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'Body Snatching' as an unintended consequence of UK law.

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AnonLLF Posted: Tue, Sep 21 2010 7:53 AM

Before 1832 ,there arose a practice in Britain ( as well as occuring in the U.S.)of digging up recently buried corpses and selling them or using them for dissection on the medical slab.This practice was known as 'body snatching' and those who performed such actions were called Resurrectionists.

The illegitimate practice arose due to the 1752 Murder Law Act which only allowed and laid down that those executed for murder where to be dissected.This prevented the donation of bodies to science by relatives or the diseased before death.

This law had an unforeseen negative unintended consequence as these sorts of laws often do.The result was that with Medicine seeking advance headed by the leading Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons, demand for cadavers outstripped supply and thus some nefarious individuals turned to the practice of grave robbing to fulfill their needs.

One of the most famous cases of this was the Edinburgh Pair, William Burke and William Hare who are immortalized in Scottish Folklore with the rhyme,

Up the close and down the stair,

But and ben with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the boy who buys the beef
Between Novemeber 1827 and October 31st 1827, they claimed 17 victims eventually moving from body snatching to just plain,killing people.When The murderous duo was caught ,there was not enough evidence to prosecute them.The Lord Advocate offered Hare prosecution from immunity('Kings Evidence') if he confessed  and testified against Burke.Hare agreed and the evidence lead to Burke being hanged in 1829
He was publicly dissected and his skin was made into the cover of a book which can still be seen today.
With the passing of the Anatomy Act 1832,the practice was eliminated because the Act allowed for the donation of bodies to science and unclaimed bodies could also be used.
Thus we have seen how prohibition led to actions to circumvent the law and resulting in  brutality.

I don't really want to comment or read anything here.I have near zero in common with many of you.I may return periodically when there's something you need to know.

Near Mutualist/Libertarian Socialist.


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