(b 1843, d. 1928)
Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown of 6, North-buildings, Eldon-street, Finsbury-circus, was the City Police surgeon, best known for his extensive post-mortem report on Catherine Eddowes. He also examined the body of Alice Mackenzie, and took part in the investigation into the Pinchin Street Torso.
The authors of the Jack the Ripper A-Z include a transcription (with added punctuation) of Dr. Brown's post-mortem on Catherine Eddowes. A handwritten copy made by Coroner Langham survives at the Corporation of London Records:
The body was on its back, the head turned to left shoulder. The arms by the side of the body as if they had fallen there. Both palms upwards, the fingers slightly bent ... Left leg extended in a line with the body, The abdomen was exposed. Right leg bent at the thigh and knee ...
The throat cut across ...
The intestines were drawn out to a large extent and placed over the right shoulder - they were smeared over with some feculent matter. A piece of about two feet was quite detached from the body and placed between the body and the left arm, apparently by design. The lobe and auricle of the right ear was cut obliquely through.
There was a quantity of clotted blood on the pavement on the left side of the neck round the shoulder and upper part of arm, and fluid blood-coloured serum which had flowed under the neck to the right shoulder, the pavement sloping in that direction.
Body was quite warm. No death stiffening had taken place. She must have been dead most likely within, the half hour. We looked for superficial bruises and saw none. No blood on the skin of the abdomen or secretion of any kind on the thighs. No spurting of blood on the bricks or pavement around. No marks of blood below the middle of the body. Several buttons were found in the clotted blood after the body was removed. There was no blood on the front of the clothes. There were no traces of recent connection. When the body arrived at Golden Lane [mortuary] some of the blood was dispersed through the removal of the body to the mortuary. The clothes were taken off carefully from the body. A piece of deceased's ear dropped from the clothing.
I made a post mortem examination at half past two on Sunday afternoon. Rigor mortis was well marked; body not quite cold. Green discoloration over the abdomen.
After washing the left hand carefully, a bruise the size of a sixpence, recent and red, was discovered on the back of the left hand between the thumb and first finger. A few small bruises on right shin of older date. The hands and arms were bronzed. No bruises on the scalp, the back of the body or the elbows.
The face was very much mutilated. There was a cut about a quarter of an inch through the lower left eyelid, dividing the structures completely through. The upper eyelid on that side, there was a scratch through the skin on the left upper eyelid, near to the angle of the nose. The right eyelid was cut through to about half an inch.
There was a deep cut over the bridge of the nose, extending from the left border of the nasal bone down near to the angle of the jaw on the right side of the cheek. This cut went into the bone and divided all the structures of the cheek except the mucous membrane of the mouth.
The tip of the nose was quite detached from the nose by an oblique cut from the bottom of the nasal bone to where the wings of the nose join on to the face. A cut from this divided the upper lip and extended through the substance of the gum over the right upper lateral incisor tooth. About half an inch from the top of the nose was another oblique cut. There was a cut on the right angle of the mouth as if the cut of a point of a knife. The cut extended an inch and a half, parallel with lower lip.
There was on each side of cheek a cut which peeled up the skin, forming a triangular flap about an inch and a half.
On the left cheek there were two abrasions of the epithelium ... under the left ear.
The throat was cut across to the extent of about six or seven inches. A superficial cut commenced about an inch and a half below the lobe below (and about two and a half inches below 'and behind) the left ear, and extended across the throat to about three inches below the lobe of right ear. The big muscle across the throat was divided through on the left side. The large vessels on the left side of the neck were severed. The larynx was severed below the vocal chord. All the deep structures were severed to the bone, the knife marking intervertebral cartilages. The sheath of the vessels on the right side was just opened. The carotid artery had a fine hole opening. The internal jugular vein was opened an inch and a half - not divided.
The blood vessels contained clot. All these injuries were performed by a sharp instrument like a knife, and pointed.
The cause of death was haemorrhage from the left common carotid artery. The death was immediate and the mutilations were inflicted after death.
