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Arsenic-tested newspaper samples, a microscope and his passport

PUBLISHED: 18:16 20 September 2018

Dr Alfred Swaine Taylor, know as the father of forensic science in Victorian times.
The Swaine Taylor collection is going on sale in Suffolk, at Lacy Scott & Knight in Bury St Edmunds on October 5, 2018

Dr Alfred Swaine Taylor, know as the father of forensic science in Victorian times. The Swaine Taylor collection is going on sale in Suffolk, at Lacy Scott & Knight in Bury St Edmunds on October 5, 2018

Archant

In Victorian times Dr Alfred Swaine Taylor was a pioneer; a toxicologist and medical writer, and an expert witness in high profile murder cases.

Swaine Taylor Collection  Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT Swaine Taylor Collection Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT

Think Sherlock Holmes meets CSI.

He was a scientific pioneer - and he is now known as the father of British forensic science.

Now the Swaine Taylor Collection, more than 260 lots from his medical and criminal career, are going under the hammer at Bury St Edmunds auctioneer Lacy Scott & Knight on October 5.

It is a fascination portrait of days gone by, and includes rare, strange and unusual items.

Swaine Taylor Collection  Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT Swaine Taylor Collection Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT

Swaine Taylor was a man of many talents, and also an artist and early photographer, and his collection passed down to his Suffolk family.

His daughter Edith married Frederick Methold of Thorne Court, near Bury St Edmunds.

This collection includes Taylor’s 1850 microscope, professional awards, personal effects including early photographs, arsenic-tested newspaper samples and copious notes on criminal cases.

He was professor of medical jurisprudence at Guy’s Hospital in London from 1831 to 1877 and was a prolific writer on forensic science.

Swaine Taylor Collection  Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT Swaine Taylor Collection Picture: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT

He was often called as an expert witness in high profile trials, including murders, in the 1800s.

Auctioneer Ed Crichton said: “This is a fascinating sale and we have had a lot of interest, from museums and major institutions in this country and abroad.

“I suppose it a bit like an early museum of crime.

“What is also fascinating is the many early handwritten letters to prominent people of the day.

“There are many people who were put away for their crimes, thanks to his expertise, that probably would have got away with their crimes.

“There is a lot of interest in forensic science today, with programmes like Silent Witness on television, and forensic science continues to develop.”

Included in the sale is his passport, a journal of his tour of Italy and the Swiney Bequest silver cup, awarded to Swaine Taylor for an essay on medical jurisprudence.

It was the equivalent of a Nobel prize for the time, said the auctioneer.

The sale wil begin at middday on October 5.

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