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  • Wynne Baxter trivia

    Thought I'd start this thread to add a little trivia about the fascinating and enigmatic Wynne Edwin Baxter from time to time.

    First, a trivia question. Wynne Baxter was elected coroner for the eastern district of Middlesex County in December 1886, following the death of the long serving Sir John Humphreys. Dr. Macdonald, George Collier and George Hay Young also ran for the position. There was one more individual who ran for the same office at this time and would figure prominently in the Ripper story as well.

    Who was he?


    P.S- Winner gets the fish I missed getting out of my livewell last night and has since expired, so the clock's tickin' real fast and the garbage man (environmental control engineer for you city folks) won't run again 'till Monday. Makes good fertilizer for anyone plannin' on puttin' out 'mater plants this spring.
    Best Wishes,
    Cris Malone
    ______________________________________________
    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

  • #2
    Hi Cris

    Thanks for starting this thread. Don't forget the fine article on Wynne Baxter by Adam Wood, "Inquest, London: The Life and Career of Wynne Edwin Baxter" available on Casebook JTR and that was originally published in Ripperologist No. 61, September 2005.

    Cheers

    Chris George
    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Chris,

      Yes, indeed, Inquest London is a fine article about Mr. Baxter.

      Anyone know the answer to the question?
      A hint... like Baxter, he theorized about who the murderer was too.
      Best Wishes,
      Cris Malone
      ______________________________________________
      "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

      Comment


      • #4
        Was it LF Winslow Cris?

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't know the answer but six people ran.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nemo View Post
            Was it LF Winslow Chris?
            Yes, Nemo, it sure was our old friend Forbes Winslow.

            Just imagine if he had been him presiding over many of these murder inquests.
            Best Wishes,
            Cris Malone
            ______________________________________________
            "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Nemo View Post
              Was it LF Winslow Chris?
              Originally posted by Cris Malone View Post
              Yes, Nemo, it sure was our old friend Forbes Winslow.

              Just imagine if he had been him presiding over many of these murder inquests.
              I had a feeling that it might have been Forbes Winslow.

              As with our other old friend Albert Bachert, the two men seem to have been ubiquitous.
              Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
              https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
              Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

              Comment


              • #8
                Underhanded Under-Sheriff

                .

                Wynne Baxter wore many hats in his professional career. Sometimes several at the same time. Twice he was an Under Sheriff; the last time- just before becoming coroner of the East Middlesex District- as Under Sheriff charged with the Middlesex divisions of Tottenham, Enfield and Hornsey.

                Under Sheriff is the same position as the better known position of Deputy, dispensing his duties as the representative of the High Sheriff. But this arrangement was a far cry from the roles depicted by Andy and Barney in Mayberry, North Carolina. The Under Sheriff was usually a solicitor- as Mr. Baxter was- and had other special duties beyond law enforcement. The Under Sheriff was Returning Officer for his constituency; responsible for carrying out elections. This included providing the machinery such as ballot boxes. The candidates, themselves, were to pay him a nominal fee for his services. This system was ripe for fraud, bribery and extortion on the part of the Under Sheriff... as a Mr. Cain (MP) found out in the 1885 election.

                Mr. Baxter charged Mr. Cain and his opponent the maximum allowed sum for the ballot boxes used at Tottenham; then Baxter sold the same ballot boxes to Hornsey and then sold them again to Enfield, instead of providing separate boxes for each. He also hired from the Guildhall a set of fittings kept in stock for all kinds of elections; paying 1 guinea for their use and then charging Mr. Caine- who was the liberal candidate- 52 pounds 10 shillings... Quite a profitable venture!

                Then, Baxter waited to send the bill the day before the election so Mr. Cain had little time to dispute it unless Mr. Cain's opponent was willing to go along with it, which Baxter knew would rarely happen. However, in this case Cain did manage to get his opponent to agree to take the matter into County Court where they asked for vouchers on the account. Baxter produced one voucher, signed for the full amount by a firm called Baxter & Co., advertising agents; which was nothing more than a firm created by Wynne Baxter, himself, for the purpose of supplying the Sheriff with election machinery. Come to find out, Baxter, as Under Sheriff and solicitor had advised the Sheriff to pay Baxter as advertising agent, double the legal maximum. The Court made Baxter pay some 670 pounds in overcharges back to Mr. Cain.

