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Title: The Diary of a Resurrectionist, 1811-1812
       To Which Are Added an Account of the Resurrection Men in
              London and a Short History of the Passing of the Anatomy Act

Author: James Blake Bailey

Release Date: May 31, 2010 [EBook #32614]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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The figure standing up above the rest is William Hunter; his brother John is on his
right-hand side, and Matthew Baillie is the next figure to William Hunter on the left;
Cruikshank is seated at the extreme left of the picture, and Hewson is working on
the eye of the subject on the middle table.


















[Pg v]


The “Diary of a Resurrectionist” here reprinted is only of a fragmentary character. It is, however, unique in being an actual record of the doings of one gang of the resurrection-men in London. Many persons have expressed a wish that so interesting a document should be published; permission having been obtained to print the Diary, an endeavour has been made to gratify this wish. To make the reprint more interesting, and to explain some of the allusions in the Diary, an account of the resurrection-men in London, and a short history of the events which preceded the passing of the Anatomy Act, have been prepared.

The great crimes of Burke and Hare drew especial attention to body-snatching in[Pg vi] Edinburgh, and consequently there have been published ample accounts of the resurrection-men in Scotland.[1] For this reason, Edinburgh has been omitted from the present work.

As to the genuineness of the Diary there can be no doubt. It was presented to the Royal College of Surgeons of England by the late Sir Thomas Longmore. In his early days, Sir Thomas was dresser to Bransby Cooper, and assisted him in writing the Life of Sir Astley Cooper.

At the suggestion of Lord Abinger, it was decided to introduce an account of the resurrection-men into the book. The information for this was partly obtained by Mr. Longmore from personal communication with some of the resurrection-men, who were then living in London. One of these handed over portions of a Diary he had kept during his resurrectionist days. This was preserved for some years at Netley, and was afterwards presented to the[Pg vii] College, as stated above. A few extracts from the Diary were printed in the Life of Sir Astley Cooper.

The information respecting the resurrection-men is very scattered; the two most useful works for getting up this subject are the Life of Astley Cooper before mentioned, and the Report of the Committee on Anatomy published in 1828. Most of the detailed information has to be sought for in the newspapers of the period. The accounts there given are, however, generally of such an exaggerated character that it is often very difficult to arrive at the truth. When any fresh scandal had given prominence to the doings of the resurrection-men, the newspapers saw “Burking” in every trivial case of assault. If a child were lost, the paragraph announcing the fact was headed, “Another supposed case of Burking.” Reports of the most ridiculous character were duly chronicled as facts by the newspapers of the day. Sometimes over a hundred bodies were supposed to have been found in some building, and it was expected that several persons of[Pg viii] eminence would be named in the subsequent proceedings. Search in the papers nearly always fails to find any further mention of the case.

In reading these accounts it must be remembered that “Burking” did not always mean killing a person for the purpose of selling the body, but it referred to the mode adopted by Burke and Hare in killing their victims, viz., suffocation. Elizabeth Ross is called a “Burker,” and may be found so described in Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates. She murdered an old woman named Catherine Walsh, but in the report of her trial there is no evidence of her having attempted to sell the body.

The broadside here printed is an excellent example of this exaggeration. The facts are so circumstantial, that it appears as though there could be no mistake. Enquiry at Edinburgh, however, shows that no such case occurred. Mr. A. D. Veitch, of the Justiciary Office, has very kindly made search, and can find no record of Wilson’s supposed crimes. Had the statements in the broadside been true,[Pg ix] there is no doubt that this case would have been referred to in books on Medical Jurisprudence. Poisoning by inhalation of arsenic is rare, and Wilson’s would have been a leading case. There would also have been great opportunities for studying post mortem appearances, as it is stated that three bodies were found in Wilson’s possession. Search through the chief books on the subject has failed in finding any reference whatever to this case.

Burking by means of Snuff.

The following Account is of so serious a Nature that no one can be too cautious how they receive Snuff from Strangers.

“It appears that, on Monday se’nnight, a man, named John Wilson, was apprehended at Edinburgh on a charge of Burking a number of persons by introducing arsenic into snuff kept by him. He had long excited the suspicion of the police of that place, but so deep-laid were his diabolical schemes that he eluded their vigilance for a considerable time, until Monday last. When, on the moors, on[Pg x] that day, between Lauder and Dalkeith, practising his dreadful trade, it appears that the victim of Wilson’s villainy was a poor man travelling over the moor, whom he accosted, and offered a pinch of snuff. He took it, and it had the desired effect. The next individual whom he accosted was a labouring-man breaking stones, who was asked the number of miles to Edinburgh; when answered, he then offered his snuff-box to the labourer, which was refused, alleging that he never used any. Wilson urged him again, which excited the man’s suspicions, but he took the snuff, and wrapped it up in paper, and carried it to a chemist at Dalkeith, who analysed it, when it proved to be mixed with arsenic. The police were then informed of Wilson’s villainies, who went in pursuit of him, and after a search of him for several days was at length apprehended at a place three miles from Edinburgh, driving rapidly in a vehicle like a hearse, which, on examination, contained three dead bodies. They were recognised from their dresses to be an elderly man, and his wife and son, who were seen travelling towards Lauder the day before.

“Wilson was immediately ironed and[Pg xi] conveyed to Edinburgh, and a sheriff’s inquest was held on the bodies. After an investigation of nearly two hours a verdict of Wilful Murder was returned against John Wilson, who was fully committed to the Calton gaol to take his trial at the ensuing sessions.

“Wilson is described as a desperate character, and of ferocious countenance. He is supposed to have been two or three years in this abominable practice, and to have realised a considerable sum in the course of that time. His career is now stopped, and that justice and doom which overtook a Burke and a Hare are his last and only portion.


Of Burke and of Hare we have heard much about,
Yet Burking’s a trade that was lately found out—
Their plans of despatching were wicked indeed,
’T was thought of all others that theirs did exceed;
But the scheme first invented of Burking by snuff,
May yet be prevented by taking the huff,
For if strangers invite you to take of their dust,
Decline their kind offers—refuse them you must;
And would you be safe, and keep from all evil,
Shun them as pests as you’d shun the d——l;
By these means you’ll live, avoiding all strife,
Shunning snuff takers all the days of your life.

Printed for the Publishers by T. KAY.

[Pg xii]The difficulty of getting reliable information is increased by the incomplete nature of most of the newspaper records. In many cases there is an account of a preliminary examination of some of the men who were arrested for body-stealing. The report states that they were remanded, but further search fails to find any subsequent notice of the case. It is often impossible to fix who the men were who thus got into trouble, as they nearly always gave false names: unless they were too well-known to the police who arrested them, they invariably did this.

For the photographs, from which the illustrations of the house at Crail are taken, the writer is indebted to the kindness of Prof. Chiene, of Edinburgh.



[Pg 13]




The complaint as to the scarcity of bodies for dissection is as old as the history of anatomy itself. Great respect for the body of the dead has characterised mankind in nearly all ages; post mortem dissection was looked upon as a great indignity by the relatives of the deceased, and every precaution was taken to prevent its occurrence.

It would be beyond the scope of the present work to attempt a history of anatomical teaching; as will be pointed out later on, the resurrection-men did not come into existence until the early part of the eighteenth century.

In Great Britain the study of medicine and surgery was much hampered at this date by the[Pg 14] scarcity of opportunities by which the student might get a practical acquaintance with the anatomy of the human body. A knowledge of anatomy was insisted upon by the Corporation of Surgeons, as each student had to produce a certificate of having attended at least two courses of dissection. It is unnecessary to point out the wisdom of this condition in the case of men who were to go out into the world as surgeons, and, consequently, to have the lives of their fellow-men in their hands. The attendance on the two courses of dissection could be evaded, and this was frequently done. The Apothecaries’ Hall had no such restriction, and, consequently, many men went thither and received a qualification to practise, although they were quite unacquainted with human anatomy. The work of such ’prentice hands one trembles to think of; whatever experience these men did gain was obtained after they began to practise, and so must have been at the expense of their patients, who were generally those of the poorer class in life.

It was pointed out by Mr. Guthrie, that in the then state of the law a surgeon might be[Pg 15] punished in one Court for want of skill, and in another Court the same individual might also be punished for trying to obtain that skill. Before the Anatomy Committee, in 1828, Sir Astley Cooper narrated the case of a young man who was rejected at the College of Surgeons on account of his ignorance of the parts of the body; it was found, on enquiry, that he was a most diligent student, and that his ignorance arose entirely from his being unable to procure that which was necessary for carrying on this part of his education.

When bodies were obtained for dissection it was generally by surreptitious means; the newly-made grave was too often the source from whence the supply was obtained. At first there was no direct trade or traffic in subjects by men who devoted all their efforts to this mode of obtaining a livelihood. The students supplied their own wants as they arose. Mr. G. S. Patterson told the Committee that at St. George’s Hospital the students had to exhume bodies for their own use.

In the Diary of a Late Physician Samuel Warren has given us a chapter on this subject, which he calls “Grave Doings,” and which is[Pg 16] probably founded on fact. The object in the expedition here recorded was, however, rather to obtain a valuable pathological specimen, than to get a body for dissection. Writers of fiction have made use of body-snatching, and have given a gruesome turn to their stories by making the body, when uncovered, turn out to be that of a relation or friend of some one of the party engaged in the exhumation. Such a tale is recorded in the Monthly Magazine for April, 1827; there a sailor is pressed into the service of some students who were anxious to obtain a body. The subject was safely brought home, and, on being taken from the sack, turned out to be the sweetheart of the sailor, who had just returned from sea, and, not having heard of his girl’s decease, was on his way to greet her after a long absence from home. Truth and fiction often agree. There is a case on record of a child who had died of scrofula, and whose body was brought to St. Thomas’ Hospital by Holliss, a well-known resurrectionist. The body was at once recognised by one of the students as that of his sister’s child; on this being made known to the authorities at the hospital, the corpse[Pg 17] was immediately buried before any dissection had taken place.

In vols. 1 and 2 of the Medical Times there is a series of articles, entitled “The Confessions of Jasper Muddle, Dissecting-room Porter.” These papers are signed “Rocket,” but were written by Albert Smith.[2] One of the articles contains an account of a handsome young lady who came to the dissecting-room late at night, and begged for the body of a murderer executed the previous day, which was then being injected, ready for lecture purposes. In the Tale of Two Cities, Dickens has given us a good study of a resurrection-man in the person of Mr. Cruncher. Moir in Mansie Wauch, Lytton in Lucretia, Mrs. Crowe in Light and Darkness, and Miss Sergeant in Dr. Endicott’s Experiment, have also used the body-snatcher in fiction.

As long as the Barber Surgeons kept to their right of the exclusive teaching of anatomy, there was small need of bodies for dissection. This right the Company jealously guarded. On 21st May, 1573, the following entry occurs[Pg 18] in the records, “Here was John Deane and appoynted to brynge in his fyne xli for havinge an Anathomye in his howse contrary to an order in that behalf between this and mydsomer next.”[3] As late as 1714 this rule was put in force against no less a man than William Cheselden. The entry in the books of the Company runs as follows, “At a Court of Assistants of the Company of Barbers and Surgeons, held on the 25th March, 1714. Our Master acquainting the Court that Mr. William Cheselden, a member of this Company, did frequently procure the Dead bodies of Malefactors from the place of execution and dissect the same at his own house, as well during the Company’s Publick Lectures as at other times without the leave of the Governors and contrary to the Company’s By law in that behalf. By which means it became more difficult for the Beadles to bring away the Companies Bodies and likewise drew away the members of this Company and others from the Public Dissections and Lectures at the Hall. The said Mr. Cheselden was, therefore, called in.[Pg 19] But having submitted himself to the pleasure of the Court with a promise never to dissect at the same as the Company had their Lecture at the Hall, nor without leave of the Governors for the time being, the said Mr. Cheselden was excused for what had passed with a reproof for the same pronounced by the Master at the desire of the Court.”[4]

By the Act Henry VIII., xxii., cap. 12, provision was made for the Company of Barbers and Surgeons to have the bodies of malefactors for the purpose of dissection. This part of the Act was as follows: “And further be it enacted by thauctoritie aforesayd, that the sayd maysters or governours of the mistery and comminaltie of barbours and surgeons of Londō & their successours yerely for ever after their sad discrecions at their free liberte and pleasure shal and maie have and take without cõtradiction foure persons condempned adjudged and put to deathe for feloni by the due order of the Kynges lawe of thys realme for anatomies with out any further sute or labour to be made to the kynges highnes his heyres or successors[Pg 20] for the same. And to make incision of the same deade bodies or otherwyse to order the same after their said discrecions at their pleasure for their further and better knowlage instruction in sight learnyng & experience in the sayd scyence or facultie of Surgery.”

The “foure bodies” could not always be obtained without difficulty; despite the precautions of the Company private anatomy was, to a certain extent, carried on, and the bodies of malefactors had a market value. The following entries from the Annals of the Barber Surgeons are illustrative of this:

“6th March, 1711.[5] It is ordered that William Cave, one of the Beadles of this Company, do make Inquiry who the persons were that carryed away the last body from Tyburne, and that such persons be Indicted for the same.

“9th October, 1711. Richard Russell, one of the persons who stands Indicted for carrying away the last publick body applying himself to this Court and offering to be evidence against the rest of the persons concerned It is ordered that the Clerk do apply himself to Her Majesty’s[Pg 21] Attorney Generall for a Noli p’sequi as to the said Russell in order to make him an evidence upon the sd Indictment and particularly agst one Samuell Waters whom the Court did likewise order to be indicted for the said fact.”

Often there were riots caused by the Beadles of the Company going to Tyburn for the bodies of murderers. This rioting was carried to such an extent that it was found necessary to apply for soldiers to protect the Beadles.

“28th May, 1713. Ordered that the Clerk go to the Secretary at War for a guard in order to gett the next Body [from Tyburn.]”

The dissection of these bodies was made known by public advertisement. The following is from the Daily Advertiser of January 15th, 1742: “Notice is hereby given that there being a publick Body at Barbers and Surgeons Hall, the Demonstrations of Anatomy and the Operations of Surgery will be at the Hall this evening and to-morrow at six o’clock precisely in the Amphitheatre.”

In 1752 it was ordered that bodies of murderers executed in London and Middlesex should be conveyed to the Hall of the Surgeons Company to be dissected and anatomized, and[Pg 22] any attempt to rescue such bodies was made felony.

In 1745 the Barbers and Surgeons, who from 1540, until that date, had formed one Company, separated, and the latter were incorporated under the title of “The Masters, Governors, and Commonalty of the Art and Science of Surgery.” To the Surgeons naturally fell the duty of dissecting the bodies of the malefactors handed over for that purpose. The building of the Surgeons’ Company was in the Old Bailey; there was, therefore, no difficulty in removing the bodies from Newgate. In 1796 the Company came to a premature end through an improperly constituted Court having been held. It was attempted to put matters right by a Bill in Parliament, but there was so much opposition from those persons who were practising without the diploma of the Corporation, that the Bill, after passing safely through the Commons, was thrown out by the Lords. In the following year attempts were made to come to terms with the opponents of the Bill, and finally it was agreed to petition for a Charter from the Crown to establish a Royal College of Surgeons in London. These[Pg 23] negotiations were successfully carried out in 1800, and the old Corporation having disposed of their Old Bailey property to the City Authorities, the College took possession of a house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the site of part of the present building.

During the debate in the House of Lords on the Bill just mentioned, the Bishop of Bangor, who had charge of the measure, sent for the Clerk of the Company, and informed him that a strong opposition was expected to the Bill, on account of the inconvenience that would arise from the bodies of murderers being conveyed through the streets from Newgate to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. To remedy this a clause was proposed, giving the College permission to have a place near to Newgate, where the part of the sentence which related to the dissection of the bodies might be carried out.

That this difficulty of moving the bodies was not a fancied one, the following extract from “Alderman Macaulay’s Diary” will show: “Dec. 6, 1796. Francis Dunn and Will. Arnold were yesterday executed for murder and the first malefactors conveyed to the new Surgeons’ Hall in the Lincoln’s Inn Fields.[Pg 24] They were conveyed in a cart, their heads supported by tea chests for the public to see: I think contrary to all decency and the laws of humanity in a country like this. I hope it will not be repeated.”[6]

Just at this date the Corporation were removing from their old premises to Lincoln’s Inn Fields; the last Court in the Old Bailey was held on October 6th, 1796, and the first at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on January 5th, 1797.

In July, 1797, it was reported to the Court that Mr. Chandler, one of their members, “had in the most polite and ready manner offered his stable for the reception of the bodies of the two murderers who were executed last month.” The thanks of the Court were voted to Mr. Chandler “for his polite attention to the Company upon that occasion.”

After the Bill had been lost in the Lords, the following resolution was passed by the Court in November, 1797: “Resolved that in order to evince the sincerity of the Court to remove all reasonable objections to the present situation in Lincoln’s Inn Fields the Clerk be directed, with proper assistance, to[Pg 25] look for a temporary dissecting-room at a place in or near the Old Bailey until a permanent one near the place of execution can be established.”

In June, 1800, a warehouse was taken in Castle Street, Cow Cross, West Smithfield, for eighteen months, as, owing to the labours of taking over the Hunterian Collection, there had been no time for obtaining a permanent place. A house in Duke Street, West Smithfield, was afterwards leased for the purpose, and arrangements were made for Pass, the Beadle, to reside there. This landed the College in a small expense, as in 1832 the Beadle was elected Constable of the Ward of Farringdon, and the Council had to pay a fine of £10 in place of his serving the office. At the expiration of the lease of the Duke Street house, so great an increase of rent was demanded that the College gave up the premises, and took a newly-built house in Hosier Lane, on a lease for twenty-one years. Here the dissections were carried on until the passing of the Anatomy Act, when the College had no longer to share with the hangman the duty of carrying out the sentence on[Pg 26] murderers who were condemned to be hanged and anatomized.

The bodies were not really dissected by the College Authorities; a sufficient incision was made to satisfy the requirements of the Act, and the body was then handed over to one of the Teachers of Anatomy. The following is a copy of an order authorizing the Secretary of the College to give up a body:


“That the body of Mary Whittenbach executed this day at the Old Bailey for murder be delivered (after the necessary dissection by the College) to Mr. Joseph Henry Green.

William Blizard
Wm. Norris
Anthy Carlisle.

“Royal College of Surgeons
17th day of Sept. 1827
“To Mr. Belfour, Secy. to the College.”

There is in the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons of England a series of drawings of the heads of murderers, made by the two Clifts, father and son, when the bodies were brought to the College for dissection. These drawings include Bishop and Williams (see p. 107),[7] and Bellingham, who was executed[Pg 27] in 1812 for the murder of Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons.

Earl Ferrers, who suffered the extreme penalty of the law in 1760 for the murder of his steward, was taken to Surgeons’ Hall, where an incision was made in the body; instead of being further dissected it was given over to the relatives for burial.

At the execution of Bishop and Williams the Sheriffs of London felt that some means should be taken to show gratitude to Mr. Partridge, and the other officials of King’s College, for the way they had brought the murderers to justice. The following letter was therefore addressed to the College of Surgeons:

Justice Hall,
Dec. 5, 1831.

To the Governors and Directors of the College of Surgeons.

“It is our particular desire and we do ask that it may be thought but a reasonable request that the bodies of the malefactors executed in the front of Newgate this morning should be sent to King’s College—by the vigilance of whose surgical establishment these offenders were detected and ultimately brought to justice, we shall therefore feel obliged by[Pg 28] your handing over these bodies to the King’s College.

“We are, with great respect,
“Your mo. ob. Servts.,
J. Cowan
John Pirie

The body of Bishop was given to Mr. Partridge, and that of Williams went to Mr. Guthrie at the Little Windmill Street School of Anatomy.

The following account of the reception of one of the bodies is by Mr. T. Madden Stone, for many years an official at the College. It was printed in a series of articles, entitled “Echoes from the College of Surgeons.”[8]

“The executions generally took place at eight o’clock on Mondays, and the ‘cut down,’ as it is called, at nine, although there was no cutting at all, as the rope, with a large knot at the end, was simply passed through a thick and strong ring, with a screw, which firmly held the rope in its place, and when all was over, Calcraft, alias ‘Jack Ketch,’ would make his appearance on the scaffold, and by simply turning the screw, the body would fall down. [Pg 29]At once it would be placed in one of those large carts with collapsible sides, only to be seen in the neighbourhood of the Docks, and then preceded by the City Marshal in his cocked hat, and, in fact, all his war paint, with Calcraft and his assistant in the cart, the procession would make its way to 33 Hosier Lane, West Smithfield, in the front drawing room of which were assembled Sir William Blizard, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and members of the Court desirous of being present, with Messrs. Clift (senior and junior), Belfour, and myself. On extraordinary occasions visitors were admitted by special favour. The bodies would then be stripped, and the clothes removed by Calcraft as his valuable perquisites, which, with the fatal rope, were afterwards exhibited to the morbidly curious, at so much per head, at some favoured public-house. It was the duty of the City Marshal to be present to see the body ‘anatomised,’ as the Act of Parliament had it. A crucial incision in the chest was enough to satisfy the important City functionary above referred to, and he would soon beat a hasty retreat, on his gaily-decked[Pg 30] charger, to report the due execution of his duty. These experiments concluded, the body would be stitched up, and Pearson, an old museum attendant, would remove it in a light cart to the hospital, to which it was intended to present it for dissection.”

These bodies of murderers were the only ones which could be legally used for dissection; it is therefore obvious that the number was quite insufficient for the wants of the Metropolitan Schools, and the teachers were thus forced to obtain a supply from other sources.

