T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, February 10, 2003
BREAKING NEWz you can
compiled by Jon Stimac
Good morning via the "Detail,"
a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe
every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of
the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue
to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important
events as they happen in our field.
Last week we started a discussion on
inconclusive opinions and what role IAI Resolutions VII (1979) and V (1980) play
in this concept. There has been excellent discussion via e-mail and on the
CLPEX discussion board about this subject. I believe this topic will also
be discussed at the SWGFAST meeting in Quantico, VA this week. In fact, I
am typing this at about 10,000 feet on my way to my first meeting! I am
looking forward to it, and I have decided to let the discussions regarding
inconclusive opinions continue on the forum this week and close out this topic
with a report on concepts discussed at SWGFAST next Monday. If you have
not had a chance to take part in the discussions online, feel free to look over
the posts and reply if desired.
This week, we expand on an announcement made several weeks ago about the
formation of a fitting memorial for Henry Faulds in his Scotland birth-town.
BEITH – THE HOME OF DR HENRY FAULDS PIONEER OF FINGERPRINTS
by Donald L Reid
There is much about this small Scottish town of Beith with a population of 6,500 which the stranger finds surprising. Less than 30 minutes from Glasgow by train or ‘bus the town remains very much rural in character and a popular place in which to work, live and socialise. Two of Beith’s most famous sons were the Rev John Witherspoon and Dr Henry Faulds, about whom more later.
The parish of Beith covers twenty-five square miles on the northern tip of Ayrshire with the town itself only one mile from the border with Renfrewshire. The parish includes Longbar, Barrmill, Burnhouse, Greenhills, Gateside and a myriad of farms and cottages in a fertile rural district famous for the excellence of its dairy products. The town of Beith is situated on elevated position overlooking the Garnock Valley, known originally as Hill o’ Beith or hill of the birches (the name evolved from the Gaelic word meaning birches) Further evidence that at one time much of the area was covered by forest is indicated in other local place names such as Roughwood, Fulwoodhead, Threepwood and Woodside. As you approach Beith from any direction you will see the dominating tower of Beith High Church, built 1807, which sits 343 feet above sea level.
In 1733 forty of fifty Beith smugglers sacked the Irvine Customs House, escaping with a rich booty of confiscated contraband goods. Twelve years later many of these same men joined with the famous Rev John Witherspoon, Minister of Beith between 1745 and 1757, when he led the men of Beith to Glasgow to defend King George 111 against the young pretender in the 1745 rebellion. Despite receiving orders to return to Beith, Witherspoon carried on and was captured at the Battle of Falkirk and imprisoned for a time in Doune Castle. He later emigrated to America and went on to became famous as a Congressman and he was the only minister of religion to sign the American Declaration of Independence. Interestingly, Witherspoon’s Beith home at 32 The Cross is now the focus of a multi-million pound regeneration which will see all the buildings at The Cross renovated and completed by August 2003.
BEITH CROSS: From t he Mount. This area is currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation which includes No 32 The Cross where Rev John Witherspoon, signatory to the American Declaration of Independence, lived. He was minister of Beith for 12 years.
BEITH ACADEMY: This was the school attended by Dr Henry Faulds in Beith. Sadly, the school was demolished in June 2002, the children having earlier moved to a new purpose built school on the Barrmill Road site.
Dr. Henry Faulds
Born in Beith’s New Street on June 1, 1843, Dr Henry Faulds (1843 – 1930), grew up and was educated at Beith Academy in a town which was dominated by handloom weavers working from home. Despite his humble beginnings, Faulds would go on to become an early pioneer of fingerprints and be among the first to recognise the uniqueness of the fingerprint and their potential for forensic application. Later research would reveal that the chances of two people having the same prints were so small they could be reasonably ignored. Long before that, Dr Faulds would become the first man in history to establish the innocence of a suspect and, conversely, assist in the conviction of the criminal on the basis of their fingerprints. However, when Dr Faulds, then in Japan, appealed to the ageing Charles Darwin for help to promote research, he passed Dr Faulds’ findings to his nephew, Sir Francis Galton, a scientist who, along with his colleague, William Henry, would later claim them as their own.
Sadly, Dr. Faulds died an embittered, largely forgotten man in 1930. Colin Beavan in New York has recently published a fascinating book appropriately called Fingerprints and when he was researching on the net he discovered the association of Faulds with Beith. This excellent and very readable book attempts to put the record straight and to ensure that Dr Faulds’ role as a prominent pioneer of fingerprinting is properly acknowledged.
