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Haunt of the Resurrection Men

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  • Haunt of the Resurrection Men

    The American Journal of Archaeology has an interesting article dealing with the reuse of unclaimed cadavers by students from the Royal London Hospital in the early 1800's. As the deceased patients were largely East End residents, I thought some would like the article. Based upon the article, times were even tougher in the early 1800's than the 1880's.

    http://www.archaeology.org/issues/89...spital-burials

    Billy

  • #2
    Originally posted by Toofew View Post
    The American Journal of Archaeology has an interesting article dealing with the reuse of unclaimed cadavers by students from the Royal London Hospital in the early 1800's. As the deceased patients were largely East End residents, I thought some would like the article. Based upon the article, times were even tougher in the early 1800's than the 1880's.

    http://www.archaeology.org/issues/89...spital-burials

    Billy
    Tough times indeed.
    G U T

    There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

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    • #3
      Apparently it wasn't actually illegal to take a corpse from its grave - indeed, poor people barely had graves, for their bodies were buried so shallow that they could often be seen protruding from the earth. What was illegal, however, was if the corpse was removed with its shroud on, for this was deemed theft (of a shroud). Therefore cautious body-snatchers left the shroud behind.

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      • #4
        Since medieval times bodies in shrouds in overcrowded churchyards were dug up by the local grave digger and sexton after several years and their bones chucked in charnel houses in order to make way for others.

        By the 19th century that was no longer considered acceptable and in the 1840's the disgusting condition of many church graveyards in large cities, with skulls and bones sticking up out of the ground in overcrowded disorder, led eventually to an Act establishing municipipal, council cemeteries.

        Earlier, Henry Warburton, a radical member of Parliament who had tried in vain to get laws changed governing the dissection of human bodies, tried again in the wake of the Burke and Hare and Italian boy scandals. This time he succeeded and the bill for regulating schools of anatomy became law in August 1832.

        Permission had to be granted from that time by the Inspector of Anatomy (a newly created post) before bodies could be given to anatomy schools by executors and functionaries in charge of public hospitals and workhouses etc; a death certificate had to be signed by a doctor, and the bodies of executed criminals were not to be dissected but were either 'to be hung in chains or buried within the precincts of the prison'.

        Obviously this Act stopped resurrection men in their tracks as there wasn't much point in grabbing bodies from graveyards if they weren't signed off by the Inspector. From then on the schools had to rely on paupers or people donating their bodies to science.

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        • #5
          The public graveyardswere also a thread to health in the early 19th century not only were they overcrowded, there were several outbreaks of cholera which spread due to the diseased bodies affecting the water supply. There was a demand for out of town buriel. Landscaped graveyards built in healthy spots. The first in London was Kensal Green, allowed by the 1832 Act of Parliament [ there was a cholera outbreak at the time]. The act allowed for the building of many landscaped cemeteries over the next twenty years, built by private companies, These cemetaries were popular with the middle and upper middle classes for there beauty and security.
          They still had to have pauper graves for the indiginant.
          The 'Magnificent Seven' in London are Kensal Green, Nunhead, Highgate, Abney Park, Brompton, Tower Hamlets and South Norwood.

          Miss Marple

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          • #6
            I believe Haworth of Bronte fame still suffers from the effects of past burials.

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