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VB. Likeness.

Questions of likeness may arise in cases of bastardy, and in dis-
cussions respecting claimants to titles or property, etc. In such in-
quiries medical evidence is not, as a rule, required. JSTevertheless, the


subject is one which, in many respects, calls for the special considera-
tion of the medical jurist.

The author knows a case where a young lady who had an illegiti-
mate child accused a person in a high position of life of being the
father. This the accused denied. When the child, however, was
nine or ten years old, the extraordinary likeness the child presented to
the person in question (a man of exceptionably remarkable appearance)
proved, beyond doubt, who had told the truth.

It has generally been held that the male parent transmits the
characters of the skeleton, the conformation of the limbs, brain, and *
senses, whilst \\\q female parent transmits the constitution, the internal
organs, and the sympathetic nervous system. This may be mainly
true, but the exceptions are so numerous that the rule is useless from
a medico-legal point of view.

Lord Mansfield said, " I have always considered likeness as an
argument of a child being the son of a parent." The decision in the
Douglas Peerage case, in the summing up of which the above remark
was made, was chiefly based on the circumstance that the claimant
(Archibald) was in features, gestures, and habits, like the father (Sir
John Douglas), and his twin-brother (Sholto) like the mother (Lady
Douglas). In the famous Tichborne case, there was strong evidence
that the claimant was like the father of Arthur Orton in features,
voice, and figure. {Case 4.)

The true difficulty in such cases appears to be to gauge the exact
value to be attached to evidence of. this nature, the power of seeing
likenesses being essentially peculiar.

However valuable evidence of likeness may be in proof of relation-
ship, it is certain that the absence of likeness affords no evidence of
non-relationship. {Cases 8, 10, 19, etc.)

In considering questions of likeness, there are three points specially
deserving attention : —

(a.) That likeness, appearance, expression, etc., may be greatly
altered by fatigue and hardships.'

(^.) That in considering identity, certain peculiarities, besides mere

' "Danger, long travel, want, and woe

Soon change the form that best we know ;
For deadly fear can time outgo.

And blanch at once the hair :
Hard toil can roughen form and face,
And want can quench the eye's bright grace,
Nor does old age a wrinkle trace

More deeply than despair." — Sill WALTER ScOTT.


likeness, such as tricks of manner, modes of speech, left-handedness,
handwriting, etc., demand special consideration. At the same time it
is to be remembered (1) that cliildren are essentially copyists, and
copyists frequently of other than blood relatives, and (2) that peculiar-
ities occasionally skip generations (atavism.)

(y.) Criminals are often great adepts at personal disguisement.
Thus we are told that the famous Blackheath burglar (Charles Peace),
who was tried and executed for the murder of Mr, Dyson (1879), had
so remarkable a power of changing his features and altering his ex-
pression that he was accustomed to face detectives who not only knew
him well, but were actually seeking to arrest him at the time he was
talking to them, and was moreover able to deceive his own wife and
son as to his identity.

Passing from the identity of the living person to that of the dead
body before putrefaction sets in, it is important to note that remark-
able changes in the features take place, in many cases, within a very
short time of death. {Case 29.)

We have already mentioned the fact that post-mortem changes
may produce effects, which in the matter of likeness may serve to de-
ceive those who knew the person well when alive.

VII. Congenital Peculiarities. — Hereditary Diseases.

These may often constitute the strongest possible evidence in
proof or disproof of identity. Thus moles are sometimes transmitted
through several generations. Ncevi materni or mother's miarhs, are
far more common than is generally supposed. {Cases 5, 10, 28,

It may be worth noting that nsevi in newly born children, more es-
pecially when on the face and neck, may closely simulate marks of
violence. (See ''Med, Gaz.^ Yol. XXXIX., p. 3T9, and Yol.
XXXYIL, p. 530.)

Polydactylism [2 Sam, xxi, 20; and 1 Chron. xx. 6], hypospadias,
etc, are peculiarities frequently transmitted through many genera-

The rare circumstance of one iris having a different tint to the
other, proved of importance in one case of doubtful identity. Such
deformities, it may be worth noting, as hare-lip, cleft palate, etc.,
may not at lirst be detected where an operation has been successfully
performed, and a luxuriant beard and moustache cultivated.

