Dr. Thomas Bond was the registered police surgeon for A Division, Westminster.
HIS LIFE AND CAREER
Following his death, several newspapers carried his obituary in which they provided readers with a summary of his life and career:-
“Educated at King’s College and King’s College Hospital, he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1864.
In 1865 he graduated as Bachelor of Medicine at the University of London, in 1866 as Bachelor of Surgery and gold medallist, and in the same year he became a Fellow by examination of the Royal College of Surgeons.
After a short period of service with the Prussian Army he returned home, and was appointed assistant surgeon, and in due time surgeon to the Westminster Hospital and to the A division of police.
By reason of the last-mentioned appointment his attention was early directed to medico-legal questions, in which he soon became an acknowledged expert; and he has been concerned in the inquiries which have been made into almost all the important murder cases for many years past.”
HIS PROFILE OF JACK THE RIPPER
For students of the Jack the Ripper case – and for students of criminology – he is best remembered today for his involvement with Mary Kelly’s postmortem examination and for the subsequent profile he wrote about the perpetrator of the Whitechapel Murders. He also contributed his expert knowledge to the investigations into the Thames Torso murders and examined the bodies of both Rose Mylett and Alice Mackenzie.
THE SUICIDE OF DR. THOMAS BOND
Sadly, his later years were plagued by ill-health which resulted in him suffering with severe depression and, tragically, on the morning of June 6th 1901, Dr Thomas Bond committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of his house at 7, the Sanctuary, Westminster – just a few doors along from the great West door of Westminster Abbey.
His subsequent inquest heard that he had been suffering from “abdominal disease” for several years and, as a result he had been in a great deal of pain, for which he was taking large doses of morphia.
For the six weeks prior to his suicide he had been confined to his bed attended by nurses who cared for him as best they could. However, he had found the increasing pain unbearable and had threatened on several occasions to throw himself from the window if the pain continued.
LEFT ALONE FOR A MOMENT
At 7am, on the morning of Thursday June 6th 1901, the nurse had left the room for a brief moment.
Seizing his opportunity Dr Bond had leapt from his bed, clad only in his nightshirt, and had thrown himself from the third floor window.
He fell 50 feet, hitting the pavement below headfirst.
Witnesses rushed to assist but there was little they could do.
One newspaper described graphically the scene that greeted them:-
“…a portion of the brain [was] protruding, and the unhappy man [was] at his last gasp. By the time he had been carried across the road to Westminster Hospital, where he had so often during the last quarter of a century attended people in like plight, he was dead.”
THE INQUEST VERDICT
Having considered the evidence at the subsequent inquest into his death, the jury passed a verdict of “suicide, whilst temporarily insane.”
A MOST DELIGHTFUL COMPANION
Many newspapers carried his obituary, and he was fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues alike. The British Medical Journal, in its edition of 15th June 1901, remembered him thus:-
“He was bright and helpful in the treatment of his patients, and though confident in his own powers was always ready to seek assistance in doubtful cases. That he would have distinguished himself as a surgeon there can be no doubt, but the necessity of providing for the needs of a large family compelled him to accept work which interfered with a purely surgical practice. As a colleague and friend he was a most delightful companion, full of fun, and with a large repertoire of stories he had picked up among the interesting or curious people with whom he had been brought into contact. The sad ending of a life so full of brightness and usefulness has come as a great shock to the large circle of friends who had been captivated by his attractive personality.”
The British Library Newspaper Archive.
I would also like to thank Adam Wood of Mango Books, for generously sharing the illustration from The Penny Illustrated Paper.