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Dr Rees Llewellyn

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  • Dr Rees Llewellyn

    Why was Dr Llewellyn only on hand for the Nichols autopsy? Having lived on Whitechapel Road, surely he should have been involved with the subsequent Whitchapel victims postmortems, especially as he was the first man to view the Ripper's handy work? Therefore why did Dr George Bagster Philips take charge afterwards? Did the authorities doubt Llewellyn's capabilities?

  • #2
    Phillips was the H Division Police Surgeon and had been from 1865. He was the more experienced man.



    • #3
      Would Polly's being a "J" Division (Bethnal Green) murder have had something to do with it?
      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)


      • #4
        I imagine that they were simply looking for the nearest medico, and that our boy Rees Ralph was it.


        • #5
          As far as the autopsy goes--in cases like this that dealt with the discovery of murder victims, generally the coroner summoned the surgeon first on the scene to perform the postmortem examination and testify upon the cause of death. It could be any legally qualified medical practicioner who worked in the vicinity (so long as there wasn't a question of his having caused the death). At this time, the ideal medical witness was a local person with clinical knowledge of the victim, especially for cases where the case of death wasn't apparent (this is why you have Dr. Arthur performing Annie Milwood's autopsy). When clinical knowledge was absent, the next best thing to have was whatever local doctor had done the earliest observations of the victim in situ (this doesn't always hold true, I am speaking generally). Usually when the police were involved this meant the divisional surgeon, but in Nichols' case, it happened to have been Llewellyn, a local man that the police had called in (I presume a divisional surgeon wasn't available). Llewellyn was not called to the other scenes, which is why you don't see him at the other inquests.

          Medical witnesses varied in their strengths--1) a local practitioner might have treated a victim in life, offering the always sought after clinical history (especially when it was unclear how a person died), or been first on the scene, but may not have been skilled at performing postmortems, unless it was someone associated with a hospital. 2) A divisional surgeon would have observed the victim at the crime scene, have a good working knowledge of the locale, and would have a lot of experience performing postmortems dealing with violent death, and testifying at inquests. 3) A pathologist may not have observed the victim in a pristine state, but would offer great knowledge of forensic medicine and anatomy, and would often be associated with some well-regarded teaching institution.

          But again, generally speaking in cases of sudden death with no clinical history of the victim available or if they were dealing with an obvious murder perhaps, the coroner's rationale for a doctor's performing the autopsy was that he was first on the scene, or one of the first. With the Whitechapel murders, the coroner's choice of first on the scene was necessarily dictated by the actions of the police investigating the crime scene, and that usually involved a divisional surgeon. If a jury found the testimony of a medical witness lacking in some way, they had the authority to compel the coroner to select a surgeon of their choosing, and the coroner who failed to comply would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

          Last edited by Dave O; 07-18-2009, 08:08 AM.


          • #6
            I believe that after the Chapman case it became procedure for more than one Surgeon to be present at the post mortem.


            • #7
              Do many people believe that Dr Liewellyn is correct that the abdominal injuries were carried out before the throat injuries?I am no medical expert but surely if they were the first injuries inflicted the clothing would have had more blood around that area.Lets not forget he did miss these injuries at first(although dark) surely the blood would have soaked through for him to have noticed,also would Polly have not been able to give out a little cry if first stabbed in that area?

              Sorry if i have got this wrong,but for me i just feel the throat cut was the first wound.Open to any help if i have this totally wrong.

              still learning


              • #8

                Originally posted by alucard View Post
                Why was Dr Llewellyn only on hand for the Nichols autopsy? Having lived on Whitechapel Road, surely he should have been involved with the subsequent Whitchapel victims postmortems, especially as he was the first man to view the Ripper's handy work? Therefore why did Dr George Bagster Philips take charge afterwards? Did the authorities doubt Llewellyn's capabilities?
                Dr. Rees Llewellyn (correct Welsh spelling should be Rhys Llewelyn) was a gynaecologist whose office was close to where Nichols (victim #2) was found. It was around 4:00am when he was summoned; because of his occupation it was assumed he would be available in the early morning. He was subsequently asked to do the autopsy which was carried out at Whitechapel Workhouse, the body "prepared" by a couple of the inmates. Llewellyn was unqualified as a medical examiner and made a ****-up of the investigation from not noticing the blood under body and suggesting the the murder was left-handed. I doubt he would have been called even if future victims were in his Division.


                • #9
                  Rhys or should I say Rees Llewellyn's memorial on his family vault in Tower Hamlet's cemetary.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    And here's a view of the whole monument - Rees's name is on the right hand face (as seen from this position).
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by glyndwr View Post
                      Dr. Rees Llewellyn (correct Welsh spelling should be Rhys Llewelyn) was a gynaecologist whose office was close to where Nichols (victim #2) was found.
                      Well, the name we have in the historical record is Rees. He may have changed it from Rhys, but we don't know that. And calling Nichols the second victim might also attract some flak around here.