The existence of hereditary diseases may constitute evidence of


some value in cases of identity. ( Case 3.) Of these gout, plitliisis,
and syphilis, may be specially mentioned.'

VIII. Marks of the Hands and Feet.

Although footprints and the marks of boots and shoes are gener-
ally matters of police investigation, yet occasionally questions relating
to them are referred to the medical jurist. This will be especially the
ease where anatomical peculiarities in the conformation of the feet or
hands occur.

And here an important question presents itself, viz.^ what is the re-
lation in size l)etween footprints and the feet that produced them ?
Some have contended that the impress made by a foot always corre-
sponds in size with the foot. Others, as Mascar of Belgium and
Causse are of a different opinion, Mascar contending that the footprint
is generally smaller^ and Causse that it is generally larger than the

In comparing footprints it is to be noted that we may have to
compare :

(1.) Footprints with the naked foot : or,

(2.) Footprints of a shooed foot with the boot worn at the time the
footprint was made : or,

(3.) Footprints of a shooed foot with a boot belonging to the same
person, but not the identical boot worn at the time.

It is certain that the evidence in this third case must be always un
satisfactory, the shape and size of different boots belonging to the
same person varying greatly.

The author, as the result of numerous experiments, notes that foot-
prints may be both larger and smaller than the boot or foot which
produced them, the exact relationship in size being dependent on sev-
eral causes : —

(1.) The TYkaterial on which the footprint occurs. Thus in the case
of an impress occurring in sand or in any material composed of mi-
nute, freely movable particles, the footprint is usually smaller than
the foot. In the case of dry sand, for instance, this is due to disturbed
particles at the edge of the impress gradually falling in and filling up

' "See what thy guilty love has done,

Repaid thee with too like a son. " — Bykon.
" Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis :
Est in juvencis, est in equis patrum
Virtus : nee imbellem feroces,
Progenerant aquilae columbam." — Horace.


the cavitj as the boot is being withdrawn. In the case of moist sand,
an alteration in the size of the impress occurs so rapidly that it is
scarcely possible, from the marks, to form an opinion of any value at
all. It always appears, however, as a matter of fact, that in such case,
the impress is of less size than the foot.

Again, if the impression be made in clay or other material not
composed of tine and free particles, the impress is invariably larger
than the foot. And this appears to be due to the circumstance that
in walking the foot is invariably lifted from the ground in the opposite
direction to that in which it was placed upon it.

(2.) The impress will depend on the shape of the hoot or shoe worn.
— A boot having a sole with a bevelled edge produces a very different
impress to one where the edges of the sole slope outward : the former
having a tendency to make the footprint smaller, and the latter larger
than the boot. It will be evident from this («) that if the boot worn
be in any respect peculiar as regards shape or size, and the impress cor-
responds thereto, or if the impress indicates certain nails corresponding
to those present in the boot, such evidence is important and satisfactory.
But (^) that if a boot which is not the one worn at the time the im-
press was made be compared with a footprint, its correspondence is no
positive evidence of identity, nor its non- correspondence of non-

(3.) The size of the impress will depend on the raj)idity of progres-
sion. — The impress for instance produced by the foot (naked or shooed)
of a person running, is always smaller than that of the same person
walking. And further, the impress of the foot of the same person
standing, will be larger than either. The reason of this is manifest,
viz. : that the size of the impress depends greatly on the depth of the
impress, and the foot being less time in contact with the ground in
running than in walking, produces a less deep and therefore a smaller

(4.) The extent of the impress will depend on the rapidity of pro-
gression and on the level of the ground. — In a slow walk the impress
more or less of the whole foot will probably be marked, whilst in run-
ning the mark of the heel will be less distinct, and that of the front of
the foot more distinct, than in walking. Further, in going up hill
there may only be slight evidence of the mark of the heel, although
the mark of the ball of the foot may be very distinct ; whilst in com-
ing down hill, the impress of the whole foot, but especially of the heel,
will generally be well defined.

