Cases in which scientific evidence has been given to prove that a
particular portion of food or drink is of a poisonous nature, as shown by
its effects upon animals, have frequently been before the Courts, and the
evidence is not so open to criticism as in Freeman's case, although, at
best, such a proof is far less satisfactory than the separation and
identification of the poison by chemical means.

In one trial, however, described by Taylor, which took place in the early
part of last century in the West of England, the evidence supplied by the
accidental poisoning of some animals was so convincing as to prove the
prisoner guilty, although chemical evidence of the presence of poisoning
was wanting.

A farmer's wife was accused of having poisoned her husband by putting
arsenic into his soup while they were dining together. Then, in order to
get rid of all signs of her guilt, she had thrown the remainder of the
soup into the farmyard, where the pigs and the fowls had devoured it. The
husband had died with all the symptoms and appearances of arsenical
poisoning, but no arsenic was found in the body by the imperfect methods
of analysis then available.

All the animals in the farmyard had also died, apparently from the effects
of an irritant poison, and in the bodies of some of them, probably owing
to its quantity being greater, arsenic was found.

The evidence as to these facts, which was put forward at the trial, was
regarded by the jury as conclusive proof that poison had been given to the
man, notwithstanding the objections pressed by the defence that the poison
had not been found in his body, and that, since none of the soup was left
for examination, it had not been proved that the soup was poisonous.

With the more refined methods of analysis now available, such evidence
would probably have been corroborated, seeing that the tests are capable
of detecting arsenic even in the minute proportion of one part in sixty

In a remarkable trial that took place, in 1831, at the Warwick Assizes,
expert evidence that an animal had not been poisoned supplied the proof
required to establish the guilt of the prisoner. A woman named Mary
Higgins was accused of having poisoned her uncle with arsenic. It was
proved that he had died from an irritant poison, and there was also
abundant proof that the niece had bought arsenic. Her explanation of this
was that she had wanted it to destroy vermin, and by way of adding
conviction to her story she actually produced a dead mouse, which, she
alleged, had been killed by the poison. This proved a fatal blunder on her
part, for an examination of the mouse showed that there was no arsenic
whatever in its body. The defence was therefore discredited, and the
prisoner was found guilty of murder.

The most valuable applications of physiological tests have been in cases
where narcotic poisons have been used, and especially in the early days of
chemical analyses, when the methods then known were incapable of
identifying these poisons.

For example, in the year 1838 a woman was tried at Liverpool on a charge
of having sent a poisoned pudding to another woman with the intention of
poisoning her. The two children who were sent with the pudding tasted it
on the way, and finding that it was bitter, mentioned the fact to the
woman to whom they were taking it. She had other reasons for being
suspicious, and, therefore, sent the pudding to a doctor to be examined.
He applied various tests, but was unable to detect the presence of any
poison, although from the taste he suspected that some narcotic poison was

Accordingly, he gave a small portion of the pudding to a dog, with the
result that the animal died within three hours with all the symptoms of
poisoning produced by a narcotic poison. On the strength of this evidence,
the prisoner was found guilty.

A French poisoning trial which took place in the early part of last
century is especially interesting from the fact that it is apparently the
only recorded instance, prior to the recent notorious Crippen case, in
which the deadly plant, henbane, was the original source of the poison.

In the French case a child had been poisoned by some broth, and the
symptoms had suggested the presence of a narcotic poison. The chemical
analysis of alkaloidal poisons was at that time in its infancy, and in
order to obtain proof of the poisonous character of the broth, some of the
meat remaining in it was given to a cat. The animal died in about five
hours, and the symptoms produced and the appearance of its body after
death were all similar to those observed in the child.

The evidence was therefore regarded as corroborative proof that the plant
henbane had been introduced into the broth.

In the present state of chemical analysis proof would have been expected
of the presence of the active principles of henbane (hyoscine and
hyoscyamine) in the broth and in the body of the victim, and physiological
tests would probably only have been accepted as supplying additional proof
of the identity of the poison.

A striking example of the way in which the scientific evidence may succeed
in establishing the innocence of a person accused of murder is seen in
the following case, which was tried in 1835:--A woman, who had a violent
disposition and was subject to attacks of hysteria, accused her husband of
having attempted to poison her, and in proof of her charge produced a
white powder, which, as she alleged, he had put into her food. The powder
was found to be white arsenic, and the food on examination was found to
contain a fatal quantity of that poison. The husband was therefore
immediately arrested and kept in prison pending the investigation.

The woman was perfectly well for eight days, but on the ninth day became
very violent, and did many eccentric things, and on the next day she died.
Examination of the body showed that arsenic had been the cause of death.
Her husband denied that he had ever put any arsenic into her food, but had
it not been for the scientific evidence he would probably have been unable
to prove that he was innocent.

Undoubtedly he owed his escape to his having been in prison for the eight
days between the accusation brought by his wife and her death, for the
medical witnesses proved that it was not possible for him to have given
the dose of arsenic which caused the death of the woman, since the effects
of arsenic could not have remained latent in the system for that length of

Circumstances, therefore, indicated that the woman had committed suicide,
and on the strength of this evidence the prisoner was immediately set at

To come to more recent times, the most notable trial in which the results
of experiments upon animals have formed one of the strongest links in the
evidence against the prisoner, was that of George Henry Lamson, in 1881,
who was convicted of poisoning his brother-in-law.

Here again the accused was a medical man, who was able by reason of his
specialised knowledge to use a poison that at the time would not readily
be identified in the body after death. In fact, in the opinion of Montagu
Williams, who defended him at the trial, there could be but little doubt
but that he had previously poisoned a brother of his victim in the same
manner, without incurring any suspicion.

He was a young man twenty-nine years of age, in practice in a small way at
Bournemouth. He was not well off and had been in pecuniary straits, and,
as it was known at the trial, would have benefited materially by the death
of his brother-in-law, Percy John, a lad of nineteen, who was at a school
in Wimbledon.

Percy was a cripple, and had to be carried up and down-stairs, and to be
wheeled about in a chair, but there was no reason why he should not have
lived to old age.

The story told by the prosecution was that Dr. Lamson wrote to his
brother-in-law, telling him he was coming to see him at the school on his
way over to Paris, and the boy was disappointed on receiving a message
that he could not come till the next day. On December 3rd, however, Lamson
called at the school, and said that he had only time to pay a flying visit
before catching the night train to Paris.

He produced some gelatine capsules, and also a cake. Taking one of these
he remarked to the schoolmaster, who was present throughout the interview,
that he would leave them with him, so that he might give nasty medicines
to his pupils without difficulty. He then filled one of the capsules from
a basin of sugar that was on the table, and turning to the boy, said:
"Here, Percy, you're a swell pill-taker; take this, and show Mr. Bedbrook
how easily it may be swallowed."