                Cain said that was the 'sweetest bit of money he had ever put in his pocket," but he regretted not sueing the Under Sheriff for extortion.
                Nevertheless, this episode brought about some changes in the election process by suggesting that the constituents pay for elections.

                Sources:
                The Parliamentary debates (Authorized edition), Volume 24
                Best Wishes,
                Cris Malone
                ______________________________________________
                "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Cris

                  Despite the number of cases a coroner saw, his salary was not sufficient to make it a full time job, which is the reason coroners did other things. Southwest Lancashire coroner Sir Samuel Brighouse, who served in that capacity for 60 years, kept his law practice as a partner in the Brighouse law firm in Ormskirk the whole time he was a coroner.

                  Best regards

                  Chris
                  Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                  https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                  Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                  Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    And speaking of money...

                    Almost immediately after Wynne Baxter assumed his role as coroner for
                    the eastern district of Middlesex County, a dispute arose about his
                    salary. In March, 1887, Baxter failed to reach a salary agreement
                    with the justices of the county. He then appealed to the Home
                    Secretary, who decided that Baxter's salary would remain the same as
                    his predecessor, Sir John Humphreys. That salary had been set in
                    January, 1886 and, according to the coroner's Act of 1860, would
                    remain in effect for five years. A few months later, the Home
                    Secretary changed his mind and decided that Mr. Baxter was entitled
                    to a new agreement, which was, essentially the same salary anyway.
                    Lawyers love to go around in circles to reach a point; traveling in a
                    straight line is too practical.

                    Oh, but it gets better.

                    In May, 1888, the County Council decided to subdivide the eastern
                    division into two districts- the Northeastern and Southeastern
                    districts respectively. In June of that year, Dr. Roderick Macdonald
                    - Baxter's main rival in the previous election- became coroner for
                    the Northeastern district, while Baxter remained coroner for the
                    Southeastern. Of course, in delegating all of this, the Council made
                    no reference to the coroner's salary. The justices of the county
                    decided to display their skills in arithmetic by claiming that since
                    Baxter now served half of what he once did, he was only entitled
                    to half the salary; the other half going to Macdonald. In other
                    words, they would now get two coroners for the price of one.

                    Baxter promptly sued the justices and the county treasurer for his
                    salary, based upon his original agreement fixed at five years. While
                    all of this was being litigated, Baxter's district was incorporated
                    into the county of London. The Middlesex County officials were no
                    longer liable for Baxter's suit. Baxter, then, sued the London County
                    Council. They maintained that since Baxter was now doing half the
                    work he once did, he was only entitled to half the salary and that
                    the original position he was elected to no longer existed. Naturally,
                    Baxter claimed he was entitled to what was originally fixed,
                    regardless of the change in the composition of the district he
                    represented.

                    In the end, Justice John Day, who presided over the case, gave a mixed
                    decision. While agreeing with Baxter that he was entitled to his
                    salary as fixed by the Home Secretary in 1887, he declared that
                    Baxter was not entitled to a mandamus (an order against a public
                    official - in this case the justices or council) and that the
                    defendants were not liable, nor could be ordered by the court to do
                    anything.

                    How's that for tossing around a hot potato?

                    Source:
                    The Law Times, Vol 63, January, 1891
                    Best Wishes,
                    Cris Malone
                    ______________________________________________
                    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      40,000 inquests in 40 years.
                      1,000 per year.
                      2.7 Inquests per day


                      Nenagh Guardian
                      October 9, 1920
                      *************
                      To Join JTR Forums :
                      Contact [email protected]

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                      • #12
                        Eau Claire (Wis.) Leader
                        March 18, 1906
                        *************
                        To Join JTR Forums :
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                        • #13
                          As mentioned in an earlier post, Wynne Baxter wore many 'hats' during his long career. He also had some keen personal interests which promoted his involvement in social, science and cultural organizations. He was a major promoter of the Public Library system so people of less financial means could have access to a plethora of books heretofore found only in the collections of the wealthy. Baxter was Library Commissioner for Stoke Newington, where he resided from 1883 until his death.