(5.) The character^ shape., and size of the impress will depend to a
large extent on peculia/r'ities of gait. — And these peculiarities in com-


paring footprints should be most carefully noted, constituting as they
do, important evidence. Thus some people, so soon as they put their
foot on the ground, move it slightly to one side or the other, thereby
increasing the size of the whole impress ; others move the heel only ;
others the front part of the foot and not the heel. The author has
seen a case where from a peculiarity in moving the heel so soon as the
foot was placed on the ground, there could scarcely be a possibility of
mistaking a certain person's footprints amongst any number of other

(6.) Marks of blood may be found on the floor of an apartment,
which it may be necessary to compare either with the naked foot of an
accused, or with the boot he is supposed to have worn at the time. If
a blood stain be found on the sole of a boot belonging to and worn by"
a prisoner, and corresponding marks be found on a floor, the evidence
is important ; but in the case of a naked foot, supposing the blood to
have been washed off, and there be no peculiarities in the conformation
of the foot and toes corresponding to the stain, the evidence of a blood
impress on a floor can in itself be of very little value re identity.

(T.) The surroundings of all footprints should be carefully investi-
gated. Thus in Case 11 certain blood stains found on the left side of
the foot^>rints constituted most important evidence in proving identity.
Hence, in all such cases, the direction of stains, position of weapons,
etc., compared with the footprints, should be recorded.

It may be necessary in some cases to take a cast of certain foot-
prints to produce in evidence. As a rule such casts are difficult to
take, and frequently not so satisfactory as one could wish. When the
impressions occur in sand or in soft mud, M. Hougolin suggests first
warming the marks by holding a live charcoal pan or hot iron over and
near them, and then filling up the cavity thus heated, with powdered
stearic acid (suggested by Sonnenschein), or with paraffin. A hot iron
should then again be passed over the impress (taking care to be well
outside the marks), then more paraffin put in, and the hot iron again
applied. "When cool, the paraffin may be removed, and a plaster cast
taken from it.

I have frequently succeeded in taking plaster casts direct from sand,
mud, etc. , but where a single footstep is all that exists, and tlie experi-
ment therefore impossible to repeat, the former plan is preferable, as
being the more certain of success if carefully performed.

In the case of blood stains on a floor, etc., it is better for purposes
of evidence to remove intact the stained piece of board. If the blood
stain cannot, however, be completely removed in this way, it should bo
carefully moistened by means of a soft broad brush, with a mixture of


glycerine and water (1 to 10 of water), and an impression of tlie stains
taken on thick unsized paper of rather rough textui-e.

Mules to he observed and questions considered in ike examination of

footjprintSj etc.

(1.) Note any special peculiarities in the conformation of the foot
{e.g.^ bunions, etc.).

(2.) JSTote any special peculiarities in the boots supposed to have
been worn when the impressions were made {e.g., unusual
pieces of iron, nails, and any parts of the soles or heels worn
away, indicating peculiarities of tread, etc.).

(3.) Question. — Do the impressions appear to correspond with the
boots said to have been worn ? (Be careful not to be mis-
led by comparing a right-handed boot with a left-handed
impress, or vice versa. Specially compare all peculiarities.)

(4.) I^ote—

(«.) The material on which the imj[>ressions occur {e.g., sand

clay, etc.).
(jS.) The exact shajpe of the impressions. Is the heel well
marked or not ? Endeavor from this to draw some
conclusion as to whether the person was standing,
walking, or running. JSIote any signs in the foot-
prints indicating peculiarities of gait.
(7,) The level of the ground on ivhich the impressions occur.

(5.) If there be any marks of blood on the ground, do they corre-
spond or not to marks found on the soles of the boots ?

(6.) Take (if possible) casts of the impressions for evidence. Pre-
serve the blood stains, or take impressions of them on paper.

(7.) ISTote all the surrounding of the footprints (such as stains,
weapons, etc.,) and their position in relation to the foot-

IX. Cicatrices (Scars) and Tattoo Marks.


A cicatrix results from a layer of white fibrous or connective tissue
(known as cicatricial tissue) being formed between the cut, torn, or
otherwise severed surfaces of a wound. The tissue of an old cicati'ix
becomes in the course of time very dense, but it is never converted


into true skin. It contains neither sebaceons follicles, adipose cells,
nor hairs, and but few absorbents, blood-vessels, or nerves. Further,
it never acquires a " rete mucosum," and hence contains no pigment
cells. {Dupuytren and Delpech.) A scar on a negro is, therefore,
more or less colorless, and, as a rule, very apparent by contrast with
the dark-colored skin.

