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  #11  
Old 04-03-2010, 10:11 PM
Hunter Hunter is offline
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Hi Dave,

Excellent response. I appreciate posters who counter with real information instead of supposition. That's the way intellegent debate should be carried out as what I proposed was theory and it was countered by information instead of another theory.

My basis for my assumption was twofold: one, that some of the jury questioned the jurisdiction per where the body was found and two: the prceedings seemed strange; as Norma mentioned, Phillips expected to return and give further testimony at a later date... and didn't. Macdonald and Baxter were in opposite political camps... albeit I could be reading more into this than is warranted. Of course Macdonald may have thought he had received enough testimony to render cause of death, so as far as he was concerned... that was enough for him.
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When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888
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  #12  
Old 04-03-2010, 10:23 PM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Thanks Hunter,
Yes, there does seem to be a difference. Inspector Abberline writes in his report of 12th November 1888 :

the coroner remarked that in his opinion it was unnecessary to adjourn the inquiry and the jury returned a verdict of "wilful murder against some person unknown "

His next paragraph begins:

"An important statement has been made by a man named George Hutchinson which I forward forthwith ........."
.Abberline continues to describe what the man said etc.

Clearly the inquest began prematurely, before all witnesses could be found . The coroner also very obviously led the jury by suggesting to them that they could dispense with minutes of the evidence; dispense with further questions-[which they had declined to ask due to having understood that "more detailed evidence of the medical examination would be given at a further hearing" .

So frankly it was both opened and closed in what seems to have been " indecent haste'.

Its difficult to know how Abberline viewed all this,Hunter, he was always discreet and very professional in his approach and never wrote an autobiography.

Last edited by Natalie Severn : 04-03-2010 at 10:26 PM.
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  #13  
Old 04-03-2010, 10:56 PM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Yes, Dave is the authority on here along with Robert on Coroners and their emit!
Thanks for your reply Dave. Would you be kind enough to explain, as I am not sure I understand the reasoning here:

a]why was the " jurisdiction" questioned by the jury?

b] why it would have " therefore been "unsafe" to "adjourn" ?Especially as earlier that day this is exactly what was expected to be the case by both the jury and quite obviously by Dr Phillips who would return with the more detailed medical evidence?

I only ask because you are one of the experts on here about this matter!
Best
Norma
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  #14  
Old 04-04-2010, 12:10 AM
Dave O Dave O is offline
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Hi Hunter and Natalie,

Well, thanks for the kind words. But I'm no authority, just a layperson who's developed an interest in English inquests and has had the opportunity to work with a couple of great British fellows, John Savage and Robert Linford.

I've got to get back to work but will be back tonight to reply further--I just wanted to say that this business about the number of jurymen and not being safe to adjourn is only my opinion (what I say about the jurisdictions of Macdonald and Baxter is fact though). My theory seems to hold up though; I don't think this notion of deliberately withholding evidence does (in any case, the jury closed the inquest, not the coroner).

There's a saying that a little law is a dangerous thing, so I try to be careful about my theorizing. Over the past four or five years I've learned a lot about Victorian inquests and what I have read, I've read many times. But I've noticed that law and the application of law can be two different things, and of course I'm a long way from reading everything. Plus, Victorian coroners can't ever be really adequately researched, because most of their records have been lost. We are really peering at them through a narrow window.

Back later,
Dave
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  #15  
Old 04-04-2010, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave O View Post
When you talk about the bodies that did cross coroner's districts, they seem to be moving from Macdonald's district into Baxter's: Nichols (Bethnal Green) and Chapman (Spitalfields), ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Roberts (JTRForums.com)

--- Click to View the Original Post in JTRForums.com ---

The boundaries were indisputable; and Baxter had no legitimate claim to the remains of Mary Jane Kelly: None!


