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In this chilling history of the bodysnatching trade the stories of Britain's lesser known Resurrection Men are told Here are the stories of the men who robbed graves during the winter months of 1742 1832 selling fresh cadavers to anatomists up and down the country all in aid of medical advancement The murders of Burke and Hare often dominate the macabre tales of bodysnatching but the stories of Henry Gillies William Patrick and Joseph Grainger are all just as gruesome Stories involving medical students and anatomists are retold as we discover the cases that have become hidden in history Anatomy schools short of fresh cadavers for dissection would pay high prices for corpses asking no uestions about their origins This resulted in the criminal underworld of the Sack em up Men or bodysnatchers which spread fear and horror throughout the United Kingdom It s time to discover these lesser known stories about Britain s often forgotten historyREVIEWS Thanks to these shadowy characters medical students were never short of a cadaver to dissect and handsomely for the wares that the likes of Henry Gillies provided With no uestions asked the bodysnatchers soon became figures of fear moving by night and showing little respect to the British dead Although the book isn't short on gruesome stories and stomach churning moments its strength undoubtedly lies in the way Lennox considers the wider impactions of the bodysnatcher's trade and how their immoral work allowed for continuing medical research and study She skilfully weaves a tapestry of criminal and surgical connections teasing out the names that history has forgotten and placing them in a richly written social narrative Lennox handles this very specialist subject with an authoritative air and hugely entertaining evocative style It is to her credit that she resists the temptation to stray into sensationalism even when the material virtually invites it She brings the Georgian underworld vividly back to life and in doing so rightly resurrects some colorful characters that might otherwise never have seen the light of day againAll About History September 2016This is a very professionally written book by an author who self evidently knows her stuff There's a fairly detailed bibliography sources used and a brief list of record repositories all rounded off with an index All in all this is a gruesome subject but an important one insofarRipperologist

10 thoughts on “Bodysnatchers

  1. says:

    A short yet concise history of the world of the Resurrection Men The book spans the years of 1742 1832 going into detail on the methods the Resurrectionists used to procure and transport the bodies the punishments for being caught as well as the methods used to prevent the extraction of bodies from their resting places Included at the back of the book are some valuable research sources for anyone interested in going deeper into the subject Suzie Lennox packs a lot of information along with interesting snippets of real cases making this a fascinating read for anyone interested in the gruesome history of the bodysnatching trade

  2. says:

    Before the 1832 Anatomy Act started to provide the many anatomy schools of England and Scotland with an adeuate number of bodies the vast majority of bodies used in dissection were stolen from graves by the resurrection men The most notorious these days were Burke and Hare who actually never stole a body from a grave at all but this book tells the story of the many other gangs who raided British cemeteries over a period of about a hundred years 35 Stars Anatomy in the 18th and 19th centuries was often studied at private schools and students needed bodies Lots of them Glasgow University encouraged their students to steal their own bodies but not surprisingly most students and teachers preferred to pay someone else to do their dirty work It was lucrative It wasn't illegal to steal a body only to steal the other material contents of the grave and the coffin itself which meant that the punishment by law was 'light' usually a few months if you were unlucky with hard labour thrown in The people acuiring the bodies were not guilty of anything The outraged grieving relatives were often left with empty graves and not even the compensation of seeing the people responsible suffer Extreme measures were taken to protect graves including trip wire guns patrols glass embedded high walls but to no availThe bodies where 'shipped' in crates and barrels and parcels all over the country Reading this book at times it felt like there can't have been a mail coach en route somewhere that didn't carry a noxious smelling corpse as part of its cargo The book is full of extraordinary tales of bizarre deliveries of bodysnatchers being buried in the graves they were robbing of mourners and sextons giving chase and mostly being thwarted and of bodies abandoned in the weirdest of places waiting 'collection' including two in a dung heap This is a macabre book meticulously researched but there were a couple of things for me that it lacked Firstly there was no sense of perspective How extensive was this crime how many bodies and from where were there areas which weren't ransacked for example Secondly the focus not surprisingly given the title was entirely on the resurrection men with only scant mention of the men always men who received the bodies and cut them up I know this is outwith the remit of the book or perhaps it's one of those annoying details of history that is utterly undocumented but I wanted to know how the bodies were ordered how they were picked up I wanted to know about the relationship between buyer and procurerBut this was a fascinating read I won't say enjoyable the subject matter is too grim but it definitely put body snatching in a whole new light for me And I want to know

  3. says:

    A fairly straightforward but dry account of various instances of 18th and 19th Century grave robbing I personally found Lennox's style a little clumsy in places especially at the beginning She also occasionally repeats herself and expects the reader to follow a few examples before fully explaining them in the following chapter This made me wonder if a number of chapters had started life as self contained blog posts A stronger structure and a heavier Editor definately would have helped On the positive side though the narrative descriptions get stronger towards the second half of the book and overall it is very well researched and referenced A good introduction to the subject and definitely worth reading

