Phrenology Consultation with Professor Cross

Professor Cross's Phrenological Chart, 1892

Professor W. Cross was a phrenologist who gave popular public performances at London’s Royal Aquarium in the 1880s and 1890s. Phrenology was the quack medical practice of studying bumps on the head under the false pretence of assessing mental or psychological qualities. Phrenology was a public spectacle that enjoyed considerable popularity in the 19thC. It was the focus of considerable criticism from advocates of scientific naturalism

In addition to public performances, Professor Cross gave private consultations. His fee schedule is shown on the cover of his phrenological chart. After consultation, his visitors received their assessment as a written record together with a pamphlet containing detailed explanation. The consultation recorded here dates to April 1899.

Professor Cross is an elusive character, possibly only a stage name. He is occasionally mentioned in several Victorian newspapers for his performances. An example is in this newspaper clipping from 1880. His performances were described as “laughable” in The Times (April 19, 1892).

Royal Aquarium programme of events for 18-19 May 1891, courtesy University of Sheffield, National Fairground Archive
Royal Aquarium programme of events for 18-19 May 1891, courtesy University of Sheffield, National Fairground Archive.

Professor Cross’s phrenology consultation

I happened across this record for one of Professor Cross’s consultations. It is incomplete, but it gives a good indication of the take-away material from one such encounter. To my eye, a huge amount of information can be extracted from this document, and it’s unusual to see a record of consultation like this.

(This is a large file; it may take a moment to download. It also is available on Internet Archive.)

Professor Cross's Phrenological Chart 1892