Dr. Faulds began studying fingerprints in the 1870s. He realised that the distinctive ridge pattern held potential for identification. Indeed the journey to that part of his life is as remarkable as his discovery. His parents’ market produce warehouse in Beith fell on hard times and at age 13, Henry went to work in Glasgow as a clerk. At 21, he decided to study at Glasgow University, where he took classes in mathematics, logic and the classics. Four years later he studied medicine at Anderson College. He later became a Church of Scotland missionary to India and in 1874 he became the United Free Presbyterian Church’s first medical missionary to Japan. In 1875 he established Tsukiji hospital and was offered the post of physician to the Imperial House, which he rejected because it would have meant giving up his work with the poor. A great innovator, during his period he developed a system of raised script to allow blind people to read, a precursor of Braille.
He was studying pieces of ancient pottery from the coast of Japan when he
noticed they displayed the fingerprints of their makers. Fascination with the markings on these ancient relics led to his scientific study in the field of fingerprints. He removed his own prints with chemicals and discovered that they grew back in the same pattern. He amassed a collection of fingerprints, but a breakthrough came when Tokyo police arrested a man for burglary. Dr Faulds proved that he could not have been the thief and when they subsequently arrested another suspect he established that it was his fingerprints that had been left at the scene of the crime. In 1880 Dr Faulds published his research in Nature magazine, an article in which he predicted its forensic application and even forecast that fingerprints would one day be transmitted by photo-telegraphy. The rest, as they say, is history with Sir Francis Galton and Sir Edward Henry quietly forgetting to credit Dr Faulds’ pioneering work in the subsequent books on the subject. As is the case in many great ideas, the credit for the genesis of fingerprinting goes, in truth, to a number of people. But sadly, history often consigns the idea to only one or two names, either because it is the story that is so often repeated or because, for political reasons, it is the one that is best liked. Sadly for Henry Faulds, for political reasons, his was the name that was least liked in the “official” history of fingerprinting.
This medical missionary is still revered in Japan where a memorial has been erected in his honour, but he has been largely forgotten in the United Kingdom and denied a place in the canon of great Scots who have changed the world. This is a wrong which deserves to be put right. The Dr Henry Faulds – Beith Commemorative Society held its first meeting on 24 November 2002 in an effort to gain support to erect a fitting memorial to this forgotten Scot who left his mark on crime-fighting.
The four local churches, Beith & District Community Council, Beith Historical Society, Beith Writers Group and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - Beith Open Award Group, have all nominated interested individuals to help establish a fitting Memorial in Beith to Dr Faulds. This memorial, likely to be in the form of a cairn, will cost between £10,000 - £15,000 and it will probably be sited in the War Memorial gardens in the town’s Janefield Place.
Those who know of Dr Faulds and his pioneering work in fingerprints are invited to become subscribers to this memorial by making a donation. Subscribers will have their names recorded on the official brochure which will be published at the inauguration of the memorial and they will become inextricably linked to putting right an oversight which has blighted the fascinating world of fingerprints for too long. The work of the committee is still at an early stage, but we have the support of Brian Wilson, MP, Minister of State; Allan Wilson, MSP, Deputy Minister in the Scottish Executive; James Jennings OBE JP, Freeman of North Ayrshire; Dr Robert Stewart, great-nephew of Henry Faulds and Dr Colin Beavan, author of Fingerprints. All the above have been appointed Honorary Presidents of the Society. North Ayrshire Council have agreed to provide architectural services free of charge, but funding will also help to ensure that the memorial gardens are tidied up and perhaps benches located within the grounds. There will be a iron plaque on the cairn which will be suitably inscribed and have a raised side profile of the great man’s head thereon. This is an exciting project and the committee feel that it is very fitting that a memorial should be erected in the town of his birth. All too often it seems that we in Scotland are forgetful about our ain folk who made their special mark on the world. Here in Beith we have been neglectful, but it is important that we ensure that those who follow in our footsteps known about the pioneering work of Dr Henry Faulds of Beith.
Know thou, O stranger to the fame,
Of this much lov’d, much honour’d name!
(For none that knew him need be told)
A warmer heart Death ne’r made cold.
Epitaph For Robert Aitken Esq.
For more information on how you can offer financial assistance with this
project, or if you have specific ideas about the type of cairn or the plaque, I would be delighted to hear from you.
Donald L Reid
Faulds – Beith Commemorative Society
7 Manuel Avenue
Beith KA15 1BJ
Visit the CLPEX message
board to discuss inconclusive opinions or the Faulds - Beith commemorative
And as usual, the onin.com forum
(http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent
FUNNY FINGERPRINT FINDS
"By the early 20th century, the use
of fingerprinting as a means of persecuting criminals was widely accepted in
Europe and the United States."
The History of Fingerprinting page
Submitted by Lonnette Kendoll
What a big difference two letters can make in the
meaning of the sentence!
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Have a GREAT week!