Dr. Lamson had also brought with him some sweets and a cake, and he gave
slices of this to the schoolmaster and to his young brother-in-law, and
also ate a piece himself.

Immediately after the lad had swallowed the capsule Lamson observed:
"That's soon gone, my boy," and then remarked, "I must be going now."

He then left with the intention of catching the evening boat-train to
Paris. Very shortly afterwards Percy became ill and told the schoolmaster
that he felt exactly as he did four months before when his brother-in-law
had given him a pill. Doctors were summoned, but in spite of everything
that was done the poor boy died the same evening. A medical examination of
the body showed no appearance of any disease that could have resulted in
such sudden death, but a chemical examination of the stomach, which was
made by Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Dupré, proved that a vegetable irritant
poison must have been the cause of death.

Investigations showed that on several occasions Dr. Lamson had purchased
small quantities of aconitine from different chemists, and this
strengthened the suspicions already attaching to him.

A few days later Lamson returned from Paris and voluntarily went to
Scotland Yard, saying that as his name had been mentioned in connection
with the case he had thought it best to call and see what was to be done
about it. He was then arrested and formally charged with causing the

The trial was memorable for the conclusive nature of the scientific
evidence. The cake and sweets had been analysed and found to be quite free
from aconite and the gelatine capsules were also proved to be innocuous.
At the bottom of the boy's box a pill-box had been discovered containing
pills in which aconitine was present, but although the point was suggested
by the defence, there was no evidence to show that the boy had secretly
taken one of these.

The presence of morphia and aconitine in the body was proved, the latter
being identified by its general chemical reactions as an alkaloid, by the
burning sensation produced upon the tongue, and by its characteristic
action upon mice, as compared with that of a standard solution of pure
aconitine. In each case the animals died, the symptoms being the same and
characteristic of aconitine poisoning.

For the defence it was urged by Montagu Williams that it was admitted by
the scientific witnesses for the prosecution that they had no other proof
of the identity of aconitine than these physiological tests upon mice;
that their conclusions were a leap in the dark; and that mice had so
delicate a constitution that even an injection of pure water would kill
them. How then could it fairly be argued that because these little animals
had been killed by an injection of a substance extracted from the body,
that substance must be aconitine? Apart from that, bodies of the nature of
alkaloids were formed in the body by decomposition, and the effects upon
the mice attributed to aconitine might very well have been caused by one
of these alkaloids.

It was further pointed out that there had been no opportunity of giving
the boy a pill without the knowledge of the schoolmaster, and that the
prisoner could not have charged the capsule with aconitine without having
been observed.

The evidence put forward by the prosecution carried conviction to the
jury, and the prisoner was found guilty and sentenced to death.

With reference to the more important points raised by the defence it may
be mentioned that no known ptomaine (_i.e._, alkaloid formed by
decomposition in the body after death) produces the same physiological
effects as aconitine, and that the conclusions of Dr. Stevenson and Dr.
Dupré were based upon the results of comparative tests, which showed that
as little as 1/2000 grain of aconitine could be recognised in this way.

The probable solution of the mystery of how the prisoner managed to give
the poison to the boy is suggested in the reminiscences of Lord Brampton,
who, as Sir Henry Hawkins, was the presiding judge at the trial. He points
out that Lamson was far too clever a man to attempt such a clumsy plan as
to charge the capsule with aconitine, and thus draw suspicion upon
himself. The much more plausible theory is that the capsules had nothing
whatever to do with the poisoning but that Lamson had previously put the
aconitine into a raisin in the cake, and had taken care that his young
brother-in-law should get the slice containing that raisin, while he and
the schoolmaster had eaten other portions of the otherwise harmless cake.

After sentence of death had been passed, Lamson stood with his arms folded
and in a loud voice proclaimed his innocence before God. Before his
execution, however, it is stated that he confessed that he had not only
poisoned Percy John, but also his other brother-in-law Herbert.



Few trials in this country have aroused so much controversy as that of
Mrs. Maybrick, in 1889, on the charge of having poisoned her husband with

James Maybrick, who was a cotton merchant, fifty years of age, had married
the accused in America in 1881, she being then eighteen years old. Four
years later they had made their home in Liverpool, and apparently got on
well together. In 1889, however, Mrs. Maybrick became friendly with a man
named Brierley, and on the pretence of paying a visit to a relative, went
to London, where she stayed with him for several days. At the end of March
the Maybricks went to the Grand National Race, and the husband then became
jealous of Brierley, who was also present. Following this incident came a
violent quarrel, which resulted in Mrs. Maybrick's threatening to leave

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Maybrick paid a visit to his brother in London,
and while there complained of the extravagance and the behaviour of his

He also consulted a specialist, who diagnosed his illness as acute
dyspepsia, and prescribed for him certain medicines, in which, however,
there was no arsenic.

After his return to Liverpool early in April, Mrs. Maybrick bought a dozen
fly-papers from a chemist, and afterwards two dozen more from another
chemist, stating that the flies were troublesome in the house. In each
case she paid for these, although she had an account with the chemist. It
was found that each of these papers contained from two to three grains of
arsenic, or more than the fatal dose for a man. Evidence was given that
they were subsequently discovered soaking in water in Mrs. Maybrick's
room, but that they had not been used to kill the flies.

At the end of April Mr. Maybrick became very ill, and a doctor was called
in. The patient was frequently given food and medicine by his wife, and
arsenic was afterwards found in a bottle of meat juice. The prisoner
alleged that at her husband's own request she had put a white powder into
this bottle.

On the 9th of May the doctor concluded that Mr. Maybrick was suffering
from the effects of some irritant poison, and Mrs. Maybrick from that time
was not allowed to come near him. On May the 11th he died.

During the illness, letters between Mrs. Maybrick and Brierley had been
intercepted, and in one of these occurred the expression that her husband
was "sick unto death." At the inquest a verdict of "Wilful murder" against
Mrs. Maybrick was returned, and she was committed for trial at the
Liverpool Assizes.

The trial took place before Mr. Justice Stephen, who, by the way, died
insane a year later, and the prisoner was defended by Sir Charles Russell,
who subsequently became Lord Chief Justice.

The case for the prosecution was based upon the presence of a strong
motive for the crime, the quarrel between the husband and wife, the
possession of arsenic (from the fly-papers) by the accused, the presence
of arsenic in various foods and medicines alleged by witnesses to have
been given to the deceased by his wife, and the discovery of arsenic in
the body after death. In addition to this, evidence was given by the
nurses that they had seen the prisoner manipulating the medicines, and by
doctors and relations of Mr. Maybrick that he was not in the habit of
taking arsenic.