Whitechapel Registration District / Poor Law Union;
Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works - 1888 (Click to Enlarge in flickr)
Underlying Aerial Imagery: Copyright Google Earth, 2007
Overlying Plots, Labels and Color-Shadings: Copyright Colin C. Roberts, 2010

Whitechapel Registration District / Poor Law Union;
Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works:

- The Liberty of Norton Folgate (Green) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, North-East District: Roderick MacDonald)

- The Old Artillery Ground (Aqua) (Coronership of Her Majesty's Tower of London: Thomas Ratcliff)

- The Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields (Blue) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, North-East District: Roderick MacDonald)

- The Hamlet of Mile End New Town (Orange) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Parish of Holy Trinity ('Minories') (Yellow) (Coronership of Her Majesty's Tower of London: Thomas Ratcliff)

- The Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel (Portion within the County of Middlesex, -1889; the County of London, 1889-1965) (Red) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Liberty of Her Majesty's Tower of London (Orange) (Coronership of Her Majesty's Tower of London: Thomas Ratcliff)
--- {The Liberty of the Tower}
--- {The Precinct of Old Tower Without}
--- {The Tower}

- The Precinct of St. Katharine (Blue) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate (Portion within the County of Middlesex, -1889; the County of London, 1889-1965) (Green) (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

---

The non-shaded (i.e. 'non-Whitechapel') portions of the above image are as follows:

Top:

- The Parish of St. Leonard Shoreditch (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, North-East District: Roderick MacDonald)

- The Parish of St. Matthew Bethnal Green (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, North-East District: Roderick MacDonald)

Left:

- The City of London (Coronership of the City of London: Samuel Langham)

Right:

- The Hamlet of Mile End Old Town (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Parish of St. George in the East (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Parish of St. John of Wapping (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

- The Parish of St. Paul Shadwell (Coronership of the County of Middlesex, South-East District: Wynne Baxter)

---

At no time, did the remains of Mary Jane Kelly lie within Baxter's jurisdiction.

In the case of Annie Chapman, however, the remains were discovered within MacDonald's jurisdiction; but then removed to Baxter's jurisdiction.

This was probably due to the perceived necessity of removing the decedent from view of the 'public eye', as quickly as possible. In the absence of MacDonald or anyone from his office, the 'H' Division constabulary at the scene of the crime, would probably have been unaware of the Order in Council*, by which the Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields had been placed within MacDonald's jurisdiction.

* An Order in Council of May 1888, interestingly - and quite inexplicably - placed the Liberty of Norton Folgate and Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields in the newly established North-East District of the Middlesex County Coronership (i.e. MacDonald's District).

"Inexplicably", and indeed impracticably; as the two parochial entities were both components of the Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works, which bore the responsibilities of mortuary-accommodation and subsequent burial of its deceased residents, as well as that of any unidentified decedents found within its boundaries. As Norton Folgate and Spitalfields were the only components of this particular District of the Metropolitan Board of Works to fall under the coronial jurisdiction of Roderick MacDonald; any deaths occurring therein, for which inquest proceedings were deemed necessary, inherently became the burden of either the Parish of St. Leonard Shoreditch or the Parish of St. Matthew Bethnal Green.
Nichols's body was discovered in the Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel; i.e. within Baxter's jurisdiction.

Her body was taken to the Whitechapel Union Infirmary Mortuary, in the Hamlet of Mile End New Town; i.e. also within Baxter's jurisdiction.

Perhaps you are of the impression, Dave, that the inclusion of Buck's Row, within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Force, 'J' Division, signified its inclusion in 'Bethnal Green'. It did not!


Metropolitan Police Force, 'H' Division - 1888
(Click to Enlarge in flickr)
Underlying Aerial Imagery: Copyright Google Earth, 2007
Overlying Plots, Labels and Color-Shadings: Copyright Colin C. Roberts, 2010

As the Nichols murder-site was not within the jurisdiction of 'H' Division; neither was the entirety of the Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel, nor for that matter, the entirety of the Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Conversely; the western-most reaches of the Parish of St. Matthew Bethnal Green, which lay directly north of Spitalfields, were within the jurisdiction of 'H' Division.