The poor supply of blood-vessels to cicatricial tissue explains why
the marks of a cicatrix may often be rendered more distinct, and even
visible when almost faded, by first of all compressing the skin firmly
(preferably as Fodere suggests with a cold pewter plate), and suddenly
removing the pressure. The blood then rushes into the sound skin,
leaving the tissue of the scar, into which it does not enter, conspicu-
ously white by contrast with the surrounding redness. A similar re-
sult may be obtained by vigorously slapping the part where a cicatrix
exists, or by rubbing it briskly with the hand, when the whiteness of
the scar is rendered conspicuous by the slight redness induced in the
sound skin. — (See paper on " The Structure of Cicatrices," by Mr.
Henry Gray, " Trans, of the Path. Soc.;' IL, p. 289.)

The presence or absence of scars frequently constitutes important
evidence in medico-legal cases. {Cases 1 to 5«, 16 to 19.)

If soars he jyresent, their probable cause and the length of time
they have existed — in other words, the period that has elapsed since
the wounds which caused them were inflicted — will be questions asked
of the medical jurist.

If they he not joresent, the question may then arise whether they
can, and how they may, be removed artificially, or whether they may
disappear naturally.

In deciding questions of identity from the presence of scars, the
possibility of fraud must always be borne in mind. Moreover, it is
possible for two people to have similar cicatrices. (See Case 16.)
Thus, in 1Y94, a case occurred in France, where a man named Le-
surgues was executed for a murder, the proof of his identity depend-
ing for the most part on certain scars on the hand and forehead. His
innocence was afterward established, the real man who confessed to
the murder being found to have similar cicatrices to the man executed.
For these reasons the medical jurist must note with the minutest pre-
cision, the situation, color, shape (design), and exact nature of all scars
submitted to him for report.

The following questions must be considered :—

1. Does a wound necessarily leave a cicatrix ?

2. How far can the period at which a wound was inflicted be in-

ferred from the ajpjpearance of a cicatrix %


3. How far can the nature of a wound be inferred from the char-

acter of the cicatrix ?

4. How far can the extent of a wound be inferred from the size of

the cicatrix ?

5. Can a cicatrix be obliterated either bj time or by artificial

means ?

1. Does a wound necessarily leave a cicatrix 9

A scar inevitably results from a wound invoVoing loss of substance.

Further, it must be remembered that scars are more distinct in the
dark than in the fair, and when they occur over a blue vein than in the
white flesh.

No scars may result from slight punctures, where the surface of
the skin only has been pierced, such as by the prick of a lancet, or the
bite of a leech. Again, the scar arising from a perfectly clean cut
with a sharp instrument (more particularly if in the du^ection of the
muscular fibres), the surfaces being immediately afterward brought
into contact, may be so slight, narrow, and uniform (of ten nothing
more than a fine white line) as to escape notice even on close exam-

If then on examining a part alleged to have been recently woimded,
we are unable to find any signs of a cicatrix, we should be justified in
stating that the probabilities are altogether against a wound of any kind
having ever been inflicted, but that at any rate it is certain there had
been no wound involving loss of substance. {Case 2.)

A scar may affect the epidermis alone, and not the cutis. If then
no signs of a scar are visible on a dead body where putrefaction has
set in and the skin commenced to peel, we should be cautious in con-
cluding that no scar existed during life.

2. How far can the period at which a wound was inflicted he in-
ferred from the appearance of a cicatrix ?

In the case of a simple incised wound of no great extent, and in
tissues of active vitality, cicatrization is usually complete in from four-
teen to twenty days. Kapidity of cicatrization, however, is dependent
on many causes, such as : —

(a.) The extent of the wound. — The more extensive a wound, and
particularly if the structures involved be several and complicated, the
less rapid is cicatrization.

