Collection of Photographs relating to Rex v. Ruxton 1935

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-704
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 envelope folder containing circa 43 photographs and miscellaneous tracing paper sketches. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of circa 43 black and white photographs, many of them duplicated, of severed limbs and bones, the bodies in decomposition, skull and cranial features, foot casts, shoes and other personal effects. There are tracing paper sketches of skull dimensions, feet, and bone cross-sections.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1935, Dr. Buck Ruxton of Dalton Square in Lancaster, England, murdered his wife Isabella and their house-maid Mary Jane Rogerson, cut up their bodies and deposited them in the River Nith, south-west Scotland. When the bodies were found at the 'Devil's Beeftub', near Moffat, they were in an advanced state of decomposition. The great John Glaister Jnr. (1892-1971) Professor of Forensic Medicine at Glasgow University and James Couper Brash (1886-1958) Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh University were responsible for developing advanced identification techniques using x-rays, bone reconstruction and photographs to prove the victims' identities. The two Professors gave the leading evidence for the prosecution and ultimately Dr. Ruxton was hanged for the crimes at Manchester on 12 May 1936. A petition asking for clemency for him was signed by 10,000 people. The case still stands as a milestone in Forensic Medicine.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Material acquired from Mrs. Brash, daughter-in-law of late Professor Brash, and via the Development Office, Old College, 1991, Accession no. E91.13.


When Glaister and Brash published their work in 1939, they were jointly awarded the Swiney Prize (Guineas 100) from which they purchased a Silver Rose Bowl. The Bowl was bequeathed to Brash's wife and thereafter to Edinburgh University. It was handed to the University in 1990 for display in the Inner Hall of the Old College, Edinburgh University.

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using material contained within the collection.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.