  4. says:

    Bodysnatchers' by Suzie Lennox and it's turning into one of these books I just can't put down It's amazing reading about the lengths these men and women went to to obtain bodies As I continue to read through the book I have become totally amazed by how business like the  whole affair wasThe book was well written and highly researched which can be seen throughoutThe book deserves a five star rating and I will definitely be reading of the author's books

  5. says:

    I had no idea how widespread and long lived the practice of bodysnatching in the United Kingdom was lasting from 1742 1832 Especially in Scotland the art of medicine and surgery was moving and into the realm of science and away from old medieval practices based on the writings of ancient physicians A valuable tool in this progression was dissection The theaters of renowned surgeonanatomists were as full of those of famous actors Medical students began and to demand the opportunity to do their own dissections Universities and private anatomy schools began to advertise that they taught “in the French manner” in which each student had a corpse on which to work With hundreds of students signing up the demand for fresh study materials was high Thus the Resurrectionists were born After reading this book I am surprised any corpses remained in their graves Did you know that bodysnatchers never took the body’s clothes jewelry or shroud Why? A corpse was not considered a piece of real property so its theft was the euivalent of a misdemeanor However the theft of clothing was a felony that could result in significant jail time or even transportation Corpses were carried to their destinations naked often in burlap sacks Anatomists tended to use the same snatchers repeatedly and when they were occasionally caught and jailed took care of the diggers’ families until the snatchers were let out usually after a month or two The resourceful crooks found ways to get past any traps and barriers families tried to keep them away from their deceased loved one They seldom worked And most snatching took place in winter because the corpses stayed fresh longerFascinating A lovely light read on a summer afternoon

  6. says:

    Welcome to another of my “uirky Corners of History” Let me start by saying that this book has nothing to do with the science fiction movie of the same name The bodysnatchers in this book are not aliens but men engaged in the digging up of dead bodies in late 18th and early 19th century England and Scotland So what was going on at the time that made men want to dig up the recently buried? In the book “Bodysnatchers” Suzie Lennox explains the circumstances that led to rise of this industry Bodysnatching began with the rise of medical education that included anatomy Students wanted to be able to see the anatomy as can only be revealed by dissection Government regulations only allowed for the bodies of hanged men who were not claimed by friends or relatives to be given to the medical schools for dissection With the number of medical students tripling in a few short years the demand for bodies could not be satisfied by conventional meansThe author has written this history in a style that makes it easy to read and to follow her logical progression Chapters proceed from the beginning of the industry through its growth and the gradual ending of the practice after the passage of the Anatomy Act in 1832 Along the way there are chapters on the techniues the snatchers used the preventative measures that various communities used and the legal conseuences that rendered if one was caught in the act I found that the book had a good flow that was easy to follow The author has also done extensive research which is evident in the number of source documents used Overall I enjoyed reading this book and venturing into another uirky corner of history

  7. says:

    really enjoyed this book and I thought it was really interesting I knew that it was uite common in the North and Scotland due to the infamy caused by Burke and Hare but I wasn’t aware until I read the book that it actually happened in many locations throughout BritainI was reading it I was away for a weekend in Great Yarmouth and we parked next to a road called Body Snatchers Row – that was an unexpected surpriseThese shadowy characters were actually vital to the development of science and the training of medical student They kept the medical students and medical schools in supply where they could of cadavers to dissect and they were paid handsomely for the wares that they provided The book does a great job of detailing about them and what they did and gives examples with some of those caught and prosecuted for their crimes There were some colourful characters in action at that time for sureI thought that the book was well written and it was very well researched the author clearly knows her topic very well and it came across when I was readingIt is 4 stars from me for this one I really enjoyed it and it definitely caught my interest highly recommended

  8. says:

    ‘Bodysnatchers’ is a chilling but utterly fascinating read tracing the little known story of the infamous Resurrection Men It is packed full of intriguing anecdotes dark humour and tantalising details There are exhumations public outrage and violated cadavers aplenty The book follows the development of anatomical studies which reuired bodies for dissection and sets the nefarious practice of bodysnatching clearly into its context with a detailed background history It explores the reaction of the general public and their fears for their own ‘fate’ after death Most interestingly it gives a very thorough account of the bodysnatchers’ modus operandi including their ingenious methods of transportation and their battles with the ever vigilant watchmenSuzie Lennox has created a very readable and illuminating history Her meticulous research is presented through a compelling narrative and there is a good balance of factual information and colourful cases The details are gruesome and uirky such as the devices created by the Victorians to prevent their bodies being dug up It also features prominent surgeons as well as the exploits of the famous Resurrectionists such as Burke and Hare‘Bodysnatchers’ is an excellent book and highly recommended especially for those who enjoy a walk on the dark side of history