                      If you want some advice from a fellow Canuck, tread warily until you're sure of your ground. Oh, and welcome to the boards, bach.

                      Nice shots, Lech. Thanks.
                      Last edited by The Grave Maurice; 12-13-2010, 02:20 AM.


                      • #12
                        I am assuming that by close you mean 538 feet. In that distance, just on Whitechapel road, there are 4 other surgeons listed in the directory. In the attached photo, that space contains all listings between the red lines. Dave
                        Attached Files
                        We are all born cute as a button and dumb as rocks. We grow out of cute fast!


                        • #13
                          I think Llewellyn's house and surgery was where it says RJM in the photo.
                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            Here's an interesting case of poisoning from Dr. Macdonald's records that features Dr. Llewellyn.

                            The deceased was a 40 year old traveller named James Dowling, who died at 12 Pereira Street, Bethnal Green, on June 15 1888. Llewellyn was called to the scene. The inquest was held at the Whittington and Cat, also in Bethnal Green, on the 18th of June. (LMA/MJ/SPC/NE/12a and 12b from Box 1).

                            In the request for a warrant to hold an inquest, coroner's officer J.W. Burrows wrote "William Manning of 12 Pereira St proves finding the deceased man dead in bed-he had given way to drink very heavily for some time past-he had a fit some 12 months prior to death + thinks he may have died in another"

                            Burrows added that "Dr. Llewellyn states that when the body was being laid out poison was found in the bed + he thinks a post mortem necessary + if one is ordered he thinks it advisable to be done as early as possible"

                            Testimony from the inquest (I believe written in Burrows' hand):

                            "William Manning a wall paper dealer of 12 Pereira St the deceased James Dowling lodged at my house for about 9 years he drank heavily for the last 8 or 9 months and on Friday at 2 am I gave him some milk and soda and at 7.30 the same morning I found him dead."

                            "Eliza Manning I am landlady at 12 Pereira Street the deceased has lodged with me for 11 years and drank very [heavily] for a long time past and on friday morning my husband found him dead a doctor was sent for and a man named Currey living in gun Street Spitalfields and he took away a quantity of letters + papers and [£1.8] shillings ['+ sixpence' inserted] in money and when he was laid out a bottle labeled poison was found just under his left arm which was sent to the Doc."

                            Further testimony (in Macdonald's hand):

                            "Alfred Currie general dealer of 29 Gun St. He took a great deal of drink. He told me on Monday he felt bad. He told me six months ago he used to have to take a sleeping draught"

                            "Rees Ralph Llewellyn L.R.C.P. M.R.C.S. of 152 Whitechapel Rd called at 7.40 on Friday [went] found body lying on the right side almost prone with face pinned against the wall. I turned it over smelt prussic acid Skin was white lips livid nails blue rigor mortis well developed. froth about the mouth. features distorted, a little [vomit like] milk in the chamber. I searched the room . . a bottle was afterwards brought to me by the landlady which smells of prussic acid. I believe he took cyanide of potassium as I found a similar fluid in the stomach which smelt also of prussic acid. I made a P.M. and found the brain very congested. remains of old + recent inflammation slight haemorrahages in the substance of it. There was no smell of prussic acid in the brain. The stomach was very much congested [The] contents smelt of prussic acid. It contained 2 ounces of fluid. [The mucous] membrane was stained. Lungs were very congested and emphysematous. Heart dilated on [‘one’ inserted] side [‘right’ inserted] contracted [‘contracted’ repeated in next line] on the other. Kidneys large, congested. Liver very large cirrhosis commencing. Spleen congested. Death was caused by poisoning by prussic acid taken as cyanide of potassium.”

                            A fifth witness with the surname of Lee is indicated in the expenses of the inquest, but no testimony from this person survives in the record (perhaps in a press account?).

                            The jury's verdict was "poisoning by cyanide of potassium while in a fit of temporary insanity."

                            Last edited by Dave O; 01-08-2012, 11:35 AM.


                            • #15
                              Sorry, I know this is totally off-topic but I can't resist! I do a lot of genealogy and you get pretty familiar with associating names with places. I can guarantee you that anyone with a name like Rees/Rhys/Whatever Llewellyn is Welsh--or at least of Welsh ancestry!

                              I have a number of Welsh ancestors myself. One of my favorites is due simply to his name: Rice Price!

                              What's even funnier is when I try to google his name. Took me forever to figure out why I kept getting stock exchange information!!

                              Gotta love those Welsh names!

                              Okay...back to business now.
                              "It's either the river or the Ripper for me."~~anonymous 'unfortunate', London 1888