(/3.) The nature of the wound. — Cicatrization is often complete, as
we have said in the case of a simple incised wound, in about a fortnight,
but if the parts be contused and lacerated, or if there be actual loss of


substance, tlien the healing process will proceed by granulation, and
occupy a very much longer time.

(y.) The position of the wound. — Thus wounds of the lower ex-
tremities heal and cicatrize more slowly than wounds of the upper ex-
tremities. "Wounds where the absolute rest of the parts can be insured
heal more rapidly than wounds on parts (such as near a joint) where a
slight and constant motion is almost inevitable.

(5.) ITie age and health of the Patient. — Thus cicatrization is less
rapid in the old than in the young, and in the diseased than in the

It is necessary here briefly to note the three stages through which
the cicatrix passes : —

(1.) A recent cicatrix is soft, tender, and j>inh, or, at any rate red-
der than the surrounding skin.

(2.) After one or two months or more, the precise time being de-
pendent on the various circumstances mentioned above, the cicatrix
becomes harder, less tender, and of a hrownish white tint (brown dis-

(3.) As the age of the scar increases, it becomes less and less sensi-
tive, hard and thick, white and shining. These latter are the charac-
teristics of an old cicatrix, but it is impossible to fix the period of
their development. When the scars are fully developed, they undergo
little change, except that they have a tendency (independently of their
original shape) to become more and more linear.

Given, then, a hard, white, glistening, non-sensitive cicatrix, al-
though it is difficult to give a positive opinion whether the original
wound had been inflicted six months or six years before, a negative
opinion may safely be given that the scar did not result from a wound
inflicted two, three, or even four weeks previously.

Given, a hroum cicatrix, we are scarcely in a position to give a very
definite opinion.

Given, n soft, red, tender cicatrix, we may say that the chances are
against itc being of long standing. The various influencing conditions
(such as the age, the health of the patient, the probable extent and
nature of the wound, etc.) must, in such cases, be carefully considered.

It will be evident, from what we have said, that it is very difficult
to fix the date of a wound merely from the appearance of the scar.
But if a description of an alleged injury, of the instrument causing it,
and of the date when it was said to have been inflicted, be referred to
the medical jurist, he should, in most cases, be able to say if the ap-
pearances presented by the cicatrix be consistent or inconsistent with
the alleged cause and date. {Case 1.)


3. How far can the nature of a wound he inferred from the char-
acter of tJie cicatrix f

It may be remarked generally that the shape and character of
cicatrices depend as much, and often more, on the structure of the
part wounded — that is, whether the skin and tissues underneath be
tense or loose — than on the actual character of the wound. {"Ann.
d'Hyg.r 1840, I., 430.)

It will be convenient here to consider in order the character of
scars resulting respectively from (a) Accident, {§) Surgical operations,
and if) Disease.

(a.) Scars the result of Accident.

The cicatrices of a straight incised loound involving no loss of tis-
sue, is usually rectilinear. If a wound occurs on a part where the skin
is tense, the resulting scar is usually widest in the centre, that being
the last part to heal, owing to the elasticity of the skin preserving at
this point a greater distance between the surfaces. If the wound oc-
curs in a part where the skin is loose (as in the groin) the cicatrix is,
as a rule, perfectly rectilinear.

The cicatrix of an obligue wound is usually more or less semi-

Tlie cicatrices of incised wounds, involving loss of substance, or of
contused or lacerated wounds, are usually irregular in outline, the sur-
faces of the scars being depressed, and more or less puckered and
uneven. A depressed cicatrix may be taken to indicate a loss of sub-
stance of the true skin. The shape of a cicatrix, further, often indi-
cates the weapon used to inflict the wound ; although, considering the
contraction that commonly occurs during the healing process and the
consequent puckering, considerable caution must be exercised in draw-
ing positive conclusions from shape only.

Tlie cicatrix of a stab is commonly triangular. It must be remem-
bered that the cicatrix is usually smaller than the stab wound, and
that the stab w^ound is usually smaller than the instrument causing it.

The cicatrix of a bullet wound, where the pistol was fired near the
body, is large, deep, and irregular, the chances being that tattoo marks,
practically indelible, will be found in the tissue around {see p. 164).

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