It was strongly urged, but urged in vain, that the whole difficulty would disappear if a short Act were passed, doing away with the dissection of murderers, and enacting that the bodies of all unknown persons who died in workhouses or hospitals, without friends, should be handed over, under proper control, to the different teachers of anatomy. That these would be sufficient was afterwards made clear by the Committee on Anatomy.[9] In their Report[Pg 31] it is stated that the returns obtained from 127 of the parishes situate in London, Westminster, and Southwark, or their immediate vicinity, showed that out of 3744 persons who died in the workhouses of these parishes in the year 1827, 3103 were buried at the parish expense, and that of these about 1108 were not attended to their graves by any relations. The number of bodies obtained from this source would have exceeded those supplied by the resurrection-men, and would have been adequate for the wants of the London Schools.

The newspapers of the day contain many proposed solutions of the difficulty. One correspondent gravely suggested that as prostitutes had, by their bodies during life, been engaged in corrupting mankind, it was only right that after death those bodies should be handed over to be dissected for the public good. Another correspondent proposed that all bodies of suicides should be used for dissection, and that all those persons who came to their death by duelling, prize-fighting, or drunkenness, should be handed over to the surgeons for a similar purpose.

Mr. Dermott, the proprietor of the Gerrard[Pg 32] Street, or Little Windmill Street, School of Medicine, proposed a scheme by which a fund was to be raised by grants from Government, and from the College of Surgeons, and by voluntary contributions from the nobility and gentry. This fund was to be invested in the names of “opulent and respectable men,” not more than one-third of whom were to be members of the medical profession. It was proposed to expend the interest on this fund in paying a sum not exceeding seven pounds to those persons who were willing to contract for the sale of their bodies for dissection. Registers were to be kept of all such persons, and the Committee were to have the power of claiming the body six hours after death. Mr. Dermott also suggested that all medical men should leave their own bodies to be used for anatomical teaching. It is hardly necessary to point out the absurdity of the first part of this scheme; the Committee, after paying their seven pounds, would have had no control over the subsequent movements of the persons whose bodies they had thus purchased, and it was hardly to be expected that friends of the deceased would send notice to the Committee[Pg 33] that the body was ready for them. Both parts of the scheme would have required an Act of Parliament, as executors were not bound to give up a corpse, even though instructions had been left that it was a person’s wish that his body should be used for anatomical purposes. Many such bequests have been made, and in some instances the desire of the testator has been carried into effect. To try to do away with some of the prejudices against dissection, Jeremy Bentham left his body for this purpose; the dissection was duly carried out at the Webb Street School, and at the request of Dr. Southwood Smith, Mr. Grainger delivered the following oration over the body on June 9th, 1832:

“Gentlemen,—In presenting myself before you this day, at the request of my friend and colleague, Dr. Southwood Smith, I can assure you I do so strongly impressed with the high importance of the duty I have undertaken, and the responsibility I have thus assumed. Gentlemen, it is no ordinary occasion on which we are assembled. We are here collected to carry into execution the last wishes of one whose mortal career, prolonged far beyond the usual[Pg 34] limits of man’s existence, has been devoted with almost unexampled energy and perseverance to the establishment of those great moral and political truths, on which the happiness and the enlightenment of the human race are founded. Ill would it become me, however, to dwell on the genius, the philanthropy, or the integrity of the illustrious deceased. His eulogium has already been eloquently pronounced by one more fitted to do justice to such an undertaking than the humble individual who now addresses you. It would be more suitable to the object of the present meeting that I should consider in what manner the intentions of the late Mr. Bentham, regarding the disposition of his remains, can best be carried into effect. But before I do this, it may be proper to inform some of my auditors what those intentions were. This great man was an ardent admirer of the science of medicine, and his penetrating mind was not slow in perceiving that the safe and successful practice of the healing art entirely rests on a thorough knowledge of the natural structure and functions of the human body. He also perceived that there was but one method of obtaining[Pg 35] such knowledge, viz., dissection. In proceeding to inquire how it came to happen that in a country like England, justly proud of those numerous institutions in which science is so successfully cultivated, so little encouragement, or more correctly speaking, so much opposition, was offered to the advancement of so indispensable a branch of knowledge, Mr. Bentham discovered that this repugnance to dissection sprang from a feeling strongly implanted in the human breast—a feeling of reverence towards the dead. Far be it from me to condemn such a sentiment, for it has its source in some of the purest principles of our nature. But if it can be shown that an undue indulgence in this feeling produces incalculable mischief in society, it becomes the duty of all who are interested in the happiness of mankind to oppose the progress of such injurious opinions. Mr. Bentham, impressed with this idea, and thinking it unjust that the humbler classes of the community should alone be called upon to sacrifice those feelings which are cherished alike by the rich and poor, determined to devote his own body to the public good. He knew that this determination would[Pg 36] inflict pain on many of his dearest friends. An example of this character, emanating from a person so talented, so influential, and so esteemed, is calculated to operate a most beneficial effect on the public mind, and I cannot refrain from considering the dissection of the body now before us as an important era in the progress of anatomy, as it is one of the first that in this country has been employed for the purposes of science, under the direct sanction of the individual expressed during his lifetime; he also knew that obstacles would probably be offered to its fulfilment, but with an indifference to personal feeling rarely witnessed, he took effectual means to carry his resolution into effect. And thus, gentlemen, did the last act of this illustrious man’s existence accord with that leading principle of his well-spent life—the desire to promote the universal happiness and welfare of mankind.”

Bentham’s skeleton, clothed in his usual attire, is now in University College, London.

Messenger Monsey, the eccentric physician to the Chelsea Hospital, was exceedingly anxious that his body should be examined after death. He obtained a promise from[Pg 37] Mr. Forster, of Union Court, that he would perform this service for him. So anxious was Monsey for the post mortem to be carried out, that in May, 1787, he wrote to Cruikshank, the anatomist, as follows:

“Mr. Foster (sic) a Surgeon in Union Court, Broad Street, has been so good as to promise to open my Carcass and see what is the matter with my Heart, Arteries, Kidnies, &c. He is gone to Norwich and may not return before I am [dead]. Will you be so good as to let me send it to you, or if he comes will you like to be present at the dissection. I am now very ill and hardly see to scrawl this & feel as if I should live two days, the sooner the better. I am, tho’ unknown to you

“Your respectfull humble Servant
Messr. Monsey.

Monsey lived until December 20th, 1788; his wishes were duly carried out by Mr. Forster, at Guy’s Hospital, in the presence of the students.

Ninety-nine gentlemen of Dublin signed a document, in which the wish was expressed that their bodies, instead of being interred, should be devoted by their surviving friends “to the more rational, benevolent, and honourable[Pg 38] purpose of explaining the structure, functions and diseases of the human being.”

A Mr. Boys, who died in 1835, wished to be made into “essential salts” for the use of his female friends. In a letter to Dr. Campbell, written four years before his death, he asks: “Are you now disposed (without Burking) to accomplish my wish, when my breath or spirit shall have ceased to animate my carcase, to perform the operation of vitrifying my bones, and sublimating the rest, thereby cheating the Devil of his due, according to the ideas of some devotees among Christians? And, that I may not offend the delicate olfactory nerves of my female friends with a mass of putridity, if it be possible, let me rather fill a few little bottles of essential salts therefrom, and revive their drooping spirits. It may be irksome to you to superintend the business, but, perhaps, you have knowledge of some rising genius or geniuses who may be glad of a subject without paying for it. Let them slash and cut, and divide, as best please ’em.”

The following account, taken from a newspaper of 1810, shows that untoward[Pg 39] events sometimes followed a request of this kind. A journeyman tailor died at the Black Prince, in Chandos Street, and directed, in his will, that his body should be opened in the presence of Mr. Wood, the landlord. This instruction was carried out. The paragraph goes on to say that the dissection was scarcely concluded “when the landlord, a stranger to such exhibitions, was seized with sickness and vomiting; and, on reaching the bar, was prevailed upon by his wife to take a glass of brandy and water; in a few minutes he was obliged to be carried to bed, never to rise again; on Friday last, the third day from the attack, he died in a state of delirium, not from contagion, or a predisposition to disease, but solely from the impression made upon his mind by the anatomical performance, which, he observed, exceeded in horror any thing he had ever beheld.”

It was not an uncommon thing for persons to try to put into effect part of Dermott’s plan, by offering to leave their bodies for anatomical purposes, on the condition that they were paid a certain sum down. This was generally only a swindling dodge, and one[Pg 40] by which the teachers were not to be caught, as they could have no hold on the persons whose bodies they purchased, nor could they compel the friends to give them up after death. The following letter, preserved amongst Sir Astley Cooper’s papers, and now forming part of the Stone Collection at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, is a specimen:

Sir,—I have been informed you are in the habit of purchasing bodys and allowing the person a sum weekly; knowing a poor woman that is desirous of doing so, I have taken the liberty of calling to know the truth.

“I remain, your humble servant.”

On the back Sir Astley has written, “The truth is that you deserve to be hanged for such an unfeeling offer. A. C.”

The idea at the present day has not died out; quite recently a man called at the College of Surgeons, and offered to sell his body for a cash payment. It is a fairly common experience of Curators of Pathological Museums to have similar offers from persons suffering from a rare disease, or a curious deformity.




 [Pg 41]


As has been stated in the previous chapter, there was no need of the resurrection-men, so long as the teaching of anatomy was confined to the Company of Barbers and Surgeons. It has also been pointed out that, as late as 1714, Cheselden was reprimanded for having anatomical demonstrations at his private house. Soon after this date, however, began the establishment of private schools. Mr. Nourse, of St. Bartholomew’s, was one of the first to deliver public lectures at his own house. After a time this probably became inconvenient, as we find his advertisement, in 1739, worded thus:


“Designing to have no more lectures at my own house, I think it proper to advertise that I shall begin a Course of Anatomy, Chirurgical Operations and Bandages on Monday, the 11th of Nov., at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Edw. Nourse, Assistant Surgeon
and Lithotomist to the said Hospital.”

[Pg 42]Percivall Pott, who was apprenticed to Nourse, followed his master’s example, and lectured on Surgery. In 1737 we find Dr. Fr. Nicholls advertising thus:

“On Wednesday, the 2nd of February, at the House below the Bull Head, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, at five in the evening, will begin a Course of Anatomy and Physiology, introductory to the study and practice of Physick in all its branches by Fr. Nicholls, M.D. N.B. A compendium referring to the several matters, explain’d in these Lectures, is sold by John Clarke, under the Royal Exchange, and F. Woodward, at the Half Moon, within Temple Bar, Booksellers.”

The following is the advertisement of Cæsar Hawkins, from a newspaper of 1739:

“In Pall Mall Court, in Pall Mall. On Thursday, the 5th of February next, will begin a Course of Anatomy, with the principal Operations in Surgery and their suitable Bandages, by Cæsar Hawkins, Surgeon to St. George’s Hospital.”

Joshua Brookes’ advertisement, in 1814, ran as follows:


“The Summer Course of Lectures on Anatomy, Physiology, and Surgery, will be commenced on Monday, the 6th of June, at seven o’clock in the[Pg 43] morning. By Mr. Brookes.—Anatomical Converzationes will be held weekly, when the different Subjects treated of will be discussed familiarly, and the Students’ views forwarded. To these none but Pupils can be admitted. Spacious Apartments, thoroughly ventilated, and replete with every convenience, will be open at five o’clock in the morning, for the purposes of Dissecting and Injecting, when Mr. Brookes attends to direct the Students and demonstrate the various parts as they appear on Dissection.

“The inconveniences usually attending Anatomical Investigations, are counteracted by an antiseptic process. Pupils may be accommodated in the House. Gentlemen established in Practice, desirous of renewing their Anatomical Knowledge, may be accommodated with an apartment to dissect in privately.”

A very interesting account of the old Anatomical Schools, by Mr. D’Arcy Power, will be found in the British Medical Journal, 1895, vol. 2, p. 141. The paper is entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Private Medical Schools in London.” It has been reprinted, with other articles, in a pamphlet, entitled The Medical Institutions of London.

In Great Britain, as no licence was required for opening an Anatomical School, there was no limit to their number; there was also[Pg 44] no regular legal supply of subjects, except the bodies of murderers, executed in London and the county of Middlesex, which came to the schools through the College of Surgeons. In Paris a licence had to be obtained before opening an Anatomical School, and bodies were regularly supplied to the licensed places.

With the rise and competition of the Medical Schools in London, the difficulty of getting an adequate number of bodies increased. The absolute necessity of having a good supply for the use of students, so as to prevent them from going off to rival schools, caused the teachers to offer large prices, and thus made it worth while for men to devote themselves entirely to obtaining bodies for this purpose. At first the trade was carried on by a very few men, and without any public scandal, but the inducements mentioned above enticed others into the business; these were of the lowest class, often professed thieves, and the fights and disputes of these men, one with the other, in churchyards, often made really more scandal than the actual stealing of the bodies. It was stated[Pg 45] by the police in 1828 that the number of persons who, in London, lived regularly on the profits of exhumation, did not exceed ten; but there were, in addition to these, about two hundred who were occasionally employed. These latter individuals were thieves of the lowest grade, and the most desperate and abandoned class of the community. The men worked generally in gangs, and would do anything to spoil the success of their opponents in the business. If a body were bought by one of the teachers from an outside source, the regular men would sometimes break into the dissecting-room and cut the body in such a manner as to make it useless for anatomical purposes. If this could not be done, they would give information to the police that a stolen body was lying in a certain dissecting-room. Joshua Brookes, the proprietor of the Blenheim Street, or Great Marlborough Street, School, was a victim in this way; a body, for which he had paid 16 guineas, was taken away from his school through information of this kind, and the police officer who carried out the business was, as a reward for his efforts, presented with[Pg 46] a silver staff, purchased by public subscription. Brookes seems to have got on very badly with the resurrection-men; at one time, because he refused five guineas as a douceur at the beginning of the session, two dead bodies, in a high state of decomposition, were dropped at night close to his school by the men whom he had thus offended; one of these bodies was placed at the Poland Street end of Great Marlborough Street, and the other at the end of Blenheim Street. Two young ladies stumbled over one of these bodies, and at once raised such a commotion that, had it not been for the prompt assistance of Sir Robert Baker and the police, Brookes would have fared very badly at the hands of the mob which soon collected. The fact of his house being near to the Marlborough Police Court, on more than one occasion saved Brookes from the popular fury.

A subject was brought to him one day in a sack, and paid for at once; soon after it was discovered that the occupant of the sack was alive. This was not a case of attempted murder; the “subject” was a confederate of those from whom he had been purchased, and had, in all[Pg 47] probability, been thus introduced to the premises for purposes of burglary.

The competition of the schools had risen to such a height in the demand for bodies, that Brookes stated that for a subject, which would have cost two guineas in his student days, he had paid as much as sixteen guineas. Nor was the cost of the body the only expense to the teacher. At the beginning of each session he was waited upon by the resurrection-men, who offered to supply him regularly with bodies at a fixed price, on the condition that a douceur was paid down at once. The teachers were powerless in the matter, and had either to accede to the offered terms, or to lose their students through not having a sufficient supply of subjects. The scarcity of bodies was most keenly felt at the beginning of the session; the resurrection-men knew that they could command their own terms, and would not supply any subjects until the teachers had conceded all their demands. This was felt to be bad for the students, and Dr. James Somerville, who was assistant to Brodie at the Great Windmill Street School, in giving evidence before the Committee on Anatomy,[Pg 48] said that “the pupils not being able to proceed for a certain time lose their ardour, and get into habits of idleness.”

At the end of the session the resurrection-men again waited on the proprietors of the schools, and demanded “finishing money.” In some papers relating to Sir Astley Cooper, which were referred to in a letter published in the Medical Times, 1883, vol. 1, p. 343, we read: “May 10th, 1827, Paid Hollis, Vaughan, and Llewellyn, finishing money, £6 6s. 0d. 1829, June 18th, Paid Murphy, Wildes, & Naples, finishing money £6 6s. 0d.”

The cost of the bodies in this way to the teachers was more than they could charge to the students, and the deficiency thus created was made up by increased fees for the lectures. The expenses, moreover, did not end here. If one of the resurrection-men was unfortunate enough to get a term of imprisonment, the teacher had to partly keep the man’s wife and family whilst he was serving his sentence. A solatium was also expected on his release from gaol. Mr. R. D. Grainger spent £50 in this way for one man, and several guineas in keeping the family of another Resurrectionist[Pg 49] whilst the latter was in gaol. Sir Astley Cooper is known to have spent large sums of money for a similar purpose. The following may be cited as examples: “January 29th, 1828, Paid Mr. Cock to pay Mr. South half the expenses of bailing Vaughan from Yarmouth and going down £14 7s. 0d. 1829, May 6th, Paid Vaughan’s wife 6s. Paid Vaughan for twenty-six weeks’ confinement at 10s. per week, £13 0s. 0d.”

If any independence were shown by the teachers, and the demands of the men resisted, victory generally fell to the lot of the Resurrectionists. A teacher, perhaps, would refuse to pay the exorbitant demands, and would employ other men to obtain bodies for him. These were then watched by the regular gang, and information to the police was laid against them on every occasion. The bodies obtained by the irregular men were often taken from them by those who considered they had a monopoly in the business; these subjects were then hacked and cut about so as to make them quite useless for anatomical purposes. So the supply at this particular school would be very short, and great indignation would arise[Pg 50] amongst the students, who had paid their fees, and therefore demanded an adequate number of bodies for dissection. The teacher was thus obliged to give way, and to accede to the demands of the regular gang.

The teachers formed themselves into an Anatomical Club for their own protection; by this means it was hoped to regulate the price to be paid for bodies, by agreement amongst the members of the Club not to give more than a certain amount. This agreement does not seem, according to Mr. South, to have been very faithfully kept, and so, with new schools springing up and giving rise to still greater competition, the teachers were as much as ever in the hands of the resurrection-men.

It must not be supposed that all the bodies which were supplied to the schools were exhumed. Many of them were stolen or obtained by false pretences before burial. Glennon, the police officer, who has been before mentioned in connection with Joshua Brookes, told the Committee that he had recovered between fifty and a hundred bodies for persons who had had their houses broken open, and bodies stolen from them whilst in[Pg 51] the coffin awaiting burial. The following case, tried at the London Sessions in 1830, is an example of this:


Tuesday.—Body-Snatching.—A well-known pilferer of graves, named Clarke, was tried upon an indictment, charging him with having stolen the body of a dead child, aged about four years, which had been under the care of a nurse named Mary Hopkins. The facts which came out in evidence are as follows: The deceased was the daughter of a woman of the town, residing in Shire Lane, and had been kept at the nurse’s lodging, which was in the same neighbourhood. She died on a Friday, and Clarke, whose ears were described as ‘quick to the toll of the passing bell,’ paid the nurse a visit the next morning, under pretence of hiring a cellar under the house. He took occasion to notice the poor woman’s son; said it was a pity to see the boy idle, and that he should have immediate employment, and called again with evidences of still stronger interest in favour of the family. ‘By the way,’ said he, ‘I understand you have had a death[Pg 52] lately.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said the nurse, ‘a poor little girl is departed.’ ‘Poor little dear,’ cried the snatcher, ‘I should like to look at the little innocent.’ He was forthwith led into the front parlour, where the body lay in a coffin, and observing that its position was favourable to his intention, he sympathized with the nurse, and said, ‘We must all come to this sooner or later,’ and then he went to get a half-pint of summut to comfort them. The nurse disposed of a glass, which presently set her in a profound sleep, and when she awoke the body of the babe was gone. It appeared that the snatcher, after having quitted the house, as if for good, returned, and opening the parlour-window hooked out with a stick the corpse of the child, and went off with it towards a market that is open at all hours, near Bridgewater Square. However, a police officer, who knew his trade, laid hands upon him, telling him he was wanted. The snatcher then threw down the child and took to his heels, but was apprehended and lodged in the Compter. The nurse proved the identity of the body. Upon her cross-examination, by Mr. Payne, she stated that the mother had not been to see[Pg 53] the deceased for four or five days before the death. The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty, but some of them audibly spoke of recommending the prisoner to mercy, but made no appendage to that effect. The Recorder sentenced the prisoner to be imprisoned for the space of six calendar months.”

Sometimes these stolen bodies were claimed after payment had been made to the resurrection-men, but before any dissection had taken place. The following refers to Guy’s Hospital: “Returned to Vestry Clerk of Newington, by order of the Treasurer, one male and two females, purchased of Page, &c., on the 25th, who had broken open the dead-house to obtain them.”

Bodies of suicides, and of those who had met with an accidental death, were frequently stolen whilst they were awaiting the coroner’s inquest. Often in these cases the body-thieves, after selling the subject to a teacher of anatomy, secretly gave information to the police where the missing body might be found. It was then seized by the police, and, after the inquest, handed over to those who claimed to be relatives; these supposed relatives were[Pg 54] frequently confederates of the thieves, and by them the body was at once taken off and again sold to another teacher.

The following case is from a newspaper of 1823:

Suicide and the Body Stolen.—Tuesday evening last a young woman of respectable and interesting appearance was observed for some time parading the banks of the Surrey Canal, Camberwell, in a melancholy mood, and at length she plunged into the water; on which a man rushed in after her and dived several times, but failed in recovering the body, which was not found till the following morning, when it was taken to the Albany Arms, near the Canal, for the Coroner’s inquest, which was to have taken place on Thursday. On the landlord proceeding to the shed on Wednesday morning, where the body had been deposited, he discovered, that in the course of the night, it had been broken open, and the corpse of the female stolen away. He instantly repaired to the Police Office, Union Street, and gave information of the circumstance to the Magistrates, who gave orders that immediate inquiry should [Pg 55]be made at Mr. Brookes’s, where the body has since been discovered and given up. The poor woman was unclaimed, and the verdict of the Coroner’s Jury was ‘Found Drowned.’”

