George Bagster Phillips was born c. 1834. He was trained in medicine, midwifery and apothecary, and in 1861 became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. He was noted as a kind and charming man, well-liked by the public and by colleagues. He was also described as modest and an efficient and skilled doctor.
In 1865 he was police surgeon for the H division of Scotland Yard
, which covered Whitechapel
, the district of London
in which he lived. During the early years of his involvement with the police he covered a number of assault and sexual assault cases
Major Story Arcs
Jack the Ripper
Early in the morning on September 8th, 1888 Phillips was called to Hanbury Street in Whitechapel, where Annie Chapman's
body had been found. He examined the body as it laid at the scene of the crime, and several hours later at the postmortem. He claimed the time of death was some time around 4:30, though this was contradicted by eyewitness testimony. He diagnosed her as suffering from tuberculosis at the time of her death, explaining her claims of illness in the days leading up to her death. He was the first to suggest that Jack the Ripper
might have some surgical skill or else anatomical knowledge.
He was next called to Dutfield's Yard in the early hours of September 30th, 1888, where Elizabeth Stride's
body lay with her throat cut. He examined the body where it lay and was involved in the postmortem examination. He also took part in the postmortem examination of the murder of Catherine Eddowes
, although she had died outside of his jurisdiction, within the district of the City of London. He was invited to join in the examination because of his familiarity with Jack the Ripper's crimes.
On November 9th, 1888 he was involved in the postmortem examination of final Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly
. At the inquest into her murder he presented only the basic information in the case, as the verdict was passed before he had to present the more detailed descriptions of her wounds. The passing of the verdict before all information was presented meant that there is continued debate over the exact time of Kelly's murder.
After the Ripper
In the years immediately following the Ripper murders, Phillips was involved in the investigations into the deaths of a number of alleged Ripper victims. The first such was the July 1889 murder of Alice McKenzie, who had had her throat cut by someone who Phillips believed had some knowledge of how to kill someone swiftly. He did not believe this person was the Ripper. The second was the Pinchin Street Murder, in which a headless and legless torso was found in September of 1889. Phillips did not believe this murder was attributable to the Ripper. The third was Frances Cole, who was murdered in February of 1891. He did not believe this murderer to be the Ripper.
Phillips died of apoplexy on October 27th, 1897. He was 63.