For the defence it was urged that death was due to acute gastritis, which
was the result of a chill or improper food, and that arsenical poisoning
was not the cause; that the fly-papers had been purchased by the prisoner
for the preparation of a cosmetic for the face; and that the presence of
traces of arsenic in the body was fully accounted for by the fact that Mr.
Maybrick was an arsenic eater.

Several medical men expressed opinions strongly opposed to the views of
the prosecution, and it was pointed out by these that many of the symptoms
characteristic of poisoning by arsenic had not been observed in this case.
At the same time it was admitted that the effects produced by arsenic were
often erratic, and, as Dr. Stevenson stated in his evidence for the
prosecution, "There is no distinctive diagnostic symptom of arsenical
poisoning. The diagnostic thing is finding the arsenic."

The medical experts who gave evidence upon behalf of the prisoner were Dr.
Tidy (who, like Dr. Stevenson, was an official analyst to the Home
Office), Dr. Macnamara, and Professor Paul; and their view, which was
strongly expressed, was that all the symptoms which had been described to
them in the evidence pointed against arsenic having been the cause of

The judge, in his summing up of the medical evidence, pointed out that
expert witnesses were liable at times to take up the position of advocates
with regard to scientific matters, and he warned the jury to take this
into consideration in forming their conclusions.

The analytical evidence as to the presence of arsenic in the body and in
the food and medicine was given by Dr. Stevenson and by Mr. Davis.

Davis had found no arsenic in the stomach, but it was discovered in the
liver and intestines. In the bottle of the meat juice he had found half a
grain in solution. Arsenic was present in the glass of the bottle, but to
a less extent than in the glass of another bottle of the meat juice, in
the contents of which no arsenic was present. Hence the glass could not
have been the source of the arsenic found in the other bottle.

He had also found arsenic in a glass of milk in the house, in a vessel in
which luncheon had been sent to the office of Mr. Maybrick, in a medicine
bottle, and in a bottle of glycerine in the lavatory. In fact, one of the
most remarkable features of this case was the number of articles in which
arsenic had been discovered. Dr. Stevenson had also found no arsenic in
the stomach, but had detected a small quantity in the kidney and the
intestines. In a portion of the liver he found an amount which he
calculated to amount to one-third of a grain for the whole liver, and he
gave as his opinion that "the body at the time of death probably contained
approximately a fatal dose of arsenic."

Dr. Tidy, in giving evidence on behalf of the accused, criticised this
evidence of Stevenson on the grounds that it did not necessarily follow
that because one portion of the liver contained so much arsenic, the same
proportion must be present in the remainder. In his experience the amounts
of arsenic retained might vary in different parts of the same organ. He
calculated from the results of Stevenson's analyses that the total amount
of arsenic was 0·082 grains.

If we examine this evidence more closely it is difficult to see upon what
basis Tidy calculated his total. Stevenson had examined approximately one
quarter of the liver, and had extracted from two portions a total quantity
of 0·076 grains, so that, according to Tidy, the remaining three-quarters
could only have contained 0·006 grains of arsenic. On the face of it this
seems an absurd conclusion.

The evidence of Professor Paul went to prove that arsenic was present in
the material of earthenware vessels similar to that in which the lunch was
sent to Mr. Maybrick's office, and that it could be liberated by the
action of an acid, so that the arsenic found in the particular vessel
might have originated from the action of acids in the food itself upon the
interior of the vessel.

As has been mentioned, one of the points brought as evidence against the
prisoner was that a bottle of glycerine had been found in the lavatory,
and that this contained arsenic. There was no evidence that the prisoner
had ever had this bottle in her hand, and, apart from that, arsenic is a
very usual impurity in ordinary commercial glycerine.

Having regard to the conflict of the scientific testimony, and to the
evidence of Mr. Maybrick having acquired the habit of taking arsenic while
resident in America, it was generally expected that the prisoner would be
acquitted. The judge, however, evidently believing her guilty, summed up
strongly against her, and put the point to be decided in the following
form: The prosecution said that arsenic was the producing cause of the
gastro-enteritis which was the immediate cause of death; arsenic was found
in the body, and strong proof was given that arsenic was administered. The
terrible question was: By whose hand was it administered? The deceased
might have taken it himself, and if there was any reasonable doubt upon
that point it was the duty of the jury to acquit the prisoner; but if a
crime was committed, no other person but the prisoner was suggested as
having committed it.

The jury were so influenced by the remarks of the judge that, after a
retirement of a little over thirty minutes, they found the prisoner

The feeling was very widely expressed that the prosecution had failed to
establish beyond all reasonable doubt that the deceased had died from
arsenic, and that arsenic had been given to him by the prisoner, and that,
therefore, she was entitled to the "benefit of the doubt," which the
judge's directions to the jury had not allowed to her.

It may be mentioned here that the judge himself, in the second edition of
his _Criminal Laws of England_, published in 1890, states that out of 979
cases tried before him up to September, 1889, "the case of Mrs. Maybrick
was the only case in which there could be any doubt about the facts."

In consequence of this feeling that a terrible mistake might have been
made, memorials for the respite of Mrs. Maybrick were signed by the
physicians of Liverpool, by members of Bars of Liverpool and London, and
by the citizens of Liverpool, in all of which stress was laid upon the
conflict of medical testimony. Memorials were also sent in from other
parts of the country, and in all 5,000 petitions, containing upwards of
half a million signatures, were received by the Home Secretary.

The feeling was too strong to be ignored, and the Home Secretary,
therefore, announced that he had advised the commutation of the death
penalty to one of penal servitude for life, on the ground that: "Inasmuch
as, although the evidence leads to the conclusion that the prisoner
administered and attempted to administer arsenic to her husband with
intent to murder him, yet it does not wholly exclude a reasonable doubt
whether his death was in fact caused by the administration of arsenic."

Persistent efforts were made to obtain the liberation of the prisoner, and
Lord Russell of Killowen, who had defended her at the trial, and whose
belief in her innocence had never wavered, brought the matter under the
notice of each succeeding Home Secretary, but always without avail. It was
not until after the lapse of fifteen years that she was liberated at the
ordinary termination of a sentence shortened by the good behaviour of the

The course followed by the Home Secretary (Matthews) and endorsed by his
successors is impossible to defend from a logical point of view.