A favourite trick, in the carrying out of which a woman was generally necessary, was that of claiming the bodies of friendless persons who died in workhouses, or similar institutions. Immediately it was found out that such an one was dead a man and woman, decently clad in mourning, in great grief, and often in tears, called at the workhouse to take away the body of their dear departed relative. If the trick proved successful, as it often did, the body was taken straight off to one of the schools and sold. The parish authorities, probably, were not over particular about giving up the body, if the deceased were a stranger, as by this means they saved the cost of burial.

Subjects, too, were obtained from cheap undertakers, who kept the bodies of the poor until the time for burial. The coffin was weighted so as to conceal the fraud, and the mockery of reading the Burial Service over it was gone through in the presence of the unsuspecting relatives.

[Pg 56]That some bodies were obtained by murder there can be no doubt. The exposure caused by the trials of Burke and Hare in Edinburgh, and Bishop and Williams in London, proves this.

The facts previously stated, however, go very far to exonerate the anatomists from the false charge (freely made at the time) of their being privy to these murders. It has been frequently stated that signs of murder could be easily seen, and that the fact of the body being fresh, and there being no evidence of its having been interred, ought to have at once suggested foul play, and to have caused the teacher to communicate with the police. But it must be remembered that the murders were generally very artfully contrived by suffocation, so as to leave no outward signs of ill-treatment. It was also no uncommon thing, for the reasons just given, to receive at the schools bodies in quite a fresh state, which had evidently never received sepulture.

An account of the post mortem on the Italian boy, for whose murder Bishop and Williams were hanged,[11] has been preserved by Mr.[Pg 57] Clarke.[12] The examination of the body was carried out by Mr. Wetherfield, of Southampton Street. There were also present Mr. Mayo, Lecturer on Anatomy at King’s College; Mr. Partridge, his demonstrator; Mr. Beaman, Parish Surgeon; and his Assistant, Mr. D. Edwards, and Mr. Clarke. The boy’s teeth had been removed and sold to a dentist, but beyond this there were no external marks of violence on any part of the body. The internal organs were carefully examined, but no trace of injury or poison could be found. Mr. Mayo, who had a peculiar way of standing very upright with his hands in his breeches’ pockets, said, with a kind of lisp he had, “By Jove! the boy died a nathral death.” Mr. Partridge and Mr. Beaman, however, suggested that the spine had not been examined, and after a consultation it was decided to do this. It was then found that one or more of the upper cervical vertebræ were fractured. “By Jove!” said Mr. Mayo, “this boy was murthered.” The conviction of Bishop and Williams was due, in a very great measure, to Mr. Partridge and Mr. Beaman.

[Pg 58]At the present day it is well-nigh impossible to understand the relations between men of honour and education, such as the teachers of anatomy were, and the ruffians who carried on this ghastly trade. It must, however, be borne in mind that, until the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832, there was no provision for supplying the means by which the student might be taught this necessary part of his professional education; the only way in which teachers could get material for giving instruction was by dealing with the resurrection-men.

It would have been quite impossible for the resurrection-men to have obtained the number of bodies they frequently did, had they not been able to bribe the custodians of the different burial-grounds. Sometimes they met with a difficulty in the shape of a keeper newly appointed to replace one who had been dismissed for being privy to these depredations. In most instances this was soon overcome; if, at the outset, the custodian could not be bribed, he could generally be induced to drink, and then, whilst he was in a state of intoxication, the body which the resurrection-men wished to obtain could be easily removed.[Pg 59] After this first step there was generally very little difficulty in the future.

Sometimes, too, the grave-diggers not only gave information to the Resurrectionists, but acted as principals themselves. In Benson’s Remarkable Trials is recorded the case of John Holmes, Peter Williams, and Esther Donaldson. Holmes was grave-digger at St. George’s, Bloomsbury; Williams was his assistant, and Donaldson was charged as an accomplice. They were prosecuted before Sir John Hawkins at the Guildhall, Westminster, in December, 1777, for stealing the body of Mrs. Jane Sainsbury, who died in the previous October, and was buried in the St. George’s burial-ground. Holmes and Williams were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and to be whipped on their bare backs from the end of Kingsgate Street, Holborn, to Dyot Street, St. Giles. The sentence, says Benson, was duly carried out amidst crowds of well-satisfied and approving spectators. The woman Donaldson was acquitted.

The ranks of the resurrection-men were largely recruited from the keepers of burial-grounds. When these men had lost their[Pg 60] situations for connivance at the stealing of bodies, they naturally joined their old associates, and became part of the regular gang.

The bribery of the custodians will account for the large number of bodies often obtained in one night. Had there been the slightest vigilance on the part of the authorities, it would have been absolutely impossible for the resurrection-men to have spent the time necessary for their work without detection. The amount of time required for the work depended greatly on the soil. One man told Bransby Cooper that he had taken two bodies from separate graves of considerable depth, and had restored the coffins and the earth to their former positions in an hour and a half. Another man said that he had completed the exhumation of a body in a quarter of an hour; but in this instance the grave was extremely shallow, and the earth loose and without stones. If much gravel had to be dug through, the resurrection-men had a peculiar way of using their spades, so that the gravel was thrown out of the grave quite noiselessly.

On Thursday, February 20th, 1812, the Diary tells us that 15 large bodies and one[Pg 61] small one were obtained from St. Pancras. No doubt this was simplified by the custom of burying several paupers in one grave. To obtain these it was necessary to dig all the earth out, so that each coffin could be dealt with; the men generally worked very soon after a funeral, and so the earth was much more easily moved than it would have been if they had been obliged to dig through undisturbed ground. When only one body was to be had, a small opening was dug down to the head of the coffin, which was then broken open, and the body was pulled up with a rope, fastened either round the neck or under the armpits.

In a memoir of Thomas Wakley, the founder of The Lancet,[13] the following account of the modus operandi of the resurrection-men is given: “In the case of a neat, or not quite new grave, the ingenuity of the Resurrectionist came into play. Several feet—fifteen or twenty—away from the head or foot of the grave, he would remove a square of turf, about eighteen or twenty inches in diameter. This he would carefully put by, and then commence to mine. Most pauper graves were[Pg 62] of the same depth, and, if the sepulchre was that of a person of importance, the depth of the grave could be pretty well estimated by the nature of the soil thrown up. Taking a five-foot grave, the coffin lid would be about four feet from the surface. A rough slanting tunnel, some five yards long, would, therefore, have to be constructed, so as to impinge exactly on the coffin head. This being at last struck (no very simple task), the coffin was lugged up by hooks to the surface, or, preferably, the end of the coffin was wrenched off with hooks while still in the shelter of the tunnel, and the scalp or feet of the corpse secured through the open end, and the body pulled out, leaving the coffin almost intact and unmoved.

“The body once obtained, the narrow shaft was easily filled up and the sod of turf accurately replaced. The friends of the deceased, seeing that the earth over his grave was not disturbed, would flatter themselves that the body had escaped the Resurrectionist; but they seldom noticed the neatly-placed square of turf, some feet away.”

A somewhat similar account is given in[Pg 63] the Memorials of John Flint South.[14] This method is also referred to by Bransby Cooper,[15] who states that it was told him by one “who fancied he had found out their secret, but had, no doubt, been deceived by some of them purposely.” Bransby Cooper also says that he asked one of the principal resurrection-men as to the feasibility of this method, and the man showed him several objections to it, and stated that “it would never do.” This statement was made after the resurrection-days were over, when there could be no advantage in keeping the true plan secret. It must be remembered that there were some amateur body-snatchers, and that it was not at all unlikely that the regular men would tell to them a plan as full of difficulties as that quoted above. To make the tunnel as described, would be impossible, and it is somewhat difficult to see how grappling-irons were fastened to the coffin; a man could hardly get down a tunnel 18 in. in diameter and 15 feet in length to do this; if he did succeed, his difficulties in returning must have[Pg 64] been still greater. To pull a body out of the head or foot of a coffin, as described, is an impossibility. No allowance is made, either, in digging the tunnel for obstacles, in the shape of intervening graves or grave-stones. As regards the evidence on the surface of a grave having been disturbed, it would be greater in one opened in this manner than if the recently-disturbed earth had been again dug out. It would be impossible to get back into the tunnel all the earth dug out in the course of its construction, and this loose earth would at once attract attention. Generally, bodies were removed before the graves were finally tidied up, so that it was difficult to notice a fresh disturbance.

The writer of the Diary was a cemetery-keeper when he first began his resurrection proceedings; his modus operandi, in some cases, was to take the body out of the coffin, and place it in a sack, before he began to fill in the grave. Then, as he gradually threw the earth in, he kept pulling the sack to the surface, so that when his work of filling in was completed, he had the sack close to the top of the grave. He had then only to wait until[Pg 65] night, when he was able, under cover of the darkness, to remove the body without fear of detection. When the resurrection-men had been successful in their night’s work, they were glad to find a temporary shelter for the bodies, as near at hand as possible. This was generally an out-house belonging to one of the schools which they regularly supplied; the men were permitted to place the bodies there for the night, and to fetch them away the next day. This explains some of the entries in the Diary, such as “Took the whole to ——,” and the next day, “Removed the whole from ——.” Before removing any of the bodies, the men would find out exactly where they were wanted, and so would save much risk of being arrested with the bodies in their possession.

If the following broadside could be believed, the resurrection-men sometimes performed a valuable service to those who had been buried—


Being a full and particular account of John Macintire, who was buried alive, in Edinburgh, on the 15th day of April, 1824, while in a [Pg 66]trance, and who was taken up by the resurrection-men, and sold to the doctors to be dissected, with a full account of the many strange and wonderful things which he saw and felt while he was in that state, the whole being taken from his own words.

“I had been some time ill of a low and lingering fever. My strength gradually wasted, and I could see by the doctor that I had nothing to hope. One day, towards evening, I was seized with strange and indescribable quiverings. I saw around my bed, innumerable strange faces; they were bright and visionary, and without bodies. There was light and solemnity, and I tried to move, but could not; I could recollect, with perfectness, but the power of motion had departed. I heard the sound of weeping at my pillow, and the voice of the nurse say, ‘He is dead.’ I cannot describe what I felt at these words. I exerted my utmost power to stir myself, but I could not move even an eyelid. My father drew his hand over my face and closed my eyelids. The world was then darkened, but I could still hear, and feel and suffer. For three days a number of friends called to see[Pg 67] me. I heard them in low accents speak of what I was, and more than one touched me with his finger. The coffin was then procured, and I was laid in it. I felt the coffin lifted and borne away. I heard and felt it placed in the hearse; it halted, and the coffin was taken out. I felt myself carried on the shoulders of men; I heard the cords of the coffin moved. I felt it swing as dependent by them. It was lowered and rested upon the bottom of the grave. Dreadful was the effort I then made to exert the power of action, but my whole frame was immovable. The sound of the rattling mould as it covered me, was far more tremendous than thunder. This also ceased, and all was silent. This is death, thought I, and soon the worms will be crawling about my flesh. In the contemplation of this hideous thought, I heard a low sound in the earth over me, and I fancied that the worms and reptiles were coming. The sound continued to grow louder and nearer. Can it be possible, thought I, that my friends suspect that they have buried me too soon? The hope was truly like bursting through the gloom of death. The sound ceased. They dragged me out of the[Pg 68] coffin by the head, and carried me swiftly away. When borne to some distance, I was thrown down like a clod, and by the interchange of one or two brief sentences, I discovered that I was in the hands of two of those robbers, who live by plundering the grave, and selling the bodies of parents, and children, and friends. Being rudely stripped of my shroud, I was placed naked on a table. In a short time I heard by the bustle in the room that the doctors and students were assembling. When all was ready the Demonstrator took his knife, and pierced my bosom. I felt a dreadful crackling, as it were, throughout my whole frame; a convulsive shudder instantly followed, and a shriek of horror rose from all present. The ice of death was broken up; my trance was ended. The utmost exertions were made to restore me, and in the course of an hour I was in full possession of all my faculties.


It was quite necessary for the Committee on Anatomy to adopt some means to protect the resurrection-men who gave evidence before it;[Pg 69] this was done by suppressing their names, and using letters of the alphabet to distinguish the witnesses one from another. Popular feeling was so bitter against these men that they were often severely handled by the mob. Sometimes the mob made a mistake, and the innocent suffered for the guilty. In 1823 a coach containing an empty coffin was being drawn along the streets of Edinburgh; the people, suspecting that it was intended to convey a body, taken from some churchyard, seized the coach; it was with great difficulty that the police rescued the driver from the fury of the mob. The coach they could not save; it was taken through the streets, thrown over a mound, and smashed; the people then kindled a fire with the fragments, and danced round it. It turned out that the coffin was intended to convey to his house, in Edinburgh, the body of a physician who had died in the country.

On another occasion two American gentlemen, who were looking at the Abbey of Linlithgow after nightfall, were mistaken for resurrection-men, and assaulted by the mob.

One of the witnesses, called “A. B.,” but who was probably Ben Crouch himself, stated that[Pg 70] twenty-three in four nights was the greatest number he had ever obtained. He added, “When I go to work, I like to get those of poor people buried from the workhouses, because instead of working for one subject, you may get three or four. I do not think, during the time I have been in the habit of working for the schools, I got half a dozen of wealthier people.” Another witness, who is called “C. D.,” but who was, without doubt, the writer of the Diary, stated that, “according to my book,” in 1809 and 1810 the number of bodies disposed of in England was 305 adults and 44 small; but the same year 37 were sent to Edinburgh, and the gang had 18 in hand, which were never used at all. In 1810-11, 312 adults were disposed of in the regular session, and 20 in the summer, in addition to 47 smalls. In the Report of the Committee in 1828, it was pointed out that, at that time, there were over 800 students attending the Schools of Anatomy in London, but of these not more than 500 actually worked at dissection. The number of subjects annually available for instruction amounted to between 450 and 500, or rather less than one for each student.

[Pg 71]The average price of an adult body was stated to be £4 4s. 0d. It may be here explained that a “small” was a body under three feet long; these were sold at so much per inch and were generally classified as “large small,” “small,” and “fœtus.” The earnings of the resurrection-men may be gathered from the above entry. To take the year 1810-11, the receipts for bodies alone come to 1328 guineas; this is exclusive of “smalls,” and probably also of the teeth, in which these men did a large trade. Teeth, in those days, were very valuable; the amounts received by some of the men for teeth only will be dealt with in the chapter containing biographical notices of some of the principal London resurrection-men. It may be here mentioned that on one occasion Murphy obtained the entry to a vault belonging to a meeting-house, on the pretence of selecting a burial-place for his wife. Whilst in there he managed to slip back some bolts, so that he could easily gain an entrance at another time; this he did at night, and got possession of teeth by which he made £60.

From the statements of the teachers it is[Pg 72] most likely that £4 4s. 0d. is under the average price paid for bodies. It must be remembered, too, that this amount does not include the retaining-fee paid at the beginning of the session, nor the “finishing-money” which was demanded at its close. The 1328 guineas spoken of above would be divided amongst six or seven persons, and this, for men in their position, was a large income. The biographical notes of the chief workers in this horrible trade will show that some few of them did save money. Taking them, however, as a whole, they were a dissolute and ruffianly gang; reference to the Diary proves their drunken habits, and there is more than one entry to show that they were often in pecuniary difficulties; so much so that on one occasion they were obliged to have recourse to Mordecai, the Jew.

It was quite useless for those who had just buried a relative or friend to depend either upon the custodian of the burial-ground, or upon the watch, to see that the newly-made grave was not violated. The resurrection-men often met with a guard, instituted by the friends of the deceased, who would take it in turns to watch by the grave-side through the[Pg 73] whole night; these friends were frequently armed, and were not afraid to use their arms if the resurrection-men gave them an opportunity. As a rule the body-snatchers made off when they found a guard in the cemetery; it was to their interest not to create a riot, and if they were strong enough to drive off the watchers, the latter could soon raise a tumult, whereby the bodily safety of the thieves would be endangered.

Matters did not always pass off so peaceably, particularly in Ireland, as the following extract from an Irish newspaper for 1830 shows:

Desperate Engagement with Body-snatchers.—The remains of the late Edward Barrett, Esq., having been interred in Glasnevin churchyard on the 27th of last month (January), persons were appointed to remain in the churchyard all night, to protect the corpse from ‘the sack ’em-up gentlemen,’ and it seems the precaution was not unnecessary, for, on Saturday night last, some of the gentry made their appearance, but soon decamped on finding they were likely to be opposed. Nothing daunted, however, they returned on Tuesday morning with augmented force, and well armed. [Pg 74]About ten minutes after two o’clock three or four of them were observed standing on the wall of the churchyard, while several others were endeavouring to get on it also. The party in the churchyard warned them off, and were replied to by a discharge from fire-arms. This brought on a general engagement; the sack ’em-up gentlemen fired from behind the churchyard wall, by which they were defended, while their opponents on the watch fired from behind the tomb-stones. Upwards of 58 to 60 shots were fired. One of the assailants was shot—he was seen to fall; his body was carried off by his companions. Some of them are supposed to have been severely wounded, as a great quantity of blood was observed outside the churchyard wall, notwithstanding the ground was covered with snow. During the firing, which continued for upwards of a quarter of an hour, the church bell was rung by one of the watchmen, which, with the discharge from the fire-arms, collected several of the townspeople and the police to the spot—several of the former, notwithstanding the severity of the weather, in nearly a state of nakedness; but the assailants were by this [Pg 75]time defeated, and effected their retreat. Several of the head-stones bear evident marks of the conflict, being struck with the balls, &c.”




Most of the disgraceful riots which took place in the burial-grounds, were not between resurrection-men and friends guarding a grave, but between two gangs of body-snatchers. In cases of this kind one gang would do all in its power to bring its rival into disrepute; the stronger party, after driving the weaker one away, would put the burial-ground into a most disgraceful state, and then give information against their opponents.

Besides watching, many other devices were tried to prevent the depredations of the resurrection-men; spring guns were set in many of the cemeteries, but these were often rendered harmless. If the men intended going to a certain grave at night, late in the afternoon a woman, in deep mourning, would walk round the part of the cemetery in which the grave was situated, and contrive to detach the wires from the guns. Loose stones were placed on the walls of the grave-yard, so as to make scaling the walls almost an impossibility; this[Pg 76] was useless when the custodian had a house with a window looking into the burial-place. If entrance could not be obtained in this way, there was generally some other house through which the men could gain admission to the grave-yard. Mort-safes, or strong iron guards, were placed over newly-made graves for protection; some of these can be seen at the present day in the Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh (see illustrations).




Iron coffins were also used by some persons to protect their friends from the Resurrectionist. The following interesting advertisement appeared in Wooler’s British Gazette for October 13th, 1822:

“Many hundred dead bodies will be dragged from their wooden coffins this winter, for the anatomical lectures (which have just commenced), the articulators, and for those who deal in the dead for the supply of the country practitioner and the Scotch schools. The question of the right to inter in iron is now decided. Lord Chief Justice Abbott declared he wished they might be generally used; Justice Bailey declared that if the Ecclesiastical Court was to grant a suit [Pg 77]for a fee, they, the Court of King’s Bench, would grant a prohibition, knowing it had no such right. Sir William Scott, now Lord Stowell, decided and directed the interment without any extra fee, as this question was raised by an undertaker; those undertakers who have IRON COFFINS must divide the profits of the funeral with Edward Lillie Bridgman. Ten Guineas reward will be paid on the conviction of any Parish Officer demanding an extra fee, whereby I shall lose the sale of a coffin. The violation of the sanctity of the grave is said to be needful, for the instruction of the medical pupil, but let each one about to inter a mother, husband, child, or friend, say shall I devote this object of my affection to such a purpose; if not, the only safe coffin is Bridgman’s PATENT WROUGHT-IRON ONE, charged the same price as a wooden one, and is a superior substitute for lead. Edward Lillie Bridgman, 34, Fish Street Hill, and Goswell Street Road, performs funerals in any part of the kingdom, and by attention to moderate charges insures the recommendation of those who employ him. Twenty-five private grounds within the Bills of Mortality receive them; dues [Pg 78]from seven shillings to one guinea. Patent cast-iron tombs and tablets, superior to stone.”

The advertisement is headed by a rough cut, showing the coffin[16] and the iron clamps by which it was fastened. There was another maker of patent coffins, who is mentioned by Southey in his ballad called The Surgeon’s Warning. The ballad represents the fear of a dying surgeon, lest his apprentices should serve him after death as he, during his life, has served many other persons:

“And my ’prentices will surely come
And carve me bone from bone,
And I, who have rifled the dead man’s grave,
Shall never rest in my own.

“Bury me in lead when I am dead,
My brethren, I entreat,
And see the coffin weigh’d I beg,
Lest the plumber should be a cheat.

“And let it be solder’d closely down
Strong as strong can be, I implore,
And put it in a patent coffin
That I may rise no more.

“If they carry me off in the patent coffin
Their labour will be in vain,
Let the undertaker see it bought of the maker,
Who lives in St. Martin’s Lane.”


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[Pg 79]All the surgeon’s wishes were duly carried out as regards his coffin; money was also given to watchers to keep guard every night over the grave. The “’prentices,” however, were able easily to buy the watchers, and so

“They burst the patent coffin first,
And then cut through the lead,
And they laugh’d aloud when they saw the shroud,
Because they had got at the dead.

“And they allow’d the sexton the shroud
And they put the coffin back,
And nose and knees they then did squeeze,
The surgeon in a sack.
“So they carried the sack pick-a-back,
And they carved him bone from bone,
But what became of the surgeon’s soul,
Was never to mortal known.”