We examined the abdomen. The front walls were laid open from the breast bone to the pubes. The cut commenced opposite the enciform cartilage. The incision went upwards, not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum. It then divided the enciform cartilage. The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of the front surface of that cartilage.
Behind this, the liver was stabbed as if by the point of a sharp instrument.
Below this was another incision into the liver of about two and a half inches, and below this the left lobe of the liver was slit through by a vertical cut. Two cuts were shewn by a jagging of the skin on the left side.
The abdominal walls were divided in the middle line to within a quarter of an inch of the navel. The cut then took a horizontal course for two inches and a half towards right side. It then divided round the navel on the left side, and made a parallel incision to the former horizontal incision, leaving the navel on a tongue of skin. Attached to the navel was two and a half inches of the lower part of the rectus muscle on the left side of the abdomen. The incision then took an oblique direction to the right and was shelving. The incision went down the right side of the vagina and rectum for half an inch behind the rectum.
There was a stab of about an inch on the left groin. This was done by a pointed instrument. Below this was a cut of three inches going through all tissues making a wound of the peritoneum [sc. perineum] about the same extent.
An inch below the crease of the thigh was a cut extending from the anterior spine of the ilium obliquely down the inner side of the left thigh and separating the left labium, forming a flap of skin up to the groin. The left rectus muscle was not detached.
There was a flap of skin formed from the right thigh, attaching the right labium, and extending up to the spine of the ilium. The muscles on the right side inserted into the frontal ligaments were cut through.
The skin was retracted through the whole of the cut in the abdomen, but the vessels were not clotted. Nor had there been any appreciable bleeding from the vessels. I draw the conclusion that the cut was made after death, and there would not be much blood on the murderer. The cut was made by some one on right side of body, kneeling below the middle of the body.
I removed the content of the stomach and placed it in a jar for further examination. There seemed very little in it in the way of food or fluid, but from the cut end partly digested farinaceous food escaped.
The intestines had been detached to a large extent from the mesentery. About two feet of the colon was cut away. The sigmoid flexure was invaginated into the rectum very tightly.
Right kidney pale, bloodless, with slight congestion of the base of the pyramids.
There was a cut from the upper part of the slit on the under surface of the liver to the left side, and another cut at right angles to this, which were about an inch and a half deep and two and a half inches long. Liver itself was healthy.
The gall bladder contained bile. The pancreas was cut, but not through, on the left side of the spinal column. Three and a half inches of the lower border of the spleen by half an inch was attached only to the peritoneum. The peritoneal lining was cut through on the left side and the left kidney carefully taken out and removed. The left renal artery was cut through. I should say that someone who knew the position of the kidney must have done it.
The lining membrane over the uterus was cut through. The womb was cut through horizontally, leaving a stump of three quarters of an inch. The rest of the womb had been taken away with some of the ligaments. The vagina and cervix of the womb was uninjured.
The bladder was healthy and uninjured, and contained three or four ounces of water. There was a tongue-like cut through the anterior wall of the abdominal aorta. The other organs were healthy.
There were no indications of connexion.
I believe the wound in the throat was first inflicted. I believe she must have been lying on the ground.
The wounds on the face and abdomen prove that they were inflicted by a sharp pointed knife, and that in the abdomen by one six inches long.
I believe the perpetrator of the act must have had considerable knowledge of the positions of the organs in the abdominal cavity and the way of removing them. The parts removed would be of no use for any professional purpose. It required a great deal of medical knowledge to have removed the kidney and to know where it was placed. Such a knowledge might be possessed by some one in the habit of cutting up animals.
I think the perpetrator of this act had sufficient time, or he would not have nicked the lower eyelids. It would take at least five minutes.
I cannot assign any reason for the parts being taken away. I feel sure there was no struggle. I believe it was the act of one person.
The throat had been so instantly severed that no noise could have been emitted. I should not expect much blood to have been found on the person who had inflicted these wounds. The wounds could not have been self-inflicted.
