Tricks of the trade

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - GRAVE ROBBERS -

With­out brib­ing the grave­yard’s sex­ton, res­ur­rec­tion­ists would never have been suc­cess­ful. They used tried-and-tested meth­ods to ex­hume bod­ies. First, a hole was dug down to the part of the cof­fin where the head lay, us­ing dag­ger-shaped wooden stole corpses await­ing a coro­ner’s in­quest, even from pri­vate houses where bod­ies lay be­fore burial.

This ex­tract from a Di­ary of a Res­ur­rec­tion­ist shows how or­gan­ised the gangs were; how the rate of pay de­pended on the size of the corpses; and the fact that they also sold teeth (ca­nines) if the bod­ies were too pu­trid: “Wed­nes­day 2nd Septem­ber 1812. Went to the Lon­don [ Hos­pi­tal]. Hollis got Ca­nines £ 8 8 0. Bill got paid for one large M [male] £ 4 4 0. I recd £ 4 4 0 for one large size small. Bill recd £1 0 0 for the F [fe­male] that come from St Ge­orge. One small came Wie­gate

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