The 'Whitechapel' and 'Bethnal Green' tags, which corresponded respectively to the 'H' Division and 'J' Division distinctions, were merely references to the locations of the respective Headquarters Stations: i.e. Leman Street, Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel; and Bethnal Green Road, Parish of St. Matthew Bethnal Green.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie Severn View Post
a] why was the "jurisdiction" questioned by the jury?
They were not questioning MacDonald's jurisdiction, Norma. In fact, they probably could not have cared less than they did!

What they were questioning was their own responsibility for being part of the proceedings; as well as the monetary burden that was being placed on the rate-payers of their parish, i.e. St. Leonard Shoreditch, in terms of mortuary accommodation and subsequent burial.

Regardless of the fact that Kelly's remains lay in their mortuary, and that inquest proceedings were being held in their Town Hall; they naturally felt that the costs of mortuary accommodation and subsequent burial should be funded by the Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and that the inquest jury should be provided by the same.

Last edited by Septic Blue : 04-04-2010 at 12:56 AM.
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  #16  
Old 04-04-2010, 01:36 AM
Robert Robert is online now
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I can assure everyone that Dave knows more about coroners and inquests than I'll ever know, even if, like Howard Brown, I live to be 200.
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  #17  
Old 04-04-2010, 01:50 AM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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To Colin
Well many thanks for answering that pesky question Colin-and as can be seen ,there is also no greater expert on the boundary question than you !

I suppose what I am picking up is not only a rather undignified state of affairs at the Inquest for the fifth and most horrific murder in the series [or 6th or 7th] with everything rushed through in a day and not enough time given to trace relatives of the dead woman,or even enable all witnesses to attend the Inquest, such as George Hutchinson, who came forward only three days after the murder, but too late to give his information to the Jury.


Dave,
I dont see that it was the jury who instigated the termination of the Inquest at all. As I wrote in my last post,the Jury appear to have been "led" on this matter by the coroner.When Dr Phillips had finished giving his first account of his findings, they were asked if they had any questions to put to him and they said they had not at this stage and it was understood that more detailed evidence of the medical examination [by Dr Phillips ] would be given at a further hearing.
The coroner then led the jury: He turned to them and said " The question is whether you will adjourn for further evidence.My own opinion is that it is very unnecessary for two courts to deal with these cases, and go through the same evidence time after time,which only causes expense and trouble.If the coroner"s jury can come to a decision as to the cause of death than that is all they have to do.They have nothing to do with prosecuting a man and saying what amount of penalty he is to get." [by the coroner]

Now it is/was a very long tradition of the British legal system for the ordinary men and women who form any jury to determine the outcome ,but in this case, it appears very much to be the case that the coroner wanted it all to be passed over to the police courts viz :

Coroner:"It is for the police authorities to deal with the case and satisfy themselves as to any person who may be suspected later on. I do not want to take it out of your hands . It is for you to say whether at an adjournment you will hear minutes of the evidence , or whether you think it is a matter to be dealt with in the police courts later on "......etc

I realise the very valid points made about costs and manageability but for such a case as this to be rushed through like the clappers thereby preventing Mary"s relatives from being given time to be traced, as well as vital information from being heard by the jury---such as Hutchinson"s statement, and Dr Phillips detailed medical testimony.all this seems to me to be very remiss of the coroner in this specific case actually.
I do not say it was politically motivated but somebody could have been pulling strings behind the scenes----ofcourse they could.