My attention was called to the apron. It was the corner of the apron, with a string attached. The blood spots were of recent origin. I have seen the portion of an apron produced by Dr Phillips and stated to have been found in Goulston Street. It is impossible to say it is human blood. I fitted the piece of apron which had a new piece of material on it which had evidently been sewn on to the piece I have, the seams of the borders of the two actually corresponding. Some blood and, apparently, faecal matter was found on the portion found in Goulston Street. I believe the wounds on the face to have been done to disfigure the corpse.
Dr. Brown also gave an interview to Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper on the afternoon of 30 September:
They [Drs. Sequeira and Brown] made a minute examination of the body, Dr. Gordon Brown taking a pencil sketch of the exact position in which it was found. This he most kindly showed to the representative of Lloyd's, when subsequently explaining the frightful injuries inflicted upon the body of the deceased. The throat had been cut from the left side, the knife severing the carotid artery and other parts of the neck. The weapon had then apparently been stabbed into the upper part of the abdomen, and cut completely down. Besides the fearful wound on the face the tops of both of the thighs were cut across. The intestines, which had been torn from the body, were found twisted into the gaping wound on the right side of the murdered woman's neck. (Lloyds Weekly Newspaper - 30 September 1888)
Dr. Brown testified at the Eddowes inquest on 4 October:
Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown was then called, and deposed: I am surgeon to the City of London Police. I was called shortly after two o'clock on Sunday morning, and reached the place of the murder about twenty minutes past two. My attention was directed to the body of the deceased. It was lying in the position described by Watkins, on its back, the head turned to the left shoulder, the arms by the side of the body, as if they had fallen there. Both palms were upwards, the fingers slightly bent. A thimble was lying near. The clothes were thrown up. The bonnet was at the back of the head. There was great disfigurement of the face. The throat was cut across. Below the cut was a neckerchief. The upper part of the dress had been torn open. The body had been mutilated, and was quite warm - no rigor mortis. The crime must have been committed within half an hour, or certainly within forty minutes from the time when I saw the body. There were no stains of blood on the bricks or pavement around.
By Mr. Crawford: There was no blood on the front of the clothes. There was not a speck of blood on the front of the jacket.
By the Coroner: Before we removed the body Dr. Phillips was sent for, as I wished him to see the wounds, he having been engaged in a case of a similar kind previously. He saw the body at the mortuary. The clothes were removed from the deceased carefully. I made a post-mortem examination on Sunday afternoon. There was a bruise on the back of the left hand, and one on the right shin, but this had nothing to do with the crime. There were no bruises on the elbows or the back of the head. The face was very much mutilated, the eyelids, the nose, the jaw, the cheeks, the lips, and the mouth all bore cuts. There were abrasions under the left ear. The throat was cut across to the extent of six or seven inches.
[Coroner] Can you tell us what was the cause of death? - The cause of death was haemorrhage from the throat. Death must have been immediate.
[Coroner] There were other wounds on the lower part of the body? - Yes; deep wounds, which were inflicted after death.
(Witness here described in detail the terrible mutilation of the deceased's body.)
Mr. Crawford: I understand that you found certain portions of the body removed? - Yes. The uterus was cut away with the exception of a small portion, and the left kidney was also cut out. Both these organs were absent, and have not been found.
[Coroner] Have you any opinion as to what position the woman was in when the wounds were inflicted? - In my opinion the woman must have been lying down. The way in which the kidney was cut out showed that it was done by somebody who knew what he was about.
[Coroner] Does the nature of the wounds lead you to any conclusion as to the instrument that was used? - It must have been a sharp-pointed knife, and I should say at least 6 in. long.
[Coroner] Would you consider that the person who inflicted the wounds possessed anatomical skill? - He must have had a good deal of knowledge as to the position of the abdominal organs, and the way to remove them.
[Coroner] Would the parts removed be of any use for professional purposes? - None whatever.
[Coroner] Would the removal of the kidney, for example, require special knowledge? - It would require a good deal of knowledge as to its position, because it is apt to be overlooked, being covered by a membrane.
[Coroner] Would such a knowledge be likely to be possessed by some one accustomed to cutting up animals? - Yes.
