Publisher Information: London: 1877.
Hicks, John Braxton (1823-97). (1) 4 Autograph Letters signed to Alfred Swaine Taylor (1806-80). 11pp. total, on one bifolium and 4 single sheets. London, 11 February – 28 March 1877. 177 x 113 mm. (2) Group of 7 documents, including 4 in Taylor’s hand, pertaining to the case discussed in Hicks’ letters to Taylor; complete listing available. 2 February – 19 March 1877. Various sizes. Minor soiling, occasional fraying, sheets creased where previously folded, but very good.
(1) From British obstetrician John Braxton Hicks, the first to describe the painless uterine contractions during pregnancy known as “Braxton Hicks contractions” (see Garrison-Morton.com 6189), to Alfred Swaine Taylor, founder of forensic toxicology and the leading medical jurist in England in the mid-nineteenth century.
John Braxton Hicks, obstetric physician at Guy’s Hospital in London, was one of the pioneers of scientific midwifery, with over 130 medical publications to his name. In addition to his paper on Braxton Hicks contractions, he published the first description of bipolar version of the fetus (Garrison-Morton.com 6186), and wrote on the use of sodium phosphate as an anticoagulant during blood transfusion (Garrison-Morton.com 2017.1). His correspondent, Alfred Swaine Taylor, held the professorship of medical jurisprudence at Guy’s Hospital from 1831 until 1877 and was the author of several books on forensic medicine, including Elements of Medical Jurisprudence (1836; Garrison-Morton.com 1738) and Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence (first ed. 1865). The latter, one of the most important textbooks of forensic medicine, continued to be published in revised editions until 1984; it includes several case descriptions contributed by Hicks.
Hicks’ correspondence has to do with the case of a married woman accused of adultery by her husband. The woman, a Mrs. Macpherson, had been in India with her husband until mid-September 1866, when she left India to return to England. During the voyage home Mrs. Macpherson allegedly had sexual intercourse with one of the men on board the ship. She experienced light menstrual periods in the last months of 1866 so was not aware that she was pregnant until February 1867; she gave birth on 26 June 1867. Her husband, believing that the child was not his, asked Drs. Taylor and Hicks (nearly ten years after the fact!) to give their opinions on the medical aspects of the case.
In his letter to Taylor of 28 March 1877, Hicks stated:
"I have written to Mrs. Macpherson, and enclose copy of her answer. I called on Mrs. Hodges [the midwife who certified the birth] and found that she could say but little except that the baby was full sized. Now if she did not fall pregnant till after the menses ceased, it must have been the other Person but then it would have been only a 5 or 6 months size which Mrs. Hodges says it was not; but a full time only, as far as can be judged in the matter. Hence I think we may say that 1st the time between the leaving her husband and the birth does not exclude the husband from the paternity. That if it be true which she says it is highly probable that she was pregnant when she left India and that she menstruated slightly as some do . . . "
Included with Hicks’s letters is a group of documents (no. ) pertaining to this case, including four in Alfred Swaine Taylor’s hand.Book Id: 45514