Last edited by Natalie Severn : 04-04-2010 at 01:54 AM.
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  #18  
Old 04-04-2010, 01:56 AM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert View Post
I can assure everyone that Dave knows more about coroners and inquests than I'll ever know, even if, like Howard Brown, I live to be 200.
Dave is an expert though he is too modest to admit it.But thanks to you also Robert and to John Savage and ofcourse Dave .Those articles were brilliant that you three wrote explaining the old system.
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  #19  
Old 04-04-2010, 04:15 AM
Dave O Dave O is offline
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Colin wrote: Perhaps you are of the impression, Dave, that the inclusion of Buck's Row, within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Force, 'J' Division, signified its inclusion in 'Bethnal Green'. It did not!

Yes, that was exactly what I was thinking so thanks for your correction. So Nichols body was always within Baxter's district. You also state this, which I very much agree with: What they were questioning was their own responsibility for being part of the proceedings. A couple of jurymen questioned their own right to hear the inquest. Colin, you also write: Regardless of the fact that Kelly's remains lay in their mortuary, and that inquest proceedings were being held in their Town Hall; they naturally felt that the costs of mortuary accommodation and subsequent burial should be funded by the Whitechapel District of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and that the inquest jury should be provided by the same.

Yes, exactly! Because the murder occurred in Spitalfields, their point of view was, "Why is this our problem?" And don't forget the fellow who said he lived in Whitechapel and that Wynne Baxter was his coroner.

This is a problem that neither Langham or Baxter faced; and if they had, in the examples of Eddowes and Stride, they've padded the number of jurymen enough that they can be reasonably comfortable with adjourning--even if they lose several, they have more than enough to return a verdict. Not so with the Kelly inquest with its 14 jurors. Of course I can't really say, but I don't think this problem was anticipated, and it may have been that Macdonald was hesitant to bring more jurymen into it because during this period in Middlesex, they received no payment for their service (but this is just an idea of mine). I've seen several examples of an 18-strong jury complaining of being called away from their work--this was in Surrey in April 1892.

So with Phillips attending and stating the cause of death, that enables Macdonald to advise the jury that they've accomplished what they came to do: the body has been viewed, the deceased identified, the cause of death determined, the witnesses examined to the jury's satisfaction. Of course, they don't determine the murderer, but if they still sat between then and now, you would get the same verdict.

If you go back and read accounts of the inquest, you will see Macdonald is careful to satisfy the jury. Now, it's true that Macdonald has suggested that more medical evidence is forthcoming: the jury has the right to dispense with Macdonald's advice and go into adjournment. He's not leading the jury, he's advising them, which is the coroner's function as far as the jury is concerned. I have read of cases, one involving Macdonald, where the jury ignored the coroner's advice altogether and there is nothing the coroner could do about it. If you had a case of the jury requesting further evidence (from Phillips), and Macdonald refusing, or the jury asking for an adjournment to hear more from Phillips, and the coroner refusing, then that is a a cause of complaint and pretty good grounds for the Attorney General to try to get the inquest quashed in the High Court. This is not what happened at the Mary Kelly inquest.

It's legally correct, but I must agree that it's not satisfactory, historically. There's a difference, this is a long way from saying that Macdonald was incompetent, stupid, or intends to withhold evidence (of which he apparently wasn't informed of prior to the inquest). None of that holds up to scrutiny, in my opinion. But, if you're arguing discretion, then I think Macdonald's discretion in advising against an adjournment is arguable, but I think debate needs to take into account the flaws that were present in the creation of the North East district, and the jury issue that is present because of it--I would like to repeat that these are problems none of the other inquests faced. In our field of focus, they're unique to the Kelly inquest. I am very strongly of the opinion that the adjournment hangs on this:

The jury having answered to their names, one of them said: I do not see why we should have the inquest thrown upon our shoulders, when the murder did not happen in our district, but in Whitechapel.

The Coroner's Officer (Mr. Hammond): It did not happen in Whitechapel.

The Coroner (to the juror, severely): Do you think that we do not know what we are doing here, and that we do not know our own district? The jury are summoned in the ordinary way, and they have no business to object. If they persist in their objection I shall know how to deal with them. Does any juror persist in objecting ?