The following extract from a Scotch paper shows the alarm felt for the safety of the newly-buried:

Resurrection-men.—Curiosity drew together a crowd of people on Monday, at Dundee, to witness the funeral of a child, which was consigned to the grave in a novel manner. The father, in terror of the resurrection-men, had caused a small box, inclosing some deathful apparatus, communicating by [Pg 80]means of wires, with the four corners, to be fastened on the top of the coffin. Immediately before it was lowered into the earth, a large quantity of gunpowder was poured into the box, and the hidden machinery put into a state of readiness for execution. The common opinion was, that if any one attempted to raise the body he would be blown up. The sexton seemed to dread an immediate explosion, for he started back in alarm after throwing in the first shovelful of earth.”

Friends and relatives often placed objects on the newly-made grave, such as a flower or an oyster-shell, so that they might be able to tell if the earth had been disturbed. These objects were generally carefully noted by the resurrection-men, and were put back in their exact places after the body had been removed and the grave re-filled.

In some burial-grounds, houses were built in which the bodies could be kept until they were putrid, and therefore useless to the resurrection-men. Such a house is still standing in the burial-ground at Crail.[17]


HOUSE AT CRAIL (Described on page 80).
Over the door is the following inscription: “Erected for securing the Dead. Ann. Dom. MDCCCXXVI.”


HOUSE AT CRAIL (Described on page 80).
Over the door is the following inscription: “Erected for securing the Dead. Ann. Dom. MDCCCXXVI.”


As a rule, the resurrection-men were able[Pg 81] not only to supply the London schools from the grave-yards in and around the Metropolis, but also to send bodies to some of the provincial schools; the Diary shows that even Edinburgh received some of the proceeds of the work of this London gang. If, however, from increased vigilance or other causes, the supply of bodies ran short in London, recourse was had to the provinces. A case occurred some seventy years ago at Yarmouth. A man died, and was buried in St. Nicholas Churchyard. Not long after, his wife died also. On the husband’s grave being opened, it was discovered that the man’s body had been removed; this led to a panic amongst people in Yarmouth who had recently buried friends in that churchyard. Many graves were opened, and, in a large number of instances, were found to have been violated. This led to a regular watch being established over newly-made graves in the churchyard. It was the custom of the resurrection-men, when they had bodies to send from the country to London, to forward them so that they should, in outward appearance, correspond with the class of goods exported from the place where the bodies had[Pg 82] been obtained. If the goods usually came to London in crates, crates were used by the body-snatchers; if ordinary packing-cases, then the bodies were enclosed in like receptacles. The proceeds of the exhumations at Yarmouth were probably packed in barrels, and came through Billingsgate.

In 1826 three casks, labelled “Bitter Salts,” were taken down to George’s Dock at Liverpool, to be shipped on board the Latona, bound for Leith; a full description of this transaction was printed as a broadside, of which the following is a copy:


“Discovery of 33 Human Bodies, in Casks, about to be shipped from Liverpool for Edinburgh, on Monday last, October 9, 1826.

“Yesterday afternoon, a carter took down one of our quays three casks, to be shipped on board the Carron Company’s vessel, the Latona, addressed to ‘Mr. G. Ironson, Edinburgh.’ The casks remained on the quay all night, and this morning, previous to their being put on board, a horrible stench was experienced by the mate of the Latona and [Pg 83]other persons, whose duty it was to ship them. This caused some suspicion that their contents did not agree with their superscription, which was ‘Bitter Salts,’ and which the shipping note described they contained. The mate communicated his suspicions to the agent of the Carron Company, and that gentleman very promptly communicated the circumstances to the police. Socket, a constable, was sent to the Quay, and he caused the casks to be opened, when Eleven Dead Bodies were found therein, salted and pickled. The casks were detained, and George Leech, the cart-man, readily went with the officer to the cellar whence he carted them, which was situated under the school of Dr. McGowan, at the back of his house in Hope Street; the cellar was padlocked, but, by the aid of a crow-bar, Boughey, a police officer, succeeded in forcing an entrance, and, on searching therein, he found 4 casks, all containing human bodies, salted as the others were, and three sacks, each containing a dead body. He also found a syringe, of that description used for injecting hot wax into the veins and arteries of the dead bodies used for anatomization; he also [Pg 84]found a variety of smock-frocks, jackets, and trowsers, which, no doubt, were generally used by the Resurrectionists to disguise themselves. In this cellar were found twenty-two dead bodies, pickled and fresh, and in the casks on the quay, eleven, making in the whole thirty-three. The carter described the persons who employed him as of very respectable appearance, but he did not know the names of any of them.

“Information of the above circumstances was speedily communicated to his Worship, the Mayor, who sent for Dr. McGowan. This gentleman is a reverend divine, and teacher of languages; he attended the Mayor immediately, and, in answer to the questions put to him, we understand he said, that he let his cellar in January last to a person named Henderson, who, he understood, carried on the oil trade, and that he knew nothing about any dead bodies being there. George Leech deposed that he plies for hire as a carter (the cart belongs to his brother); yesterday afternoon, between three and four o’clock, a tall, stout man asked him the charge of carting three casks from Hope Street to George’s [Pg 85]Dock passage; he replied, 2s. They then went to Hope Street, where the witness found two other men getting the first cask out of a cellar under Dr. McGowan’s schoolroom, and witness assisted to get two other casks out of the cellar; the three were then put into his cart, and the men who employed him gave him a shipping note, describing the casks as containing ‘Bitter Salts,’ and told him to be careful in laying them down upon the quay, and that they were to be forwarded to Edinburgh by the Latona.

“Mr. Thomas Wm. Dawes, surgeon, of St. Paul’s Square, deposed that he had examined the bodies, by the direction of the Coroner. In one cask he had found the bodies of two women and one man; in another, two women and two men; in the third, three men and one woman, and in the other casks and sacks he found 22 (sic) bodies, viz., nine men, five boys, and three girls; the bodies were all in a perfect state; those in the casks appeared to have been dead six or seven days, and three men found in the sacks appeared to have been dead only three or four days. In each of the casks was a large quantity of salt. There were no[Pg 86] external marks of violence, but there was a thread tied round the toes of one of the women, which is usual for some families to do immediately after death. Witness had no reason but to believe that they had died in a natural way, and he had no doubt the bodies had all been disinterred. The Season for Lectures on Anatomy is about to commence in the capital of Scotland.

“The police were ordered to be upon the alert to discover the persons who had been engaged in this transaction, but as yet nothing further has been ascertained. The bodies, by the direction of the Coroner, were buried this morning in the parish cemetery, in casks, as they were found.

“It is not yet ascertained whence these bodies have been brought, but it is supposed that the Liverpool Workhouse Cemetery has been the principal sufferer. Some of them are so putrid, that it is extremely dangerous to handle them.


The statements in this broadside are quite true, and agree with the account which is to be found in the Liverpool Mercury for[Pg 87] October 13th, 1826. Henderson, who was a Greenock man, and the principal in this business, escaped, and could not be brought to justice; but a man named James Donaldson, who was a party to the transaction, was made to pay a fine of £50, and was sent to Kirkdale Gaol for twelve months.

From Ireland very many bodies were exported, chiefly to Edinburgh; a better price could be obtained there than in Dublin, and the consequence was that the Irish schools were often very badly supplied with subjects. In Dublin there were several ancient burial-grounds, all badly protected; the poor were all buried in one part, and, as their friends were generally unable to afford watchers, their bodies fell an easy prey to the resurrection-men. In January, 1828, the detection of a body about to be exported caused a tumult in the streets of Dublin, and led to the murder of a man named Luke Redmond, a porter at the College of Surgeons.[18] The body-snatchers in Dublin seem to have done more damage than the men engaged in a like[Pg 88] occupation in London; they were not content with taking the bodies, but, in addition, they broke the tomb-stones, and played general havoc in the grave-yards.

According to the following cutting from the Universal Spectator and Weekly Journal, May 20th, 1732 (printed in Notes and Queries, 5th ser. i. 65), bodies were sometimes taken for other than dissection purposes. “John Loftas, the Grave Digger, committed to prison for robbing of dead corpse, has confess’d to the plunder of above fifty, not only of their coffins and burial cloaths, but of their fat, where bodies afforded any, which he retail’d at a high price to certain people, who, it is believed, will be call’d upon on account thereof. Since this discovery several persons have had their friends dug up, who were found quite naked, and some mangled in so horrible a manner as could scarcely be suppos’d to be done by a human creature.”

Southey also refers to this in the poem before quoted, where he makes the surgeon say in his lamentation,

“I have made candles of infants’ fat.”



[Pg 89]


It is well-nigh impossible to read of all these misdoings and not to ask why the Government did not step in and put a stop to them? It was urged by many that a short Act should be passed, making the violation of a grave a penal offence, as it was in France. There was a general agreement that anatomical education was absolutely necessary for medical men, and that this education was an impossibility without a supply of subjects; yet there was a great reluctance to interfere by legislation. The Home Secretary told a deputation that there was no difficulty in drawing up an effective Bill; the great obstacle was the prejudice of the people against any Bill; this impediment, he added, had not been trifling.

By no class of men was legislation more earnestly asked for than by the teachers of anatomy; to them the system then in vogue[Pg 90] was not only degrading, but it meant absolute ruin.

There was at that time no property in a dead body, and a prosecution for felony could not take place unless some portion of the grave-clothes or coffin could be proved to have been stolen with the body. The resurrection-men were well aware of this fact, and generally took precaution to keep themselves out of the meshes of the law.

There had been some successful prosecutions like that of Holmes and Williams before mentioned, but magistrates would not always convict.

In 1788 this question first came before the Court of King’s Bench in the case of Rex v. Lynn. The indictment charged the prisoner with entering a certain burial-ground, and taking a coffin out of the earth, and removing a body, which he had taken from the coffin, and carrying it away, for the purpose of dissecting it. For the defence the following passage from Lord Coke was quoted: “It is to be observed that in every sepulchre that hath a monument two things are to be considered, viz., the monument, and the sepulture or burial of the dead:[Pg 91] the burial of the cadaver is nullius in bonis, and belongs to Ecclesiastical cognizance; but as to the monument, action is given at the common law for defacing thereof.” The only Act of Parliament which was said to bear on the subject was that of 1 Jac. I., c. 12, which made it felony to steal bodies for purposes of witchcraft. The Court, however, held in this case of Rex v. Lynn that to take a body from a burial-ground was an offence at common law, and contra bonos mores. In the judgment it was stated that as the defendant might have committed the crime through ignorance, no person having been before punished for this offence, the Court only fined him five marks. The reference here, to no one having been previously punished for a like offence, refers only to the Superior Courts, as there had been convictions at the Police Courts and the Old Bailey. Despite this decision of the Court, prosecutions were very seldom undertaken, although Southwood Smith[19] states that there had been fourteen convictions in England during the year 1823. In examination before the Committee on Anatomy, in[Pg 92] 1828, Mr. Twyford, one of the magistrates at Worship Street Police Court, stated that he had not had more than six cases in as many years.

The following account of proceedings at Hatton Garden Police Court, in 1814, will show the difficulty of getting a conviction. In this case there seems to have been no one to identify the bodies. It is very improbable that in a case of this sort the authorities of burial-grounds would come forward to give evidence, and so confess their own negligence.


“T. Light, W. Arnot, and —— Spelling, were brought up on Wednesday. It appeared that the prisoners were going up Holborn about half-past four o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, with a horse and cart; they were observed by two officers, who, knowing the prisoners to be resurrection-men, stopped the horse and cart, and, after a hard contest, succeeded in securing the prisoners. They then examined the contents of the cart, and found it contained seven dead bodies of men and women; one of the bodies was headless, but how it came to be [Pg 93]so remains as yet to be cleared up. They were packed up in bags and baskets. The prisoners were followed by an immense crowd to Hatton Garden Office, whence they were committed to prison, and the bodies deposited in the lock-up house. The cart was hired at Battle Bridge. Some of the officers were sent to make enquiry at the different burying-grounds. The Office was crowded with men and women, who had some of their relatives buried on Sunday last, to see if they could recognize any of the bodies. They were brought up again on Thursday, and discharged.”

In 1822 the case of Rex v. Cundick was tried at Kingston Assizes, coram Graham.[20] This was an indictment for misdemeanour. A man named Edward Lee was executed in the parish of St. Mary, Newington; George Cundick was employed by the keeper of the gaol to bury the body of Lee, and for this he was paid. Instead of burying the corpse, he sold it for dissection, or, in the words of the indictment, he “for the sake of wicked lucre and gain did take and carry away the said body,[Pg 94] and did sell and dispose of the same for the purpose of being dissected, cut in pieces, mangled, and destroyed, to the great scandal and disgrace of religion, decency, and morality, in contempt of our Lord the King, and his laws, to the evil example of all other persons in like cases offending.” The evidence showed plainly that Cundick had had possession of the body, and that he had received the burial fees. On the friends of Lee wishing to see the corpse, Cundick declared that it was already buried; but several days after this he clandestinely went through the ceremony of burying a coffin filled with rubbish. It was also proved that Cundick had been seen to remove a heavy package from his house at night, and that the body of Lee had been identified in a dissecting-room. The defence was, in the first place, that the indictment was bad “as a perfect anomaly in the history of criminal pleading.” In the second place, if the indictment were good, it was unsupported by evidence. It was argued by counsel that the only evidence before the Court was that the body was not buried, and that it was found at a dissecting-room. Without the production of the owner of the dissecting-room,[Pg 95] and the proof that he had bought the body from Cundick, the jury could not be asked to give a verdict against the defendant. The Judge, however, over-ruled these objections, and the jury found the prisoner guilty.

These trials and verdicts made it still more difficult than before to get subjects for dissection, as even men of the Resurrectionist class hesitated to run the risk of getting the punishment, which now the superior Courts had upheld. Those who did run this risk very naturally expected a price proportionate to the danger, and so the cost of subjects was still more increased.

But to surgeons, and to teachers of anatomy, by far the most important trial of all was that of John Davies and others, of Warrington, for obtaining the body of Jane Fairclough, which had been taken from the chapel-yard belonging to the Baptists, at High Cliff, Appleton, Cheshire, in October, 1827. This case was tried at Lancaster Assizes, March 14th, 1828. The defendants were John Davies (a medical student at the Warrington Dispensary), Edward Hall (a surgeon and apothecary in practice at Warrington), William Blundell[Pg 96] (an apprentice to a stationer in the same town), and Richard Box. Thomas Ashton was also included in the indictment, but no evidence was offered against him. There were fourteen counts in the indictment, ten charging the defendants with conspiracy, and four charging them with unlawfully procuring and receiving the body of Jane Fairclough. It appears, from the report of the trial, that Davies called on Dr. Moss, one of the Physicians to the Dispensary, and obtained permission to use a building in his garden for the purpose of dissecting a subject which he had purchased. Mr. Hall, on behalf of Davies, paid four guineas to the men who brought the body to a cellar in Warrington, but he knew nothing more of the transaction; from the cellar the body was removed to Dr. Moss’ premises by Blundell and another man, and was received by Davies and a servant of Dr. Moss. Information of the exhumation seems to have quickly got about. The funeral was on a Friday; on the Monday following the grave was undisturbed, but on Tuesday the soil was spread about, and an examination of the grave showed that the corpse had been removed. The body[Pg 97] was identified at Dr. Moss’ house, and was taken away before any dissection had been performed on it.

In charging the jury, Mr. Baron Hullock said that, as conspiracy was an offence of serious magnitude, they should be satisfied, before finding a verdict of guilty on the former part of the indictment, that the conduct of the defendants was the result of previous concert.... If any of the defendants were in possession of the body under circumstances which must have apprized them that it was improperly disinterred, the jury would find them guilty of the latter part of the charge. The only bodies legally liable to dissection in this country were those of persons executed for murder. However necessary it might be, for the purposes of humanity and science, that these things should be done, yet, as long as the law remained as it was at present, the disinterment of bodies for dissection was an offence liable to punishment. The jury found all the defendants not guilty of the charge of conspiracy, but they pronounced Davies and Blundell guilty of possession of the body, with knowledge of the illegal disinterment. The defendants were brought up[Pg 98] for judgment in London in May, 1828. Mr. Justice Bayley, in passing sentence, said that “there were degrees of guilt, and in this case the defendants were not the most criminal parties.” He sentenced Davies to a fine of £20, and Blundell to a fine of £5.

It will be noted that in this trial there is no charge against anyone for violating the grave, or stealing the body. The fines were inflicted on Davies and Blundell for having the body in their possession, knowing it to have been disinterred. This decision, therefore, as before stated, was of the utmost importance to teachers of anatomy, as they were clearly liable to punishment for all the subjects supplied to them by the Resurrectionists. The teachers knew well the sources from which the bodies were obtained, and were only driven to get them in the way they did through there being no regular supply of subjects from a legitimate source. The feeling that legislation on this subject was absolutely necessary, was more keenly felt than ever, and the teachers did all they could to get a change in the laws. Many pamphlets were issued from the press, urging this duty upon Parliament; it was pointed out [Pg 99]that if a supply of bodies could be regularly obtained in a legal way, the trade of the Resurrectionist would at once cease. There were many who doubted this, but subsequent events proved the statement to be strictly accurate.


Surgical Operations, or a New method of Obtaining Subjects.
Larger Image


It was very strongly urged that the Act of Geo. II., which ordered the bodies of all murderers executed in London and Middlesex to be anatomized by the Surgeons’ Company, ought to be repealed. No doubt this provision much increased the dislike of the poor to any regulations by which the bodies of their friends might be given up for dissection after death. It was felt that dissection by the Surgeons was part of the sentence passed on a murderer, and therefore carried with it shame and disgrace. To make provision by law, therefore, for the dissection of the bodies of any other class of persons was, not unnaturally, distasteful, in that it partly put them in the same position as murderers.

The answer to the desire for the repeal of this obnoxious clause was that nothing must be done to weaken the law; it was stated that to withdraw the part of the sentence which[Pg 100] related to dissection would rob the punishment of its prohibitive effect. It is somewhat difficult to understand the argument; surely if the risk of suffering the extreme penalty of the law would not keep a man from crime, the extra chance of being dissected after death could hardly be expected to do so. As Sir Henry Halford said, “I certainly think that while that law remains they [the public] will connect the crime of murder with the practice of dissection; an order to be dissected, and a permission to be dissected, seem to be too slight a distinction.”

Another objection to the dissection of murderers came from the teachers. They stated that when the body of a notorious criminal was lying at either of the Anatomical Schools, the proprietor was pestered by persons of a morbid turn of mind for permission to view the body. This difficulty was also felt by the College of Surgeons, and in consequence a placard was hung up outside the place where the dissections were made, giving notice that no person could be admitted, unless accompanied by a member of the Court of Assistants.

To make dissection less distasteful to the general public, and to show the advantages of[Pg 101] anatomy, some endeavours were made to explain the structure of the human body to non-professional persons. In Ireland Sir Philip Crampton lectured with open doors, and gave demonstrations in anatomy to poor people. These persons, he tells us, became interested in the subject, and often brought him bodies for dissection. A newspaper cutting of 1829 shows that this was also tried in London. A surgeon called in the overseers and churchwardens of St. Clement Danes, and gave a demonstration on a body, explaining its construction, and the use of the internal organs. “By this means,” says the paragraph, “he so fully absorbed the self-interest of his audience as to extinguish the pre-conceived notions of horror and disgust attached to the idea of a spectacle of this description. The enlightened governors of the parish assented to the post mortem examination of the body of every unclaimed pauper, an enquiry into whose case might appear conducive to the interests of medical science.”

It has been already pointed out that, to try to overcome the repugnance to dissection, some persons left specific instructions[Pg 102] that their bodies should be used for this purpose.

The representations of the teachers were so far successful, that in 1828 a Select Committee was appointed by the House of Commons “to enquire into the manner of obtaining subjects for dissection in the Schools of Anatomy, and into the state of the law affecting the persons employed in obtaining and dissecting bodies.” Amongst those who gave evidence before the Committee were the principal teachers of anatomy, and three of the resurrection-men. The tone of the Report was decidedly in sympathy with the teachers, but it strongly condemned the way in which they were compelled to obtain bodies for dissection. After showing how badly off English students were for opportunities of learning anatomy, as compared with those of foreign countries, and pointing out that those students who really wished to master their art were compelled to go abroad, the Report proceeds: “These disadvantages affecting the teachers are such, that except in the most frequented schools, attached to the greater hospitals, few have been able to continue teaching with profit, and[Pg 103] some private teachers have been compelled to give up their schools. To the evils enumerated it may be added, that it is distressing to men of good education and character to be compelled to resort, for their means of teaching, to a constant infraction of the laws of their country, and to be made dependent, for their professional existence, on the mercenary caprices of the most abandoned class in the community.”

In March, 1829, Mr. Warburton obtained leave to introduce into the House of Commons “A Bill for preventing the unlawful disinterment of human bodies, and for regulating Schools of Anatomy.” In this Bill it was enacted that persons found guilty of disinterring any human body from any churchyard, burial-ground or vault, or assisting at any such disinterment, should be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months for the first offence, and two years for the second offence. Seven Commissioners were to be appointed; the majority of these were not to be either physicians, surgeons, or apothecaries. All unclaimed bodies of persons dying in workhouses or hospitals, were, seventy-two hours[Pg 104] after death, to be given over for purposes of dissection; but if within this specified time a relative appeared and requested that the body might not be used for anatomical purposes, such request was to be granted. Another proposed change in the law was that a person might legally bequeath his body for dissection; in such cases the executors, administrators, or next-of-kin had the option of carrying out the wishes of the testator, or declining to do so, as they thought fit. A heavy penalty was laid on persons who were found carrying on human anatomy in an unlicensed building, and it was made an offence to move a body from one place to another, without a licence for so doing. All bodies used for dissection were to be buried; the penalty for failing to do this was fifty pounds.

One great blot on this Bill was the neglecting to repeal the clause which ordered the bodies of murderers to be given up for dissection. As pointed out on page 87, this was one of the great reasons which made dissection so hateful to the poor. During the debate, a motion was made by Sir R. Inglis “to repeal so much of the Act 9 Geo. IV. cap. 31, as[Pg 105] empowers judges to order the bodies of murderers to be given over for dissection.” This, however, was lost, eight members only voting for the amendment, and forty against.