If the prisoner was guilty of murder, there was no justification for
yielding to the popular demand. If, on the other hand, there was "a
reasonable doubt" as to whether the man died from the effects of arsenic,
she ought to have been set at liberty. But to commute the sentence for the
reason given was to convict the prisoner of attempted murder, a charge
upon which she had never been tried, and for which, if found guilty, she
would not have received penal servitude for life.

At the present time a case of this kind would be brought before the Court
of Criminal Appeal, and the prisoner would have the opportunity of having
the alleged misdirections of the presiding judge investigated, and of
putting forward additional evidence--advantages that were not available to
the accused in this trial.



    National Loss from Adulteration--"Adulterated" Electricity--The Beer
    Conner--Conflict of Evidence--The Notice
    Dodge--Preservatives--Standards for Food--Court of
    Reference--Administration of the Law.

To label the adulterator of food as a criminal would, in the majority of
cases, be too harsh a sentence, but in the worst forms of
adulteration--those in which food that is positively bad is made to appear
good--he more than deserves the title. Although in the larger proportion
of instances the actual pecuniary loss inflicted upon the consumer by the
sale of adulterated food may be but trifling, the loss suffered by the
community collectively through various forms of petty frauds of this
nature reaches an enormous total in a year.

Some idea of the extent to which the public is thus defrauded may be
gathered from the instructive figures published some years ago by
Professor Long in the _Nineteenth Century_.

In his article it was estimated that 1,400,000,000 gallons of milk were
produced annually in the United Kingdom, of which over a third was sold in
the form of milk, the remainder being converted into butter and cheese.
Assuming that a tenth part of the milk were adulterated by the middleman,
the loss to the farmer would represent over £600,000 per annum. There is
little doubt but that this calculation underestimates the amount of milk
adulterated by the addition of water or by the separation of the cream.

The evidence given before a Select Committee of the House of Commons
appointed to deal with the Food and Drugs Acts suggests that probably
one-fifth of the butter imported into this country is adulterated, while
it is almost impossible to form any estimate of the loss to the consumer
from adulterated groceries and from the sale of foreign meat as "best

With few exceptions, nearly everything we eat or drink--in fact, nearly
everything we buy--is liable to be substituted for what we want, or to be
mixed with something else that we do not want--at all events, at the price
we have to pay for it.

There is thus considerable excuse for the amusing blunder made by a
counsel who was cross-examining Mr. Siemens, the electrical expert, in a
case in which there was a dispute about the working of some electrical

"I think, Mr. Siemens, that you have had a long experience in connection
with electricity?"

"That is so."

"Well, now, I want you to tell me whether in the course of all your
experience you have ever known electricity to be adulterated?"

"In only one instance," replied the witness.

"And when was that?"

"In the phrase 'greased lightning,'" was the instant witty reply of the
electrical expert.

But there are few commodities which can be bought or sold that have the
clean record of electricity. In every direction, competition is daily
becoming keener, and rival firms "cut" the prices, each forcing the other
to sell either with the minimum of profit or to stop selling altogether.

Under these conditions there is a strong temptation for a small firm in
danger of being crushed out of existence by its competitors to avail
itself of the additional profit afforded by adulteration, and thus be able
to sell its goods at a lower price than its more scrupulous rivals.

In many cases the adulterated articles are sold unknowingly, the shopman
being tempted by the offer of an alleged genuine product at a very low
price, while the foreign manufacturer who supplies him with the goods
cheerfully accepts the risk of prosecution, well knowing that he cannot be
brought to book.

Frequently the adulteration is most skilfully effected, and every fresh
advance in the chemical methods of detecting foreign ingredients is
scientifically met by the adulterator. The old gross forms of adulteration
are, for the most part, things of the past, save, of course, in the case
of foods like milk, which contain much water, and where the temptation to
increase the amount is frequently too strong to be resisted.

The old story of the grocer who called his apprentice to prayers after
telling him to "water the treacle and sand the sugar," has lost its point,
at all events as regards sanding the sugar. The fraud is too palpable. And
the same may be said of other unskilful forms of adulteration, such as the
addition of gypsum to flour, chalk to milk, starch to butter, and so on.

In short, adulteration of to-day has become a fine art, and the public
analyst has strong suspicions about many a sample, which he dare not
condemn, since it might possibly be genuine, though of poor quality.

Long before the days of the public analyst there was an official who was,
in a sense, his forerunner, and his methods were simplicity itself. As
might be guessed, our ancestors three or four hundred years ago, were
mainly concerned about the strength of the national beverage--beer, and
they appointed officers who were known as "beer conners," to visit the
different ale-houses, and to taste and examine the liquor that was being
sold. According to Mr. Sidney Lee, John Shakespeare, the father of
William, was appointed an ale-taster in 1557.

The test to be applied needed no complicated apparatus or chemical
reagents--nothing beyond a pair of leather breeches, which were called the
"conning breeches."

The beer conner would put these on, and having poured a little of the ale
on to a wooden bench would sit down in it and patiently await the result.
If after a given time he found that he was glued to the bench, the ale
contained sugar, and was condemned as adulterated, but if he could rise
without an effort the beer was passed as pure.

The oath to be taken by these beer tasters or conners ran as follows:--

    "You are the chosen ale-tasters of this town. You shall well and truly
    serve his Majesty and this town in the same office. You shall at all
    times try, taste, and assize the beer and ale to be put to sale in
    this liberty, whether the same be wholesome for man's body, and
    present those that offend, or refuse to suffer you to assay it. You
    shall give your attendance at all courts, and present from time to
    time the offenders, and all things else belonging to your office you
    shall do and execute. So help you God."

A public analyst of to-day might well envy the easy lot of the beer
conner, who had no difficult problems to solve, and who, if he condemned
ale that had sufficient "body" to hold him to his seat, was sure of the
support of the government officials.

To the layman it may seem strange that a conflict of opinion should ever
occur between analysts with regard to the genuineness of a sample of food,
and that it should ever be possible for an accused salesman to bring
rebutting scientific evidence. A consideration of the following points,
however, will make this clear, and show how such different opinions may be
honestly held. (1) Food products may consist of entirely dissimilar
substances, which may readily be distinguished by suitable tests, as, for
instance, pepper and salt; or (2) the food may contain a special
constituent which is either entirely wanting or only present in a smaller
proportion in other allied products. It is mainly with foods of this
latter description that the difficulties of the public analyst arise.

For instance, butter fat contains a large proportion of certain volatile
compounds, which are either absent or are present in much smaller quantity
in the fats used to adulterate butter; and thus an estimation of these
volatile compounds affords a means of judging of the purity of the butter.
Thus, if only half the normal quantity of volatile compounds is present,
the conclusion is drawn that the butter is adulterated with an equal
quantity of foreign fat, and so on.