                          His lifelong passion was the works of John Milton. He had the most extensive collection of Milton known to exist, including a very rare edition of Paradise Lost, complete with annotations by the author himself. Baxter used his collection to promote the financial backing of public libraries and would often entertain guest at his home at 170 Stoke Newington Church Street (former home of Isaac Disraeli's father). The events would constitute a lecture on Milton by Baxter, accompanied by a slide show presented by his son, Frank, who also shared his father's interest in this field.

                          Baxter wrote a book on Paradise Lost, detailing the variations in the several editions. It is still considered by scholars as the definitive piece on the subject of Milton.

                          After Baxter's death, his collection, comprising some 280 lots, was sold at auction on June 12, 1921. It only garnered L700 - a steal considering how much some of the editions from this collection are worth now.

                          Baxter's son carried on in his father's footsteps as a member of the Stoke Newington Libraries Committee and other literary organizations.

                          After Frank's death in 1932, the Baxter home - which it and the surrounding estate had been in the Baxter family trust - was surrendered for demolition.


                          Sources:

                          Literary World - Vol 2, July 1899- June 1900.
                          The Bibliographer - vol. 2, no. 2, Feb. 1903.
                          London Mercury - vol 4, 1921.
                          National Archives collection, Kew.
                          Best Wishes,
                          Cris Malone
                          ______________________________________________
                          "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A more typical inquest

                            Wynne Baxter was known to point out the social/economic conditions of the East End during his summaries at some of his inquests. Notable to most was his denunciation of the conditions at some of the lodging houses during the Chapman inquest. This was because the vast majority of the cases that came before him were the tragic result of depravity and suffering that he was constantly exposed to on a daily basis while conducting his inquiries.

                            Below, is one notable example. Sometimes there were four such inquests held in just one day. It is an excerpt from Montagu Williams' 1891 book, Later Leaves:



                            The coroner in this case, Mr. Wynne Baxter, a few days afterwards held an inquest into the circumstances attending the death of a dock-labourer, aged fifty-three, who had resided at 231, High Street, Shad well. The deceased, who was only a casual hand at the docks, had a family of four children—the eldest being thirteen and the youngest three—dependent solely upon him, his wife being confined as a lunatic in the asylum at Banstead.

                            Strangely enough, the poor fellow had been unusually fortunate in obtaining work just before his death. His services were engaged on the Monday and also on the Tuesday. During the morning of the latter day, he complained to a fellow-workman of considerable pain, and on going to receive his pay at six o'clock that evening, he suddenly fell down in a fainting condition. His comrades carried him to the hospital, but on their arrival there, life was pronounced to be extinct.

                            A post-mortem examination was held, and the house physician stated the conclusions to which it had led him. The cause of death, he said, was syncope, due to want of food, there being no trace thereof either in the stomach or intestines.

                            Evidence was given to the effect that the children had some food on the Monday evening when their father came home from work; and the jury, in returning their verdict, expressed the opinion that the deceased had starved himself to death to feed his little ones.


                            .
                            Best Wishes,
                            Cris Malone
                            ______________________________________________
                            "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                              40,000 inquests in 40 years.
                              1,000 per year.
                              2.7 Inquests per day


                              Nenagh Guardian
                              October 9, 1920
                              *************
                              Yes but some of those inquests could have been fairly short and over relatively trivial matters. The son of long-serving S.W. Lancashire coroner Sir Samuel Brighouse (56 years), Robert Wales Brighouse, deputy coroner for Ormskirk, on 3 June 1940, held a ‘treasure trove inquest’ in the matter of a gold sovereign found by a schoolboy, the reason being that such treasure could be claimed by the Crown as per ancient law.

                              Chris
                              Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                              https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                              Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                              Comment

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