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Bury and anatomical knowledge

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  • Wyatt Earp
    replied
    I recently went through the posts in the lengthy “Did he have anatomical knowledge?” thread and came across these interesting remarks by Prosector, who claims to be a surgeon:

    Originally posted by Prosector View Post
    First, I am not saying, nor do I believe, that Jack was a surgeon...I believe that he might have been a failed medical student or an enthusiastic amateur. In the mid 19th century it was possible to pay for access to dissecting rooms to watch or even take part and I have plenty of evidence for that if anyone is interested.
    Originally posted by Prosector View Post
    I don't believe that Jack was either a surgeon or a gynaecologist, merely a lay person with some experience of the dissecting room either as an observer or, possibly, some years back, a participant.
    This, then, would be a third way in which Bury could have acquired anatomical knowledge—in this case, specifically human anatomical knowledge.

    Given the ghoulish things he did to Ellen’s body, it’s not hard to see how Bury could have been attracted to the possibility of watching a dissection.

    There is evidence that when Bury was in Dundee, and prior to his arrest, he was a spectator and close observer of the proceedings at the Magistrates’ Court. Perhaps Bury found this an easy way to learn about things—by watching others at work.

    There’s no evidence that Bury actually attended a dissection—I’m just raising this as a possibility.

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  • SirJohnFalstaff
    replied
    Originally posted by Errata View Post
    I think this is one of those things where it depends on the definition. Knowing hat a stomach connects to a colon or a vagina connects to the uterus is anatomical knowledge. And butchering horses he would get a fairly good idea where things generally are and what connects to what. It is not however a perfect translation to a human. So he had anatomical knowledge. What he didn't have was practical knowledge, in that he did not cut into people as a profession. It's the difference between general and specific knowledge. I could find a uterus in a body, but I couldn't treat endometriosis.
    I suspect the distinction is more about "anatomical knowledge" vs "medical knowledge" in the JtR case, no?



    Unless people who wrote about it just went for style.

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  • John Wheat
    replied
    Originally posted by Wyatt Earp View Post
    If Bury was indeed the Ripper, then it's essential to keep in mind that there is strong evidence he was an alcoholic. It's possible he was loaded to some extent at one or more of the crime scenes, and that would have to be taken into account when assessing the knifework in the murders.
    I would of thought Bury would be loaded at all of the crime scenes. Alcohol does after all lower your inhibitions. Alcohol may also account for some of the sloppiness in the cuts at some of the crime scenes.

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  • Wyatt Earp
    replied
    Originally posted by Errata View Post
    I think this is one of those things where it depends on the definition. Knowing hat a stomach connects to a colon or a vagina connects to the uterus is anatomical knowledge. And butchering horses he would get a fairly good idea where things generally are and what connects to what. It is not however a perfect translation to a human. So he had anatomical knowledge. What he didn't have was practical knowledge, in that he did not cut into people as a profession. It's the difference between general and specific knowledge. I could find a uterus in a body, but I couldn't treat endometriosis.
    That's true. It looks like Bury's ceiling is what a butcher would have known. People can rule him in or rule him out as they see fit. If Bury was indeed the Ripper, then it's essential to keep in mind that there is strong evidence he was an alcoholic. It's possible he was loaded to some extent at one or more of the crime scenes, and that would have to be taken into account when assessing the knifework in the murders.
    Last edited by Wyatt Earp; 07-22-2013, 12:20 PM.

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  • Errata
    replied
    Originally posted by Wyatt Earp View Post
    While I haven’t formed an opinion on the anatomical knowledge debate, I did want to mention that there are a couple of possibilities for Bury having possessed anatomical knowledge.

    Bury’s executioner, James Berry, claimed to have obtained some information about Bury from the two men he describes as having come up from Scotland Yard to be present at the execution. Here is Berry’s statement:

    “At last he went to London and settled down in the East End, where he picked up a precarious existence. His home at one time was near the scene of the Whitechapel crimes and his work was that of a butcher of horses.

    He opened a shop for the sale of cats’ meat, and people who knew him used to see him at work with his long knives. They spoke of the skilful way in which he handled them, and according to the detectives, it was with long weapons similar to those which Bury used in his business that the Whitechapel murders were committed.”

    This is from page 238 of the Stewart Evans book, Executioner (I don’t have a copy of the Thomson's Weekly News original). On the one hand, Berry is a source we need to be cautious about using—e.g., in the introduction to the book Berry is described as “prone to sometimes ‘gilding the lily’”—but on the other hand, we don’t know exactly when Bury arrived in London, and so it’s certainly possible that he had some other gig or gigs in the city prior to becoming a sawdust merchant. I am not aware of Berry’s statement having been either corroborated or disproven. Macpherson doesn’t mention the Berry statement in his book (unless I just missed it), but Beadle seems to accept it (see page 53 of his 2009 book).

    Describing Bury’s work as a sawdust merchant, Macpherson writes that he would “buy sawdust from Martin and keep what profit he made once he had sold it to public houses and butcher shops, where it would be scattered on the floor” (43-4). A second possibility, then, is that Bury could have learned some things by observation just by socializing with and asking for a demonstration from one of his butcher customers.

    What I get from all of this is not that Bury possessed anatomical knowledge, but that it would be injudicious of us to flatly assert that he did not.
    I think this is one of those things where it depends on the definition. Knowing hat a stomach connects to a colon or a vagina connects to the uterus is anatomical knowledge. And butchering horses he would get a fairly good idea where things generally are and what connects to what. It is not however a perfect translation to a human. So he had anatomical knowledge. What he didn't have was practical knowledge, in that he did not cut into people as a profession. It's the difference between general and specific knowledge. I could find a uterus in a body, but I couldn't treat endometriosis.

    Leave a comment:


  • Wyatt Earp
    started a topic Bury and anatomical knowledge

    Bury and anatomical knowledge

    While I haven’t formed an opinion on the anatomical knowledge debate, I did want to mention that there are a couple of possibilities for Bury having possessed anatomical knowledge.

    Bury’s executioner, James Berry, claimed to have obtained some information about Bury from the two men he describes as having come up from Scotland Yard to be present at the execution. Here is Berry’s statement:

    “At last he went to London and settled down in the East End, where he picked up a precarious existence. His home at one time was near the scene of the Whitechapel crimes and his work was that of a butcher of horses.

    He opened a shop for the sale of cats’ meat, and people who knew him used to see him at work with his long knives. They spoke of the skilful way in which he handled them, and according to the detectives, it was with long weapons similar to those which Bury used in his business that the Whitechapel murders were committed.”

    This is from page 238 of the Stewart Evans book, Executioner (I don’t have a copy of the Thomson's Weekly News original). On the one hand, Berry is a source we need to be cautious about using—e.g., in the introduction to the book Berry is described as “prone to sometimes ‘gilding the lily’”—but on the other hand, we don’t know exactly when Bury arrived in London, and so it’s certainly possible that he had some other gig or gigs in the city prior to becoming a sawdust merchant. I am not aware of Berry’s statement having been either corroborated or disproven. Macpherson doesn’t mention the Berry statement in his book (unless I just missed it), but Beadle seems to accept it (see page 53 of his 2009 book).

    Describing Bury’s work as a sawdust merchant, Macpherson writes that he would “buy sawdust from Martin and keep what profit he made once he had sold it to public houses and butcher shops, where it would be scattered on the floor” (43-4). A second possibility, then, is that Bury could have learned some things by observation just by socializing with and asking for a demonstration from one of his butcher customers.

    What I get from all of this is not that Bury possessed anatomical knowledge, but that it would be injudicious of us to flatly assert that he did not.
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