The task would not be difficult if butter fat were always constant in
composition; but, unfortunately, there are often wide variations in the
proportion of ingredients, and it frequently happens that the public
analyst has to give his judgment upon a sample, which might either be a
butter very rich in the characteristic volatile substances and adulterated
with 10 per cent. of foreign fat; or it might be a genuine butter that was
very deficient in these volatile compounds.

This, then, is the dilemma. If the analyst condemn such a sample on the
strength of this and other tests, he may be confronted by the evidence of
other analysts who will give their opinion that the butter is genuine; and
if, then, the matter be referred to the Government analysts, their report
may or may not corroborate his, and in the latter alternative the
authority instituting the prosecution may have to pay heavy costs.

It is well known that butters are scientifically blended with foreign fats
so as to fall just on the border line between abnormal and adulterated
samples, and the analyst is frequently compelled to pass such a butter as
genuine, lest he should unwittingly do an injustice.

A large proportion of Dutch butter is abnormal in this respect, and has
been so frequently condemned as adulterated by English chemists, that
protests have been made by the leading Dutch analysts.

The reason for the abnormal character of Dutch butter appears to be that
the cows are left too long in the fields, for as soon as they are stalled
for the winter, the character of the butter gradually becomes normal

These details have been given at some length, for they are typical of the
problem which the public analyst has to solve in the case of many natural
products, _i.e._, to decide whether a food is adulterated or only
naturally of poor quality.

There is no special difficulty in the analyses; it is a question of
interpretation of the results.

The chief culprit in the matter of the adulteration of butter is the small
dealer, who buys margarine from the margarine manufacturer and skilfully
blends it with butter in a proportion that is small in a single instance,
but is sufficient to bring him in a handsome profit in the course of a

Owing to the difficulty of detecting such small additions of margarine to
butter (which, as was explained above, is due to the variations in the
natural product) a most ingenious device has been adopted in some

This is the addition of a small quantity of a "latent colour" to the
margarine, so that, although it appears yellow, like butter, its colour
can be changed by the application of a single reagent to pink or blue, and
its presence thus revealed in a mixture of butter and margarine.

Several years ago an attempt was made in some of the United States to
compel manufacturers of margarine to colour it pink, so that it could not
possibly be palmed off as butter, but as this law was found to have the
effect of stopping the sale of margarine altogether, it is no longer

Various substances have been suggested as suitable for the latent
colouring matter, such as starch, which turns blue on contact with iodine,
and certain colourless coal-tar derivatives which change to pink upon the
addition of an alkali or acid.

There are numerous objections to the use of some of these compounds. Thus,
starch may be washed out of the margarine by a simple treatment with
water, while a coal tar derivative that turns pink on contact with an
alkali is too sensitive an ingredient for everyday use.

A far more satisfactory substance than any of these was found in the oil
derived from sesame seed. This is a wholesome oil with a fragrant odour
and pleasant taste, which is largely used as a salad oil in certain parts
of Europe. It is one of the few vegetable oils that can be detected by
means of a special colour reaction; for on treating the oil with a
particular reagent it gives a bright rose colour, and the test is so
sensitive that it will detect the presence of even a small percentage of
sesame oil in other fats.

A compulsory addition of a small amount of sesame oil to all margarine,
therefore, affords an absolutely certain means of recognising the
margarine subsequently. The first country to adopt this plan was Germany,
where a few years ago a regulation was made that all makers of margarine
must use 10 per cent. of sesame oil with the other ingredients. Belgium
has also adopted the same plan of earmarking the margarine produced in the
country, and has thus simplified in one direction the problem of detecting
petty adulteration.

A similar problem has to be solved in dealing with milk, the proportion of
cream in which varies naturally to such an extent that it is possible to
add a considerable amount of water to a rich milk without bringing it
below the level of a poor but genuine milk. When such a sample of milk has
been condemned, the analyst has often been confronted by an appeal to the
cow herself.

But even the specious notice which was for years to be seen over a dairy:
"Our customers may come and see the cows milked into their own jugs," is
no proof that the fluid they yield is necessarily "milk."

For the up-to-date dairyman has discovered how to adulterate the milk at
the other end of the cow. He has found that by giving her certain food in
excess he can make her produce an abnormally large quantity of milk which
lacks the right proportion of cream and other constituents of genuine
milk. It has more than once been ruled by a bench of magistrates, and more
recently in the High Court, that all is not milk that comes from the cow,
and that a customer who asks for "milk" is entitled to get something with
certain definite characteristics.

Even in cases where there would be no such escape from the results of the
analyst's certificate, the ingenious adulterator is by no means at the end
of his tether, but has numerous dodges upon which to fall back.

One of the best known of these is the "notice dodge," examples of which
must frequently have been seen by everyone.

A notice, often in very small type, is put up to the effect that the
seller will not guarantee that the goods he sells are genuine. Then when
he is summoned for selling, say, adulterated milk, he produces his notice
and claims that that indemnifies him.

A very amusing instance of this notice dodge being carried to its logical
conclusion was witnessed in Merionethshire a few years ago, when the Chief
Constable of the district reported that all the shopkeepers had put up
notices stating that "All goods sold here are adulterated."

A similar deadlock occurred, in 1903, in Buckinghamshire, and there the
County Council forbade such notices being exhibited, though it is doubtful
whether it was within its legal rights in so doing.

The plausible excuses put forward by the perverted ingenuity of the
adulterator to escape conviction are innumerable. Mistake on the part of
the seller, warranty with goods obtained from abroad, and the shop-boy as
scapegoat are among the most common forms of defence.

The extent to which a legal quibble may be carried reached its limit
perhaps in a prosecution that occurred a few years ago. In a certain
village there was only one shop, and that was a co-operative store, of
which the whole of the villagers were members. A county inspector bought
"pure" coffee at this shop, and on analysis the coffee was found to
contain 90 per cent. of chicory, and eventually the manager of the store
was fined.

For the defence, it was urged that the villagers were themselves both
shopkeepers and purchasers, and, therefore, could not be prejudiced by the
sale of adulterated goods. The inspector, however, was not a member of the
co-operative store, and on this ground the prosecution was successful.

But if one of the villagers had bought the coffee, it is doubtful whether
any fine could have legally been inflicted, for it would have been a case
of co-operative adulteration.

A very common method of avoiding the attention of the inspector is a
refusal to supply him with the goods. In a small town the dishonest
tradesman will be on his guard against suspicious looking individuals, and
should he consider them to be agents of the inspector will refuse to serve

A fine is imposed for refusal to sell, but this usually involves the
shopkeeper in considerably less expense than a fine for selling
adulterated goods, while he retains his character as an upright citizen.