There was strong opposition to the Bill outside the House. Some of the private teachers were very uneasy as regarded the effect of the Bill on themselves. The measure spoke of “recognized teachers” and “hospital schools,” and all those who were to be entitled to the benefits of the Act were to have licences from one of the Medical Corporations. The proprietors of the smaller schools felt that this would result in their extinction, and that the teaching would all pass to the large schools. In the country, too, there was strong opposition to the Bill, as practitioners there felt that they were excluded from any benefit. The Lancet, always ready in those days with a nickname, dubbed the measure “A Bill for Preventing Country Surgeons from Studying Anatomy.” The College of Surgeons also petitioned against the Bill. The Council felt that the appointment of Commissioners, who were to have complete control over all schools and places of dissection, would greatly interfere[Pg 106] with the privileges of the College. It was pointed out to the House of Commons that the establishment of a Board, such as that proposed by the Bill, was virtually placing the whole profession of surgery under the control of Commissioners, not one of whom need be a member of the profession, and the majority of whom must not be so.

Another fault of the Bill was that it did not apply to Ireland. A large supply of bodies was regularly sent from that country to England and Scotland, and it was felt that to exclude Ireland from the provisions of the Bill, was simply increasing the temptation for bodies to be still more largely exported therefrom.

It was also argued that the Bill would tell hardly against the poor, as they would refuse to go into workhouses or hospitals if they thought that their bodies would be dissected after death. For this objection there was no foundation, and Mr. Peel pointed out, in the debate on the third reading, that “it was the poor who would really be benefited by the measure. The rich could always command good advice, whilst the poor had a strong interest in the general extension of anatomical science.”

[Pg 107]The Bill passed the Commons, but was lost in the Lords.

In 1830, Lord Calthorpe was to have again introduced the Bill into the Upper House, but the intention was abandoned on account of the threatened dissolution of Parliament. As the Lancet expressed it, “Dissolution has so many horrors, that a discussion on the subject at the present time would be by no means agreeable.”

Public feeling was now very strong in favour of some law to prevent the wholesale spoliation of graves, which was going on practically unchecked. But, as has happened frequently in legislation, the absolute necessity for a change in the law was brought within the range of practical politics by a crime of a most diabolical character, one which, in this country, created a sensation equal to that raised in Scotland by the atrocities of Burke and Hare in Edinburgh.

On November 5th, 1831, two men, named Bishop and May, called at the dissecting-room at King’s College, and asked Hill, the porter, if he “wanted anything.” On being interrogated as to what they had to dispose of, May replied, “A boy of fourteen.” For this[Pg 108] body they asked 12 guineas, but ultimately agreed to bring it in for 9 guineas. They went off, and returned in the afternoon with another man named Williams, alias Head, and a porter named Shields, the latter of whom carried the body in a hamper. The appearance of the subject excited Hill’s suspicion of foul play, and he at once communicated with Mr. Partridge, the Demonstrator of Anatomy. A further examination of the body by Mr. Partridge confirmed the porter’s suspicions.[21] To delay the men, so that the police might be communicated with, Mr. Partridge produced a £50 note, and said that he could not pay until he had changed it. Soon after, the police officers appeared upon the scene, and the men were given into custody. At the coroner’s inquest a verdict of “Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown” was brought in, the jury adding that there was strong suspicion against Bishop and Williams. The prisoners were not allowed to go free, but were kept in custody. Bishop, Williams, and May were tried at the Old Bailey, December, 1831. The evidence given against them showed that[Pg 109] they had tried to sell the body at Guy’s Hospital; being refused there, they tried Mr. Grainger, at his Anatomical Theatre, but with no success. Then they tried King’s, where their crime was detected. The body was proved to be that of an Italian boy, named Carlo Ferrari, who obtained his living by showing white mice. The boy’s teeth had been extracted, and it was proved that they had been sold by one of the prisoners to Mr. Mills, a dentist, for twelve shillings. The jury found all three prisoners guilty, and they were sentenced to death.

From the subsequent confessions of Bishop and Williams, it was shown that they had enticed the boy to their dwelling in Nova Scotia Gardens; there they drugged him with opium, and then let his body into a well, where they kept it until he was suffocated. To the last the prisoners declared that the deceased was not the Italian boy, but a lad from Lincolnshire. They seem to have had great difficulty in disposing of the body, as Bishop, in his confession, said that, before taking it to Guy’s, they had tried Mr. Tuson and Mr. Carpue, both in vain. Bishop and Williams confessed, also, to the murder of a woman named Fanny[Pg 110] Pigburn, and a boy, whose name was supposed to be Cunningham. Both of these bodies they sold for dissection. May was respited, and was sentenced to transportation for life. On hearing of his respite, May went into a fit, and for some time his life was despaired of; he, however, partially recovered, but his feeble state of health was aggravated by the annoyance he received from the other convicts on board the hulks. He died on board the Grampus in 1832.

May can hardly be described as even a minor poet, if the following verse, written whilst in prison, may be taken as a fair sample of his compositions:

“James May is doomed to die,
And is condemned most innocently;
The God above, He knows the same,
And will send a mitigation for his pain.”

At the execution of Bishop and Williams, there was a scene of the most tremendous excitement. By some mistake, three chains hung from the gallows; one was taken away as soon as the error was noticed, and this was recognized by the crowd as a sign that May had been reprieved.

[Pg 111]The Weekly Dispatch sold upwards of 50,000 copies of the number which contained the confessions of the murderers. Many persons were injured in the crowd, and the Dispatch states that those who were hurt were attended to “by Mr. Birkett, the dresser to Mr. Vincent, who had been in attendance [at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital] to receive any accident that might be brought in.”

Bishop was the son of a carrier between London and Highgate, and on the death of his father he succeeded to the business. This he soon sold, and became an informer. He got mixed up with some of the resurrection-men, and then regularly took to the occupation. Williams, alias Head, was Bishop’s brother-in-law, and was a well-known member of the resurrection-gang.

In the Weekly Dispatch for December 11th, 1831, the following curious information respecting Williams appeared:


The King v. Thomas Head, alias Williams, the Murderer.—The Court was occupied during a great part of the morning in [Pg 112]hearing the evidence in the case of Head, alias Williams (who was hung with Bishop) for carrying on an illicit trade in the manufacture of glass. It appeared that the deceased was a Cribb Man, or regular porter, to private glass blowers. There were found on the premises at No. 2, Nova Scotia Gardens (the scene of the late murders), a regular furnace, and all the necessary apparatus for the manufacture of glass, which trade it appears was carried on to a very considerable extent on the premises. Alexander M’Knight, an officer of Excise, deposed that on the 6th of August last, he went to No. 2, Nova Scotia Gardens, and made a seizure of 68 cwt. of manufactured glass, 24 cwt. of cullet, and 16 cwt. of iron, articles used in the manufacture of glass. In about half-an-hour afterwards he saw Williams come out of Bishop’s yard; Williams spoke to witness, and called him by an opprobrious name for having made the seizure. Judgment ‘abated,’ the goods to be returned to the Excise Office to be condemned.”

May had been brought up as a butcher, but this trade he gave up, and became possessed of a horse and cart with which he was supposed to [Pg 113]ply for hire. The real business of the vehicle, however, seems to have been to convey bodies from place to place for the Resurrectionists. Shields, the porter to the gang, had been watchman and grave-digger at the Roman Catholic Chapel in Moorfields, so that he was most useful to the other Resurrectionists in giving information, and in granting facilities for the removal of bodies. No evidence was offered against him in connection with the murder of the Italian boy. Soon after the trial he attempted to get work as a porter in Covent Garden Market, but on his being recognized by those working there, a shout of “Burker!” was raised, and Shields narrowly escaped with his life, and took refuge in the Police Office.


Executed December 5, 1831. From Drawings by W. H. Clift, made directly after the execution.


This one incident as regards Shields gives an idea of the public feeling towards the resurrection-men, and that feeling was quite as bitter towards the anatomists. It was therefore absolutely necessary that some determined steps should be taken as regards legislation.

In December, 1831, Mr. Warburton again introduced a Bill into the House of Commons; it passed safely through both Houses, and[Pg 114] became law on August 1st, 1832. By this new Act the Secretary of State for the Home Department in Great Britain, and the Chief Secretary in Ireland, were empowered to grant licences for anatomical purposes to any person lawfully qualified to practise medicine, to any professor or teacher of anatomy, and to students attending any school of medicine, on an application signed by two justices of the peace, who could certify that the applicant intended to carry on the practice of anatomy. It was enacted that executors, or other persons having lawful possession of a body (provided they were not undertakers, or persons to whom the body had been handed over for purposes of interment), might give it up for dissection unless the deceased had expressed a wish during his life that his body should not be so used, or unless a known relative objected to the body being given up. If a person had expressed a wish to be dissected, this wish was to be carried out unless the relatives raised any objection. No body might be moved for anatomical purposes until forty-eight hours after death, nor until the expiration of a twenty-four hours’ notice to the Inspector of Anatomy;[Pg 115] a proper death certificate had also to be signed by the medical attendant before the body could be moved. Provision was made for the decent removal of all bodies, and for their burial in consecrated ground, or in some public burial-ground in use for persons of that religious persuasion to which the person, whose body was so removed, belonged. A certificate of the interment was to be sent to the Inspector within six weeks after the day on which the body was received. No licensed person was to be liable to any prosecution, penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for having a body in his possession for anatomical purposes according to the provisions of the Act.

Perhaps the most important clause was that which did away with the dissection of the bodies of murderers. This was done by Section XVI., which ran as follows:

“And whereas an Act was passed in the Ninth Year of the Reign of His late Majesty, for consolidating and amending the Statutes in England relative to Offences against the Person, by which latter Act it is enacted, that the Body of every Person convicted of Murder shall, after Execution, either[Pg 116] be dissected or hung in Chains, as to the Court which tried the Offender shall deem meet; and that the Sentence to be pronounced by the Court shall express that the Body of the Offender shall be dissected or hung in Chains, whichever of the Two the Court shall order. Be it enacted, That so much of the said last-recited Act as authorizes the Court, if it shall see fit, to direct that the Body of a Person convicted of Murder shall after Execution, be dissected, be and the same is hereby repealed: and that in every case of Conviction of any Prisoner for Murder, the Court before which such Prisoner shall have been tried shall direct such Prisoner either to be hung in Chains or buried within the Precincts of the Prison in which such Prisoner shall have been confined after conviction, as to such Court shall deem meet; and that the sentence to be pronounced by the Court shall express that the body of such Prisoner shall be hung in Chains, or buried within the Precincts of the Prison, whichever of the two the Court shall order.”

Three Inspectors were appointed to carry out the provisions of the Act. The first Inspectors were Dr. J. C. Somerville, for[Pg 117] England; Dr. Craigie, of Edinburgh, for Scotland; and Sir James Murray, of Dublin, for Ireland. There was no provision for punishing persons found violating graves; it had been already decided that this was an offence at common law; and presumably the framers of the Act had, at last, sufficient faith in their measure to believe that it would put an end to the proceedings of the resurrection-men. If that were so, they were not disappointed. After the passing of the Act the resurrection-man, as such, drops out of history; his occupation was gone, and one of the most nefarious trades that the world has ever seen came completely to an end. Public feeling against these men did not all at once subside; this strongly militated against their getting employment, and some of them moved to other quarters, where they lived under assumed names.

In looking back it is impossible not to regret that Parliament was so slow to believe that legislation in the direction of the Anatomy Act would do away with the evils of the resurrection-men. This fact was urged upon them by the teachers; but popular feeling was so[Pg 118] dead against the anatomists, who were thought to be responsible for even the worst crimes of the resurrection-men, that Parliament seemed to fear to do anything which favoured the teachers, although the great disadvantages under which they suffered were thoroughly well known. Perhaps the best tribute to the success of the Act, is the very small alterations which have been made in it between 1832 and the present day.

A glance at the regulations in force in foreign countries for the supply of bodies, at the time of the passing of the Anatomy Act, shows that when a fair provision was made by law for the supply of bodies, the resurrection-men were unknown. The great advantages of the student on the Continent, as compared with his brethren in England, were thus pointed out to the Committee by Mr. [afterwards Sir] William Lawrence: “I see many medical persons from France, Germany, and Italy, and have found, from my intercourse with them, that anatomy is much more successfully cultivated in those countries than in England; at the same time I know, from their numerous valuable publications[Pg 119] on anatomy, that they are far before us in this science; we have no original standard works at all worthy of the present state of knowledge.” It was also shown that this fact was chiefly the result of the greater opportunities for getting subjects abroad, and that teachers found that those English students who had been to foreign schools were the best informed.

Before the Revolution in France the hospitals of Paris were supported by voluntary contributions, and each had separate funds and Boards of Management, similar to the hospitals in London at the present day. At the Revolution these Boards were consolidated, and one administrative body was formed. This “Administration des Hôpitaux, Hospices et Secours à Domicile de Paris,” carried into effect the law passed by the Legislative Assembly, that the bodies of all those persons who died in hospitals, which were unclaimed within twenty-four hours after death, should be given up for anatomical purposes. The distribution from the hospitals to the medical schools was systematically carried out, generally at night.[Pg 120] By Art. 360 of the Penal Code, the punishment for violation of a place of sepulture was imprisonment for a term varying from three months to a year, and a fine of from 60 to 200 francs. The result of these regulations was that exhumation for anatomical purposes was quite unknown.

In Germany the bodies of persons who died in prisons, or penitentiaries, and those of suicides, were given up for dissection, unless the friends of the deceased cared to pay a certain sum to the funds of the school; in this case the body was handed over to the friends. Other sources of supply were the bodies of those persons who died without leaving sufficient to pay the cost of burial, poor people who had been supported at the public cost, all persons executed, and public women. Although these regulations were not rigorously carried out, there was an ample supply of bodies for anatomical purposes, and the resurrection-men were unknown.

In Austria, if the medical attendant thought necessary, a post mortem was made on all[Pg 121] patients who died in hospital, but only unclaimed bodies were used for dissection; these were given up to the teachers forty-eight hours after death. In Vienna the supply came from the General Hospital; this was sufficient for all purposes, and there was no recourse to exhumation.

The supply in Italy came from a source similar to that of the other countries named. The rule was that all bodies of persons who died in hospital were given up for dissection if required; but, by paying the cost of the funeral, friends could, if they wished, take away the body. This, however, was seldom done. There was generally a sufficient supply of bodies; but, if this ran short, the subjects were obtained from “the deposit” of poor people who died and were buried at the public cost. In every parish church in Italy there was a chamber in which all the dead bodies of the poor were deposited during the day-time, after the religious ceremonies had been performed over them in the church; at night these bodies were removed either to the dissecting-room or to the burial-fields, outside[Pg 122] the town. Body-snatching was quite unknown.

There was an ample supply of bodies in Portugal from similar sources. Mortality was very high amongst infants, who were put into roda, or foundling cradles; the bodies of these children could be obtained without any difficulty. In Portugal the resurrection-man did not exist.

In Holland there was no lack of material for teaching anatomy, and for students to learn operative surgery on the dead body. The Dissecting School at Leyden was supplied from the civil hospitals at Amsterdam. There was no prejudice against dissection in Holland; in all the principal towns lectures on anatomy were publicly given, and dissected subjects were exhibited. Here, again, exhumation was not necessary, and was unknown.

In the United States the laws relating to anatomy varied very considerably in the different States; there was no regular supply for the schools, and, consequently, subjects had[Pg 123] to be obtained by the aid of resurrection-men. In Philadelphia and Baltimore, the two great Medical Schools of the United States in those days, the supply of bodies was obtained almost entirely from the “Potter’s Field,” the burial-place of the poorest classes. This exhumation was carried on by an understanding with the authorities that the men employed by the schools in this work should not be interfered with. Dissection in the United States was, as in this country, looked upon with great aversion; this was, no doubt, mainly owing to the fact that the bodies used for this purpose were obtained from the graves.



[Pg 124]


The Diary of a Resurrectionist is written on 16 leaves, but is, unfortunately, imperfect. The first entry is November 28th, 1811, and the last December 5th, 1812. There are no entries in May, June, and July; during these months there would be little demand for subjects, as the sessions of the Anatomical Schools ran from October to May. Besides this, the light nights would interfere with the work of the men. The entry under the date February 25th refers to this: “the moon at the full, could not go.” The state of the moon was of great importance to these men in their work; the writer of the Diary has on one of the pages copied out the “Rules for finding the moon on any given day,” and has set out the epact for 1812 and 1813.

There is no clue in the Diary itself as to the name of the writer, and, unfortunately, Sir Thomas Longmore[22] was quite unable to[Pg 125] remember the name of the individual from whom he received it. Feeling was very strong against the men who had been engaged in the resurrection business, and therefore, when information was required from them, every effort was made to keep their names secret. As late as 1843, when the Life of Sir Astley Cooper was published, the name of this man was carefully concealed, though most of the other members of the gang were freely spoken of under their full names. Bransby Cooper[23] quotes a written statement made by this man to the effect that he was in Maidstone Gaol in October, 1813. Enquiry at the gaol has, however, failed to find any mention of him; the original document is not forthcoming, and it is very probable that there is a mistake as regards the date. In this statement he is called Josh. N——, and Bransby Cooper speaks of him as N. There is a letter on “Body-snatchers” in the Medical Times, 1883, vol. i. p. 343, signed, “Your Old Correspondent”; the writer of the letter was, in all probability, Mr. T. Madden Stone, who had been a correspondent of the journal in[Pg 126] question from the time of its foundation. Mr. Stone had a valuable collection of papers and autographs, and his letter is really a reprint of a paper in his possession relating to payments made to the resurrection-men. In it occurs the following passage: “N.B., Sir Astley Cooper great friend to Naples.” Mr. Stone presented a large number of papers and letters to the Royal College of Surgeons, but this particular one is not in the collection. It is curious that Bransby Cooper makes no special mention of Naples in his book, although he gives an account of all the other men with whom Sir Astley had any dealings. He gives a long notice of “N.,” and mentions that he wrote the Diary from which quotations are made; this is the document now under consideration.

The witness “C. D.,” who was examined before the Committee on Anatomy in 1828, was, in all probability, Naples; he gave statistics to show the number of bodies obtained, and stated that the figures were taken “from my book.” The letters “C. D.” are not given as initials; the three resurrection-men who gave evidence were distinguished[Pg 127] as “A. B.,” “C. D.,” and “F. G.” The testimony was probably given on the condition that no names were revealed, and, therefore, definite information cannot be obtained as to “C. D.’s” real name from the House of Commons.

On one page of the Diary is written “Miss Naples.” This does not prove much, as the names of several other females are mentioned; not, however, in any connection with the business. The entries look as though the writer had amused himself by scribbling them down, and then crossing them out again. “Miss Naples” is the only one not crossed through.

It is known that the man described as N—— by Bransby Cooper was on board the Excellent in the action off Cape St. Vincent. In the muster-book of the Excellent for 1797 Josh. Naples is down as an A.B.: he is there stated to have been born at Deptford, and to have been 21 years of age in 1795. This seems conclusively to prove that Naples was the man who wrote the Diary.

The men who composed the gang at the time the Diary was written are, in that document, nearly always spoken of by their Christian[Pg 128] names. Their names are Ben [Crouch], Bill [Harnett], Jack [Harnett], Daniel,[24] Butler, Tom [Light], and Holliss. This gang, whose doings are recorded in the Diary, was the chief one in the Metropolis in the early part of the present century. The account, therefore, of the proceedings of these men gives a good idea of the work of the body-snatchers in general. Honour amongst thieves was not the motto of the resurrection-men; they seem to have been ever ready to sell or cheat their comrades, if a favourable opportunity presented itself.

For the accompanying biographical notes of the men mentioned in the Diary the writer is indebted chiefly to the account given of them by Bransby Cooper.[25]

Ben Crouch, the leader of the gang, was the son of a carpenter, who worked at Guy’s Hospital. He was a tall, powerful, athletic man, with coarse features, marked with the small-pox, and was well known as a prize-fighter. He used to dress in very good clothes, and wore a profusion of gold rings, and had a large bunch of seals dangling at[Pg 129] his fob. He was tried for stealing cloth from Watling Street, but was able to successfully prove an alibi. Bransby Cooper states that Crouch was seldom drunk, but when he was in that state he was most abusive and domineering; the Diary shows him in more than one of these attacks. He was sharp enough to be always sober on settling-up nights, and so had a distinct advantage over his comrades; by this means he generally managed to get more than his proper share of the proceeds of their horrible work. About 1817 he gave up the resurrection business, and occupied himself chiefly in dealing in teeth; in this he was joined by Jack Harnett. They obtained licences as sutlers, so that they might be allowed as camp-followers, both in France and Spain. A large supply of teeth was thus obtained by them, their plan being to draw the sound teeth of as many dead men as possible on the night after a battle. They did not limit their attention to teeth, but made large sums of money by stealing valuables from the persons of those who had fallen in battle—proceedings which were even more brutal than their former resurrectionist practices. With the money he had thus made,[Pg 130] Crouch built a large hotel at Margate, which at first looked like being a paying concern. The nature of his former occupation, however, leaked out, and ruined his business; he then parted with the property at a great sacrifice. Subsequently he became very poor, and, whilst Harnett was away in France, Crouch appropriated some of his property; for this he was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment. After this he lived in London, in great poverty, and was ultimately found dead in the top room of a public-house near Tower Hill. It is very probable that at one time he made money by lending to the medical students. In his “Confessions of a Dissecting-room Porter,” before alluded to, Albert Smith says, “I beg you will look at your watches, if you have not already lent them to Uncle Crouch.”