[Coroner] Have you been able to form any opinion as to whether the perpetrator of this act was disturbed? - I think he had sufficient time, but it was in all probability done in a hurry.
[Coroner] How long would it take to make the wounds? - It might be done in five minutes. It might take him longer; but that is the least time it could be done in.
[Coroner] Can you, as a professional man, ascribe any reason for the taking away of the parts you have mentioned? - I cannot give any reason whatever.
[Coroner] Have you any doubt in your own mind whether there was a struggle? - I feel sure there was no struggle. I see no reason to doubt that it was the work of one man.
[Coroner] Would any noise be heard, do you think? - I presume the throat was instantly severed, in which case there would not be time to emit any sound.
[Coroner] Does it surprise you that no sound was heard? - No.
[Coroner] Would you expect to find much blood on the person inflicting these wounds? - No, I should not. I should say that the abdominal wounds were inflicted by a person kneeling at the right side of the body. The wounds could not possibly have been self-inflicted.
[Coroner] Was your attention called to the portion of the apron that was found in Goulston-street? - Yes. I fitted that portion which was spotted with blood to the remaining portion, which was still attached by the strings to the body.
[Coroner] Have you formed any opinion as to the motive for the mutilation of the face? - It was to disfigure the corpse, I should imagine.
A Juror: Was there any evidence of a drug having been used? - I have not examined the stomach as to that. The contents of the stomach have been preserved for analysis. (Daily Telegraph - 5 October 1888)
The doctor was also in attendance on the second day of the Eddowes' inquest, on 11 October. He was called to offer his opinion on whether or not Eddowes could have been murdered somewhere other than Mitre Square:
Mr. Crawford: The theory has been put forward that it was possible for the deceased to have been murdered elsewhere, and her body brought to where it was found. I should like to ask Dr. Gordon Brown, who is present, what his opinion is about that.
Dr. Gordon Brown: I do not think there is any foundation for such a theory. The blood on the left side was clotted, and must have fallen at the time the throat was cut. I do not think that the deceased moved the least bit after that.
The Coroner: The body could not have been carried to where it was found? - Witness: Oh, no. (Daily Telegraph - 12 October 1888)
In April 1905, Dr. Brown escorted a small tour of noted authors and crime-buffs around Whitechapel. The excursion was documented in The Life and Memoirs of John Churton Collins (1912):
Yesterday, Wednesday, April , I went round all the scenes and sites of the Whitechapel Murders (the nine, as well as where the trunk was found) with Conan Doyle, Laurie, Ingleby Oddie, & Dr Crosse of Norwich. Dr Gordon Browne was our escort and two detectives also escorted us. In addition to these sites we visited Petticoat Lane, the Jews' fowl-slaughtering houses, a Dosshouse, and the like places. Dr Gordon Browne, who was concerned in all of them, seeing most of the corpses ust after they were murdered, conducting postmortems, etc., told me these particulars : . . He was inclined to think that he (the murderer) was or had been a medical student, as he undoubtedly had a knowledge of human anatomy, but that he was also a butcher, as the mutilations slashing the nose, etc., were butchers' cuts.
There was absolutely no foundation, in his opinion, for the theory that he was a homicidal maniac doctor, whose body was found in the Thames, tho' that is the theory at Scotland Yard,* because (1) the last murder, possibly the last two murders, were committed after the body was found, he was strongly of opinion that the last two were Ripper murders; (2) the murderer was never seen near enough for any trustworthy identification, and Dr G. Browne was absolutely of opinion that they still remain an unsolved mystery. He thought the murderer suffered from a sort of homicidal satyriasis-that it was sexual perversion. The trunk found in Finbury St. in September 1889 which he inspected, had the same incision as was characteristic of the Ripper murders, but it may have been an imitation, and it may have been one of the dynasty of murders---he could not say.
Lloyds Weekly Newspaper - 30 September 1888
Daily Telegraph - 5 October 1888
Daily Telegraph - 12 October 1888
The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook (Evans and Skinner)
The Jack the Ripper A-Z (Begg, Fido and Skinner)
The Life and Memoirs of John Churton Collins (Churton Collins)