The question of preservatives in food is typical of the present chaotic
state of the law with regard to the adulteration of food.

A Parliamentary Commission sat for a long period, and finally issued a
report, the recommendations of which were allowed to remain
recommendations, and every analyst and public authority must still put its
own interpretation upon what is and what is not permissible.

Preservatives are undoubtedly used in an absolutely haphazard way. Milk is
preserved with all kinds of substances, chiefly boric acid, and at one
time, formalin; butter and hams with boric acid; and jams with salicylic
acid and similar compounds. Thus, at the end of the day, an unsuspecting
individual may have consumed a considerable quantity of various antiseptic

Everyone will agree that preservatives of every kind ought to be
prohibited in milk, the more so since it is the staple food of young
children and invalids, and in the case of butter the presence of a
preservative should be notified, as recommended by the Commission.

A little boric acid in ham probably interferes much less with the
digestion than an excess of salt, but it is right that the consumer should
be given his choice of spoiling his own digestion in the way that pleases
him best.

An objection brought against such notifications of preservatives in food
is that they would convey no meaning to the public, but the commercial
travellers of rival firms would certainly not lose the chance of making
capital out of the notices of their opponents.

Nearly all the non-alcoholic wines and lime juice cordials in the market
are heavily preserved. But the fact that the public demands an article
that shall not ferment after the bottle has been opened, and that
prosecutions for the use of preservatives are spasmodic, makes it
impossible for the manufacturer to discard them. If he did so under the
present conditions, he would no longer be able to compete with other
firms who continued to take the risk of prosecution.

Moreover, it is no uncommon thing for the defendants in these cases to
call as witnesses on their behalf gentlemen holding positions as medical
officers, and cases that are well defended are almost invariably

The manufacturer of non-alcoholic wines stands in a very difficult
position. If he employs preservatives in sufficient quantity effectively
to stop fermentation he is liable to be prosecuted under the Food and
Drugs Act. If, on the other hand, no preservative is used, the liquid is
liable to ferment, and the manufacturer may then be prosecuted for selling
a fermented liquid without a licence.

Hence it follows that if the use of preservatives in lime juice cordial
and the like is to be prohibited, the law ought to be rigidly enforced and
not applied in the present haphazard fashion, which allows one
manufacturer to sell his goods unchallenged for years, and drags his
competitor into one police court after another.

It is hardly fair that matters which are so much questions of opinion
should be left to be fought out in the police courts before magistrates
who have no technical knowledge to deal with them.

The position, however, was well put by a magistrate a year or two ago in
giving his decision in a prosecution for the sale of lime juice cordial
preserved with salicylic acid. Evidence was given by chemists and medical
men for the prosecution that such an addition was injurious, while a
number of scientific witnesses of equal eminence were present to support
the view of the defendants.

The magistrate, without calling upon the defence, dismissed the case. He
held that there was an irreconcilable conflict of opinion between the
purists who would allow no preservatives whatever in such products and the
manufacturer who had to meet the popular demand for such an article that
would keep after it had been opened, and he considered that it had not
been proved that the amount of salicylic acid was in excess of that needed
for that purpose. Incidentally he remarked that if notification of the
addition of such preservatives on the label were made compulsory, "then
the fun would begin." You would see notices of So-and-so's lime juice
preserved with sulphide, "harmless, but with a smell of bad eggs." Or of
So-and-so's lemon squash, "preserved with salicylic acid, refreshing, but
ruinous to the digestion."

One of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee of 1899 was that
means should be provided for the establishment of a separate Court of
Reference, which should deal with the question of preservatives in food
and decide which should be permissible and in what quantities they should
be allowed.

Such a Court of Reference, in which there should be representatives not
only of the medical and chemical professions, but also of the large
manufacturers and dealers in food, would tend to remove the present state
of uncertainty on this point.

Looking at the matter from a practical point of view, it seems to be an
impossibility to eliminate the use of preservatives from all articles of
food, and it would be a far more satisfactory course if a _via media_
could be found between prohibiting their use absolutely and leaving it to
the manufacturer to dose his products with any quantity of any antiseptic.
Evidence could be heard by such a body of official referees, who, after
taking into consideration the views of all concerned, could from time to
time issue authoritative regulations, which would be binding upon

It should also be part of the duties of such a Court to see that the
regulations were rigidly enforced, so that a manufacturer who carried them
out should not suffer by the competition of another manufacturer who (as
at the present time) ran only a trifling risk of prosecution in ignoring

Another advantage of such a proposed Court of Reference would be that the
manufacturer would no longer be liable to a criminal prosecution on points
on which there is no agreement between the highest scientific authorities
in the country.

Under the present conditions, a town or borough council, using the
ratepayers' money, may attempt to get a decision on the subject of
preservatives in an ordinary police court. The manufacturer, if he is rich
enough to pay for the necessary expert evidence, will probably succeed in
getting the case dismissed, as, in fact, has frequently been done.

But the magistrates' decision carries no finality, and is not binding upon
anyone else, so that the borough council may raise the question again,
and prosecute the same firm for the same alleged offence in the same
court. If, instead of selecting the same firm of manufacturers, which
would have the appearance of vindictiveness, they bring an action against
another firm which cannot afford the £200 to £300 required to win an
action of the kind, and the case is tried before another magistrate, they
may succeed in getting their victim heavily fined, and justice would thus
be reduced to the absurdity that, while one magistrate held that there was
no offence, his brother magistrate decided that a criminal offence had
been committed. It may, perhaps, be mentioned that this is no imaginary
picture, but is based on actual occurrences.

Another question which has been the subject of almost as many conflicts as
the addition of preservatives is the colouring of preserved peas with a
small trace of copper.

Many of the prosecutions have been successful, but quite as many have been
dismissed. The public demands a green colour in the preserved peas it
purchases, and it is apparently impossible to have this without the
addition of copper.

Formerly a vigorous campaign was carried on in France to prevent any
addition of copper whatsoever, but it was found to be impossible to
enforce its absence, and the attempts to do so there have long been

A better course than spasmodic prosecutions, frequently abortive, would be
to fix a limit to the amount that might be used, and to render it
obligatory upon the manufacturer to state prominently upon the label that
the peas were coloured with copper.

It may be mentioned in this connection that Professor Tunnicliffe issued a
minority report to the main report of the Departmental Committee, in which
he recommended that the amount of metallic copper to be allowed in
preserved vegetables should not exceed half a grain per lb., and that its
presence should always be declared.