Bill Harnett was a favourite with Astley Cooper and Henry Cline. With the exception of a fondness for gin, he seems to have been a more respectable man than one would have expected to find in such company. He was very obliging, and could generally be trusted[Pg 131] to carry out his promises. Bransby Cooper states that Bill Harnett and “N.” objected to Crouch, and often worked against him; in the Diary they will be all found working together, though there is recorded at least one “row” with Crouch. Bill Harnett was a good boxer, and fought Ben Crouch at Wimbledon; he had previously received an injury to his jaw, and Crouch hit him a severe blow on this part, which decided the fight in Crouch’s favour. Harnett died in St. Thomas’ Hospital of consumption. Like Southey’s “Surgeon,” he had a great horror of being dissected, and on his death-bed he obtained a promise from Mr. Joseph Henry Green that his body should not be opened.

Jack Harnett was a nephew of Bill; he is described as a stout, red-haired, ill-looking fellow, uncouth in his address and manner of speech. Like his partner, Crouch, he seems to have been fond of display in the matter of jewellery. But, unlike Crouch, he did not lose the money he had made, and at his death left nearly £6,000 to his family.

[Pg 132]Butler was originally a porter in the dissecting-room at St. Thomas’. Bransby Cooper describes him as “a short, stout, good-tempered man, with a laughing eye and Sancho-Panza sort of expression.” He was a clever articulator, and dealt largely in bones and teeth. Afterwards he set up as a dentist in Liverpool; but his dissolute habits were his ruin, and he was obliged to fly from his creditors. Butler was sentenced to death for robbing the Edinburgh mail, but his execution was postponed. During this delay he obtained the skeleton of a horse, and articulated it in the prison. The Austrian Archdukes John and Lewis were at that time in this kingdom, and, on visiting the prison in Edinburgh, were shown this skeleton; they were so pleased with the man’s handiwork that they obtained his pardon from the Prince Regent. After his release, Butler was never heard of again by any of his old comrades or employers.

Tom Light is not mentioned by Bransby Cooper by name; he gives an account of a resurrection-man whom he calls “L——,” but whether this notice refers to Light or not[Pg 133] cannot be definitely determined. In all probability L—— and Light are identical; Cooper speaks of the former as being so unreliable that his comrades could never trust him. Tom Light seems to have had a happy knack of escaping justice; on p. 92 will be found an account of his being acquitted, even when taken with the bodies in his possession. He does not seem to have worked regularly with Crouch’s gang; at Hatton Garden Police Court he appeared as T. Light, alias John Jones, alias Thomas Knight, in October, 1812, and it was stated against him that he had lately been convicted at the Middlesex Sessions of stealing dead bodies for dissection, but he had evaded standing his trial, in consequence of which the Bench issued a warrant against him. The particular charge on which he was now brought before the magistrates was that, with Patrick Harnell,[26] one of his bail, he had been found in the act of stealing three dead bodies from the parish burial-ground of St.[Pg 134] Pancras, or St. Giles, which were separated only by a wall. The men were apprehended by the horse patrol of the Hampstead and Highgate district. There was some difficulty in carrying on the case, as, until it was determined from which burial-ground the bodies had been taken, it could not be said which parish was the real prosecutor. Light attempted to escape, but was secured. The newspaper adds, “and, from the frequency of such offences, strong indignation was excited in the neighbourhood, from whence a crowd attended at the office.”

Holliss was originally a sexton, and, like so many of his class, came into the pay of the Resurrectionists; at last his demands became so exorbitant that the resurrection-men refused to pay him, and informed his employers of what had been taking place. He was at once dismissed, and, having no other means of livelihood, he joined the resurrection-men. He saved money, and afterwards purchased a hackney coach, which he himself drove. Like most of his companions, Holliss came to a bad end. Harnett, the younger, had been[Pg 135] to France, and had brought away with him a large number of teeth, which he valued at £700; these he entrusted to his daughter, who left them in a hackney carriage. The driver found the teeth, and, not knowing how to dispose of them, consulted his friend, Holliss. Holliss offered £5 for the teeth, and promised an extra sum if they sold well. Harnett had made known his loss to Holliss, so that he knew perfectly well to whom the teeth belonged. Thinking that he could make more money by selling them privately than by trusting to a reward from Harnett, he began to dispose of the teeth to dentists. Harnett made enquiries of some of his customers as to whether they had lately been offered teeth for sale, and was shown some lately purchased from Holliss; these he was able to identify. Holliss was at once given into custody, and was tried at Croydon; he escaped transportation through a flaw in the indictment. Whilst he was in gaol awaiting his trial, Harnett seized Holliss’ house and all his household furniture for a debt of £83. Holliss was afterwards mixed up in a horse-stealing case, and ultimately died in great poverty and wretchedness.

[Pg 136]“N.” or Joseph Naples, the writer of the Diary, is described by Bransby Cooper as “a civil and well conducted man, slight in person, with a pleasing expression of countenance, and of respectful manners.” He was the son of a respectable stationer and bookbinder, and in early life went as a sailor into the King’s service. He was for some time on board the Excellent, and served in that vessel in the engagement off Cape St. Vincent.[27] Then he returned to England, and, having spent all his prize-money, went on a vessel cruising about the Channel. From this he ran away and came back to London; here he obtained a situation as grave-digger to the Spa Fields burial-ground. A man named White enticed Naples into the resurrectionist business; this soon caused him to lose his situation. White was stopped by the patrols, and a body was found in his possession. He managed to escape, but it was proved that the body had been taken from Spa Fields, and Naples was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. He escaped, with another prisoner, from the House of Correction by making an opening through[Pg 137] a skylight in the roof, and afterwards scaling the outer walls of the prison by means of a rope.

He was retaken through information given against him by Crouch, and it was only by the mediation of Sir Astley Cooper with the Secretary of State that Naples escaped additional punishment. In the list of prisoners written out by himself, and printed by Bransby Cooper (Life, vol. 1. p. 423), Naples thus describes himself: “Josh. N——[28] ‘Resurgam Hommo,’ for trial.”

The writing and spelling in the Diary show him to have been a man of superior education to most of his class. He continued in the resurrectionist business up to the time of the passing of the Anatomy Act, when he was taken on as a servant in the dissecting-room of St. Thomas’ Hospital.

There is considerable difficulty in identifying many of the burial-grounds from which bodies are said in the Diary to have been stolen. Many of these were private, and the name[Pg 138] mentioned is probably either that of the proprietor or of the care-taker. No doubt, too, some of the names are slang terms which are quite forgotten at the present day.[29]





[Pg 139]


[The spelling of the Diary has been preserved in the reprint, but as there is no attempt at punctuation in the original, stops have here been added to make some of the entries more intelligible. The writer’s capital letters, too, have not been strictly followed in the reprint.]

1811 November.

Thursday 28th. At night went out and got 3, Jack & me Hospital Crib,[30] Benjn, Danl & Bill to Harpers,[31] Jack & me 1 big Gates,[32] sold 1 Taunton Do St Thomas’s.

Friday 29th. At night went out and got 3, Jack, Ben & me got 2, Bethnall Green, Bill & Danl. 1 Bartholow. Crib opened;[33] whole at Barthw.

Saturday 30th. At night went and got 3 Bunhill Row, sold to Mr. Cline, St. Thomas’s Hospital.

 [Pg 140]

Remarks, &c., December, 1811.

Sunday 1st. We all lookd. out,[34] at Home all night.

Monday 2nd. Met at St. Thomas’s, Got paid for the 3 adults & settled; met and settled with Mordecei,[35] made Him up £2 5s. 6d. and Receipt of all demands. At Home all night.

Tuesday 3rd. Went to look out and brought the Shovils from Bartholw., Met early in the evening at Mr. Vickers,[36] did not go out that night, Butler and me came home intoxsicated.

Wednesday 4th. At night went out and got 10, whole[37] went to Green[38] and got 4, Black Crib 1, Bunner[39] fields 5.

[Pg 141]Thursday 5th. The whole at home all night.

Friday 6th. Removed 1 from Barthol. to Carpue.[40] At night went out and got 8, Danl. at home all night. 6 Back St. Lukes & 2 Big Gates: went 5 Barthol. 1 Frampton[41] 3 St. Thomas’s, 3 Wilson.[42]

Saturday 7th. At night went out & got 3 at Bunhill Row. 1 St. Thomas’s, 2 Brookes.[43]

Sunday 8th. At home all night.

Monday 9th. At night went out and got 4 at Bethnall Green.

Tuesday 10th. Intoxsicated all day: at night went out & got 5 Bunhill Row. Jack all most buried.

Wednesday 11th. Tom & Bill and me[Pg 142] removed[44] 5 from St. Bartholw., 2 Wilson, 2 Brookes, 1 Bell[45]; in the evening got 1 Harps,[46] went to St. Thomas’, at home all night.

Thursday 12th. I went up to Brookes and Wilson, afterwards me Bill and Daniel went to Bethnall Green, got 2; Jack, Ben went got 2 large & 1 large small back St. Luke’s,[47] came home, afterwards met again & went to Bunhill row got 6, 1 of them with ——[48] named Mary Rolph, aged 46, Died 5th Dec. 1811.

Friday 13th. At Home all day & night.

Saturday 14th. Went to Bartholomew tookd. two Brookes: Packd 4 and sent them to Edinborough, came Home to Benn., settled £14 6s. 2½d. each man, came home, got up at 2 me Jack & Bill went to Bunhill Row and got 3. Ben & Daniel staid at home.

[Pg 143]Sunday 15th. At home all day, Got up at 3 a.m. The whole party went to Harps, got 3, Went to St. Thomas’s.

Monday 16th. At home all day & night Ill.

Tuesday 17th. At home all day & do. night.

Wednesday 18th. At Home all day & do. night.

Remember me when far away

[This line is written in the same way as the names mentioned on p. 127.]

Thursday 19th. Went to Bartholomew, At home all night.

Friday 20th. Went to St. Thomas’s, came home and went to the play, came home: at 3 A.M. got up and went to the Hospital Crib got 5 large.

Saturday 21st. Went to St. Thomas’s sent 1 to Mr. Taunton,[49] 2 to Edinburgh, St. Thomas’s took 6 of the above this week, came home and stopt at home all night.

[Pg 144]Sunday 22nd. Went and look’d out, at 4 o’clock, got up, party went to Harps got 3 large and 2 small, the whole went to Barthm.

Monday 23rd. Went for orders to Wilson and Brookes, Met Bill, Brought one to Carpue, Sent him back to bring 2 from Bartholw. 1 for Brookes, 1 for Bell, Benn and Jack got 5 small at Harpers.

Tuesday 24th. At twelve at midnight a party went to Wygate got 3 small, came back and got 2 large at Newington, Came home then settled at Benn, Each man’s share £8 16s. 8d., at home all night.

Wednesday 25th. At Home all day and night.

Thursday 26th. At Home all day and night.

Friday 27th. Went to look out, Came home met Ben and Danl at 5 o’clock, went to Harps, got 1 large and took it to Jack’s house, Jack, Bill and Tom not with us, Geting drunk.

[Pg 145]Saturday 28th. At 4 o’clock in the morning got up, with the whole party to Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Crib, got 6 took them to St. Thomas’s. Came home and met at Thomas’s again, packd. up 3 for Edinbro, took one over to Guys.

Sunday 29th. At home all day and night.

Monday 30th. Butler and Danl, took 1 large to Framton, large small to Hornig.

Tuesday 31st. Met at the Harty Choak,[50] had dispute about the horse.


Remarks, &c., January, 1812.

Wednesday 1st. Got up at 3 in the morning, the whole party went to Guys and St. Thomas’, got 3 adults, 1 from Guy’s and 2 from St. Thomas’, took them to St. Thomas’, came home and met again, took one of the above to Guy’s, settled for the Horse £24. At home all night. Miss Naples.[51]

Thursday 2nd. Went down to St. Thomas’s, got paid £7 17 6 for one adult[Pg 146] open Do not. Came home, met by agreement at St. Thomas’s, did not go out, Bill not there, Came home again, at home all night.

Friday 3rd. Went to St. Thomas’s, took the Fœtus to the London, Recd. 10s. 6d. Came back to St. Thomas’s Recd. £4 4s. 0d., Went home, Met by agreement, Went to the Green got 5, Jack, Benn and me; Danl. and Bill at home, took the above 5 to Bartholw. at home all night.

Saturday 4th. Met at Bartholow., they took 4 of the above, 1 sent to Edinburgh, 1 went to Brookes, Carpue and Wilson for orders, Came back, at home all night.

Sunday 5th. At home all day. Met at 5, whole went to Newin.[52] got 3. Jack and me took them to Wilson, Came home, met at 12, got 5 & 2 small at Harps, afterwards went to the Big Gates, got 3 adults, left Danl. at home, took the whole to Barthom.

Monday 6th. Went to Barthw., took 1 to[Pg 147] the London, Jack & Tom 1 to Harnige, Do 1 to St. Thomas’s. Came home, in all night.

Tuesday 7th. At home all day, Tom removed 1 from the borough to Bartholomw. fetched £2., from there took 2 to Mr. Wilson, Do to Brookes.

Wednesday 8th. At 2 A.M. got up, the Party went to Harps, got 4 adults and 1 small, took 4 to St. Thomas’s, Came home went to Mr. Wilson & Brookes, Danl. got paid £8 8 0 from Mr. Wilson I recd. 9 9 0 from Mr. Brookes, Came over to the borough, sold small for £1 10 0, Recd. £4 4 0 for adult, At home all night.

Thursday 9th. Went down to St. Thomas’s, got paid £8 8 0, 2 adults: at home all night.

Friday 10th. Met at St. Thomas’s, settled each man’s share £12 12 0, 3 things[53] on hand.

Saturday 11th. At 4 A.M. got up & went to the Hospital Crib, got 2 adults, met at[Pg 148] Bartholw., packed up 2 for the Country, sold 1 at St. Thomas’s: at home all night.

Sunday 12th. At Home all day, at 11 p.m. met & the whole went to Wygate, got 2 adults & 2 small, afterwards went to the Green, got 2 large & 1 large small,[54] Took them to Bartholw.

Monday 13th. Took 2 of the above to Mr. Brookes & 1 large & 1 small to Mr. Bell, Fœtus to Mr. Carpue, small to Mr. Framton, Large small to Mr. Cline. Met at 5, the party went to Newington, 2 adults. Took them to St. Thomas’s.

Tuesday 14th. At 1 A.M. got up, Benn., Bill & me went to St. Luke’s, 2 adults; Jack, Danl. Big Gates, 1 large & 1 small, took them to Bartholw., Came home & went to St. Thomas’s, afterwards went to the other end of the town for orders. At home all night.

Wednesday 15th. Went to St. Thomas’s, Came back, pack’d up 2 large & 1 small for Edinburgh. At home all night.

[Pg 149]Thursday 16th. The party met at the Hartichoak. Settled the above, Each man’s share £8 4s. 7½d. At home all night.

Friday 17th. Went & look out: came home met at 11, party except Danl., Went to the Hospital Crib & got 4, was stopt by the patrols, Butler, Horse & Cart were taken.

Saturday 18th. Went to the White horse, Butler bailed: at home all night.

Sunday 19th. Went & look’d out, at home all night, Could not get the horse out of the Stable.

Monday 20th. At home all day & night, Butler & Jack got drunk.

Tuesday 21st. Look’d out, Jack & Butler drunk as before, hindred us of going out. At Home.

Wednesday 22nd. At 4 o’clock in the morning got up, Bill & me went to the Hospital Crib and 1 for Mr. Cooper’s[55] Lectures, had a dispute with the party, at home all night. Ben got drunk.

[Pg 150]Thursday 23rd. Met at 10 at night, went to Wygate, got 4 large and 1 small, went to the Green got 3 large. Danl, not with us.

Friday 24th. Met at 11 at night. Met the patrols. Got one Hospital Crib and 6 at Bermondsey, took them to Bartholw., sent 3 to the Country.

Saturday 25th. Met at Bartholomew. Took 1 to Mr. Carpue; St. Bartholw. took 2: at home all night.

Sunday 26th. Went to Big Gates to Look out, came home, at home all night.

Monday 27th. At 2 o’clock in the morning got up, met the party except Danl., Went to the Big gates, got 4 Took them to Bartholw., Afterwards met, took 1 to Mr. Cline, 2 to Mr. Wilson, came home. Tom & Bill got drunk, did not go out.

Tuesday 28th. Went to Bartholw., could not sell, came back to the Borough & came home, at home all night.

[Pg 151]Wednesday 29th. Went to Barthow. brought remaining 2 to St. Thomas’s, at home all night.

Thursday 30th. Went to St. Thomas’s, at home all night.

Friday 31st. Went to look out, at night went out, got 2 Guys & Thomas’s, same night 3 Harps 2 small: same night the Cart broke down, took 2 to Guys.


Remarks, &c., Feb., 1812.

Saturday 1st. Went to Bartholw., did not settle, at home all night.

Sunday 2nd. Went to look out, met at 5 in the evening, went to the Green, got 7 large & 3 small and 3 fœtus. Same night went to Wygate 4 large & 2 small. Took them to Bartholomew.

Monday 3rd. Went to Bartholomew, at home all night.

Tuesday 4th. Met at Bartholomew, settled[Pg 152] each man’s share £21 9s. 4d., Met at night, went to Guy’s got 3 adults. Took them to Bartholomew: at home all night.

Wednesday 5th. Went to Bartholw. Met at night. Got 5 at Newington.

Thursday 6th. Went to St. Thomas’s: at home all night.

Friday 7th. Met together me & Butler went to Newington, thing bad.[56] Jack & Bill went to Goswell St.[57] got 1. Came home met again. Danl. Bill & me went to St. Johns got 2 adults. Benn and Jack went to Flemish[58] got nothing, took 2 St. Thomas’s.

Saturday 8th. Went to St. Thomas’s, at home all night.

Sunday 9th. Went to Look out, at home all night.

Monday 10th. Met. Went to St. James’s. Got 9 large & 4 small, took them to Bartholw.

[Pg 153]Tuesday 11th. Went to Bartholw. Moved the things. At home all night.

Wednesday 12th. Went to Look out, Met at night, went to St. Olives. Got 2 adults and 1 Do Bermondsey, Took them to St. Thomas’s.

Thursday 13th. Met at St. Thomas’s. At home all night.

Friday 14th. Met by appointment, me & Jack went to Big gate got 4, the rest went to St. Luke’s got 2, took them to Bartholw.

Saturday 15th. Met at Bartholw. At home all night.

Sunday 16th. Went to Look out, at home all night.

Monday 17th. Met & went to Wiegate. Got 8 large & 1 small. Took them to St. Thomas’s.

Tuesday 18th. Met at St. Thomas’s. Took 2 over to Guy’s. Came home & settled each[Pg 154] man’s share £23 6s. 9d. On hand 2 open’d Large, 3 small & 3 fœtus not paid, at home all night.

Wednesday 19th. At Home all day sick. John Harnet and Butler got drunk, at home all night.

Thursday 20th. Met and went to Pancress[59] got 15 large & 1 small took them to Bartholw.

Friday 21st. Met at Bartholw. Sold part, came home. Met at 2 a.m. went to St. Thomas’s Crib. Got 3 large, met the Patrols, took 1 to St. Thomas’s and 2 to Bartholw.

Saturday 22nd. Met at Bartholw. Sent 7 into the Country, distributed the rest about town. At home all night.

Sunday 23rd. At Home all day and night.

Monday 24th. Bill Jack Tom and Benn with Nat Ure Getting drunk oblige to Come[Pg 155] Home in a Coach which prevented us going out to Harps.

Tuesday 25th. At home all day, at Night met at Jack to go to Harps. the moon at the full, could not go.[60]

Wednesday 26th. Went to look out. Could not go out Jack and Tom got drunk. Benn. taken very ill.

Thursday 27th. Went to St. Thomas’s, sold the extremities. At night Tom & Bill got drunk at the Rockingham Arms, at Home all night.

Friday 28th. Met at Jacks Got 4 large 1 Small and 1 Fœtus, Harps. Took them to the London.

Saturday 29th. Met at St. Thomas’s at home all night.


March 1812.

Sunday 1st. Met & went to the Big gates got 3. Took them to St. Thomas’s, not settled.

[Pg 156]Monday 2nd. Met at Mr. Vickers, Jack & Tom went to the fight, at home all night.

Tuesday 3rd. Went to St. Thomas’s, at night went to Pencress got 8 adults, 2 small and 2 fœtus.

Wednesday 4th. Met at Jack’s & settled, at home all night.

Thursday 5th. Went to St. Thomas’s; at night early, went out & got 1 St. Thomas’s Crib: at home all night.

Friday 6th. Went to look out Big gates Green, at night got 1 Big gates.

Saturday 7th. At Home all day and night.

Sunday 8th. Met at Night, Jack, Tom & Danl. went to Harps got 5 Large, Bill and me went to the Big gates, missd.[61]

Monday 9th. At Home all day and night.

Tuesday 10th. Went to St. Thomas’s & settled.

[Pg 157]Wednesday 11th. Went to the Big Gates to Look out, at night the party went to the above Place and again missd., all got drunk.

Thursday 12th. At Home all day & night.

Friday 13th. Went to look out, met at night and went to Wiegate got 5 large, also went to the Green got 8 large took them Bartholomew.

Saturday 14th. Met at Barthol. sent 5 to Edinburgh, Mr. Wilson 3, Brookes 2, Barthol. 1. Settled each man’s share £3 6 8. 2 on hand.[62]

Sunday 15th. Went to Look out, at night went to St. John’s, Got 1 Large and 1 Large Small, Burnt. Took the Large to Wilson, small to St. Thomas’s. Paid Hollis £11 11 0 at the order of Miss Kay.

