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The Nantes connection

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  • The Nantes connection

    I am wondering if anyone has information about the case in Nantes, 1894, in which an elderly woman was murdered.

    The murder was reported in a Danish paper August 23rd 1894, and mentions that searches for the murderer have so far been in vain, so I imagine it would have happened sometime around 15-20. August. The victim was reported to be a 63-year old woman living in poverty, who was murdered and eviscerated.

    The reason it is seems relevant is because it is mentioned in the A-Z and elsewhere that the local medical examiner, Gustave Ollive, wrote a letter to the Home Office, requesting a copy of Dr Bond's report on the Ripper. And HO complied.

    A-Z, p. 116:
    36. 8 Nov. 94. Letter from Dr. Gustave Olive of Nantes requesting a copy of Dr. Bond's report, having been directed by the Juge d'Instruction to investigate a similar case there.
    37. 22 Nov. 94. Re above. Report sent.
    Presumably this refers to Dr. Bond's report of November 10th 1888 to Anderson. The report was forwarded by Anderson to HO and received there 14th Nov. 1888..
    It should be noted that an American doctor in 1892 requested access to the files about the murders, but was denied (A-Z, p. 110).

    Also note that in "Did Kelly Have a Heart - A Follow-Up", Dave Yost in Ripper Notes Vol. 1, no. 2, 1999, in discussing how dr Hebbert contributed notes to Dr. Harris' A System of Legal Medicine, mentions that "Bond himself 'deflected' a similar request by a Dr Gustave Ollive of Nantes, France (who was investigaing a ripper-like murder near there) to the Home Office in November 1894." This implies that Dr. Ollive originally wrote to Dr. Bond, who then referred the matter to the HO?

    I've looked most places I could think of but I've nowhere found answers to some of the important questions this must lead to:

    1. Who did Dr. Ollive write to - Bond, the HO or the police? Did Dr. Ollive specifically ask for Dr. Bond's report? If so, how did he know about it? Or did he merely ask for general summary of the ripper cases, in order to compare his local murder with the ripper?
    The letters are not reproduced in the Ultimate, does anyone have a photo or scan of them?

    2. Dr. Ollive was instructed by the local juge d'instruction, a judicial magistrate authorising police and others in their investigations. Would not archives in Nantes contain remnants of this institution and its handling of the case? While the local Nantes-case presumably is of little direct relevance to the ripper-case, any remaining correspondance with HO or others could be of great value - practically speaking, which report was actually sent? and if it, as seems likely, was Bond's Nov. 10th report, is the copy completely unaltered compared to the original? Is there a covering letter containing information about the views of HO or the police in 1894 as opposed to 1888, e.g. mentions of how the report supposes something but it has since been learned that... etc.

    Has this correspondance been sought out before on the French side?

    As a doctor, Gustave Ollive (1854-1943) is more likely than ordinary grunts to have left papers in an archive, perhaps at the institution where he taught or at a local or regional archive close to his family home. In 1895 I believe he was president of Societe academique de Nantes e de la Loire-Atlantique, also seems to have been active with other learned societies.

    He does not seem to have been active as a writer, mostly some medical texts about diseases and paralysis etc., but in 1914, he did write a text to Archives de l'anthropologie criminelle etc about the murder of an entire household in 1913 by a 15-year old, so perhaps more relevant articles can turn up.

  • #2
    Hi Peter.
    I apologize for the belated response to your email (I have been traveling with colleagues and just finished partaking in a 5 days long international conference last week.)

    I happen to have, courtesy of Simon Wood, the original letter by Dr. Ollive forwarded directly to Dr. Bond by the juge d'instruction in Nantes in early November 1894.
    First and foremost, could you confirm the name of the victim? I'm having trouble deciphering it on the original letter.

    I don't have time to check out local newspaper reports in Nantes right now, but a good place to start would possibly be here: https://archives-numerisees.loire-at...44/presse.html
    Also, no idea how's the state of the local Police Archives in Nantes (the Archives of the Préfecture de Police in Paris are excellent, I've done research there several times), but here is their site:

    If you'd like me to translate from french or message these Archives, I can do it for you.
    With kind regards,

    Best regards,


    • #3
      To my knowledge, Dr Ollive's letter to the Home Office was published on casebook courtesy of SPE on post 83 in this old casebook thread:
      Best regards,


      • #4
        Thank you very much Maria. I failed to find the earlier discussion on Casebook, sorry.

        The Juge d'Instruction was called Morel, I believe, the victim was Marie-Anne Mignonneau and the suspect was Joseph Pacaud.

        Casebook has an old broadsheet about it:

        Presumably the case files should remain in the archives of the Cour d'Assises de la Loire-Inferiore. I am unable to locate that particular court in the Loire-Atlantique-archive registry, but perhaps it has been subsumed into one of the other courts.


        • #5
          Great, thank you so much, so it was Pacaud, not Pacard.

          For the Loire Cours d'assises I've located this: +

          I have no idea of when I'll get to Paris again, primarily in case I start working on the Verdi edition project, might have a better idea in the fall. I used to go to the Archives Nationales (at the Marais) very frequently, but now that they've moved out of Paris, I don't know if I can manage...
          Best regards,