The colouring of sugar by means of tin salts stands upon a very different
footing, for in that case the colouring is done with the definite object
of deceiving the purchaser.

At one time, pure Demerara cane sugar, which was brown from the presence
of certain vegetable impurities, had a great reputation for its fine
flavour, and still fetches a higher price in the market than purified beet

This reputation has been traded upon by certain unscrupulous sugar
dealers, who have discovered how to treat white beet sugar with a tin salt
or with aniline dye-stuffs so as to give it the appearance of the old
genuine Demerara cane sugar.

At present it is practically impossible to distinguish, except by the
flavour, between absolutely pure beet and cane sugars, but the dyed
product is a very different substance from the brown Demerara sugar, and
there have been numerous convictions for the fraudulent substitution of
the one for the other.

The presence of traces of arsenic in food products is a very much more
serious matter than the presence of a small amount of copper.

Arsenic is undoubtedly a cumulative poison, and the effects produced by
the long-continued repetition of small doses were shown by the numerous
fatal cases of poisoning caused by drinking arsenical beer, in the
poisoning epidemic a few years ago.

It may be safely asserted that for twenty years before that outbreak it
had never occurred to anyone to test beer for arsenic. The possibility of
its being present ought to have suggested itself, but apparently it never

The origin of the arsenic in the beer is obvious, when it is remembered
that glucose is one of the substances commonly used in the brewing of
beer, and that glucose is prepared by treating starch with sulphuric acid,
which, is in turn, frequently made from iron pyrites containing arsenic.

After the source of the arsenic in the Manchester beer had been
discovered, an arsenic "scare" set in. Every possible description of food
was examined, and traces of arsenic were found in many hitherto
unsuspected places.

Malt, dried in kilns and allowed to come in contact with the fumes from
coal, invariably contains an appreciable amount of arsenic derived from
the coal, and even malts prepared with the greatest care usually contain
about one part per million of arsenic. For all practical purposes,
however, so small a trace is negligible.

The members of the Royal Commission which was appointed to examine and
report on arsenic in food were strongly divided with regard to whether any
trace of arsenic should be permitted in food. Some were in favour of
absolute prohibition, while others recognised that, even if this were
done, the rule could never be rigidly enforced. Hence their report bears
evidence of a compromise, for it states that although the Commission had
been unable to discover that such minute traces of arsenic were injurious,
yet they were unwilling to admit that any quantity, however small, was
permissible in food.

Subsequently they recommended that a particular test should be used which
would ensure that arsenic in food and drugs should not exceed an
infinitesimal trace, and that frequent tests of raw and finished materials
should be made.

These recommendations are now widely adopted, and it is highly improbable
that another epidemic of arsenic poisoning will ever occur again in this

No better illustration of the vicious circles in which adulteration may
move can be found than in the practice of certain manufacturers of jam of
the cheaper kind. Apple pulp is a common constituent of jams which conceal
their identity under another name. Now, in the case of raspberry jam, for
example, it is necessary to have the seeds as well as fruit pulp, and
these seeds may be bought very cheaply from the makers of fruit essences.

The best quality of these essences is prepared by mixing the fruit with
alcohol and distilling the mixture, the spirit carrying over with it the
ethereal oils to which the fruit owes its characteristic odour and
flavour. Cheaper fruit essences are imitated chemically by making the most
important of the compounds in the genuine ethereal oils, and dissolving
them in spirit; but they are usually coarse in flavour, and do not bear
comparison with the real product. Where intermediate grades are wanted,
mixtures of the real and synthetical essences are often blended, and these
frequently imitate the natural product so closely as to be only
distinguishable by a trained sense of smell and taste.

In the preparation of the genuine fruit essences a residual pulp,
containing the seeds and woody fibre of the fruit, but devoid of all
flavour or aroma, is left behind, and it is this which the unscrupulous
jam manufacturer makes use of in preparing a cheap jam, in which the
seeds, at all events, are genuine. Then, in order to give more flavour to
his product, he buys from the essence maker a flavouring essence, a small
part of which may have originally been derived from the fruit that has
given him the pulp and seeds for his jam.

The question of adopting a fixed standard for all natural products is one
that has been widely discussed. It would have the advantage of simplifying
the issue to be decided by the analyst and of preventing possible errors
of judgment in the case of samples upon the border line between
undoubtedly genuine and undoubtedly adulterated products. On the other
hand, the legal fixing of a standard gives security to a skilful
adulterator, who is able to make his goods fall within the limit of the
figures given by genuine products of low quality.

Although most of the milk in large towns consists of the mixed products of
many herds of cows, and thus tends to have a percentage of fat only
slightly higher than that required by the law, there is but little doubt
that a considerable proportion is scientifically watered and thus brought
down to a limit of richness, which is only a little above that which will
enable it to pose as milk straight from the cow.

Another instance of this effect of standardisation was seen in Bavaria,
where a few years ago a minimum analytical figure was fixed for lard, with
the result that the American lard merchants sent to Germany large
quantities of lard which answered the requirements of this test, but were
heavily adulterated with beef fat.

However much an analyst may deprecate the fixing of standards for such
products as milk and butter, he is forced in practice to fix a standard
for himself. The Society of Public Analysts, recognising this, passed a
resolution that milk to be regarded as genuine must contain not less than
11-1/2 per cent. of solid matter, and of this not less than 3 per cent.
must be fat.

This fixes the standard for milk at a very low limit, and undoubtedly
leaves a margin for the watering of rich milks.

On the other hand, Dr. Vieth, whose experience in the examination of milks
was probably unequalled, wrote in reference to this standard: "I think it
is very judiciously fixed, but in upholding the standard of purity, it
should never be forgotten that the cows have never been asked for nor have
given their assent to it, and that they will at times produce milk below
standard. A bad season for haymaking is, in my experience, almost
invariably followed by a particularly low depression in the quality of the
milk towards the end of the winter. Should the winter be of unusual
severity and length, the depression will be still more marked. Long spells
of cold and wet, as well as of heat and drought, during the time when cows
are kept on pasture, also unfavourably influence the quality and, I may
add, the quantity of milk."

Mr. H. D. Richmond, who had also had the opportunity of examining an
immense number of samples of milk, considered that the standard of 3 per
cent. of fat was a reasonable one for the mixed milk of a whole herd, but
considered that milk ought not to be pronounced as watered unless the
solids other than fat were well below 8·0 per cent., except upon evidence
derived from other tests.