Monday 16th. At Home all day went to Harps got 3 Large and 1 Large Small, 1 Small, and 1 Fœtus, took 2 Large to St.[Pg 158] Thomas’s, 1 Large to Guy’s, Large Small to Mr. Frampton and 1 small to Mr. Taunton. Mr. Frampton called at 7 in the evening.

Tuesday 17th. Went to the Borough: at Night met at 6 in the evening, went to the Flemish, Jack, Benn. & myself. Got 2 adults, Bill not with us, took the above 2 to St. Thomas’s. Big gate for time is very well.

Wednesday 18th. Went to the Big gates to Look out. came home, at home all night which was a very bad thing for us as we wanted some money to pay our debts to several persons who were importunate.

Thursday 19th. Met at Jack and settled each man’s share £6 18 4: at 6 in the evening went to the Meeting Crib[63], 1 Large and 1 small, afterwards went to the Big gates got 2 Large took them to Barthw.

Friday 20th. Went to St. Thomas’s, at home all night.

Saturday 21st. Jack and Tom got 2 Large[Pg 159] small, 1 Frampton 1 Taunton. Recd. for the above £3 13 6 Do. £4 4 0: at home all night.

Sunday 22nd. Went to the Green, at Home all night.

Monday 23rd. At home all night.

Tuesday 24th. Do.

Wednesday 25th. Went to Pancress got 5 adult, Took them to Bartholomew.

Thursday 26th. Went to Look out, Jack got 2 Large small. 1 Do. Frampton £3 13 6 1 Do. Mr. Taunton £4 4 0.

Friday 27th. Went to Look out, at Home all night.

Saturday 28th. Jack got 1 large small for Mr. Cline £4 4 0, at Home all night.

Sunday 29th. Went to the Green; at home all night.

Monday 30th. At Home all day & night.

[Pg 160]Tuesday 31st. Went to Pancress got 5 adults Ben Bill & me. Dan’l Jack and Tom went to Harps, missed.

Wednesday April 1st. Party went to the Green got 4 adults; being the 1st of April the man left us a new Hat.[64]

Thursday 2nd. Went Bill & me to the Big Gates 2 adults and 1 small, Jack, Ben and Dan’l got 4 adults, Harps.

Friday 3rd. Went to look out and distribute the above, met at Jack’s at night, Ben being Drunk disappoint’d the party.

Saturday 4th. Met and settled £108 13s. 7d. each man’s share £18 2s. 3d., at Home all night.

Sunday 5th. Went to look out met at Jack’s at 10, not coming home in time did not go out.

[No date put.] Tom & me went to Olives,[65] did not succeed.

[At this point the diary leaves off abruptly: the entries from Friday 7th to Saturday 29th are in a different handwriting from the rest of the MS.]

 [Pg 161]

[1812, August]

Friday 7th. Went to look out Hollis & myself could not find Bill, went to St Johns, then to White Chappell returned at night, went to White Chappel did not succeed, came back went to St. Johns, the other party had got the adult, coming back with the ladder, Bill got taken unto the Watchhouse,[66] with the ladder, came home.

Saturday 8th. canines 11 shillings: went to union hall[67] Bill got clear the party went to Bartholomew. At Night went to We. Chappel got 4 adults, one small, took 2 to Bartholm. 2 & 1 Small to St. Thomas’s. Horse & Cart.

Sunday 9th. at home all day & night, Wortley came concerning horse & cart.

Monday 10th. went to St. Thos. got paid for 1 adult £4 4s. 0d. went to Bartholm. got paid £4. 4s. 0d. row’d with Ben did not settle each man had £2 2s. 0d, left with Hollis £2 2s. 0d. for Expences, at home all night.

[Pg 162]Tuesday 11th. had information Crouch had cut the subjects[68] went to St. Thoms, had not cut them, Bartholm. they had, went to differt. parts of the Town for orders, settled our Expence & what we had Recd. each man’s share £3 1s. 2½d. one adult St Thoms. 1 London Do unpaid ½ Do Bartholn. unpaid; at night went to Hoxton, 1 Large Yellow Jaundice sold at Brooks.

Wednesday 12th. Went to look out, at night went to Bartholm. Crib. cut off the extremitys took to Bartholm.—Recd. £1 0s. 0d.

Thursday 13th. Went to St Thomas’s Crib could not succeed came back to the White horse, Bill got arrested,[69] Millard[70] pd. the Debt I got drunk would not go out, Bill & Hollis went to Weigate got 1 adult male, took to the Boro, Recd. £2 0s. 0d.

[Pg 163]Friday 14th. Went to Barthol swaggd. the Extras[71] to St. Thos. at night went to Weigate got 1 male took them to Brooks Dan — —[72] Recd. £1 1 0

[Pg 164]Saturday 15th. Went to different places, at Night went to pancs.[73] Missd. Recd. £1 0 0

Sunday 16th. Went to look out, at Night went to Harp’s got 1 adult male took to Wilson 1 Small Do, took to Barthow: a Porter carried the large. Hollis did not go in.

Monday 17th. went & got paid for the above, small fetched three guineas, at night went to Connells. got 1 adult M.[74] Danl, carried to St Thos. Hollis did not go in, Recd. £1 0 0.

Tuesday 18th. Went to different places, at night went to the play. Recd. £1 10 0.

Wednesday 19th. Went as above at night Flemish 1 adt. male, took to St Thomas’s got paid; likewise head, Millard gave £1 1 0 for it.

Thursday 20th. As above, at night went to Flemish 1 adult male, took to St Thos. Recd £1 12 0.

Friday 21st. Went to different places, settled our quarrell by agreeing with Mr.[Pg 165] Stanley[75] to bring in a subject for Lecture, removed the above from St. Thoms at night, went to Harp’s got 1 adult M. underneath took to St. Thoss.

Saturday 22nd. Went to look out me & Hollis, Bill staid in the Boro, got paid £4 4 0 for the above a very queer one, received but two Guineas for the one at Barthl. would not do for Lecture, Settd. each man’s share £1 16s. 6d., at night the party went to Weigate, the thing bad.

Sunday 23rd. Went to look out at different places. Holliss met with Ben at St. George’s agreed to meet at Lamberts with the seperate partys: met, lookd at each other nothing transpired concerning the Business, our party went to Harp’s could not get in the private[76] door being shut, came home.

Monday 24th. Our party went to Bartholm. met with Ben and Daniel partly agreed me [Pg 166]& Ben went in the Cart to different places to look out coming back by Charing Cross met the Jews[77] Drag touted till Dark and lost scent came home did not go out that night.

Tuesday 25th. Understood the Jew had brought a Male to Bartholm. Met by appointment at the above place, had a row, came home after looking out, met by agreement at 4 p.m. (Crouch having over slept himself two hours) went to St Jns workd. three places only got two adults M. and F. on account of not having time, took the above to Mr Frampton.

Wednesday 26th. Seperated to look out. Holliss got paid in part £6 from Mr. F. I took from the above £1. the party met at night, Ben Bill & Tom Light went to St Geos got 2 adults M. & F. took 1 Willson M. & F. Bartholm me Jack and Hollis went to Isln. could not succeed the dogs flew at us, afterwards went to Pancrs found a watch[78] planted, came home.

[Pg 167]Thursday 27th. Went to look out, Hollis got paid the remainder at Frampton £2 8 0. Met at night at St. Thos.—very light could not go out (came home).

Friday 28th. Seperated to look out, brought the F. from Bartholn. to St. Thomas, having not settled took from Hollis £1 0 0, afterwards met at St. Thos. & went to St. Jns, Ben not with us work’d two holes one bad, drew the C.ns[79] & took the above to St. Thos.

Saturday 29th. Met at St Thos. could not get Pd for either. Borrowed £2 of Jack, at home all night.

Sunday 30th. Went to look out, at night went to H. got two large Ms. went to St Thos. removed 1 to Wilson, 1 adult came from St Jns.

Monday 31st. Went to look out —— —— ——[80] old small £1 10 0 got pd one do Wilson’s at Night met except Bill went to Connn got 2 adults M. & F. took to Bartholm. one small do.

 [Pg 168]

1812 September.

Tuesday 1st. Went to Bartholm Got Paid for 2 adults £8 8 0, at night met, me and Light went to Connelly got 2 adults M. and one large size small F., Jack Bill & Hollis went to Weigate, got 1 large & 2 small, took 2 the above to Frampton 1 M. & Do. F. 1 large & 2 small to St Thos. 1 small to Wilson.

Wednesday 2nd. Went to the London Hollis got Canines £8 8 0, Bill got paid for 1 large M. £4 4 0. I recd. £4 4 0 for 1 large size small, Bill Recd. £1 0 0 for the F. that come from St George 1 Small came Wiegate went to Wilson. Recd. £2 0 0 for 1 large Small came from Wiegate, went to St Thomas’ not sold being putrid: at night the party met & divided, me & Hollis went to Harp’s workd. the thing, proved to be bad, Jack Bill & Toms. Light went to Westminster


1812 October.

Monday 5th. Went to look out at different places, at night party went to Lambh got 2 adults and 9 small took the whole to the[Pg 169] Borough. Mr. Cline took the about [above], 2 adults £8 8 0 from Lambh. & 1 small from Do £3 13 6.

Tuesday 6th. At Night did not go out.

Wednesday 7th. Went to look out Jack & Ben had a Row at the White Horse: did not go out.

Thursday 8th. Party went to see the fight did not go out.

Friday 9th. Went to look out at different places. At night went to St. Olave, got 2 adults M. & F. M. was opened took them to St. Thomas’s; again met, I got drunk, I missd. going with the party.

They seperated, part went to Lambeth got 1 adult F. They missed, one took that to the Boro the others (Except Ben who was getting drunk) went to Connolly got 1 adult F., took that to Bartholomew, & removed the other same place.

Saturday 10th. Met at Bartholm. Mr. Stanley took three of the above 2 F. £8 8 0[Pg 170] one adult M. being opened £3 13 6d, left one on hand, came home, in all night

[The above entry finishes a page: the back of this page is occupied by a table for finding the moon’s age on any given day: this was most useful to the resurrection-men, as they could not work undisturbed on moonlight nights.]

Sunday 11th. Went to look out at Night the whole party went to the Black (Jack with us for the first time going out) got three adt. M., then to Connolly two adt. M. & F. took the whole to St. Thos. came home.

Monday 12th. Went to St. Thos. Cline had taken the above, went to Lambh. in the evening met by appointment, at home, Drew up an Account but did not settle Jack & Bill not being present and others having over drawn met again at twelve, the whole excepting Butler went to Lambeth got 5 adts. 1 Small, Took 2 of the above & 1 small to Wilson 1 do Carpue, 2 do Brooks, came home.

Tuesday 13th. Went to Bartholm. me Ben Jack & Butler could not find the others, myself came to the Boro sold 1 small that was on hand for £1. Came home afterwards went to Tomlight[81] understood he had recd.[Pg 171] the money got £5 from him, came home, at home all night

Wednesday 14th. Went to Lambh. look out, at home all night on account of Ben getting out of the way, did not go out, had a dispute at Hollis’s House Child’s dance.

Thursday 15th. Went to look out, came home went to the play, afterward met at the White horse, the party excepting Ben had a row with Hollis; seperated me, Light & Butler went Lamb. 2 adts, Jack, Bill & Mr. Hollis went to Connelly 5 adults, also went to St. Geoe. 4 adts. on account of the Boy deceiving us at Lambh. lost the above 4 at St. Geoe. Ben[82] went to France.

Friday 16th. Met and went Wiegate got three adults 2 F. 1 M. took to Bartholm. Jack & Tom brought the cart, came home.

Saturday 17th. Met at Bartholw. recd. £2 0 0 went to Lambh. Pd. the man £1 1 0 came home, at home all night.

[Pg 172]Sunday 18th. Went to look out, nothing done, at home all night.

Monday 19th. Went to Lambh. got 1 Adult M. [opened another whole but bad with the small pox][83] took the above M. to Barthm. came home, Butler not with us.

Tuesday 20th. Went to Bartholw. Bill had got Pd. for the above Male I borrowed of him £1 10 0, went to Lambh. came home at night met at the White [Horse] Hollis myself Jack & Tom Light, Bill not with us could not find his clothes[84]: went to Lambh. two adults M. took to Bartholw. Butler again not with us came home.

Wednesday 21st. Went to Bartholm got Pd. the above 2 adt. gave Light & Hollis 4s. 2d. gave Jack £2 0 0 kept £2 2 0 myself, came home, but Hollis & Light went to the Hospital Crib got 1 adult male took to St Thos. shared the money betwixt them: likewise 1 Pound for a small, at home all night.

[Pg 173]Thursday 22nd. went to look out, followed a black[85] from Tower hill, came home and met at We. horse, the party except Butler went to Lambh. got 3 adults 2 M. 1 F. (left one behind us) 1 small & 1 Fœtus, took them to the Boro.


November 1812.

Monday 16th. the party went to Tottenham got 4 adults, Wilson 2. Abernethy 1. 1 on hand

Tuesday 17th. At home.

Wednesday 18th. At home.

Thursday 19th. Met with Hutton at Smithfield, Bill me & Ben went to St Ts got 2 ad. Jack remained with Hutton, the party went Bartholm. Cb. got 2 ad. the whole Abernethy. Gave one to Hutton for information.

Friday 20th. Butler got drunk in the morning, the party except him met at Bartholm. Me Jack & Ben went to St Ts. got 4 adt. sent Bill again after Tom to bring the Cart, took them to Bartholm. Me Jack & Ben went to Blue Lion got 1 adt. sent Bill to bring Tom with the Cart, took that to Bartholm.[Pg 174] came over the water got 2 adt. Guys Cb. & 1 at Thos. Crib. pack up 4 for Edinbro on the Saturday: settled our money at home all night.

Sunday 22nd. Lookd. out at St Ts. B.—Ln[86]—and Tottn at home all night.

Monday 23rd. Met at Barthm. went to St Ts. got 3 took them to Wilson, Bill took 1 ad. to Frampton.

Tuesday 24th. Went & movd. one of the above to Carpue, got pd. came home met at Jack at 5, Bill not at home, did not go out till morning. Jack sold the Canines to Mr. Thomson for 5 Guineas.

Wednesday 25th. Met at Jack at 2 p.m. Butler & myself went to the B. Ln. got 1 adt. Jack, Ben & Bill went Pancs. got 5 adt. & 1 small, took them to Bartholw. Removed 3 to Cline, got 2 sets of cans.[87]

Thursday 26th. Met at Bartholm, me & Jack went to Tottenhm. got 1 adt. Ben & Bill went to St Ths. Do 3 large came home me & Jack got 1 Tottenhm Bill & Ben 1 large 2 small.

[Pg 175]Friday 27th. Met at Plough, went to St Ts. 6 adt. 1 small. Met the man with the lanthorn[88]: took them Bartholm. went to Golden Lane 1 adt. 1 small gave Jack Hutton £1 as a share, took to the above place.

Saturday 28th. Met at Barthol. disposed of the above except 1 adt. opened, 3 small, sent three to Edinboro. Drew up our Account, came home Met at Jack, did not settle, at home all night.

Sunday 29th. Went Look out at Blue Ln. &c. did not go out Jack Bill & Tom Drunk the reason as Ben said for not going out.

Monday 30th. Settled our Account up to Saty. on hand 1 adt. Opd. & Small three; met at Bartholn. me Bill & Jack Hutton went to B. Lyon got 1 adt. got up at four in the morning Tuesday, Butler Bill & me brought the above to St Thos’.


December, 1812.

Tuesday 1st. Met at Tottenham Court Road had a dispute in St. Ts Crib. Came home did not do anything. came to the Rockingham Arms, got Drunk

[Pg 176]Wednesday 2nd. Met at Vickers rectifyd. our last account, the party sent out me & Ben to St Thos. Cb. got 1 adt., Bill & Jack Guys Crib 2 adt but one of them opd. Butler look out for us, took them to St. Thos. came home Met at St Thos., me & Jack went to Tottm. got 4 adts Ben & Bill got ad6 s1 f1. at Pancrass took Tottenm to Wilson, Pans. to Barthol.[89]

Thursday 3rd. Met at Windll. St. disposed of 2 of the above to Wilson, went to Bartholw. came home for the night.

Friday 4th. Met at Vickers packd. up one for Shute, afterwards went to St Thos. got 6 adt. took them to Barthm. left Ben & Jack Hutton to pack up for Edinbro, afterwards Jack me & Bill went to Tottm. got 3 adt. took them to Bartholm.

Saturday 5th. Remain’d at Barthm. packing up for Edinboro, sent 12 to the wharf for the above place, at home all night.



[Pg 177]

The following list contains some of the chief sources of information on the history of the Resurrectionists.

Smith, Southwood. “Use of the Dead to the Living.” Westminster Review, ii., 1824, p. 59.

This was afterwards reprinted as a pamphlet. One of the editions was issued with the title of Body-snatching.

Mackenzie, W. An Appeal to the Public and to the Legislature, on the necessity of affording dead bodies to the Schools of Anatomy by legislative enactment. 8vo. Glasgow, 1824.

Green, Joseph Henry. A letter to Sir Astley Cooper, on certain proceedings connected with the establishment of an Anatomical Surgical School at Guy’s Hospital. 8vo. London, 1825.

“On the Pleasures of Body-snatching.” Monthly Mag., iii., 1827, p. 355.

Report from the Select Committee [House of Commons] on Anatomy. Fol., London, 1828.

This is, perhaps, the best source of information respecting the Resurrectionists. Many important documents are printed in this volume, in addition to the evidence and the report.

“Importance of Dissection in Anatomy.” Westminster Review, x., 1828, p. 116.

[Pg 178]
An Address to the members of both Houses of Parliament, on the legislative measures necessary for providing an adequate supply of human bodies for the purpose of anatomical instruction. [By a friend of science and of man.] 8vo. Bath. n.d.

The debates in the Houses of Parliament on the Anatomy Bills will be found in Hansard.

There is also much information in the pages of the Lancet for the period during which the Bills were before Parliament. Mr. Wakley, the editor, took a great interest in the question, and wrote many vigorous articles, pointing out defects in the Bills whilst they were under discussion.

“Supply of Subjects for Anatomy.” London Mag., xxiii., 1829, p. 121.

Article in Blackwood for March, 1829, by “Christopher North,” on “Robert Knox.”

The Trial of Bishop, Williams, and May, at the Old Bailey, December 2nd, 1831, for the murder of the Italian Boy. 8vo. London, 1831.

There were many Reports of this trial published, both as broadsides and as pamphlets.

“Regulation of Anatomy.” Westminster Review, xvi., 1831, p. 482.

“Obstructions to Science of Anatomy.” Monthly Review, cxxvii., 1831, p. 91.

[Pg 179]
Hanson, N. A Letter addressed to the Government and the Royal College of Surgeons, founded on the diabolical and horrible practice of Burking; setting forth the necessity of placing Anatomical Schools on a different footing. 8vo. London, 1831.

Guthrie, G. J. Remarks on the Anatomy Bill now before Parliament, in a letter addressed to the Right Hon. the Lord Althorp. 8vo. London, 1832.

An Act for regulating Schools of Anatomy (2 and 3 Guil. IV. cap. 75). Fol. London, 1832.

Dermott, G. D. A Lecture introductory to a course of Lectures on Anatomy, Physiology, and Surgery, delivered at the School of Medicine and Surgery, Gerrard Street, Soho. 8vo. London, 1833.

Cooper, Bransby B. The Life of Sir Astley Cooper. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1843.

“The Resurrectionists.” Chambers’ Journal, xxxix., 1862, p. 100.

“Body-snatching and Burking.” Once a Week, x., 1863, p. 261.

“Burke and Hare.” All the Year Round, xvii., 1866, p. 282.

Lonsdale, H. A Sketch of the Life and Writings of Robert Knox, the Anatomist. 8vo. London, 1870.

[Pg 180]
“Body-snatchers.” Every Saturday, ix., 1870, p. 166.

Feltoe, C. L. Memorials of John Flint South. 12mo. London, 1884.

MacGregor, George. The History of Burke and Hare, and of the Resurrectionist Times. 8vo. Glasgow, 1884.

There is a large mass of literature relating to Burke and Hare and their trial and execution: this is well summed up in Mr. MacGregor’s book.

Cameron, Sir C. A. History of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and of the Irish Schools of Medicine. 8vo. Dublin, 1886.



[Pg 181]


Abernethy (John), body sold to, 173.

Advertisements of Lectures on Anatomy, 41-42.

America, supply of bodies in, 122.

Anatomical Schools, establishment of, 41.
history of, by D’Arcy Power, referred to, 43.

Anatomists, charges against, of receiving murdered bodies, 56.
fined for teaching, 18.
form an Anatomical Club, 50.

Anatomy, Committee on, appointment of, 30.
evidence before, 15.
report of, 102.
referred to, vii.
inspectors of, appointed, 116.
knowledge of, necessary for surgeons, 14.
lectures on, advertisements of, 41-42.
teaching of, confined to Company of Barbers and Surgeons, 17.

Anatomy Act, passing and provisions of, 113-117.

Anatomy Bill, 1829, introduction of, 103.
opposition to, 105.

Arnold (Will.), execution of, 23.

Arnot (W.) at Hatton Garden, for body-snatching, 92.

Arsenic, poisoning by, ix.

“Artichoke” public-house, mentioned. See Diary, passim.

Austria, supply of bodies in, 120.

Austrian Archdukes obtain Butler’s release, 132.

Barber-Surgeons. See Company of Barbers and Surgeons.

Beaman, post mortem of the Italian boy, 57.

Bell, Sir Charles, body sold to, 142.

Bellingham, drawing of head of, referred to, 26.

Bentham, Jeremy, left his body for dissection, 33.
oration by Mr. Grainger over his body, 33.

Bermondsey, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Bethnal Green, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Bibliography of subject, 177.

