Tricks of the trade
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