Medical Defence Union

Posted: December 7, 2008 in Other Ripper Research
I found a most interesting letter in the British Medical Journal and I wish to share it with my readers today.
MEMBER M.D.U. writes: With reference to Mr. Garrett Horder’s letter in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL of March 19th, alluding to mine in the previous number, he states: "The Union has far more important work to perform than to become a mere debt-collecting agency." Undeniable; I quite agree with him. I should be very sorry to see the Union become a "mere debt-collecting agency," or that debt-collecting work should replace the present functions of the Union. I distinctly made use of the words: "debt-collecting branch." Surely that’s plain enough. Subordinate branch if you will, but still an adventitious one.
I am second to none in my admiration for the work of the Union as at present constituted, but what percentage of us will ever trouble the Union? – Few I hope. A large number keep out (foolishly if you will, but still they keep out), not being able to see the possibility for the services of the Union; but show them some tangible return for their subscriptions, and see how quickly they will flock to the standard of the Union. The honorary secretary of the Cardiff Committee informs us that the putting in an appearance at the County Court is a most "disagreeable piece of business" – again I quite agree with him, but it is also disagreeable, if not unjust, to allow those who are dependent on your exertions to be defrauded out of 30 or 40 percent of their just rights.
I beg to thank "G.H.W." for his information about the Society at 8, Berners Street.
I have been a reader of the British Medical Journal for many years, and this is the first time I have heard of a "British Medical Protection Society:" they have been very quiet. Would they kindly tell us who and what they are?
DR. WM. WIGMORE (Inverness Terrace, W.) writes: "In the British Medical Journal of March 26th, under the heading "The Functions of the Medical Defence Union," reference is made to a Society at 8, Berners Street, for the collection of debts. I have employed that Society almost since its commencement, and can speak in praise of the way they have collected for me; several after paying have sent for me again, which shows that the applications were not sent in an offensive way.
Source: The British Medical Journal, April 2, 1892, page 750
The Medical Defence Union was established in 1885 and Lawson Tait was President of the Union in 1888. Dr. Alfred William Pearson met Lawson Tait in 1884-5, when Pearson brought a patient to him in Birmingham, for a surgical procedure.
At 1:00 am, on September 30, 1888, the body of Elizabeth Stride was found by Louis Deimshultz in Dutfield’s Yard, at 40 Berner Street, Commercial Road East. Her throat had been cut, but she had not been mutilated. It is believed that Jack The Ripper was interrupted by Deimshultz’s arrival inside the yard.
At 1:45 am on the same night (September 30, 1888) Catherine Eddowes’ mutilated body was found in Mitre Square by PC Edward Watkins. At 3 am, Constable Alfred Long, walking his beat in Goulston Street, found a piece of Eddowes’ apron stained with blood underneath some graffito. The author of the graffiti wrote, "The Juwes are not the men who will be blamed for nothing."
I found the choice of Goulston Street for the graffiti to be quite interesting in the fact that there was a Dr. Theodore Goulston whose period of medical practice was 1600-1632. He was born in 1575 in Thrapston, Northhamptonshire and was the son of William Goulston. He lived at St. Martin’s, Ludgate Hill c. 1610-32, Wymondham, Leicestershire. Circa 1591 B.A. 1595 incorp Ox 1595 M.A. Ox 1600 M.D. Ox 1610. F.R.C.P. 1611. Birken thesis. Left money for anatomy lecture.
There are a set of lectures called the Goulstonian Lectures. The Goulstonian lecture is named after Dr. Theodore Goulston, who bequeathed to the Royal College of Physicians of London the sum of 200 pounds "to purchase a rent charge for the maintenance of an annual lecture, to be read within the College some time between Michaelmas and Easter, by one of the four youngest doctors of the College. A dead body was, if possible, to be procured, and two or more diseases treated of, upon the forenoons and afternoons of three successive days”. The first lecture, in 1639, was given by Dr William Rant.
Source: UCL Neuroscientist awarded Goulstonian Lecture, University College London, Gower Street, London
The Goulstonian Lectures of 1888 were delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London by William Julius Mickle, M.D., F.R.C.P. London, Medical Superintendent, Grove Hall Asylum in March, 1888. His topic was "Insanity In Relation to Cardiac and Aortic Disease and Phthisis." The lecture can be found here:
Source: The British Medical Journal, March 17, 1888, page 575
Now here’s my question: Could Jack the Ripper have written the graffiti in Goulston Street in order to give the police a hint as to the identity of the murderer being a Doctor? Hmmmm………….

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