Big Gates, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Bishop and Williams, arrest and trial of, 107.
disposal of bodies of, 27.
drawings of heads of, 112.
execution of, 110.

“Black,” a, 173.

Black Crib, 140.

“Blue Lion” public-house. See Diary, passim.

Blundell (William), trial of, at Warrington, 95.

Bodies, difficulties of obtaining, 44.
dissection of, in public, 100.
fatal effect of, 39.
for dissection supplied by students, 15.
left for anatomical purposes, 33-40.
offered for dissection after death, 39.
possession of stolen, decided to be felony, 98.
prices of, 71.
raised by competition of different schools, 47.
scarcity of, 13.
stolen by Resurrectionists from houses, 50.
from dead-house at Guy’s Hospital, 53.
whilst awaiting coroner’s inquest, 53.
supply of, in foreign countries, 118.
from provinces, 81.
from workhouses, 31.
suggestions in newspapers, 31.
See also Country; Edinburgh.
temporary shelter for, 65.
of malefactors given to Company of Barbers and Surgeons, 19.
difficulty of obtaining from Tyburn, 20.
of murderers to be given up to Surgeons’ Company, 21.
dissected at College of Surgeons, 22.
account of proceedings at dissection, by T. M. Stone, 28.
conveyed through streets, 23.
dissection of, an obstacle to passing the Anatomy Act, 30.

Boys (Mr.) wishes his body to be made into “essential salts,” 38.

Bridgman’s patent coffin, 76.
illustration of, 78.

Brookes (Joshua), advertisement of Lectures, 42.
[Pg 182]badly treated by resurrection-men, 45.
bodies sold to. See Diary, passim.

Bunhill Row, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Burial-grounds, custodians of, bribed by Resurrectionists, 58.
precautions for watching, 72.
protection of, 75.

Burke and Hare, referred to, v., viii.

Burking, by means of snuff, ix.
meaning of, viii.
panic from fear of, vii.

Butler, biographical notice of, 132.
See also Diary, passim.

Cameron (Sir C.) History of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, referred to, 87.

Carpue (J. C.), caricature of, 98.
mentioned in Diary, 141.
refuses to buy body of Italian boy, 109.

Chandler (George), provides building for dissecting murderers, 24.

Chapman (Israel), Jew Resurrectionist, 166.

Cheselden (William) summoned before Court of Barber-Surgeons for teaching anatomy, 18.

Chiene (Prof.), referred to, xii.

Clarke (—), imprisoned for stealing body of child, 51.

Clarke (J. F.), on post mortem of the Italian boy, 56.

Clift (W. and W. H.). Drawings of heads of murderers, 26.

Cline (H.), mentioned in Diary, 139.

Coffins, Bridgman’s patent, 76.
illustrations of, 78.
mentioned by Southey, 78.

Coke (Lord), on property in a dead body, 90.

Committee on Anatomy. See Anatomy.

Company of Barbers and Surgeons to have bodies of malefactors, 19.
advertisement of dissection, 21.
anatomical teaching by, 17.

Connolly, mentioned in Diary. See Diary, passim.

Cooper (Sir Astley), evidence before Anatomy Committee, 15.
payments to Resurrectionists, 48, 49.
purchase of bodies, 40, 149.
life of. See Cooper (B. B.).

Cooper (Bransby B.), life of Sir Astley Cooper, referred to, vi., vii., 125.
notices of Resurrectionists, 128.

Corporation of Surgeons, required knowledge of anatomy in students, 14.
to have bodies of murderers, 21.
end of, 22.

Country, bodies sent to, 148, 150, 154.

Craigie (Dr.), Inspector of Anatomy, 117.

Crail, house for securing the dead, 80.

Crouch (Ben), biographical notice of, 128.
See also Diary, passim.

Crowe (Mrs.). Light and Darkness, resurrection-man in, 17.

Cundick (George). See Rex v. Cundick.

Deane (John), fined for teaching anatomy, 18.

Dermott (G. D.), proposal by, for raising fund to purchase bodies, 32.

Diary of a Resurrectionist, description and authorship of, 124.
fac-simile of page of, 138.
history of, v.
reprinted, 139.

Dickens (Charles). Mr. Cruncher in Tale of Two Cities, 17.

Dissection. See Bodies.

Dublin, burial-grounds of, 87.

Dundee, protection of grave at, 79.

Dunn (Francis), execution of, 23.

Edinburgh, bodies sent to, 142, 143, 145, 148, 175, 176.
Greyfriars Churchyard, mortsafes in, 76.
illustrations of, 41, 74, 76.

Edwards (D.). Post mortem of the Italian boy, 57.

Fairclough (Jane), prosecution of Davies and others for stealing her body, 95.

Fat, graves rifled for, 88.

Ferrari (Carlo), murder of, 109.
post mortem of, 56.

Ferrers (Earl), execution of, 27.

Fiction, body-snatchers in, 17.

Finishing money, 48.

Flemish, the, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Forster (Mr.), post mortem on Messenger Monsey, 37.

Frampton (Dr.), bodies sold to. See Diary, passim.

France, supply of bodies in, 119.

Germany, supply of bodies in, 120.

Glasnevin Churchyard, riot in, 73.

Glennon, the police officer, presented with silver staff, 46.
recovered stolen bodies, 50.

Goswell Street, bodies obtained from, 152.

Grainger (R. D.), payments to resurrection-men, 48.
oration over body of Jeremy Bentham, 33.
refuses to buy body of Italian boy, 109.

Graves, protection of, 75, 79, 80.
See also Burial-grounds.

Green Churchyard, 140.

Guthrie, referred to, 14.

Guy’s Hospital, bodies stolen from dead-house, 53.
mentioned in Diary. See Diary, passim.

Hall (Edward), trial of, at Warrington, 95.
[Pg 183]
Harnell (P.), a Resurrectionist, 133.

Harnett (Bill), biographical notice of, 130.
See also Diary, passim.

Harnett (Jack), biographical notice of, 131.
See also Diary, passim.

Harnige. See Hornig.

Harpers. See Diary, passim.

Hawkins (Cæsar), advertisement of Lectures, 42.

Head. See Bishop and Williams.

Henderson, of Greenock, punished for shipping bodies from Liverpool, 87.

Hill, porter at King’s College, 108.

Holland, supply of bodies in, 122.

Holliss, biographical notice of, 134.

Holmes (Mrs. Basil). Burial-grounds of London, quoted, 138, 140.

Holmes (John) and Peter Williams, convicted of robbery from grave, 59.

Hornig, or Harnige, mentioned in Diary, 145, 147.

Hullock (Baron), summing up in trial of Davies and others, 97.

Hutton (Jack) mentioned. See Diary, passim.

Inspectors of Anatomy, appointment, 116.

Ireland, supply of bodies from, 87.

Iron coffin, 76.
illustration of, 78.

Italian boy, the. See Ferrari (Carlo).

Italy, supply of bodies in, 121.

Lambert, mentioned in Diary, 165.

Lancet, the, and the Anatomy Bill, 105.

Large small, meaning of, 71.

Law relating to body-snatching, 90.

Lawrence (Sir W.), on anatomical teaching abroad, 118.

Lee (Edward), execution, &c., of, 93.

Light (Tom), biographical notice of, 132.
at Hatton Garden, for body-snatching, 92.
See also Diary, passim.

Lincoln’s Inn Fields, bodies of murderers conveyed to, 23.

Liverpool, bodies shipped as “bitter salts,” 82.

London Hospital, mentioned in Diary. See Diary, passim.

Longmore (Sir Thomas), obtained Diary, and presented it to Royal College of Surgeons, vi., 124.

Lynn. See Rex v. Lynn.

Lytton (Lord). Lucretia, resurrection-man in, 17.

Macaulay, Alderman, extract from diary of, 23.

Macintire (John) buried alive, and rescued by resurrection-men, 65.

May (James), arrest and trial of, 107.
respite and death of, 110.
verse by, 110.
biographical notice of, 112.

Mayo (H.), post mortem of the Italian boy, 57.

Millard (W.), account of, 162, 163.

Mills (Mr.), buys teeth of Italian boy, 109.

Moir (D. M.). Mansie Wauch, refers to body-snatching, 17.

Monsey (Messenger), post mortem on, 36.

Moon, full, interfered with Resurrectionists, 124.

Mordecai, the Jew, 72, 140.

Mortsafes in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, 76.
illustrations of, 41, 74, 76.

Moss (Dr.) of Warrington, 96.

“Muddle (Jasper), Confessions of” (by Albert Smith), 17.

Murderers, dissection of, agitation against, 99.
repealed, 115.
drawings of heads of, 26.

Murphy, stealing teeth, 71.

Murray (Sir James), Inspector of Anatomy, 117.

Naples (Joseph), biographical notice of, 136.
method of working, 64.
writer of Diary, 127.

Newington, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Nicholls (Fr.), advertisement of Lectures, 42.

Nourse (Edward), advertisement of Lectures, 41.

Paris, supply of bodies in, 119.

Partridge (Richard), arrest of Bishop and Williams, 108.
body of Bishop given to, 28.
post mortem of the Italian boy, 57.

Patrick, a Resurrectionist, 133.

Patterson (G. S.) referred to, 15.

Pigburn (Fanny), murder of, by Bishop and Williams, 109.

“Plough” public-house, 175.

Portugal, supply of bodies in, 122.

Pott (Percivall), Lectures on Surgery, 42.

Power (D’Arcy), History of Anatomical Schools, referred to, 43.
See South (J. F.).

Prosecutions for Body-snatching, 90.

Provincial schools, supply of, 81.

Redmond, Luke, murder of, 87.

Resurrectionists, biographical notices of, 128.
cost of keeping families of, whilst the men were in gaol, 48.
damage done to subjects purchased from rivals, 45, 49.
demand finishing money, 48.
earnings of, 71, 72.
end of, 117.
first appearance of, 13.
in fiction, 16.
modus operandi of, 61.
as described in Memoir of Thomas Wakley, 61.
[Pg 184]improbability of this method, 63.
modus operandi of Naples, 64.
number of bodies obtained by, 60, 69.
origin of, 44.
popular feeling against, 69, 113.
sources of information respecting, vii.
See also Diary, Prosecutions.

Rex v. Cundick, 93.

Rex v. Lynn, 90.

“Rockingham Arms” public-house. See Diary, passim.

Rolph (Mary), body of, exhumed, 142.

Ross, Elizabeth, the “Burker,” viii.

Rowlandson’s “Dissecting-room.” Frontispiece.

Royal College of Surgeons, examinations of, 15.
foundation of, 22.
obliged to dissect bodies of murderers, 22, 26.
opposition to Bill of, on account of distance of new building from Newgate, 23.
proceedings for obtaining premises near Newgate, 24.

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, mentioned. See Diary, passim.

St. George’s, Bloomsbury, robbery from graveyard of, 59.
See also Diary, passim.

St. James’, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

St. John’s, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

St. Luke’s burial-ground, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

St. Olave and St. John, Southwark, burial-ground, 152.

St. Pancras, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

St. Thomas’, Charterhouse, 152.

St. Thomas’ Hospital, mentioned. See Diary, passim.

Sergeant, Miss, Dr. Endicott’s Experiment, refers to body-snatching, 17.

Sheriffs of London, letter from, as to bodies of Bishop and Williams, 28.

Shields, porter to Bishop and Williams, 113.

Smalls, meaning of, 71.

Smith (Albert), “Confessions of Jasper Muddle, Dissecting-room Porter,” 17, 130.

Society of Apothecaries, did not require attendance at dissection, 14.

Somerville (James C.), effects on students of want of subjects, 48.
Inspector of Anatomy, 117.

South (J. F.) and D’Arcy Power, Memorials of the Craft of Surgery, quoted, 19.

Southey (R.), The Surgeon’s Warning, 78, 88.

Spelling (—), at Hatton Garden for body-snatching, 92.

Stanley (E.), bodies sold to. See Diary, passim.

Stone (T. Madden), account of dissection at College of Surgeons, 28.
letter on body-snatchers, 125.

Students, knowledge of anatomy necessary for. See Anatomy.

Subjects for dissection. See Bodies.

Taunton (Mr.), bodies sold to. See Diary, passim.

Teeth, trade in, by Resurrectionists, 71, 167.

Tottenham, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Trance, man buried during, and rescued by resurrection-men, 65.

Trials for body-snatching. See Prosecutions.

Tuson, refuses to buy body of Italian boy, 109.

Twyford (Mr.), statement as to number of prosecutions at Worship St., 92.

Tyburn, bodies taken from, 20.

Ure (Nat.), mentioned, 154.

Veitch (A. D.), on Wilson’s supposed Burking, viii.

Vickers (Mr.), mentioned in Diary, passim.

Walsh, Catherine, murder of, viii.

Warburton’s Act. See Anatomy Bill and Anatomy Act.

Warren (Samuel), Diary of a late Physician, quoted, 15.

Warrington, prosecution of John Davies and others at, 95.

Wetherfield (Mr.), post mortem of the Italian boy, 57.

“White Horse” public-house. See Diary, passim.

Whitechapel, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Williams, and illicit trade in glass, 112.
See also Bishop and Williams.

Williams (Peter). See Holmes (John).

Wilson (James), bodies sold to. See Diary, passim.

Wilson (John), “Burking by means of snuff,” ix.

Wood (Mr.), death of, from seeing a body dissected, 39.

Workhouses, number of deaths in, 31.

Wortley, mentioned in Diary, 161.

Wygate or Wiegate, bodies obtained from. See Diary, passim.

Yarmouth, body-snatching at, 81.

Young (Sidney), Annals of the Barber-Surgeons, quoted, 18, 20.


Plymouth: W. Brendon and Son, Printers.




[1] See Sketch of the Life of Robert Knox, by Henry Lonsdale (London, 1870); and The History of Burke and Hare and of the Resurrectionist Times, by George MacGregor (Glasgow, 1884).

[2] It may be interesting to mention that Albert Smith’s remuneration for these papers was five shillings per page of three columns.

[3] Annals of the Barber Surgeons, by Sidney Young, p. 317.

[4] South and D’Arcy Power, Memorials of the Craft of Surgery, p. 233, note.

[5] Young, loc. cit. p. 349.

[6] Academy, vol. vi. p. 208, 1874.

[7] For the portraits of Bishop and Williams see p. 112.

[8] Hospital Gazette, from Sep. 13, 1890, to March 7, 1891.

[9] This Committee was appointed by the House of Commons in 1828, to take evidence and report on the necessity of obtaining bodies for anatomical purposes. The work of the Committee is referred to at greater length on p. 102.

[10] The letter has no signature.

[11] See also p. 107.

[12] Autobiographical Recollections of the Medical Profession, p. 101.

[13] Lancet, 1896, vol. i. p. 187.

[14] Memorials of John Flint South, by C. T. Feltoe, 1884, p. 100.

[15] Life of Sir Astley Cooper, vol. i. p. 354.

[16] See illustration.

[17] See two following illustrations.

[18] Cameron, History of Roy. Coll. Surgeons in Ireland, p. 113.

[19] Use of the Dead to the Living.

[20] D. and R. Nisi Prius Repts. i. 13.

[21] See also page 56.

[22] See page vi.

[23] Life of Sir Astley Cooper, vol. i. p. 422.

[24] Cannot find out his surname.

[25] Loc. cit. vol. i. passim.

[26] B. Cooper gives an account of a Resurrectionist under the name of “Patrick”; this is probably the man referred to. The name is Harnell in the Sun for October 14th, 1812; it may, perhaps, be a misprint for Harnett; two men of this name have already been spoken of.

[27] See also p. 126.

[28] The name is suppressed in the printed copy.

[29] Since the above was written, Mrs. Basil Holmes’ interesting volume on The Burial Grounds of London has been published. Reference to this book confirms the statement above made. Mrs. Holmes’ account is very carefully done, and the list of the old burial-grounds is probably as complete as it can be, but no light is thrown upon any of the difficult names used in the Diary.

[30] Slang for a burial-ground.

[31] Harper is probably the name of the keeper of a burial-ground.

[32] This occurs often in the Diary, and was evidently a favourite place for meeting. It was, doubtless, the entrance to some burial-ground, but there is no evidence by which the place can be definitely determined.

[33] i.e. a body which had had a post mortem performed on it was obtained from the burial-ground attached to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

[34] Watched to see what funerals were taking place during the day.

[35] Probably Michael Mordecai, who kept an old curiosity-shop in New Alley, and was a noted receiver.

[36] Probably the landlord of a public-house.

[37] i.e. all the gang.

[38] The “Green Churchyard” was an addition to the Churchyard of St. Giles, Cripplegate. “Green Churchyard” is a name which we find repeated in other parishes; for instance, it was given to the higher portion of St. James’, Piccadilly, and to the little piece by St. Bartholomew the Great, approached through the present south transept. Holmes, loc. cit. It is impossible to say which of these is here meant.

[39] Bunhill.

[40] J. C. Carpue, the founder of the Dean Street Anatomical School.

[41] Dr. Frampton, of the London Hospital.

[42] James Wilson, of the Great Windmill Street School.

[43] Joshua Brookes, founder of the Blenheim Street, or Great Marlborough Street, Anatomical School: for references to Brookes, see Index.

[44] See page 65.

[45] Sir Charles Bell, of Great Windmill Street School.

[46] Abbreviation for Harpers. See p. 139.

[47] Either St. Luke’s Church or St. Luke’s Hospital in Old Street.

[48] Words so crossed out that they cannot be deciphered; in all probability it originally read “with their —— throat cut.”

[49] John Taunton, founder of the City of London Truss Society, a demonstrator at Guy’s Hospital under Cline, and at this time principal lecturer to the London Anatomical Society.

[50] Artichoke Public-house.

[51] See page 127.

[52] Newington.

[53] Slang term for bodies.

[54] See page 71.

[55] Afterwards Sir Astley Cooper.

[56] Body putrid, and therefore of no use for anatomical purposes.

[57] Probably Church of St. Thomas, Charterhouse.

[58] The burial-ground for the parishes of St. Olave and St. John, Southwark; it was taken by the “Greenwich Railway Company”: part of the approach to the “Flemish” now forms the approach to London Bridge Station.

[59] This is, of course, not the St. Pancras Church in the Euston Road, but the old parish church situated on the north side of the road leading from King’s Cross to Kentish Town.

[60] See page 124.

[61] Failed to get a body.

[62] Bodies unsold.

[63] Probably a burial-ground attached to a meeting-house.

[64] The diary is torn at the margin in this place: the word “left” is probably correct, but who “the man” was cannot be determined.

[65] St. Olave’s.

[66] Probably from information given to the police by the other party who “had got the adult.”

[67] The police court in Union Street, Southwark; it was removed in 1845.

[68] i.e. had spoiled them for anatomical purposes; very likely to be done out of spite, as on the previous day they had “row’d with Ben,” i.e. Crouch; see page 49.

[69] Evidently for debt.

[70] Millard was superintendent of the dissecting-room at St. Thomas’; he was an avaricious man, and lost this situation through dealing in bodies. His plan was to take them in at the hospital from the resurrection-men, and then to sell them at an advanced price in Edinburgh unknown to the men who supplied him, and to the teachers at the hospital. Millard was popular with the pupils, and, after his dismissal, they persuaded him to take an eating-house in the neighbourhood of St. Thomas’. As there was money to be made in the “resurrection” traffic, he did not abandon his connection with the body-snatchers. This came to be known, and created a strong prejudice against him; so much so that his legitimate business fell off to such an extent as to make it necessary for him to relinquish it altogether. Then he took entirely to the resurrection business, and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for taking a body from the burial-ground attached to the London Hospital. He appealed against the sentence, and found bail. Then he brought an action against the magistrate at Lambeth for false imprisonment; this was set aside, and Millard was sent back to Cold Bath Fields to complete his sentence. He tried hard to get Sir Astley Cooper to solicit a pardon for him, but without avail. This so preyed on his mind that he threatened Sir Astley with bodily injury. Ultimately Millard quite lost his reason, and died in gaol. In 1825 his widow published a pamphlet entitled, “An Account of the circumstances attending the imprisonment and death of the late William Millard, formerly superintendent of the Theatre of Anatomy of St. Thomas’ Hospital, Southwark.” The pamphlet states that Millard had notice to leave St. Thomas’ because it was found that he was supplying Mr. Grainger with bodies, and that Sir Astley Cooper was determined to put an end to the school which Grainger had established. The publication is of a very abusive character; the surgeon of the gaol, Mr. Wakley, of the Lancet, and the authorities at the hospital, all come in for severe censure. The whole tone of the pamphlet is so exaggerated that it is impossible to tell whether there is any truth in Mrs. Millard’s grievances.

[71] Extremities.

[72] These words are illegible.

[73] St. Pancras.

[74] Male.

[75] Mr. Edward Stanley, Surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

[76] Private door into the burial-ground, probably generally left unlocked for them by the custodian; for some special reason it was closed on this particular night.

[77] In all probability Israel Chapman, a Jew, who was in the resurrection trade; the object of following was to try and prevent his doing any business. (See page 49.) The next entry shows that the Jew had sold a body at St. Bartholomew’s; there was “a row” at this, and, no doubt, “the regular men” had to be pacified.

[78] Placed there by friends of the deceased, in all probability.

[79] Opened two graves; one body too decomposed to bring away, so they drew the canine teeth and sold them.

[80] Words crossed out and illegible in the MS.

[81] Tom Light.

[82] See also p. 129.

[83] The words in brackets are crossed out in the MS.

[84] i.e. The clothes specially used for resurrection work; they would naturally be clay-stained, and if worn during the day would betray their owner’s occupation.

[85] Probably slang for a funeral.

[86] Blue Lion.

[87] Canine teeth.

[88] The watchman.

[89] i.e. got 6 adults, 1 small, and 1 fœtus from St. Pancras: these were taken to S. Bartholomew’s: the four from Tottenham went to Mr. Wilson.

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