The Buck Ruxton backstory

The children of Buck Ruxton and Isabella Kerr, with their nanny

As promised last month, I am starting the new year with more on Buck Ruxton, the Parsi physician convicted and hanged in Manchester for a double murder in 1936. During a visit to the University of Glasgow archives (check out their Forensic Medicine Archives Project), I came across a document that sheds light on the earlier life of Dr. Ruxton. Here are some highlights and lowlights:

  • Original name: Bukhtyar Rustomji Hakim
  • Date of birth: 27 March 1899
  • Original place of residence: Bombay
  • Education in India & England: “He is a Parsi, and was educated in Sir Jamshetji Jeejibhoy Parsi Benevolent School, Fort, Bombay, and after passing his Matriculation Examination, he joined the Wilson College, Bombay, in 1915. He passed the preliminary Scientific Examination in 1917, and went to London in September, 1918. He attended the London University and in the following year passed the London Matriculation Examination. He returned to Bombay and in July, 1919 joined the Grant Medical College, Bombay. He completed his course in 1922 and in October of that year passed the M.B.B.S. and became qualified. He obtained the highest marks in medical jurisprudence and midwifery.”
  • Military service in India & Iraq: On 29 Oct. 1923, “he obtained a temporary commission in the Indian Medical Service, and was stationed in the Indian Station Hospitals at Bombay & Deolali until 4th. November, 1925, when he proceeded to Iraq, where he was stationed at Baghdad until the 30th July, 1926. He then proceeded to England on 90 days privilege leave; was demobilised and relinquished his commission” on 28 Oct. 1926.
  • Parsi marriage in India: In May 1925, “whilst serving as Medical Officer at the Hospital in Bombay he married Motibai Jehangirji Ghadiali, but a few months after the marriage he was transferred to Iraq. There are no children of this marriage. He corresponded with his wife whilst in the Army, and after he came to England until 1928, when he wired to his father-in-law, Jehangirji [Ghadiali] to send immediately by telegraphic order £200.”
  • Disappearance and name change in Britain: “His father-in-law arranged with his solicitor to send him Rs.1,000 (about £70 or £80), and through Messrs Thomas Cook [and] Sons of Edinburgh, he wrote telling the prisoner to use the money for his passage home, and return to India immediately.” “No further communication from the prisoner was made to his relatives and although his wife wrote several letters to the prisoner she never received any from him and her letters were not returned through the dead letter office. His wife made enquiries through the Parsi Association in England, with a view to tracing the prisoner’s whereabouts but she was not successful. This was probably due to the fact that about this time prisoner changed his name by Deed Poll to Buck Ruxton” (signed on 19 April 1929).
  • New relationship, new life: “In 1928 whilst at Edinburgh University he met [Isabella] Kerr who was then the Manageress of a Cafe in Edinburgh. At that time she was a married woman living apart from her husband. In October of that year she went to Holland and obtained a divorce from her husband, Teunis Cornelis Van Ess, who was a Dutchman. The marriage was dissolved on the 9th. October 1928 in Rotterdam. She then went to London where the prisoner was then acting as Locum tenens for Dr. Manek Motofram and later acted as an assistant to Dr. B. R. Rygate, of 126 Cannon Street Road, London, where he remained until 1930.”
  • New family: “During this period the prisoner and Isabella Kerr lived as Dr. & Mrs. Ruxton” in London, and on 21 August 1929, a daughter was born. “In April 1930 the prisoner purchased the Medical Practice of Dr. Gonsalves of 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster and continued to reside there until the time of his arrest.” While living with Buck Ruxton, “Isabella Kerr gave birth to two other children,” a daughter on 1 Jan. 1931 and a son on 20 July 1933.
  • Conflict at home: “Shortly after coming to Lancaster disagreements arose between the prisoner and this woman. Prisoner was of a very jealous disposition and on the slightest pretence went into a violent rage. There were frequent quarrels.” In Nov.1934, “owing to his violent conduct the woman left the prisoner and went to the home of her sister, Mrs. Nelson in Edinburgh, and informed Mrs. Nelson that life with the prisoner had become intolerable. Before arrangements could be made about her remaining there, the prisoner arrived from Lancaster and demanded that she should return. She refused to do so. Prisoner then pleaded with her and promised to be different and she was eventually persuaded to return. For a little while his conduct improved, but recently the quarrels between them have been more frequent and the woman was apparently arranging to leave the prisoner and go into business on her own account.” “He has made serious accusations against the woman’s moral character, but so far as can be ascertained there is no corroboration of these.”

[Sources: “Antecedents of Dr. Ruxton,” Records of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, GUA FM/2A/25/11, University of Glasgow Archives. More on this collection is available here. The photo of the Ruxton children with their nanny appears here.]