In the Sale of Food and Drugs Act of 1899 powers were conferred upon the
Board of Agriculture to make regulations determining what deficiency in
the proportion of constituents of milk, cream, butter, or cheese should
raise a presumption that the product was not genuine until the contrary
was proved. Acting under this section of the Act, the Board adopted the
minimum limit of the Society of Public Analysts, so that now any milk
containing less than 3 per cent. of fat and 8·5 per cent. of cream is
regarded as adulterated unless it can be proved by the vendor that it is
genuine, and it thus has the effect of transferring the burden of proof
from the prosecution to the defence.

As was mentioned above, the whole tendency of recent legal decisions is
towards enforcing this standard. For instance, in a case in which there
had been "an appeal to the cow," it was held by the present Lord Chief
Justice that: "If, however, the article produced, although it is produced
by the cow, is the result of an abnormal condition of things arising
either from disease, or, as here, from unsound treatment of the cow, I
think that does amount to evidence upon which the magistrates can find the
article is not of the nature, substance, and quality of the article

A want of system characterises the whole administration of the Food and
Drugs Act, and many of the local authorities are unwilling to see that an
adequate number of samples are taken.

For instance, only a few years ago, Lancashire, with a population of over
a million and a half, was content with 1,755 samples, or one to each
10,000 people, while in Essex, with a population of over half a million,
the samples taken were 686.

In Bury St. Edmunds no samples at all were taken during the four years
ending 1899, and a similar lax administration of the law in many other
places might be cited.

Some places pride themselves upon their freedom from adulteration, because
out of the paltry number of samples taken by the inspectors, a quarter of
the number or less may have been adulterated.

Even when the limited number of samples is properly taken, there is often
a scandalous inadequacy and frequent inequalities in the amount of fine

For instance, a milkman was fined one shilling at Margate for the sale of
watered milk--a fine grossly inadequate to take away temptation; while in
other courts we find fines of a pound or more imposed for exactly the same

The remedy for this would be to have a fixed scale of fines for each
offence. Another direction in which legislation is needed is the
protection of the middle-class buyer. At the present time a shopman runs
little or no risk in selling adulterated food to private houses. And the
greater the vigilance of the local authority in protecting the buyer over
the counter, the greater is the temptation to the shopkeeper to make an
illicit profit out of ordered goods. Some means might well be provided for
the examination of purchases in transit.

As a rule, the public is apathetic in the matter of adulteration, and
errors of judgment, frequently inevitable under the present system, on the
part of the analyst have led to his being regarded as the natural enemy of
the tradesman.

If some system of standardisation for food products were generally
adopted, leaving the burden of proof of the genuineness of abnormal
samples upon the seller, and if the element of chance in the
administration of the law were reduced, this prejudice on the part of
tradesmen in general would disappear, although with the dishonest dealer
the public analyst would become more unpopular than in the past.


  Adulteration of food, 214

  Agraphia, 78

  Anthropometry, 50

  Arsenic in beer, 231

  Arsenic poisoning, 176, 181, 183

  Bank-note forgeries, 102

  Beck case, 41, 92

  Beer conners, 217

  Bertillonage, 50

  Blandy, Mary, 181

  Blood, structure of, 154

  ---- stains identified, 155, 157

  ----, serum test for, 162

  Bloodhounds, 29

  Briggs, murder of, 33

  Brinkley poisoning case, 109, 116

  Capture of criminals, 22

  Catchpole, Margaret, 22

  Charlesworth case, 28

  Circumstantial detection, 33

  ---- evidence, 11

  Conflict of scientific evidence, 14, 19

  Courvoisier, 4

  Crippen case, 25, 167

  Detective force, 2

  Dodd, Dr., 140

  Elizabethan ink, 107

  Errors of eye-witnesses, 39

  Essex, Earl of, 8

  Fallibility of eye-witnesses, 37

  Fauld's observations on finger-prints, 62

  Finger-prints, 54

  ----, detection by, 66, 68

  ----, heredity in, 62

  ----, identification by, 59

  ----, persistence of, 58

  ----, systems of classifying, 64, 67

  Forged documents, 93

  Forgery trials, 135

  Gorse Hall murder, 41, 166

  Gun-flash identification, 44

  Hair, identification of, 167

  ---- of animals, 169

  Hale, trial of, 135

  Handwriting, 70

  ----, evidence as to, 85

  ----, heredity in, 71

  ----, hypnotic, 82

  ----, formation of, 73

  ---- in diseases, 78

  ---- in insanity, 79

  ---- in paralysis, 80

  ----, mistakes as to, 92

  ---- of Napoleon, 76

  ---- experts, 87

  Herculaneum papyri, 113

  Herschel's finger-print system, 55

  Hypnotic writing, 81

  Ink in writing, 105

  ---- ----, age of, 105, 110

  ---- ----, differences in, 114

  Insurance frauds, 8, 10

  Lamson, Dr., 201

  Laundry mark identification, 35

  Lovibond's tintometer, 108

  Matlock will case, 143

  Maybrick trial, 18, 206

  Microscope in forgery cases, 93

  Milton's Bible, 108

  Mirror writing, 80

  Mistaken identity, 39, 41

  Müller, 34

  Nairn, Katharine, 183

  Napoleon's signatures, 76

  Ogilvie, trial of, 183

  Overbury, murder of, 176

  Palmer, trial of, 18, 191

  Perreaus, trial of the, 136

  Personal identification, 37

  Photographic identification, 48

  ---- detection of forgery, 95

  Physiological tests, 195

  Pilcher's trial, 111, 149

  Poisons, definition of, 185

  ----, miraculous effects of, 171

  Poisoning trials, 171

  Police dogs, 32

  Portraits, identification by, 27, 28

  Preservatives in food, 224

  Purkenje's finger prints, 54

  Rudd, trial of Mrs., 138

  Russell, Lord William, 4

  Scientific assistance for prisoners, 13

  ---- deduction, 6

  ---- proof, 12

  Smethurst, trial of, 19

  Somerset, Countess of, 179

  Spencer Cowper, trial of, 15, 85

  Standards for food, 234

  Suffolk witches, 172

  Swan and Jefferies, trial of, 4

  Sympathetic inks, 130

  Systems of identification, 48

  Tawell, capture of, 24

  ---- trial of, 187

  Telectrograph, 26

  Telegraph, capture by aid of, 24, 25

  Tichborne case, 46

  Turner, Anne, 172, 177

  Typewritten matter, 97

  Weston, trial of, 172, 176

  Whalley will case, 145

  Witnesses as advocates, 19

  Wireless telegraphy, 25, 27

  Witchcraft and poisoning, 172

  Wood, trial of, 121

  Writers' cramp, 78

  Yarmouth murder, 34


_Press of Isaac Pitman & Sons, Bath, England._

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