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Dr. J. Patron - Supposed Blood-stains

Gibraltar, 30th January 1873

At the request of Her Majesty's Attorney General I proceeded on board of the American brig Mary Celeste anchored in this Bay for the purpose of ascertaining whether any marks or stains of blood could be discovered on or in her hulk.

After a careful and minute inspection of the deck of the said vessel some red brown spots about a milimetre thick and half an inch in diameter with a dull aspect were found on deck in the forepart of the vessel these spots were separated with a chissel [sic] and carefully wrapped in paper No.1.

Some other similar spots were equally gathered in different parts of the deck and wrapped in papers numbered, 2, 3, and 4.

Paper No.5 contained a powder grated from a suspicious mark seen on the top-gallant rail part of which was obtained on board and part from a piece of timber belonging to the said vessel in Her Majesty's Attorney General chambers.

I carefully examined the cabin both with natural and artificial light; the floor, the sides of the berths, mattrasses [sic] etc. were minutely searched and nothing worth calling attention was seen that could have any relation with the object of my enquiries.

On the 31. January [This is the day following the date of his report] at 2 o'clock I received from the hands of Mr. Vecchio Marshal of the Supreme Court the five papers above mentioned and numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and a sword with its sheath found on board the said vessel.

The spots which were in paper No.1, 2, and 3 were cut in small pieces of about a quarter of an inch long and broad passed through a white thread and suspended half an inch from the bottom of tubes containing a small quantity of distilled water.

The contents of paper No.4 were put in a small filtering bag as their minuteness would not allow any other process of maceration and the same was done with the contents of paper No.5.

The maceration went on in the five tubes for two hours and a quarter; the distilled water remaining after this period as clear and bright as in the very beginning of the experiment.

Notwithstanding I left the things as they were till the next day and 23 hours maceration did not produce any alteration in the transparency of the liquid the water being then heated with the spirit lamp as no precipitate or cloudy aspect appeared I consider the experiment over and of a negative character.

The stains on the pieces of timber remained unaltered in their aspect and the finger which was passed over them was not tinged or stained in any degree their aspect remaining as it was before maceration.

The contents of paper No.5 macerated in the bag were then examined with a microscope and nothing particular was seen but a few particles of rust (Carbonate of Iron) and some fragments of vegetable substance (Fibres of Wood).

The sword presented on its blade about the middle and final part some stains of a more suspicious character; although few very small and superficial, their aspect was reddish and in some parts brilliant like albuminous coloured substance, my first impression was that they were really blood stains, examined with an eight or ten diameter magnifying glass these stains presented an irregular and granulated surface; the granules becoming smaller in proportion of their distance from the central and thickest part.

After in hour and three quarters maceration the transparency of the liquid remained unchanged; heat produced no cloudy alteration in it and the result was as negative as in those of the stains found on the deck.

The largest of these reddish spots was carefully grated from the blade and put under a microscope of Doctor Hartnack objective No.7 and ocular No.3 coresponding to a magnifying power of 330 diameter. A yellow and imperfectly crystalised substance resembling Citrate of Iron presenting here and there some red granules was seen with some fragments of vegetable ramified fibres; but no blood globules could be detected. Three other stains were tested with Hydrochloric Acid and after a perceptible effervescence a yellow stain was produced of chloride of Iron; the insufficiency of the liquid could not permit of any other experiment.

The blade heated under the flame of the spirit lamp recovered a natural brilliancy after the removal by heat of the superficial crust the sheath of the sword was clean inside and with no mark of any kind.

From the preceding negative experiments I feel myself authorized to conclude that according to our present scientifical knowledge there is no blood either in the stains observed on the deck of the Mary Celeste or on those found on the blade of the sword that I have examined.

(Sig'd) J. PATRON