The Juror: We are summoned for the Shoreditch district. This affair happened in Spitalfields. The Coroner: It happened within my district.
Another Juryman: This is not my district. I come from Whitechapel, and Mr. Baxter is my coroner.


This they get through, but couple it with this:

An adjournment for a few minutes then took place, and on the return of the jury the coroner said: It has come to my ears that somebody has been making a statement to some of the jury as to their right and duty of being here. Has any one during the interval spoken to the jury, saying that they should not be here to-day ?

Some jurymen replied in the negative.

The Coroner: Then I must have been misinformed. I should have taken good care that he would have had a quiet life for the rest of the week if anybody had interfered with my jury.


Misinformed or not, the inquest begins, as we all know, with jurymen questioning their jurisdiction. So this is why I don't think they're safe to adjourn with 14 jurymen when they need 12 to return a verdict. Whether the coroner fines absent jurymen or not, the inquest fails without 12 present and they have to start over again. Two weeks later, this is going to be particularly distasteful as it will involve an exhumation on top of inconvenience. Better to wrap it up, I think. And of course, the inquest is really intended to be preliminary, though there is discretion, too.

Now, if Phillips hadn't been there, I don't see how they would have avoided an adjournment--jury problem or not. Without Phillips, who is there to tell the jury what the cause of death was? They must adjourn, it seems to me--but I would like to see what Miss Susannah Reeks might have to say.

This is why my opinion is that if you were able to change things and make the Kelly inquest adjourn, you would either get 2 or 3 more jurymen or stop Phillips from sending that note! If you really wanted to make things interesting, you would also stop Henry Wilton from paying for Mary Kelly's burial and allow her to be sent to Whitechapel. Then Wynne Baxter would hold a double inquest, for which he would be roundly condemned by the Home Secretary (as he was with Louisa Ellesden a few months later).

Finally--Norma, just about all the inquests I know of began very quickly after death. This down to the view of the body by the coroner and the jury, which they must take for the inquest to be valid. The body is evidence, and the body should be in a state that it yields evidence (though really, I think this is just a formality, the real evidence comes from the medical witness, but the view is a carryover from medieval times and by 1888, it's already begun a slow exit from the English inquest). Still, it's a legal requirement and has been carried over into the Coroners Act 1887.

So the speed at which the Kelly inquest begins isn't unusual--it's the norm. In fact, it's not even the quickest--the winner there must be Wynne Baxter's Alice Mackenzie inquest. In Jervis, the period given for the inquest to start is between 2-5 days from the coroner's notification, with more than that being a cause of complaint.

They all begin quickly, if you haven't go back and confirm this--they had to because of the view. We can't forget the impact of the view

Hullo Robert--Howard Brown isn't more than 175 or I'll eat my hat You and John ought to post those photographs of Macdonald and Langham you got for the articles.

Once again Hunter and Natalie, thanks for your kind comments and thoughts. Beware the layperson who claims to be an expert. You'd need some professional experience and access to lost records to claim expertise. I just enjoy procedure and become irritated when something doesn't make sense, which happens to me all the time.

Cheers,
Dave
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:06 AM
Dave O Dave O is offline
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One thing I forgot to address Hunter, you mentioned something about politics between Macdonald and Baxter. I also suspected a rivalry but have since revised my opinion. In the counties, coroners were then elected by freeholder vote, as you may already know. While it's true that the election that Baxter won is an election that Macdonald lost, there were also other candidates. Chief among them was George Hay Young, who I suspect is the same person present at Inspector Abberline's goodbye party when he left H division. It's George Hay Young who actually wins the election and is briefly declared coroner for the eastern district. Baxter is second, Macdonald doesn't even figure in the results, he's done so poorly. So, when they try to confirm the win, chaos among the candidates' supporters rather convienently prevents that from happening. Then they carry out further voting over two days, during which time Baxter and Macdonald improve their standings: Baxter wins, and Macdonald comes in a very respectable second. They've eliminated George Hay Young. The election is controversial, which is common for these elections for county coroner (Thomas Bramah Diplock's election was also controversial--his victory had to be confirmed in the High Court, and for a time while this process was underway, he found his expenses disallowed--he wasn't considered a coroner although he was doing the work!)

