Henri-Louis Bayard was one of the earliest practitioners of legal medicine , known today as forensic science . Born in 1812 in Paris, Bayard received his medical degree in 1836, studying medicine under the well-known forensic scientist Charles Prosper Ollivier d'Angers. When d'Angers died in 1845, Bayard inherited much of his forensic practice.
Bayard's work in Paris in the years prior to 1848 was extensive, and he was highly respected as a "legal physician." In addition to his own practice of forensic science, Bayard also wrote extensively. His published works include an analysis of juvenile murders, volumes championing the importance of forensic medicine as a field of study, and a biography of his mentor. Bayard also served as co-editor of The Annals of Public Health and Legal Medicine, an early French professional journal in the field. Some of Bayard's publications are still valuable today; a first edition example of his 1845 work Manuel Pratique Medicine Legale (Manual of legal medical practices) was offered in early 2005 at an online antique book dealer for $150.00.
Bayard's most notable scientific achievements were in the realm of microscopy. While microscope pioneer Antony van Leeuwenhoek first observed and identified sperm cells in the seventeenth century, the use of sperm analysis in forensic science remained error-prone, with numerous techniques being practiced and no standard criteria for acceptance or rejection of findings. This led another forensic writer of the day to warn that numerous other items could resemble detached sperm heads, hence intact sperm should be considered the "gold standard" for evidentiary use. In the face of numerous, often unreliable methods, Bayard's research in microscopy led to the first reliable procedure for detecting sperm. Bayard also contributed substantially to the understanding of fiber characteristics and their use in criminal cases by documenting the distinct characteristics a wide variety of fabrics.
The overthrow of the monarchy in Paris and the accompanying unrest during 1848 spelled the end of Bayard's stay in the city, and he relocated to Chateau-Gontier, a regional capital in western France. While there he divided his time between practicing medicine and overseeing his mining interests. He died at the age of 40.
see also Fibers; Microscopes.