Who was Henry Croft?
Henry Croft was a British-born chemist who became a pioneer of forensic science in Canada. He was born in London in 1820 and studied chemistry under the famous Michael Faraday. He moved to Canada in 1846 and became a professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto. He was also a consultant for various industries, such as oil, mining, and agriculture. He was known for his innovative and practical applications of chemistry, as well as his eccentric and adventurous personality.
How did Henry Croft die?
Henry Croft died in 1898 at the age of 78 in Texas, where he had moved to start a ranch. According to his obituary, he died of natural causes. However, some historians have speculated that he may have been poisoned by his enemies, who were jealous of his success and wealth. Croft had made many enemies throughout his life, especially during his involvement in the Fenian raids, a series of attacks by Irish nationalists on Canada in the 1860s. Croft had helped the Canadian government to identify and capture the Fenian leaders by using his chemical skills to analyze their letters and documents.
How did Henry Croft solve a murder case with a pickling jar?
One of the most famous cases that Henry Croft solved with his forensic expertise was the murder of Sarah King, a doctor’s wife who died in 1858 in Brighton, Ontario. Sarah King had been suffering from stomach pains and vomiting for several days before she died. Her husband, Dr. William King, claimed that she had eaten some bad pickles, but the coroner suspected foul play and ordered an autopsy. The autopsy revealed that Sarah King had died of arsenic poisoning, but there was no trace of arsenic in her stomach or intestines. The coroner then decided to send her stomach to Henry Croft in Toronto for further analysis.
Croft received the stomach in a pickling jar, sealed with wax. He carefully opened the jar and examined the stomach. He noticed that the stomach lining was inflamed and ulcerated, indicating a corrosive poison. He then performed a series of chemical tests to detect the presence of arsenic. He used a method called Marsh’s test, which involved heating a sample of the stomach contents with zinc and sulphuric acid. This produced a gas called arsine, which could be ignited and deposited on a cold surface as a metallic film. Croft found that the stomach contents produced a large amount of arsine, confirming the presence of arsenic. He also found that the pickling liquid in the jar contained arsenic, suggesting that the poison had been added after the stomach was removed from the body.
Croft wrote a detailed report of his findings and sent it to the coroner. He also testified as an expert witness at the trial of Dr. William King, who was accused of murdering his wife. Croft explained his methods and results to the jury, and demonstrated the Marsh’s test in court. He also refuted the defense’s argument that Sarah King had taken arsenic as a medicine, by showing that the amount of arsenic in her stomach was much higher than the therapeutic dose. Croft’s testimony was crucial in convincing the jury of Dr. King’s guilt. Dr. King was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
What is the impact of Henry Croft’s work?
Henry Croft’s work was groundbreaking in the field of forensic science. He was the first person in Canada to use chemical analysis to solve a murder case. He also improved and simplified the methods for detecting poisons, and published several papers on the subject. He trained many students and colleagues in the techniques of forensic chemistry, and inspired them to pursue careers in the field. He also raised public awareness and interest in the science of crime detection, and influenced the development of the legal system and the criminal justice system. Henry Croft was a remarkable chemist who used his skills and knowledge to serve the society and the truth.