Now, even before Baxter is elected, it's known that the coroner's district all the candidates are competing for, which covers East Middlesex, is going to be divided. I think Macdonald must have been heartened by his final standing in the election (running for M.P., he's also lost an election only to try again and win), so while they're waiting for division to occur and a new North East district to be created, he gets some legal training, which with his medical experience, is going to make him a more attractive candidate. After what seems to me to be a considerably protracted period, the Privy Council approves the division in 1888, Macdonald runs and crushes his opponent, Dr. G. E. Yarrow. This is also a controversial election--Yarrow complains of irregularities, and it's commented on in the House of Commons as well.

But in any case, Macdonald must have realized that after Baxter's win in 1886, he's going to get another chance. He was cheered by the progress he had made in that first election, and actually mentions that in 1888. I don't think he was deterred or bitter.

Basically, freeholder election wasn't really a good way to choose a county coroner. This is recognized much earlier in the century, but besides confining the scope of elections a bit, they really are hesitant to take a way a right from freeholders. It's the Local Government Act 1888 that finally did away with them (effective as of 1889), instead opting for elected county councils to select coroners--this is along the lines of how coroners were chosen in the City of London (the elected Common Council selected them). Lots less chaos.

But the way the district was organized, taking Spitalfields (and some other areas) out of Baxter's district, didn't make sense. One reason is that local government hasn't provided enough mortuaries in East Middlesex. Another, has Colin shows with a map is that the new North East coroner's district didn't align with how other districts were organized--really, as I understand it (Colin understands it better than I do), Spitalfields is really part of the Whitechapel Board of Works and should have remained in Wynne Baxter's district. So what happens in Spitalfields is that they apparently have no mortuary to remove a body to--when a body is found outside, it seems to be the correct thing to do is take it over to Whitechapel. With a coroner's jurisdiction being determined by the location of the body, this means that there were times that inquests bleed out of Macdonald's district into Wynne Baxter's, simply because of what must have been a lack of mortuaries. This is the case with Annie Chapman. Mary Kelly, however, is found indoors--the police had time to wait for Macdonald's officer, Thomas Hammond, to come take her away. Naturally, he keeps the body within his coroner's district, taking her up to Shoreditch, which is also in Macdonald's district. But, you see, Shoreditch isn't part of the Whitechapel Board of Works, and they don't want to deal with a murder that as far as they're concerned, happened in Whitechapel.

Anomalies are created--one case that I know of leads to a double inquest in March 1889 because Shoreditch has transported a body into Whitechapel in order to get out of paying for the burial. This is nearly the case with Mary Kelly, and the arrival of her body in Whitechapel is anticipated by Wynne Baxter, who prepares for an inquest and, so says The Times, visits Miller's Court on the 10th, but then her burial is paid for and he isn't able to hold an inquest because the body isn't sent to his district. Once I thought that Baxter's presence in Miller's Court indicated that he questioned Macdonald's jurisdiction, but this is incorrect--Baxter is simply anticipating receiving the body, and interprets the law in a way that he's required to hold some sort of inquest, even if it's a formality (the Home Secretary disagreed with this interpretation--two inquests for the same death, when the first inquest was valid, is a waste of money).

When Macdonald dies and his office is vacant, the London County Council seizes the opportunity to realign the district, and returns Spitalfields and other areas back to Baxter (and others to George Danford Thomas, as his Central Middlesex district has apparently also been affected).

So far as I know, Dr. Roderick Macdonald was the last popularly elected coroner in London.

I really do have to apologize for being so long-winded--it's a failing, but I don't know how else to explain it.

Cheers,
Dave
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